Pitch Bible for OaR Uncut (Part 2)[/SIZE]
Pervasive elements of HL OaR (general themes)
[COLOR=‘Red’]-HUGE number of bullsquid encounters…they are found in ~2/3 of OaR and are always munching on dead marines.
-4 way junctions, both cosmetic and functional, as well as unusual branching patterns to emphasize the scale of the rail system.
-Many instances of rail switching and toll gates (red/white barriers over the rails that prevent tram movement until lifted).
-NUMEROUS tripmine and sentry turret traps, both on the rail system and in buildings.
-NUMEROUS .50 cal emplacements; 2 TOW launchers encountered in C2A2E and C2A2F.
-Office complex theme early on, materials transport theme later.
-Electrical malfunction areas that serve as obstacles.
-NO vent crawl sequence in the entire map. There are only a few instances in which vents are even seen.
-An army radio is almost always near the HECU encounters.
-MP5 grenade throwing marines scattered throughout the chapter.
-Loop design, both in C2A2A (two switches) and C2A2F (one switch).
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]Suggestions based on these elements
-In general, the use of all of the aforementioned elements will help your sections retain the HL feel.
-Always remember cause and effect. If the player flips a switch, he should SEE the effects of the switch. This helps prevent frustration.
-The association of bullsquids w/dead marines should be kept as it’s an important story element. However, HL OaR has an unrealistic number of dead marines w/individual bullsquids so this needs to be toned down.
-Houndeyes are an underutilized element in HL OaR and critically underused in BMS OaR (only one encounter). There’s lots of fun things to do w/them.
-Headcrabs are also underutilized in BMS OaR compared to HL OaR.
-In HL, the rail system was massive and this effect is SORELY lacking in BMS OaR. This is really the biggest piece of GENERAL advice I can give for your sections…recreate that sense of scale. Here’s some tips: 1) 4-way junctions add to scale and can be used aesthetically or functionally. If using them functionally, one end should terminate in an inaccessible silo door. This essentially creates a 2-way junction which minimizes backtracking. 2) Increase the vertical space of your maps SIGNIFICANTLY. This is taking a page from Minerva/late-game Portal. For instance, the office complex could be made to be 5-6 stories high, w/each floor showcasing a different feature/script. The same thing could be done for the materials transport area. This reinforces the massive size and underground nature of the rail system and allows you to EFFICIENTLY condense 5-6 maps worth of features into fewer maps. 3) As the player travels along the rail system, you could have him see tracks going perpendicular above and or below him. A script w/a marine shooting the player while on a moving tram could visually direct the player to interesting features.
-Rail switching can be accomplished easily w/a control panel placed on the sidewalk area of the rail. Ideally, you’ll also go back and decompile the BMS OaR maps and add these panels (destroyed ones) at every switch point. It makes no sense why the rails would switch in your sections and not the dev sections.
-Tripmine traps are abundant and can be placed anywhere. Just make sure the detonation hurts the player if they’re on the tram.
-Fun sentry turret traps can be found in C2A2D (Xenians as fodder while you kill the sentries) and C2A2G (iconic section which should be retained).
-Electrical malfunction areas can be made plentiful.
-Loop designs actually aren’t that bad (see C2A2F) and help reinforce the sense of scale. They are very easy to figure out when only 1 switch point is added.
-The BMS TOW launcher is kind of lame as the HECU could realistically only fire one shot. A good place to put the missing launcher is in an area w/parallel tracks. To keep consistency w/BMS, the shot should destroy the tram. After the player dispatches the marine manning the launcher, he uses the intact tram on the other track to continue his journey.
-Avoid using vent crawl sequences but keep the aesthetic vent in C2A2B1, as it contributes to the area’s iconic design.
-You can use some the HECU radios to convey story elements, assuming you can find some useful scrapped lines.
Common ammo pickups in OaR include magnum, shotgun, MP5 grenade and satchel.
Glock/MP5 primary ammo does NOT need to be given as it’s obtained from the HECU.
Grenades are ONLY given near sentry turret traps.
Tripmines are fairly rare.
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]I’d suggest keeping this theme w/the exception that you add more tripmines, especially the map after C2A2B (to prep for the outside battle). BMS HECU are no fun to fight against in groups and trapping techniques are extremely useful to prevent excess damage.
