Ravenholm

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Introduction

Ravenholm is the haunted, headcrab-infested town seen approximately halfway through Half-Life 2. It was originally thought to be a "safe haven" out of the reaches of the Combine, but headcrab canister bombardment quickly rendered the town into a zombie-ridden wasteland.

The Ravenholm chapter (We Don't Go To Ravenholm...) also includes one more map at the end that takes place back in City 17.

Architecture

The architecture within Ravenholm is a modest mix of concrete, brick, and metal buildings. Most importantly, the buildings should appear to be in disuse. Decals are your wisest option here, especially vines, graffiti, and plaster damage. Debris works well also, but should be limited; the idea is that the building is no longer used, not that it has been demolished or destroyed.

Indoors, rooms should be relatively square, but most importantly sparse. Few props should be used; furniture would be the best to leave in a room. As with exteriors, the furniture and rooms themselves should appear dishevelled. Trash overlays, torn wallpaper, and so on work best. Windows should be boarded up in some way, not only to block light but to create a claustrophobic feeling.

Most of the buildings have a "mining town" theme - smokestacks, mill equipment, chains, truss structures, and curving stone roads are particularly dominant. In fact, the ending portion of Ravenholm is the headcrab-infested mine itself.

Environment

A Ravenholm level should be dark and brooding. Light should be kept to a minimum, used to either guide the player or create tension. Yellow-orange and dark blues or teals are best.

Fire should also be used creatively. In the story, Father Grigori uses a series of traps to assist him, fire being a rather common element to them. Explosive barrels also help to this end, along with providing the player with a means of dispatching several enemies at once if designed properly. A good Ravenholm level would include some new physics-based trap for the player to use or avoid.

Sounds should be far away. They should be of a low volume with respect to the player, so as to sound as if they come from miles away. Zombie moans and screams work well, along with building collapses (to create a sense of danger) and crow caws.

NPCs

The most appropriate NPCs are the headcrabs and headcrab zombies. Since no humans except Father Grigori are alive in the town anymore, and to enhance the horror, allies should not be used in a Ravenholm level. No Combine troops whatsoever should be encountered in Ravenholm. In general, living creatures should be almost non-existent, to enhance the horror element. Charred corpses are acceptable, but should be used sparingly - too much of a scary thing is no longer scary. Crows provide a viable level of life for a Ravenholm level, since they do not directly interact with the player in any way.

See also

References

Ravenholm - click to enlarge
Zombies and fire in Ravenholm - click to enlarge
An interior in Ravenholm - click to enlarge