Black Mesa Coming To Steam For Real Moneydollars

By Nathan Grayson on November 20th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Spare some change? I'm just a poor, hardworking headcrab who's been let down by The System.

Halfy birthday, Hap-Life! Well, I guess it’s technically the day after your birthday now, but an upgraded version of Source-powered Half-Life tribute Black Mesa still counts as a gift, I think. You might remember that the free labor of time, love, and more time was greenlit a while back, but now it’s finally taking the Lab Facility Train Ride of Ultimate Auspiciousness over to Steam. Better still, Gabe and the knights of the Valve table have given it their blessing, allowing the Black Mesa team to earn some especially pretty pennies for their hard work. The Steam version will include new features too, but not Xen. That’s apparently still “a ways off,” sadly.

The Black Mesa team explained in a forum post:

“Soon you’ll see Black Mesa available on Steam for a relatively low price. But we aren’t dropping all support for the free version. In fact shortly after the Steam release there will be a completely new free version of the game. We also plan to open source our maps and some game assets to the modding community!”

“Purchasing the Steam version of Black Mesa is more about supporting the team and our efforts than anything else. However, the Steam version will include features that the free version simply can not have. We will be paying careful attention to feedback, and you’ll have a very real say in how the final game turns out.”

So then, how’s the price tag looking? Well, the Black Mesa team isn’t going into specifics yet, but it’s currently aiming for something “relatively low.”

As for Xen, it’s still in the works, but things are going a bit less swimmingly at the moment. “To be totally honest, Xen is still a ways off,” the team wrote. “Over the past year, we have spent a HUGE amount of time porting the game to a new engine and fixing hundreds of bugs. The work to port to the new engine was not because of the decision to go retail, this was work that had to be done to get Black Mesa onto Steam and support our future plans.”

But hey, at least we have something to look forward to in the near-ish term. The Steam version is coming “soon.” And as for Xen, the ability to afford food while toiling away on the project might grease its wheels a little. But if not, well, I suppose Half-Life’s 30th anniversary isn’t that far away.

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68 Comments »

  1. Utnac says:

    It’s also getting a new engine. (rumoured to be Source 2)

    • distantlurker says:

      That’s the bit that gets me. Black Mesa is great but if it were to become even *prettier* I would so pay money bux for it. No official word on what they’re porting too however. Really hope it is Valves new one.

    • Low Life says:

      Source 2 would be great (as that would mean that it’s getting near to release), however it’s probably just the latest version of Source, which Valve uses for Dota, CS: GO and such.

      • The Dark One says:

        The current SDK is for the Portal 2 version, right? Is the CS:GO version that much prettier that it would be work porting over?

        • Low Life says:

          Their current platform seems to be from 2007 (source [haha, source!]), so the engine has probably changed quite a bit since then. Also, as mentioned on that post, moving to the proper engine instead of SDK gives them access to the actual engine code, so they have more things to mess with.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      Well, what would Source 2 even add? New lighting and more realistic tumbling box physics I guess? To really take advantage of anything much they’d have to redo levels, models and textures, if they want for example to enable some new engine’s tessellation (while wanting the high poly version of their models to not simply be rounder or smoother but have added detail exactly where and as desired), or anything else that isn’t just programming but requires new assets. It took them this long to remake Half-Life 1, I don’t think essentially remaking Black Mesa to take advantage of many new features could be expected soon.

      I’m curious how they will divide the profits, the project has probably seen a huge amount of contributors over the years, some of them might not even want and likely never signed an agreement that allows their own creations to be sold.

    • babajikibooti says:

      “Just to dispel a large rumor (and I know I’ll be viewed as the grinch that stole christmas): We are NOT on Source 2. It wouldn’t make sense for a company to license tech they haven’t proven yet with a released title to a mod team. Our visial however, WILL be improved.

      Don’t get me wrong though, we’d love a Source 2 license but our fans would be waiting another 9 years if we had to port again.”

      Link : http://forums.blackmesasource.com/showpost.php?p=564289&postcount=174

  2. Skull says:

    This was a really well made mod and a great way to revisit my nostalgia for the original Half Life.

    Much like Spelunky and Cave Story, I would be happy to buy this just to support the developers as I got more enjoyment out of it than I have done with many recent shooters.

