“Well, there was that one time you accidentally inhaled some of Chemical 24, proceeded to stand on my desk and unbuckle your–”
Screenshots are looking great! I’ll love to roam around and see all the stuff!
“Well, there was that one time you accidentally inhaled some of Chemical 24, proceeded to stand on my desk and unbuckle your–”
Screenshots are looking great! I’ll love to roam around and see all the stuff!
I was going off of the litter placement in Black Mesa Inbound, which does have actually quite a lot. However, given that there seems to be a consensus growing here that Office Complex has too much, I will be paring down the amount of spilled papers and trash, starting with places where the decals don’t have a clear “origin” (trash can, etc.).
Looking forward to this! The immediate thing that sticks out the most to me as being wrong are the florescent lights in the ceilings. Been in plenty of offices and large complexes in my life and they always have florescent light fixture covers on them. Not sometimes, but always! Why are they missing?
Well, the original answer is that they were that way in the original Office Complex, Anomalous Materials, and every other part of Black Mesa that features fluorescent lights, pre-disaster or post. Since (except for some very obvious things like doors being backwards relative to their frames) I don’t mess with canon level geometry just because I think the old version is ugly or strange, exposed they shall remain.
The other answer is that I think the covered light model might actually have disappeared with one of the updates, so I could not add them if I wanted to. There is just an empty light cover, but no light with a cover on it that I could find.
Hey Admiral Sakai,
I have been working on a Black Mesa recreation in Minecraft recently. Ironically, the first chapter that I completed was Office Complex. You can see some pictures here. The glass and smooth stone are simply placeholders until I finalize the textures. I know that we are doing two different things but I thought we would work together for other chapters, like discussing the map design and filling in the facility with logical but unseen/unknown labs. What do you think?
Well, there are a few things higher up the thread that I would like some feedback on, particularly the elevator placement and priorities list.
I am also planning a sort of comprehensive review where I talk about how I think Sector D actually works and how it influenced my level design- there will be much more to discuss then.
DEVELOPMENT NOTES: OFFICE COMPLEX[/size]
This is probably not going to be as detailed an outline of my creative process in making OCPD as, say, TextFamGuy’s Gasworks saga, so I’m not 100% sure if I should be going around calling it a “dev blog” per se, but I will be trying to include a rough description of the maps’ evolution in terms of actual events, as well as some more general mapping tips and specific conundrums I faced that are somewhat unique to making pre-disaster restored maps. So, without further ado, let’s begin:[/size]
[/size][/size]I started BMPD as something of a lark: I was home from college for the summer and bored with the then-glacial pace of my job and other projects[sup]1[/sup], so after quietly wanting a pre-disaster version of Black Mesa for my own enjoyment since I first played Half-Life 1 and coming across the old pre-disaster maps thread here on the forums,[sup]2[/sup] I thought I’d try my hand at creating one. I figured I’d delete some headcrabs, drop a few scientists here and there, run some new brushes over the incredibly obvious sections of collapsed structure, and be done in a day and a half. That was back in mid-to-late June.[/size]
bm_c1a2a: GETTING A SENSE FOR THE TERRITORY[/size]
I never wanted to start BMPD on bm_c1a2a. I didn’t even want to start it in Office Complex at all! I wanted to start with Questionable Ethics, because the structure of the labs is already in pretty good shape, there’s a map telling you what’s behind all those locked doors, and the level is just really cool in general. But this was in the dark days before we had a mapsrc folder, and bm_c1a2a was literally the only one I could get to decompile and not completely crash Hammer.[/size]
Draining out the flooded offices, fixing holes in the ceiling, and getting the doors unjammed was easy and fairly self-explanatory. I made a few small changes to the way sounds were handled (including replacing almost all the env_soundscapes) that that the offices would sound like there was actually work being done in them, and while I wasted a day or two trying to get custom LCSs to work[sup]3[/sup][/size] I figured out pretty quickly that this was a game problem I couldn’t really do much about and just stuck the scientists in repeating scripted sequences for the time being.[/size]
The big issue going into Office Complex was the lighting. It’s fairly obvious that, even if all of the fluorescent lights in c1a2a were actually turned on, it would still be just a dismal hell of a workplace:[/size]
