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Black Mesa Source

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7 hours ago, JeanPaul said:

Some Black Mesa news if you missed it:

https://steamcommunity.com/games/362890/announcements/detail/1715207569423590279

New Features

Screenspace Fog ("Xog")
Using the GBuffer that we've developed for our new Dynamic Lights, we've added a dynamic, very flexible new fog system that replaces Source's legacy fog. The new "Xog" can be configured on the fly with instant results ingame, it can change over time with I/O, and it can vary in density and color based on height. Best of all, it's very inexpensive to render, costing about as much performance as a single dynamic light. 

Our level designers were slack-jawed when they saw how much it improves the look of the whole game, bringing a true sense of scale to the levels. 

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New Alien Grunt NPC (Agrunts)
Our original Alien Grunts were tank enemies that shot ridiculously powerful homing bees. They fit relatively well into the tough, cover-laden final levels of Earth. In the vast, wide open spaces of Xen however, they became extremely frustrating to fight. 

The new Agrunt is the most mobile, unpredictable enemy in the whole game besides our assassins. They'll leap onto different platforms, find a way to outflank you, get in your face, and unleash a devastating secondary "hornet hurricane" attack. As a much-needed balance, the bees from them no longer home in on you, and individual bee damage has been lowered. 

New Controller NPC (Xontrollers)
The player only encounters Controllers once in the released game. They were a good, if a bit simple, final enemy type for the Earth bound levels. For Xen, we drastically expanded their abilities, turning them into a kind of overlord or mini-boss. We don't want to spoil everything about their new abilities -- but mind-control, telekinesis, and crystal-powered shields are just a taste of what players can expect.

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Improved Vortigaunt NPC (Xorts)
These were another straightforward enemy from Earth-levels. We mostly teleported them straight onto the player and expected them to be gunned down in a few seconds. For Xen, we have worked them into a much more intelligent, emotional creature. In keeping with the original Xen, they won't be hostile to the player by default. 

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Flashlight Shadows
Flashlight shadows are back! Last patch we switched to one of our new dynamic lights, but couldn’t quite solve all the issues with shadows. For Xen, the flashlight will be positioned on the player to look like it is casting from lower on your chest. This creates interesting shadows and adds to the atmosphere in dark environments while still having a usable flashlight. 

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Soft Particles
Better late than never. This is a feature that's been in other Valve games, but for some reason has been broken in Black Mesa, even from our very first mod release. No more hard-edged particle clipping!

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Chapter Updates
In addition to the improvements above, we have been grinding away at locking the final bits of design and arting for all our Xen levels.

While building momentum toward release, our goal is to lock down the chapters in order so that we don’t have to dedicate resources to them, and so all the subsequent chapters go faster and smoother. Here is where we are at:

Xen (~2-3 Hour Estimate)
This chapter is completely design locked, most of the art is done, and we are polishing the levels to be release ready. Left on the to-do list is merging art, polishing art, unifying skyboxes and effects across all 6 maps, optimizing maps, and finally a clipping pass. 

Gonarch (~1-2 Hour Estimate)
These maps are design locked and are going through the art process. The goal is to be mostly art completed, and start in on its many animated scripted sequences in January. We learned a lot arting Xen and refined our pipeline to be more efficient going forward. There are also half the maps (3) in Gonarch as in Xen, so we got that going for us. 

Interloper (~2-3 Hour Estimate)
This chapter is design complete, but needs refinement to lock the chapter. The goal is to have this chapter design locked in the next few days so that level designers and artists can start in on detailing it. Interloper is currently 6 maps.

Nihilanth (Super Secret Time Estimate)
We have started in on the core gameplay coding of the final boss. We wanted to avoid having the big boss be just a bullet sponge, so we have kept the design fluid and kept the environment interactive and dynamic. Most of the static art for this level is completed, but it still needs scripted animation set pieces. 

Endgame (About 5 mins)
Endgame is locked, but needs some final animation and graphics updates. Endgame will be the last chapter we do a pass on, as it is dependant on a lot of final art from the other levels. Even in its current state we are very happy with how it plays out. 

Looks awesome!

