The Final Hours of Half-Life 2

{{DISPLAYTITLE''The Final Hours of Half-Life 2''}}
{{Article Infobox
|name=The Final Hours of Half-Life 2
|author=WikipediaGeoff Keighley|Geoff Keighley
|subject=Video game design
|date=November 12, 2004
'''''The Final Hours of Half-Life 2''''' is an article chronicling the development of ''Half-Life 2''. Written by WikipediaGeoff Keighley|Geoff Keighley who also authored http// ''The Final Hours of Half-Life'' (2000) and ''The Final Hours of Portal 2'' (2011), it was published on November 12, 2004 on Gamespot. It provides exclusive information about the game's development, and is illustrated with photos of the development team, early screenshots, and concept art.

Images featured in the gallery sections are either taken directly from the article or replaced by higher-quality versions. Some of them appear only in the older versions of the article, viewable by using the WikipediaWayback Machine|Wayback Machine.
===Part I Shock and Awe===
The first, introductory chapter begins with Geoff Keighley describing the day of March 21, 2003, when the decision was made by Gabe Newell to announce the release date of ''Half-Life 2'' — September 30 of the same year — along with its upcoming public debut at E3 2003, declaring that the game would soon enter the final phase of development. The author of the article compares the challenges awaiting Valve that would have to be overcome before ''Half-Life 2'''s release to the war in Iraq, which had begun on the same day.

====Club Zero====
Set 18 months later, on September 30, 2004, when Valve was preparing for the imminent release of ''Half-Life 2''; with a scanner piñata having been hung in the morning, the development team gathered for one of the last status update meetings, in which members of the Club Zero, i.e. programmers whose levels are devoid of bugs, were to be reviewed. Keighley summarizes the struggles of the 84-person team over the five years of development, mentioning the pressure caused by ''Half-Life''{{'}}s success, and the disputes with Vivendi Universal Games, ''Half-Life 2''{{'}}s publisher.


FileTFHOHL2 Gabe.jpg|''Gabe Newell, Valve's founder and managing director.''
FileEli Alyx early lab.jpg|''Half-Life 2 is the sequel to Half-Life, which won more than 50 game of the year awards.''
FileTFHOHL2 Scanner piñata.jpg|''The scanner piñata hangs in the lobby of Valve Software's office building.''
FileTFHOHL2 team.jpg|''The Valve team prepares for the daily status update meeting.''
FileTFHOHL2 Sawyer.jpg|''Valve's David Sawyer checks the clock before heading to the 4 o'clock meeting.''
FileTFHOHL2 Cliffe.jpg|''Valve's Jess Cliffe envisions what it will be like to whack the scanner piñata.''
FileTFHOHL2 Sawyer and Weir.jpg|''Valve designers David Sawyer and programmer Josh Weir put the finishing touches on a level.''

===Part II What's It Going to Take?===
Starts off by chronicling the first few months of ''Half-Life 2''{{'}}s development, which began in June 1999. It was decided by Valve that the game would not be a simple sequel, innovating the whole genre instead. With loads of money at their disposal, no outside pressure, and a sheer goal of creating a new, original experience, the team began by brainstorming and experimenting with various ideas. It was soon decided that ''Half-Life 2'' would focus on an interactive environment, while expanding on the world and the characters. In order to reach their goal, Valve had to create a new engine.
====A Bittersweet Goodbye====
Depicts Mike Harrington's departure from Valve.
====Wild Experimentation====
Summarizes the team's attempts at creating a realistic environment Ken Birdwell's goal of implementing believable animations for human characters, and Jay Stelly's work on interaction-based physics system.
====The Hemoglobin====
Concerns Marc Laidlaw and efforts made by the team to continue the story of ''Half-Life'' and the way it was told, while setting the sequel in a different location. 
====Zombie Basketball====
Fast-forwards to mid-2001, describing the applications of the new physics engine discovered by the development team, the origins of the Get Your Free TVs!|first test level for ''Half-Life 2'', and the beginning of the proof-of-concept reel creation process, during which Valve would build different levels showcasing various aspects of the game working together.

