I was originally planning to have them as printed text on the screen when you click on a document, which would allow them to be added to the localization system and translated into additional languages as well as making them easier to add and edit. I had considered making them visual textures, but those would be harder to translate and more time-consuming to make. I may in fact do that, however, as I believe I can get that working with an env_screenoverlay where I previously could not.
That’s surely a more effective approach.
It would be better in the end, as you said.
Had a few hiccups on the way there (it turns out that overlays will stretch to fill the whole screen, causing the image to distort and change its aspect ratio; a fact which is made worse by the fact that the textures have to be powers of two so I can’t just make one padded to the right aspect ratio from the start), but I think I’ve finally cracked the problem of displaying transparent overlays on the HUD:
This was accomplished in a rather roundabout way using an entity called script_intro which overlays the display from a point_camera onto the player’s view. It doesn’t have direct support for alpha textures but has a number of weird render modes, the most useful of which (#5) cuts out any of the camera pixels which are exactly RGB=0 0 0 black. I put the document texture on a black background and pointed the camera at it, then let the script_intro do the rest. The text and Black Mesa emblem don’t disappear because they aren’t perfectly black but rather RGB = 1 1 1, which looks pretty much identical. Also worth noting is that while I originally had the texture as an UnlitGeneric the pure white paper actually generated a lot of HDR bloom that completely eliminated the text; instead the paper is actually a lightmapped texture, but there are no lights in the box where it is located, and instead it has SelfIllum turned on with a tint value of 0.4 0.4 0.4.
The future is therefore looking up for any number of HUD-based additions to Black Mesa, including destination-selectable trams and elevators.
I like that the tranquilizer used for the crossbow is a common anesthetic, changing the questions about the crossbow from “Why can this crossbow penetrate armored targets and detonate stored ammo?”( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkH1scHw63E, 21:10) to “Who’s idea was it to put a commercial anesthetic on a high velocity crossbow, witch tears through flesh and body armor?”
I always assumed that since the Biodome security staff needed a weapon that could quickly subdue bullsquids and armored alien grunts, so they invested in ludicrously powerful crossbows that may include a small explosive charge to drive the injection system. I also think the xenians were discovered to respond differently to the anesthetic mixture overall and if the dart somehow manages not to kill or significantly injure a human by the force of its impact then the concentration of propofol and additives (if that is even propofol at all and that wasn’t just a label put on to keep Sector A happy about storing unknown xenian drugs) will still be lethal in fairly short order.
My other idea for the crossbow is that the material in it is itself explosive if the dart is broken against something more durable than flesh and the innards allowed to come into contact with air. The biodome scientists aren’t happy about it, but that’s the only thing they’ve found that incapacitates xenian species quickly enough.
Either way I think those darts contain a goodly amount of proprietary Black Mesa technology, and so at some point I would like to open up the labs where they were designed. There will certainly be notes made in the biochem labs in Questionable Ethics about how difficult it was to derive an anesthetic mixture that was effective on Xen species and the nasty results that come from attempting to inject them into anything terrestrial.
EDIT: I think those same labs had a major hand in developing that green goo that’s in all of the medical kits, again from a xenian source. I’ve mentioned previously that I don’t consider HL2 and Black Mesa to inhabit the same continuity, but one of the things I may bring in is that the material actually comes from Antlions and Black Mesa discovered it and figured out how to synthesize it from samples procured from captive Vortigaunts.
Huh, I just assumed that the amount of tranquilizer required to subdue an adult bullsquid was enough to be leathel to humans.
Interesting idea about the health chemicals being derived from vortigaunts. It’s would certainly explain a lot.
…makes me wonder who the fist person was to voluntarily inject themselves with drugs synthesized from an alien larval hormone.
That theory also explains why the medical kits and stations are designed for H.E.V. users primarily.
On both devices, the H.E.V is emphasized over conventional medicine.
