Really bad balancing


Well these days games are just way too easy. Black Mesa made me remember how games were before the days of 360/PS3. I really appreciate the challenge…in my opinion bm is just difficult enough to keep you entertained and not make you pissed off at the game (I play on Normal).

I like how the Houndeyes are no longer stupid like they were back in hl1, now they can actually do some damage



Calling bullshit here. There is difficult, and there is unbalanced. Some monsters are just dandy (alien grunts, bullsquids, zombies and headcrabs, as far as I’ve encountered) whereas others have programming faults that make their reaction times just too fast for humans to respond to (vortigaunts would be better if they had a slightly longer charge time) and have enough accuracy that you simply can’t compete. The concept of overpowering damage and accuracy works with a modern style shooter that has regenerating health, but not here.

Saying that we’ve been tempered by easy games is a bullshit excuse. The AI in games has been dumbed down, but the reaction times are the problem here, and it’s a simple oversight, not a design feature.

I’m going to toot my own horn a -little- bit and hopefully explain why I feel my opinion that normal is not too hard, but too unbalanced, and why the devs need to be VERY open to constructive feedback (which I really hope mine has been)

1.) I have fantastic reaction times. I am a racing driver and have intensely fast reflexes. I’ve never encountered a game that had faster AI reflexes than me, that wasn’t a multiplayer mod with bots set on their most evil of settings. The only times I’ve encountered these reaction times are in people with aimbots and wallhacks.

2.) I have a lot of experience beta testing games and mods, working closely with developers on weapon and AI balancing. This is not one of those things where you have to make a “design choice,” nor is anyone attacking something you feel strongly on. There are difficulty settings, and the AI response time is simply not relevant here. sure, it can be a bit faster in hard, but even on easy, it’s just TOO FAST for the player to feel in control of the situation, which is what is required for it to be fun.

3.) Normal mode should be playable without more than 4-5 reloads TOTAL per chapter. As it stands, players are reloading 4-5 times PER ENGAGEMENT. A fun game, this does not make. We are not getting outsmarted or playing the game incorrectly. We are simply unable to fight that which is flawless.

4.) I switched to easy so I wouldn’t have to reload six thousand times in a mission, and while the monsters all do zero damage to me now, the same annoyances are still spitting in my face. I STILL don’t feel satisfied fighting something that always gets five rounds off when I still get the first shot off! The AI is too fast, period. Add a delay, problem solved.

5.) Everyone I know thinks the exact same thing. If you guys want to be taken seriously as game designers (I know this is a pet project, but you will be remembered for your biggest flaws, and I know you don’t want to be “the guy with that badly balanced game”) then you need to make sure that your game is fun to play for -everyone- not face-punchingly frustrating on the mode that most people will play on. If your hardcore, type-of-person-that-practiced-TFC-grenades-in-empty-servers player wants a challenge, kick his ass in hard.

6.) This is anecdotal, but of the 25 steam/real friends I have that played BMS yesterday, every single one of them agreed that these problems are absurd, and even though you take no damage, it’s annoying to put up with even on easy.

So, in a nutshell, stop defending your game and start tweaking. I know you didn’t beta test it with people that gave you solid feedback on balancing, but that’s no reason to just lie to us and say that things are dandy. If you really want, make four difficulty settings. I just want a normal mode that challenges me (and the above comments players are making about the accuracy and AI response times are precisely the changes that are needed) and makes me feel rewarded to play well - the AI response time is making that impossible even on easy.

And so you don’t just get pissy with me, I will say this: I had low expectations, and BMS blows me away with not only the quality and attention to detail, but the very intelligent reworking of the game to fit modern standards. On a rail was always my most hated map, and you guys trimmed ALL the fat and reworked things in such a way that made it fabulous. This game is 99% a perfect re-invention (not just a remake) of half life, it just has teeny tiny problems that need fixing, because they’re akin to oversalting a dish. Sure, you may have cooked it perfectly, used all the right ingredients and have a 3 michelin star dish, but if you oversalt it, that’s what everyone will walk away remembering.



Forgive me, my wording was incorrect.

The accuracy feels inconsistent which is a result of the weapons firing base being offset, along with the need to make it more accurate in ironsights mode.



I’m having a good time and I’m playing on hard, but I do think the OP has a point. Ideally, it should always be possible, even on hard, to beat an encounter without losing health. Doing so may be very difficult and require a lot of thought and planning but it should be possible. This prevents the player from ever becoming stuck in such a way that they are forced to reload a much earlier save.

