There was once a plan to flesh out Half-Life 2 with multiple episodes. Valve itself created Episode One and Two. It announced a third. But this third episode, and others from other developers, failed to materialise as Half-Life 2 follow-ups were lost to the sands of time and became myth.
One of these non-Valve developed episodes was once in the works at Junction Point, the studio founded by legendary game maker Warren Spector (Deus Ex, System Shock). Spector has spoken of this before, telling Game Informer Junction Point was working on an episode "that would fill in one of the gaps in the Half-Life story".
Junction Point's episode involved a new tool called the Magnet Gun. Here's Spector:
"We came up with so many cool ways to use a magnet gun that were completely different from anything [Valve] had done and was really freeform in its use. I still think it'd be cool, but when the deal with Disney really started to bear fruit, I just couldn't say no to Disney. I'd always wanted to work there, so we never completed the work with Valve."
Now, images of Junction Point's cancelled Half-Life 2 episode have emerged, revealing a snow-themed version of the series' iconic Ravenholm location.
ValveTime.net published the images after getting its hands on the original map files for the Half-Life 2 episodes. They show off a Ravenholm that includes puzzles, scripted sequences and fights.
Junction Point wasn't the only developer to work on cancelled Half-Life 2 episodes. Arcane (Dishonored, Prey) worked on a fourth episode, called Return to Ravenholm, that never materialised.
"It is implied that the player crashes into a warehouse in a gondola. He wakes up in a room with two unique characters named Duncan and Scooter. There is a train station and buildings nearby. A group of rebels and Combine Soldiers fight on the streets."
So, how do we know these images relate to Junction Point's cancelled Half-Life 2 episode? Well, as ValveTime points out, some entities in the files use JPS as their prefix in their names, which obviously stands for Junction Point Studios. Oh, and some objects have fields called magnet and magnetisation, which are obviously related to the Magnet Gun Spector discussed in the interview.
It seems Ravenholm was going to be pretty important for Half-Life 2. What might have been, eh?
Image credit ValveTime.net.