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Half-Life 2 demonstrations

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The E3 logo.

During Half-Life 2’s development, several demonstrations of the game were showcased, most notably at the E3 video game trade fair, among others.

Most of the maps of the E3 demonstrations can be found in the WC mappack from the Half-Life 2 leak, but will require some amount of work for them to work, due to missing files and engine differences.

E3 2002[edit]

Half-Life 2 was originally to be presented at E3 2002. Following the enthusiasm sparked at Valve by the technology demo Get Your Free TVs! in summer 2001, Newell asked the team to prepare a "proof of concept" reel with elements that would resemble more a finished game. In late 2001, the team started work on the demonstrations, hoping to finish them in early 2002 and then unveil them at E3 2002. In March 2002, the team had completed a large series of demonstrations and were very satisfied with the results, given the short amount of time given to prepare them, and were ready to show it to Gabe Newell. But while he was impressed by the work put into the demonstration, he considered it not good enough to be shown at E3 2002. While the character technology was visually impressive, the dramatic scenes were deemed too long and boring; the physics gameplay was worth of interest, but there weren't any moments that really sold how the physics would take first-person shooters to the next level. The team started working on a new reel, which evolved into the more successful E3 2003 demos, and then the final game.[1]

List of demonstrations[edit]

Trailer[edit]

  • The only E3 2002 demonstration to have been made publicly available when it was leaked around May 16, 2003, while the other demos can partially be experienced thanks to the WC mappack's existence and several old official screenshots. It reuses a track cut from the Half-Life: Opposing Force soundtrack titled "Mishaps In The Reactor Chamber Part 1 - Track 03", by Chris Jensen. It features footage of the E3 2002 demos "Town", "Terminal", "Kleiner's Lab", and "Strider" (both Strider and Hydra parts).
  • YouTube favicon.png Trailer on YouTube (official)

"Depot"[edit]

"Industrial"[edit]

"Kleiner's Lab"[edit]

  • Set in the map "e3_lab". No proper related map, scripts or sound files can be found in the leak files. The map "ms_lab", last edited June 2002, features Alyx at the proper location in the lab, but the scripts are unrelated and Kleiner is not present.
  • Featuring an early Kleiner's Lab sequence, featuring Isaac Kleiner and Alyx Vance, and consisting of about 20 minutes of dialogue, which was considered too long for an E3 showcase, and shortened for E3 2003.[1] A version of the map "e3_lab" found in the WC mappack and last edited in December 2002 features Barney and Kleiner without Alyx ; it mostly consists of the first part of the original teleportation sequence with Elena Mossman. It is unknown whether it was meant to be used for E3 2002 or 2003, since both versions of the E3 labs have always been officially presented as involving Alyx and Kleiner only.

"Ship"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_ship. e3_shiptest, e3_devtest and e3_meathook also exist.
  • Featuring the Borealis level, without Odell.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Ship" on YouTube (unofficial)

"Strider"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_strider. e3_sewer also exist.
  • Featuring Striders attacking Citizens through ruined streets, and Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance escaping through sewers, in which a Hydra attacks an Overwatch Soldier. The sequences were updated for E3 2003, the Strider part for the demo "Striders", and the Hydra part for the demo "Tunnels".
  • YouTube favicon.png "Strider" on YouTube (unofficial)

"Terminal"[edit]

"Town"[edit]

E3 2003[edit]

Following the cancellation of Half-Life 2’s unveiling at E3 2002, a new reel was prepared and shown to Newell in September 2002. It featured mostly updated versions of the demos of the previous reel, along with several new demos. Feedback was very positive, and in October it was decided that the team would get ready to showcase the game at E3 2003, and have it released in September.[1]

While heavy work was being made on the game thanks to Valve's "cabal" design process, the subject of the E3 presentation was still to be determined: first Newell wanted the team to create an extensive 30-minute demo that would feature Alyx guiding the audience through a science lab that showcased the Source technology. Then, halfway through the demo, the lab would suddenly be attacked and the player would have to escape alongside Alyx. It sounded like a great way to break the fourth wall and show off Valve's character technology. But in the weeks leading up to E3, the team didn't have enough time to create such an elaborate demo, so they decided to showcase several short sequences. The showcase was very successful, which made Half-Life 2 the buzz of the show, to the point of winning the "Best of Show" award.[1]

The demonstrations are listed here in showcase order, as seen in the full sequence as filmed at E3 in 2003.

List of demonstrations[edit]

[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_hl2logo.
  • Used on a black background for the demo's introduction.