I believe that was the case in Half-Life, but it does not seem to be the case in Black-Mesa. It is a given that every encounter with the marines is going to result in a good bit of health loss. The marines are extremely situationally aware with inhuman reflexes. If they have line-of-sight they are doing steady damage to you. There aren’t really opportunities to flank them or surprise them and shooting them has no impact on their ability to damage you. The instant you pop out of cover to take a shot they start doing damage to you. In a way these battles resemble what you’d see in an MMORPG where the goal is to eliminate the enemy’s health pool faster than they can eliminate yours.

I’m going to have to disagree a bit with people on the vortiguants though. I think they are reasonable. Yes their charge up is shorter than HL1 but it still provides time enough for a fast player to duck out of cover, take a shot, and return. That’s more than can be said of the marines.




Do you use headphones? I really recommend using them -you might discover that enemy is first HEARD and only after SEEN (excluding stealth, if available - there’s no such thing in BMS, you always make noise).

In general there’s only one thing wrong about mp5 - few times I emptied hole magazine on one marine, shooting at head and chest (surely few bullets had to hit the head), until finally killing the guy.

Hard difficulty is too easy, seriously. Stop playing children games on Kinect. :wink: I wonder how people can call it a “bug”. Casual gaming takes the world. :smiley:

And one more thing - default difficulty setting is set to low so EVERYONE can enjoy it. No one has ordered you to choose higher setting. And I hate when people say “a game should be enjoyable for everyone”. No, it shouldn’t. I depends on target. In newest Crysis, on demos, you can get behind enemies UNHEARD, when YOU can hear water splashes made by yourself. Its stupid. It says a lot about the target. :wink:



I don’t understand why everybody is complaining about the ladders. Walk up (or down) to them to get on, then when you’ve reached your destination, press E. Simples.

As for other balance issues, so far I haven’t met any marines (only played a couple of hours last night) but I do agree about the Vorts. Both change time and damage should be increased to give the player the possibility of not taking a little damage every time they spawn, instead making them take a lot of damage unless they gtf out the way. Like in the original game.

Other than those two gripes, loved it so far. The 10-shot Appache does seem ridiculous though. Should be between 3-5.



I hate how people who say they found the game easy on hard just assume that the people raising issues in this thread are console monkeys who’s most engaging PC gaming Pursuit before this is bejewelled.

If I can play through Halflife, Blueshift, Opposing Force, Half life 2, Episode one and two and Several other sourcemods on Hard and be a member of a 2nd place winning Team Fortress 2 team,
I think it’s fair to say that if I choose to take my first run through a new game on normal and expect to only have minor issues that shouldn’t be a problem.

But because I have had some trouble that has lessened my enjoyment of this awesome mod I expect them to be taken seriously with proper consideration.



I think that it’s not so much that the marines have amazing accuracy, in fact their accuracy at distance is not that great as only 1 in 7 shots will hit you, but the fact that each individual soldier takes way too long to bring down. Those extra seconds spent in the open to kill a single soldier really add up, and the result is the player takes an extra beating for each fight. I wanted to find what the problem was, so I decided to compare the original Half-life skill.cfg with Black Mesa’s skill.cfg

Looking in the Black Mesa skill.cfg file, I noticed that headshots only do double damage while leg and arm shots only do 80% damage. In the original game headshots did three times the damage and leg and arm shots did not reduce damage 20%.

I found that after changing the BM values to the settings as they appeared in the original game made engagements much more fair and fun, especially with HECU marines.



First of all, thank you for an amazing mod! As a fan of the original Half-Life since 1998, I’m really impressed by Black Mesa.

Still, I have to admit that I agree with the points made about HECU Marines in this thread. I just got to Surface Tension on Normal, and I seem to be fighting pixels with ESP and perfect aim. I keep trying to sneak up on them, but this seems to be impossible, as they spot me from a mile away, and open fire with near-perfect aim. I feel I have to fight like a tank instead of sneaking around, laying traps or ambushes. This probably isn’t how it should go.



I do like the arm and leg shots doing 80% damage, it means that the magnum will only one-shot a soldier if you get him in the torso or the head. (The magnum is set to do 50 damage, and the human grunts have 50 health.)

A good compromise might be to change the 80% to 90%. That way if you are spraying an enemy with the MP5 or the shotgun then the fact that some of the hits are to the arms or legs will make practically no difference, but if you using the magnum it will just be enough to prevent them from being one-shotted.

As for headshots… I guess they figured that headshotting zombies was really easy (HL2’s headcrabs are bigger) so they didn’t want to give such a large damage multiplier for headshots as in HL1. And the soldiers have masks and helmets and the aliens are tough alien creatures, so they could take several hits to the head with weak weapons… but since squad commanders and medics have exposed faces I guess it does seem a bit odd that it takes 5 mp5 bullets to the head to kill them. I’m thinking a good compromise would be to change the headshot damage multiplier from 2 to 2.5, and the limb shot modifier from 0.8 to 0.9.

