The "Hyper era" of Half-Life 2's development is the term coined for the earliest known timescale of the creation of the game- as well as the most obscure. Only some official information has been collected over the time the leak community scoured through the files of the original 2003 release, and even fewer presumed assets of the time.
Known Information Edit
In the materials directory of the Half-Life 2 leak, there is a standalone .txt file named oldtrans.txt, and in this file lies what seems to be a vast assortment of material naming transitions from what can be hypothesized to be an older era of development- hence the name, "oldtrans".
Inside the large amalgamation of texture names are file directory locations of textures, most referencing surnames to old story segments: "deep", which is the nickname for the Kraken Base chapter, "spi", aka Spire, which is presumed to be the early surname for the Weather Control segment, "obj", aka objects, which obviously references the brush prop textures present in the game, "urb", aka urban, which could be a blatant reference to City 17, "waste", possible surname for the wasteland segment of the story, "vert", aka Vertigo, which is the name of the cut chapter where the player has to descend a skyscraper during the old streetwar segment, and even "hyp", aka Hyper, the oldest known chapter segment of Half-Life 2's development.
This text provided has proven more than useful to the community of leak mappers wanting to implement proper texture fixes/replacements to many older maps present in the WC mappack.
Leftover Pre-VTF references Edit
Some leftover references to the pre-VTF texture naming system are present in the WC Mappack thanks to copy-pasting of geometry from pre-VTF maps. It confirms that oldtrans.txt's textures were used at one point.
Known leftover references are listed below:
Sound files Edit
The sound files within the 2003 leak contain some of the oldest assets to date within the entire build- a few of which dating back even to 1999. Within the "\ambient\hyper" sub-directory are many background noises indicating being on the deck of a ship or in a windy environment, one of these "wind" files even being a direct rip from a Half-Life 1 sound. An interesting file to note is "kraken_radio.wav", a long stream of dialogue referencing both the Hyperborea and even Kraken Base. The transcript can be found below:
"Hyperborea, come in please, this is Kraken Base, do you read? Our situation is critical down here, we thought you were sending someone! I repeat, this is Kraken Base calling Hyperborea, is anybody up there? We are in serious trouble!"
Another intriguing sub-directory is the standalone "\odell" location, which contains quite a bit of information on both the old story and the location itself that the dialogue was supposed to be implemented in. The particular line to note is "odelltest.wav", which the transcript can be found below:
"I knew this trip was gonna end in a bad way. Old days you'd never take such a risk with a ship like this, but they were desperate. Runnin' supplies out here to the ice station and that place underneath us. They didn't listen to me- half the crew were scientists anyway, up to god-knows-what. Wouldn't listen when I told 'em it was time to pull out! Captain turned a deaf ear too, guess you can't blame him- desperate times. Once we were ice-bound, we were no use to anybody. Some of the men laid out across the ice, right around then those warships found us. That was pretty much the end.. but they pelted with these.. tick pods that came flyin' down all over the deck. They hit ya, you were dead, that wasn't such a bad way to go considerin'... thought they were bombs- duds, y'know.. 'till they started hatchin'. Once I figured out these sacktick things didn't like the cold too much, I shut off the generator, let the whole ship ice over. That did the trick, mostly- there was no-one left to hang a medal on me. I tried to send a distress call, radios were messed up. Scientists didn't want anyone knowin' we were out here, guess I shoulda known they were resistance.. is that what you are? That outfit assures you ain't no spy.. looks like it hurts getting in to it. Makes this gumby suit look cozy by comparison! Haha.. ha.."
A number of emails discussing this era are available.
hyper.bat and hyper_fog.bat Edit
Located within the "\hyper" and "\randy" sub-directories of the WC mappack are these two batch files: and are some of the oldest known files within the entire game, modification dates each going back to 7/29/1999, the key date of the Hyper era. Inside "hyper.bat" is some brief code indicating map compiling preferences and perhaps early fog technology when it was still a new feature to the Source engine. Not much can be told from these files alone, although some state that they do in fact coincide with the supposed existence of the alleged "hyper_001" map, which has never been referenced anywhere else in the 2003 leaked files.
Liblist.gam is normally used to specify basic aspects of HL1 mods, such as the map where it starts in. One appears in the Half-Life 2 leak, under
\hl2\scripts\. Among other bits of text, it references the "startmap" being "Hyper_001", which coincides with the batch files mentioned above.
The full text of the file is below:
// Valve Game Info file
// These are key/value pairs. Certain mods will use different settings.
game "Half-Life 2"
A file auto-generated at some point that offers a look at the scripts folder at an earlier point in development. A number of interesting mentions are in it, from the Alien Assassin, to a mention of the infamously hard-to-find sacktick.
|".sch"s||NPC ".sch"s||Weapon Scripts||Misc. Files|
effects.cpp is the following comment:
// func_precipitation - temporary snow solution for first HL2
// technology demo
This suggests that func_precipitation was used in some form for Half-Life 2's earliest demonstration. Though it is speculation, this may be referring to a snow effect for ran arctic map.
Misc. gallery Edit
Odd Team Fortress 2 Shots Edit
In June of 1999, two screenshots were released. These were screenshots of what was then "Team Fortress 2: Brotherhood of Arms" to display a few old player models of the then more militaristic and grounded-in-reality era of the game. What's interesting to note in these screenshots is not the models, but the backgrounds they're shown in.
They are present what appears to be the hallways of a ship. Whether or not it's a small display map or perhaps the Hyperborea itself is unknown, but it's still interesting to note the very particular texture choices and design of these "displays":
Textures Used Edit
A few textures shown in these screenshots are still present in the Leak.
Within the "\demo" sub-directory of the WC mappack lies a very interesting map: demo_arctic.vmf. Within this level is an arctic environment, the only one of its type within the entirety of the map collection. It depicts a camp seemingly abandoned next to a ice-locked ship in a corner of the map- whether or not this particular vessel is either the Hyperborea or the Borealis is unknown, but because of the lack of ocean around the ship, which tends to coincide with the official Borealis maps, it's theorized to be the Hyperborea. Off to the side of the ship is a cave, with what seem to be crudely implemented icicles and a path of planks leading to another shed. Within the ship itself is a barren observation deck and a watchtower on top, along with a few segments of very incomplete interior hallways.
The chosen skybox of the map under its properties is "spire01", and while its intended use is unknown, the "spire" surname perhaps indicates the arctic or Weather Control portion of the game, ergo, it was to be used solely for the arctic environments of the game. In addition, there are ambient sound entities present in the map, all using sounds from within the "hyper\" sub-directory of the sound files.
Some factors contradict the map belonging to the Hyper era however, such as the modification date: 2001, long past the earliest drafted story. In addition, Marc Laidlaw stated in one of the many emails regarding the early stages of development that the map supposedly had nothing to do with the era, and was only used as an environment and displacement terrain test.