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They're waiting for you Gordon... in the tech demo.
January 11, 2013 10:03 AM   Subscribe

An early alpha build of the genre changing game Half-Life has been leaked on to the internet. The alpha represents the state of the game about a year before its release, and Youtube user MarphitimusBlackimus has uploaded footage of: multiplayer, a technology demonstration, and a playthrough of a very rough single player mode. A bit more information about the leak here.
posted by codacorolla (41 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I decided not to link directly to information about how to download and play the game for yourself, but it is publicly available, and accessible through a brief web search.
posted by codacorolla at 10:04 AM on January 11, 2013


And available in the 'leak here' link. <3
posted by cavalier at 10:06 AM on January 11, 2013


I don't quite get it, is it a new leaked alpha or someone found an old late 90s version of it before it came out?
posted by mathowie at 10:06 AM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure it's the latter, mathowie.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:13 AM on January 11, 2013


GORDON'S ALIVE?

I was sad when I discovered the above was in no way the topic of this post, but it needed to be done. There are rules. Internet rules. Blessed rules.
posted by Mezentian at 10:17 AM on January 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes, the latter. And who can resist Gordon's Alive?!
posted by cavalier at 10:20 AM on January 11, 2013


I just got a second Voodoo 2 to run in SLI mode with my 166 mhz Pentium Pro and 32 megs of ram so I should have no problem running this.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:22 AM on January 11, 2013 [23 favorites]


I just got a second Voodoo 2 to run in SLI mode with my 166 mhz Pentium Pro and 32 megs of ram so I should have no problem running this.

I'm running it on my phone.
posted by mhoye at 10:24 AM on January 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Guys it is really busy at work so can someone please make a Glide wrapper joke?
posted by griphus at 10:26 AM on January 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


I remember picking up the game of the year edition Half-Life as the first game to play on my brand new GeForce 256 graphics card.

I think that was the most impressed I ever been by software and hardware.
posted by Hicksu at 10:35 AM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Needs more crowbar.
posted by schmod at 10:38 AM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


From what I understand, this is a demo that was given to game reviewers way back when, but this is the first time it's been publicly available or had any sort of extensive online documentation. It's funny that I totally missed the download link in my post. I guess this is technically pirated software, but I can't imagine Valve doing any take-downs on it.

I remember picking up the game of the year edition Half-Life as the first game to play on my brand new GeForce 256 graphics card.

I think that was the most impressed I ever was by software and hardware ever.


Same here. My family had just gotten our first PC, which was state-of-the-art for the time. My dad, eager to test out graphics but having no interest in games, said I could pick out a PC game to go along with it and I chose Half-Life. I was blown away by it, and after installing TFC I got way more than my money's worth out of it.
posted by codacorolla at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2013


Needs more crowbar.

I'm having that sort of a day too.
posted by mhoye at 10:42 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's remarkable that Valve was willing to say "No, this isn't as awesome as it needs to be" and throw away huge amounts of work even as a company that hadn't technically produced anything yet.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:44 AM on January 11, 2013


I am so downloading this before it disappears down the memory hole.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:00 AM on January 11, 2013


Half Life iwas and still is one of the few FPS games I actually played the single player campaign of. At the time I was in my first IT job and the company I worked for had a computer club downstairs from the office canteen. Soeach lunch break me and my friends would grab a quick sandwich and head down for another half hour of guiding Gordon Freeman through Black Mesa.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:07 AM on January 11, 2013


I just got a second Voodoo 2 to run in SLI mode with my 166 mhz Pentium Pro and 32 megs of ram so I should have no problem running this.

SLI is actually back and more popular than ever, thanks to nVidia. The letters stand for Scalable Link Interface instead of Scan Line Interleave, but you're still using two video cards hooked together. If that wasn't 90s enough for you, nVidia's competitors over at AMD aka ATI also use it, but they call it CrossFireX; presumably the X is for XTREEM.

The more things change...
posted by zombieflanders at 11:19 AM on January 11, 2013


I think that was the most impressed I ever was by software and hardware ever.

It was gorgeous, and it was also three steps up in AI from any FPS that came before it. It's been close to 15 years, and I can still tell you what the level layout was where the first set of soldiers positioned two guys in the door to lay covering cover while the third one crept around the back hallway and flanked me.
posted by Mayor West at 11:22 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and the lady ninjas ...
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:26 AM on January 11, 2013


That's one shiny battlepod.
posted by lantius at 11:27 AM on January 11, 2013


There is a not insignificant part of the back of my brain that wanders continuously through the Half Life universe. Latency = 3.33 ms.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:30 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


dammit, I read the headline and thought this was related to HL3 (or at least HL2E3). Don't go getting my hopes up like that!
posted by xbonesgt at 11:31 AM on January 11, 2013


Just riding the tram blew me away. And then I started playing...
posted by bondcliff at 11:39 AM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


