Half-Life, the FPS that didn't have the chance to live on Dreamcast!

If there are still people who do not know Half-Life , here is a few lines what you need to know about this fabulous Doom-like. Throughout the game, you play as Gordon Freeman , a scientist working for the US military. During an experiment, a terrible incident occurs. A spatio-temporal breach is then opened, allowing a good number of extraterrestrials to enter the secret base.

Our mission is simple: to escape the aliens and the Marines that the United States government sends to clean up everything, there must be no survivors. There is no doubt that leaving the base alive will prove to be perilous.

The Dreamcast port was to feature a new exclusive mission pack called Half-Life: Blue Shift . An addon would have provided the online multiplayer experience.

Unreleased Half-Life Dreamcast Main Title.jpg

Half-Life Dreamcast Trailer video (White Label)

Half Life Dreamcast prototype menu.jpg

The development story of Half-Life Dreamcast

The Dreamcast port was originally to be developed by PyroTechnix , a division of Sierra at the time. The studio will close in 1999/2000 and the Dreamcast port will be transferred to another structure.

After receiving a Dreamcast development kit, a PyroTechnix employee was able to explore the machine. As part of this exploration, a small demo using the VMU was created. It offered a radar on the screen of the memory card like the alien detector from the Aliens movies.

“I started working on a small demo using the DC controller's graphics memory module to display a radar screen. I managed to get it to work with simulated data, but not with Half-Life , as I had not yet received the source code. ”

Only one person was involved in the project. She worked on the game from the source code  for just a few days.

Half life dreamcast art.jpg

“I received the source code from Half-Life and was able to build it and start learning the code base by making minor edits and exploratory changes on PC.”

Sierra decided to shut down PyroTechnix and sent someone to our office to physically retrieve the Half-Life source code CDs.”

Subsequently, the console port will be developed by Gearbox Software and Captivation Digital Laboratories with the help of Sierra Entertainment and Valve Software . The game was announced on February 14, 2000 at the Milia show in Cannes , France .

Throughout development, its release had been delayed several times, initially scheduled for summer 2000,  then postponed to September  and finally in November.  It was at this time that some magazines began to receive prototype versions. They criticized the  low frame rate, long load times between levels and no online play.  The game will be delayed  again for the following year. A few weeks  prior to its scheduled June 2001 release date, Sierra announced that Half-Life : Dreamcast was being canceled due to "changing market conditions."

Half Life Logo
Half Life Dreamcast Screenshot
Half Life DC photo

Why was it canceled since it was said to have passed Gold?

Half Life Dreamcast prototype
Half Life Dreamcast photo
 Half Life   White Label dreamcast

My Half Life dreamcast collection

Haf Life SEGA Dreamcast unreleased collection (prototype, white label)

The testimony of a journalist of the time :

 

The magazine  was working on a "beat" system, so each reporter was responsible for maintaining a relationship with a publisher. Sierra was one of mine. When we started working on the HL DC cover, it happened to me. I was also the primary PC reviewer, so a PC to console game was  generally something that I was going to follow.

We had HL DC on the cover of one of our issues, based on a preview version of the game. Part of the negotiation to give it attention up front was to have the first exclusive review. It was quite common for a publisher and a press office to organize an exclusivity window around a big game. I remember the mag wanted to cover XXXX, only to find out that another magazine had already gotten the exclusivity. You gain a little, you lose a little. We had all had a mutual locking turn out of cover!

The version given to me for review was about 95% complete with some missing textures, minor bugs,  very playable and representative of the final experience. I was in touch with Sierra about any issues I found. I had asked if they were going to be fixed, the editor was saying yes anyway. :)

 

But this time my contact at Sierra had been very honest and let me know that things weren't going to be fixed. We have accepted this list of caveats  knowing that our contact was working with a release date that wasn't final, but seemed likely, with the publisher wanting to keep their promise.

We were usually working six to eight weeks before the magazine cover date / the game's public release date. We were working  often from GOLD version or release candidates close to a final version. I had played at least 75% of the game . I already had it  made on PC, so I was quite familiar with the title. As mentioned, I only found a few small issues. I remember that the most obvious textures were missing or faulty. With the caveats, we were ready to print the article, ignore and forgive a few bugs that we were told would be fixed before publication.

 

After sending the pages in for printing and not being able to stop the process, we heard that the game was not going to ship. Situations like this  have happened a few times. We had published a strategy guide for XXXX  discovering  that we had wasted several valuable pages on a game that X had decided not to release after we went to press.

A rival publication had accused us of having made a review with a preview version of the game, they had not received anything since the preview. I had been offended by the suggestion that we were fooling our readers out of a desire to be  the first ones. I had contacted the person from the other publication and informed them of our exclusivity agreement. I told them:

 

"My almost final GD-R release date is 03/13/01, what is the date of your most recent release?"

 

They never responded realizing they were wrong.

It was common to return or destroy builds, depending on the publisher's instructions / preferences.

The release of the first physical prototype and the first GDI

In 2018 an American found a prototype copy of Half-Life Dreamcast in a garage sale. He posted his discovery on Facebook. The community was in turmoil, they finally saw a confidential red disc of this long-awaited FPS. Perhaps this build 1638, prior to version 1672 which had already been leaked in 2003, would allow progress in the creation of mods.

Its owner being concerned about the preservation of the video game heritage sent it to me so that I could extract its content and share the ISO publicly. He gave me the GD-Rom as a present.

Since then, I have been able to locate 2 new builds of the game. I do my best to be sent them to me.

New localized prototype

Half Life dreamcast prototype , early build

Corver

Half life original corver pré release.jp

Corver

Half Life back of corver dreamcast proto
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Half-Life Dreamcast prototype menu choice.jpg

Promotion of the title had started, the game was at over 90% of its development. The announcement of the end of production on the Dreamcast will get the better of him. The WL contains only one video of the game. You can download this White Label below:

Half-Life (Nov 7, 2000 video)

To discover the list of existing white labels, go to "The White Label Dreamcast" . You will find scans, research on them and a listing of the most complete.

Half life Official Strategy Guide (download it here) or (here on archive.org)

 

An official walkthrough guide was published. We can thank "Rollon de Tressaille" for providing the scans. Good reading !!!

Half life PAl corver (to find here) :

Thanks to Martino Brunet for his work on the cover of Half Life Dreamcast. Follow the instructions on his site.

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half-life-sur-dreamcast-interview-drizzt
half-life-sur-dreamcast-interview-drizzt
half-life-sur-dreamcast-004.jpg

Feel free to look at " other canceled games " that I found. For the most curious of you, I have created a " list of all unreleased from theDdreamcast ".