Earthbound Chit-Chat Thread


#1

NOTE: With the potential for the first 14 chapters to receive another pass following Xen’s release, I thought it might be a good idea to create this thread as a companion to the Xen Chit-chat thread. This is simply meant to be a discussion of the current shortcomings of the Earthbound levels, and how certain aspects of them could be improved. Though it has been suggested by the developers multiple times as a potential future project, there is no guarantee that it will happen. My hope is that this thread can be a source of ongoing discussion and generate realistic, well-articulated ideas that could be used as some kind of reference were anything along these lines to occur.

Since the release of the mod back in 2012, there have been a number of improvements made to the Earthbound levels, be it through updated assets, as a side effect of engine improvements, or most obviously the expansion of Surface Tension. However, when viewing the released Xen media and comparing Surface Tension Uncut’s maps to the rest of the game, there is a clear disparity in quality even with said enhancements. This isn’t to say that the existing levels don’t hold up, as they still look excellent in many ways, however their design and visual fidelity are clearly not on the same level. This is to be expected when a project has a development cycle as long as Black Mesa’s, with some of these maps (in some similar form) dating back to far earlier builds of the game.

My question to the community is: What kind of (realistic in scope) changes would you make to the first 14 chapters in order to bring them up to this much higher standard? They can be as specific as a model/texture/effect/etc. improvement, or as broad as changes to the design of a level to facilitate better gameplay or atmosphere.

I will give an example: I have never found that the Anomalous Materials labs give the impression of a real worked-in environment due to its extremely strict linearity. Past the meta-remake-commentary room, the sequence more or less follows a series of hallways directly connected to one another with little deviation or even a hint of alternate paths, making it seem that much of Sector C lies along a singular hallway rather than part of a sprawling complex. Were adjacent hallways/rooms/elevators/etc. to be added at various points along the route to the test chamber simply as visual indicators of a much larger Sector C (which the player would be unable to access), it would lend a better sense of expansiveness and realism to the environment that just isn’t present at the moment.


#2

I would like a small restructure of the vent maze that was in we got hostiles. I miss that. Sure the main path should be easy and all that. But there should be a few side paths that lead to goodies.

That and fixing the fact that the shotgun is gained by killing a soldier first, it should be in that armory that you get it as we have a good level to learn the pros and cons of the mp5 annoying to have to juggle both game play wise.

They also really need to add a distinguishing factor between shotgun soldiers and normal. Like Maybe give the shotgun soldiers a ballistic mask with orange reflective eye holes, something minor that makes sense to help make the shotgunners stand out. Cause even half life two had to go back and fix that.

Another thing I think they need to do is add some more to on a rail not make it a long ass maze like it was before but add a single new map that just makes it feel like a trip. Also I miss that rocket launcher in the tunnel scene where they miss. IT could easily be done with a small above ground area or something.


#3

I feel like an adaptation of the A2 map from Uncut would serve this perfectly. It’s not a sprawling maze, nor is it a linear rail section, and it gives an interesting alternative take on the office sections. Right now, the design of the chapter totally clashes with the narrative purpose it is supposed to serve, being a journey to launch the rocket. Certainly doesn’t feel like much of a journey in its current state.


#4

Ok no clue how to quote with the new forms. But I agree its new form clashes a lot and yeah the A2 uncut map would work well really well actually easy to splice in… well not really splice it would have to be re imagined to fit, but it would fit.

IT also has a place where military C4 can be introduced as we only see that used in the uncut part of surface tension. With a few props of it in tunnels.


#5

You can quote a post by highlighting part of it and clicking the quote button.


#6

oh cool thanks. Also apparently there is a 20 character min for these forums now :frowning: And I can’t disable emojies.


#7

I was directed here by Darkone.

Pretty much agree with what has been said also especially in terms of weapon introduction. On a rail expainsion and We Got hostilea Surface Tension also. We got hostiles outdoor area needs visual update for skybox and ciffs and background.
office Complex that air duct Fan Room needs update also.

It would be great to have the parts missing put into game including Hazzard course. Although I agree with remix and remaster rather than straight up remake.

I always felt Questionable ethics needed a Earth Garden like botanical garden under glass roof just for aesthetics to break up the constant industrialness.

scientist pulled through crack in the wall is a missing scene.
Alien Grunt pulling open doors should be put back to original placement.
Forget about Freeman blowing doors open with the Tank turret under player control.
Tentacle in the desert.
There is also a unit which I think should appear before taking the lift down into Lambda core - Mini-Gun armoured HECU Boss fight well he is just dangerous.:slight_smile:

That is it really but most of these things already have base maps uncut and other mods so it should not be too much to attempt.