A lot of freshman-year college studying didn't get done because of this game...it's like the Citizen Kane of FPSs.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:04 PM on January 11, 2013


Was Half-Life really the big deal back then? I remember sitting down at a game store and playing Unreal for the first time. That was Unreal, not half life.
posted by Chuckles at 12:30 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is another not insignificant part of the back of my brain that wanders continuously through the Unreal universe. And for awhile (until Half-Life II), I prefered Unreal for the simple reason that the bots were better in Unreal, so play at home against the game (this was with a sub-optimal CPU and before my cable modem) was more entertaining. But Half-Life opened the doorway, and the Half-Life characters, story, and landscape imprinted itself on me in a way that Unreal never did. Half-Life was personal, somehow, even if I prefered the Unreal gameplay for awhile.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:39 PM on January 11, 2013


It's remarkable that Valve was willing to say "No, this isn't as awesome as it needs to be" and throw away huge amounts of work even as a company that hadn't technically produced anything yet.

I believe the original quote was, "Ask yourself, What would Old Man Murray say about this? and then go back to the drawing board."
posted by straight at 1:03 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was Half-Life really the big deal back then? I remember sitting down at a game store and playing Unreal for the first time. That was Unreal, not half life.

Oh yes, it was. Comparing the stories of most FPSs before Half-Life to it, you find incredibly generic stuff (Doom/Quake/Hexenheretic), cheeky humour (Duke 3D, SiN) or emphasis on blood (Blood, Exhumed), but no plots to write home about. Story was something that happened to other genres (Goldeneye is excused, but Goldeneye was a standout title in many respects). I started losing touch with FPSs around that point, but Half-Life was a high point and an important node for the development of the genre.

Unreal did never much for me but for the aahs and oohs after seeing the graphics (wasn't there a tie in with Voodoo Banshee at the time?), but Unreal Tournament was a brilliant example of fast-paced gameplay, a game that had obviously been iterated to greatness.

But yeah, Half-Life was all that even back then.
posted by ersatz at 1:16 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


So around the time that Half-Life 2 was about to come out, my friend got me Half-Life. I started playing it but didn't realize that my screen resolution was set so that everything looked normal, but I could not see the health bar. Because of that, whenever I thought I was recharging my health, I was actually only increasing it by 1%, not realizing that I needed to hold down the 'use' button. Until I figured that out, the game was incredibly frusturating and difficult. After that, the game was still kind of frusturating and difficult, what with the puzzles and all, but it was still a pretty awesome game.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 1:26 PM on January 11, 2013


Oh yes, it was. Comparing the stories of most FPSs before Half-Life to it, you find incredibly generic stuff (Doom/Quake/Hexenheretic), cheeky humour (Duke 3D, SiN) or emphasis on blood (Blood, Exhumed), but no plots to write home about. Story was something that happened to other genres (Goldeneye is excused, but Goldeneye was a standout title in many respects).

What about Marathon? The gameplay was nothing to write about to me, but the storylike was great. The sequels manage to expand on it without getting stuck in a rut or becoming silly.

Even the premise of the first game is awesome: you're on Mars's moon Deimos, modified to be a huge colony ship and driven right out of orbit, which after hundreds of years has reached its destination and started a colony with the help of three distinct AIs. Naturally, aliens attack and everything goes to hell.

The game play and delivery are dated by modern standards, but I think the story holds up.

Not trying to diminish Half-Life of course. The sequel-mods Opposing Force and Blue Shift were pretty great too.
posted by Foolhardy at 2:05 PM on January 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


What about Marathon? The gameplay was nothing to write about to me, but the storylike was great.

A plot so strong, they're still using those themes in its spiritual successor franchise.
"My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durandal."
posted by radwolf76 at 2:10 PM on January 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Half-life based was pretty awesome across the board but stood out in progression, story, world building and some convincing set pieces. Unreal was also really good but for me stood out more in sound design and some of the maps towards the end had an amzing sense of scale. The sound of the Nali was pretty cool and the liked the soundtrack. Both of them were excellent games in their time.
posted by vicx at 2:11 PM on January 11, 2013


What was revolutionary about Half-Life was not that it had a great story. It was the way it told the story without ever breaking from the first-person perspective, without using any cut-scenes, and by using scripted sequences to engineer an experience where you felt like you were discovering a story, witnessing and overhearing it, rather than having it told to you.

Unlike games like Marathon where you had story told to you in bits by reading text between bouts of gameplay, in Half-Life, you'd just see things happen, often without any words or dialogue. And Valve developed the art (which they've continue to perfect in later games) of tricking you into looking the right way at the right time so that you feel like you've accidentally stumbled upon something that was already going on and that you might just as easily have overlooked.

