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Half-Life 3 originally had randomized procedurally-generated gameplay

Before it was scrapped in 2014, Half-Life 3 had a unique randomized element that would've made every encounter unique.

@DeekeTweak
Published Thu, Jul 9 2020 6:14 PM CDT   |   Updated Mon, Oct 19 2020 8:19 PM CDT

2013 was a big year for Valve. The company had three projects in experimental phases: A new fantasy RPG, a Morroccan-themed Left 4 Dead 3 set in a vast open world, and a Source 2 project that could've changed gaming forever. That last project was Half-Life 3.

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Even in early phases of development Valve had ambitious plans for Half-Life 3. According to a new Half-Life: Alyx The Final Hours documentary, Valve wanted Half-Life 3 to be replayable on a new level. Instead of static levels like Half-Life 1 or Half-Life 2, the game would shake things up and shift certain sequences and levels.

The game would've used procedural generation to create unique and semi-randomized events and situations that could liven up every playthrough, ensuring no two runs were the same. It would've been something like a live campaign with a myriad of different outcomes.

Half-Life 3 was in development from 2013-2014 and used a ton of assets from Half-Life 2.

The way it's described sounds like the AI would've randomized each time and different enemies would spawn at different locations, all while mixing up objectives at the same time. The result would've been a gift that keeps on giving that has tons of potential for Sven Co-op-style play.

"We were working on this single-player game that would use proceduralism in concert with a crafted experience to create something played in an open-ended way," Dave Speyrer said in the doc.

"That project was called Half-Life 3."

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So why was Half-Life 3 cancelled? The simple answer: Source 2 wasn't finished yet. Valve couldn't save their progress, lighting was off, and the team ran into many hurdles along the way.

Valve had learned a hard lesson about creating a game in tandem with a new games engine. They had built Half-Life 2 at the same time as the Source engine and it caused lots of problems. So rather than build Source 2 and Half-Life 3 at the same time, the game was shelved until Source 2 got up to snuff.

But Valve is out of the Half-Life groove. Half-Life: Alyx aims to bridge that disconnect Valve has with the franchise while flexing its strenghts with its proprietary VR HMD and software platform.

Alyx hits two birds with one stone: It lets Valve practive making Half-Life games again with its Source 2 engine, and it also delivers virtual reality's biggest killer app in the process.

So what's next for Half-Life?

Valve has already said more Half-Life games are in the works, and that Alyx was essentially a springboard for more games. Valve is currently working on games again.

Source 2 is obviously finished enough to support a fully-fledged and ultra-realistic shooter, so now we wait until Valve crafts Half-Life 3.

Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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