OaR is the first chapter that introduces the satchel charge (generally in hidden areas) and the first one can be found at the end of C2A2B2. However, this weapon never gets the introduction that it deserves as the explosive crates by the C2A2F elevator come far too late in the game. An easy way to correct this is to replicate the gameplay from ST_uncut TOW courtyard…you can have a massive amount of enemies (e.g. 6-8 houndeyes, 6 marines) come through a small corridor but give the players some sort of hint to cue their arrival (e.g. a video camera). This FORCES the player to prepare a trap using satchels as well as tripmines, instead of making these weapons optional (and generally underused).
All health/power dispensers in BMS OaR give 50/75 except the last one in the launch room. You can add more variety here (e.g. 50/50, 50/25) and correct any deficits w/health and battery pickups.
The enemies prior to C2A2B1 consist exclusively of xenofauna (lone marine in C2A2B2 is the exception).
Diversity is found from C2A2B1 to mid-C2A2E, where the player encounter marines fighting vorts, marines alone, vorts alone, sentry traps and a smattering of xenofauna.
All enemies from mid-C2A2E to C2A2H consist of HECU and their traps (the 2 zombies in C2A2G are the exception). The TOW launcher marines are located in C2A2E and C2A2F.
Only vorts teleport into OaR; the xenofauna appears to have been there for some time, which creates a sense of chronology in the Black Mesa incident (i.e. xenofauna first, then slaves, then alien military proper).
The HECU are ONLY seen engaging w/vorts. All other battles w/xenofauna are inferred, as the HECU’s presence is only shown by corpses (lone marine in C2A2B2 is the exception).
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]The general theme of xenofauna at the beginning, diversity in the middle and HECU at the end should be retained to keep the feel of HL OaR.
There can be a few exceptions made to the “no xenofauna teleporting in rule” to surprise players. This is used somewhat inconsistently in BMS but is nonetheless a pervasive theme.
The HECU can and SHOULD engage w/xenofauna. This will spice up the chapter considerably. Realistically, the number of HECU victories should be few in the beginning and more toward the end since they are stationed by the launch site but for gameplay diversity (which is more important), it’s better to have the victories alternate.
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]Important decals to make
“Surrender Freeman” in blood
“Sector E Mat. Trans. B”
“Sector E Mat. Trans. A”
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]Potentially interesting AI battle scripts
-Barnacle eats a marine. If scripted, the marine could be animated to struggle while being pulled up. If unscripted, an area could be designed such that an astute player could lead the marine into a barnacle trap (think narrow corridor). You could actually do this in BMS WGH.
-Marines on a tram carrying military supplies stop their tram and start shooting at a large group of barnacles obstructing the track.
Headcrabs (underused in BMS OaR)
-Headcrabs attack trapped marine, similar or identical to C2A2B2 scene.
-Headcrab actually kills an un-helmeted marine by latching onto it’s head.
Bullsquid (tend to be solitary, no more than groups of 2)
-A pair of bullsquids fight and kill off a cornered soldier. They actually never fight the HECU in HL OaR, which is weird since they always eat them.
-A ceiling drop sequence into a room with bullsquids. One of the bullsquids gets startled and jumps…both of them charge at you instead of using acid spit. This idea helps account for some of their missing animations in BMS as well as AI deficits. They are called BULLsquids for a reason and should preferentially use charge over acid spit, as they do in HL. The acidlion AI leaves MUCH to be desired.
-While lowering a walkway segment, the player sees a soldier being pursued by a bullsquid. The soldier jumps onto a walkway segment and then proceeds to run toward/shoot the player. As the bullsquid had to stop abruptly, it reverts back to its acid spit attack.
-A bullsquid chases a soldier on a moving tram but eventually slows down and gives up (think lion chasing an antelope).
Houndeye (criminally underused in BMS OaR)
-Houndeye detonates explosive crate trap in C2A2E (see above)
-A pack of houndeyes teleports in but one slightly misspawns, being partially trapped behind some boxes. The houndeye uses its attack to clear the boxes, showcasing its power and some cool physics.
-A soldier on a moving tram provides cover fire for another soldier who desperately tries to jump on while being pursued by a pack of houndeyes. He either makes the jump or falls and is consumed.