I neglected to take any screenshots of it at the time, but the very first pass for lighting Office Complex was white and intensely bright, bright enough to wash out the specular reflections on the environment and make everything look like it was made out of plastic. I think that it was initially copied from one of the tram stations you pass through in Black Mesa Inbound, and then (despite Inbound already being bloomy as all get out and the spaces that lighting was for being much, much larger than Office Complex’s, I went and made it even brighter. I remember my main concern was with the ceilings- compared to the rest of the room they always looked very dim, and adding light_spots to point at them directly made the whole thing look very obviously lit from the top, so (based on the misguided assumption that most light in a Black Mesa level comes from the spotlights and not the regular lights below them) I had to crank the spotlights way up to light the ceiling indirectly. The lighting was also extremely even, which contributed greatly to the claustrophobic feeling of the levels- it was more than bright enough to see by, but it would have made the offices just incredibly unpleasant as workspaces.[/size]
It took a lot of tweaking to get the lighting to a state that I was happy with- an annoying, repetitive process of compiling and running the game, then looking around for five seconds, tweaking some keyvalues, and doing the whole thing over again. Eventually, I settled on this:[/size]
It’s a bit more natural-looking, and most importantly having a more saturated color inside the offices compared to a lighter one in the corridors adds a sense of space that makes the complex seem less homogeneous and therefore less claustrophobic, but it’s still got a weird falloff where the lights themselves are intensely bright but the corners of the ceilings are dim.
It’s also lemon-yellow, which at first I thought complimented the sort of 70s-inspired architecture of the place but really just makes it look more claustrophobic, sucks all the life out of it, and just doesn’t make sense coming out of fluorescent lights.
Nonetheless, after shifting the hue around to be more bluish and toning down the saturation substantially, I had some lights that didn’t look TOO terrible and would end up being used all the way up to the first release of pd_c1a2b:
When trying to add new areas behind the various locked doors in levels, I don’t really have to design for gameplay- there’s nothing to shoot, and without his suit Gordon isn’t going to be going anywhere that requires more exertion than climbing a stairwell or two. However, I am also working not on a new map but on a restoration of a pre-existing map- that means it has to look like the rest of the map, both in terms of obvious details like the textures and lighting used, and in small ones like the thickness of the doorframes and whether or not you can have a blue office folder in a room based off of a room in canon where the folders are predominantly red[sup]4[/sup][/size]. In the case of some areas like the bathrooms, this worked out very well. It’s still very tedious, methodical work, looking around the level to see if something you want is in your “budget” of materials, props, and architectural motifs, then checking it against the color balance of the room and the positioning rules of props, but it does allow me to copy-paste large chunks of the BM devs’ work and then get praised for it so there is that.
The first rooms I added to pd_c1a2a were the bathrooms, which actually went together very quickly due to being kind of small rooms in general. They eventually were copypasted (with minimal modification) into pd_c1a2b and presented to the community. After that came some areas in the service section, and a back section of offices. That’s where the real trouble started, as we’ll see in a later section, but that’s also where I first started what would eventually become the War On Clutter.
Some of my older mapping work revealed an alarming trend- I didn’t feel that a room was “finished” unless every square inch of blank wall was covered by some sort of decal, prop, or detail brushwork. Office Complex is generally a bit more sparse, so it took me a while to be able to create rooms that actually really “fit” in new sections. Eventually I figured it out, but then things started to get much worse…[/size]
FREIGHT IS MY ENEMY:[/size]
Since this mod is about re-creating the Black Mesa Research Facility “in action”, a lot more attention needs to be payed to how the rooms I am constructing “work”. In the case of Office Complex, that means essentially two things: making the actual populated areas of the facility look like actual places somebody could work, and making sure that cargo could move easily through different areas. The former did not present me many problems, as bm_c1a2a is basically a “core” of office-like areas with maintenance sections around the perimeter- I thought that it was odd that workers had to go through a warehouse and a maintenance area to get to the exit stairs, but putting additional office sections back behind the “fire exit” door with another door leading into the stairwell proper pretty much fixed that; and while I was initially going to add a second, completely different stairwell to the Office Complex for personnel use (as I thought the canonical ones were too “maintenancy”, some lighting work I did on c1a2b convinced me it wasn’t necessary.
