3 – 2 – 1… Action Half-life.

Mickey Mouse! Donald Duck!

[Quinns, the Indiana Jones of videogames journalism, takes a break from wrestling apes and discovering hidden temples to deliver another one of his examinations of old Flames. This time it’s Half-life mod, Action-Half-life…]

Quinns: Anybody out there?

My eyes hovered over the chat ticker for a response. It was a stupid way for me to phrase the question. Of course someone was out there. That’s why the match hadn’t ended yet. I noticed I was bleeding, and pressed myself up behind a humming vending machine for cover while I applied a tourniquet.

Boff: Yes

Right. So I was up against Boff. No sweat. I mean the guy was a fine player and all, but I’d lucked into the assault rifle / bullet proof vest combo. Boff could be hiding behind twin pistols, grenades, the handcannon, anything at all, and I’d probably still have the advantage. That’s if it came to a proper fight, anyway. And I had no intention of letting it.

Quinns: Kung-Fu in the courtyard?

This was a time-honoured part of our game etiquette. The last men standing in a Last Man Standing game were to fight efficiently, both for the sake of themselves and the half dozen dead spectators. No one wants to run around an empty map for minutes on end before getting shot in the back, and no one wants to watch it. So we organised duels. Swapping from our guns to Kung-Fu attacks just made sure that no one could get the drop on someone else in a rendezvous.

Boff: OK
Quinns: OK!

Boff, my acting bad guy for this round, was waiting for me when I reached the courtyard, the fists on his blocky Mr. T character model raised in the comic way that indicates an unarmed character.

Like I said, I wasn’t going to let it come to a proper fight. By the time Boff saw I hadn’t put my gun away it was way too late. Poor Boff. To his credit he did manage a desperate dive to one side, but the poor lamb was just too exposed. One shot, two shots, three shots, four, oh, the guts, the spine, the delicate head. If he was my bad guy, I was the worst guy. The very worst. Purely for effect after the deed was done I turned slowly away from Boff’s body, then held shift to walk (not run) back towards the door I came out of. A cheat, a slime, a fox, but a winner. The worst guy. That’s me.

It was with a kind of blissful detachment that I noticed the match hadn’t actually ended. That meant Boff couldn’t have been the last player, and that someone else was hiding. It was a thought that popped into my head at the exact same time as a sniper rifle round, sending me crumpling to the ground right there next to Boff.

Llamadeus: lol
Boff: YOU MOTHERFUCKERS
Quinns: YOU MOTHERFUCKER

Remember: Don't shoot people with guns, kids.

This game was, and still is, Action Half-Life, an exquisitely balanced multiplayer mod for the original Half-Life that riffed on action movies. This was of course back in 1998, when at least certain brands of action movies were still a genuine cult thing and not just a genre flooded with comic book licenses, X-million dollars worth of CGI and a tongue that by 2008 has torn straight through the cheek and is now waggling grotesquely on the other side. Action Half-Life’s mission statement was by no means unique in trying to bring the bullet ballet of early John Woo to Half-Life multiplayer, but unlike The Specialists or The Opera it did a classy job of it.

Now this bit’s worth paying attention to, because the features that differentiate AHL from your salt and pepper first person shooter are not only consistently interesting, they’re also stuff that we really should be seeing more of today. There’s stuff to learn from this game.

First of all, the weapons. They’re balanced. No, wait – that’s going to mean something different to you than it should. I mean the throwing knives, the twin pistols, the sniper rifles, the sawnoff shotgun and the assault rifle are all as powerful as one another, and everyone spawns with (and can only carry) one. Let me clarify this a bit by explaining that the throwing knives are one-hit kill weapons, and while everything’s short on ammo, the assault rifle owner has to be especially careful.

Same goes for the equipment everyone gets, whether it’s night vision goggles, a bandoleer, a grenade, sneaking slippers, whatever. It’s all meant to be of equal use, and you only ever hold one thing. Again, let me clarify by explaining that certain sections of AHL levels are pitch dark, and the flashlight has the advantage of blinding anyone with night vision. Oh, and what you really want to do is have everyone randomise their gear each round. Trust me on this. Think of it as Battle Royale style. ‘This one’s super lucky!’ etc. Except there’s no axe because – seriously – who would want a fucking axe when there’s guns available? I mean, come on.

