Not Exactly Half-Life 3 – Hunt Down The Freeman Causes Concerned Excitement

Half-Life is a touchy subject for fans - an incredible series of games that were killed off in its prime. But now, we have Hunt Down The Freeman to get excited about, which has recently been launched on Steam Greenlight. 

The creator, Berkan Denizyaran promises an “entirely original, standalone story-based FPS game that takes part in the Half-Life Universe.” 

The trailer, while clearly using a mish mash of Garry’s Mod add-ons looks set to tell an interesting story from the perspective of Mitchell, one of the marines sent into Black Mesa to kill Gordon Freeman. I see it as kind of a natural successor to the HL1 expansion “Opposing Force,” which leads into the events of HL2 also.

So, all good! Right? Well not exactly…

Strong criticism has surrounded the use of cutscenes - any Half-Life fan will know this is a storytelling mechanic that was not used in the previous titles. Every plot driven moment was still 100% playable, so making this change was going to face some sort of fire.

To answer this, I thought I’d pose the question of cutscenes to Marc Laidlaw - the writer of the Half-Life (you may remember I interviewed him)! 

“The execution is impossible to judge without playing the thing, any more than you can gauge a book,” Marc commented in an email. “I’m not surprised they would move toward cutscenes. The other way is not only extremely difficult, it doesn’t make sense outside of a particular form of storytelling.”

But the main problem surrounds legalities behind what is exactly being made here. Many people began asking whether the team have permission by Valve to create this “standalone” game, exploring the intricacies of the wording.

In Valve’s rules for using the Source Engine to publish games on Steam, it expressly claims that any Source Mod may use Valve IP, so long as there’s a disclaimer saying it’s not been created by Valve. However, in calling it a “standalone game,” Berkan caused confusion here that could have cost him a lot of money.

Alongside this, he has not paid the $25,000 that is required to cover the licensing fee of the Havok physics engine, nor has he licensed the RAD tools included with the Source SDK.

These costs are coming over to fans in the form of a $100,000 Indiegogo campaign, half of which is being used for the above licensing costs… To pay for a Source mod… Understandably, people are dubious.

However, Berkan has responded via a post on the Steam Greenlight page. This has been quoted exactly, so apologies for any spelling/grammar mistakes.

“Hi all! 
I see that some people have doubts about the price and some people found it high, here is the reason. 
What you see in the trailer is MOD version, uses HL2 asset, what we want to do is use our own high quality asset in the game, everything you see in the game is alpha version, we will remake all the animations, gameplay, voice acting and all of it! Licensing the game itself cost nearly $50,000, Havok needs to be paid a licensing fee of $25,000 for the physics engine, and also we need to license RAD tools such as MILES and BINK, and are not cheap. 
Also as the director I did not wanted this game take too much time like other mods or games made by community, because they took years to develop and some of them still in early access, We can make this game fast, and good quality but for this we need found from the indegogo campaign. So we can work with developers who is professional at their field. I want to give you guys a proffesional game more than just another "mod". 
Also many people asked if we have permit by using Valve IP game and can we make it this game to Steam. 
Well, it is up to you! If you give us good feedback, and we can pass the greenlight and pay the licensing fee, we can make it! You fans are the ones decide! Also Valve have a statement in their partner docs. that let us use their IP
Also people who have doubts asked, How is this a half-life game? there is many cutscens. 
Well yeah there is and this is not a regular Half-Life game. You see everything from a different perspective, that is also does effect gameplay, You play as a trained Marine, so that gives you more specialty with guns and fighting in-game. You play prologue in black mesa, but after that you play the game during 7 hour war, which is more action and intense gameplay. 
It is up to you if this game happen or not! If you want it it will happen! We just need your support to make this happen! We just want to give you a new experience in half life universe, and a new perspective to the incidents. If you support us you will not regret it! if you have any questions beside these, and no matter what, everyone who support us on indiegogo will have their game! But your supports will make this game greater. 
You can ask me anything on Discussions, thank you very much for reading and giving us your precious time! 
Have a nice day!”

So on the main hand, his story answers the doubts of other Steam users, but raises more at the same time. Going back to those Source Mod guidelines, the rule is clear that you cannot make money on a game without having these licenses in place. Technically, an Indiegogo project to raise the money for those licenses would count as “making money,” but this is a grey area that needs to be cleared up.

We’ve reached out to Steam for a comment on this situation.