The Dark Goodnight:  

The Dark Goodnight is a level for the game Half-life 2.  The player plays Private Investigator Alice Astor.  The story, art and lighting style are taken from, and inspired by Noir detective movies from the 40s and the 50s.  A style that’s very underused by videogames.  The story starts with Alice having a smoke.  Seeing a store being robbed, Alice goes in to have a closer look.  Suddenly, a SWAT team is crashing down on her, and she’s running for her life.

The level plays more like an interactive story.  While taken along the path of the story, the game reacts to certain actions taken by the player in simple audio stimulus that plays to express what the character is thinking while she carries out actions directed by the player. 

I can point at this project as one that helped me land my first job for my script work in it.  One of my former bosses commented during my interview that it had twice as much scripting as the other levels they received from my peers at the Guildhall.  However, updates to Steam have broken some of the camera work.  So I’ve reluctantly taken down the link to the game files for this level recently.  However, while I’m not allowing the public to access this any longer, I’m still quite proud of this project and interested parties are allowed to request access to this.

This project was presented at Cohort 6's exhibition on September 21, 2007.  The Dark Goodnight was originally named The Sharpest Lives after a song of the same name.  I had intended to use the music part way through the game, but copyright laws and the inability to keep people from pulling the song out of the map kept me from doing so.



The view of the gas station from Alice's Apartment on a rainy night.

The local Church.

From inside the gas station the player finds it has caught fire.

SWAT members drop in from the skylights in the upstairs storage room.

SWAT ambushes Alice in the gas station's cold storage locker.

Fighting though the dimly lit sewers.

The level's final fight in the local graveyard.

A view from across the street of the burning gas station.



Taken from the Level Design Document:

“It’d be cliché to say it started ‘one dark and stormy night.’  Problem is it did start at night, and it was raining out.  I was having a smoke out on my balcony.  I had just spent more than two days on the job staking out some guy’s wife to get any photographic evidence that she was cheating on him.  So I just had showered to get the funk of the city off me and was about to enjoy the sound and smell of a good spring rain by lighting up a second cigarette when I heard it.  Some young neighbor punks had broken into the store up the street.”

“Now, I’m not a staple of the community, but catching a few hoodlums for the locals might get me a bit more of a discount on the dented goods.  Not to mention that it might be bad for business if word gets out that I couldn’t catch someone five feet from my own door.  Finding my trusty 357 “Boris,” my keys, and of course a pair of pants, I headed down stairs and out onto the street.”

“I finally got to the store and stepped in through the hole in the front window left behind from the passing of a large oil drum.  At first I figured it was just some kids who were after a quick score from a smash and grab, and were gone before I even locked the office door.  But a noise in the back gets my attention.  Investigating I find this guy in the back a few quarts low and a lot of extra openings on his chest.  Someone had shot him up but good.  I try to turn and leave to get help for him when he takes my arm in a death grip and pulls me in close.  I smell the booze flavored last breath escape his lips as he whispers the word Loviatar”

“Seconds later the lights from swat cars are pouring through the opening in the front, and seconds after the legally mandated warning, a flock of the cities’ finest bullets begin redecorating the place.”

“I knew I should have just had that second smoke.”

--Alice Astor





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To contact Ryan the Level Designer/Scripter/Webmaster/Domain Owner write to
Ryan<dot>B<dot>Galbraith at Gmail<dot>com replacing all the <dot>s with ‘.’