What this varying gear means is that throughout a game of AHL you’re always playing a load of headgames where everyone’s trying to play to their strengths while goading others into unfavorable situations, something that’s made easier by the (pleasingly vertical) maps which are always loaded with cover, dividing walls, walkways, sniping points, stairwells, pools, explosives, functioning doors, walk-in fridges and ladders. One map boasts an entire highly flammable gas station, another is set on two parallel speeding trains. These are maps built to change how combat plays out from room to room, and smart players can always use them to (sometimes literally) get the drop on their opponent.

It should be noted that clinging to your specialty rarely descends into camping- the game’s too fast paced, and standing still is going to get you shot. But it’s fast paced in a really cute way. The default avatar movement is actually slightly slowed, but by hitting the ‘stunt’ button while moving you dive in that direction. Dives forward or backward leave you prone and dives to the side end in a roll, so you get a second of speedy protection followed by a second of rigid movement. Incidentally, The Opera featured a whole lot of rolling and diving that tilted or span your view accordingly. It should take precisely two seconds of imagining this to understand that it is the worst idea in the world. The reason why AHL’s diving is a great game mechanic is just as simple. It means fights can be extended in a game that can still have the tension of bullets being cold and lethal. Duels in AHL can be over in half a second, or cautious players can drag fights across thirty seconds and several rooms.

That’s assuming you don’t bleed to death. Boy, do you bleed. What’s that line from Max Payne? Players leak like broken bottles of Tabasco. Failing to take a couple of seconds to bandage yourself up after you get shot results in a tumbling health meter and a nice blood trail for everyone else to track you by. You could argue that the best bit about this is how it slows gunfights down even more, and makes you withdraw or hunker down when you score a hit. That’s not true though: obviously the best bit about the bleeding is watching your enemy fall down face first from blood loss a few seconds after he kills you.

The reason I’ve got to chattering about AHL now (aside from to encourage you guys to put Team Fortress 2 aside for a spell and play the thing) is that I’m coming to terms with the fact that the mod community today is unlikely to produce anything like it. AHL was, like so many Half-Life and Unreal Tournament era mods, based on a cluster of simple ideas that were honed over years and multiple releases following community feedback. Maybe it’s because so much potential money is floating around the mod scene these days, but it’s hard to imagine that happening now. Everyone seems too scared of everyone else stealing their ideas, and of course, the simpler the idea the easier it is to quietly pilfer. Or maybe everyone’s just working on total conversions because that’s what’ll get them a job on a dev team.

That’s a shame, because we already have dev teams churning out games that need to be big and expansive to justify their price. But big, expansive games tend to have multiplayer that relies on practice and an understanding of their depth. And with the amount of great online games being churned out now, who needs that? Who wants to have to pick a game to commit to? Quake Wars or World in Conflict might seem fun, but are they fun enough to invest the 20 hours it’ll take to learn all their nuances? After all, doing that’s going to mean neglecting some other exciting new release.

Action Half-Life, on the other hand, can be understood completely in 15 minutes. It is a wonderful vagina of a game, being as it is astonishingly tight and just deep enough (Quinns! – Quinns’ Mother). And in case you’re still not entirely convinced, I’ve got another match I really, really need to tell you about.

The way you win in action-half-life is to shoot all the tiles on the wall. This will give you the ultra-tile bonus, unlocking an RPG-management screen where you can play with your inventory a little. Move the win-item to the win-bin and you are the winner.

I arrived at the gunfight too late, of course.

The factory floor was silent when I got there; the loser’s corpse and the winner nowhere to be seen. All in keeping with the evening’s tone so far, which had been fast and brutal. A little less chatting in our matches than normal, and they all seemed crammed full of scary marksmanship and rash judgements.

Then I saw Egg. The victor, he was standing all the way over at the other end of the cluttered hall, 9mm pistol in either hand. And he was looking right at me. My own mouse finger twitched compulsively, keen to send rounds from my own twin revolvers in his direction. But I didn’t shoot for the same reason he didn’t shoot, a reason I hadn’t quite figured out yet.

By aiming down and then up quickly with his mouse, Egg made his avatar (Solid Snake, incidentally) perform a nodding motion, or maybe a small bow. I interpreted this as “You understand, of course, that this bloodshed was necessary. I respected my opponent, as I respect you. Surely there need be no more battle this day.”

I vigorously shook my mouse from side to side in response, hoping that this would get across my message of “You are ignorant indeed of my history if you believe I intend to shy from my duty as a soldier, and as a man. For me, entering this factory has stopped the world from turning. It can only be set in motion again when one of us is together with Jesus in heaven.”