It would be cool if the damage multipliers applied to individual enemies rather than being global. That way they could give zombies a 2x headshot multiplayer but soldiers a 2.5 or something like that.



Yeah they do seem to have abnormally fast reaction time. Luckily the game supplies a lot of health though. And there seems to always be a certain weapon that handles them well depending on the situation.
Also, with Ladders, just push E to grab and let go. It works every time, even when leaping to them.



Black Mesa is just fine, you want a mod what has really bad balancing ? Grey when it first came out.



I agree, H.E.C.U (is that what their unit is called?) soldados are very challenging.
I’m playing on “Normal” mode, and they give me a hard time. I’m not very good in games overall, and, let’s say, these guys are killing me frequently.

But I’m okay with this. I look at that this way: Gordon is a scientist (one that can handle all the weapons, but still), and soldados are, well, soldados. They were trained much better for the job than Gordon or any Black Mesa officer of security.

Maybe they are overpowered, but I just found a logical answer. Or I just made up my own reason to believe in, and I go with it :smiley:

My health meter is usually somewhere between 30-65, but that’s okay.



Apart from Vortigaunts not doing nearly enough damage, the balancing seems fine to me. Imo one hit of the vortigaunts lightning bolt should cost you about 30-50% of your life, because they’re relatively easy to dodge.



Part of the problem is Marines seem to be psychic. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ll so much as pop up my head and see three people with their backs turned to me. If I look at them for more than a second (literally) one will yell “We’ve got hostiles!” and they’ll all turn to shoot me. That’s not the marines “hearing” me - I’m well far away. It’s me having line of sight of them, so they have line of sight of me, even though they’re looking the other way.

They’re also psychic in that I shoot one guy from half a mile away with a silent crossbow while hiding behind rocks and they instantly know where I am and are charging my position. And yes, their accuracy does drop off at range, but they still land a LOT of shots at range nevertheless, and they are still much more accurate than my SMG which can’t hit reliably beyond about 20 feet.

And no, I don’t buy the “Freeman isn’t a soldier” argument. After taking out several helicopters, several tanks, probably a hundred marines, hundreds of monsters, survived ambushes, amazing falls, what feels like hours underwater, swam in radiation, sewage and toxic coolant… I really think we’re past arguing that Freeman is bad at killing things so his aim is a little off. Especially since his aim is never off with the crossbow, which is a lot harder to aim.



A simpler solution would be to just change the magnum damage to 40, which was its value in the original game. Also, headshotting zombies is harder than it sounds, as their strange gait makes hitting their head difficult.



Well, Gordon is a main hero, he’s supposed to be good in such things, otherwise the game would have no sense whatsoever :slight_smile:

And I’m pretty sure that he is not a professional soldier despite the facts you’ve mentioned. He was just lucky, I think. Extremely lucky.

As you can see, some people find H.E.C.U extremely difficult, others think that H.E.C.U are challenging, but within the limit.

I’m bad at this kind of games, but I’ve made it far enough already. Sí, I died a lot of times, but I was able to go forward anyway.

I guess it’s the matter of luck and personal preference. I understand that some people don’t like to die thousand time just to go past one outpost of H.E.C.U :smiley:



i really dont get the issues some people seem to have with the game. if i read this thread it sounds to me like im playing a complete different game…

weapons being inaccurate? when i read that i reloaded savegames and shot headcrabs out of the air with the pistol and the problem.i dont say im especially good at fps but heres a thought…if you consider yourself ‘very good at fps’ but still cant hit targets while other ppl actually can (in the same game that is), you might want to re-evaluate.

also the mp5 is accurate enough to easily kill marines with short bursts over long distances. yes, bursts!ever played cs :s and wondered why good players kill you at a long distance with an m4/ak47 while at the same time your version of the same weapon is somehow ‘inaccurate’? exactly, they only fire a few shots at a time to be more accurate!

