Holy god it's been 20 years. What have I done with my life.
CURRENT GAME STATUS
Half-Life 2: Episode 3 - Probably Dead
Half-Life 3 - Probably in Development
Probably in Development Hell
Black Mesa - Xen due out Q2 2019
Black Mesa has been released on Steam in Early Access for $20.
It includes multiplayer (with six maps) but still no Xen. There IS a trailer for Xen now, though.
The Steam release of Black Mesa includes various fixes, upgrades, and new features since Black Mesa’s mod release.
-Heavily updated single player experience – The Black Mesa single player experience has greatly improved from the mod release; new visuals, new voice over, updated gameplay encounters, stability changes and more. Xen is not part of the Steam release of Black Mesa, but will included as a free update when it is ready.
-Black Mesa Multiplayer – Fight with or against your friends, in two game modes across six iconic maps from the Half-Life Deathmatch universe: Bounce, Gasworks, Lambdabunker, Stalkyard, Subtransit and Undertow.
-Custom Modding Tools – Use the same tools the developers used to create your own mods, modes and maps for Black Mesa and Black Mesa Multiplayer …
-Fully integrated Workshop – … and then share your work on the fully integrated workshop!
-Complete Steam Integration – Collect trading cards, backgrounds, emoticons, achievements, and everything else you would expect out of a Steam integrated game.
Why Early Access?
“Making a game with the scope and scale of Black Mesa is a massive undertaking. Back in 2012 we made the decision to release what we had completed up to that point, and were blown away by the community’s response, feedback and improvements to our work. We want to keep that relationship alive and well by using Early Access as a tool for allowing our community to participate in the final phase of Black Mesa’s development.
In addition, we simply didn't have the resources to create Xen as we would like it. Our ambitions go beyond the original Xen section found in Half-Life. We have a standard of quality that we have to achieve. By using Early Access, we are allowed the resources to bring you the remaining chapters with the quality that you expect.”
Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?
“We currently have the first ~85% of our single player campaign completed. For the last 15% we want to not only recreate it, but improve upon it to make it an enjoyable and memorable experience. We feel it will take us considerable time to get the last 15% up to our standards, and putting a time estimate on it would be a total guess.”
How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?
“The conclusion of the single player campaign, with the addition of the Xen chapters
Final polish on the Earth-based chapters of the single player campaign
More multiplayer maps
More multiplayer gameplay modes”
What is the current state of the Early Access version?
“Over 10 hours of single player campaign. Multiplayer deathmatch and team deathmatch with 6 completely re-imagined Half-Life 1 maps on the Source Engine.”
Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?
“Yes. Black Mesa will be $19.99 USD during the Early Access phase. This will be bumped up to $24.99 USD when in retail.”
How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?
“We intend to work closely with our community as we complete the final portions of Black Mesa. We started out as a modding team aiming to do true justice to a Half-Life: Source port, and we won’t forget our roots.
The Black Mesa game hub and forums will be the primary points of interaction with our users. Many team members regularly browse these areas to discuss ideas with the community, and to show progress on game development. Community feedback will be sorted into groups and taken into account as we develop.
We also support Steam Workshop, and will be watching and encouraging developments there.”
Fan-Mod Half-Life 2: Update is out now! You can download it right off Steam!
2004's Half-Life 2 was a landmark for PC gaming and the First Person Shooter, setting the standard for immersion, animation, and physics-based play for years. Meticulously developed by Half-Life community member Filip Victor, Half-Life 2: Update offers both long-time fans and first time players the most visually advanced, stable, and fully-featured version of Half-Life 2 to date in one free mod download.
-Complete lighting overhaul including enhanced lighting, more detailed world shadows, and full High Dynamic Range Lighting (HDR).
-New particle effects and improved fog.
-Countless bug fixes, correcting both visual and game-based issues.
-An extensive Community Commentary Mode featuring the voices of well-known Youtubers, including Caddicarus, Brutalmoose, Ricepirate, Balrog the Master, ProJared, and Ross Scott from Freeman's Mind .
-Retains the iconic Half-Life 2 visual style and gameplay.
-All available in one free standalone download!