"G-Man"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_techdemo_1.
  • Showcasing Source's facial animations and language support through the G-Man, it starts with the GoldSrc version of the G-Man fading into the Source version. The G-Man says various sentences, including one in Chinese.
  • YouTube favicon.png "G-Man" on YouTube (official)

"Techdemo 2"[edit]

"Techdemo 5"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_techdemo_5.
  • Showcasing textures and shaders, as well as a working video camera on a tripod filming the G-Man, with the image projected on several monitors, until a Headcrab topples the camera.
  • Reused with small changes for Counter-Strike: Source's "Video Stress Test".
  • YouTube favicon.png "Techdemo 5" on YouTube (unofficial, Counter-Strike: Source version)

"Docks"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_town. e3_techdemo_6 also exists.
  • Featuring the early docks and Zombies near Ravenholm originally to be shown at E3 2002.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Docks" on YouTube (official)

"Kleiner's Lab"[edit]

"Traptown"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_phystown.
  • Featuring the use of traps and physics against Zombies and Overwatch Soldiers in Ravenholm.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Traptown" on YouTube (official)

"Tunnels"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_under. e3_hydra also exists, and features the Hydra sewer only.
  • Featuring sewer areas involving fighting Civil Protection and Manhacks, ending with Gordon reuniting with Alyx for the Hydra sequence originally to be shown at E3 2002. While a playthrough was recorded, it was cut from the demonstration. The map is partially used in the playable leak, in the map d1_under_03, and in the final game, in the map d3_c17_08, with CPs replaced by Overwatch Soldiers.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Tunnels" on YouTube (official)

"Barricade"[edit]

"Bugbait"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_bugbait. e3_prison also exists.
  • Featuring a daytime Nova Prospekt, in which the use of the Bugbait on the Antlions to defeat the guards is showcased. Mostly consists of cell block C1 from the final game, featuring the laundry facilities.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Bugbait" on YouTube (official)

"Coastline"[edit]

"Striders"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_c17_02.
  • Featuring an updated version of the 2002 demo "Strider", it also features a Resistance battle against Striders in a ruined City 17. At the start of the demo, a tram passes by in the middle of the road. Parts of the map were reused in the final game as "d3_c17_07" (the arch building) and "d3_c17_13" (the street, the tram tracks and the shelter).
  • YouTube favicon.png "Striders" on YouTube (official)

"Psyche"[edit]

  • Set in the map e3_end.
  • Featuring a dreamy sequence with the G-Man and other pictures, notably the earliest known models of Eli and Alyx Vance and Barney Calhoun. While the pictures are simple textures files, the demo ends with the actual G-Man who will say "Well, well, isn't this just like old times.". Also set at the end of the WC mappack map "hazard", dating from 2002, but with an alternate G-Man speech.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Psyche" on YouTube (official)

E3 2004[edit]

Except for the teaser and G-Man's monologue, the sequences are identical to the final game.

List of demonstrations[edit]

Teaser[edit]

  • Made in the engine version preceding that of the final game, which most notably features difference in textures.
  • YouTube favicon.png E3 2004 Teaser Trailer on YouTube (official)

Trailer[edit]

"G-Man Monologue"[edit]

"Train Station"[edit]

  • Featuring the very start of the game, from exiting the train until right before Barney Calhoun reveals himself.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Train Station" on YouTube (official)

"Tenements"[edit]

  • Featuring the tenement buildings set between the City 17 Trainstation and Kleiner's Lab, right before the raid.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Tenements" on YouTube (official)

"Ravenholm"[edit]

  • Featuring the start of Ravenholm until right before the plaza where Father Grigori is first met.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Ravenholm" on YouTube (official)

"Coast"[edit]

  • Featuring the Dock 137 area until the player has killed all Overwatch Soldiers in sight with the crane. Updated version of the "Coastline" demo from E3 2003.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Coast" on YouTube (official)

Half-Life 2 launch party[edit]

  • Set in a variant of the retail map d1_trainstation_04.
  • A launch party for Half-Life 2 was held on the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco on September 30, 2003, in partnership with graphics card manufacturer ATI. However while it was expected, Half-Life 2's release date was not announced. Instead, a benchmark video showcasing the HDR in the (back then) upcoming Source engine was shown, titled "Source Engine High-Dynamic Range Rendering",[1] and involving an Antlion Guardian on the rooftops of the tenement buildings set before Kleiner's Lab, and high quality reflections on the roof materials not included in the final game. Half-Life 2 was released about a year later, and the HDR was not implemented before Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, released about two years later.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Source Engine High-Dynamic Range Rendering" on YouTube (official)

Miscellaneous demonstrations and test maps[edit]

Several in-house demos and test maps were made but not used in E3 presentations; they can also be found in the WC mappack. This is a non-exhaustive list.