I asked on Twitter and didn’t get a response, but what about mods for Black Mesa? Your tech is really exciting, it would be fun to do a map pack. What do you think?

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On 12/23/2018 at 8:33 PM, FMPONE said:

Looks awesome!

I asked on Twitter and didn’t get a response, but what about mods for Black Mesa? Your tech is really exciting, it would be fun to do a map pack. What do you think?

Obviously everyone on the team is in support for making the game as moddable and open as possible with sdk tools and documentation on all the new stuff. Youll be able to make anything you normally can on valve source engine games. I would love to do map pack related things (like csgo updates you mean right?) but stuff like that is still up in the air. We'll have to gauge the community interest somehow first.

I personally want to continue to produce more SP content for the game post xen release so I am in support of any community that aims to do the same.

7 hours ago, RaVaGe said:

Hey JP 👌

Yo!

 

Edited by JeanPaul

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1 hour ago, JeanPaul said:

Obviously everyone on the team is in support for making the game as moddable and open as possible with sdk tools and documentation on all the new stuff. Youll be able to make anything you normally can on valve source engine games. I would love to do map pack related things (like csgo updates you mean right?) but stuff like that is still up in the air. We'll have to gauge the community interest somehow first.

I personally want to continue to produce more SP content for the game post xen release so I am in support of any community that aims to do the same.

Yo!

 

More of a technical question, I suppose. If the BMS team would be supportive of Total Conversion type mods that use the Black Mesa tech to package a new experience, that would be ideal IMO.

I guess my question was more geared to how you can release a mod of Black Mesa (as long as you have purchased the game and have it installed on Steam). Would be nice if there was a way to create a Steam page for the mod, I've seen a bunch of HL1 and 2 mods doing that.

Like this: https://store.steampowered.com/about/communitymods/

https://store.steampowered.com/app/587650/HalfLife_2_DownFall/

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Not sure if possible, but also giving a shortcut and have a menu to download the best custom maps available on the workshop would be kinda cool.

Ive been thinking of returning to my original HL1 mod since Black Mesa was announced to get a proper release on Steam.

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On 12/27/2018 at 1:31 PM, FMPONE said:

More of a technical question, I suppose. If the BMS team would be supportive of Total Conversion type mods that use the Black Mesa tech to package a new experience, that would be ideal IMO.

I guess my question was more geared to how you can release a mod of Black Mesa (as long as you have purchased the game and have it installed on Steam). Would be nice if there was a way to create a Steam page for the mod, I've seen a bunch of HL1 and 2 mods doing that.

Like this: https://store.steampowered.com/about/communitymods/

https://store.steampowered.com/app/587650/HalfLife_2_DownFall/

Im pretty sure this is a thing you can do with any source engine game so I am sure we will have the support for it as well. (on both points you brought up)

Our workshop might be a bit in shambles (last I checked) atm but it takes a load of programming power to get working properly so its on our immediately to do list once we release xen. 

We want to support mods and mod makers as much as possible so any additional input people have in this realm will definitely be listened to.

 

Edited by JeanPaul

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10 hours ago, JeanPaul said:

Im pretty sure this is a thing you can do with any source engine game so I am sure we will have the support for it as well. (on both points you brought up)

Our workshop might be a bit in shambles (last I checked) atm but it takes a load of programming power to get working properly so its on our immediately to do list once we release xen. 

We want to support mods and mod makers as much as possible so any additional input people have in this realm will definitely be listened to.

 

Sounds great, it might be really fun to make a mod for Black Mesa then hook it up to Steam like that. 

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2 videos of Xen gameplay have been reveiled from IGN :

https://www.ign.com/articles/2019/06/25/black-mesa-xen-preview-fixing-half-life-1s-weakest-part

I don't really want to get spoiled too much so I didn't watch both entirely ^^ But it seems really promising and the standards of quality of the game clearly increased

Edited by leplubodeslapin

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49 minutes ago, JeanPaul said:

We just released an open technical beta if you would like to play the first three maps (out of 19 total) :D

https://steamcommunity.com/games/362890/announcements/detail/1613893608676653038

Gtfo out of here with those spoilers!! If ain’t the real thing it’s nothing but satanic temptation!! 

