What Happened To Black Mesa: Source? Part Two

By Nathan Grayson on May 10th, 2012 at 1:10 pm.

ICONIC IMAGERY.

The rumors of Black Mesa‘s death have been greatly exaggerated. It has, however, been over three years since Gordon Freeman went for an all-too-brief jog in his shiny new hazard suit. No, gaming’s favorite man of zero words and 1000 crowbar swings per minute hasn’t suddenly affixed a chainsaw to his gun or moved his adventures to an unnamed wartorn Middle Eastern setting, but a lot’s changed.

Once upon a time, this was Valve’s firstborn with a fresh coat of paint. Now, though, the Black Mesa team’s pouring its own blood, sweat, and tears into one of gaming’s most sacred holy grails – for better or worse. Only time will tell. But how much time? One more year? Two? Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (aka, a billion)? And what state is the remake in now? I spoke with project lead Carlos Montero about all of that and more.

RPS: What stage of development are you on at this point? Are you still designing content, or is it mostly polish now? And, if the latter, is it tempting to over-polish – to tweak every last thing relentlessly because you’ve already put so much work into the project, and anything less than perfection could be viewed as a failure?

Carlos Montero: There’s been a lot of speculation that we have been doing nothing but polish for the last year or longer. This is simply not true. There were and are still parts of the game that we are actively developing, because the game isn’t done yet. It is true that over the last year we have put a ton of polish into the game, but this has largely been because some members of the team are less needed on the forefront of development and have taken to polishing old things and trying to achieve quality and consistency across the board.

There is also work that some may casually classify as “polish” that is really more about making sure we are hitting the quality bar we want. If we are examining level flow, pacing, weapon progression, puzzle challenges, player intuition, where people get lost, or stuck, or confused, is that polish? Perhaps it is, but often I think many people are specifically thinking we are sitting around remaking the same assets over and over a little better each time, or trying to find and fix every bug so our game can be “perfect”. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

This hasn’t been about polish for polish’s sake; it’s been about learning all there is to know about how to make great games, and using it to make a great game. There aren’t any shortcuts there. We just had to learn by doing, by making mistakes, by screwing things up and starting them over again. Sometimes along the way we have learned things that fundamentally changed our way of thinking, and sometimes we have gone back and fundamentally changed parts of the game to reflect that.

So no, I don’t think it is tempting to over-polish at all. We are all eager to get the game out. We are dying to get this game out and show everyone what we’ve been working on, but we aren’t so eager that we would sacrifice our values and what we believe will make this game great. We aren’t going to put out something that isn’t good enough for us.

RPS: OK, so Black Mesa’s no longer just a Source port of Half-Life, but what exactly are you changing? What, specifically, have you redesigned? Which systems, levels, weapons, etc?

Carlos Montero: First off – Black Mesa is a not a port. It is literally illegal for us to port anything. Black Mesa is mostly made from scratch, excepting a few assets from the SDK. Pretty much every sound effect, every texture, every voice-over – all of it. We didn’t have the luxury of porting a single thing from HL1. Not AI, not level design, none of it. So let’s talk about some of Black Mesa’s big bullet-point features:

  • Play for free. You need not own anything!
  • Feast your eyes on over 2,000 custom Models and 5,000 custom textures – more than HL2.
  • Experience over 2,000 choreographed scenes and over 6,500 lines of dialogue from all new voice acting.
  • Immerse yourself in an all new soundtrack and over 2,300 custom sound effects.
  • Feel the impact of custom systems such as the Face Creation System, Custom Gib System, Deathcam and more.

These features are just the tip of the iceberg, really. We’ve put a lot of love into making this game an amazing experience. When it comes to systems, levels, and weapons, we’ve touched everything, because we made it all from scratch. We tried to keep what we felt was evocative of the original Half-life, but when recreating these things we have inherently re-designed them. The combat, the puzzles, the mechanics and pacing of every level have been re-designed. The weapon strengths, animations, balance aspects – all re-designed. The systems, aside from being completely coded from scratch, have all been re-designed to some degree. There is nothing we haven’t touched, honestly.

RPS: Black Mesa’s evolved from a Source port of Half-Life into a full-blown remake/modern redesign, but how do you keep that from devolving into a directionless fan tribute — especially while keeping the development process so insular? What are your main sources of inspiration design-wise? What keeps the whole process grounded? 

Carlos Montero: I don’t think we’ve ever had any trouble keeping a direction. Our shared vision is very strong, and if we are straying from that too much it usually becomes apparent immediately. Everyone on our team is accustomed to being a part of the process, to speaking their mind and helping shape the game. If something isn’t jiving with the group, it gets exposed pretty quick and we have always made a point to do what is best for the game, even if it means sacrificing personal ideas or work.

What we have consistently looked to for inspiration and guidance are Half-Life 2, the episodes, and Valve’s work in general. Most everything we’ve changed from a design perspective has come from that. From playing, learning, observing, and from internalizing that knowledge to resolve what is best for our project. I’m sure many may jump to conclusions here but we aren’t making any major departures from the series. We are just looking for inspiration from our modern counterparts.

RPS: Have there been any major internal struggles over the course of Black Mesa’s development? Moreover, what’s it like working with a team that’s so large and yet not confined to a single geographic location? How does one organize something like that?

Carlos Montero: Simple answer: You don’t.

When I first joined the project, I was just an artist. I became the project leader after only 3 months or so, by unanimous vote. The very first thing I did was try to understand why things weren’t working very well. I saw that when the project started there were people in charge – and those people became bottlenecks. It became more and more clear to me that those bottlenecks needed to be removed.

