A game based on the Half-Life universe has been released to extremely negative reviews and storm of fan fury. We try to untangle the drama
There’s a game on Steam called Hunt Down The Freeman, Released on February 23 by programmer Royal Rudius Entertainment. It’s bound to cause a few double-takes for anybody surfing the Steam store because it’s got Gordon Freeman’s picture stuck right on it. This is not some totally free Half-Life mod: it had been made utilizing a license for its Source engine, and it’s being marketed for approximately $25 (with a reduction before March 2).
If You go to its shop page you will immediately notice a few hundred exceptionally negative Steam testimonials. Dig into the talks page and you’ll find more than just complaints of bugs and glitches, but also scores of accusations which the developers are using resources from other mods and games with no permission. You will also find a strange explanation by the programmers who say the launch was rushed in reaction to harassment by Half-Life fans–as well as a claim that the edition of this game that was released isn’t the version that was intended.
Hunt Down the Freeman had a troubled start–a couple of years ago its Indiegogo campaign raised exactly $12 from a single backer–and now that it’s been released (or some version of it has, anyway), the trouble continues. On the way, it’s managed to violate a hell of a lot of people off.
I spoke with the developers of Hunt Down The Freeman to try to unravel the drama.
Did the creators of HDTF use assets from different mods without consent?
This Seems to be the reason behind a lot of complaints from the forums, but in accordance with the programmers, including game manager Berkan Denizyaran, that I talked to on the phone, and a member of Royal Rudius Entertainment, that answered a couple of questions through email: no more, there are no stolen assets in the match. An early demonstration of this HDTF did utilize assets from other mods, I was told, but they were used as placeholders throughout creation. The developers say these placeholder resources aren’t present in the finished product.
The Steam forums have been Full of posts from customers Comparing a variety of textures and assets to people from other games and mods, and it may be a bit of a nebulous process hoping to confirm their accuracy, what version of this game they are from, and if these resources are in fact taken from other mods or matches. But a part of this group of one of the mods in question, Holymac out of Firearms: Source, posted in the Steam forums the group had looked into it and did not observe some of their work being used.
“Our art team decided that upon a cursory look of the material Released together with the demo,” composed Holymac, “and assets the HDTF team provided willingly, it appears no theft of intellectual property has happened.”
I sent a followup email to the Firearms: Source team to ask if they had done any more investigation since January, and got an answer from job coordinator Vincent Micelo, stating:”The origin content in question was scrutinized by some of our team members and they concur it is original content. We’ve got no additional statements.”
The developers of Hunt Down The Freeman Also point out that simply because an advantage looks familiar, does not mean it has been stolen. In an email to PC Gamer, Gabe, who describes himself as Head of PR for Royal Rudius Entertainment, writes:
“People have Found resources they stated were stolen, but we’ve given them the source we bought it from, such as the US soldiers in our game, they are out of TurboSquid, a website where you can purchase versions and use them for business purposes. Another example is a shot-up car from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was found within our game and paraded as unequivocal evidence that we were stealing. It took me three minutes to discover the car, and it was in one of L4D2’s DLC records, of which we have consent to use.”
I’ve Additionally sent an email to the Black Mesa development team–some of those designs and textures in HDTF are said by a few forums posters to be taken from Black Mesa without consent –though I haven’t got a response nonetheless.
Is it broken and buggy as Steam testimonials say?
Well, yes. I can confirm this specific complaint. I played about 30 minutes of Hunt Down The Freeman this week and I ran into a number of bugs, which brings us into the programmer’s claim that the wrong version of the match was finally released:
“We kind of failed on the file organization,” Denizyaran Told me on the telephone,”and also the person who was supposed to launch the final version, released an old variant of the game. And right now we are essentially collecting all of the documents, the final versions of everything, which will be… it’s a pretty big game.”
“On the day of The launch, it was a major shock for all of us when we saw the game on flows and realizing it wasn’t the game we had on our end,” Gabe said in his email.
I can not say if their the developer’s claim that An older version of Hunt For The Freeman was unintentionally released is true, all I can say is that what I played surely doesn’t feel like a completed game.
Apart from bugs, what’s the game?
This Is kind of this sticking point for me: while I have not played much, what I’ve played hasn’t been good, and it is not something which bug fixes or visual improvements will alter.
I was initially impressed with the cutscenes, particularly the Cinematic opening sequence, where scenes from the principal character’s traumatic life have been blended together as he grows from a child to an adult, joins the military, and ships out during the Black Mesa catastrophe from Half-Life (such as a couple of nice cameos from G-Man). Afterwards moments, however, feel as a change in tone, consistency, and quality. More to the point, between these scenes are a set of mostly unimpressive FPS levels. And the high quality and consistency varies from 1 degree to another.
It Begins (rather abruptly) using a brief level where you struggle a few zombies and headcrabs as your personality tries to find his squad within the Black Mesa complex. On the tiny beginner levels I had been lost over once, with no real sign of where I was meant to go. There are not any onscreen forces regarding what your character can perform –I found, finally, that I could go prone and even cling to walls.
After These few small amounts, I eventually wound up in a huge outdoor firefight between individual soldiers and some sort of alien enemies that advance from three instructions. I joined the fray, catching a gun and shooting at the slowly encroaching aliens. I murdered a couple and kept battling, but eventually I understood they were not likely to prevent spawning. From the gif below you can see a clip of this street battle, and I have about seven minutes of recorded which are basically identical.
Finally, I just chose a direction and hurried down the street past the Enemies, wound up stuck in a loading screen that took over a minute to resolve, then arrived in a different bland degree of city streets filled with aliens (and several Supply Engine Error icons). I kept running until, for some reason, the display slowly went black, though I could still listen to and even flame my gun, and that I could still see the UI. I waited in the dark for about a minute, then finally quit.
In Short, what I played feels like an unfinished mod project with rudimentary level design. I was told a re-release of this completed game would happen Monday, March 5, so I intend to revisit the game following the update and see how it appears, and what exactly has changed. Bug fixes would surely be welcome, but I do not think a glitch-free encounter would compensate for the general grade of the FPS levels I played. If a large team of experienced programmers worked on HDTF, as I had been told, it is definitely not evident in what I’ve seen up to now.
If Valve is completed producing Half-Life games, which seems pretty likely at This stage, then in case we welcome enthusiastic fans picking up the flashlight? I do like the idea of HDTF and the way that it views Freeman not as an improbable hero but as a crowbar-wielding serial killer, that make sense from the perspective of a confused soldier only wanting to do his job. Different takes on familiar source material can be redeemed (hearing G-Man with a new voice in HDTF was) but it’s not a bad thing. Except when,y’understand, it is bad.
It is natural that fans of Half-Life Are protective of this series, and any game linked to the characters and universe we care about is likely to face extra scrutiny. This may especially be true when a licensed Half-Life game includes Gordon Freeman, G-Man, along with other characters so prominently, and even more so when the match being sold seems to be a bad one.
That Doesn’t excuse the numerous abusive forum posts I’ve seen aimed at the Programmers, however, the negative complaints and reviews are flawlessly Understandable considering the condition of this game. We’ll see if any of Those testimonials become more favorable after the match is updated on Monday.