 

Jk. But seriously, can’t wait for the real deal.

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Just beat Xen. Overall, impressed with the experience.

I think it was guilty of perhaps trying to do *too* much, it felt a bit overstuffed and repetitive at times in terms of always having three distinct puzzle triggers, always dragging sequences on too long, always wearing the player out. Gonarch Lair felt endless at times. Nihilanth is an OK boss fight, but like a lot of Xen, felt overpacked and over the top. I think if you look at Nintendo boss design for example, it’s a bit more segmented out into digestible chunks, this one just felt like it was slapping you in the face with stuff for the sake of impressing you, not allowing you to breathe. I think Xen was simply too long given how abstract/alienating it felt to be in that kind of environment. It starts out on an incredibly high note, slows down a great deal in the middle and wears you out by the very end.

Replaying Black Mesa completely probably contributed to these feelings. I disliked Residue Processing, that chapter should have been cut or significantly reduced, it slows the game down to a glacial pace. Blast Pit was far more tedious than it needed to be. And Lambda Labs, while it has some awesome memorable moments, also has some more tedious machine-enabling that you’ve already done enough of by that point. I was completely sick and tired of the Earth environments the game was presenting me with long before Xen, there wasn’t enough editing. The first portion of the game also looks noticeably worse now beside Xen.

Overall, I think Black Mesa is very good, stunning for a community project. But as a game in and of itself, it just needed much more editing and not continuously try to justify itself by padding the length out so much with trivial tasks. Fans of the original would say this was cutting too much, but it *needed* those cuts, badly. The game could have used a lot more exposition, vistas, and far fewer busy-making tasks. You can really feel the lack of other meaningful characters, and how that dates the game quite a bit.

It felt great to immerse myself in the Half-Life universe again, but I can see why Valve decided only VR would be suitable to bring Half-Life back. These games consist of novel ways to press the player forward, and I think many of the best ways have already been explored in the traditional game format: Black Mesa includes every single possible permutation of how to unlock a door, climb into a vent, boot up a machine, enter a portal, etc. 

Playing this game felt really cathartic and reaffirmed that the community is capable of much more than people think, but I doubt a Half-Life 3 following the same pattern would have lived up to the hype — we know the formula to the recipe by now a little too well.

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15 hours ago, FMPONE said:

The first portion of the game also looks noticeably worse now beside Xen.

I haven't played the game a lot (and not yet the beta for Xen), but since Shawn has been working on Black Mesa a lot it would often find its way into our conversations, and at some point I also wondered how the old chunk of the game would compare.

It turns out this is clearly the case, but it was inevitably going to look outdated in contrast. I think the minimum requirements for the first part of Black Mesa Source are now far too low if you compare it with the Xen chapters. Regardless, it does look like an incredible improvement and I should really get myself to play it asap!

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6 hours ago, JorisCeoen said:

I haven't played the game a lot (and not yet the beta for Xen), but since Shawn has been working on Black Mesa a lot it would often find its way into our conversations, and at some point I also wondered how the old chunk of the game would compare.

It turns out this is clearly the case, but it was inevitably going to look outdated in contrast. I think the minimum requirements for the first part of Black Mesa Source are now far too low if you compare it with the Xen chapters. Regardless, it does look like an incredible improvement and I should really get myself to play it asap!

They could have hired a couple of people to polish the first half of the game. There are stock HL2 assets in there, and custom stuff that’s not much better. Then there are also the rough sound effects (shotgun in particular sounds pretty clippy), and clunky weapon switching. It’s not the super polished feeling experience now that it was a few years back when it first came out, it’s a bit clunky at times.

As the game is a commercial product I’m just evaluating it on those lines, but the real context is that the first half is a community mod for sale, it’s probably not fair to expect a new Xen and a repolished first half. But having played through Xen which felt a little bloated at times, maybe in hindsight that’s one approach they could have taken instead.

I did notice some new sprites they were using everywhere that looked pretty nice and helped modernize the old chapters pretty nicely as for lighting. Source aged well in terms of particles/effects IMO, some of those hold up pretty well. The rocket launch in particular looked better now, it looked great.

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