Welcome to Ravenholm

“Welcome to Ravenholm?” is a Half-Life 2 level which is set in premises of a burning alien-infested city district and the player is now stuck and has to pass through this scary nightmarish hell off a town to reach the cathedral at the other end.

Development Details

  • Program: Source SDK, Half Life 2

  • Development Time: 8 weeks, about 120 hours

  • Team Size: 1

  • Platform: PC


Full Video Walkthrough

Here is a full video Walkthrough to summarise the level



Here is an in-engine screenshot of all the changes done to the level from the initial phase to the final phase.

Milestone Changes



Landmarks should be used effectively to guild the player at every point in the level. 

The player should have clear sightlines and his immediate and next destination should be visible to him at every instance.


Guiding lines should be used appropriately to navigate the player.

Guiding lines were extensively used throughout the project to guide the player.


The player should feel an immense sense of danger all around him.

To achieve this the setting of the level is a burning city block with lots of fire everywhere.


Here are some of the key Gameplay events that I did for this project.



Created multiple triggerable events throughout the level.

Many sections of the level has crumbling set pieces to represent the aftermath of a destroyed and ruined section of Ravenholm. Multiple triggers were created special brushes were set to simulate physics to crete this effect.

​Special Trigger based Destruction.gif


Spanning the enemies in front of the player by breaking them through the ceiling or walls

One of the design goals was to spawn enemies always in front of the player I had to come up with interesting ways to make this effect more impressing. The enemy zombies would often spawn in front of the player when the player is in the vicinity of the zombies by breaking through walls or through the ceiling.

​Memorable Enemy Entrance Events 01.gif


High tension - Linear combat

I wanted to keep the player's tension at the time height in the mid-end section of the level. So the player has to walk a series of planks across a burning fire pit to get to the other side safely. To further ramp up the tension gating and Spawning a couple of fast zombies on the planks made sure that the player would only focus what's in front of him for combat while he'd have and 360 degree field of view of danger. This whole gameplay moment turned out to be a really fun tension exprenict for most players.

​Intense combat when walking over wooden


While initially envisioned the level I divided the level into 4 different sections/zones  based on themes and Combat intensity.

[A] The Beginning underground swerers (Low- Intensity)

[B] The interiors of the building (Medium- Intensity) 

[C] The burning fire pit (High- Intensity)

[D] The ending safe zone under the cathedral (Very Low- Intensity)

Level Overview Based on zones

Level Overview Based on zones

Level Overview

Level Overview





  • Visually the level looks pretty good.

  • I made sure that the player knows where to go on a moment to moment basis through the proper use of sightline wines and critical path.

  • Easy gameplay doesn’t require a lot of skill to complete the level

  • Pretty decent use of scripted sequences.

  • Uses player and NPC clips effectively to block our enemies and to guide the player through the use of an invisible hand

What went well

  • The LDD was a complete mess; too over scoped to complete it properly in the given time frame and with my current skillset and with serious design flaws. I had to fall back to my level abstract to build my level

  • Even the level abstract was also taken over scoped. I had to cut 2/3 my level to fit the scale and scope.

  • Initial core design loops were flawed; I took one of the fundamental rules in half-life 2 and tried to break it. Example explosive barrels only explode on fire contact not on damage or bullet firing.

  • Lacks a strong and concrete puzzle system.

  • Conveyance during the initial milestones was terribly bad as the player didn’t know what to do about how to do where to go etc.

What went wrong

  • “Scope, and scale matters”; The biggest mistake in my level is that of over scoping the scale of my level which led to cutting major chunks of my level in the future milestones. All of this redundant work could be voided and I could have spent more time fixing the aesthetics and flow and conveyance bits in my level rather than working on the over scoped content.

  • “It takes a lot of thinking, planning and works to blend in puzzle design with action design ”; One of the major drawbacks of my level was that I focused  too much o  enemy combat encounters, action moments and thereby didn’t plan out effectively on thoroughly utilizing the puzzle aspect of my level

  • “Navigation without goal/destination Is bad design”; In the early milestones, I spent a lot of time, effort and work hours in getting the player to subconsciously walk/navigate through the level. But I later realized that doing that without giving the player any sense of destination or goal was considered as a bad design.

What did I learn