…the mp5 not doing enough damage? again, i cant agree, i think its ok the way it is and i even think it was less powerful in the original half life.and like in the original game too, the mp5 is not the best weapon against marines since they wear/wore armours against the ammunition they themselves this is by no means a game design flaw and doesnt deprive you of any freedom to play the game the way you want still can kill those marines with an mp5, it just is easier/quicker with the magnum in certain situations like its supposed to be!

some people complaining about the reaction time of those soldiers saying its impossible to fight them without losing health.again, am i playing a different game? i dont think my reactions are inhumanly good (but who knows :stuck_out_tongue: ) but i had no difficulties at all, just strafe!you know, its not a point&click adventure, youre allowed to use both hands and actually move while shooting.and this doesnt necessarily mean running and jumping around nervously, just make small steps, use cover and fire bursts at their heads. that way i think its possible to get through most fights without losing health (but then again thats not that important, youre free to save any time you want to.just use the fn quicksave key!). atm im playing on normal btw and it sure is possible to play each chapter with 4-5 reloads or also isnt true marines hit you accurately as soon as you move a few inches out of cover.move and watch bullet impacts in front of you,besides you,whatever… more than once i been able to win such a fight without being hit at all.

vortigaunts: yes, they charge faster than in hl1 and do less damage.i actually prefer hl1 style since it makes the encounters more exciting and a single fault can mean youre dead.but it is still not true you cant avoid getting hit by them.strafe and use cover ffs!

ladders:what the hell is wrong with ladders?theyre even more simple to use than in cant really fall off of them and to leave them u just press e or idea how someone can have problems with that…

also…i dont mean to offend anyone, but what does being a race driver or playing in a tf clan or being able to do a handstand or whatever have to do with black mesa? again, if you think youre good at something but you actually struggle while others under the same circumstances dont have the problems you have,think again! dunning-kruger-effect?! and if you come to realize you were wrong,dont worry, it doesnt make you a lesser person!

i may add, im not saying this to defend this (amazing) game/mod nor to offend anyone, i just wanted to point out that experiences,perception,skill,imagination,creativity,the way you handle problems (like in-game fights…) are not the same for everyone. also, im sure there actually ARE some minor imbalances which i didnt notice/perceive as such that maybe will be patched, but thats ok since perfection doesnt exist among humans and it sure cant be expected from a small dev team that made such a wonderful and ambitious project in their free time.

imho this game is fn beautiful in so many ways and im grateful i may experience it.looking forward to enhancements to come and of course xen and bmdm.i think this is just the beginning :slight_smile:



Their weapons are hitscan, strafing doesn’t do anything to dodge their fire. The problem is that they act like Quake enemeis, in the sense that they know where you are at all times, even when they shouldn’t, and they’re constantly waiting for you to show up so they can start shooting. When I’m aiming at a spot where I know a Marine will show up, I still need time to register that he has showed up and adjust my aim to where he actually is. Even if that’s half a second (which is a fast reaction time for me), that’s still time I take to line up a shot. They start shooting instantly as soon as I show one square inch of ass from behind a box at 50 paces, and they keep landing shots.

Half-Life Marines didn’t react as fast. They were still quick, sure, but there was enough time for me to look at them, see where and how many they are and THEN they start shooting. It’s not long enough for me to do anything, but it is, in fact, A amount of time. They don’t spend any amount of time reacting here. It’s literally ZERO. All that means is I’m constantly taking attrition damage because I have to eat machinegun fire every time I aim.

And it’s not that the game is hard. Far from it. I spent half my time running around with 100 health and 100 armour on Normal. But what it means is I end up tanking those guys and winning because I have ten times the hit points they do. Realistically speaking, the best approach to any fight is to stand out into the open, charge at the marines and lob grenades at them. I can usually tank any damage they put out (unless they have a literal tank with them) and it’s easiest to take them down with rockets or grenades or just the basic shotgun.

And the MP5 IS inaccurate, in the sense that you need to put 20 rounds into a Marine to take him out unless you’re very precisely aiming at his head. And if I wanted to very precisely aim at his head, I wouldn’t be using the MP5. The Magnum, the Crossbow, the Tau Cannon, even the basic pistol are much better at long range. And at short range, you need to take them down FAST, so it’s either auto fire or pick another gun. Usually the shotgun since that tends to take them down with some reliability.

Sure, they’re smarter than Half-Life Marines. Those I used to kill in a suicide queue where they’d all line up to round a corner in a single file, all to a waiting double-barrel shotgun at close range. At least now they won’t commit suicide and will usually charge at me from different sides so I can’t gun them down one by one.

In fact, the fight most people are warning against - the end of Questionable Ethics - is actually one of the best fights in the game because it’s all done over short distance where I can use most of my weapons and even the MP5 is accurate.



Except if magnum damage was lowered to 40, then it would always take 2 magnum bullets to kill a soldier (unless you got a headshot). I was saying that I like the fact that sometimes the magnum will one-shot soldiers and sometimes it takes two shots. It’s unpredictable. (You may be aiming for torso but his arm gets in the way, etc.) As for zombie headshots… I suppose you have a point regarding their walking style, but I didn’t have much trouble hitting their heads.