Learn more here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/290930/
Episode 3 is MIA, having little to no content officially revealed about. Valve released abou 3 pieces of concept art in 2007 and 2008, but they haven't mentioned Episode 3 by name since 2009 and they said in 2011 that they're moving away from episodic content. Various code references appeared in games and SDK's over the years for Ep3, with the most recent being from a leaked DOTA2 beta client in 2011. There was a concept art leak last in 2012, but it appears to be from mid-2008.
Half-Life 3/Source Engine 2/Left 4 Dead 3
-April 2012 Gabe Newell began a coy game of referring to their next story driven sequel as "Ricochet 2," referring to the difficulties in continuing such a fan-beloved story. Given that the first one had no story, this was almost certainly code for the next Half-Life game.
We end up changing our minds as we’re going through and developing stuff, so as we’re thinking through the giant story arc which is Ricochet 2, you might get to a point where you’re saying something is surprising us in a positive way and something is surprising us in a negative way, and, you know, we’d like to be super-transparent about the future of Ricochet 2
-August 2012 - References are found to Source Engine 2 in the Source Filmmaker program, though they were later removed. Valve would eventually refer to the current Source engine as "Source 1 Engine" Source: http://www.valvetime.net/threads/exclusive-next-gen-source-2-engine-is-in-development.215336/
-November of 2012, when a bunch of visitors from 4chans /v/ messageboard were at Valve, Gabe Newell confirmed that they were working the next generation of the Source engine and that "Ricochet 2" has started production. Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=rHen8KxsXYI#t=81s
-June 2013 - References to Left 4 Dead 3 and Source 2 are found in the Steamworks SDK. Source: http://www.valvetime.net/threads/references-to-left-4-dead-3-and-source-2-found.243524/
Later in the month, Valve's internal project tracking was alledgely accessible by the outside world for a brief period of time, and it showed Valve employees on mailing lists for Source 2, Left 4 Dead 3 and Half-Life 3. The Left 4 Dead 3 list had a greater number of people than the Half-Life 3 list, which would imply that it has more of Valve's focus at the moment. Source: http://www.valvetime.net/threads/updated-half-life-3-left-4-dead-3-source-2-much-more-found-on-valve-project-tracker.243580/
-August 2013 - A visitor to Valve alledgedly snapped a pic of a changelog tracker that had references to Source Engine 2 and Left 4 Dead 3. Source: http://www.valvetime.net/threads/source-2-left-4-dead-3-appear-on-valve-changelog.243781/
-October 2013 - There was ANOTHER alledged project tracker leak which was much more widely reported. This leak again shows people on lists for Source 2, Left 4 Dead 3 and Half-Life 3, with the team sizes having grown.. Source: http://www.valvetime.net/threads/valve-jira-database-accessed-once-more-hl3-l4d3-source-2-groups-expand.243965/
-August 2014 - Valve stealth launches Source 2 as part of the DOTA2 workshop. Source: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/08/07/its-valve-time-source-2-now-powering-dota-2-tools/
-February 2015: Reference to “physics_testbed.exe -game hl3 - open” is found in the codebase for DOTA2 Souce: http://www.valvetime.net/threads/minor-half-life-3-reference-found-within-dota-2-workshop-tools.245732/
-March 2015: Valve officially announces Source 2 at GDC 2015. Source: http://www.valvetime.net/threads/valve-announces-source-2-steam-link-gdc-2015.245772/
Black Mesa, the fan-made recreation of Half-Life 1 on the Source engine, was released September 14th, 2012 and can be obtained at http://blackmesasource.com/
It features an entirely remade experience most of hte original Half-Life, ending before Freeman arrives on Xen. Xen will be coming at a later date in a free update and there is a retail Steam version in the works that will feature reworked visuals, new Soldier VO, numerous bug fixes and gameplay tweaks.
There are numerous modifications, enhancements, addons and fan-fixes released for Black Mesa. I'll list some of my favorites below
Surface Tension Uncut
: This adds back a few mission levels to the Surface Tension chapter. These levels were cut from the original version of Black Mesa, but the author felt they provided important story cues, related to showing the Aliens beating the Marines into their retreat. textFAMGUY1 has rebuilt those levels from scratch and added them to the game.