In a manager-centric team, every layer of management is technically a bottleneck, a pipe that all work must get through. In a global multi-time-zone environment, this effect is magnified many times over. It really didn’t take much to realize that having people in global locations struggling in vain to get in contact with someone because of timezone differences was a bad thing. Trying to organize who did what, what people were supposed to be doing… it was a logistical nightmare. If you are waiting on someone to tell you what to do or approve something, and they are never available when you need them, everything slows down drastically.

Only by removing bottlenecks and moving to more of a peer-review hierarchy where everyone chose what they worked on and everyone was able to give feedback to each other, did we finally begin to progress as a team. We had to focus on communicating to each other what work there was to do and what had already been done. But aside from that, everyone just did their own thing.

Before this, it was a nightmare of trying to manage everything and communicate across timezones…and it was hurting more than helping development. By allowing people to self-organize on the team, they naturally formed groups that were timezone-centric, and we gained a ton of efficiency and really started to make progress as a team.

As the project leader, I have really only helped solve problems when they arise and protect the developers from as much hassle as possible. Aside from that, I work beside them as a regular developer, where my critique and work is at the same level as theirs. Anyone can critique my work, or reject my critiques of their work. All voices are equal internally.

The only other big thing that I feel I brought to development was a sense of humor. A fun approach. I feel that in this team or any professional team, people should be enjoying their work and having some fun. This is a big part of what fuels creativity and makes working together a great experience. I have always made a point of keeping things upbeat and having a good time while we work.

RPS: Obviously, the Source engine’s evolved a lot since you started working on Black Mesa, and game graphics in general have come a long, long way since 2005. Are you afraid, at all, of looking outdated when you finally launch? What have you done to avoid that?

Carlos Montero: We aren’t afraid of looking dated at all. For one thing, we’ve gone through one engine change during development, which means we aren’t using the same version of the source engine we started with back in 2005. For another thing, throughout development we’ve pushed this version of the engine to its limits, often creating maps that just skirted the limits of the engine due to their complexity and visual fidelity.

I definitely believe we have visually made the best game possible with this engine, and recent Source engine games have certainly proven to me that art direction and gameplay provide a more important core element to any game than fidelity or resolution. Having an aesthetic that you stick to and wowing people within the confines of that aesthetic – that’s what I personally believe is important from any game, regardless of engine or platform.

RPS: What’s been your biggest take-away from this project? In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently – any specific thing that you can look back on and think “Oh, if we’d just done it that way to begin with, it would’ve completely changed how everything’s turned out”?

Carlos Montero: This project started as a “Half-life HD” of sorts, but it’s really grown into more of a re-imagining of Half-life with an emphasis on using what we as an industry have learned in the last decade. I feel that there could potentially have been a much more robust and fun experience if, from the very beginning, we had put more of a focus on “New, fun experience that is evocative of Half-Life” and less “Half-life HD”. It has confused our design approach and structure over the years, I think. There are probably people on the team who would wholeheartedly disagree with those sentiments though.

RPS: You’ve just spent an entire interview telling me why making promises and circling dates on calendars is a terrible, terrible idea. I am, however, a bit thick, so can you – in any way, shape, or form – narrow down some sort of release window? If not, do you have a release window for any sort of playable demo? Basically, when will people be able to get their hands on the game in some form? Soon? Soon-ish?

Carlos Montero: We’re working very hard to get something out to our fans in the soon-ish timeframe. I really won’t say anything more than that.

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126 Comments »

  1. Cunzy1 1 says:

    1000 swings per minute? Hack.

  2. Communist says:

    Assuming they’re going by Valve Time, ‘soon’ could be anywhere between two months and nine years. So ‘soonish’ should be within a decade :D

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      The bottom line is they’ve been subconsciously affected by the half-life of Plutonium.

      It really is a shame (imo) that the project has lost so much momentum (in terms of the interest generated a few years back) due to not getting *something* out there before now.

  3. MuscleHorse says:

    He’s not entirely endearing himself to people when he essentially copy and pastes a press release during an interview.

    • Was Neurotic says:

      What, the bullet points? It looked a bit funny for about 3 seconds, but it got the job done (imho). Plus, that was quite a lengthy interview during which the guy was both candid and insightful. For my money, it was one of the most interesting interviews I’ve seen in an age.

      • Donjo says:

        I was initially a bit annoyed that he seemed to be selling himself a bit, but, I guess that’s ok really- seeing as it went along with an interesting interview. Seems to be just being honest about and the problems they’ve faced and what they’ve learned. Still looking forward to this.

        • markside says:

          Yeah, a good read. And excellent to see the word ‘jiving’. Now I’d forgotten this existed, I can reset my excitment-ometer and comfortably look forward to it again.

  4. Jannakar says:

    I’m really torn by this.

    I think I would have been quite happy with Half-Life HD. I don’t really care about ‘modern gameplay’ because that notion is rather abhorrent to me — there wasn’t much wrong with HL and the modern gamer should stop being treated like an imbecile.

    At the same time, I applaud the goal of taking HL and trying to build something fresh while respecting the original.

    • Flint says:

      I feel the same sort of mixed feelings. On one hand, if I want to play HL I’ll play HL – it’s not exactly a struggle to get it working on modern PCs thanks to HL: Source – and it’s not necessarily a bad thing to not be afraid of touching something legendary in order to fix flaws, change things, and so forth. On the other hand, one of the reasons why HL is one of my all-time favourite games lies within its design, which I find to be the perfect FPS design for my tastes – trying to ‘modernise’ things and noticably altering how it all works sounds like a really, really awkward thing to me. Plus there’s something inherently uncomfortable in the notion that the work began as a simple graphical update and only started developing its own independent branches later on, rather than being designed as a revamp from the get go: it smells of feature/scope creep and possible overambition.