I then took aim and fired a single bullet, a warning shot, into the wall just above his head. He continued standing perfectly still as I lowered my guns and reloaded that round. Click. Sure enough, he took the chance I was giving him and dived to one side, disappearing into the mess of machinery and crates that filled the room. It was on. And yet it still somehow wasn’t. As we ducked and leapt and shot it became clear we were both only trying to give each other glancing blows and flesh wounds. We weren’t fighting, we were choreographing something for the match’s spectators. And it still makes me smile today to think that we came to this decision together silently. Eventually I retreated out of the hall to the neighboring garage under a hail of hilariously inaccurate gunfire, where I ducked behind a truck.

The garage was where the death would happen. It was just so obvious. Dark, dramatic, full of huge oily vehicles that could crush you if only they were awake. The room ached for fresh blood, and I had no intention of letting it taste mine.

Or was I? I mean, I’m the one running from this fight, hiding and biding my time. Egg was the noble fighter who didn’t fire first. That makes him the good guy. Shouldn’t I lose for the sake of this scene we’re playing out? Or would deliberately losing taint things? Make it less authentic?

No time to think. The staccato tapping of Egg’s footsteps at the garage door told me he’d followed my lead. Making my way to the edge of the truck I hit backspace to throw my guns away, out into the open where he’d see them. Then I took out my grenade and started priming it.

Quinns: Do we really need guns for this?

There was a second clatter as Egg dropped his own pistols. Here we go. I stepped out in front of him, then dashed the grenade at the floor between us. But it wasn’t going to save me. Egg was already running straight for me, pistons up, sprinting straight over and then past the grenade.

One last chance. I slapped the stunt button while standing still, whipping myself into a fierce roundhouse kick. The timing was perfect. Egg caught the full force of my leg with his mouth and got sent soaring backwards, straight back into the blast of the grenade as it detonated. Boom. Game most definitely over.

Egg can’t have been the good guy that day, because the good guy always wins. I was the good guy. I was the best guy. And AHL is just the best game.
Remember - always murder people on wipe-clean surfaces. Avoid soft plush carpets.

99 Comments

  1. Al3xand3r says:

    I know they’re still ongoing, I check on them daily, I used to run Mod HQ / Steam Lab if you’ve heard of them (stopped for my army service, just finished it). It’s just sad people don’t actually give them the support they deserve… I think Valve themselves could have done a lot more to promote projects but ultimately, lack of knowledge isn’t why people don’t play them… I have no idea why they don’t actually. I’ll blame brain damage due to decreasing oxygen levels in the atmosphere. The world is ending!

  2. Nick says:

    Anyone ver play the Navy Seals quake 1 mod? That’s how I found out about AQ2.. it somehow led me into it, I think Gooseman was responsible for the NS mod or models or something.

    Eh, I recommend people try Fistfull of Frags for a source mod, it’s a western themed mod with some great ideas in it.. google it and stuff, some lovely little features in it just make sure you read up on how the game modes work.

  3. Nuyan says:

    I loved The Specialists. I actually tried out all these hl1 mods when Half-Life was already considered prehistoric by many (in ehr, 2003/4?). I also think that something like The Specialist could make a totally awesome single-player game.

    For some reason I never tried out AHL though. Perhaps I should.

    And lack of players is indeed the problem. There are great mods out there. I’ve good some experiences with Dystopia personally. And how awesome is Warsow? But there’s just too much multiplayer shooters out there. Even ‘official’ games are underplayed, have you ever seen someone play HL2DM? Problem with all these games is that they require some dedication from players to get into and you can’t focus on 3 multiplayer shooters at the same time. That’s why many people simply just bandwagon on the big names like CoD4, CS and even TF2. It’s sad, but it’s also kind of understandable, I do exactly the same.

  4. Al3xand3r says:

    It can’t be the only reason, we had high profile shooters released in the HL1 days also (the HL1 days lasted several years thanks to mods really)… But people still played all the great mods around. Well, not all of them, but more so than they do now.

    Also, Warsow is not a mod is it? Stand-alone freeware FPS isn’t it? It sure is pretty good, though I usually don’t play DM style stuff.

    PS: HL2 CTF is another great quality mod that’s gone under. Much more than a simple HL2DM hack as it may appear at first, very well balanced and intricate game with more than enough new things to try.

