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Half-Life 2: Year Long Alarm


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5 hours ago, Radu said:

@atrocity any plans for a third map to tie things up, give it a proper ending?

Unfortunately, probably not. After I made Year Long Alarm, I taught myself to play guitar and got into writing music. I ended up writing two albums, and continued pursuing that in my spare time. While I would love to do a full fledged single player experience, I don't have all that much desire to get back into Source these days.


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A cool map/mod!

I enjoyed this from a pure Half-Life fan perspective, the goal of Half-Life stuff always being to drive you along a linear path. But that's also where I'd say my biggest critique lies from a gameplay standpoint. The one big thing this map could use more of is narrative beats. When it gives you even a smidge (like the radio call from a friendly NPC) I was definitely hoping to get some juicy narrative moments. The lack of friendly NPCs, an overall "narrative" (what does the title mean? what is the protagonist actually trying to achieve?), and a pretty thin puzzle layer took it down a notch IMO. I felt it got a little repetitive with how you were gating players (using grenades to blow stuff up, taking elevators) and that wasn't a particularly satisfying gameplay beat for me. I would also say the ending is a bit of an anticlimax.

Don't want to sound harsh, clearly a lot of work went into this one, and it does what it tries to do fairly well in terms of encouraging players on a linear path using different combat beats and setpieces. But I would say that it didn't dial back the years for Half-Life 2, it felt a bit limited from a big picture perspective with its pure focus on combat and forward momentum. I liked the wood falling onto enemies, the flaming barrels rolling down the sewer, there were some cool moments for sure, but it was hard to care about the journey despite these interesting bumps in the road.

There were areas where you tried to do some cool classic Half-Life stuff (showing the G-Man through a window) but it falls a bit flat because the surroundings and build up and mood don't really combine to provide much of a thrill when you get that good moment. There was also a lack of enemy diversity I would say for such a short map, it focuses a lot on killing the same types of enemies over and over. On the plus side, everything that it sets out to do it does pretty well in terms of sound design, visuals, diversity of locales. It's just that there isn't much to hang your hat on in terms of "new" features, story, or stuff that would appeal to someone who isn't already a fan of Half-Life.

I know you said this is an older project, but a good hypothetical project might be to design a mod without any combat at all, and then compare that to what you've got here. There would be a lot of room for improvement working more of that style of gameplay into this style of gameplay, because I really feel like you need both (puzzles/combat) and then a nice human layer on top of that with a story and interesting goals for players.

Hope this helps!

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Thanks for the honest critique Shawn.

I think your critique is spot on. I really dropped the ball on providing any sort of real narrative, and it shows. When I originally built this, it was meant to be able to slip into the middle of the HL2 universe somewhere, and was strictly for a portfolio piece. Unfortunately, when that lens is no longer there and it is in the public eye, the mod doesn't hold up as well. So needing to teach the player the grenade and plug mechanics feels repetitive instead of part of a bigger scheme over the chapter/game. I would definitely say that it is one of those projects, that looking back on, I see so many things I could have done better.

It would be quite interesting to work on a project that has little to zero combat. I could learn plenty from that, that's for sure.

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