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Black Mesa Source

By Shamus
on Wednesday Dec 10, 2008
Filed under:


Hey Valve, where the crap is Episode 3? What have you been doing for the last 14 months?


Ah. Well. While we’re waiting…

Link (YouTube)

…an indie team is getting set to unleash a complete re-make of the original Half-Life. This is different from Half-Life: Source, which Valve released a few years ago and which just ported the game to the new Source engine so that the game could have physics and a few other accouterments of these modern times. This is a complete remake. It looks stellar. So much so that when I saw the trailer I mistook it for a genuine Valve effort, which would have qualified them for the George Lucas Award of Overzealous Redundancy.

I have been lamenting the state of the mod community since the golden age ended. Games are now so complex that it’s hard for a handful of teenagers to take the tools and make something to rival the original work, which actually used to happen once in a while. The manpower required is just daunting.

It’s nice to see it’s still possible, though. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

Comments (30)

  1. Yeah, I remember finding out about this after discovering Minerva. It is soooo hard to find a good story based single player mod in a game, let alone great ones.

  2. Primogenitor says:

    Any chance of a direct link to their website? Pretty please?

  3. Rawling says:

    So… any real progress, or just a shiny trailer?

    I’ve got the feeling that, by the time this comes out, Source will look as dated as HL1 did at HL2’s release :-(

  4. Kel'Thuzad says:

    Er.. are they allowed to do that?

  5. IncredibleGeek says:


    They’ve been working on it for quite a while. Should be awesome. :D

    Also: Minerva = win.

  6. Freaky Dug says:

    It’s looking amazing, the music is awesome and the voice acting sounds great. I hope the rest of it is as good.

    Kel’Thuzad: They have permission from Valve who made them change the name from Black Mesa to Black Mesa Source IIRC.

  7. Rowan says:

    I have been lamenting the state of the mod community since the golden age ended. Games are now so complex that it's hard for a handful of teenagers to take the tools and make something to rival the original work, which actually used to happen once in a while. The manpower required is just daunting.

    I dare you to take a look at the Total War modding community. Mods such as Broken Crescent or Stainless Steel really take the game far from what it was at launch.

  8. Hal says:

    While it’s always nice to see that indy people can crank out cool stuff, I guess I should point out that it’s not new content, it’s just old content gussied up with a little make-up and some new jewelry.

    Honestly, I stopped caring about Half-Life a long time ago. I played HL2, but not any of the episodes. Partly this was due to Valve’s horrible delays between the episodes. Did they miss the concept bus when they decided to call this episodic gaming? But besides that, I’ve heard enough about the episodes to realize when I’m being strung along. I want to know what the heck is going on in the world post Black Mesa. It seems like Valve has sent you further down the rabbit hole in each episode rather than bringing clarity. Boo.

  9. ydant says:

    “Getting ready to” – they’ve been getting ready to for years. It looks great, but it’ll look even better when it’s released… The trailer is awesome, though, and it’s a lot of fun to see old favorite scenes in the new engine.

    I second Neil and IncredibleGeek on the recommendation for Minerva. It’s the best user generated content I’ve played. It’s well worth installing and running through.

  10. Inscrutibob says:

    I believe I read that the guy behind Minerva was hired by Valve. If that’s true, good on you cobber, to both parties.

  11. Kronski says:

    You should take a look at the Warcraft 3 modding community. Most people only have that game so that they can play user-made mods.

  12. Kevin says:

    I thought something funny was going to happen.

    Well, maybe it was kinda funny when the scientist-guy got yanked out the window. That’s always good for a laugh.

  13. grep says:

    There’s also the Civilization IV modding community, believe it or not. They have a really cool fantasy mod, which completely redesigns the game.

  14. Ferrous Buller says:

    FakeFactory’s Cinematic Mods for Half-Life 2 (inc. the Episodes) – which add higher-res textures and models – have also been good, though the system reqs have gotten hella ridiculous and I’m not a fan of their Alyx redesign.

  15. Groboclown says:

    Yes, the guy who created Minerva was hired by Valve to create Episode 3 (it was on his own blog).

    There are other really good modern mods out there, such as the Lazarus project, which remade Ultima 5 on the Dungeon Siege engine. In many people’s opinion, it’s the best version of Ultima out there (including Doug the Eagle, if anyone knows who that is).

  16. IncredibleGeek says:

    Ooh yeah, Lazarus was amazing.

    And for those who don’t know who Doug the Eagle is…


  17. Lukasa says:

    I’ve been looking forward to BMS for a really long time now, and I was pleased to see that they’ve finally scheduled a year in which it’ll be released. People often talk about how great the original Half Life was, but frankly, it aged badly. However, some of this new work looks fantastic (in particular, the remake of Surface Tension has some brand new tech in it, allowing that incredible vista), and hopefully will breathe enough life into the old horse to allow some younger gamers to appreciate it.

  18. Shamus says:

    Okay, and for those of you freaking out about what I said about modding, allow me to refine it:

    FIRST PERSON SHOOTER modding has tapered off. Yes, there are a few, but not as many as there used to be. The days of getting a “free game” via a total conversion are… well, they’re rarer than they used to be. I agree with what someone else said: The original HL has not aged as well as its contemporaries. (I think it’s the extreme running speed that puts me off. GF runs at about 25mph.)

    I haven’t seen Minerva since before Ep 1 came out. The version I saw was about 10 mins long. I’ll have to look and see where it’s gone.

