18 years on from its release, Half-Life 2 fans have made a fairly morbid discovery about one of its models. Corpse01.mdl, which is also now a popular skin in Garry's Mod, was ripped nearly 1:1 from a real medical book. The only difference is that both eyes are missing in Half-Life 2's model, otherwise, it looks exactly the same.
This was discovered on the r/eyeblech subreddit when somebody shared a photo of the deceased man with the caption, "Some pretty gnarly forensic photographs." Two days ago, someone replied, "oh hey 1st one's the half life 2 corpse01", a discovery that was later shared by YouTuber Richter Overtime on his channel and Twitter. Putting the pieces together was a result of sheer internet coincidence, but it shines a light on an earlier Half-Life development mindset (as shared by Metrocop).
The beta was to be much darker with a grittier City 17 that drew from the USA city Los Angeles rather than Eastern Europe, and the corpse model in question is a hangover from those earlier days in development. Whether any other models in game, particularly those developed specifically for the retail aesthetic, are drawn from actual corpses is unknown.
This is a fairly controversial approach when it comes to designing corpses and undead in games, and for good reason. One Mortal Kombat 11 developer was reportedly diagnosed with PTSD after studying animals being slaughtered and real-life gore to design MK11's fatalities and brutalities. In fact, given how horrifying this kind of research and referencing is, Left 4 Dead 2 dropped it altogether and instead used housing insulation and potato skins for reference.
And now, knowing this, you may never want to see that corpse model again, which is a sentiment shared by modders, as someone has already replaced it with a new texture that mixes together Dr. Kleiner and Breen's faces.
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