I always thought the stuff in the HEV healing units, the medkits in half life and half life two, where based on refined versions of the healling pool liquid from xen.
It is entirely possible that the pools, antlions, and medical kits all contain the same active ingredient.
So as I develop more and more of these documents, I am becoming less and less able to avoid the fact that I have no idea how Black Mesa’s sectors and areas are organized, or what actually separates a sector from an area.
Filling in the somewhat interpretive map I’ve been using for the pre-disaster project with known sectors from Black Mesa in solid and ‘dubious’ ones from the original Half-Life expansions that the revised game may not hold to in dashes, we get… kind of a mess. The sectors of the facility aren’t really arranged in any sensible order and some of them are in different sizes, but at least there aren’t non-contiguous areas assigned to the same sector and I think this can actually be explained internally as Black Mesa having grown over time and the sectors having been assigned letters due to some sort of ordering that was not topological.
The big problem I am confronting is that there doesn’t really seem to be any rhyme or reason to why some locations have the ‘Area’ designation and some have the ‘Sector’ designation. For a while I thought that logistical/service sections were areas and research-related ones were sectors, but Sector D Administration and (the unseen in canon, so it isn’t yet on the map) Sector A Training kind of counter that. Conversely, I had also thought that there was more than one security office and ‘Area’ was a security-specific designation that referred to which portions of the base each was responsible for patrolling (so there would also be an Area 1 Security and Area 2 Security, etc., elsewhere in the complex, but no non-security Areas), but the presence of an ‘area 9 transit hub’ shoots that down as well. I could see Black Mesa using a different designation system for underground and topside sections (indeed, I think the letters identifying many buildings in Surface Tension are exactly such a system and do not correspond to sector designations at all) but the areas and sectors are both underground. There’s also the “Level 3 Dormitories”, but I think this refers to the security clearance of the personnel assigned there and not anything to do with its location.
I suppose it’s possible that the Areas are logistical hubs or critical points that either exist within Sectors or are specifically set up to be outside of them because they are Just That Important, while Sectors are more of a general agglomeration of different departments not important enough to merit their own Area. I don’t particularly like that as I think it’s inelegant, but it is probably what I’ll end up using unless I somehow come up with anything better.
I don’t actually know a great deal about administration, accounting, and management so I’ve been looking at the structure of various research universities and federal agencies in order to get a better handle on what Sector D Admin actually does (to inform what documents will go where), but I’ve not been getting anywhere particularly quickly. Part of the problem is that a lot of these organizations are relatively opaque and kind of abstract when it comes to their administrative structure. A lot of them do publish top-level organizational charts or lists online:
However, many of them are not particularly detailed and don’t give me a good understanding of all but the highest of high-level positions, there seems to be little commonality between them, and a lot of them seem to include either extremely trivial things or things like information technology or HR that I thought would be their own sectors in Black Mesa.
I think part of it is that I’m kind of trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole with Sector D in that I know (approximately) how many administrative areas Office Complex has, but that is determined by the level geometry and has no relation to how the place might be organized. It also doesn’t help that the A, B, and C maps are structured very differently in terms of the number of offices each contains and what is in each one. So I just started collecting as many different department descriptions as I could and seeing what fit and what didn’t with the intent of establishing basically a ‘top five’ list:
Information Technology: Likely has its own area- in fact, I was always under the impression that this was what we saw in the workshop map bm_bravado.
Human Resources: Likely has its own area, although strangely I am not certain if Human Resources and Black Mesa Personnel are the same thing or not. The terms are effectively synonymous, but if they were indeed the same department one would think automated systems like the tram and PA announcers would refer to just one or the other.
Specialized Research-Related Branches: I don’t think each individual lab or research project is represented in Sector D, but it’s possible the facility has a single ‘research management’ division that serves as a liason for all of them and handles the creation of new research areas/labs.
Facilities / Maintenance: Likely its own area, if not multiple areas spread throughout the base.
