General Xen Chit-Chat Thread

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Major congrats to the Devs for finally putting out the full Xen beta! I guess it’s time to download the game again. I’ve only been following Black Mesa for 9 years, which makes me sill a youngster on this forum, but based on what I’ve seen so far in the trailers, I think it will have been worth the wait! :smiley:

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Seven years of waiting since the initial release and we finally have a full game, start to finish! This is so exciting! Congrats devs!

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Released just two days before my exam which i should be preparing for more thoroughly. You devs are wicked wicked people!

Hello - I appriciate how good this turned out but I really thing gman’s voice is a bit unfitting. I modified it my lowering the pitch about 5 percent but I don’t know how to work with the faceposer so no lipsync. Just a demonstration, maybe you guys would consider implementing this since I think it sounds more like Half-Life 2 Gman (which is imho what it should sound like more):

Edit: I somehow missed the whole huge ass chapter before nihilanth because I skipped straight to nihilanth chapter ha. I’m an idiot. It’s been so long since we’ve begun this journey with your guys’ great work and all I can say is thank you very much for adding such a monumental piece of half life history. It’s a shame this isnt getting as much recognition as it deserves. Cheers.

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I’d like to congratulate and thank all the devs from the bottom of my heart for reaching this monumental milestone. It’s an absolutely fantastic and amazing piece of work! I’m blown away. Having followed this project as a fan for many years, it’s such a pleasure and a privilege to finally see this game being completed! :heart:

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We did it lads, happy to share this moment with you all

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I saw that the first time and my jaw dropped.

Beautifully done guys & gals on the team. I just finished the final levels, and all I have to say is damn. I’ll need to find ways to crank up the difficulty even harder (didn’t die during the Nihilanth boss fight), but over all I’m impressed.

Y’all managed to knock it out of the park and I couldn’t be happier with the final beta product. The only thing I’d crank down is the number of controllers you need to fight during the ascent.

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I hope they can fix the Gargantua bug and Hecu’s AI.

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I played through all of Xen.

It was really great. No complaints, except for that save crash on the elevator in Interloper I guess.

Is this forum going to survive without some eternal piece of vaporware to look forward to?

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I think the dev team has abandoned these forums entirely.

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Yesterdays 4GB update
from the discord

[Lead] Adam-Bomb: @everyone We pushed a big update to public beta. This will:
-Fix a bunch of bugs
-Increase performance on A LOT of maps
-Fix crashes loading saves on Interloper elevator
-Refine the difficulty curve
-Increase player guidance
[6:11 PM] [Lead] Adam-Bomb: If anyone is able to test the game, it would be a big favor to us. Assuming nothing is terribly wrong, we will release the Xen maps on mainline Steam.
[6:12 PM] [Lead] Adam-Bomb: We’ll have a full set of patch notes and more info when we release it on mainline. Thanks!

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Xen is Out of Beta!!!

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I finished Xen. It was very good. Here are some assorted thoughts, compliments, and criticisms:

  • The first vista on Xen being the Nihilanth portal, and then circling that portal for the remainder of the Xen chapters, is great level design. Right out of Raising the Bar with what Valve did with the Citadel in Half-Life 2. Nihilanth was always a poorly-foreshadowed boss (as I’ll mention again before I’m done writing).

  • The music was odd. Half-Life has never had music with vocals.

  • The teleport-to-Xen scene where you see Nihilanth holding open the portal is perilously close to a cutscene. Half-Life games have very deliberately never had cutscenes, and adding one is close to sacrilege.*

  • The healing pool sound effect is too loud. In the first healing pool, where you long-jump from a platform into a large healing pool, the sound was so loud and omnipresent for so long that I had two thoughts in succession: (1) oh god, is all of Xen going to sound like this? (2) Is this just a really bad soundtrack piece? The music is also too loud (throughout the whole game, in fact), but at least I can turn that down in the game settings.

  • The more verdant parts of the Xen chapter felt more like the Shivering Isles than anything from a Half-Life game.

  • There’s a section in Xen which is a corridor full of exploding plants and tripmines. Gameplay-wise, this is a fine section. Level design-wise, who would put those tripmines there, and why? Are there plans in the final release to translate those tripmines into some kind of Xen flora? Maybe a version of the exploding plants with tripwire-like tendrils?

  • The big bull houndeyes are really cool. The exploding red houndeyes are silly. Why would houndeyes explode? Could they be Snarks of Unusual Size instead? Snarks are known to explode; that’s their deal.

  • On the topic of the bull houndeyes, the first time one is introduced, it does a big rad sonic ram attack against a bullsquid. I spent some more time fighting with this enemy in my second playthrough, and I never had one of them use this attack on me. Is that purely a scripted sequence? Also, is their attack intended to do no damage? It seems to just knock you around – which I recognize synergizes with the environment hazard in that first area you fight them, with the pit in the center. Another note on this enemy: I had a lot of fun using backwards long-jumps to quickly get out of range of their attack when they start charging it.