      I dunno. Mixed.

      • best_jeppe says:

        I have the same feeling as you. I hope they don’t start messing to much with the gameplay and design like putting in regenerable health or something stupid like that. I don’t think they will do that particular thing but still, I hope they don’t do some stupid decisions. From my point of view FPS Gameplay now isn’t as good as it was when Half-life was released.

        I am definitely gonna play it but the fact that they are messing with the design makes me a bit worried.

        • Ostymandias says:

          Tjenare Jeppe! Vad fan gör du i RPS kommentarsfält?

        • Tuskin38 says:

          Its going to play like a Mix between HL1 and HL2

        • Deathmonkey7 says:

          A quote from Raminator, one of the lead dev’s:

          “I think everyone’s reading into it too much. Carlos wasn’t talking about “dumbing down” Half-Life; we’ve made design decisions that (transparently) help the player along.

          A lot of this has nothing to do with Half-Life, it’s often a function of keeping the scene easily readable despite the additional visual clutter. Locked doors have a different model to ones that you can open; valves that are turnable are red and have handgrips; buttons that you can press have green lights while buttons you can’t press have red lights. We’ve tried to build a vocabulary into the game so you don’t have to wander around mashing your use key in vain.”

          • MadTinkerer says:

            So, in short, they’re fixing all of the things that I literally hated about Half Life.

            Thank goodness.

          • Rusty_S85 says:

            Deathmonkey7, but thats contradictory. If your not dumbing the game down then what do you call it when you are helping the player out by making the game “easier” to navigate. On this planet that is considered dumbing the game down so people that are easily disheartened by a game could play it but then it makes it way to easy for those of us that likes a challenge and thus we end up avoiding the game cause its too easy for us.

            Its a big reason why gamers that love a challenge dont play games like “wheres waldo” cause its too easy to do.

            A big chunk of “On A Rail” was removed from the game cause the devs stated the back tracking was too confusing for the players. I wasnt confused and everyone that I know that loved the game since it came out and have been playing it was not confused either. This is just one area that was dumbed down which in my opinion will actually hurt the game. So to sit there and say the game isnt being dumbed down and in the same breath state that its being made easier for the player to navigate is contradictory and to be honest laughable to say something like that.

            This is what made Half Life 1 so fun was being lost in a large facility and trying to find your way out. Why ruin that by making it like the charater you play has been in these area`s before when hes a new employee with the A.M. lab and never been in this other areas nor even knew they exsisted. Your character is supposed to be lost not helped along by big signs saying “you go this way” which is being hinted at.

      • siegarettes says:

        HL: Source was a great disappointment. Not much was really improved, and the flow of the levels was constantly interrupted by the loading screens.

    • Mman says:

      It’s the use of “re-imagining” that sets the alarm bells ringing for me, as it was the word used to justify (mostly) arbitrarily cutting out a quarter of the original game in Tomb Raider Anniversary without any sort of replacement content. To be fair, as the BMS developers don’t have to rush out a game in a year or two I don’t expect anything on that level, but it’s not exactly a word that has positive connotations for me when used to refer to a remake.

      • Urthman says:

        On the other hand, Tomb Raider Anniversary is the best Tomb Raider game ever made, so it’s hard for me to complain that they didn’t include every single level from the original Tomb Raider.

        • Mman says:

          Based on the parts where it’s firing on all cylinders and full effort was put in Anniversary would be my easy favourite if it didn’t have so many randomly butchered parts and obviously rushed sections (that’s the only way I can rationalise the last couple of levels being a combination of both bad and unfaithful anyway). Which makes them all the more unfortunate :( .

        • Premium User Badge

          Vandelay says:

          It also wouldn’t have been as good as it was if it had of been just a copy and paste of the original in shiny graphics. The mix of a fairly modern control scheme with old school levels and puzzles made it a joy to play.

          We will have to wait and see whether Black Mesa becomes a good comparison though. It could go horribly wrong, whereas making HL again would have been the safe option.

          • Mman says:

            I admit it doesn’t come through above but it’s not actually pure faithfulness I’m interested in (“without any replacement content” was an important part of the first post), in some ways I think Anniversary could have afforded to be more experimental than it was. The more important thing in a remake is preserving the spirit of individual sections rather than the literal content, which is where I consider Anniversary to frequently falter; with a few exceptions, there’s a pretty universal pattern of simplifying the level design but increasing the complexity of the puzzles and obstacles, that works in some parts but also completely misses the point of others (and that’s without going into things like the T-Rex encounter, which is frankly just plain lazy). That’s the real thing I worry about for BMS when words like “re-imagining” get thrown around, as opposed to things simply being different in themselves.

            Edit: Thinking about it, the interview kind of contradicts my own worries, as it seems the exact kind of problem the BMS team hit a brick wall with is updating sequences while properly preserving their spirit, as opposed to taking the easy way out of assuming something is fine as long as it vaguely evokes it’s inspiration.

    • yutt says:

      Go play Half-Life Source? Or Half-Life? Why can’t you just be happy that people have dedicated years of their life into creating something they are proud of? This is an issue to you? How about you just say, “Thanks!” instead?

      It is upsetting to me how critical and negative so many of the comments in response to both of these articles have been. These people are literally dedicating thousands of hours into creating something others want, and for free. And the first response you have is to complain about how their vision varies slightly from your own? Really?

      • Dervish says:

        Mod fans/followers tend to be horrible whiners. It’s one thing to give a negative review, but so many people get angry about updates and treat mods they don’t like as a personal affront. It’s not so bad in these comments compared to just about any page on Mod DB.

