Haha, you're joking right? Half-Life: Absolute Zero can't be dead, right? ....right?
Nope, no jokes here. It is completely true, Half-Life: Absolute Zero has ceased development, after almost a decade worth of development.
So, why exactly are you guys abandoning Half-Life: Absolute Zero?
It has been nearly 10 years to the day since we started development on Half-Life: Absolute Zero and to be quite frank, we want to move on; passion only lasts for so long. If it didn’t work out for the past 10 years, I doubt it is going to work out for any more amount of time.
We were unable to secure any level designers since our search for one started back in December, 2018. So as a result, we were asking and relying on friends and friends of friends for help on the project, but ultimately most of them would only work on the project from a range of 3 days to 2 weeks until they would give up. As a result, not much really got done post-beta access release.
Realistically, we knew the project had been doomed since December of 2018. We had already missed our intended release date of November 26, 2018 (the 25th anniversary of Sonic Spinball’s European release, which was a week after Half-Life’s 20th anniversary, it is a in-joke among the team) and we had to delay to the 20th anniversary of Half-Life: Uplink’s release. A lot of us had been burnt out for working on the project for such a long time and we had a level designer who had vanished. We had put out a job listing on ModDB in hope we would be able to quickly find a replacement to be able to salvage the project, but that clearly didn’t happen.
What is going to happen to the Steam release of Half-Life: Absolute Zero?
We are currently actively working on getting the page delisted off of Steam around the 12th to prevent people from accidentally wandering into a barely functioning product. Despite being delisted from Steam, you should still be able to download the mod via “steam://install/<appid>.”
Why delist the store page opposed to condensing down the experience? Well, the mod only currently contains 2 chapters that we would consider mostly complete, which isn’t too exciting considering our 2017 demo contained 5 chapters. We had to deal with a surplus of people who didn’t read the store page or any pinned thread on the discussions and just assumed the product was 100% complete. If we had this problem during the public development phase, we’re going to have the problem tenfold when the mod is supposed to be “complete.” There’s also the fact we don’t want another unfinished product to clog up the Steam storefront, we would rather take responsibility and take down our product instead of letting it rot with every other abandoned project.
We only made a Steam release as our mod is not fully compatible with the 2013 updates to the GoldSource engine. Shadows cause the game to crash and various game behaviors would act sporadic. A Steam release allowed us to ship with a branch of the engine that we knew was fully compatible with Half-Life: Absolute Zero, but it still provided its own host of problems. Such as us changing the executable name which resulted in Windows 10’s internal compatibility hack for GoldSource games to not take effect, which resulted in the game’s window being extremely zoomed in. Luckily that was a fix as easy as just renaming the executable back to HL.exe, but there were still issues with the engine itself that were either fixed in the modern engine, were just things from Source that people expected to be in GoldSource, or were issues that affect most versions of the engine. Ultimately, there’s not a version of GoldSource out there that is perfect, they all have severe issues that hinder the experience some way or another and we had to pay the price for it. We did not and still do not have access to the engine code, so being able to fix anything with-in the engine would be impossible for us to do and if the engine was open source we could have at least attempted to but as it currently stands, GoldSource is closed source.
We will push out a final update for the mod on Steam, we held back on an update since August 14th in hope to be able to ship out a Milestone update in September, clearly that Milestone update did not work out.
What will happen with Half-Life: Absolute Zero after the 12th?
Well, the Steam build will be posted to ModDB for those to download there (minus the engine, of course.) But more importantly, the entire development drive of Half-Life: Absolute Zero will be uploaded to the internet and will be licensed under Creative Commons. This will allow any developer or modder to be able to reuse our work and all you need to do is credit us for the work you’ve borrowed! This had been our plan for several years now, regardless of completion, releasing the full source tree on the 10th anniversary of the mod’s development beginnings. This allows us to be able to have the community learn from our work and for our work to live on beyond a beta mod.
We are currently actively sorting through our unsorted backups making sure as much of our content is backed up and available. This will release on the 12th, alongside the mod release on ModDB.
What will happen to Cobalt-57 after the 12th?
This does NOT mark the end of Cobalt-57 as a team, we have no plans to dissolve or disband! Little do many people know, Cobalt-57 was never created as a throwaway team to have a pseudonym for all of us as a team for our modding projects. We will be shifting our focus to game development after the 12th, in fact, we actually have some games and projects in the pipeline. Some relating to pre-existing IPs (some of which will likely never see the light of day) and some being completely original IPs. As you may expect, yes, we are still in fact looking for level designers and even more than that! We can’t promise that we’ll hire or even speak to everyone, but we will read every message.
While it is sad to see Half-Life: Absolute Zero go, we’re glad it is over. It is bittersweet, sure we didn’t get to complete the project that united us to begin with; but we will forever get to keep those memories and get to work together on things that don’t limit our creative direction.
Finally, we would like to thank you for supporting us til the very end. While we don’t know when the next time you’ll hear from us will be, we will still be creating things and when we stop creating we’ll let the world know. If you want to keep in-touch, please follow us on Twitter, as that’s currently our only social media presence where we can provide quick updates.
Until next time,