What is Project Borealis?
Project Borealis is a fan-made game based on the Half-Life 2: Episode 3 plot outline posted by former lead Half-Life 2 writer Marc Laidlaw, titled Epistle 3 (http://www.marclaidlaw.com/epistle-3/). Our goal is to use Marc’s writing to create the conclusion fans have been waiting for, and we’re aiming to reach the same level of quality the Half-Life series is known for. The team aims to bring the Half-Life universe into a modern development setting with improved graphics, while retaining the original style and feel of Half-Life 2 and its episodes.
When is Project Borealis going to be released?
We have not announced a release date for the game yet. However, we do intend to release a tech demo soon that helps test gameplay systems like movement mechanics, AI interaction, and weapon feel, set in the familiar environment of Ravenholm. Keep in mind that the tech demo is intended only to be a showcase of gameplay mechanics up until that point; we will be using feedback from the tech demo to improve and iterate upon gameplay systems in preparation for the full game.
Where can I follow your progress?
You can follow our progress in many places, principally on our Subreddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/dreamsofhalflife3/) and website (https://www.projectborealis.com/), where regular development updates will be posted. We also have a Discord server where you can chat to the developers and ask us questions (https://discord.gg/Rkz95GS).
How much will the game cost?
We currently have no plans to charge for the game, and intend to release all assets for free at the time of release. While this is our current intention, it may be subject to change. The tech demo will definitely be free of charge.
How large is your team?
At the time of writing, the development team has over 70 members.
How do you manage such a large team?
We have a team of 6 Project Managers who work to coordinate the project, and each team has a team lead who manages work for that team. This structure makes sure our work is focused and effectively prioritized, without introducing too much bureaucracy.
What engine are you using and why isn’t it Source?
Unreal Engine 4 presents the team with better opportunities for delivering an enjoyable experience than the Source Engine, which was used for the previous Half-Life games. Source is an outdated and less efficient engine to use when compared with Unreal. We feel, as a team, that using a more modern engine will better reflect our vision for the game and are confident that we can recreate the feel of the Source engine in UE4. Our Ravenholm tech demo will help demonstrate our progress so far, and will give us the opportunity to use feedback from the demo to better the full game.
Can I join the team?
Yes… well, maybe. Every so often, Project Borealis will announce a recruitment drive across teams where we require more members. You may apply to join one of the teams listed via the application forms at https://www.projectborealis.com/join-the-resistance/openings/. If the team you want to join is not listed as one of those seeking members, that means we are not in need of more individuals in that team and you should wait for the next recruitment drive to see if a role has opened up.
I don’t have any experience in the gaming industry, can I still apply?
While the PM team is currently focused on bringing on qualified team members to fit specific technical needs, we encourage anyone with skills in related fields to apply.
Can I help with translating to my language?
The short answer is that translation is post-production work, and we’re just not there yet. We will post an announcement calling for help once we get to that stage.
What do the writers have planned for [insert plot point here]?
The writers do not intend to publicly release any major plot points before the game’s release. You can already read the Epistle, which this game will be primarily based on, but we will not be releasing details about additions we are making.
Is this feature or enemy going to be in the game?
Like the plot points, we’re keeping some features like new enemies, weapons, mechanics or the like under wraps until such a time as we see fit to release information on it. Keep an eye on our development updates!
When and how do you plan on hiring voice actors?
We have not yet sent out calls for voice actors as we aren’t at the stage in development where they are needed. When we do send out messages to voice actors, it will be to the original VAs first (so, for example, we would contact Merle Dandridge with the intent of getting her onboard as Alyx). If we cannot get the original VAs, or for new characters, we will be opening applications to find qualified candidates, but this is a long way off yet.
What are your concerns about possible legal issues with Valve?
Given Valve’s track record with fan mods and games, we not overly worried about any repercussions from them. Valve has allowed user mods and fan games that using both the Source engine and others (including UE), such as Black Mesa, Prospekt, and Portal Stories. Nevertheless, we intend to reach out to them formally once the public tech demo is complete, and obtain their official blessing to continue with our game. We have considered other options could the worst possible scenario – a DMCA or similar – occur, but we think this is unlikely. There have been attempts to contact Valve about this project, but it is notoriously difficult to get Valve lawyers to respond. Instead of spamming their inbox til the cows come home, we decided it was best to wait until we have something to actually show, to prove that we’re serious about creating a full game, and that the project warrants a response from Valve.
What would you do if Valve released Episode 3 or Half-Life 3?
It’s hard to say for certain without more details on the game, but the most likely outcome is that we would continue to work on this game regardless of future official Half-Life releases.
Are you doing any form of multiplayer?
Multiplayer comes with huge engineering costs. Programming authoritative servers, client replication, and more increases the work we have to do significantly. We will continue to evaluate the value multiplayer can give players, but for now, it is unlikely there will be a deathmatch mode at release and even more unlikely that co-op support will be added.
What will you do after Project Borealis?
We’re not sure! It would really be a decision we make after finishing Project Borealis, as it depends on how well this goes and if we have enough energy and interest to make other games after this one.
How far along are you in the project in terms of percent?
Progress in any sort of development project, especially in game dev, is not linear. Usually, the first 10~20% of the project will take a long time, then up to 90% will be faster, and finally, you reach that last 10% which is theoretically infinite as you approach 100% but is just cut off by deadlines.
Therefore, it’s not feasible to estimate progress exactly, but we can say that it’s coming along nicely so far!
Is there any sort of competition with other projects of similar nature?
No, not at all. We support, and are on good terms with, other projects based on Epistle 3. What we are doing is not about proving anything to anyone, what we are doing is having fun together as a group of fans who want to achieve the same goal. We are aware of other similar projects and support them equally.
Our focus is currently on both building out the game’s core systems, and making a tech demo for you guys to play, in order to get your feedback on how we’re doing in the new engine. Your feedback is important as it will help us steer in the right direction for the future! Be sure to check back for development updates and news about the tech demo!