On a Rail Uncut
: Also made by textFAMGUY1, this pack adds back levels missing from the "On a Rail" chapter of Black Mesa. Likely cut due to the chapter being unpopular, the chapter was reduced from 10 maps to a mere 3, severely cutting down the sense of "journy" it was supposed to give the player. Like Surface Tension Uncut, textFAMGUY1 has rebuilt the levels and added them to the game.
Black Mesa: Uplink
: A recreation of the "uplink" demo from Half-Life 1 in the Black Mesa game; integreates as "chapter 0" in the chapter select menu.
Black Mesa: Xen (Improved Maps from Half-Life
: I have yet to try this one, but I'm told is a straight port of levels from Half-Life: Source to Black Mesa, meaning they won't look terribly good; but if you really want the proper ending to the game, this might be a viable alternative until such time as the Black Mesa team releases their own version of Xen.
Closed Captioning Update
: Fixes a lot of typos and incorrect subtitles and closed captions from the original release, and has multiple versions compatible with various other Black Mesa mods.[/url]
HECU HL1 Radio chatter swap
: I personally found the new voices for the military grunts in Black Mesa to be atrocious; if they bug you like they bug me, then this pack might be for you. It replaces their dialog with the original voices from Half-Life. It also includes a replacement for the alien noises and some HL1 music, but you don't need to install those if you don't want to.
: Updates the Vortigaunt skin to make them colored closer to their HL1 incarnations (darker and more mottled) A minor mod, but I like how it looks.
Crowbar Impact Sound Fix
: A very minor mod that makes fixes the audio of the crowbar so you'll hear a the "woosh" even when you hit something with it.
Half-Life/Opposing Force/Blue Shift are still being updated by valve from their recent porting to the Steampipe file format, and to the linux/mac formats. They've already fixed a lot of longstanding issues and will hopefully polish up the last few before too long. Half-Life 2/Ep1/Ep2 is in a similar place
If you want to hear more about the creation of Half-Life, including how the development of the game was essentially restarted halfway through the project, check out this archived article called “Final Hours of Half-Life” that details the history of Valve and Half-Life’s development. http://web.archive.org/web/19991011210909/http://www.gamespot.com/features/halflife_final/
There’s also a sequel article about Half-Life 2 that’s pretty good as well: http://www.gamespot.com/features/the-final-hours-of-half-life-2-6112889/
If you want to play through the older games, here’s some stuff that can enhance your experience.
High Definition Pack
– When Half-Life: Blue Shift came out, it included a “high definition” model pack which was eventually ported to steam. In the current version of Half-Life, this can be activated/deactivated in the Video Options menu.
– Originally a free demo for Half-Life, Uplink has three exclusive levels not found in the main game. You can download a mod version for Half-Life at http://www.halflifeuplink.com/steamlink/
– decay was an exclusive addon for Half-Life only released on the PS2 version of the game, but some enterprising fans have ported it to the PC. I won’t lie though, it’s a bit buggy and can be crash prone, but outside of tracking down an old copy of Half-Life for the PS2, this is the only way to check out these levels, also made by Gearbox Software. Available at http://decay.half-lifecreations.com/
Half-Life vs Half-Life: Source
One question I get a lot is which is better: the original Half-Life or the remastering of the game onto the Source Engine. I prefer the original, but I’ll go over the pros and cons of each
+Compatible with HD Pack
+Compatible with mods
+Same engine as the expansion packs, for a more comparable experience
-As with most old software, it has some flakiness running on modern machines
+Better graphics (Crisper visuals, better shaders, better water effects, enhanced backgrounds/skyboxes)
+Better physics (including ragdolls)
+Better AI (Enemies are harder to cheese, allies have much better pathfinding, and less group limits)
-Music issues (Music cuts off during level transitions, which has issues given HL1 was often designed with music right before level transitions.)
-Scripting issues (Monsters sometimes activate before they should, or notice you when they shouldn’t, which can interfere with scripted sequences and dialog)
-Not compatible with classic mods
-No official HD pack