Saving Dr. Doors - A Conundrum


As you may have figured out from some of my previous posts, rescuing NPC scientists over the course of Black Mesa’s gameplay is a recurring interest of mine, and one of the ones I’ve been particularly interested in is this guy in Office Complex who comes to the doors of the break room and is eaten by a barnacle:

His HL1 counterpart is fairly easy to save provided you don’t go up to the doors before crawling through the vent, but due to a combination of factors including differing room geometry, different player speed, barnacles being more durable, and perhaps most importantly the fact that being touched by a barnacle tongue now causes NPCs to die instantly he is now much more difficult.

So what? A lot of scientists who were savable in HL1 have been made unsavable in BM.

The thing is, this guy seems like he should be possible to rescue- there is no hard kill-condition on him and using cheats to approach from a different position I have been able to kill the barnacle before it can touch him. But I have never been able to do it coming in through the vent- it’s a close thing, but the barnacle always touches him.

The only ranged weapon the player has at that point is the glock (grenades are out of the question because the scientist is right there and I believe it’s impossible to skip through the electrified puddle to get the 357 without going to the breakroom first). After making multiple runs at the barnacle from alternative paths I’ve come to the conclusion that only the right-click rapid fire mode can kill the barnacle- originally I thought this was just because it could get enough damage in during the relatively small window between the ceiling tiles breaking and the tongue lowering to grab the scientist, but on closer inspection I think the barnacle is actually being stunlocked and prevented from lowering. The cone of fire for the rapid mode is pretty large, so you have to be close to right under the barnacle to make sure your shots all hit it and not the ceiling at an angle.

I have only been able to do this by cheating the doors open and rushing the barnacle from the front or noclipping around and rushing it from the back or exiting the vent duct at higher than normal crawling speed to fling myself into position. However, I am also a complete spaz who has trouble moving and aiming at the same time, and it feels like it should be possible to come out of the tunnel, charge at the barnacle and bring your gun up in time to start rapidfiring into it.

Can anyone pull this off legitimately?


Try tossing a prop above him so the barnicle grabs that. I got it to work once, but that is it.

Though Seeing as I have made a habit of saving the osprey on surface tension every single time, I think I have gotten to good at split second reactions.


I did it with some time to spare:


Interesting; I had not thought of exiting the vent backwards to delay the triggering of the scene (presumably that is the purpose of backing into it).


On another note, I am now reliably able to save the female scientist in the Office Complex vent-pulling sequence by killing the male one and breaking the scripted sequence. This is easiest with the 357 and having already shot out the glass before the scene starts, but it is also doable with the glock. It is recommended that you not have the guard following you as he will become hostile when you kill the scientist. The scientist has to be still standing in front of the vent and not pulled up onto it for this trick to work as I do not think the scene is stoppable once it moves to a different stage. (The scientist will actually be able to follow you through the rest of the level once saved as she has no flag to prevent her from interacting with the player like Dr. Doors does.)

I definitely plan to investigate this further as I would like to see if there is some measure of damage or other stimulus short of death to get them both to break out of their scripting.


If jumping backwards did delay the trigger, that was completely unintentional.

Jumping in vents like that makes you go faster. The vent redirects the momentum of the jump with the angle of the vent (or something similar, I really have no clue), adding speed on top of the default movement speed. It’s kind of hard to see in the video due to compression, but I am accelerating up the slope, until the flat bit stops me from flying out the vent and just body-slamming Dr. Doors.


yes, it’s definitely the vent jumping that made it possible, as demonstrated by my all-time favorite vent in Black Mesa:


I have been trying to save all the scientist, in which I believe is “we’ve got hostiles”… I might be wrong on the title, but its where you are dealing with marines and they have all sentry guns set up. There are a lot of fire doors that you can close and open and herd the npc’s along. I tried a few times, did really well once, lost em due to a silly mistake on my part and took a break, you’ve reminded me, maybe I should revisit that.