      • Toberoth says:

        Erm, did you read this part of his post before you started ranting? “At the same time, I applaud the goal of taking HL and trying to build something fresh while respecting the original.”

        Do calm down.

      • Jannakar says:

        Honestly, you’re an idiot.

        The MBS source team have all the right in world to devoted as much time as they want into making something they feel proud of.

        Equally I have every right to express my subjective (but balanced) opinion about what they are up to in the comments section of a web-site where opinions are expressed.

        I owe them nothing and they owe me nothing

        Now, if that offends your sensitive soul, I suggest you leave the internet and become a internet hermit.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Personally, on my semi-annual play throughs of HL there is a few things I get frustrated with, a few maps that could do with a slightly better layout, and I’ve always felt the machine gun was a bit wimpy, considering how powerful it seems when the soldiers are using it.
      Each to their own though, if you could please everyone with the same game, then the games industry would be bloody boring.

  5. Amnesiac says:

    Grrrr that crowbar picture nearly gave me a heart attack.

  6. TheHollowNight says:

    So this revealed almost absolutely nothing new about the project. I assumed the reason for this interview was to reassure the few deluded fans left following the mod that it will be released any time soon. But it’s just more beating around the bush and reiterating stuff I already know about.

    Almost everyone I know in the Source Engine community simply doesn’t care about Black Mesa any more. Sure, we’ll play it out of curiosity if it ever does find a way to release, but it’s been 7 YEARS.

    They should of just released the first few chapters a year or two ago to whet the fan’s appetite.

    • KikiJiki says:

      And then they could have left it on a cliffhanger and never worked on it again! Wait a second….

    • Rusty_S85 says:

      Thats why I dont follow this mod anymore, Ive been following it since there was talk of it around in 2004 and been keeping tabs on it almost daily when it was offically started to be worked on in 2005. Now by 2012 I am like, I could give two shits. I got a lot of other games I am playing that has my attention and if BMS comes out great I will try it if its a steam download otherwise the game doesnt exsist.

      Sure some people might yell troll or try to start shit saying but the game does exsist. No it doesnt exsist, the game wont exsist till its released to be played so as far as I am concerned since I cant play it cause its not released the game doesnt exsist and in all shape and form dead in my view. Its been 7 years since the project was started and I cant afford to sit around waiting on a mod that is no longer faithful to the orignal and is being dumbed down cause some people were confused by the map layout of the orignal. That is what made the orignal great considering you never been in those sections before so why give hints on where to go and which ways are not accessable by making the doors slightly different. It was fun to find that one elevator with a dead grunt on the ground in front of thinking great I found an exit only to hit the button and find out the elevator doesnt work. Sure it could be frustrating to some people but why take something like that out of a game that made it fun for the majority of people. Theres a reason why Half Life 1 was game of the year you know.

  7. DiiGiiTAL says:

    tl;dr

    Release the fucking game.

  8. Lobotomist says:

    In my opinion Half-Life is still best single player shooter ever made.

    Nothing even comes close. Including Sequels (and they are great)

    So kudos for the guys doing this !

    • DickSocrates says:

      Doom’s better. Doom had balls. HL1 has weird reverb effects that make every sound effect in the game make me want to jab knives in my ears.

  9. Vivian says:

    Looks brilliant so far guys, I’m glad you are taking your time over it, I look forward to playing it when it’s done. Please continue to ignore the butthurt. That is all.

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    Jackablade says:

    Well, if nothing else they’ve mastered PR speak. One wonders whether behind the fancy talk, they can walk a suitably fancy walk.

    Still if nothing else, my interest is somewhat piqued again, so I suppose they’ve succeeded in their objective.

    • iHavePants says:

      Yep, there is extraordinarily little in the way of actual answers to any of the questions. Not a single example of -how- anything has been changed from the original Half-Life.

      I respect the people making this for the enormous workload they’ve taken upon themselves, but this interview really was quite uninformative.

  11. Paul says:

    Well I love Half Life 1, so I still care about this project. Hopefully I will get to play it someday!

    If not, well, at least they tried.

    Those pictures look great!

  12. zotiun says:

    It is great to see some insight into what is going on, however what happened yesterday ?

    I read the first RPS article about BMS. Good stuff.

    A few hours after that article a tweet on BMS twitter explaining that their website had been updated….

    So I visited, nothing had changed. There was a thread on the forum questioning this with a few sarcastic replies.

    The tweet and the forum thread have now both been deleted?

    Anyway I am still really looking forward to what eventually gets released – keep on perfecting :)

    • iHavePants says:

      “There was a thread on the forum questioning this with a few sarcastic replies.”

      Yep, that sounds like the Black Mesa forums. My experience reading them has been riddled with the developers being very passive aggressive towards the community there, and the community in turn adopting that as the way they should treat everyone else.

      • Premium User Badge

        Smashbox says:

        It really is a cesspool over there.

        That said, I’m (still) looking forward to this mod. Funny to think that I’ve been seeing it for over half a decade.

      • Rusty_S85 says:

        That is exactly right, raminator is one of the worse I have had the displeasure of knowing. I have such disrespect for him I wont even capitalize his name.

        I used to be a long time member of the forum but I quit after a simple suggestion I made which wasnt anything major but would have helped with the game and the next thing I know raminator is being a total ass making un called for comments. Makes me wonder how old this child really is considering no adult would act like that unless there is something seriouslly wrong with them and if that is the case he needs to seek medical help and get medicated.

