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Though Half-Life [official site] is almost nineteen years old and its sanctioned fan remake Black Mesa is nearing completion, Valve have launched a wee patch for their pretty okay or whatever vintage FPS. The patch fixes a few crashes and exploits, and hit other Half-Life engine games too, such as classic Counter-Strike. Given how much of modern PC games history connects to Half-Life and its mod scene, I’m glad Valve are still tinkering a little. Earlier this year, they finally got Half-Life an uncensored release in Germany too. … [visit site to read more]
Half-Life got a new update today, which is significant for only one reason: the game is old. Old to the tune of nearly 20 years. So it's cool that Valve is still supporting it, despite Valve clearly not pulling its weight in other areas (releasing or even working on Half-Life Fricking 3).
The update addresses some small bugs the likes of which don't seem too gamebreaking, but since Valve probably wants to keep this game evergreen on Steam, it makes sense to address them.
And yes, I've read the patch notes several times and there's no clear or obscure reference to any much-anticipated third instalment. Just take my word for it. Don't waste your precious time on this earth deconstructing the below published patch notes.
Here they are:
Earlier this week, we watched some SGDQ speedrunners , Half-Life 2’s wettest level. Normally, you coast through with a boat, stopping here and there to shoot aliens and open gates. It’s a relaxing venture compared to Nova Prospekt’s turret hell.
Ditching the boat makes sense if you’re trying to go fast, but modder WALLe’s anti-boat agenda runs deep. They’re redesigning the entire Water Hazard level to be playable from start to finish without a floaty friend. That doesn’t mean they’re just putting out a mod that lets Freeman fly or plops handy planks throughout the entire sequence. It’s being completely redesigned, featuring a small story, voice acting, music, and maps made for feet. See it for yourself in this early demo playthrough.
The footage doesn’t look too thrilling, but I suppose it’s the novelty of the mod’s intent that overrides what a quiet experience it might be. I mean, if you take the boat out of Water Hazard, I’d expect it to be quiet. There’s no boat making boat sounds. It’s boat-less. Er, BOAT-LESS. The capital letters are there to emphasize exactly how little boat there will be in the final release.
It’s possible to ignore the boat almost entirely in Half-Life 2’s first notorious vehicle level, and speedrunner Woobly demonstrated it last night during his Summer Games Done Quick run of the classic FPS. Dubbed Boatless by the HL2 speedrunning community, the strategy isn’t exactly new, but for those who only hear about speedruns when the Games Done Quick carnival rolls into town and hate the Water Hazard chapter, it’s a revelation.
A few tricks go into making the run possible, the most important of which is save deletion. It’s a method of creating and deleting saves to reset Freeman’s weapon inventory and health. Since most of Water Hazard’s water is, well, a hazard, it’s nearly impossible to swoop through the radioactive liquid without marooning yourself eventually. With save deletion, runners can just save, delete the save, and die to get healthy again. It will also spawn the boat nearby, no matter where the runner leaves it behind.
Before save deletion was discovered, the run wasn’t possible even if players somehow survived the ordeal. Throughout the entire level, there’s a single trigger that requires the boat, and it’s right at the end. Gordon doesn’t have to even be there. Save deletion lets runners spawn the boat right at the end when it’s needed, so some NPCs can talk to it and open a gate.
But to swoop around like a damn bird on a surfboard and fly over most of the map, runners use variations well known Source exploit to gain speed called accelerated back hopping. To do it, you need to jump forward, turn around in the air, and jump right when you land. The Source Runs wiki explains how this process actually gains speed:
“When you exceed the game's speed limit, the game tries to slows you down whenever you jump, back to the desired speed. By default the game thinks that you're moving forwards, so when you exceed the speed limit, it'll accelerate you backwards. If you are facing backwards, this will only increase your speed. So, the faster you're going, the more you will get accelerated.”
By gaining speed and hitting certain surfaces at angles that don’t trigger damage, runners can treat level geometry like a stunt course. It’s just like real life, basically.
As impressive as Woobly’s SGDQ run is, it’s nothing compared to the World Record run by Rainnt, set just under a month ago. To see their near perfect Boatless run, skip to the 20-minute mark or so.
Half-Life: A Place in the West is a webcomic series set in Valve's esteemed Gordon Freeman-housing future world that's set between the events of the first and second games in the wake of the Seven Hour War. Created by Michael Pelletier, Ross Joseph Gardner, Heath Heil and Rachel Deering, issue one launch onto Steam towards the end of last year, with issue two landing in February this year. Now, issue three has a launch date: July 21.
And to mark the announcement, Half-Life: A Place in the West Chapter 3 has a pretty nifty trailer. Observe:
Following the story of Albert Kempinski and his search for his kidnapped daughter, A Place in the West explores life and the trials and tribulations faced by the world's new cast of characters caught up in the dystopian city of New Franklin. The incoming third entry—named 'The Pit'—continues the exploits of Kempinski and his companion Leyla Poirier as they delve deeper into New Franklin's secrets.
"The Pit is a culmination of everything we learned from the first two chapters," says writer and co-creator Gardner in a statement. "At a total of 30 pages, the condensed narrative is sleeker, much more focused, and really aims to bring the city to life."
Half-Life: A Place in the West in its entirety will run for a total of 13 issues—with chapter three due on July 21 for $1.99/£1.49. If you'd like to know about A Place in the West's origins, this article of Gardner's makes for pretty interesting reading.
So committed is third-party Half-Life remake Black Mesa [official site] to emulation of its much vaunted inspiration that it has now fully embraced ValveTime. Black Mesa was first released as a free mod in 2012, followed by a spit’n’polished paid version two years ago, but still with the notorious jump’n’fail alien world section from Half Life’s final act missing. Plan was to rethink rather than merely remake Xen, in a planned act of historical revisionism to make people think Half-Life was brillo all the way through. (Note: Half-Life was> brillo all the way through).
Last Autumn, the team declared the Gordon would finally be bouncing his away across fleshy coral oddities once away this summer. Well, no – there’s been a delay. The good news is, they are now showing off Xen’s great outdoors for the first time, as well as revealing a few changes planned for Black Mesa as a whole.