The Burton Equation - Project Announcement
Hello everyone! I've got a big announcement today for a long-time project of mine that is beginning to approach the beta stages of completion - The Burton Equation! What you're about to see is a few years of on-and-off work by myself and a team of contributors. It's all very likely to be changed in some way prior to release, but with the mod playable from start to finish and some chapters approaching being finalised, now seemed like a good time to start showing things off.
This has been my other big project over the last few years, sharing a bit of the time I give to Raising the Bar: Redux.
In The Burton Equation, you'll put on the hat of 1920s police detective Zachary Burton, operating out of the Chicago warehouse area. With the gang firmly in control of the district, his motivation to fight the good fight has been waning - until a mysterious woman convinces him to give it one last shot. Caught in a web of alien conspiracy and time-hopping, it's up to Zachary to solve the equation of his predicament and stop the Combine from defeating humanity before Gordon Freeman ever picked up his crowbar.
The Burton Equation will see players fighting with period-specific weaponry and jamming to appropriate music across the 20s, 40s, 80s, and 2010s in an effort to stop the Combine's incursion into the timeline. Along the way, one particular agent will be working against Zachary in a race against and within time itself.
Assuming all goes well - and initial reviews have been very encouraging - The Burton Equation will launch on Steam as a Steam Sourcemod! I will endeavour, however, to provide a mirror on ModDB as well for those who launch mods via other means.
Chapter One - Noir
The first chapter of the mod will see you kicking off Zachary Burton's journey to discover the truth of the gangs now roaming his streets. You'll fight through trenchcoat and fedora-wearing Metrocops, sent back to establish a foothold in a time much less prepared for an all-out invasion. With a 357 in hand, Zachary will dish out some street justice and pick up other weapons of the era, like the M1911 and Tommy Gun. Noir jazz, a moody black-and-white filter, and rain will accompany you on your starting point.
Chapter Two - Sepia
In chapter two, Zachary experiences his first time-jump - not by a lot, relatively speaking, but the world is totally different from the one he knows. German trenches during the second world war, controlled by more Combine goons, bar Zachary's way to his objective - a radio tower acting as a beacon for the time-travelling forces he's coming up against. His other weapons lost, his fists and 357 will be all he has to fight off soldiers armed with the weapons of the Third Reich.
Chapter Three - Miami
Chapter three sees Zachary transported back to his home country, to a city nothing like it was in his own time - your usual 80s city full of vice, bright colours, and tall buildings. Scaling a skyscraper to topple the base of operations for the Combine in this era, he'll begin to come to terms with his charge, and muscle up in the most frenetic, close-quarters combat so far.
Chapter Four - Terminus
Finally, in chapter four, Zachary makes his way to the 2010s during the events of Half-Life 2's Streetwars. Whilst Gordon Freeman readies his assault on the Citadel, Zachary aims to destroy the Combine's time-travelling efforts at the source - a Time Travel Nexus stationed in a closed-off district of City 17. It all comes down to this.
Assets - Fit For Purpose, And A Whole Lot More
Fabreen Corp of the 80s has some of the best security and toughest personnel in the city - for good reason
Vehicles inspired by classics of the 80s mean you'll be taking cover in style on the streets below
A little while after the first world war, the Metro Gang's gas masks in the 1920s aren't as out of place
Old clothing habits die hard - but the Combine know how to run shady 80s companies in style
Many custom assets are being utilised across the mod (many, many more than shown here) to make each time period that bit more authentic and unique. From old-time streetlamps to custom posters, enemy retextures and models, every chapter is going all-in on the atmosphere.
Soundtrack - Four Styles, Two Composers, One Story
An essential part of The Burton Equation is the atmosphere unique to each chapter. The goal was to emulate the stereotypical mood of each era, complete with visuals, gameplay, and narrative approach. Of course, music is a core addition to atmosphere, too - and thanks to the incredible compositional work of Eduard Telik/Etelik (20s, 40s, and 2010s) and Kacper Śliwa/Slimek (80s), The Burton Equation has twenty four tracks with a distinct musical style for each of the four periods. You can listen to the first track of each of the four albums above - with plenty more to be heard in the future!
Weapons - Cocked, Locked, And Stocked
The Tommy Gun - a mainstay of 1920s mob weaponry
Reliable, iconic, and packing a surprising punch - the M1911 is as good a sidearm as any
Mass produced, the MP40 has its own fair share of benefits that make it a clear choice for frontline use
The faithful Glock's weaker calibre is offset by a much more respectable magazine size
The MP7 has a blistering fire rate and is ideal for close-quarters
combat - no wonder it was a favourite of the Combine's military
Who says you can't have style and substance?
As much as The Burton Equation is a love letter to the atmosphere and style of the four time periods featured, it is a gameplay enhancement mod. There's a real emphasis on gunplay and gun-feel, with fast-paced and sometimes difficult combat in store. With all this action, a varied arsenal is essential, and feeds into both goals of TBE through having period-specific weaponry. Every era will see Zachary sporting his fists and 357, but also finding a pistol and automatic weapon for each period. Each period will also have a weapon with more unique purpose to those encountered so far to help give each chapter its own gameplay flavour. For the most part, these weapon models are sourced from royalty-free sources such as Turbosquid. All animations are made anew especially for the project by the awesome Gatra and Fnuxray. Of course, you've got no HEV suit - so instead of a suit of power armour, Zachary gets ready to go out onto the streets with nothing more than style and his fedora.
Comic - Zachary's Tale, Told Through Art
One of the last cornerstones of TBE I conceptualised was "intro comics" to each level - a way to deliver exposition, style, and atmosphere all in one neat package. Zachary's voiceover by the ever-awesome Sam Warren/Entity37 was wasted on black-screens that did nothing but take up time. Now, with the incredible comics work of Adam Rogers, every map features a custom set of comic panels that will illustrate the story so far and push you to continue in your journey. The 20s, 40s, and 80s chapters all have their comics fully realised in-game, with the 2010s chapter's awaiting implementation (hence why individual panels are being shown for them above).
Conclusion and Credits
The Burton Equation has been in development for several years and will likely take a few more before it's a full realisation of my vision for the project, but the mod in its current state is already hitting all the core pillars I had intended, and now, it's about refining that direction even further. Whilst I've been working away at this for years, I've also had a fantastic group of people helping out. Some made incredible one-time contributions that added massively to the mod, whilst others are regularly in the trenches with me getting work done.
Lead Developer: David Driver-Gomm/Kralich
Miami OST: Kacper Śliwa/Slimek
Level Design: matt71490
Noir, Sepia, and Terminus OSTs: Eduard Telik/Etelik
Playtesting: Max Brando
Playtesting: Stabard Meat
Sound Design: Sl0th
Sound Design: CW3D
Voice Acting: entity37
Voice Acting, Level Design: FlashiOZ
Graphics Design: Adam Rogers
Graphics Design: Gameboy555
Modelling: Mohamed Essam Farouk
Thanks for reading this update! The original plan for TBE was to not announce anything till I was announcing the mod being released, but in light of the success of getting some PR going on other projects I decided it was better to show things off on occasion. I'm not sure when I'll be posting another update article for this project as I've just been chipping away at it for a few years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, but I hope to do at least one of these a year until release, and maybe more often than that. We don't have a public Discord community but you can join the Discord for my other mod project Raising the Bar: Redux if you'd like to get in touch or talk to me about the mod: Discord.gg