-A large pack of houndeyes chases a pair of marines into the player (alone or w/a Barney) in the office complex.
-Live executions of scientists and/or battles w/security guards.
-Houndeyes chase HECU into a tripmine trap, satchel trap or .50 cal emplacement and are killed off. Soldiers gloat, then vorts spawn and finish them off. It should be pretty easy to find some dialogue for this (e.g. “too easy,” “Shit!”). The vorts NEED to win a battle for storytelling purposes.
-More examples of defensive fortifications (i.e. sentries, tripmines, .50 cals) killing BM staff or Xenians. The HECU have better things to do than just wait for Gordon.
-4 way battle royale between HECU, aliens, security and Gordon.
-A sequence where the player can jump on a soldier’s tram, kill him and commandeer it.
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]Soundscaping and music
-There’s a really eerie sound effect near the beginning of HL OaR that’s almost supernatural in quality. It’s like a combination of wind, the howling of xenofauna and the screams of ghosts executed by the HECU. This effect works really well in early segments of OaR when the player is alone. Consider replicating or porting if possible.
-Most of the ambient sounds in OaR uncut should come from the hum of various machines and light fixtures. However, there’s potential to add some echo effects given the acoustic qualities of the tunnels. Rumbling effects could also work and would be associated w/debris falling from the ceiling.
-Given the added length of OaR uncut, you’ll have room to insert a couple of music tracks along the chapter. Ambient music or a piano short could work very well for a large puzzle element or an extended travel sequence. Combat music should reflect the more subdued nature and briefer durations of the battles staged in this chapter. Joel Nielsen supposedly has over 100 unused tracks for BMS. He could be helpful.
Potential uses for Community Project 12
The winners and finalists were shafted for w/e reason and their music was not included in BMS. You can find the tracks here: http://beemp3.com/index.php?q=cp12. To have a listen, click the “download now” button, then click the green “play” icon. You don’t actually have to download them.
Alone-piano section could potentially be used for a puzzle element or water area; this track would be PERFECT for the Xen teleporter puzzle
Dark Drone, Abrupt Awakening-can help reinforce the eerie/ominous nature of the rail system, which was the tone set in HL
The Year of Death, Soldiers have Arrived-potentially useful for a massive battle in the office complex
Baron Land-fits the piano theme of BMS C2A2A; possibly useful for a water area
Dark Skies-may be useable for a outdoor sequence based on a radically modified version of C2A2F and C2A2G
Resonance-early section could work in an extended sequence showcasing the number of scientists executed by the HECU, latter half is too heavy for a combat sequence
Tribulation, Soogai-does not fit OaR (Tribulation is beautiful though)
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]For combat music, I’d strongly recommend The Year of Death as it’s such a nasty track. Imagine it going off once the player gets to the second floor of C2A2B1. You could give the complex extremely poor lighting, w/only flickers showcasing the nasty handiwork of the HECU (e.g. scientist/security corpses). All of a sudden you see the eerie eyes of the nightvision marines approaching you or a pack of houndeyes lighting up the room w/their biouminescent attack, forcing a battle in otherwise near pitch blackness. Quite brilliant no? This reinforces the ominous nature of HL OaR, keeps to the piano theme of BMS OaR, showcases the flashlight (would be even better if it had a battery life) and requires minimal redesign of C2A2B1 and C2A2C, which were nicely done. The complex could be illuminated after the battle by hitting a power switch.
The best choice for ambient music is less clear. While Dark Drone and Abrupt Awakening would reinforce the eerie nature of the rail system, a piano short would be more consistent thematically w/the tone set by BMS, which is different from (but not necessarily worse than) HL. It might be best to wait until the new maps are created to render a decision.
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]More radical suggestions
-Create a section of tram travel in an OUTDOOR setting toward the end of OaR. The problem w/HL is that far too much of it takes place indoors, which is boring. This new section would spice things up, potentially as an extension of C2A2G and would allow integration of the missing sniper w/o modifying BMS C2A2C. Many story elements could be introduced w/in a beautiful skybox, such as 3 Ospreys landing near a facility and deploying marines (corresponds to the evac in ST_uncut) and/or an Apache flying in the direction of Apprehension (perhaps the one that lands near the black ops). The tram track could terminate in a closed silo door, forcing the player inside and permitting a smooth transition to BMS C2A2C.