    Although some improvements would need to be made over selling the exact replica of the free version with maybe some added achievements. Specifically, I would like them to fix the horrible stuttering the game gave on Surface Tension as that was my favourite level. Also the final battle might as well have been a Powerpoint slideshow which didn’t leave a good taste.

    • Bull0 says:

      Agreed, I feel like by buying this I’m just doing right by the devs for the fun I had with the free version. Promises of new features and a new engine are a lovely bonus

  3. staberas says:

    For the low price of 9,99EU meh

  4. TomxJ says:

    If they fix this locking up at the helicopter attack i’d bite.

    • Stardreamer says:

      THIS.

      I must have spent more than an hour reloading and reloading and reloading in my struggle to get past that damned helicopter, not including return visits. Eventually I had to give up. A real shame because up until that point I was in Half-Life heaven. SUCH a great mod.

      • Danda says:

        Same here. The helicopter fight was glitched out and terrible, but the game is superb.

        It makes sense to charge for an improved Black Mesa for many reasons. The developers will be able to work full time in this, so we could get the Xen section much sooner. Also, if they charge you for Half Life on Steam, it wouldn’t make any sense to offer a better version of that game for free. Otherwise it would be like those times when you see in a store that you can buy the GOTY edition of a game with all the expansions for half of what it costs to buy the original release sitting next to it.

        • phuzz says:

          It’s still better than, for instance, buying Mass Effect 2 in a steam sale for the price of a couple of pints, and then realising that as bioware never have sales, you’re now going to have to spend £30 on bioware points in order to buy all the DCL, and that’s leaving out the pointless weapon packs and so on.
          Rant over :)

  5. Gunsmith says:

    Given the work and care they’ve put into it I’m more then willing to throw some coin their way.

  6. Low Life says:

    They should price it at 3 [currency], 33 % off for preorders.

    And by should I mean I would find it somewhat amusing and they shouldn’t actually do that.

  7. MajorManiac says:

    That is incredibly kind of Valve to let modders earn money for replicating their game.

    Is this the only example of this happening? I can’t think of another. Usually companies *cough*Blizzard*cough* just send threatening legal letters to immediately cease all work, and that was on a free mod.

    • Winged Nazgul says:

      Valve aren’t complete saints. Pretty sure their deal was for it to be exclusively on Steam which means they’ll be getting their cut as well.

      • Bull0 says:

        You’re right, we should be mad at them

      • cunningmunki says:

        But it won’t be exclusive to Steam, the free version will still be available. Did I misunderstand?

        • HothMonster says:

          Free version will probably also be locked to Steam. Seems they will just have the same game up on the store twice, one free and one with a price tag.

          • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

            But doesn’t the free version require that you have HL2 or another Source game anyway? Which means it’s already still locked to Steam?

        • welverin says:

          Yes, it’s about cynical mistrust of valve, try and keep up.

      • MajorManiac says:

        What you say is true. I presume Valve will get 30% of the sales.

        But isn’t this still a groundbreaking act in IP law? If I remade Red Alert and then made money off it, I assume EA would see to it that I went to prison.

        Out of interest, does anyone know of a previous example of an IP holder allowing fans to make money from their property? Maybe in cinema, TV, books, comics or music.

        • Deadly Sinner says:

          Make money? HA! You’re lucky if you can even make free works based on established properties. Disney recently sent a cease and desist to the people making the nice looking Punisher fan-film. Fans seem to have the most freedom with videogame related projects, but even then it’s only with certain companies (Square-Enix sent a cease and desist to people making a free Chrono Trigger sequel.)

        • HadToLogin says:

          I’m guessing it would be 70% for Valve, just like with TF2 items.

        • Darth Gangrel says:

          I think this is a special case, since Valve owns both the IP right to Half-Life and the distribution channel that allows the modders to make money. EA could do something similar if someone remade an EA game and then sold it via Origin, but I don’t see that happening.

          I like mods and modders a lot, but one of the things I like most about mods is that they are free. Some mod projects rival or even exceed what the game devs have done and so it’s like modders are professionals working for free, which doesn’t sound okay. Still, it feels odd that people who aren’t hired by the game devs can ask for money like this. Perhaps that’s just because I’m unfamiliar with this situation, but that’s how I generally feel about it. That’s just me, though, and I’m free to not give them any money and just enjoy the free version.

        • Baines says:

          HP Lovecraft allowed anyone to write Cthulhu Mythos stories.