        Aside from that the forums is a free for all, the mods dont do jack shit for keeping it civilized as they themselves are equally as uncivilized as the devs. Personally I think all of them are like cultists, those that live on the forum believe anything the mods or devs state as if it was the word of god and then shit talk anyone that has an opinion that differs from theirs. Thats like theres nothing but shit talking going on over there about the comments being left here. Its really pathetic that they are so childish that they dont even have the guts to come over here and tell people to their faces. No they rather sit back in their own little secure domain and insult and shit talk others behind their back. Typical brats is all they all are.

  13. Premium User Badge

    symuun says:

    It’s great fun looking at these screenshots and going “I know that place!” I’m looking forward to visiting the Black Mesa Facility again.

  14. genius_starship says:

    What I don’t understand: If they can’t keep a single thing from HL1, not level design, not dialogues, not voiceovers, not aesthetics, then why the hell is everyone so excited about this? This won’t be a remake, it will just be a second-rate “reimagining” with an extremely limited budget, made by semiprofessionals.

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      theSeekerr says:

      My reading is that they’re using no assets from HL1, but have rerecorded dialogue based on the original script, rebuilt levels based on the original design, and “reimagined” the aesthetic in a manner heavily informed by HL2, Portal 2 etc.

      • Tuskin38 says:

        They also changed areas that made absolutely no sense in the original game and made them make sense.

        • Toberoth says:

          Such as? It all seemed pretty coherent to me.

          • Tuskin38 says:

            The hanging box room for one what the heck was the purpose of that room? They gave it one. that is only example I can think of at the moment.

          • Dervish says:

            “Coherent” is a good word. Not much about Half-Life’s levels seems too outlandish (given the premise) while you’re playing, but if you stop and think about it, many of the rooms would never be designed that way by a sane human in real life. For the time it was still about as good at making realistic spaces as any other FPS had done.

            I remember a Black Mesa post about changing rooms in Residue Processing so some of those machines have a sensible, apparent function.

          • Toberoth says:

            Hmm. I guess I rarely stop and think about the function of rooms in games as I’m running through them. If they’re in a factory level and they look big and metallic and factoryish then that’s good enough for me. Nothing jarred, particularly, and I think that’s the most important thing, because it’s not like you can use the rooms for the function they would perform in an actual factory, for example. They’re mostly just background.

            It comes back to my biggest objection to the way the team is approaching this mod–more than almost any other game, you can say of Half Life that it ain’t broke, so why fix it. A bit of a graphical update would be good enough for me. They’re setting their sights way too high trying to iron out basically nonexistent problems in one of the most tightly designed, well-paced, and successful games of the last, what, fourteen years?

          • malkav11 says:

            I would argue that it may not have been broken, per se, but there’s plenty of room to improve Half-Life. It’s a competent enough shooter, but I was much more impressed by Half-Life 2, and part of my original excitement over Half-Life Source (which turned out to perform the herculean feat of making slightly prettier water and explosions and nothing else, not even including Blue Shift’s updated textures and models) was the idea that Half-Life would be updated to the sequel’s standards. That’s still what I’m hoping to get from Black Mesa: Source.

  15. Inigo says:

    it’s really grown into more of a re-imagining of Half-life

    Oh dear.

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    Elusiv3Pastry says:

    I’d like to know how they’re going to handle soldier AI. The AI was brilliant in HL1, way ahead of its time, and made the soldier AI in HL2 look like a bag of rocks.

    • Tuskin38 says:

      Their Soldier AI is based off the Combine AI with some of their own modifications. Check out their official wiki should explain it.

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    Tom De Roeck says:

    Re: everyone above: yes of course, remixes of things are so horribly bad.

  18. psycore says:

    You know once upon a time I really cared about this mod, but it has taken so long to come out I have forgotten about it and now every time I read about it and my memory is jogged I find myself just not caring in the slightest anymore. The BMS guys might be passionate about their work but they certainly can’t meet milestones and it probably isn’t worth any time hanging onto what they spin.

    • Donjo says:

      If you don’t care about it and you’ve forgotten about it why are you commenting?

      • Terragot says:

        com·ment/ˈkäment/

        Noun:
        A remark expressing an opinion or reaction.

        Verb:
        Express an opinion or reaction.

        Synonyms:
        noun. remark – commentary – observation – note – gloss
        verb. annotate – gloss – interpret – explain – remark

        • Donjo says:

          HOLY CRAP I don’t know how I’ve gotten this far without a through understanding of the meaning of the word “comment”. That is very interesting. Thank you for your interesting “comment”.

          • derbefrier says:

            well you kinda asked for it with that snarky comment before.

          • Terragot says:

            psycore presented a fair, reasonable, well presented arrangement of his thoughts on the article. You had no right to declare his opinion void in such a catty and condescending way. Therefor I acted towards you with condescension with reminding you that his comment is more valid to the discussion that yours.

            I’m not sure if your recent reply was a serious apology or the vivid impression of your bucket level platitude.

          • Donjo says:

            I admit defeat. I should be studying but people are digging up the road outside with jackhammers. The noise is going through my skull. I lashed out. I’M SORRY.

    • PopeJamal says:

      I have to agree. I’ll probably play it when it comes out if someone reminds me about it, and it does look interesting, but I removed it from my list of “things I checkup on occasionally” a while ago.

      Or, put another way: I care 0 kickstarter widgets.

  19. d3vill0ck says:

    Soon-ish? Smells like Valve Time to me :D
    They’re really taking the Valve spirit with the delays and everything :D

  20. RagingLion says:

    I had withheld from playing HL1 partly because I knew this was coming. now I’m not sure whether it’s enough to just play this since I apparently won’t be having the same experience that everyone else did when they first played HL1 and that’s a big part of the reason to want to play it for me.