  5. Quinns says:

    A single player version of The Specialists would just be Stranglehold. Although it would have the advantage of not brandishing John Woo’s name, and so reminding us that not only has the guy lost his shit but it’s ended up in our laps.

  6. Razor says:

    AQ2 was one of my favourite mods of all time. I remember playing it before 1.0 was released, back when the handcannon was a rather huge set of polys attached to your hand.

    There was a time when I played more action than Quake.

  7. Nuyan says:

    “Also, Warsow is not a mod is it? Stand-alone freeware FPS isn’t it? It sure is pretty good, though I usually don’t play DM style stuff.”

    Yes, it is. Although, it’s an extremely modified Quake2 game, which could be a valid excuse for me calling it a mod, I must agree that it isn’t really a mod but a stand-alone game. But it’s superior to whatever those competitive death-match “e-sports” people are playing.

    Another reason could also be that people simply played a single game longer? People have become spoiled now. HL2 is probably the most popular game (as ‘framework’) in the last 5-8 years and HL1 has been played to death a lot more than HL2.

  8. Schmung says:

    Quinns : Except that Stranglehold was a bit pish, with horrid clunky movement and a system that kept locking you to things. Mind you, I’m doubly biased on that front because –
    a: I hated Strangehold and
    b: I worked on TS.

    As for the modding thing, I think it’s the fact that it’s so hard to do rapid iterative development with source and the like as much as it is to do with peoples expectations. Back in ye olde days people would put up with ropey stuff safe in the knowledge that a new version would be out the very next week. With HL this went to a few months. In the current era a hotfix to fix server crashes seems to take six or more months.

  9. Fat Zombie says:

    Well, this sounds awesome. I would play it, if I had Half Life 1.

  10. Raven[AHL] says:

    Nice review!

    I’m one of the few AHL-players that played this mod for over 7 years. I still love it!…
    It seems to me alot of people play AHL on lans and such, but are never seen on one of the public servers. Though small, there is still an active AHL community out there! Servers are often empty, but if you join one at night there are going to join people within a few minutes most definately.

    You can download the latest AHL (DC2) right here:

    link to ministryofaction.net

    There’s also a forum where alot of AHL-players reside:

    link to ministryofaction.net

  11. Buzzard says:

    The Opera is still probably my favorite HL multiplayer mod of all time, but Action Half-Life was a huge addiction for me as well. Are there still occasional players?

  12. killagorilla187 says:

    Its the most addicting mod once you get hooked!

    Everyone should atleast give it a try, nothing to lose.
    After years and years of playing, It still brings me back for more.

  13. Al3xand3r says:

    I think Opera and TS shouldn’t be crapped on just to show love to AHL. All are brilliant projects in their own ways. The balance of AHL, the chaos and FANTASTIC feel of the weapons in TS, the creative use of stunts and scores in Opera. It’s more unfair to Opera which didn’t get developed for as long as the other projects. Mook matches ftw :P

  14. Switch says:

    KillaRilla had it right, once you know the game, you never wanna leave. Nothing that has been released since has been able to measure up to this one free game. For all I pay on crappy commercial games, AHL is still my favorite, even since earlier beta versions.

    If any of you think you can conquer this game, me and my colts will be waiting.

  15. Zed says:

    Quinns?

    Thanks for this. You brought a smile to my face. Good times.

  16. iniquity says:

    AHL was, and is the best game out there. The only argument I have is that it is a simple game. Sure, the idea is simple, but combating the many dynamics that people bring to it can certainly be a challenge. If anyone wants to play, i still run Action servers. http://www.ghgclan.com

  17. TheBlackKnight says:

    some new players and a slightly bigger playerbase would be nice indeed; don’t be shy!

  18. Crispy says:

    Quinn/RPS writers/RPS readers: Try Jailbreak! mod for Source. It’s got an awesome, original concept that might make you ‘smile’ again.

    Basically you have your two teams and when someone dies they re-spawn in the other team’s jail. Each jail has multiple escape routes that are essentially puzzles of some sort. Your teammates can also come to your rescue by assaulting the enemy’s base. A team wins when all enemies are imprisoned, and they also get to execute their prisoners in gruesome and horrific ways!

    There are 17 weapons, 8 maps and sadly few servers, but this mod deserves attention! Go forth and multiply!

  19. Switch says:

    Well, that sounds like an interesting objectives game. But AHL is great without any goals or objectives. AHL is the best because of the range of motion you get from simple and quick controls.

