Game Design Snippet 8a: More Vortal Combat

It’s been quite a while since my last Game Design Snippet, and this one is an expansion for the original idea.

While the original version focused only on new human-based classes (and human-sized zombie types), it occurred to me the other day that it’s really the tip of the iceberg of the sorts of things that you see in HL2. So here are some more ideas:


Gordon Freeman gets three vehicles over the course of HL2 and the episodes, and the Combine get a bunch of different APCs, helicopters and such. So why not include a couple of drivable vehicles?

Specifically, I suggest the Buggy (plus Tau Cannon), Combine APC (slow, but well-armored), and Jalopy(no built-in weapons, but room for a passenger who can use their own weapons). The Buggy and Jalopy would be indestructible but leave the driver vulnerable, like in HL2. The Combine APC can be wrecked, but can also be repaired by an Engineer character.

Although zombies can’t drive in HL2, giving them the ability to do so in a deathmatch game would instantly fix a situation that might otherwise be a problem.



It occurred to me that Dog would make an awesome option to play on the Resistance side. Like vorts, Dog wouldn’t be able to use most normal weapons, but he’d come with special built-in abilities, like the ability to lift and throw items that the Gravity Gun normally couldn’t handle. Dog would also come with a permanent armor bonus, so Dog can get close enough to characters with guns to use his melee abilities when there aren’t enough cars to throw around.


For balance sake, the Combine would need something like Dog, but then I realized that they do have something similar already: Hunters. Hunters are large and tough, but otherwise their abilities would be the opposite of Dog’s: they would come with their Flechette weapons and rely on their agility more than their toughness.

Big Mutant Zombie?

If the other two teams get a special big character, the zombies need something like that as well.

However, there are no huge tough zombies in HL2. This could be fixed by stealing the huge mutant character from Sin Episodes: Emergence and sticking a headcrab on it’s head, but the huge mutant in SE:E is really big.

Another possibility is using the Antlion Guard, but that would be even more of a stretch than the SE:E mutant.

Perhaps the solution could be to have a Headcrab Swarm: precisely the opposite of a huge character, but still a unique and thematically appropriate choice that would require similar tactics as the large characters (i.e. rockets).


Because snarks (the little bug dudes you throw in HL1) would be so much fun to inflict on the enemy!

There are plenty of other weapon ideas already out there, many of which are already being used in mods. Plus, I need to cut this post a little short due to time constraints, so this will have to be it for now.

All Game Design Snippets copyright (C) 2008 Matthew Mather. Source engine used for illustration. Though, really, it’s perfectly fine with me if Valve uses this one.

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