Half-Life 2: Episode 2 – “On The Boardwalk”

“On The Boardwalk” is a Half-Life 2: Episode 2 level designed as a change of pace from typical combat levels and separate from the main storyline.  In this level, Gordon makes his way down to the beach and finds himself trapped inside a strange carnival where he must win four carnival games in order to leave.  All of the games could be played multiple times, even after being completed, and each used a familiar mechanic or weapon to complete.  A light on each signalled if the game had been completed successfully.  Each area/game within the playspace was created individually from the AI and logic available in SourceSDK.

Development time:  Approximately 120 man-hours

Original Level Design Document:

To play this level, download this .zip file and follow the instructions on the Word file within:  (must have Half-Life 2: Episode 2 to be able to play)

Brief video highlighting some gameplay elements of the level: On The Boardwalk Video


The area was set up to be brightly lit, similar to a carnival.

The entrance area where the player begins gives the player a full view of the carnival grounds and introduces the carnival “barker”.  The player can see all of the games and choose which game they will play at any time.  There was no specific order to playing the games, so showing the player all of the games and allowing them to make their choice of paths to take was important to the feel of a carnival.


The shooting gallery, set up with conveyors and inactive headcrabs.

The goal of this first game was to duplicate a shooting gallery using a common and small enemy, the headcrab.  This game was designed with conveyor belts and stationary headcrabs to give the player a way to slaughter them to their heart’s content.  The headcrabs were alive but devoid of any aggressive behavior or movement towards the player or NPCs.  The player used the crossbow to kill the headcrabs as they moved at varying speeds along the three levels of conveyor belts.  A counter was used to keep score and print it to the screen each time it changed.  The score was reset each time a new set of ammunition was grabbed from the box next to the shooting area.


Push volumes based off a trigger only vulnerable to crowbar pushed a metal weight up an invisible tube.

This game was designed to be the easiest of the games, requiring no actual skill.  Using push volumes and hit triggers, I created a button that the player hit with the crowbar (i.e. “the mallet”).  Lights turning on and off signalled the activation of the game and how far the weight was pushed up the wall.  Hitting the bell with the weight wins the game.  The pushes were random to a point, but if a player did not hit the bell within 7 tries they automatically hit the bell on the next try. This avoided frustration with repeating the game too many times if there was a long series of bad random rolls.


Zombie ragdoll inside a cannon that pushed it based on the power of holding down the fire button.

This game used a tutorial created by a fellow student with slight modifications.  Using his design for a rotating cannon that shot projectiles, I modified the cannon to shoot a ragdoll zombie and turn only certain distances left and right.  The goal and result was a humorous event where a flying zombie body was shot out over the water at a moving target.  Hitting the middle area of the target wins the game.  The zombie was teleported back inside the cannon each time it hit the water, creating a looping scenario where the player never ran out of “ammunition”.


An energy ball shot from a mini-cannon through an invisible tube (for control) bounced four times and died, but disintegrated zombies along the way.

I put stationary zombies inside an enclosure in a standard bowling pin formation.  Using part of the rotating cannon design, I set up a shooter that sent out an energy ball at the zombies which bounced only a few times and then vanished.  Destroying five zombies won the game.  After shooting, a reset wall would come down and the “pins” would reset back into full formation.  The energy ball was very hard to control, so I was forced to use an invisible tube to direct the ball as much as possible.  The overall goal of this area was to use the energy ball in a fun way to kill as many zombies as possible.



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