Moving cargo, though… that’s a problem with this map.[/size]
I had a lot of difficulty with the stupid-guard room. As soon as I saw it I was puzzled by what a dingy, industrial, basementlike area was doing in the middle of the otherwise brightly-lit, institutional Office Complex. A bit of lighting magic made the area look a lot more like its Half-Life 1 version- industrial, but not dilapidated- but it still just didn’t seem to fit with my mental image of Office Complex as, well, offices, and with those big double fire doors it’s not like the area was some little-used maintenance area that just happens to be accessible from the dev offices. Eventually, basically just by staring at the room for a really long time in-game, I was able to sort of re-jigger my mental image of how it fit into the larger facility: I stopped thinking about it as a tunnel that ran through the underground office tower that is Sector D, and instead one of Office Complex’s main entrances. The far side of the bridge (where you get the revolver, and the area below it) is not even a part of Office Complex at all, but rather some other sector that buts up against it, and those doors could in fact be considered the “service entrance” of the entire facility. I added in a security office that looks out into the tunnel on the far side of the blast doors[/size][sup]5[/sup], as well as a dedicated mechanical area up on the upper level.[/size]
I’d like to say that the maintenance room’s pipealicious design was an intentional callback to the wall-of-pipes texturing in the shotgun room’s HL1 version, but that is probably giving myself a bit too much credit.[/size] Nonetheless, the ledges on the sides of the main room are just the right height for loading freight off of trucks- that’s a great thing for the room in isolation, but it also opens up a whole raft of problems when I try to think about how cargo could possibly move through Office Complex.
There’s two major storage areas in c1a2a. The first one is the room with the turret in it, and we know that one serves Office Complex in some capacity.
The only problem is that there is no canonical way to get[/size] crates to and from it. There’s the big, broad passage to the stairwell, but that’s a stairwell- they can’t drive a forklift up [/size]there! There’s the main garage door on top of the freight elevator, which actually ends up right in front of the elevator that goes to the High-Security Storage Facility- I’ve already put a lobby on the other side with the exact purpose of connecting them[/size]
6[/size], so at least we know where the supplies come from
It wound up looking like garbage and I never got around to finishing it, but the basic idea was solid. Still, it left me with a dead end. The only other access plausible to this area from the rest of Office Complex is through that narrow little “fire exit” door in the corridor outside, down a giant stairwell. And there have to be stairs somewhere between the lobby and the rest of Office Complex, because that freight elevator lifts up to a much higher level!
I think the “official” way that supply crates are supposed to come into Office Complex is to come down the aft elevator, pass through the lobby and into the turret room, and then get moved through the “maintenance” area after that. There are certainly crates in there, but as it turns out that both doors on either end of that hall are too narrow for crates to fit through:
If the “maintenance” doors were wider (double instead of single?), or if there was a pair of fire doors at the end of the hall instead of those crates, or if there were fire doors leading into the “emergency exit” hallway, that means of accessing the storage areas would work perfectly. As it stands, though, crates can come down the elevator and into the storage area, but there is no way for them to get into the rest of the facility.[/size]
I also ran into somewhat less significant problems with the roadway area. The magnum room on the other side of the bridge is a dead end and the only other door up there is too narrow, so while there are crates up on the balcony there’s nowhere they can really come from or go- do the workers lift them up that dinky metal ladder? If this place had a crane on the ceiling it would work, but I suppose the upper level can just be a storehouse where things are kept as opposed to a place where they are delivered, and the delivery area down below can serve some lower level of the complex or the canals from which supplies are shuttled onto the elevators.[/size]
Those crates at the very beginning also cannot go anywhere as the doors are too small to fit them… but there’s not really too much I can do about that.[/size]
Like said before in the past, everything needs a purpose, where does it come from, where does it go?
How the crate gets there, if no doors are wide enough to let it through…
Very sweet to see your logical thinking about your maps
I thought that maybe there could be a version of Inbound where the player gets to explore the areas surrounding the tram tunnels, a la Opposing Force.
Not sure if it would fit in with the “pre-disaster theme”, but it would be interesting to be able to explore the various rooms and pathways around the level.
All right everyone, the good news is that your eyes do not deceive you, that is in fact a completed pd_c1a2a map in the workshop. I’ve been working on it on and off since late June, and abandoned it out of frustration at least twice, but now that it’s finally finished I think it’s actually far and away the better of the two extant maps. I also have plans to resolve some of the more outstanding structural issues with c1a2c, so that might come out with a non-horrible version relatively shortly.
