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Communications Center

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The subject matter of this article contains in-development information that was cut from the final version of an official and/or canonical source and appears in no other canonical source. It may also contain incomplete information since not all cut material is publicly known.

Not to be confused with Satellite Communications Center.

C3a1 dome.jpg
Communications Center
Game information
Designer(s)

Dave Riller[a][1]
Marc Laidlaw[2]

Map(s)

c3a1

Previous chapter

Alien Research Lab

Next chapter

Reactor Lab

The Communications Center[3] is a location and chapter cut from Half-Life. The main goal was to lower the security status of the center in order to enter the Reactor Lab. Portions of it were recycled for several locations found in Half-Life, Half-Life: Uplink, and Half-Life: Decay. A playable version can be found in the Half-Life Alpha.

Overview[edit]

Alpha[edit]

The player begins in a loading bay filled with Alien Grunts patrolling the area. The center is on high security status, and the only access to the reactor lab cannot be opened. There is an elevator to the command center nearby, but it does not respond. To reach the center, the player must enter the base by traversing through a sewers underneath the elevator shaft.

The sewers leads to a helipad waiting for its chopper to be implemented. The player was to open the roof hatch by using a switch in the observation room. A pack of aerial alien creatures would come down from the sky, and the player was to use the blades of the chopper to kill them.[3]

The center is found to be populated by more aliens and a small group of Marines, while the head scientist is discovered sealed inside the control room. The player is required to neutralize the guard located in the reception area and take his security card to gain access to the room. This card also grants access to the communication center where a console must be used to lower the security status and unlock the rest of the doors in the level. After making contact, the scientist instructs the player to reprogram a nearby satellite dish. Successfully completing this task leads the scientist to activate an emergency lift that descends to the lab below.[3]

Development[edit]

The chapter went through many changes during development, but its primary mission objective remained the same. An early concept was to have a female character as the head scientist at the command center who would end up betraying the player after the dish was aligned. However, Valve didn't consider the current technology to be capable of telling this story the way they wanted. This led the team to cut the scene early on.

“One thing we cut was an extended sequence where a scientist betrays you while you're out aligning a satellite dish for her; you get back with your mission done, and she's waiting there with a squad of soldiers. We realized that we were not going to be able to do anything very ambitious with real characters this time out, so we cut that section. Much of it, including the audio, was reused in the Uplink mission.”
Marc Laidlaw[2]

Fate[edit]

Comparison of the reception area as seen in the leaked Half-Life Alpha, the retail multiplayer map Datacore, and the HL2DM map Steam Lab.

The Communications Center chapter was cut following Half-Life's significant reworking in late 1997. However, many of its aspects found their way into the final game after being repurposed later on. The chapter's general premise including a transmitter resembling the satellite dish was reused in the demo version Uplink[2] and again in the mission Surface Call of Decay set in the Satellite Communications Center. The loading bay survived mostly intact and was placed at the beginning section of "Forget About Freeman!" as CenCom Bay 3. This loading bay area further appears in the multiplayer map Lambda Bunker in a slightly modified format. The control room housing the trapped scientist was used for Sector E's High Altitude Launch Center in On A Rail. The hallway filled with leaking radioactive waste remained largely untouched and close to its initial placement at the entrance of the Central Complex preceding the chapter Lambda Core in the final game.

The reception area and its surroundings in Communications Center served as a base for the multiplayer map Datacore. A portion of this same location, the maintenance hall, also resurfaced in Opposing Force as part of the Biodome Complex at the beginning of the chapter Vicarious Reality. A comparison of the two levels reveals virtually identical map architecture. In early 2005,[4] Datacore was remade in a visually overhauled Half-Life 2: Deathmatch map called Steam Lab,[5] retaining several key landmarks of its predecessor.

The idea of a female scientist who betrays the player was brought back in Half-Life 2 for the character of Judith Mossman.

“The whole relationship with Dr Mossman in HL2 was a scene that we tried to do in Half-Life. We'd done a whole bunch of stuff for this scene where there was a betrayal by a woman scientist; at that point in the story Freeman was being hunted and you think that the scientists are all your friends, so this scientist says she's going to get you help and tells you to stay in the room you're in - and then she calls the guards. We couldn't do that in Half-Life - we didn't really have characters on that level - so it was cool in HL2 when we had characters who were far enough along...”
Marc Laidlaw[6]

Gallery[edit]

Alpha[edit]

Pre-release (classic version)[edit]

Pre-release (new version)[edit]

Retail[edit]

Other renditions[edit]

Associated media[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. The demo (.dem) files (previously recorded footage of the game) in Half-Life Alpha appears to be recorded by the creators of the maps. c3a1.dem was recorded by Kevorkian, which is the alias of Dave Riller.

References[edit]

  1. Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (uncorrected proof), page 66
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Interview with Marc Laidlaw on Gamitopia (November 12, 2001) (archived)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Half-Life Alpha Walkthrough (WalkThru.doc) (September 4, 1997)
  4. News on Official Steam website (February 17, 2005)
  5. Anyone notice that the new map Steamlabs is Datacore? on Steam Users Forums (archived)
  6. Interview with Marc Laidlaw on Computer and Video Games (December 23, 2006) (archived)
  7. YouTube favicon.png Half-Life teaser from early 1997 on YouTube