-Have the outside world more visible from your sections, whether through windows of the office complex, ceiling or simply w/security cameras. This helps alleviate the sense of claustrophobia and reinforces your purpose, which is to get outside and launch the rocket.
-The sentry/tripmine trap at the beginning of C2A2G can be ported to the end of C2A2F at the "“Sector E Mat. Trans. A” area. In HL, the tram could not be placed on the lift, because it was broken and stuck at the bottom of C2A2G. Instead, you could make the lift functional but stop working mid-descent, putting the player at the level of the trap. The player would later descend into C2A2G via ladder like in HL. By implementing this, you not only keep the trap but can also use the excess vertical space to significantly expand the materials transport theme (which is incompletely realized in this section of HL) w/the addition of loaders, both functional and nonfunctional (seen in Inbound). These units are really cool but criminally underused. They could also be placed in earlier sections of C2A2F as well as C2A2G where they could place crates on trams.
Aside from OaR, here are some useful BMS chapters to reference once you start adding textures/props:
-Office Complex, QE administrative section: good for finding props/furniture to use in the office complex-themed map; however, the overall aesthetics of this section should match the office in BMS C2A2B for consistency
-Residue Processing, Inbound (to a lesser extent): great places for inspiration in designing the materials transport section
-Blast Pit, Apprehension: shitty looking areas roughly the same age as OaR; potentially lots of useful props and texture themes
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]Dev errors (only a few)
Consider fixing these should you need to decompile the maps:
-The houndeye pack in BMS C2A2A should be able to walk over the rails…otherwise they just stand there and look stupid while you shoot them. In HL, they could not do this because the rail was electrified, but BMS rails are NOT electrified, so it makes no sense why they cannot cross over.
-The player can clip through HECU ammo cartridges in the following places: 1) by the green crate w/medkit at the junction of C2A2A and C2A2B (near the sentry turret trap) 2) at the .50 cal in C2A2C just prior to the outside area.
-The HECU/vort battle in C2A2B is poorly scripted. The trigger point for the 2nd vort spawn needs to be set back just behind the gray crate in the corridor. This ensures the vorts serve as effective fodder and will buy the player time to take out the .50 cal emplacement.
-The launch pad elevating the rocket needs to be outfitted w/more scaffolds (think NASA shuttle launches). The current “scaffold” (really just a pole w/a couple of wires connecting to the rocket) would not realistically facilitate a vertical launch. After placing the new scaffolds, they could be scripted to fall over during the launch.
-One of the triangular faces of the large globe seen from the launch room has a messed up texture that makes it glisten.
-After leaving the launch control room, you can actually escape through the inaccessible door by breaking its windows and using props to elevate yourself. Doing so will trap you in an area w/no textures.
HL OaR is mediocrity and as one modder recently found out, mediocrity redone is simply mediocrity in HD. Don’t be afraid to stray from the norm. Good luck.
Image gallery (#1-5 on page 1, #6-10 on page 2)
Image 1 (pervasive themes of OaR)-TL: Toll gates, usually activated by hitting a nearby switch (seen here). TR: Rail switch element; given the digitized switch system and fixed rails seen in BMS OaR, a control panel design (rather than a lever) would be the best way to go. BL: Bullsquid eats marines; note the unrealistic number of dead marines by the bullsquid. Skeletal segments from the HL2 Ep 2 model would work great here. BR: Tripmine traps; most traps are placed at bends.
Image 2 (electrical obstacles)-TL: Electricity coming from nowhere (seen here) or from light fixtures (C2A2A); these elements are unrealistic and should be discarded. TR: Wires (C2A2A). BL: Boxes in high voltage areas (C2A2F); BR: Long series of electrical obstacles (C2A2F); this configuration is rather unique and should be retained.
Image 3-TL: The claw (C2A2A). TR: Rocket base w/stranded marine being attacked by headcrabs (C2A2B2). This cannot be replicated faithfully in BMS OaR because of the launch system design. BL: Marines on lift (C2A2B1); the lift goes up as your tram goes up. The marines have been swapped w/sentries in BMS C2A2A. BR: Marine on wooden platform (C2A2B1); he’s the only one in OaR that can be crushed by the tram.
