Talk:Cameo Era

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- This is the successor to the 'Dhabih Eng' era, the Cameo Era hub page, with brief blurbs and links for each of its two development stages.

The Cameo era is easily one of the most recognizable and famous in Half-Life 2's development cycle, characterized by both concept art and an overall darker tone. There are quite a number of maps from this era in the WC Mappack, giving us clues on the progression of ideas at the time.


Concept art depicting Gordon, Alyx, Eli, Skitch and a rough D0g.

This era began sometime in 2000 (June at the latest; the "proposal date" of the 'Timelapse Opening' script[1]) with the adoption of a circular story design philosophy, centering around a single area/region which the player exits then returns to over the course of the game — City 17. Many new concepts and areas were solidified during this era, including the Air Exchange, an opening Wasteland train ride, gasmasked citizens and the return of the Black Mesa Science Team. Prompted by Laidlaw's grim story vignettes, the team's concept artists — Dhabih Eng and Viktor Antonov — created numerous pieces of concept art for the era, featuring an overall darker tone, more stylistic color choices, and somewhat exaggerated character designs. Gordon's journey was marked by cameo-type segments with ally characters for each major section (akin to retail's Colonel Cubbage and Father Grigori), with a select few like Alyx and Captain Vance defining much of the plot.

This era heralded in the foundations of the HL2 we recognize today, albeit with a much larger scope.

Development Background

"There was you and a bunch of other agents were like you. Your HEV suit would have become this weird, black leather stealth suit with all these devices latched on it. There was some kind of parasitic implant thing in his brain that would kill him if he went against orders." Gabe Newell took one look at it [and said]: "It's not Half-Lfe." "He was right." Marc agrees. "We had some really elaborate stuff going on with agents and counteragents. That was really convoluted. Gradually the process was to simplify things to make them directly related. So it gradually changed from this globe-spanning thing to, 'Let's do a city, or a region, an area where you go out and come back in,' you end up kind of where you began. It was our little local level design philosophy on a larger scale. You can see your goal, and you had to thwart a bunch of obstacles that get in your way, and at the end of the level when you get there."

- Raising the Bar: Uncorrected Proof

Changes from the Hyper Era

  • The 3 alien races are no longer separate at this point. The 2 main races are featured together, with some designs being fused and others not. Synths are styled to have glowing, exposed components.
  • The city with a Citadel originally meant for the G-Man and his race is merged into the main setting, becoming City 17. The Hyperborea, at some point changed to the Borealis, no longer appears at the beginning of the game. Rather, the player is meant to visit it much later. Kraken Base can now be seen at the beginning of the game thanks to the introduction of the teleportation failure.

Gradual Changes

  • Around the time of this era, physics were finally implemented into the game in the form of Ipion Virtual Physics. This of course led to weapons such as the Brickbat, which allowed the player to use certain props in the world as weapons. Later on, a true physics manipulator was introduced as the Physgun. < THIS ISNT CORRECT, PHYSICS WERE IMPLEMENTED IN LATE '99 — MOVE TO HYPER ERA PAGE

New Tripod hopper? (this art is really out of place of hl2, its in the same style as hl1 art, I've put it here due to the concepts towards the end experimenting with wildlife) Vertigo art deco museum then palace (figure out this) Player drivable Vehicle added to Wasteland traversal (at some point vehicles were properly added physically)

Tile semi-organic metal citadel vs laser weapon on top in vignette and concept art

C-130 changed to Osprey helicopter? (voice files and outline in rtb: uncorrected proof) C-130/Osprey crashes into Vertigo skyscraper, alyx captured, escape to other roof tops that have stalkers on them

Two Different consul designs

  • Consul Patrick Stewart star trek inspiration
  • More cartoony
  • o Kidnapped alyx

Breen arrives early

  • At first they only have a head model for him (Consul.mdl)

air exchange was thought of as a few different possible concepts or all at once (i.e. polluter and atmosphere portal dam)

Skitch, Tbot and d0g development (also vignette) Concept art for tbot has the right proportions and features but different details to the textures and known model components Era started with tbot design Scrapland vignette seems related to some inspiration from forbidden planet

  • Dusty glass grill
  • Extending legs
  • New posture Looks like a beetle sitting down

Towards the Start

City 17 full of sky scrapers

Citadel positioning in relation to manhack arcade

Towards the End

City 17 barely any sky scrapers

Slow drift from cartoon esque to realistic with same maps/plot

D0g proper

Wasteland cut down to coast (<-- this might be better in pre-retail)

Antlion caves merged with quarry cave part of raven holm as victory mine

??/11/2001 chargeable gravity gun present (vtmb started development with source, never updated engine version [1])



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Hyper Era
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Cameo Era 1 — Expansion