  • Gonarch’s Lair was an across-the-board improvement over the original. Although, I carried a gas canister with me all the way to the final encounter and didn’t find a place to use it, which was kind of a PITA.

  • I loved that the long-jump module was integrated into combat, especially in Gonarch’s Lair. And obviously the controls for it are an improvement over the obtuse crouch-then-jump controls of the original. However, one thing to consider is that double-tapping the jump key is a control scheme that’s familiar to many players as a double-jump, but long jump is not a double-jump. Multiple times, I found myself trying to activate the long jump on a delay, as I would a double-jump in any other game, and it was jarring every time when it didn’t work.

  • In Interloper, some of the Vortigaunt behavior is a little too human. In the Vort slum, where you kill the two grunts terrorizing four Vorts, the way they stammer and cower is very human. The Vort that disables the shield beckons you inside with an exceedingly human gesture, and even repeats it; it treats you the way a human would treat a scared animal. The Vort who mourns their dead friend after the first controller battle is exaggeratedly human. If this is meant to make them relatable, I think it went a bit over the top. In Half-Life 2 and the Episodes, the Vorts seemed more bizarre and alien. Up until this point in the game, the Vorts have been frying you with lightning bolts, and then in the first ten minutes of Interloper they take a hard right turn into Disney forest friends.

  • The section in Interloper where you run from a bunch of Gargs didn’t fit very well because I just spent all of Gonarch’s Lair doing that.

  • The Controllers are awesome. I love that every encounter with them is like a miniboss fight.

  • Going ham with the Gluon Gun feels great. Although there was one section (can’t recall where) where I didn’t realize it was a free-gluon-ammo section until the fight was already over. I think something about the level design or my playstyle was encouraging me to hang back and snipe enemies, and then when I cleared the area and stepped forward, I saw the green crystals and realized what I’d missed. Maybe I just missed it, or maybe the crystals weren’t obvious enough. IDK.

  • The Nihilanth fight is much more interesting than in the original. I’m divided on whether I like or dislike the omission of Nihilanth teleporting you away from the fight.

  • Half-Life’s Xen had a feeling of alone-ness that is completely shattered by the Lambda team constantly teleporting emergency supplies in right on top of you. It was cool the first time it happened (and well-framed), but it rapidly destroyed the character these levels had in the original game – especially when their contents became context-sensitive. Am I to believe that the Lambda team is constantly watching me and keeping me properly equipped for every scenario? In the original Xen, you were totally alone, equipped only with your wits and whatever you could scavenge from the remains of those who came before you. Maybe you could find and activate teleport beacons to get these supply drops? That could remove the feeling of the Lambda team constantly having your back. The Vorts aiding you also detracts from the desolate feeling of the original, but I can totally see why that was done, and I think it’s a reasonable retcon. If they behaved less human, you might feel less endeared to them, and therefore more alone.

*I had a suggestion something like this cutscene way back in the day, where I suggested adding a scene to the antimass spectrometer teleport sequences where you teleport into Nihilanth’s chamber, but none of his orange light globes are there, so it’s dark and you can’t see it well. Then one or two of the globes come out, so you get a very dim look, and it vocalizes something at you so as the player you know that Freeman has been acknowledged. I agree that Nihilanth needs more foreshadowing than just the speech from the Lambda scientist, but I don’t agree with putting it in a cutscene.

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Nihilant have same/similar telepathic abilities as G-man and the appearance was also similar. I wouldn’t call it a cutscene.
Cutscenes are where player’s character do things without any control or seeing things not from player’s perspective.

It’s a very beautiful part of the game, but my single major gripe is that it takes way too long to complete and loses out on the feel of an endgame where you’re trying to stop the Black Mesa Incident.

Having to go up and down and around the “tree” for an hour before getting to the Gonarch was a bit much, and then fixing the Vorts’ electrical grid and having to pop the various tubes was not necessary. Nor was remaking the Episode One Core sequence.

I can see why the place was nuked since the guy who was supposed to stop it took another three hours to do so after being sent there. There was nobody left to save.

I did like the adobe slums where the Vorts lived and the little Black Mesa lab - even if the HEV Zombies are underpowred and why are they wearing helmets if the crabs can somehow dig through them?

Overall, 7/10 experience. Well worth the wait.

So I finally played through Xen. It was stellar. I love what they did with it. Very beautiful. I almost got some Myst vibes from certain sections.

Congratulations, devs, for finally finishing this up! You guys did good.

I would concur for the most part. There were times when I felt it dragged a wee bit: particularly the earlier jungle part just up to the teleporter puzzle and the conveyor belt factory portion. Though this could well be an issue of first play-through and being overwhelmed by the spectacle.

If I were to list my own disappointments it was the fact we only really see one rising bone pillar thing, which made it stand out as a puzzle element rather than a part of the world, and there was no opportunity to ride mantas. After seeing their take on every other set-piece from the original I was a little put out to see that part dropped entirely for the benefit of giant leaf puzzles, seemingly.

Maybe this is something the modders can have-at like the On a Rail extended mod.

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