Joseph Bryn Wilson
Nov 19, 2018 · 4 min read

(You can watch this update in video form here)

Hello! Welcome to the Boreal Alyph November 2018 update.

It’s been quite a while since our last update. In the meantime, we’ve significantly re-structured and re-organised our team. Additionally, we’ve made significant progress in updating the Source Engine, as well as new additions to level design, systems, and artwork.

We’ve been hard at work since the last update, and have overhauled nearly everything. Keep in mind that everything you see, however, is a work in progress. It may change drastically before the final release.

To start with, we’d like to show you our crowning achievement thus far. We’ve made significant progress in bringing the Source engine’s graphical capabilities more in line with modern titles. The first aspect of this is Physically Based Rendering (PBR). PBR is a rendering technique that has become extremely widespread in the past few years. It allows for far more accurate shading and reflections than the traditional rendering methods used by Source. Both models and brush geometry are able to make use of PBR shading. If you’d like to know more about PBR, you can learn more about it here.

On top of this, we’ve implemented subsurface scattering, which simulates the bleeding of light through materials like skin, liquid, and plastic. This will allow us to have far more realistically lit humans and aliens, enhancing the immersion and believably of our characters. You can expect more news regarding features like these in the future.

Assets showcasing the new graphical improvements implemented in Boreal Alyph

With new graphical updates, comes new gameplay improvements. Our first step towards this end is improving the way weapons feel. This includes making them more effective, engaging, and satisfying to use, while still maintaining familiarity. Recoil has been made punchier, and most weapons will travel upwards while shooting. Accuracy is also affected by how long you shoot. These changes have been kept subtle and tasteful. We’re not looking to alter the core identity of the game.

A great amount of attention has been paid to weapon sound design. A whole procedural system has been crafted to ensure that our firearms sound detailed, varied, lively, and credible. Gunshots will reverberate dramatically through the environment, and change based on your surroundings. We currently have five different environment types implemented, and more features enhancing detail and nuance are in the works.

An article discussing weapons in the game can be found here.

We’ve also taken the first steps in overhauling the AI of certain enemies to make them more engaging. So far we’ve made combine soldiers flinch more frequently in response to being shot, as well as boosted their accuracy. A medic variant, who administers first aid to fellow soldiers, is also in the works. Expect more changes like this in future updates.

We’ve put together a brief demonstration of our game’s combat in action. Keep in mind that everything you see is still a work in progress, and subject to change before the final release.

Our musicians have been hard at work creating brand new tracks, attempting to faithfully recreate the feel of Half-Life’s original score — while maintaining its own personality. Take a listen to this score sampler and throw some feedback our way.

A taste tester of Boreal Alyph’s original score

Our artists have been developing plenty of new concept pieces for the team. We’ve gone through several design iterations of Alyx’s new winter gear, while retaining the essential elements of her design. You might notice another familiar face here as well.

New concepts for Alyx Vance in winter gear
New outfits for Barney Calhoun (Left) and some armour variants for a Combine soldier (Right)

Our landscape artists have also been working on some possible arctic environments for Gordon to traverse through during the course of the game.

Concept pieces depicting various locations Gordon may traverse on his journey

Finally, if you think you possess the skills needed to help this project progress, please join us! We are currently hiring for these positions:

You can find our application form here.

We will do our best to be increasingly transparent with our progress, without spoiling some of the things we have going on under the hood.

We appreciate the support of our community and the Half-Life community at large. We’ll see you again soon.

- Keep Away From Fire

Keep Away From Fire

Keep Away From Fire is a team of 50+ artists, programmers…

Keep Away From Fire

Keep Away From Fire is a team of 50+ artists, programmers, writers, level designers, voice actors, and more striving to accurately recreate Marc Laidlaw's Epistle 3 story in the Source Engine through a project named Boreal Alyph.

Joseph Bryn Wilson

Written by

Writer and musician working on Boreal Alyph.

Keep Away From Fire

Keep Away From Fire is a team of 50+ artists, programmers, writers, level designers, voice actors, and more striving to accurately recreate Marc Laidlaw's Epistle 3 story in the Source Engine through a project named Boreal Alyph.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store