    However, if you want goals absolutely, there are 1 or 2 servers that run goals. But the goals are ordinary, terrorist/counterterrorist, assassins/bodyguards, Elvis versus the world (My favorite)…

    But I’ll give jailbreak a look see.

  20. Ace12GA says:

    This was really a nice read. Made me grin and smile the whole read. I’m one of the original AQ2, and AHL dev team members. I made half the weapons for AHL, as well as animated most of them. Really a great read, bringing back some great memories. We had a good time building it.

    I wish mods today would release buggy, feature incomplete betas to the public, releasing semi monthly patches, like we used to do in the old days. I think everyone is stuck with the idea that they have to release a complete polished mod only, and that if they do they will make it in the industry. I am here to tell you that is one of the surest ways to kill a mod. Our dev team fell into that with AUT, which died an uneventful death from feature creap, late releases, and poor public involvement. Sad really, because it had potential.

    As for making it in the industry starting from a mod team, we all know its possible, but its really hard. We had a shot at it in 1999/2000 with EPIC, and we totally blew it. But thats another story. ;)

  21. killagorilla187 says:

    ahhhh!!! Imagine If ahl went Mainstream! That would be the day! I would of went crazy!

  22. Ging says:

    Crispy: Jailbreak isn’t an original concept, it’s got a similar sort of history as TF (it first appeared as a quake mod).

    We attempted releasing updates semi-regularly for the Hidden, but then Valve updated the SDK and that sort of killed that off.

  23. YourMessageHere says:

    Wow, someone not only likes AHL but properly understands and appreciates it, and doesn’t go “But it’s ugly, not playing that!”. Also, some familiar names here…there go the good old days.

    Teamplay never really worked out for me. LMS is great fun, but anyone trying AHL without trying DM (assuming those ladnet guys aren’t still rabid TP-only fans and there are some DM servers somewhere out there) is missing out on the best DM experience you can have anywhere in the world. You start with just one pistol, equipment spawns in random places, and the special weapons are scattered around in standard DM fashion, although on the better maps weapon placement became an art – maybe you can get that sniper rifle, but can you get to a place to use it effectively without being killed?

    There’s plenty of praise I could heap on AHL’s design, but most of it has already been said. The per-clip reloading, the simple beauty and utility of dives, bleeding, very limited ammo stocks that make every shot count, the best knifethrowing ever put in a game, hilariously powerful grenades, and of course “I have a pistol, and I pick up another pistol. How many pistols do I have? That’s right, two pistols!” – all of these things are game features that are utterly brilliant and almost unique to AHL. I have to say, AHL has spoiled every subsequent game for me. I look at AHL’s balance and I look at (insert game here) and AHL trumps it. Ultimately, I stopped playing because I got sick of MP, rather than because I got sick of AHL.

    Shame about AUT. Even greater shame about AHL2.

    Just out of curiosity, why is this excellent article appearing now? What lead you to AHL at this very late hour?

  24. blitZ says:

    Funnest mod ever, been playing for years. I try others, but this is my main game. It just never gets old.

  25. Andrew Wills says:

    Hehe! Thanks for mentioning Jailbreak Crispy! Ging is right, we aren’t creating anything “original”, we’re just developing a really simply concept, like Valve have done with TF2, and making something thats pure arcade action, distilled to be pure gaming fun… Something that I think is missing from the mod scene these days, with all the complex game modes, military background required “realism” simulators etc.

    The dev team are all AHL and AQ2 veterans, hell, I made 3 maps for AHL back in the day! As such, we’re trying to keep that concept of creating multiple releases, getting great feedback from the community, adding in whatever we can but keeping the core concept: Simple, fast paced ACTION. Likewise, our weapons are balanced in the same way, with each one being equal in use from the base pistol to the chaingun. Our goal from the start was to create something like AHL, which players could drop into and just PLAY, without instructions.

    I LOVE AHL, and still play from time to time when I see people on the servers, it’s such a great game, pure and simple action. Great to see RPS bringing it back, maybe I’ll get some more action on the servers!

  26. Martin says:

    We played an insane amount of AQ2 back in the days.

    I even helped out a bit on Dirty although it was mostly related to beta-testing and website stuff.

  27. Egglet says:

    Don’t think I didn’t see that tag. I saw that tag.