          Capcom acted as the distribution channel for fan game Street Fighter vs Mega Man. Yes, the game was offered for free, but Capcom could probably have worked out a deal to sell the game with a profit split if they’d wanted to.

          The Black Mesa team have talked with Valve in advance about selling the game.

          You’ve got two separate sticking points with IP protection, though they are the same thing. There is making something without permission, and then there is making something without permission in order to sell it. Companies turn a blind to the former because being too strict in that area is a fast way to anger your fanbase. The latter is a lot less defensible.

          But it isn’t like the Black Mesa team just decided to charge money out of nowhere. They might have started the original project without expressed legal permission, but they’ve gotten Valve’s permission to distribute it on Steam. And the paid version certainly has Valve’s legal permission.

          • Bull0 says:

            Always thought the reason we get so much media featuring Great Cthulhu the Dreamer may his reign be long and dark and terrible is that Lovecraft’s stuff is old enough for copyright to have expired

      • orochi_kyo says:

        May be they arent a saints but much better than Squenix, remember all those CT remakes on the way that that company shut down with cease and desist letters? Well I would gladly had paid for CT crimson echoes even if it had been exclusively to Squenix store. BUT no, Square just fuck the fans!!!

  8. rapier17 says:

    “But if not, well, I suppose Half-Life’s 30th anniversary isn’t that far away.”

    “Half-Life 3″

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Cool. Is the need for always crouch jump patched out? The BM team deserve a bit of money lovin

    • Tinotoin says:

      What was the need to always crouch jump? I don’t follow…

      • sebmojo says:

        In Black Mesa the jump key only made you do a little hop, not enough to get over most obstacles. To jump as high as you needed you had to hit the crouch key as well (to simulate pulling up your legs, I guess?)

        It was a small but stupid blemish on a fantastic remake, as was the terminator like accuracy of the Marines. Both were easily enough patched out.

        • dE says:

          Why would they patch it out? It was in the original half-life for crying out loud! That thing being there is more a sign of staying true to the original – and not a bug. Don’t blame the BM team for it.

          It’s the combination you use to activate the long-jump and it’s not just jumping higher but a whole lot of other things too.

        • MacPoedel says:

          Could you tell me how to patch the accuracy of those marines? I managed to get by them by now, but I thought it was a bit over the top for just playing on regular difficulty, had to reload a lot, especially the level where Gordon arrives at the surface for the first time and there’s this artillery barrage and some soldiers near a hangar (I haven’t played original Half-Life so I wouldn’t know what the level is called, has been a while now since I last played BM). Since it’s completely scripted, reloading takes the fun out of the game, would be nice if they weren’t popping infinite headshots.

  10. bleeters says:

    I would be sort of ok with never replaying the Xen sequence, to be honest.

    • HisDivineOrder says:

      They’re supposed to be improving Xen, but I suspect Xen is just too hard a nut to crack. It’s like the number 3. It’s eeeevil.

      Valve rightly learned not to go anywhere near either one, Xen or 3.

      Beware.

  11. ViktorBerg says:

    I wonder if they will include Surface Tension/On A Rail Uncut by TextFAMGUY1. He really improved those chapters – especially On A Rail, with its huge freight yard, which I really enjoyed as a vista after the cramped tunnels of Blast Pit and Power Up.

    • cunningmunki says:

      He’s part of the BM team now, so it’s likely (although he’s said it won’t be for a long time).

    • Jigowatt says:

      I thought the same thing, but apparently it’s a complicated issue: http://forums.blackmesasource.com/showthread.php?p=559380#post559380

      • BlackAlpha says:

        Honestly, if they again do not include a proper Surface Tension chapter (one that is longer than just 5 minutes), then I’m not getting this. Surface Tension was always my favorite part. It illustrated how the conflict escalated between the aliens and the military, and how the military started to lose control over the situation. Not only is it an important part of the story, it was awesome to see and play it. The fact Black Mesa turned it into a brief 5 minute part is saddening.

        • Jigowatt says:

          Yes it was a shame, but it wasn’t really their fault. The level designer responsible for that cut section of ST left the team, and apparently wouldn’t allow them to use his work (or something like that… can’t remember the exact situation, so apologies if that’s not entirely accurate). Anyway, the excellent Surface Tension Uncut mod puts that section back in seamlessly… so even if they don’t officially include it for whatever reason, it’s likely to be an easy Steam Workshop install.

