Fans revealed that the game was using a medical image as a texture.
The Internet has proven to be particularly well-suited to connecting threads that no one had shown could be connected – or should be.
A recent example of this came in December when a discussion in a sub-group of the site Reddit noticed that an old photo from a forensics textbook looked suspiciously like a well-known model from Half-Life 2.
This was then picked up by YouTuber Richter Overtime, who gave a brief history of the image and model.
Part of a more somber game
The 3D model in Half-Life 2 is called “corpse01.mdl”, and was known for a long time as one of the more gruesome bits in the game from 2004. The model has been used many times in the game, and stands out in the landscape precisely because parts of it seems particularly detailed. Especially among what might otherwise seem like unclear and foggy, low-resolution textures.
The fact that the model is being noticed has also meant that it has had continued attention. It has even been reused in other contexts, most noticeably as a player skin in the popular Garry’s Mod.It makes sense then that it stands out, since it’s a real forensic image of a burned corpse that’s been used as the texture for the model. The image is used with only minor changes – one of the eyes is copied on both sides of the head, which makes it a little less human, but still gruesome.
This model is perhaps a remnant of a discarded version of the game. It was reportedly thought that Half-Life 2 should be a much darker and more gloomy game, with far more of a horror feel than the game ended up being.
The journey through the dark and abandoned zombie town is a clear element of this – and it is precisely here that we often see “corpse01.mdl”.
– Controversial Practice
The use of images and videos of real death and injuries is not unknown in game development, but is usually only used in early stages of development and as more general references for the graphics
Many people think it is more ethically sound to draw the line using artificial substitutes and analogues – such as potato skin textures and the sound of celery stalks breaking.
And for those who want to remove the macabre image from Half-Life 2, there is already a mod that does just that.