Following the release of its documentary on canceled Valve games, DidYouKNowGaming has made a collection of previously-unavailable Valve concept art free to download on the Internet Archive. The trove comes courtesy of David McGreavy, a games industry professional and self-professed Valve superfan.
McGreavy, who most recently was a marketing producer for 2K on games like Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, describes having multiple inside connections at Valve in the DYKG documentary. One such employee saved the pieces from being junked when Valve moved offices, and later sold them to McGreavy.
In addition to The Big One—Half Life 2: Episode 3—McGreavy’s collection contains art for Left 4 Dead, a very early version of Half-Life: Alyx tentatively titled “Alyx and Dog,” Dota spinoff Underlords, and the mythical Valve space pirate game, Stars of Blood. The Internet Archive post also makes mention of “Counter-Strike: Source 2,” which is literally a joke game I kept proposing in the lead up to the announcement of Counter-Strike 2, the fifth game in the Counter-Strike series and follow-up to Global Offensive.
DYKG’s video states that the office move which prompted this art being discarded occurred in 2016, so I’d presume the collection of de_dust mockups here were for a follow-up to 2004’s Counter-Strike: Source, what would eventually become Global Offensive in 2011.
The Episode 3 pieces mostly consist of rocky, desert vistas filled with scrapped ships, all with another Combine Citadel looming in the background. Those might make sense as the arctic surroundings of the Borealis, the Aperture Science vessel central to Episode 3’s planned plot, with the Combine’s terraforming having transformed the environment into this wasteland. We also get a peek of what is presumably the ship’s interior, as well as a Combine Advisor-ified version of base game antagonist Wallace Breen, who would have gotten the Duke Leto II Atreides treatment in Episode 3.
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The new Stars of Blood art pieces were of particular interest to me as glimpses of another story-driven Valve game, but don’t reveal much. The most surprising detail to me were what appear to be Combine dropships in one of the images, a possible hint to Stars of Blood having been intended to share a universe with Half-Life and Portal. I was also intrigued by the vaguely Giger-y, biomechanical cast to the character concepts.
The Underlords art shows off a kind of spooky, Halloween-y town, while Alyx and Dog features another set of rocky moonscapes with the titular characters. The Left 4 Dead folder features some alternate character art, as well as some scrapped zombie designs.
The whole trove, as well as DYKG’s deep dive into the subject, are a fascinating peek behind the curtain of an iconic and secretive developer. As an added bonus, the documentary was narrated by Clint Basinger, creator of retro PC channel LGR and steward of the Bear-a-Byte PC, a beige Pentium 3 tower inside a giant Ikea Teddy bear.