  28. waffles says:

    retried this again, and now i love it.
    you should make a rock paper shotgun steam group, the servers are fairly dead nowadays.

  29. Ging says:

    waffles – there is an rps steam group.

    link to steamcommunity.com

  30. Tom says:

    everyone should download the specialists mod play it on the zombiemod server
    i’d imagine it’s an awful lot like what left for dead going to be like AI wise

  31. Raven[AHL] says:

    Servers are NOT dead, there are still people playing almost every night! Just join an empty TP or DM server if there are only empty ones. There’s bound to join someone within minutes and more following that…
    Also join the steam AHL-group. It’s an easy way to see when people go ingame.

  32. capital L says:

    I was always very impressed by the Science and Industry mod. There’s was just something inherently fun about mounting a raid on your corporate nemesis and bailing out with their scientists whimpering over your shoulder…

  33. zaphod4007 says:

    Hey Schmung…

    God I miss teh lait 90’s/early 2000’s. As soon as I got bored of TFC and then realized that CS sucked ass, I started doing action. I played AQ2 with my brother on a LAN, and quite enjoyed it. I played AHL for a good while, but I can’t say I was ever a huge fan. The Specialists was on a different level though: totally insane gameplay.

    But yea, the mod scene back then was so awesome. I remember summers, playing obscure Half-life 1 mods (singleplayer especially). Planethalflife used to be way cooler back then too. And the custom maps, so many maps. So much content. Lan parties, I need more lan parties. Vampire Slayer woot!

  34. Crispy says:

    Planethalflife used to be way cooler back then too.
    This man does not lie.

  35. Erlam says:

    Jesus, so many old games I know, love, and still talk about.

    I was fairly big in The Opera forum/game (Shifty_Eyes waves ;), played a lot of Urban Terror and Natural Selection, tried The Specialists for awhile, etc.

    I stopped playing Urban Terror when they removed the A.R.I.E.S. damage system. Goddamn I loved that. Kidney shots? Kidney shots? Yes.

    Thanks for the nostalgia, guys :)

  36. Blaze says:

    I still prefer The Specialists.

  37. xeallos says:

    “I’m coming to terms with the fact that the mod community today is unlikely to produce anything like it. AHL was, like so many Half-Life and Unreal Tournament era mods, based on a cluster of simple ideas that were honed over years and multiple releases following community feedback”

    Glad there are enough commenters from the AQ2 scene to set all this straight, but one thing that has always bothered me…

    CS and AHL always seemed in competition to me for the Half Life player base, and around version 6 of CS (the one with the smoke grenades) Valve released a major patch to the core HL engine that rendered a lot of the AHL code functionally worthless – from what I remember reading they had to basically recode the entire dodging mechanic and animation system from scratch to get back to a stable development version.

    It was always my opinion that Valve had a hand in its demise because AHL was ALWAYS the more superior and varied experience in terms of multiplayer FPS combat. It had a rougher visual edges, but CS had a great modeler and that is really the only advantage they had. I think Valve presumed CS would be a better investment opportunity due to the amount of inherent repetition and the lack of any genuine game design “five minute team deathmatch rounds with psuedomilitary hitscan weapons restricted to maps that can be illustrated on bar napkins with a trivial cash mini game thrown in for no apparent reason” sounded a lot more profitable than actually having to do some work and you know, design a game.

    I used to run a linux server off my DSL at home and we would play AHL on Crossfire 24/7. Nothing like the sight of all the people diving across each other while unloading dualie pistols as the blast door was closing and the siren was blaring… also, I distinctly remember that if you had a the .357 Magnum any shot to the groin would be as lethal as a headshot but more entertaining because of the inability to bandage the area. I was known in my LAN circle as the “Crotch Assassin” due to my uncanny ability to put a revolver round on your left testicle as I dove off a rocky cliffside into a shallow pool.

    There were some genuinely fantastic maps for AQ2/AHL that are more memorable than 99% of the commercial grade “Licensed Property” Quake 3 engine crap we were drowned with for so many years. Much respect.

  38. Al3xand3r says:

    They never competed because AHL is niche hardcore while CS is mainstream fun (even if its fans like thinking of themselves as hardcore). Claiming Valve had any hand in the demise of AHL is silly as they’d actually benefit more from having more popular mod examples to show and more reasons for people to buy their ancient game (they always went for constant sales over the years instead of speedy first week profits). All you can blame is the communities which didn’t give many high quality projects enough attention thanks to the CS style over substance appeal. Even Valve’s own TFC suffered greatly from it. It’s unfortunate AHL broke with a patch, but it was probably done because of its more complex coding rather than some sort of conspiracy or ill intentions.

