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Half Life 2: Crosshair

Game Summary

“Crosshair” is a level within Half Life 2 of my creation that takes place at an abandoned facility. This level showcases the sniper enemy as a central antagonist the player can defeat at the level's end.
Hammer Editor (Source)
Development Time:
12 weeks
Team Size:

Design Goals

Player recognizes Airboat as Objective

Gordon Freeman needs to escape the metro police. I use many design techniques to help players understand their means of escape.

Introduce new mechanic

This level contains a new mechanic that the player uses primarily against the sniper enemy.

Sniper is prevalent throughout the level

To make the sniper feel like a persistent threat I created multiple beats within the level where he can see the player.

Player recognizes Airboat as Objective


Leading Lines

As soon as the level starts the player is facing a window out towards these wires and crane.

Movement & Lighting

Because the airboat is so far away I knew the player would need a lot of visual indication. I use movement and lighting here as intentional conveyance techniques to guide the player to their overarching goal.

Introduce New Mechanic



To teach my new mechanic, metal sheets supported by breakable boards, I first introduce it within a safe environment. The player must break the board to proceed.


I build on this mechanic by introducing ways the player can use this mechanic offensively.


Finally I test the player's knowledge. They must use the mechanic defensively to provide themselves cover from the sniper as well as use it offensively.

Sniper is prevalent throughout level



The sniper enemy is located in a central tower far away from the player. The player has no way to fight back and must dodge through its line of fire.

Rewarding Finale

By the end of the level the player can reach a point of catharsis by destroying the sniper's tower with a rocket launcher.

Initial Concept

This level's design changed substantially over the course of development. The original design contained the Gravity Gun, friendly NPCs, Manhack enemies, backtracking through previous rooms, and a physics puzzle using wooden planks. I cut a lot of these additional features and focused on what made the level unique, which was the sniper enemy. Overall I think it was a good decision.


What Went Well

  • Good cuts made throughout development to keep level in scope
  • My sniper sections were executed well and have a great payoff at the end

What Went Wrong

  • The sniper enemy limited how I could build my spaces, the enemy needed line of sight over each area.
  • My mechanic works well for the player, but does not have meaningful interactions with the sniper enemy.

What I Learned

  • Strong early planning is crucial and was something I could've improved for this level.
  • Ask for help early and often. Most of my successes came from the input of my peers.
  • Have multiple ideas in preproduction and be willing to cut the ones that aren't working.


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