#8

If I could ask for new features in eartbound chapters, that would be the details that was in original Half-Life and not included in BM. Puzzles, secrets, traps, etc.
A few examples, in Office Complex:

  • At the beginning of the chapter, unlike in the original game, the left path in the air duct is not a secret, since you can access to the supplies even if electricity is still on.
  • A moment later, behind the front desk, the zombie used to destroy the door in the original game. It brought a lot to the atmosphere. Also, it was kind of a secret area, since you couldn’t access the room if you killed the zombie too quickly.
  • Then, in the flooded room, the switch doesn’t bring anything to the game in BM. there is no need to turn it off because the air duct is available by climbing onto the furnitures, and there is no secret armour battery.
  • Then, in the air duct, there is no fan that would chop Gordon’s head off if not careful enough.
  • After that, in the corridor, the ventilation shaft is already available in BM,while in the original HL you needed to solve a small puzzle, with crates.
  • In the main office hub, the secret passage leading to the automated turret is already visible in the ceiling. It makes it too easy to find. Just a hint would have been nice, instead of revealing completely the secret.

All these little details were so important to the spirit and atmosphere of Half-Life. BM is an awesome, awesome game. However, as a re-creation of a classic, I think it should be as faithful as possible to it. I’m glad when more original content is added, but not when legacy content is removed. I would be delighted if we were granted some more puzzles, secrets and traps: those that was in the original game, and some more! :slight_smile:

I also agree with what many people stated in this thread and elsewhere. On a Rail doesn’t feel like a trip like it did in HL. I understand that the devs are happy the way it is now, but it really misses something.
The vent maze at the end of We Got Hostiles in painfully missing as well.
I agree about the OP’s view on Anomalous Material. I would also like some doors, corridors, elevators here and there to indicate that this is a large place and not just a big corridor.
About the original locations of weapons (crowbar, shotgun, magnum…): why not making it available as an optional feature? That way, everybody is happy, and it brings more to game replayability.

About the game difficulty. Marines are hard, and they should be. The main problem is that the MP5 is very bad in BM. And why not adding some randomized marine difficulty? Just like in real life, all people don’t have exactly the same abilities, right? All marines would have random characteristics (health and firing accuracy). Some marines would have 80 HP, some 100, and a few of them would have 120. Some would be very good at throwing grenades, some would be less good. Some would be good at firing with MP5, some would be less good… Etc. Of course, none of them would totally suck at anything, they are heavily trained soldiers for god’s sake! :stuck_out_tongue: This feature would add more surprise and replayability, as the skill of each single marines wouldn’t be the same in every game, and it would bring more realism.
Also, I haven’t played the game in a long time, but last time I did (it was the mod, not the steam game), choppers were a hell of a nightmare. They deal a lot of damage, and, more importantly, they are way too accurate when firing at poor Gordon. In real life, firing with accuracy from a flying vehicle must be extremely hard.

Finally, one thing that would improve the game (but would deviate quite a bit from the original game): giving Gordon enhancing bonuses. Sometimes, I find it very frustrating when I find a secret but I’m full of ammo (especially since the maximum amount of ammo is much lower in BM) or full HP and energy. I have no need of that secret then. So, why not putting some rare bonuses in some secret areas? These would be items that improve weapons or the HEV suit. For example:

  • A new helmet with a scope, to allow zooming (which wouldn’t be a feature that Gordon originally has, of course)
  • A bonus to slightly increase the time under water without dying
  • A bonus to increase the speed of healing / recharging energy from the machines
  • A bonus to slightly reduce damage from radiactive sources
  • A laser, to help aiming with the Magnum
  • A bonus to increase the flashlight durability, effectiveness, range…
  • Etc!
    These bonuses wouldn’t be absolutely necessary to complete the game, but they would be a pleasant addition and would bring more interest to some supply caches.

To conclude, I am wondering what the devs have in mind for the time after Xen is released. Will they just drop the game? Add new details? Improve the overall graphics quality? Add new game content? Would they consider using some content made by modders?
For example, I would love to have more rooms to visit, more secrets, puzzles and traps, some alternative routes to choose… Anyway, it would be great that earthbound levels were improved, so the game is more faithful to the original HL (nostalgia brought so many of us here!) and, at the same time, so the game has more features, more original content, allowing the team to express their own creativity.