  12. cunningmunki says:

    I feel like I’ve been waiting for BM for most of my (half) life, even after it was finally released. But I’m still determined to hang on until it’s utterly completely complete, Xen and all.

    • Nicodemus Rexx says:

      Same here. Say what you will about XEN it’s an important part of the game, and I just can’t see playing everything up to that point and just quitting. The completionist in me would just go nuts.

      So yeah, better for me to go all or none. I can wait. I have an ENORMOUS back log to work through anyway.

  13. Lemming says:

    I’ll buy it when it’s finished and not before. I don’t fancy waiting another 8 years for my £10-£20 to yield a result. Taking your sweet time over a free mod is one thing, asking for money puts you in quite a different non-sympathetic category, IMO.

    I’m also perplexed as to why going on Steam meant switching to a whole new engine. Pretty sure Steam doesn’t care which version of Source you are using. If it’s just down to these ‘future plans’ well…perhaps that should be something you think about after getting the completed single-player game on Steam, for money.

    I really don’t trust the vagueness of all this.

    • Low Life says:

      The original Black Mesa used the Source SDK, which forbids selling the game.

      • deadly.by.design says:

        The BMS forum explanation says the engine upgrade was not done for retail purposes…. I think? It seems like it benefitted them either way.

        “The work to port to the new engine was not because of the decision to go retail, this was work that had to be done to get Black Mesa onto Steam and support our future plans.”

        Regardless, I’ll probably buy it at some point. I spent too long pining for a release for them to not receive anything for their trouble.

  14. bstard says:

    Black Mesa is one hell of a nice job done by this modders! Played it half a year back and it was wonderful.

  15. The Sombrero Kid says:

    YOU SPELLED LABOUR WRONG! OMG!

    I’d give them a chunk of change for what little I played of it, if I was going to play half life 1 in future it’d be black mesa.

  16. Neurotic says:

    Well I’m in, whatever they charge. For the record, I’d love to see them Black Mesa-up the expansions too, as well as the unique demo. I’d love to see the entire suite of HL1 stuff BM’d in my Steam library. I’d throw money at that shit all day long.

  17. Foosnark says:

    I kind of wish they’d do an alternate ending. I disliked the jumping puzzles just before Xen, and Xen in general. It seemed so amateurish after the brilliance of the rest of the game.

    This is pretty cool of Valve. But yeah, I’m with Lemming on this; this has been in development for such a long time now that every time there’s news about it, I’m surprised the project is still going. I will happily fork over some Earth dollars once it’s ready to go.

  18. Scumbag says:

    Someone else in this world please confirm that I am not alone with my tastes:

    I liked Xen.

    • Bull0 says:

      I liked the atmosphere, but I didn’t like the jumping puzzles much. It didn’t really play to Half-Life’s strengths. I think it’s aged quite badly. At the time I definitely didn’t hate it as vehemently as we all have to now.

    • LionsPhil says:

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/11/19/so-very-many-happy-returns-half-life-is-15-today/#comment-1388674

      (Due to the uniquely broken nature of RPS’ comments system plus the ads playing hateful size-changing games at the top of the page that might scroll to the wrong point, but see DrScuttles’ thread.)

    • Muzman says:

      Me too. I’m struggling to think how people expected it to end otherwise. The whole game is leading up to that.
      It can’t be the jumping puzzles. As mentioned, the game is loaded with them anyway.
      If there’s anything they really could cut with no harm to the game it’s Residue Processing.

      • mechabuddha says:

        I agree. After figuring out all the jumping puzzles throughout the rest of the game, I don’t think I even died once in Xen (by jumping, that is. jerkwad giant thing with heat blasters for arms killed me I don’t know how many times until I got him stuck on that tentacle thing)

      • Faxmachinen says:

        Totally agreed. Zen was way more cool/creepy/lonely/fun than processing.

  19. Razumen says:

    I hope they add back a lot of the areas they cut, and fix the marines’ AI; it was so much more fun to fight them in the original. Barring that, I don’t really see myself spending money on it.

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  21. AngusPrune says:

    I can only hope that becoming a commercial product won’t mean the removal of the mod’s best feature: The Chucklevision mugs littered strategically through most of the offices.

  22. nicolejscott says:

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