In comparison, Unreal (which was my own personal mind-blowing-graphics moment when I installed a Voodoo3 card and replayed bits of the game I'd already seen in software mode) had basically one scripted sequence, a moment when you were trapped in a room and the lights started to slowly shut off. That sequence was one of the most effective moments I'd experienced in a FPS up to that point, and then came Half-Life which featured at least 2 or 3 much more effective ones on almost every level.

The other revolutionary thing Half-Life did was create a sense of place. That tram ride at the beginning, giving you glimpses of various sections of the complex that you would later revisit, followed by the unprecedented level of mundane details (offices with computers and whiteboards, bathrooms and closets, etc.) combined to give you a very well-defined sense that you were were trapped deep within and fighting your way out of a real place. Duke Nukem 3D had previously done something similar with mundane, realistic environments, but DN3D's levels, while individually very well designed, didn't fit together into a coherent whole the way Black Mesa seemed to.
posted by straight at 2:28 PM on January 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


I refuse to discuss Half Life unless it's about the release of Half Life 3. The pain is too great. Too great. Insupportable.
posted by Decani at 3:21 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the things that really impressed me about the Black Mesa mod that came out a few nths ago is that they somehow made the world even more coherent than it had been in the original game, mostly by spending a lot of time modeling the sorts of things you'd find in an office (I was particularly impressed by how they shoehorned the demo level into the middle of the regular game in such a way that it took me a while to realize it had not been in the original game).

The whole thing sort of falls apart when you get to Xen, though. Maybe the Black Mesa people can fix that, when they release it in another ten years.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:30 PM on January 11, 2013


THE NEXT POST ABOUT HALF-LIFE WITHOUT THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HALF-LIFE 3 HAS BEEN RELEASED AND IS READILY AVAILABLE TO ALL.....



....WILL BE SUMMARILY DESTROYED. I will hunt you down and devour your pelt and proteins.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:02 PM on January 11, 2013


"My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durandal."

Oh man I got far too enthralled in the bungee mythos in early-mid high school. I think at one point I made my father cringe.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 4:11 PM on January 11, 2013


It's interesting that all these Valve stories have been coming out now, because I've been slowly playing Half-Life for the last couple of weeks. I dug out the original box and tried to install it, but the game won't run properly on Windows 7. A little Googling led to the discovery that there's a version of Half Life on Steam that's optimized for newer operating systems, so I installed Steam, gave them my fourteen-year old CD code, and they gave me Half Life, plus Blue Shift, Opposing Force, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress Classic, and something called Day of Defeat and Ricochet as well! Pretty amazing value for twenty bucks that was spent in a computer store in the previous century. Valve's cut of the profit from all that must have been pretty small.

Anyway, I've been slowly playing it since then and it's been a lot of fun. Seems a bit easier now, probably because modern computers are so much faster than my old Compaq.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:59 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude, stop playing the Steam version right now and download Black Mesa. It's the first game using the full HL2 engine with a ton of mods to make it look like HL2 and play like the original as opposed to the merely being the original with shiny water and better lighting. It's only the game up through just before Xen, but that's all you really need anyway.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:45 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


When HL first came out, it was great. I liked it so much, I took it into work and installed it on my work PC just to show all the guys in my area how you could use the crowbar to beat the first security guard to death, take his gun, and then hunt down the scientist and then shoot him to death.

I think it must have taken a couple of months before some of the guys I didn't know so well were finally convinced I wasn't really psychotic.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:05 PM on January 11, 2013


I can still tell you what the level layout was where the first set of soldiers positioned two guys in the door to lay covering cover while the third one crept around the back hallway and flanked me.

That was my mind blown moment. Up until then -- another part of the Valve brilliance -- was that you'd been conditioned to think of other humans as allies or at worst neutral. And all of a sudden -- you're the enemy. Took me a few head shakes to wrap myself around that one.

I'm currently playing through HL2 on my own computer for the first time, and I figure I'll have to do Black Mesa when I'm done.

Anyway, what interests me about this demo is how Doom-like it is. Mainly distinguished by the expansive 3D level design, but there are a few things that show the physics model's shiny bits (the desk drawer). There are even parts that are familiar from the release version. But ultimately it's a lot of running around endless hallways repeating the same shoot around corners tactics, without any real narrative purpose to it. I hated that about some of the mods you could play then. Some people would crow about the textures in this mod or the weapons or baddies in that one, but it was ultimately a retread of the same old shit. Even the baddies in this alpha are doing things like crying out "Medic!" reminiscent of the Wolfenstein "Mein Lieben!" Clearly the idea of a fully interactive environment was there, but interacting to what purpose?

What's really great about HL2 even more than HL is how well, and subtly, it guides you to the next thing. There are only a few times I end up confused and run around like an idiot backtracking for a clue. The few times I get really jacked up and can't seem to proceed are ultimately usually my own fault.
posted by dhartung at 11:55 PM on January 11, 2013


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