  19. Groboclown says:

    Minerva has spread into 3 different episodes. I still haven’t gotten through the second one (other things came up). There’s a few other HL2 single player mods that are interesting (Combine Forces, I think it is called, is done well, but not as well as Minerva).

  20. JMcNeely says:

    I, too, am looking forward to this. I was told about it by my brother a month ago and then just a few weeks ago saw that they had committed to a 2009 release date. A bit broad of a date range but I’m okay with that.

    Also, while yes, the mod is merely a remake of a classic, it is a complete remake. We’re talking new skins, new environmental objects (ie crates etc in areas that were just barren halls before), new voice acting (and if I’m not mistaken they have even re-written sections of dialogue to make it sound more natural), and new SFX for weapons. I remember loving the original HL, but every time I go to re-play it I shudder at the graphics and have to stop.

    Anyway, I’ll stop with the fanboy-ish comments now.

    And since I haven’t said this before: Shamus, thanks for a great website to visit. 1 major thanks: thank you for making this the fastest website I visit on a regular basis. It’s getting really hard to find websites that don’t take forever to load. 1 nitpick: you only post once a day! Don’t you know that you are supposed to be a slave to your public, pumping out original content on a regular basis? I jest, of course. :)

  21. Tuck says:

    The best FPS mod I saw was the Matto4 mod for Far Cry. It made a far better game, with more varied gameplay, than the original campaign.

    I always ran into bugs in Lazarus, so never got far, which was disappointing.

  22. Neil Polenske says:

    Okay, Tuck’s post got me peeked cause I’m always looking for mods to my Far Cry game. As stone simple as it seemed, it’s the game that always struck me as having the most potential by it’s design, but as Shamus has so noted, I haven’t had luck finding mods that exploit it, but I’m always searching.

    Anyway, I popped up his Matto4 mod on image google and didn’t find any screen shots of the mod…but I DID find this:


    That’s on the FAR CRY engine ladies and gentlemen…the ORIGINAL. It’s a mod called Delta Sector that I’d never seen on ModDB.

    When Shamus would go on his ‘bleeding edge graphics’ rants, I’d tend to nod my head and agree for the most part, but there’d always be a little section of me thinking, “Well, it’s not like they could get these kind of immersing presentations with the OLD engines…”

    I think that voice has been permanently silenced. This looks AS good as Far Cry 2 from what I’ve seen of the screen shots for that game and this. Now I gotta wonder…what’s keeping ’em from pushing what they have right now if you can make something like DS…

  23. Alex says:

    “Hey Valve, where the crap is Episode 3? What have you been doing for the last 14 months?”

    My guess would be… Left 4 Dead? :P

    Not that I’m defending Valve here. In the time they released these HL2 Episodes, they could have given us THREE ACTUAL SEQUELS.

  24. Joshua says:

    I bought the Half-Life Source game, expecting that it was being the graphic overhaul with the HL2 graphics. I was disappointed, but at least it was only $10.

  25. Christian Groff says:

    I wanted to comment on your last Stolen Pixels comic, but you closed comments there, so I’ll go off-topic and post my comments here.

    I’m not fond of horror in general(I like vampires and zombies, just more Sim-like and not gross and screaming – I was spoiled by cute RPGs), but I understand that problem you have with Silent Hill Homecoming – if the next Pokemon game went along until the battle, which turned into a stupid fighting game where you had to input crazy combos, I’d feel betrayed. Helix Games is trying to do their best, but the prior owners should have worked with them a bit more. :(

  26. Jim says:

    I was really impressed with the new trailer as well. They’ve gone through way more personnel than their team page indicates (I personally know several mappers who did work for them at one point or another). I’m guessing they must have had a core group that kept recruiting people for the project and kept things rolling or it’d have been vaporware by now.

    And even with the last generation of FPS games things were getting pretty insane. I worked on a HL1 Mod for three years and every release required 4-8 Devs, 6 QA guys, a dozen mappers, like 50 playtesters and thousands of hours of work. And that was at the end of the project where there were nearly no art assets that needed to be created.

    I shudder to think what doing a full-blown game on Source or the new UT engines would require.

  27. briatx says:

    I almost wet myself with excitement the first time I saw this trailer. I hope it actually means they’re going to release the thing someday. (Who knows, maybe “insane delays” is built directly in to the Source engine somehow.)

    Speaking of which…

    In the time they released these HL2 Episodes, they could have given us THREE ACTUAL SEQUELS.

    No, if they hadn’t released these episodes we would still be waiting for HL3. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing.

    OTOH, they probably could have gotten away with calling these things sequels and charging $50. Episode 2 takes six hours to beat and so does CoD4, IIRC.

  28. Simplex says:

    As far as mods go, I am impatiently hoping that 3 deus ex projects will finally be released:
    Deus Ex New Vision http://www.d-watts.net/NewVisionSite/
    Deus Ex High Definition Texture Project http://offtopicproductions.com/hdtp/
    Deus Ex Reborn: http://dxr.deusexgaming.com/

    I am keeping my fingers crossed

  29. Felblood says:

    I’ll believe it when I’m playing a final release and not one second sooner.

    Trailers, and good ideas, and talent and a reaction from the public are all well and good, but it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t get finished.

    Except with Dwarf Fortress.

  30. Dreadjaws says:

    “Hey Valve, where the crap is Episode 3? What have you been doing for the last 14 months?”

    Hilarious, taking into account it’s been more than three years from this post and yet absolutely nothing on Episode 3.

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