We have a saying in English: “A change is as good as a rest”. If the meaning isn’t clear to you let me explain. If you change something about your life it will have the same benefit as taking a rest. So instead of going on holiday you could drastically change your daily routine and feel refreshed and energized. Of course as with most sayings it’s not always true but occasionally it is worth trying.
I want to play half-Life 2 again because I’m sure I missed many interesting things the first time I played it. I normally play very slowly and carefully, partly because I’m not very good and partly because I like to explore. But I must have missed something.
“So what’s stopping you?” I hear you cry. Well, for one thing I remember most levels quite clearly or I will as soon as I start playing them. I dislike playing levels I have already played. I know what’s about to happen and from where. I’m the same with books and movies. A long time has to pass before I will consider watching a movie for a second time.
So, if a way could be found to somehow change the game enough to make it seem different without affecting the quality of gameplay or special events then I would probably play it again.
Why not? I said I wanted to play the original game again not a new game. I want the same storyline, characters, set pieces etc but I want it slightly different. I’m thinking about something that I don’t believe has ever been attempted, although I could be wrong. I first mentioned it in a mod story called Reflective Doppelganger. The idea is quite simple; it’s the implementation that may prove difficult.
Take an ordinary non-symmetrical household object. Actually it’s quite hard to think of one. Almost everything we use is more or less symmetrical! OK let’s try something else, imagine your house, flat or apartment, now imagine that an exact copy was made but with a mirror-image layout. Stairs that normally go to the left now go to the right etc. It would seem familiar but different.
The complexity of the layout would determine the level of confusion you experience. Now imagine your village, town or city in a mirror image. That may prove a little harder to do depending on where you live. I was born in London and certain parts have a maze-like quality that would be difficult to imagine.
Our brains become accustomed to set patterns and things that we expect to be one way but are in fact another causes confusion. Looking at words upside down can make reading very difficult.
This is what I’m suggesting for Half-Life 2. Simply mirror image everything, even the faces. I don’t really know how different or interesting it would be to play but I would at least like to try one level. Are there any Half-life 2 experts out there willing to try and make it? Take one level and reverse it. Let’s see what happens!
Things don’t have to be as simple as a mirror image perhaps there are other geometrical options available. Before I go any further I need to mention that I realise that not every level or game is a suitable candidate for my proposal. But certain levels could be design with this idea in mind.
I’ll use some very simple images to explain. In image one you have four squares. In reality these would be parts of a level, perhaps buildings with alleyways etc. In the second image each individual square has been rotated 90 degrees clockwise. Now if you played this level it would seem very different from the last one.
I’m sure you are sitting there reading this saying something like “Levels that look like that are boring anyway. It would be to hard to do in reality!” But you are thinking too rigidly. The squares could have a complex maze of paths that would simply need to have predefined points that align with the other sections.
The third image shows one square. You will notice that this not only looks like it has been drawn by a ten year old (me!) but also that it is not symmetrical. There are two points on each side that approximately match its position with the other sides. Now imagine four squares like this that all rotate.
The next stage would be each square rotating by a different amount to its neighbour, some 90 degrees clockwise, others 180 degrees anticlockwise. Perhaps some would not move at all. This would mean every time you play it the route is different.
I know that random placement of walls etc has been tried in level design but I don’t really know how successful it was/is. There is always a chance that by adding elements of randomness that the gameplay suffers. Levels need enemies in certain positions, move them too much and the gameplay is lost. With my proposal the enemies’ position never moves within the level only its relationship to your position.
For all I know this may have already been tried, if it has then I haven’t heard about it. This could be a relatively simple way to increase replayability of games without too much work. As I mentioned earlier I wouldn’t want every level rotated and twisted but it might be fun to play a whole game mirror imaged.
To finish I would like to repeat my challenge. Are there any Mappers able and willing to mirror one level from Half-Life 2 for me to play? Perhaps the first or second level with the station or town would be suitable. Is it easy to do? Can you do it? Remember NO other changes must be made, just mirror the layout. I look forward to hearing from you.