The original Half-Life was first announced in early 1997, initially set for that year’s holiday season. But one very impressive E3 1997 showing later, and suddenly Half-Life was on everyone’s radar – expectations were ramping up, and suddenly, Valve were in the center of the gaming world’s attention. And so, later that year, close to their projected release date, Valve decided that a delay was in order. Once they’d attained it, a lot of the pressure was off, and the team at Valve spent began to intensely evaluate every aspect of the game, and all of the content they had created in one year of development.
And while there had been a considerable amount of progress, and the game itself was in very good shape, it just seemed like there was something missing – as Valve engineer Ken Birdwell stated in The Final Hours of Half-Life, the game simply wouldn’t have gone “over the edge anywhere“. To Valve, it seemed like Half-Life could be a lot more revolutionary and a lot more groundbreaking. Thus, in late 1997, an entire game’s worth of content and design was completely scrapped, and Half-Life underwent a complete redesign, fully from the ground up.
What gamers eventually got one year later in November of 1998, amounts to an entirely new game (in fact, according to Ken Birdwell, it really is a Half-Life 2 of sorts). But what happened to the Half-Life that never was – the “Half-Life 0” that Valve unceremoniously threw out the door?
How do i run this?
Copy “Half-Life” folder from the disc image to your HDD/SSD and then:
– To run in OpenGL mode (broken HUD and water color, but filtered textures), rename opengl32.dll in “Half-Life” folder and launch enginegl.exe.
– To run in software rendering mode (pixelated textures, but the HUD is fully working and water color is correct), set display color depth to 16 bits in Windows settings and launch engine.exe.
To play, type “map map_name_here” (without quotes) in the console (press Q) and press Enter. To see a list of available maps, check valve/maps folder.
This is an disk image? How do i get to the half-life folder?
Man, *a lot* changed between this version and the final product. I should try this sometime. 🙂
Now we are waiting 6 years more for the Half-Life 2 Beta, haha.
No, we are waiting -9 years for it.
I have the files but wont run it says dont have grapich card driver?
It’s awesome that this still exist *-*
Condoning piracy, are we?
That’s a bit of a preposterous accusation – surely you noticed how I explicitly specified that the legality of this is somewhat in question.
Even so, this doesn’t really qualify as “piracy” in the slightest; not any more than the online distribution of the OEM-exclusive Half-Life: Day One, back in mid-1998 – in fact, even less so (and I can provide numerous similar examples)! And in any case, well over a day has passed since this unofficial release took place, and Valve does not seem to have taken any action against it.
Don’t feed the trolls, Vic.
Don’t feed the trolls.
bravo, the best writeup so far. if you have any other questions about the alpha disk feel free to contact me. enjoy 🙂
Thanks for the kind words Jayzer; and thank you for giving fans the huge historic opportunity to play through the alpha!
I concur with Jayzer, Vicster always delivers the goods.
How do I get the use key to work? Couldn’t find it in the Controls options. [e] is useless.
6000 polygons was really a lot back then. That was a stress test of skeletal animation. Valve expected that the animation would crash the game, but it didn’t. If it was done using vertex animation (similar to how Quake does animation), the game would crash because of lack of free memory. Computers had only some megabytes of RAM back then. For example, Half-Life requires 24 Mb of RAM. And if we assume that the robot animation had 30 frames (I don’t know the exact number) and 2 vertices for each triangle (vertices can be shared between triangles), with vertex animation, the robot animation would take 2*6000*12*30=4.12 megabytes. That’s really a lot for that time. Add size of the Windows stuff, map data and other models, and you’re out of memory. The explanation of the equation:
2 – the number of vertices per polygon.
6000 – the number of polygons.
12 – size of vertex data for each polygon in frame (in Quake, it’s 4, but I’m sure Valve increased the precision for Half-Life).
30 – the number of frames.
Awesome 😀 I’ve always to play the unobtainable E3 1997 build of Half-Life we’ve occasionally been seeing on youtube ~