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Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar

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Raising the Bar cover.jpg
Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar



Video game design


Prima Games

Publication date

November 23, 2004[1]





Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar - A Behind the Scenes Look: Prima's Official Insider's Guide is a coffee table book written by David Hodgson and published by Prima Games in November 2004, in a hardback and paperback cover, comprising a collection of images chronicling the development of Half-Life, Team Fortress, Day of Defeat, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source and Half-Life 2. Text includes notes on game design, development, cut concepts, information relating to voice actors and game development. Numerous interviews of the Valve staff members also fill the book.

The book has been discontinued and has thus become a collectible item,[2] although it can still be found on websites such as at fairly high prices.


Foreword by Gabe Newell[edit]

In this foreword written August 11, 2004, Valve's managing director, Gabe Newell, makes some acknowledgments, talks about team work, the importance of the gaming community and wonders if Half-Life 2 will be successful.


Investigation 1: Anomalous Materials[edit]

Chronicles how it all started, the evolution of Half-Life, from Prospero to Quiver, containing many characters, creatures, locations and weapons concept art, as well as screenshots of cut content.

Half-Life: A Nonstandard Specimen[edit]

Depicts the development of the Half-Life enemies, cut and kept, and how the final game stemmed from Prospero and Quiver.

This section includes concept art by Greg Coomer, Chuck Jones, Ted Backman and Dhabih Eng.


Extra Life: The Mod Movement[edit]

Expands on information related to the mod community that developed in the game's wake and the subsequent retail release of iconic mods such as Counter-Strike,Team Fortress and Day of Defeat.

This section includes concept art by Kristen Perry and Moby Francke.

Investigation 2: Unexpected Interference[edit]

Covers the long development of Half-Life 2, also containing many characters, creatures, locations and weapons concept art, as well as screenshots of cut content. It also covers character creation and design.

Half-Life 2: Creature Discomforts[edit]

Covers the Half-Life 2 creatures, how they evolved and why some were cut.

This section includes concept art by Ted Backman, Dhabih Eng, Tri Nguyen and Viktor Antonov.


Half-Life 2: Digital Drama[edit]

Covers character creation and design, acting, motion capture, and face posing, as well as some information about the characters' real life counterparts. It also includes story excerpts by Marc Laidlaw given to the team for design inspiration.

This section includes concept art by Ted Backman, Dhabih Eng, Anry and Moby Francke.


Half-Life 2: Welcome to City 17[edit]

Covers Half-Life 2's setting evolution, and how it started from a globe-spanning vision to a tighter, circular path that gave birth to City 17 and its surroundings. It again includes story excerpts by Marc Laidlaw.

This section includes concept art by Viktor Antonov, Eric Kirchmer, Tri Nguyen, Horia Dociu, Randy Lundeen, Damarcus Holbrook and Jeff Ballinger.


Half-Life 2: Final Sequence[edit]

A more technical section, it covers polishing and adding detail, mapping, prop creation, NPC behavior, general gameplay, etc.

Images included in this section are mostly screenshots from the retail Half-Life 2, not included here.


Uncorrected proof[edit]

In April 2016, the uncorrected proof of Raising the Bar was discovered by the wider community.[3] This preliminary version, never intended for sale, is about a hundred pages longer than the final product, and includes concept art and information that haven't been presented elsewhere. Shown below are images exclusive to the uncorrected proof.

Foreword by Gabe Newell[edit]

Identical to the retail version.

Investigation 1: An Intractable Rebirth[edit]

Depicts the development of Half-Life from its very beginning, chronicling the origins of Valve, the initial versions of the game, and its eventual reworking.

A New Handle on Software Development[edit]

Covers Gabe Newell's time at Microsoft, his reasons for leaving the company, and the process of gathering the team, finding a publisher, and selecting necessary development tools. Includes information about Prospero, one of the earliest game concepts created by Valve.


Quivering with Anticipation[edit]

Freedom for Freeman[edit]


Good Morning and Welcome to the Black Mesa Transit System[edit]


Investigation 2: Anomalous Mutations[edit]

Black Mesa, White Noise[edit]

Domination from Down Under: Team Fortress Classic[edit]

Covers Team Fortress Classic.

Man Down! The coming of Counter-Strike[edit]

Covers Counter-Strike.

The Mod of War: Day of Defeat[edit]

Covers Day of Defeat.

Xenome on the Range: Gunman Chronicles[edit]

Covers Gunman Chronicles.

Modification nation[edit]

Showcases 50 modifications created by the community.

Metamorphosis: Extra Life for Half-Life[edit]

Investigation 3: An Enduring Evolution[edit]

Industrial Strength: Behind the Scenes at Valve Software[edit]

Destination City 17: Head East, Freeman[edit]


Gods and Monsters: Combine Harvesting[edit]

Let's Get Physical: World Manipulation and Weapons[edit]

The Final Push: Half-Life[edit]

Epilogue - The Half Life of Half-Life, Full Circle[edit]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]