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Prospero[1] was one of Valve's first game designs; slated to come out shortly after Half-Life.


The game was to emphasize exploration, an intricate storyline, and combat via "psionic" powers. Influences would have included the video game Myst and the works of Jorge Luis Borges.[1]

The protagonist of Prospero (known as "The Librarian" or "Aleph") underwent a series of design changes during the early development of the game. One iteration relied heavily on the use of psionic amplifiers to augment her innate abilities.

Aleph 2

Concept art for Aleph/The Librarian.

As the design of Quiver started to take over some of Prospero's initial goals, Prospero evolved into a massively multiplayer game, which was also intended to be distributed with a mix of official and user-created worlds that could be accessed through an in-game library, and each world would be running on its own server. Online distribution, server browser, a friend finder, user-created content and other concepts initially conceived for Prospero would eventually find their way into the Half-Life series, Steam, and Valve's support of fan-made modifications.

In June 2006, Gabe Newell stated that he would like to resume work on Prospero after Team Fortress 2 was completed.[2]

In January 2020, during a Reddit AMA about Half-Life: Alyx, a user jokingly asked when Prospero would be released. Robin Walker replied, "Greg [Coomer] still talks about it daily. We just nod and pretend we're listening."[3] Shortly after, when another user jokingly asked when Ricochet 2 would be released, Coomer responded, "Robin still talks about it daily. We just nod and pretend we're listening."[4]


  • "Prospero" is the Italian, Portuguese and Spanish (as "Próspero"-"prospero" would be the first person singular of the verb "to prosper") version of the first name "Prosper", which comes from the Roman name "Prosperus", which means "prosperous", "fortunate" or "successful" in Latin.[5][6] The choice of the name may be a nod to the character Prospero, an island-dwelling duke in exile who could perform powerful magic, in Shakespeare's play The Tempest.
  • In Half-Life's "media" folder, the music files commonly known as "Dimensionless Deepness", "Steam in the Pipes", "Threatening (Short)", "Traveling Through Limbo" and "Vague Voices" are named "prospero01" to "prospero05", which could imply that the tracks were initially made for Prospero.
  • In the playable Half-Life 2 Beta sound files, Breen can be heard mentioning the "Aleph universe", as a possible early name for the Combine Overworld.[7] This name was probably recycled from Prospero.


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