Half Life 2: Raising the Bar REDUX: Chapter One Release Article
Hi everyone. Today is a super exciting day for Raising the Bar: Redux – it’s with great pride on behalf of the team that we announce today and now, officially, Chapter One of the mod is playable! In case that’s all you needed to hear, it’s on ModDB in the files section of the page right now, so go for it! This post will talk about the process up to demo release, what you can expect to see in the demo, and what we’ll be doing going forwards. My two co-leads, AmbientNoise from the old RTB team, and TehSl0th, will be delivering their own sections in this update. First – I’m going to hand over to Ambient, to reflect on the past of the mod, and what went into making this demo happen.
You’ve Been Waiting for Quite Some Time Now
Ambient: Hey everyone. Just over two years ago, Raising the Bar: Redux started up as a continuation of the old RTB mod. Since then, it’s changed into its own beast, but the soul of the old team and the old mod persists to this day. Having had to contend with our own development struggles up to this point, the first chapter has definitely been a labour of love. We first started serious playtesting more than three months ago, and went through what we call playtesting phases. Playtesters were given a document to fill out that went through every map, and our three playtesters – Clatronix, Stabard Meat, and Max Brando – filled out these documents diligently week after week, as each new phase of testing – intending to scout out new issues, and ensure old ones were fixed – was started. Over a hundred and fifty pages of feedback was drawn up, practically all of which was adhered to and used to polish chapter one to being a rough diamond. Taking that roughness and smoothing it out further involved one final phase of testing – the “Zero test”, so named because this was essentially a test of the Day Zero build of the mod. We took on one more completely blind playtester – FloppyFins – who drew up a further hundred pages of feedback. Attending to all of this feedback brought chapter one from having a lot of potential but a lot of holes, into being a rigorously refined and complete package. Goings forwards, we’ll be using the same testing technique for future releases, as we feel this method is what has made chapter one so special and so refined. It’s been a long road since the early days, filled with plenty of revisions, jokes, and setbacks, but the cohesiveness and communication amongst our team members has helped pull us through to this red letter moment. I learned many lessons back on the old mod team, and I would like to think that those passed-on lessons helped to contribute to what we have now. I’m now going to hand over to TehSl0th, our sound designer, co-lead, and general jack-of-all-trades on the team.
You, However, Have Not Forgotten
Sloth: Hi everybody. Chapter One features the first thirteen maps of the mod, some of which are narrative maps like the beginning of Half-Life 2, and others of which are combat maps. Judging by the playtesting we have done, we’re expecting there to be around two hours of solid gameplay. In the mod you’ll see a few things we’ve yet to show publicly before now, like the new citadel model, improved materials and shaders for many models, brand new sounds for weapons and environment interaction, and new animations for many weapons to set their place within the mod’s identity. You will also hear parts of our completely original soundtrack, implemented in-game in all their glory. We’ve also implemented new visual effects for weapons like smoke and magazine ejection systems for that extra layer of immersion. With the creation of chapter one, we wanted to set the standard going forwards for how we’ll handle the weapons and enemy sandbox, and what we will be doing to make the gunplay in RTBR pop out and feel more satisfying than Half-Life 2’s after all this time. Finally, I’m going to hand things back to Kralich now to talk about where we’re going next after this monumental release.
A Curious Manner of Advancement
Thanks to both Ambient and Sloth for their parts in this update. These two have been an essential part of the ongoing management of the mod, and going forwards, I know they’ll continue to be. You might be asking – what’s next? The obvious answer is, of course, more chapters – we’ve already made good headway on chapter two, and although nowhere near ready for a release yet, we’re confident in the progress we’re making so far. We’ll, of course, continue the quarterly updates after the release – showcasing content from around the mod like new models, map progress, and more. The big plan right now is to start collecting feedback on the first chapter, and also implementing some big things that weren’t quite ready but will be in the coming months (like replacements for other character models, and some new voice talent). We’ll use feedback and these new features to create one big patch for the mod post-release, in a few months time. Should there be any glaring and significant issues with the demo we’ve somehow not picked up on after months of testing, you can perhaps expect some quick patches to those, too. Otherwise, with this major release, RTBR transitions from an upcoming mod into a released one, and we plan to keep up our forward momentum and push on to finish up the story and the mod. In case you want to see an in-depth look at the chapter from the people who made it, we’ll be announcing the day and time of a developer livestream of the first chapter in the coming days. Keep your eyes peeled!
Thanks, everyone, for enjoying this update, and we hope you all enjoy the demo release, too. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re super proud to finally be sharing it with all of you. Before we leave off until next time, I just wanted to announce a few roles we could use filled on the team at this time:
Level designers: As we push forwards on the rest of the mod, additional experienced level designers will help us keep up the pace. You’ll be working on either chapter two or chapter three, with more details about the map you’d be working on via DM.
Particle editor: We’ll be seeing some more creative weaponry cropping up in chapter two, and as a result, a particle editor able to create new particles and modify existing ones from Half-Life 2 would be great to give the weapons some more visual flare.
If these roles interest you, please add me on Discord at Kralich#0901. Thanks everyone! Enjoy the mod, and stick around – there’s a lot more where this came from!