Image 4-TL: 1st floor of office complex (C2A2B1); important elements to retain here are the toll gates, converging track elements, .50 cal and the aesthetic vent. The HECU/vort battle that takes place here is absent from BMS OaR. TR: 2nd floor of office complex (C2A2C); the fairly complex architecture spreads across the track. BL: A view of the unique converging track element (C2A2B1) as seen from C2A2C. BR: Another HECU/vort battle scrapped from BMS OaR (C2A2C).
Image 5-TL: The hidden area where you can sometimes observe the HECU battle above (C2A2C); this is the closest thing to a vent sequence in the entire chapter and should be retained. TR: 3 marine ambush (C2A2D); these guys were scrapped in BMS C2A2B. BL: The “surrender Freeman” decal (C2A2D); this is absent from BMS OaR. BR: The sentry turret trap; note the jumping animation on the bullsquid in reaction to being shot.
Image 6-TL: A side room in the sentry trap area (C2A2D); the placement of the “yore dead Freeman” sign makes no sense as it’s in a tiny closed-off area that may not even be explored. TR: TOW launcher (x2 total, found in C2A2E and C2A2F). BL: Vort ambush (C2A2E); the vorts have backed a pair of HECU into a corner and another pair of vorts patrol the corridor. Behind the green crates lies a pair of tripmines. The 2 stranded soldiers can be found guarding a gate switch further back. BR: Commandeering a tram from a soldier (C2A2E); pressing the gate switch will release two gates. Should you backtrack to retrieve the original tram, you will trigger this scene. The soldier’s tram takes you down the correct path.
Image 7-TL: Dyne-O-Mite (C2A2E); failure to commandeer the soldier’s tram will lead you here. TR: An iconic ambush by the HECU (C2A2E) BL: Explosive crates on the top floor seen when using the elevator (C2A2E); a satchel needs to be used to trigger the detonation but consider having a houndeye set it off with its attack for a “think fast” moment. BR: Lower floor themed as a materials transport area (C2A2F); 2 marines await in ambush behind the crates.
Image 8-TL: Upper floor of the materials transport area (C2A2F); in theory, the placement of the beams should set off the sentries if a crate knocks the player off the tram. TR: Sentry turrets line all 4 corners of the main room (C2A2G); a pair of zombies waits in ambush in the small room. This is where the material transport theme abruptly ends. Consider porting the scene to a higher floor to further develop the theme. BL: Sniper nest (C2A2G); note that its location is meant to prevent the player from exploring the wrong side of the map. BR: Dynamite trap (C2A2H); this was scrapped in BMS OaR but potentially could be reused in a redesigned version of C2A2G.
[COLOR=‘Yellow’]Image 9-C2A2E redesign schematic; this map layout has several advantages which include 1) working w/in the constraints set by the BMS TOW launcher which destroys the tram 2) extremely faithful to the HL C2A2E layout 3) retains ALL of the memorable features in this section 4) eliminates confusing map elements 5) provides room for several additional encounters and scripts. Note that the dynamite trap unlocks a side route to get to the ambush. Taking the main route is faster, w/o the need to backtrack but places you at a disadvantage as you are on the low ground and in the .50 cal’s line of fire. Taking the side route is slower and you will eventually need to retrieve your tram. However, you will obtain good ammo and will end up on high ground, giving you the chance to ambush the .50 cal marine. This schematic does not include the latter 1/2 of HL C2A2D, which was cut out in BMS and should be re-added. However, you may not be able to fit both this section and C2A2E on a single Source map. In that case, simply port the section of C2A2E after the marine ambush (by the 4-way junction) to your next map.
Image 10-C2A2G redesign schematic; since C2A2F is a compact and relatively well-designed area that uses vertical space efficiently, there will likely be room to recreate the 1st half of C2A2G, which was cut from BMS. The schematic provides a rough idea of how it could be done and how it would link to BMS C2A2C. The outdoor area could simply be considered an extension of the quiet area from HL, rather than a radical departure in design…this map should be challenging but fun to make as it affords much room for creativity. Should the claw not be introduced in a C2A2B2 themed section, it could make a late chapter appearance either here or in C2A2F (better placement for breaking up the action) as it’ll fit right in w/the materials transport theme. Perhaps there’s some large crates obstructing the exit to the outdoor area which requires the claw to move them (think crane from HL2).