The bad news is that in order to work on some other projects and the fast-accelerating demands of my IRL job, I am going to have to put OCPD on an indefinite hiatus. Hopefully I will be done with most of it by the end of this quarter, probably a fair bit earlier than that, but I really cannot make promises about even the order of magnitude of delay. I can, however, promise that even if it takes until this time next year, OCPD will be coming back, and hopefully expanding into other areas of the facility.
The complicated news deals with what sections of the more industrial part of Black Mesa would take well to a pre-disastering. I figured that there wouldn’t be much point to pre-disastering abandoned areas, both because the whole point of this exercise is to show the BMRF in a working state, and because I just find it incredibly difficult to believe that given the cost of underground construction on this scale the facility would leave areas to fall into disrepair when they could be retrofitted to accomplish some other purpose. To that end, despite assigning most of them near the bottom on my priorities chart up above, I’ve been looking off and on at these grimier areas of the base:
This map is sort of my “control” for industrial sections, since we know it’s in active use and, since it is essentially a giant garbage factory, it’s OK if it looks filthy. I haven’t done a lot with it, but that’s partially because the maps don’t really require a lot to get it back into a working condition. I might make the lighting a little brighter, especially in the control rooms, but really I think it’s OK the way it is. It does, however, provide a wonderful example of what a working, industrial part of the base looks like, and thereby gives me a standard I can measure other areas of the complex against. In particular, in a lot of dubious areas we see what look for all the world like modern computers, on desks that have those tan adjustable chairs in front of them- Residue Processing confirms that those chairs are indeed used in modern sections of the facility, and have not all been replaced with the blue or green office variety.
I’m actually feeling cautiously optimistic about Blast Pit’s ability to be transformed with lighting changes and a little bit of cleaning up. Putting aside the fact that these screenshots basically look like crap and are pretty much indistinguishable from mat_fullbright because I spent five minutes on this map three nights ago, adding a lot of bright, even, very faintly blue-white light to the area has just absolutely transformed it:
It actually takes really well to the look I had in mind for the area to begin with, namely reminiscent of the mechanical engineering labs here on campus: the machinery is often decades old and everything has a thin layer of concrete grit all over it, but it’s very bright and well-maintained.
Heck, it even looks like a better place to work than the rocket warehouse we see on our way in!
For some of the larger silos I might tone down the lighting somewhat and make it more obviously yellow-gray, to make them look like the interior of an airplane hangar or whatnot, but over all I’m rather impressed.
On A Rail, though… I’m not so crazy about.
As I think I mentioned earlier on in the priorities post, back when I first played Half-Life 1 I always thought that the rail system was still in active use and dedicated to preparing and designing rockets like the one Freeman launches, as it looked to be in reasonably good shape and had rocket parts and whiteboards with equations strewn throughout. The small-scale architecture of the Black Mesa version only adds support to this theory, as in addition to the aforementioned items there are also modern computers and office furniture down there, and that shiny new launch control room really doesn’t have access to anything else.
The problem is, the whole place looks worse than dilapidated. I’ve been experimenting with different lighting schemas for a while now, getting kind of worried that I am overusing the Office Complex color scheme but reluctant to use something that I know wouldn’t work quite as well, and at best the place looks like an actual basement or parking garage, not a proper vehicle assembly building:
I really think the biggest problem is with the tunnels, and the biggest problem with the tunnels is that really weird black concrete texture that seems to be everywhere. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, I’m not even sure it exists in real buildings anywhere outside of, I dunno, the Victorian era, and it just sucks all the light and liveliness of an area into itself and coughs back out grime and despair.
I actually ran a quick find-and-replace to get rid of it, and lo and behold the tracks looked much more like a missile production line! If you have the visualizational capacity to ignore the resultant godawful tiling, this section would not look at all out of place in Black Mesa Inbound:
The only problem is that I cannot find a texture that could plausibly be that black concrete under different lighting/usage conditions, and if I start changing actual parts of the level without a good explanation of how the Resonance Cascade could have changed them back I may as well just make my own game. I dunno, maybe when I do Unforeseen Consequences and Forget About Freeman (which use kind of similar textures) I’ll figure out how to deal with them better, and maybe I’ll find something that could replace the grimdarcrete just by looking more carefully though the texture folder, but I’m really unsure about On A Rail. Which is a shame, as it was one of my favorite chapters in HL1.
