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Half-Life: Day One

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HL Day One menu.png
Half-Life: Day One

Valve Corporation

Release date(s)

Fall 1998[1]


First-person shooter






Valve Corporation

System req

500 MHz processor, 96 MB RAM, 16 MB video card


Keyboard and mouse





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Half-Life: Day One is the initial pre-release demo of Half-Life. It was designed exclusively for OEM partnerships to be bundled with devices like sound cards, graphics cards and game controllers,[1] but was later also sold as part of the Half-Life: Initial Encounter compilation.


Day One begins at the same point as the full game, but ends after the player completes the chapter "We've Got Hostiles", at the end of the first day of the game's plot. Although sometimes marketed as such,[2] Day One was never a demo version in the traditional sense, as the developers considered that at 250 MB it was it was too big to release on the Internet at the time and that it offered too much of the final game to be given away for free.[3] Half-Life’s proper demo – Half-Life: Uplink, available free to the general public – was released several months after the full game.[4]


After the successful presentation at E3 1998, where the game earned awards for "Best PC Game" and "Best Action Game", various games-related hardware manufacturers were interested in partnering with Valve to include Half-Life with their products.[1] However, due to the long lead times associated with hardware manufacturing, the OEM version had to be finished earlier in order to be shipped at the time of the retail release. The decision to only include one fifth of the single-player campaign meant that no extra work was created for the developers.[3]

The game was also sent out to several reviewers and got leaked almost two months prior to the game's release,[5] the community's reaction made Valve further realize the level of anticipation for the game.[6]


Some of the known products that bundled Day One are:

  • Diamond Multimedia's Monster Sound MX300 sound card,[1]
  • Guillemot International's Maxi Gamer Phoenix Voodoo Banshee video card,[1]
  • ThrustMaster's Frag Master joystick,[1]
  • ATI RAGE FURY video card,[7]
  • Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! sound card.[8]

Since the late 1999 Day One was sold as part of Half-Life: Initial Encounter compilation, which also included a standalone version of Team Fortress Classic.


  • The console and cheats cannot be activated.
  • Direct3D is not supported.
  • The files stored in the .pak files have priority over the files placed in the actual folders.
  • When the Pistol is picked up for the first time, it contains 17 rounds, and if any other weapon is selected, the pistol becomes unselectable until the player picks up some 9mm ammo.
  • Four shells are not kept in reserve when picking up the shotgun.
  • The shotgun's pump sound is always heard at the correct time.
  • Ammunition for the pistol and the shotgun contains 30 rounds per box instead of 17 or 12.
  • Neither the pistol nor the Submachine Gun reload automatically after emptying a magazine.
  • HUD sprites found in the Day One files feature an early RPG icon, an unused battery-style armor indicator from E3 1998, less sprites for 320 screen width, and 320x sprites that do not feature the bar near the man showing suit power.
  • Personal information of the player (e.g. saved games) are split into profiles, however, as there is no multiplayer settings menu in the demo, profiles cannot be switched.
  • Some chapter names are different, although the chapters with different names do not appear in the demo.[9]
  • Upward looking is limited, like in Quake.
  • Day One, similar to Quake, uses built-in particle effects (small colored squares), instead of sprites for the blood effects.
  • Autoaim is enabled by default and cannot be disabled.





  • It is not possible to activate the console, however it's possible both to enter console commands and to see console output.
    • To enter console commands, "gfx\shell\kb_act.lst" file should be extracted from "valve\pak0.pak", a new line in "command" "any name" should be added to kb_act.lst, kb_act.lst should be added to "gfx\shell" of pak0.pak, and a key should be bound to a new command in the main menu.
    • To see console output, the game should be launched with -condebug command line argument. The output will be written into "valve\qconsole.log".
  • The Day One DLLs were built on August 31, 1998, and the executable file was built on September 1. Its build number is 676. It is OEM Release Candidate 4,[10] however, the text in top-right corner of the console (cannot be seen in game but can be seen inside engine DLLs) says "Half-Life 1.0 Alpha build 676", possibly a leftover from alpha builds. Executable file version is, possibly referring to its Release Candidate number, but version range 4.x was later taken by dedicated server version of Half-Life.
  • Continuously crouching while in mid-air makes the player gain height. This can be used to "fly" over obstacles.


External links[edit]


Half-Life: Day One
Combine OverWiki has more images related to Half-Life: Day One.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Half-Life News on Sierra Studios' official website (September 8, 1998) (archived)
  2. Box art of Half-Life: Initial Encounter
  3. 3.0 3.1 Q&A with Valve's Managing Director Gabe Newell on Blue's News
  4. hluplink.exe on Blue's News
  5. Half-Life preview on The Adrenaline Vault (archived)
  6. Valve's Handbook for New Employees, page 19
  7. RAGE 128 FAQ on ATI technologies official website (archived)
  8. Sound Blaster Live! User Manual, section 5, page 11.
  9. titles.txt file
  10. version.txt file