2001 Captivation and Gearbox Software

Platforms: Nintendo GameCube and SEGA Dreamcast

As part of the launch and release of The Games That Weren’t book, we are  adding assets and content that didn’t make it to print as bonus DLC content to share with you.

Within the book is an in-depth and detailed 14 page story about the unreleased Nintendo GameCube and SEGA Dreamcast editions of Half-Life by Captivation and Gearbox Software. We speak to the original first developer of the Dreamcast edition (whilst originally in development at PyroTechnix), Brian Kraack, as well as Sierra’s external producer Jeff Pobst, Captivation’s Robert Morgan and Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford. There was also discussion with Dan Amrich, who reviewed a near-gold version of the game at the time.

Gearboxphotos 3
Photo from Gearbox of the final produced game that would never see release.

We talk about the highs and lows of the development, with Jeff, Robert and Randy  explaining how they were on the verge of finishing possibly one of the greatest Dreamcast games, but how delays with optimisations would see it tragically miss release the platform’s last Christmas.

We learn briefly about an attempted GameCube port at Gearbox which was started as a proof of concept, but was scrapped when there wasn’t much faith in the platform. A feasibility analysis was started with a basic raw code compilation made before it was scrapped.

Thankfully versions of the Dreamcast game have managed to sneak out, so we can all experience Half-Life and Blue Shift as originally intended, albeit with some save bugs and occasionally long loading times.

Whilst carrying out our research, we were kindly provided with photos of the final printed manuals from Jeff Pobst, as well as photos of the display cabinet showing off the final game at Gearbox Software. There are a number of screenshots that didn’t make it to print, as well as some magazine scans obtained for research, as well as our own hi-res snippets made from purchased magazines.

With thanks to Ross Sillifant for some of the additional magazine scans and https://segaretro.org/ for the DC UK scans.


6 Responses to Half-Life

  1. Were there ever any proper scans of the manual, or only just those photographs? Would there ever be any possibility of a PDF one day?

    • Unfortunately I was only able to get photos at the time just to show that they existed in a professionally printed form. I was sure I saw the manual scanned in and available somewhere online – if not, then I could ask Jeff nicely if that might be a possibility.

  2. I was just watching an old episode of Bits where they featured Dreamcast Half Life. There is some footage, but is it the DC version or was it just grabbed from the PC? They also show a case at the end. The cover looks like an authentic PAL cover, though it isn’t in the usual case. Maybe promo copies were sent out in a standard jewel-case though? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG0UZil4mM8 (from around 9:20)

    • It’s hard to tell if it is the DC edition from the grainy footage, but it could well be – and the cover could be a promo cover that they were sent to review/cover the game at the time

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