I was initially just going to write off Power Up entirely, but after having looked at Blast Pit and most importantly Residue Processing I could actually see it being populated. I have not even opened up any of its maps to mess around with and I still don’t have a good idea of what any of it actually does in the context of running the BMRF, but it is very possible that it may see a PD treatment before On A Rail does. Comparing it to the HL1 version, the Black Mesa devs actually seem to have cleaned it up a little by adding modern computers and removing some of the more blatantly WW2s-era control panels. However, it also uses that blasted concrete texture in some of the tunnels… I have half a mind to boot up GIMP and make a more evenly gray version myself…
Really, Apprehension is the ultimate problem map. It looks rusty and abandoned in Black Mesa, heck it looked rusty and abandoned in Half-Life 1, and more importantly I have no idea what any of it is supposed to be for or how anything connects to anything else. What is the purpose of the giant pistons? What about the giant silo with inaccessible catwalks that have no doors on them? Why is there a helicopter hangar filled with garbage? I really, honestly think this area needs a lot more developer love to be playable in the main game, much less for it to get restored as a pre-disaster section of the facility.
I didn’t realize you were the one doing this.
Just played through the map, and wow, was that a lot of fun. Never before have I been so excited to see what could be behind a door. You really fleshed out that area.
I was happy that you allowed us to turn the turret on (and off again). Also, I found the g-man, which was a pleasant surprise.
Looking good! Though, I found a bug in the pre-disaster Office Complex map. At least, I HOPE it’s a bug!
I found a security guard sitting on a chair and his uniform was covered in blood.
This is next to the radio that has the emergency broadcast transmission post-disaser. What has he been doing?!
I’m actually surprised this is the first time you have seen that happen- this is a preexisting limitation based on how Black Mesa parses addons and one-off files like the character manifest. I’ve mentioned it here before on the thread, but I should probably add it to the workshop description too…
I think it’s possible to fix, with a little bit of work on the part of the mod-ee, but that will likely have to wait for the project to come out of dormancy and include custom LCSs.
It’s okay. I’ll just chalk it up to the guard getting into a fight with a bottle of ketchup and losing.
This looks fantastic! I’m constantly delving into Wikipedia pages etc. to see how each sector links up and trying to make sense of which parts are not in use, etc…
I have one suggestion: Would you be able to add the tram stations for each area you do? I only remember ever seeing a tram station (apart from the ones in Inbound) at the end of Questionable Ethics, when you walk through the carpark and through the tunnel - there is a stop that you can see through a glass door into a tram station. (map c2a4h). It would be cool to be able to go inside the tram stations for each sector, when you get around to them.
I would love to see where the tram stops are in these various maps - and it would be cool if you could get in one and go forwards into Sector C, etc.
Also - the Area 9 Central Transit Hub is around the Office Complex area, isn’t it? In Black Mesa Inbound, the huge vista of the transit hub also shows offices (same in Half-Life). That would be cool too.
Keep it up!
Glad to see you’re enjoying the map!
I already have the transit station off of the cafeteria in c1a2c mostly built, it’s just that the area you use to get to it currently looks like garbage.
There’s also currently nowhere for the tram to go other than I suppose to the Anomalous Materials lab, but I am working on that as well.
Sounds great! I’m actually in the process of learning Hammer (this inspired me I suppose!) so perhaps when I get up to scratch we could work together, as I’ve always tried to fit together the tram lines, and the various sectors of the facility. But anyway, we’ll see how it goes haha.
Perhaps Sector D also uses the Area 9 Central Transit Hub as a main stop as well, considering the offices around it etc. Maybe some time (if you would like), we could try and map out the main areas of the facility - Valve originally designed it haphazardly with nothing linking properly, but with Black Mesa maybe it’ll be different. I’ve almost completed my 3rd/4th playthrough so it’s fresh off my mind.
Well, we already have access to the “official” layout of Black Mesa thanks to .RK, but it doesn’t have the heights of various levels set up. If you feel like contributing and are good with computer graphics, one of the things I’m currently working on is a vertical “expanded cutaway” of the facility so that we can see what all is on the same plane.
Are you to Surface Tension yet?
If not, I’ve actually already done a modification of this entire chapter, I would love to join the team if you’re willing to give me a place in it.