Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023
The unreleased Half-Life multiplayer mod you can play right now

It’s not every day we see the playable release of official Valve content for the original 1998 release Half-life. Today is apparently one of those days, even though the “official” content here is a two-decade-old port Earthquake mod originally canceled in 2001 and leaked through a 13 year old hack of Valve’s servers.

Confused? Then check out this highly informative Valve News Network video, which tells the story of the Half-life version of the Threewave mod. If that name sounds familiar to you, you were probably a fan of the original Threewave mod for id Software’s Earthquake. That mod, released way back in the internet prehistory of 1996, helped popularize the default Capture the Flag mode seen in countless shooters since then.

Even PC shooter superfans may not remember that a Half-life version of Threewave was included in the infamous hack of Valve’s servers in 2003 – the same hack that hacked an early copy of half-life 2 to the world. Buried in a leaked folder called “wmods” (in a subfolder called “3wave”) was a level pack for Half-life‘s Deathmatch Classic featuring replicas of all official maps from the Earthquake Three wave mod.

Threewave sees some largely cosmetic changes in the move from Earthquake until Half-life– a large polygonal statue “Quad Damage” logo is replaced by Half-life‘s iconic lambda, for example, but the provenance of the core cards is unmistakable. Online discussion suggests that Valve planned to officially release the ported mod in 2001, but the content didn’t officially see the light of day until the 2003 server hack (coincidentally, Threewave author David “Zoid” Kirsch was hired by Valve in 2008 and still still works there to this day).

The only problem with the Half-life version of Threewave revealed by the hack was that it was hopelessly broken. Trying to play it online would immediately crash the game, and even running a local version you had to deal with missing textures and broken spawn points.

That’s where Valve News Network’s Tyler McVicker comes in. After hearing about the leaked Threewave mod back in February (and apparently tracking down a full version from a Vietnamese FTP server), McVicker worked with a programmer in charge of PixelMiner to fix the unresolved issues that made the mod unplayable. . After months of work, the results of their efforts are now playable and available for download.

like a game, Half-life Threewave looks pretty dated compared to modern shooters, or even decades old half-life 2 CTF mods. Still, the release is interesting as a playable slice of video game history, and it’s an intriguing look at an alternate history of what multiplayer Half-life could have looked. Intriguingly, McVicker is promising “one of these mammoth projects every month until the end of the year,” and we can’t wait to see what else he plans to release.

By akfire1

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