HALF-LIFE 2: RAISING THE BAR REDUX
The goal of Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar Redux is to recreate the Half-Life 2 Beta the public never solved. We combined leaked files, lost concept art, and our own vision to create an authentic but unique Half-Life 2 Experience. If you own Half-Life 2 and its episodes, you can play the mod for free! Just follow this link for the files.
My role on the team was that of Lead Level Designer. I played a role in developing each map in the mod in varying capacities. While much of the mod was playable when I joined the team, most levels had little to no detail, lacked interesting gameplay or navigation, or were otherwise unfinished. My work created a direction for the team even after leaving the project to pursue my professional career.
Upon release, RTBR is a single-player experience that lasts about an hour and a half and covers the first major story arc of the HL2 beta. The mod is still in development! As of now, a release of the second arc is on the horizon.
When I took over the level dubbed 'Free TVs,' it was mostly blocked out with complete architecture. However, the map largely lacked details, lighting, and had no NPCs present. My time was spent getting the level to a more polished state and establishing a direction. This level was later used as a reference point for other developers for lighting and level of detail in different levels.
Industrial Sector is perhaps the most iconic map of the HL2 beta. It features factories, trains, unrest, and many complex sequences. When I began my work, the level was about 50% complete, with the other half of the level only blocked out. After completing the unfinished spaces, I combed through the level front to back to ensure consistency, add more details, improve the lighting, and add gameplay elements.
Construction was the most complete of the maps I was given while on the project. I spent most of my time on this level performing optimizations and level cleanup - removing unneeded geometry, back faces, unesseccary dynamic lights, and improving object culling, AI pathing, and player navigation. I also set up all of the combat sequences in this level.
I worked on Consul Plaza through to the end of my time on the mod and only managed to rework the earlier parts of the level. Here, I added details, improved the lighting, and optimized the brushwork.
I am forever grateful for my time on HL2: RTBR. Not only was I able to perform my passion, level design, but in a leadership position among a group of excellent developers. We worked on the mod for no pay purely because we shared a goal of making a fantastic Half-Life 2 beta experience.
I learned a lot while on the project. Since I didn't perform many blockouts, I found myself doing a lot more direction with the other level designers and late-stage development. I enjoyed adding sequences to make the world feel alive, optimizing the levels to run as smoothly as possible, and adjusting the lighting to maximize the atmosphere. I learned a lot while on the project, and it let me stretch my skills unlike anything in the past. I hope that maybe I will get the opportunity to return to develop a future release one day.