By Joseph Leray

Did you know that, before being gobbled up by ZeniMax, Arkane Studios (of "Dishonored" fame) were working on a standalone Half-Life 2 episode called “Return to Ravenholm”? Me neither.

This is apparently old hat within the "Half-Life" community, but fan site ValveTime dug up some concept art and a few screenshots of the canceled, giving fans their first real look at the project.

The action in these screens mostly takes place indoors, which is strange: I remember a large, outdoor level, with gasoline traps in the town square and a final standoff on the rooftops of Ravenholm. In any case, ValveTime points out that the heads-up display includes an “Absorption” stat, without any real indication of what it might do or how it might change the core Half-Life 2 gameplay.

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Many gamers probably didn't play the Gearbox Studios-developed PlayStation 2 port of "Half-Life."

In addition to bringing Valve's classic first-person shooter to Sony's home console, Gearbox engineered a brand-new co-op mission -- a first for the series -- called "Decay."

For roughly three years, a group of modders have been independently porting the Decay mode to the PC "Half-Life." Their work was recently completed. But their project seemed to tip-toe on the possibility of someone calling foul and shutting the whole thing down.

MTV Multiplayer reached out to Gearbox president Randy Pitchford for his thoughts on the matter. And you know what? He loves what they've done.


morgangray.jpgYesterday, I interviewed renowned gaming journalist N'Gai Croal about stereotypes and diversity in games.

Croal's interview is part of a special week-long series called "Black Professionals in Games." Today the series continues with Morgan Gray, Senior Producer at Crystal Dynamics. The 31 year-old San Francisco native, who's half-black and half-Caucasian, is a seasoned gamer who's tired of being the regular white guy:

"I am sick of playing the average white dude character. And I'm sick of playing a black stereotype. ... As a player I want to have more experiences other than the futuristic super soldier white guy to the unlikely hero white guy. There's that line where you're playing you, and you're playing the character. It's sort of like, are you behind the character pushing? Are you holding hands with the character in your mind? And for me, I'd like to get more of relating to this character."

And here he is on one of the most popular characters from "Gears of War":

"Here's the thing: Cole Train on his own, no harm no foul. But what is Cole Train? Cole Train is basically like every other effin' black character in a video game. Like here comes the urban stereotype. Where is this 1990's -- not even 2000 -- black slang, where does this fit in this futuristic world that doesn't even take place on Earth? They go really far to do a lot of fictional justifications for this culture that they've built, and they go right back to this urban stereotype for the black character.

I'm not knocking Epic; the game was fun and gorgeous. But it's just a lack of thought, right? All it does is reinforce dumb stereotypes and it sort of reinforces casual racism."

Read on for Gray's thoughts on how game developers can increase social awareness and diversity, black characters in Japanese games and why "GTA: San Andreas" was "scary."


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