Security: Actual security operations are likely handled through Area 3 or other security centers spread throughout the base, although I could potentially see some sort of central authority sitting overtop of that which handles things like the designation of area security clearances, overall emergency response procedure, and what is or is not classified. The provision and revocation of security clearance to individual personnel is likely handled through HR, however.
Legal / Office Of General Counsel: Highly likely to be in Sector D. I could actually potentially see it being split up into multiple different offices, including things like technology transfer, contracts, and licensing/regulatory compliance.
Public Relations: Obviously labs like the Lambda Complex and Biodome are highly secretive, but the ad copy on the displays in Anomalous Materials seems to indicate that a good amount of Black Mesa’s research is actually disclosed in some capacity to the public and/or other research institutions. So it is entirely possible that Black Mesa has administrative areas dedicated to public, academic, and inter-agency relations somewhere within it. There is some overlap here with the security, legal, and technology-transfer offices.
Accounting & Finance: Highly likely to be in Sector D.
Purchasing / Procurement: Highly likely to be in Sector D, if it’s not so large it has been broken up into individual departments spread across the facility.
Safety, Ethics, and Regulatory Compliance: I half wanted to make the safety oversight office in Black Mesa comically undersized and tucked in an out-of-the-way corner of the complex, but I also like to show Black Mesa as a working complex in these pre-disaster maps and as a result the Facility would have a rather large safety and oversight division which overlapped with Security, Facilities, Legal, and possibly Accounting as well.
Diversity / Inclusion: 2000 seems a little early for this to be a dedicated department.
Strategic Planning / Management: Highly likely to be in Sector D, but may overlap with the general research management office.
Black Mesa would be an OSHA Star site
OSHA approves qualified sites to one of three programs:
Star: Recognition for employers and employees who demonstrate exemplary achievement in the prevention and control of occupational safety and health hazards the development, implementation and continuous improvement of their safety and health management system.
Merit: Recognition for employers and employees who have developed and implemented good safety and health management systems but who must take additional steps to reach Star quality
Demonstration: Recognition for employers and employees who operate effective safety and health management systems that differ from current VPP requirements. This program enables OSHA to test the efficacy of different approaches.
When Did VPP Begin?
1979 - California began experimental program
1982 - OSHA formally announced the VPP and approved the first site.
1998 - Federal worksites became eligible for VPP.
Funny you mention this, as I am a contractor for Mr. Govmt. I work in a contracting office that handles contracts for projects across the nation for our national parks. The list you have here is rather perfect and that it seems to include everything with the exception of contracting. I would say add that and you are gold! If it helps, here is a map of the main FED center in Denver that holds several business aspects of NPS. To be clear tho, it is not the only place you will find Feds. We are integrated all throughout the city in buildings here and there. Plane office buildings that you would never know are actually Fed facilities, unless you actually went inside and tried to access one of the offices. There, you would be greeted with a door that would not let you in unless you knew the code for the security lock. So while I can certainly appreciate your attention to detail in getting it right, you are hindered by the fact that having a perfect representation of a government facility is NOT going to be a perfectly laid out map. In short, Fed centers are a hodgepodge of buildings laid out everywhere with no rhyme or reason to them. So in building your replica of a fed facility, feel free to make it disjointed and a bit “why the heck is the HR office so small and the cafeteria a quarter mile from the biggest hub of people?”
With the above in mind, I am thinking that it’s mostly a matter of figuring out which sections I want to actually have in Office Complex and which I want to not deal with by saying that they are in other dedicated areas or are broken up between the different labs (in which case their head administrative officers might still be represented in the executive offices on Map C).
