Half-Life 2 Prison Evolution (30th July 2002)

Posted on Posted in Game, Half-Life 2, Video

This is part of a video series showing the gradual evolution of the Prison in Half-Life 2. It’s not intended to demonstrate gameplay, as most of these levels, in their original form, weren’t playable. Because of the number of levels to cover and the amount of time it takes to clean them up enough to be viewable, these will be kept as quick glances.

The level shown in this video was given the VMF name, prison_block. It appears to be a level produced by David Sawyer, who was a designer at Valve, who produced most of the iterations of the Prison that we’re going to see. This is part of a collection of levels produced by Valve during the development of Half-Life 2, that were leaked onto the internet in 2003.

This is the earliest revision that I’m aware of, which represents the prison that we end up seeing in the final game in its earliest form.

The level appears to be a collection of different sections of what was likely intended to become or part of, a much larger level which we’ll see in a later video. This was likely done to experiment with different gameplay dynamics and establish a general theme for the levels.

Development of the level also seems to have otherwise been somewhat progressive, with some portions of the map seemingly appearing less polished or using older assets than some other areas. Each area seems to have been cordoned off for testing and its development, so portions of the level were likely created independently from one another as time went on.

Very little of this level survived into the final game, but some of the overall design survived in a heavily revised form.

Many of the models used in this level were missing and hence had to be replaced. Obviously this means that this isn’t 100% representative of what the levels may have looked like back when they were originally created, but it’s probably pretty darn close.


Music was produced by Chris Jensen as part of “Mishaps in the Reactor Chamber.” A collection of songs originally intended for Opposing Force that went unused.


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