FileTFHOHL2 HL.jpg|''The original Half-Life, released in 1998.''
FileTFHOHL2 Alyx.jpg|''Alyx Vance, one of the in-game characters created for Half-Life 2.''
FileTFHOHL2 radiator.jpg|''Physics-based gameplay, like using a radiator as a shield, was a design goal for the team.''
FileTFHOHL2 Harrington.jpg|''Valve cofounder Mike Harrington.''
FileTFHOHL2 Harringtons.jpg|''Mike and Monica Harrington in front of their boat.''
FileTFHOHL2 Birdwell.jpg|''Valve's Ken Birdwell worked on new in-game character technology.''
FileTFHOHL2 Alyx2.jpg|''Birdwell's technology allows characters to express a wide range of emotions.''
FileTFHOHL2 Ken.jpg|''Ken Perlin's 'Face Demo' formed the basis for Valve's character technology.''
FileTFHOHL2 Trespasser.jpg|''Trespasser was an example of physics-based gameplay gone bad.''
FileTFHOHL2 Laidlaw.jpg|''Valve writer Marc Laidlaw.''
FileFreeman bust.jpg|''Gordon Freeman, the star of Half-Life 2.''
FileTFHOHL2 Antonov.jpg|''Viktor Antonov, Valve’s art director.''
FileBorealis opening concept.jpg|''Metal Gear Half-Life? This concept sketch for the original opening of Half-Life 2 shows a level reminiscent of the tanker sequence from Metal Gear Solid 2.''
FileAlyx Vance head.png|''Marc Laidlaw wanted family relationships to play an important role in Half-Life 2.''
FileTraps concept nb.jpg|''An exclusive look at some of the physics traps considered for the Ravenholm section of City 17.''
FileBridge Point early.jpg|''Outdoor combat sequences were brought to life with physics-based gameplay.''
FileGet your free tvs original.jpg|''EXCLUSIVE A never-before seen image from “Get Your Free TVs!” the first test level for Half-Life 2 created in 2001.''

===Part III The E3 That Never Was===
Begins by summarizing the team's work on the level reel in the first quarter of 2002, Newell's decision to distance himself from the development process of ''Half-Life 2'' for a few months, and his work on Steam, as well as the presentation of said reel to Newell.
====Oh My God====
Describes Newell's reaction to the levels, his decision that ''Half-Life 2'' would not appear at E2 2002, and the disappointment of the development team.
====Try, Try Again====
Depicts how Valve accepted the initial failure, and began working on the reel again during the summer of 2002, admitting the fact that the fans would have been disappointed if the existing levels had been shown to them. Keighley points out the similarities between the development of ''Half-Life'' and its sequel, noting that in the fall of 1997, the team was also made to scrap most of their work.
====The Devil Is in the Details====
Summarizes the improvements made to the reel.
====The Cabals Move In====
Describes the cabal system implemented during the development of ''Half-Life 2'' (and its prequel), the level-creating process, the difficulties caused by the fact that the Source engine was being worked on alongside the game, and Newell's decision to ship ''Half-Life 2'' on September 30, 2003.

FileTFHOHL2 Gabe2.jpg|''In 2002, Gabe Newell let the rest of the team take the lead on Half-Life 2's development.''
FileBorealis E3 screen.jpg|''The first concept reel for the game featured the icebreaker Borealis.''
FileKleiner E3 2002.jpg|''The sequence in Kleiner's lab was too long and boring.''
FileTFHOHL2 Strider.jpg|''Striders were added to the proof of concept reel at the last minute.''
FileTFHOHL2 team2.jpg|''During the summer of 2002 the team worked long hours to redo the proof of concept reel.''
FileAntlions Depot.jpg|''This antlion attack sequence was added to the September proof of concept.''
FileTFHOHL2 Stelly.jpg|''Valve’s Jay Stelly was initially worried whether the September proof of concept would pass muster.''
FileTFHOHL2 Strider2.jpg|''A strider attacks the City 17 sky bridge in the finished September 2002 proof of concept.''
FileTFHOHL2 Guthrie.jpg|''John Guthrie at work in his cabal.''
FileRavenholm overview1.jpg|''Before designing levels the cabals worked on pencil drawings for level layout like these sequences for Ravenholm.''
FileRavenholm overview2.jpg|''Potential story spoiler or just a concept thrown around during the development process? You be the judge.''
FileTFHOHL2 Coast.jpg|''Integrating vehicles into gameplay proved a challenge.''
FileLevelconstruct 1.jpg|''Orange maps were created for all the levels before the artists added textures.''

===Part IV The Potemkin Village?===
Starts off by depicting the E3 2003 presentation and the growing skepticism in the community regarding the September 30 release date.
====The Sweater Falls Apart====
Describes Valve's realization that the ''Half-Life 2'' premiere would be delayed, noting the fact that no announcements were made to the public up until almost the very moment of the game's planned release.
====Broken Promises====
Depicts the lack of communication between Valve and the community during the summer of 2003, the eventual confirmation by Gabe on September 23 that the game would not be released in a week, and the disappointment of the fans.
====Gabe Comes Clean====
Includes Newell's explanation for the way Valve handled the ''Half-Life 2'' release fiasco.
====On Top of the Rock====
Describes the day of September 30, 2003, when Newell had to attend a party on Alcatraz Island, rented out by ATI to celebrate the would-be release of ''Half-Life 2''.