    • Donjo says:

      Just play it. :)

    • Lemming says:

      Play it, but play it with the official HD texture pack installed. Give it a google.

    • Dervish says:

      I don’t know why you’d think playing a remake, no matter how faithful, would give you the same feelings other people had about the original Half-Life back in the day.

      Besides, half of the fun is going to be recognizing places from the original and seeing how they changed them.

  21. Tom Walker says:

    Play for free. You need not own anything

    I wonder if that means full-on free, or that they’ll want me to keep buying new hats for my headcrabs. Either way I’ll obviously get it.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      To keep in the good spirits of Valve (the makers of the original) they are not charging for this mod. They are making it because they like to, and enjoy it. So payment is secondary. If they did charge, there is a risk Valve could send a cease and desist letter.

      However, even without charging, if they are successful, they may get jobs or offers from companies. Who knows, Valve might bundle BMS with HL3 for the “Black Box”! ;)

  22. Mr. Mister says:

    Any chance of an interview with FAKEFACTORY, Cinematic Mod’s creator?
    You know, it would be a nice contrast with the Black Mesa interview series: he is a one-modder-army instead of a team with fluctuating members, CM is built on the same engine of the original game (of EP2 at least) instead of being a remake on a better one, everything he produces is meant to fit his taste only (he mods for himself and just happens to be kind enough to share it) instead of for the community (accepts feedback though) or the original game’s very sake, is currently on the 11th series of releases instead of… , he has invested more money in technologies (I read 20000$ somewhere on his site half a year ago) rather than time.
    It would be nice to read an interview with him after Black Mesa interview parts are all posted, to keep the Half-Life total enhancement series.
    If you (the reader, not Nathan) don’t know the hell CM is, go here: http://goo.gl/jQkMI (Disclaimer: All main character HD models are optional, as well as the Combine soldiers and rebels HD character packs. Most main characters have multiple HD models to choose from. FAKEFACTORY kinda likes to model Alyx from a real-world model, so deal with it or keep the vanilla model. HD Alyx based on vanilla design is postponed until he can get his hand on HL3 HD’s vanilla model).

    And the eyelashes shader are awesome.

    • Tuskin38 says:

      FAKEFACTORY applied to the BMS team but they turned him down.

      Also Cinematic mod sucks and completely ruins the atmosphere of the game. Also he stole some of the citizen face models from some modelling program.

      • iHavePants says:

        The mesh and texture updates for the world are fantastic. Plus he introduced Half-Life 2 into newer versions of the Source Engine long before Valve did so officially. Yes the character models are hideous but they can be disabled. The only problem I remember having with it overall was that all the music seemed to be replaced by a single track from the Batman Begins soundtrack, although I think you could modify all that back to the default as well.

        • Tuskin38 says:

          His textures are too big. They could be half the size at look just as good, and it would cut down in file size as well.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Wow, that’s pretty. What’s the pornstar for? Placeholder?

      Oh. Is that…is that supposed to be…

      Oh dear. What a shame.

  23. FreudianTrip says:

    I found this bit amusing and enlightening:

    “Only by removing bottlenecks and moving to more of a peer-review hierarchy where everyone chose what they worked on and everyone was able to give feedback to each other, did we finally begin to progress as a team.”

    Funny how they had to revert to a Valve style of management and feedback to re-create a Valve game.

    • Ostymandias says:

      My though exactly.

      My experience from working (albeit not in games dev) with this type of flat management development is that the product usually takes about three times as long to complete as with traditional management, but the final product is about five times as good.

  24. sneetch says:

    Carlos Montero: We’re working very hard to get something out to our fans in the soon-ish timeframe. I really won’t say anything more than that.

    Yeah, the choice of words there (something and soon-ish) doesn’t really inspire confidence all that much. I’m betting on another trailer around Christmas. Christmas 2013. Maybe some wallpaper.

  25. Gary Wolf says:

    If there’s anything I’ve learned the last couple of years, it’s this:
    Please take as long as you need for a game. it almost always pays off… Almost.
    While we wait, we’ll just slave ourselves to death over Diablo 3.

  26. Moonracer says:

    I’m surprised you missed the opportunity to ask what “modern gaming” changes were being made to Half-Life!? That seems like a subject that is open for discussion (unlike release date) and will partially make or break the game for people who actually enjoyed the original.

    Is this going to be Half-Life with two guns at a time and a ten foot sprint?

  27. derbefrier says:

    thats cool and all but i wont start caring about this mod until something more concrete than soonish comes out of his mouth

    • sneetch says:

      From past experience I’d recommend forgetting all about it until it actually releases, RPS will let us know when that is I’m sure. :)

  28. deadly.by.design says:

    I think we’d all be fine with Half-Life: HD, but I look forward to whatever new twists they give us. Or don’t give us. You know … whenever. Take your time and be satisfied with your work, guys.

    The real problem was how they communicated their release expectations, but they’ve admitted that.

  29. brulleks says:

    “This hasn’t been about polish for polish’s sake”

    But that’s my favourite kind of polish.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      I too have “taken to polishing old things”.
      It turns out you can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter.

  30. ArticXiongmao says:

    The Dev ACTUALLY said in the interview that by modern he meant Half-Life 2 and such. WTF made people think about things like quick-time events or third person cinematics or ironsights? And the death-cam is not what you think it is; it is not a MP style deathcam in which you see the enemy, it’s a deathcam in which “the camera” (your head, your body) falls in the ground with realistic physics once you die. There are not even iron-sights in the game.