Now, looking at the elevator shafts Sector D actually has either eight, nine, or ten floors- the elevator shaft at the end of Map C has eight doors in it, but there’s also an open space at the bottom where the devs may not have bothered including a door because the player could never see it; the shaft seen during ‘permeable infrastructure’ has nine doors and a similar blank space midway up. Going with the somewhat ambitious estimate of ten that is more than enough for most of the stuff on the list save for IT and HR which I already said I think were spun off into their own areas of the complex… but those elevators also serve the High-Security Storage Facility and Canals. At least two of the levels in the terminal shaft serve the HSSF (Freeman enters the elevator on the very top floor and then rides it one level down) but we don’t know if that in turn serves the canals as well. However, I am fairly certain the large freight elevator that does serve the canals also goes to the HSSF, so of our ten floors at most seven are actually Office Complex and we know at least five of them are because we see at least parts of five office floors in the game- the ‘dev’ offices in Map A, Admin 1 in Map B, Admin 2 in most of Map C, a single office from Admin 3 also in Map C, and a skywalk from an unnamed office level above that. Admin C I am thinking is sort of a ‘hub’ area with the offices of various department heads like HR and IT who don’t have their entire departments in Office Complex itself, as well as stuff like the cafeteria and tram platform. So that in effect gives us between four and six slots to fill from our original list of 13 (the stuff above plus a dedicated contract office).
I’m going to cut out IT and HR as above because they are their own departments as well as a dedicated diversity branch because of the time period, bringing the list down to 10. The area-independent security functions as described above I think can be broken up between HR, Facilities, Legal, PR, and strategic planning, while I think research management and strategic management can be fused to bring the total to eight. I think the technology-transfer components of Legal can go into Public/Inter-agency Relations, while the regulatory components can go into SERC. Contracts is probably a part of Facilities/HR (and just in general Black Mesa seems a lot more self-contained than most federal projects so I don’t think they have quite as large of a department there) so we can scrap those two as well. I am then tempted to pop Facilities out into its own external area to give us a total of five.
Having only four departments actually appeals a great deal to me because it makes Office Complex symmetric about the hub area- it goes ‘Dev’ Offices -> Admin 1 -> Admin 2 Hub -> Admin 3 -> Skywalk area. So I may combine Procurement and Accounting into one level as well (the idea being that each area has a dedicated procurement office that then submit budgets and request forms to Sector D Accounting).
Of these departments Accounting & Finance sounds like the least interesting, so I am going to put it in the skywalk area that we never see anything from. The title of “Dev Offices” in Map A is a strange one that none of the departments really seem to fit, but for some reason the more basement-y aesthetic of the place would I think be a good location for the safety offices. Of the two remaining offices I am thinking that while Research Management sounds interesting there isn’t a great deal about it I would actually be able to run with, so I’ll put it in Admin 3 where we only see one office of it. That leaves Admin 1 (Map B) as the home of PR.
From all of this, an organizational chart begins to take shape:
DEV OFFICES: Department Of Safety, Ethical, and Regulatory Compliance
Research Ethics Division
Controlled Materials Licensing & Permits Division
Occupational Health & Safety Division
Regulatory Compliance Division
Chief Safety Officer
ADMIN 1: Department Of Inter-Agency, Enterprise, Legislative and Public Relations
Technology Transfer Division
Education & Public Outreach Division
Inter-Agency Liaison Division
Special Division of Research Security
Chief Public Relations Officer
ADMIN 2: Executive Offices & Complex Services
Chief Information Officer
Chief Human Capital Officer
Chief Operations Officer
Chief Of Security
Office Of Executive Services
[any other department-head or executive support offices I feel like adding]
ADMIN 3: Department Of Strategic and Research Management (Barely seen)
Chief Management Officer
ADMIN 4: Department Of Budget & Finance (Not seen)
Just released a new update with some lighting improvements and the document system in Map A.
after update, one can no longer go past the A map in Office Complex.
The B and C maps aren’t yet updated to match the Xengine Update, so they were nonfunctional before this update. I’m working as quickly as I can on getting them ready.
Just a quick headsup that I’ve finished my first pass on the new Map B and plan to have it up along with a tweaked Map A in a week or so.