FileTFHOHL2 G-Man.jpg|''The G-Man opened the E3 2003 demo of Half-Life 2.''
FileTFHOHL2 booth.jpg|''The outside of the Half-Life 2 theater at E3 2003.''
FileStrider attack pre-release.jpg|''Competitors claimed that Valve’s City 17 was actually an elaborate façade.''
FileTFHOHL2 faceposer.jpg|''FacePoser, the tool used to create the animated sequences, still wasn’t working well in the summer of 2003.''
FileZombies streets smg.jpg|''In the summer of 2003 the fans didn’t know if Half-Life 2 was really coming on September 30 or not.''
FileTFHOHL2 lambda.jpg|''Some devoted fans of Half-Life 2 created the game's logo out of soda cans.''
FileTFHOHL2 twister.jpg|''The release date was so uncertain that one fan created a game of 'Half-Life 2 Release Date Twister'.''
FileTFHOHL2 Gabe3.jpg|''Gabe Newell finally comes out of hiding to discuss the missed release dates on the project.''
FileTFHOHL2 Alcatraz.jpg|''The Half-Life 2 launch party was supposed to happen on Alcatraz Island.''
FileAntguard roof beta2.jpg|''Newell didn’t show any new Half-Life 2 gameplay on Alcatraz. But he did show this benchmark demo.''

===Part V An Unthinkable Crime===
Begins by detailing the day Gabe Newell discovered a security breach in Valve's servers, the subsequent release of the ''Half-Life 2'' source code to the Internet by the hacker in early October 2003, the community reaction to the apparently unfinished state of the game, and the team's concerns about the future of the company.
====Picking up the Pieces====
Depicts the severe drop of morale in Valve, and Newell's attempts at keeping the development team focused on finishing the game.

FileTFHOHL2 pirates.jpg|''After hearing of the Source code theft, fans made a poster parody of {{'}}Pirates of the Carribean{{'}}.''
FileTFHOHL2 Hydra.jpg|''Osama Bin Leaker said the E3 demo of Half-Life 2, including this attack by a Hydra, was fake.''
FileTFHOHL2 team3.jpg|''The team at Valve sits and discusses the code theft.''
FileTFHOHL2 Nova Prospekt.jpg|''By the end of 2003 Half-Life 2 was finally starting to come together.''

===Part VI Hello, Gabe===
Starts off by outlining the progress made by the team in early 2004, and the improvement of relations between Valve and the community.
====I'm Getting My Crowbar====
Describes the day Newell established e-mail contact with the hacker, Valve's plans of bringing him to justice, and the eventual arrest.
====Oh My God (Reprise)====
Outlines how it became possible for the first time to play ''Half-Life 2'' from the beginning to the end in March 2004, and the team's reaction to the progress made in the development of the game.
====The Home Stretch====
Depicts the atmosphere prevailing in Valve in late-July, when ''Half-Life 2'' was entering the final stages of development, and somewhat details the VU Games lawsuits.

FileTFHOHL2 Hammer.jpg|''By early 2004 tools like Valve Hammer Editor|Hammer, the game’s editor, were getting easier to use.''
FileTFHOHL2 animator.jpg|''An animator works on a sequence starring Alyx Vance.''
FileTFHOHL2 Crowbar.jpg|''The crowbar in Valve’s lobby. Newell almost wanted to use it against the hacker.''
FileCrowbar zombie borealis.jpg|''A sequence inside the engine room of the Borealis was cut from the game.''
FileCheckpoint beta.jpg|''The game’s opening sequence now takes place inside a train station.''
FileTFHOHL2 Guthrie2.jpg|''John Guthrie walks into the office in July 2004.''
FileTFHOHL2 wall.jpg|''The 'Wall of Hearts' helps the team keep track of bug testing for the Coast section of the game.''

===Part VII The Scanner Gets It===
Begins by discussing the day of September 30, 2004, the imminent release of ''Half-Life 2'', and the future projects related to the game.
====The Whack Heard Round the World====
Describes the day of October 14, 2004, when the development process of ''Half-Life 2'' officially ended, the celebrations involving whacking a scanner piñata, and the atmosphere of accomplishment prevailing in Valve, overshadowing all of the team's previous concerns.

FileTFHOHL2 team4.jpg|''One of the cabals loads up a near finished version of Half-Life 2.''
FileTFHOHL2 team5.jpg|''John Guthrie and his cabal work on testing a release candidate.''
FileTFHOHL2 Scanner piñata2.jpg|''The scanner piñata awaits its fate in Valve’s lobby.''
FileTFHOHL2 team6.jpg|''A design cabal at Valve discuss one of the last remaining bugs.''
FileTFHOHL2 Scanner piñata3.jpg|''A photo from a cell phone captures the moment of impact.''
FileTFHOHL2 Scanner piñata4.jpg|''Newell surveys the damage from his first whack at the piñata.''
FileTFHOHL2 Scanner piñata5.jpg|''The aftermath of Gabe’s piñata smashing.''
FileTFHOHL2 Scanner piñata6.jpg|''Laidlaw takes his own whack at what’s left of the scanner.''

==External links==
*''http// The Final Hours of Half-Life 2'' on Gamespot

{{DEFAULTSORTFinal Hours of Half-Life 2, The}}
CategoryHalf-Life 2
CategoryThe Final Hours of Half-Life 2
CategoryDevelopment articles
CategoryThe Final Hours