"Aliens Test"[edit]

  • Set in the test map "testroom_ripley", last edited in March 2002, and "aliens_test", probably last edited around September 2003, but not present in the files.
  • Scene reusing partial dialog from three scenes of the 1986 film Aliens, used for lip sync tests. Alyx says Ripley's lines, Barney says Hicks', the player acts as Hudson.
  • YouTube favicon.png Restoration of the scene on YouTube

Segments[edit]

Location: sound/vo/alien_test

Transcripts taken from the official film subtitles.

Segment set around 70 min. in the director's cut for the film:

Sound file Quote
A01-Rip01 How long after we're declared overdue can we expect a rescue?
A02-Hicks01 Seventeen days.
A03-Rip02 Listen to me.
A04-Rip03 Hudson, just deal with it, because we need you and I'm sick of your bullshit.
A05-Rip04 Now I want you to get on a terminal, call up some kind of floor plan file. Do you understand?
A06-Rip05 Construction blueprints. I don't care. Anything that shows the layout of this place. Are you listening?
A07-Rip06 I need to see air ducts.
A08-Rip07 I need to see electrical access tunnels,
A09-Rip08 subbasements,
A10-Rip09 every possible way into this complex.
A11-Rip10 We don't have much time.
A12-Rip11 Hudson!
A13-Rip12 Just relax.

Segment set around 129 min. in the director's cut for the film:

Sound file Quote
A14-Hicks02 Next time you walk right up and knock.
A15-Rip13 Yeah, but they don't know that.
A16-Rip14 They're probably looking for other ways to get in.
A17-Rip15 That'll take 'em a while.
A18-Hicks03 I want you two walking perimeter.
A19-Hicks04 Move!
A20-Hicks05 Hey, listen.
A21-Hicks06 We're all in strung-out shape,
A22-Hicks07 but stay frosty
A23-Hicks08 and alert.
A24-Hicks09 We can't afford to let one of those bastards in here.
A25-Hicks10 How long's it been since you got any sleep?
A26-Hicks11 Twenty-four hours?
A27-Rip16 Hicks, I'm not gonna end up like those others.
A28-Rip17 You'll take care of it, won't you?
A29-Hicks12 If it comes to that,
A30-Hicks13 I'll do us both.
A31-Hicks14 Listen, let's just make sure it doesn't come to that.
A32-Hicks15 All right?

Segment set around 143 min. in the director's cut for the film:

Sound file Quote
A33-Rip18 They cut the power.
A34-Hudson1 How could they cut the power, man? They're animals.
A35-Hicks16 I want you two with trackers, checking the corridors! Move!

"Demo Arctic"[edit]

  • Set in the test map "demo_arctic", last edited in September 2001, it consists of the Borealis stranded in the ice near a base and a cave.

"Get Your Free TVs!"[edit]

Main article: Get Your Free TVs!
  • Set in the map "city_test", with versions ranging from "03" to "09".
  • The very first Half-Life 2 test level to be created in 2001, consisting of a test sequence designed to highlight all the new technology created for the game and test the NPCs and physics.

"Look Lab"[edit]

  • Set in the map "looklab", in the folder "marc", last edited in February 2003, with the Kleiner dialogue sound files created in November 2001.
  • Set in a small lab prototype with green metal walls and in an Arctic location, as seen through the window. In it, Kleiner commenting on specific objects is demonstrated, in a demonstration of what is used in the final game for Kleiner's Lab and Black Mesa East. The objects include a Combot decoy, a Rollermine, a painting which is actually an image to be used for distant buildings, and a broken window revealing the Arctic landscape. His voice was recorded by another voice actor.

"Boxing"[edit]

  • Set in the map "boxing", last edited in May 2002.
  • Consists of a small dark room with a boxing ring in the middle, lit by a single lamp. There two Zombies start fighting each other when a bell rings. When the first one is killed, the bell rings again and the remaining Zombie remains still.
  • In the map, the Zombie are named "popinksi" and "vonkaiser", a reference to the characters Soda Popinski and Von Kaiser from the boxing video game series Punch-Out!! by Nintendo.
  • YouTube favicon.png "Boxing" on YouTube (unofficial)

"Techdemo 3"[edit]

  • Possibly planned for E3 2003, but not demonstrated at the expo.
  • Set in the map "e3_techdemo_3", last edited in May 2003.
  • Based on the map "testroom_standards" seen in Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, designed as a reference for measurements of level elements, with various modifications.
  • Showcasing a scripted sequence of a Citizen waking up a Zombie, then running away and covering behind barrels and a stair while the Zombie is trying to attack the player and pounding on a door, and shooting the Zombie with the Submachine Gun.
  • The version of the map in the WC mappack is incomplete, as the map entities required for the sequence to work are missing or not properly connected to each other.

References[edit]