HALF-LIFE 2: RAISING THE BAR REDUX
The goal of Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar Redux was to recreate the Half-Life 2 Beta we never saw. The team combined, lost concept art, uncovered plot points, and our own vision to create an authentic but unique Experience. If you own Half-Life 2 and its episodes, you can play the mod for free or browse more of its content by following this link.
My role on the team was that of Senior Level Designer. I worked on several maps in varying capacities on this hobby project. RTBR was well in development when I joined the team with maps ranging from freshly greyboxed to nearly complete. My work focused on polishing these spaces, and getting them closer to final gameplay.
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,' level geometry was almost complete. My work entailed setting a consistent tone with lighting, bringing some of the lesser-detailed areas up to par with the rest of the level, and breathing life into the space with scripted sequences which portrayed a city in unrest. Since my work on the level in Div 1.1 release, other talented designers and artists have done their pass to all levels for Div 1.2 to bring the visual quality to the level you see now.
Industrial Sector is perhaps the most iconic map of the HL2 beta. It features factories, trains, the beginnings of rebellion, and many complex sequences. When I began my work, the level was largely blocked out with high polish in the liminal spaces. Most of my work was building the set-piece spaces as seen above and adding some additional level geometry to help pace the gameplay in areas that felt underwhelming.
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, improving lighting, and tweaking object culling, AI pathing, combat balance, and player navigation.
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 senior 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 did a lot more visual development alongside other level designers and polish. 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.