    The gameplay and IU and everything else is exactly like in HL and HL2. By reimagining they mean things like making real-world sense of senseless puzzles that looked to be designed only to kill you in an arcady sort of way (so, the puzzles remains, they just make sense now), making great levels bigger when needed and frustrating and badly designed levels shorter or better in some way (e.g. the level On a Rail in HL1 involved a lot of back-tracking in a samey-looking environment and without any new enemies or threats presented to the player, so most back-tracking has been eliminated.)

    Goddamit, people don’t know how to read. In this context, Modern=HL2.

    • Premium User Badge

      bear912 says:

      Hear, hear!

      Though I rather liked On a Rail as I recall. It could have definitely used some more visual distinction between different areas, though. Eh, I probably won’t even notice it if they change it, to be honest, so whatever.

  31. FuzzyPuffin says:

    “Black Mesa is mostly made from scratch, excepting a few assets from the SDK. Pretty much every sound effect, every texture, every voice-over – all of it.”

    Wait…every voiceover? As in, they are rerecording all the dialogue, using different and probably nonprofessional actors, because they can’t afford it? Why??

    Wouldn’t a far better solution be to require HL1 to play, and use those assets?

    • ArticXiongmao says:

      They can’t use HL sounds legally, and if you cared to look at the Wiki you’d see the nail every specific character and character archetype.

      And they have MUCH more dialogue than HL. It may have looked a dialogue-heavy game back in 1998, but not now. Now there is much more meaningful chatter between scientists in the beginning chapters, and somewhat the same after the accident. So, they couldn’t use HL sounds legally in a Source mod (the sounds are not in the SDK, and anyway Black Mesa doesn’t even require HL2 now, because they have all-new assets and you can get the SDK with free Source games), and they have expanded the script considerably.

    • Tuskin38 says:

      Their voice actors are spot on there are audio samples all over the web, watch their 2008 trailer you can hear scientists Barney and G-Man. The “Prepare for unforeseen consequences” was not ripped from EP2.

  32. Hendar23 says:

    I used to love the HL games above all other FPS, then S.T.A.L.K.E.R. came along and ruined it for me.

  33. DickSocrates says:

    This is the natural consequence of no deadlines. They should promise to show something in a month from now, then they’d see some rapid progress. PROMISE.

  34. MozzerV12 says:

    This is a great read! It’s nice to finally hear some news on this mod after so long. Perhaps RPS could try and do a similar interview with the team working on They Hunger : Lost Souls? That was another promising Source mod which has been silent for years now. The original They Hunger trilogy was definitely one of the best mods for Half Life ever.

  35. Brainkite says:

    Really touching interview, hope all those efforts will be strongly rewarded.

  36. deteugma says:

    If Montero or anybody from the development team is taking questions, and if I can ask this without being instantly flamed (probably not), I’m curious whether, when it’s released, someone who hasn’t played HL before wil be able play BMS in place of the original game.

    • stormseeker says:

      I would suggest playing the original first, before you try Black Mesa. When you play BM, you’ll be able to see better the expansions and additional details we’ve added. It’s not intended as a replacement to Half-Life.

  37. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Comment of passive-aggressive resignation #41

  38. crinkles esq. says:

    This is a sad tale of a man who thought you had scored an interview with Valve on the next Half-Life installment, and it wasn’t until hopes were sufficiently raised high against the walls of heaven itself that you brought me crashing down with the word “remake”.

    Oh.

    No. NO. Screams, endless screams, and gnashing of teeth.
    And then the crying. Sobs like a thunderstorm. And then I hopped a ride on a magical flying caterpillar who took me to the land of talking donuts! I ate them all.

  39. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    I wonder if there’s a reason why I don’t trust a word this guy says …?

  40. Shooop says:

    Wait, it’s going to be free? Not a retail product? My mind is blown and I am thoroughly impressed with these folks.

    No I haven’t followed this game at all before. RPS has helped me realize that was a problem and solved it.

  41. flaillomanz says:

    I’m willing to wager that, regardless of public outcome, this mod team will be approached by valve when they release the finished remake. That’s just an opinion, though.

  42. matrices says:

    Honestly, fuck these clowns. Just another vain and irrelevant group of people who have never released or accomplished anything exploiting misplaced hopes and riding someone else’s wave. Valve at least earned their time delay. These guys are just piss in the wind. You can hold dick in hand all day long, but execution is everything.

    • NateN34 says:

      Well said!

      I personally think its all a great troll and will never come to reality.

      • yourgrandma says:

        Can’t wait to quote all of you when the game is finally released.

    • Shooop says:

      Unless you paid them for it, what do you have to be bitter about? It’s a free game if/when it comes out.

      Some people are interested in something because it’s being made by people who appear genuinely determined to make a quality game. If nothing else I’d like to see this kind of behavior encouraged because it’s the antithesis to Activion/EA/Ubisoft’s assembly line methods.

      • Rusty_S85 says:

        It all comes back to the old saying. Shit in one hand and wish in the other, which one do you think going to come true first?

        You can wish for BMS to be released all you want but until it is offically released shitting in the other hand will come true for sure the wishing part is just wishful wishing if that makes any sense.

        If people want to waste their time following this every single day of their life and not seeing anything tangiable come from it so be it, they are the ones missing out on life and I pitty them for believing this group of people who has constantly lied and feel that their shit doesnt stink and what have we gotten from it all? Its been 7 years and the mod still isnt released and the forums are just like they have always been full of hateful mods and devs that do nothing but shit talk others behind their backs and belittle new people that join all because they ask a question that the bitter forum members have answered a few times since they been with the forum for 7 years. Thank god I am no longer and havent been a part of that in many years. I am a lot better not being exposed to all those negative posts day in and day out.

