The Loader is a robotic power loader used in the Black Mesa Research Facility.
Powered by a number of hydraulic joints, the Loader is a yellow quadruped robot that is crab-like in appearance with two pincer-like claws used to clasp onto objects. It has the text "MTM 8" and "No Entry" written on the side of its body. The Loader is seen handling crates and performing other maintenance tasks in the facility, particularly in locations with hazardous conditions. The robot acts autonomously, although it has a suspended cockpit with controls at the rear of the machine.
Two Loaders are seen by Gordon Freeman during his tram ride to Sector C along the Sector C Line. The first one is transporting a wooden crate, while the second prepares to work on a radioactive spill leaking from a nearby storage tank, temporarily obstructing Gordon's tram in the process.
In the chapter Welcome to Black Mesa, Adrian Shephard finds himself above a loader bay flooded with radioactive waste. Access to the room is forbidden as long as the Loader below is operating. The Loader, carrying a green metal crate, is blocked by the rest of the crates in the vicinity that Shephard must destroy. Once the obstructions are removed, the Loader proceeds along its designated path and exits, leaving behind the green crate which Shephard uses as a platform to safely cross the toxic materials.
As the elevator adjacent to this room leads up to the same section of the Sector C Line where the second Loader was witnessed in Half-Life, it is likely these two Loaders are one and the same. Between Freeman's and Shephard's passing through the area, the previously seen leak has since been repaired by maintenance personnel.
Behind the scenes
The original Loader model in Half-Life was designed, modeled, textured, and animated by Valve artist Steve Theodore. It bears a resemblance to the power loader seen in the film Aliens. The Loader was one of the models that Valve used at the European Computer Trade Show to demonstrate the flexibility of the GoldSrc engine's skeletal animation system. The model had actually been created for a series of planned puzzles in the game, but these were all later cut. The player was intended to remotely control a Loader with a lever control system that would allow him to combat and defeat a Gargantua. The level art and animations for this sequence were made, but the AI was not completed.
In Opposing Force, Gearbox originally planned for the player to be able to commandeer the Loader as a drivable vehicle. However, as this plan failed to culminate, designer Randy Pitchford worked with level designer Rob Heironimus to create the blocked Loader puzzle featured in the finished expansion. Landon Montgomery made the animations for this sequence. This puzzle was a last minute addition and was developed in two days within the last week of the game's production.
In Half-Life, the model possesses several unused animations: "
heroidle", and "
herodie". The final two depict a sequence in which the machine runs forward, crashes into something, and subsequently falls apart. This act would trigger an entity called "loaderhit" which can be found in the map c2a5f in the final game.
In this level, a Bradley enters a large hangar to deploy Marines by crashing through the hangar door. This event triggers two multi_managers, "loaderhit" and "loaderhit2", but none of the objects referenced by these entities exist in the map. If they were still present, this would trigger an elaborate destruction sequence in which the catwalk breaks down. It is possible that a Loader was to cause this destruction in the cut sequence. In the final game, a part of the catwalk is already destroyed before the Bradley enters.
List of appearances
- Half-Life: Day One (First appearance)
- Half-Life: Opposing Force Prima Guide
- Steve Theodore's personal website (archived)
- Half-Life: Opposing Force - Interview on Gamepen (August 20, 1999) (archived)
- Half-Life: Opposing Force preview on IGN (May 25, 1999) (archived)
- Q&A with Valve's Managing Director Gabe Newell on Blue's News (September 13, 1998)
- Steve Theodore on Gus and the Loader (February 2, 2014)
- Audio Interview with Gearbox Software on PlanetPhillip (November 3, 2012)