Talk:Dhabih Eng Era

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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 early-mid 2000 (June 2000 at the latest (the "proposal date" of the 'Timelapse Opening' script)) 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.

Known Information


An early map from this era.

Blah blah talk about the beta story:

  • Gman intro
  • Long train ride
  • Long C17 intro (trainstation, industrial, manhack arcade)
  • Meet Barney/Kleiner
  • - Bus chase
  • - Later teleporter shenanigans
  • Canals/sewers
  • Scrapland w/ Eli/Dog
  • Doin some train ridin', meet w/ Alyx
  • Airex w/ Vance
  • Owen/Odell on Borealis
  • Dr Mossman in Kraken
  • Arctic + Weather Control
  • - AC-130/Osprey back to C17
  • Vertigo
  • Streetwars
  • Citadel confrontation w/ Consul, Alyx n Mossman

Kids in factories

Captain Vance, the Conscripts and Younger alyx design

Manhack arcade

Gargantua train sequence, with the train ride being much longer


  • - Eli Maxwell Scrapyard
  • o Catch train, after a bit need to move on foot for some reason (todo, was this implied by the maps?)
  • Airex


  • Originally a prison
  • Gunship construction
  • Catch train to air ex
  • o Antlions attack with you but against you too

Citadel shit

Story Vignettes

Quarry town with monk, traps and mines (vignettes)

  • o Went into scurry mine field then encountered some antlions (talk about scurry mine art and map)
  • o Next place is a safe camp run by Captain Vance or eli

Antlion caves

  • o Much larger open spaces after eli den, planned to be even larger than the Antlion caves introduced with grub extract
  • o Antlion grubs were partially used but never fully as their purpose was still being figured out, left until episode 2 to be refined

i've always thought the antlion cave vignette was much later than the others, is it even from this era?? i have my doubts - bun

Bus ride (in story vignette?)

Manhack arcade

Gradual Changes

  • For the first time, proper driveable vehicles were added into the game. This includes the Digger, which was meant to ram into a "mother pod." At the time, vehicles were only meant for small segments. However, they were later changed and made more prominent in order to be more engaging. There was also meant to be a controllable Manhack, and even a rocket that can be viewed in first person.
  • 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.

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])


Trench coat metro cop older icon stunstick


Slightly updated Bullsquid, higher res than hl1 but still cartoony

Man hack from this era only has textures and sounds

Early Dropship

Particle storm

  • Only limited particle system remains
  • Sounds for forming, dissipating, hovering and lightning strikes
  • A node for “particle storm rock spawn”, possibilities include
  •  Something for it to grab and throw
  •  Something that is a consequence of it attacking, allowing you to attack it
  •  Something for it to protect and for you to attack
  •  Something for it to spawn from
  • If not a proper enemy it is Possibly a method to keep the player within the playable area, like leeches or piranhas in the ocean, somewhat similar to the guardians in halo multiplayer maps

antlion guard

Sand Barnacle? texture is more realistic than this era


the Scanner designed for this era is only in concept art and sounds

Computer Chips plot element in spire/weather control

  • Weather controlling related?
  • Allowing use of combine weaponry? (this is Specifically alluded to in audio from skyscraper between combine units)
  • if the above what they were for, it might have been explained at the start of the game in relation to the physics manipulator

key dates

(Note (bun): oh yeah americans this is in dd/mm/yyyy deal with it 😎 - should change to yyyy-mm-dd in final article)

  • 19/05/2000 tank plus diesel engine loop sounds
  • 22/05/2000 first reference to trans.txt and 'v' (valve) tools as opposed to 'q' (quake), in gary/buildnew.bat

(Note (bun): keep in mind oldtrans.txt does reference lab_ textures (which are actually very similar to the earliest lab maps we have))

  • 02/06/2000 timelapse opening vignette
  • 15/06/2000 first combot sounds
  • 21/06/2000 to 23/06/2000 sounds/c17/ wavs

(Note (bun): it occurs to me that these sounds could have been for siggraph/gyftvs)

  • 23/06/2000 to 28/06/2000 siggraph 2000, private/closed-room valve tech demo
  • 16/08/2000 to 17/08/2000 testlevel sounds
  • 24/08/2000 to 29/08/2000 testcitadel sounds
  • 09/10/2000 to 06/12/2000 sound/ambient/areas/borealis wavs
  • 10/10/2000 sound/ambient/areas/sky_scraper (vertigo) sounds
  •  01/11/2000 soldier vert lines (plus heli_way.wav)
  • 16/10/2000 to 01/11/2000 airex sounds
  • 11/10/2000 stalker sounds
  • 17/10/2000 all headcrab bite sounds
  • 23/10/2000 binocular signal sounds
  • 28/10/2000 alyx voice lines (misc, cache, citadel and skyscraper

[14/11/2000 vert lines were re-recorded with a different voice actor]

  • 29/10/2000 much more sounds for flying apc turret
  • 21/11/2000 to 06/12/2000 kraken ambient sounds
  • ricochet release date
  •  idea for city logo from platform designs
  •  possible reuse of content from tf2 development
  • • heads from realistic tf2
  • • armour is similar to space romans
  •  slight possibility of late development aleph character model
  • 8/11/2000 new bullsquid sounds
  • 14/11/2000 first mention of town, phys town zombie town trap town
  • 15/11/2000 to 14/12/2000 manhack sounds
  • 17/11/2000 to 22/11/2000 ice axe sound
  • 30/11/2000 soundscape_test sounds

(Note (bun): possible approx. soundscape implementation date?)

  • 8/01/2001 first manhack test room
  • 12/01/2001 to 16/01/2001 vortigaunt voice
  • 23/01/2001 vort test map
  • 9/03/2001 first wasteland scanner sound
  • 19/03/2001 first haz (hazard course) voice lines
  •  later, kleiner lines recorded (04/02/2002) and gman lines re-recorded (27/02/2000)
  • 27/03/2001 alien assassin ball sounds for tripwire
  • 30/03/2001 gunship sounds
  • 30/05/2001 to 6/11/2001 roller and roller bull sounds
  • 6/09/2001 roller mine sounds
  • 21/09/2001 to 26/09/2001 Particle storm sounds
  •  ??/11/2001 vampire: the masquerade -bloodlines starts development
  • o barely updated the sdk once downloaded, forced into crunch so no time to deal with changes in how source worked
  • o Old console variables for charged gravity gun
  •  Sounds for this still exist
  • 3/01/2002 crow sounds
  • o Used sack tick model while being programmed
  • 4/01/2002 hammer 3.4
  • o Proto_sniper code still refers to program as worldcraft, this is the date the name changed
  • 4/02/2002 first e3 sounds
  • 13/02/2002 visual studio 7 (version before was the last version to use dsp, v6) see hl2_scripts.dsp in hyper era article, since this file could have been updated with a mash of things prior to this date

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Hyper Era
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