  43. Frostiken says:

    Here’s my take on it:

    1) The developers don’t owe it to the masses to release this game. They owe it to themselves, and the other 79 people who’ve spent their time on it. How many developers do you think are happy with an unreleased project? Pretty much none of them. I’ve known a few people who worked on it, and I’ve heard firsthand the horror stories about complete lack of vision, total team mismanagement, and inability to focus on what needs to be done. Some of them worked on a map, and then were told to scrap the whole thing. Then they made it over again, submit it, and heard nothing back about it for weeks. Then they’d come back and say to scrap it and start on a totally different map. So they would. Halfway through that map, they’d ask them to stop and go back and make the original map like they did the first time. It’s a complete circus.

    2) “You’ve just spent an entire interview telling me why making promises and circling dates on calendars is a terrible, terrible idea.”

    That just tells me how doomed this project is. These guys are amateurs. Nothing wrong with that, it means they have no experience. Circling dates is how everything in the world gets done on time. Every game ever made by anyone who knew what they were doing had strict deadlines. You’ll never see a financially successful company make profits by releasing things when they get around to it. Who was the one developer who couldn’t focus, who had a team made of people too scared to tell the project lead to quit making changes, and refused to focus on a release date? The same developer who lost all their money and couldn’t pay their employees and released a terrible game: 3D Realms.

    That he believes not having a set release schedule is a good thing not only speaks of what a complete idiot he is and what a horrible manager he is, it’s also tells me he has no idea how the real world functions and belies just how terribly managed the whole thing is.

    3) This interview just features the project lead saying absolutely nothing. It’s just a huge list of excuses without explaining to anyone exactly what took so long, why so many donor developers quit the project in disgust, and how much is left to do. We all know exactly, at the minimum, what Black Mesa needs to encompass, from the tram ride in to the tram ride out. They aren’t making a totally new game and need to think about what to add to keep the story together, that’s literally all been done for them. This means the original game can be used as a benchmark to gauge progress, so the fact that he’s utterly unable to tell us *WHAT IS LEFT TO DO* tells me he doesn’t even know himself, or the mod / game / whatever is stuck in perpetual George Broussard Feature Creep mode.

    4) Yes, this is a team of unpaid volunteers. But the fact that there’s been *80 people* working on this game in the last 7 years and it’s no closer to release now then it was when we were told “soon” 5 years ago should indicate what an unmitigated disaster of shit-awful mismanagement it is. This excuse also holds no water whatsoever. When you look at what teams like MWLL have managed to accomplish with fewer people in less time, you see that Black Mesa and its perpetual delays have become more a thing of shame than anything else.

    Carlos needs to be fired from the team, and someone who knows how to stick to deadlines, how to motivate a team and how to kick them in the ass to get things done, and how to properly manage a project needs to be brought in. If this clown has his way, you won’t see this for another two years. The vast majority of ‘fans’ have already given up.

    Let me put it this way: If Black Mesa had a Kickstarter fund, they’d have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in no time. However, by this point, people would be demanding their money back and calling it a scam. Now, before you jump in as an apologist for this travesty, ask yourself this: If Black Mesa started a Kickstarter tomorrow asking for money to finish development, would you give them money or not? I think the vast majority of people would see their progress (or utter lack thereof) to show a bewildering amount of total irresponsibility and incompetence and you’d be flushing that cash down the toilet.

    • alpha says:

      1) Practice makes perfect.

      2) Umm, Actually Valve are quite well known to work that way and I shouldn’t have to tell you how financially successful they are.

      3) What you just said contradicted itself… “This interview just features the project lead saying absolutely nothing. It’s just a huge list of excuses without explaining to anyone exactly what took so long”. So it told us nothing but gave a list of reasons why it’s taking so long… yeah… nothing… good one.
      I think it’s more on the fact that you can’t handle why it’s taking so long and you like to whinge.

      4) “it’s no closer to release now then it was when we were told “soon” 5 years ago”
      Oh, so you’ve played the game and know what the exact progress of the mod is done then do you?
      FUN FACT – Do you know it took 9 years to make Team Fortress 2?

      “The vast majority of ‘fans’ have already given up.” Cool, so this “vast majority” are going to miss out on playing it. Who cares, bad luck to you guys who don’t play. You’re not going to be missed. It’s not going to hurt the game at all considering you’re not paying for it. umad?
      The rest of us will be enjoying it.

      And on the topic of money, it would be illegal for them to make profit from Black Mesa. So starting a Kickstarter campaign would be a dumb move.

      Pretty much what I took from what you wrote is that you DIDN’T read the interview, you just skimmed over thinking excuses, excuses.

      • Rusty_S85 says:

        Fun little fact for you, Half Life started development in 1996 and was released 1998 after a few delays in 1998. So now answer this, how can it be taking 8 years or longer to make a remake of Half Life 1 when the story hasnt changed, the characters hasnt changed, the dialogue hasnt changed, the events hasnt changed, the location hasnt changed, etc, etc, etc.

        Half Life 1 is the basis of the whole game so why is it taking longer to recreate a game than it took the orignal manufactuer to make the game from scratch on everything?

        This is why I have big issues with this mod is I feel these amatures dont know how to undertake a major project considering Ive done a lot more than they have in one of my hobbies in less time than they took and it required a lot more work than what they are doing.

        With proper schedules and deadlines this could have been released in 3 years tops. Even with creating new characters and new skins for everything from scratch. Its no different than what Valve did when they had to create everything from scratch for the orignal that only took 2 years. These guys using a game engine that already exsist and the only thing they are creating is new skins and new NPC`s and were waiting 8 years for a game that orignally took 2 years to make from the ground up including the story line. I have to say something isnt right there.