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Never-before-seen Half-Life 2 concept art discovered

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof
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Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (opens in new tab) is one of the finest videogame books I've ever read. It covers the early days of Half-Life, runs through the “mod movement” led by Counter-Strike, and then goes deep into the creation of Half-Life 2, with all sorts of concept art, notes from developers, and behind-the-scenes stuff like casting photos and discarded ideas. It's a hefty thing, too, nearly 300 pages in all, but according to a post in the Half-Life 2 Beta Project group on the Russian social network VK (via Half-Life Inside), it was originally envisioned as being even larger.

The message says that a publisher's proof of Raising the Bar, recently purchased by a US fan on eBay, contains 100 pages more than the final release. Why they were cut is anybody's guess, but the buyer was nice enough to scan and post a few of them online. Some appear to be relatively minor adjustments to the final product—the first concept and in-game shots of Doctor Breen are in the release version of the book, although a different photo of the model was ultimately used—while other bits appear to be entirely new. Apparently not previously unseen, though: The ValveTime Twitter account posted a better copy of one of the images, “from our archives,” in the publisher's proof.

It's cool stuff, and it sounds like more is on the way: The VK post says the new owner of the book plans to scan and post all of the unpublished pages.

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Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize

Half-Life 2 Raising the Bar publisher's proof

view fullsize - images via Half-Life Inside

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.