    I used to play all the mods that showed some effort put into them and it was sad to see them go unnoticed but it wasn’t Valve to blame. On the other hand I do think they should have done more for mods this generation because we once again have many high quality projects that get ignored with too few people actually playing any mods at all.

    The community needs some re-educating and re-introducing to the wonderful world of “you can have a different unique and fun experience every 20 mins thanks to mods, why play CS:S and Garry’s Mod all the time then?” gameplay. Or let’s just all stop caring and let the whole modding deal die for a few years in order for it to be ressurected in a new generation, like the original HL achieved.

    I still play everything decent out there that achieves its own personal charm, but I do feel any mod team expecting success as judged by today’s standards (CS, Garry’s Mod, etc) will quickly be disapointed, there’s no room for them atm unless they manage to create some mainstream concept which will in turn further kill the rest not so mainstream stuff anyway.

    That’s why I admire single player modders also, because they know what they create, even if popular, will only be played so many times and then forgotten forever except for some website’s top 100 mods column. And they still go ahead and work so hard for it. It’s too bad multiplayer projects can simply die altogether just because they didn’t enjoy mainstream success. I understand it, I just wish it wasn’t so. of course we can always play our favorites in lan parties but still… Something is missing.

    I’ve started ranting aimlessly so I’ll end this now…

  39. PiKo says:

    Wow I was just thinking about this mod today. One of the great things about this game was definitely it’s maps especially the ones that had the hidden secrets where you had to do a bunch of crazy shit in order to complete it.

  40. ChainSOV says:

    thanks for this nice article, it was an awesome read and woke some warm memories and a longing to play again.
    Cant wait to get home to istall the best mod of all times – AHL.

  41. Doormat says:

    Oof. I loved AQ2 and AHL so much. Been playing both since I was 13 years old (I’m almost 23 now).

    Seriously, the best gaming experiences of my life. Also, one of the best gaming communities I was ever a part of. Thank you SO MUCH to the A-Team for all the work, and thanks to the community for keeping such great games alive for so long.

    Also, thanks for the article! This game deserves so much love! Even though it received it’s fair share back in the good old days, it’s still nice to see others remember it with nothing but awesome memories.

  42. Brad says:

    Well you never know. The AHL: Directors Cut RC2 source code was looked at again recently at Raven’s LAN. Another release with some bug fixes and who knows what else is a definate possibility.

  43. smeerkat says:

    Thanks for the article. AHL was my favorite online multiplayer game. Although game graphics have improved so much since then, I still haven’t found another game that comes close to AHL in the fun department.

  44. killagorilla187 says:

    To everyone who use to play this, pick it up again and give it a shot, If more people played it would be so much fun!

    • HadToLogin says:

      Bored decided to check where links will get me. Found this article. Found this comment.

      Mike, rest in peace. AHL isn’t the same without you and your idling.

  45. Levictus says:

    All these HL1 mods make me think how much fun the late 90s/early 2000s were for PC gaming. I am sure a lot of it is due to simply nostalgia and the fact that I was young and the world seemed limitless. I remember all those crazy nights at the local internet cafe, we would play for like 8-10 hours. It was so much fun.

  46. Stylez says:

    I used to be the writer for the Mod of the Week on PlanetHalflife, back when “it was cool” as it were. It’s true the mod scene for HL2 isn’t nearly as vast as it was for Halflife. I’m throwing a LAN next month and I intend to play the crap out of AHL again. Thanks for bringing back the memories Quinns

  47. WaxNostalgia says:

    Games were much easier to mod back then. I guess what’s happening with the Indie scene is akin to the mod scene that was flourishing with novel ideas. Qpong, Jailbreak, Weapons Factory/Team Fortress.

    I didn’t get into AHL like I did with AQ2. I remember AHL was in beta for a long time (beta 5 was the last one I played?) Then there was talk of A-UT or some other nonsense and the mod slowly died.

    I thought the Opera had a lot of potential with acrobatic movement and gun-fu (plus some art from Penny Arcade) and co-op mook mode but it didn’t get anywhere big.

  48. oddjob says:

    As lead designer of this mod all I can say is thank you for the kind word. We had a great team of people who made this happen and it’s great to hear something this long after.