Steam Sale, December Update, and Patch Notes




Happy Holidays, and happy Steam Winter Sale everyone! Black Mesa is currently $4.99, our largest discount yet.

We released an update for Black Mesa (currently on public beta) that adds real-time dynamic lights, lens flares, god rays, and a host of other features to the existing earthbound sections of the game. The goal of this update is to get the released version of the game as close to our internal build as possible. This way, the final Xen release can be closer to a simple map drop; with less potential for engine and code issues affecting players on their first time playing Xen. We are hoping to test the engine and solve all feature and performance problems before the real release, so that everyone can enjoy our definitive vision of the game without issues.

As promised, here is an update on where we are at with developing the Xen chapters.



We are striving to make sure Xen is fun, well thought-out, and cohesive. Each chapter has its own theme and artstyle, and we are developing them in parallel to ensure they are all at the same high standard of quality. Xen, in its current form, is made up of 14 maps across these final 5 chapters, with each map alone being significantly larger than the originals. We are putting our full effort into completing Xen in a timely manner so that everyone can have the complete Black Mesa experience!

Screenshots From the Update[/size]

Upcoming Feature[/size]

Improved Prop Lighting
While developing Xen, we realized the existing Source lighting just wasn’t accurate enough. In the original Source, up to 4 lights are allowed per object and there is no self-shadowing. This works fine for small or medium sized objects, but for something like a massive, detailed rock archway, the limitations appear. In the screenshot, the vines hanging under the arch do not appear properly in shadow, and the arch looks strangely flat because only 4 light samples are being taken.

Our new static lighting supports all the nearby lights in the scene, self-shadows correctly, and also works seamlessly with both our new skydome lighting and our new dynamic lights. This makes a big difference “merging” the objects with their environment.

Left is the old style of prop lighting, Right is the new:

The new lighting is much less flat overall, displays colours which are truer to the scene’s real tone, and shadows in a much more appealing and realistic manner.

Patch Notes[/size]

New Features
Dynamic Lights - Full featured dynamic lights that are able to cast real time shadows, project textures, and emit volumetric light (godrays). These have been implemented across earthbound to help amp up the visual fidelity and “nextgen-ness”.

Lens Flares - New entity that creates a lens flare with customizable colors, styles, and effects. These have been implemented across earthbound too; only on lights we deemed very bright or important enough to warrant a lens flare.

Overhauled CSM and Godrays - Cascade Shadow Maps (CSM) have been totally rewritten and now run better than before. Godrays are completely overhauled to run smoother and operate off of a new entity that automatically gets the sun angle from the environment light.

New Crossbow Scope - Crossbow scope no longer uses an in game camera to zoom in. This makes the scope easier to aim and increases performance by removing a second rendering pass. It also fixes a number of visual bugs with using the scope throughout the game.

Image Based Ambient Lighting - Lighting can now be generated based off of the skybox image. This allows mappers to have significantly more accurate environmental lighting, which automatically takes into account the nuances and difference colours of the sky. This is unlike any other version of Source, where environment lighting is simply one flat colour picked by the mapper.

4 Way Texture Support - 4 way texture blends are now supported in engine, each with their own bump map, specular map, and procedural blending options. This allows for much more variety in texturing natural landscapes, as most older versions of Source only support 2 way texture blends.

Color Correction - All existing earthbound maps now utilize color correction.

Better Hammer Compiles - Hammer now uses current windows themes and the compiler does not block you from continuing to use Hammer; running in a separate batch window (similar to CSGO).

Added Support for $treesway - Props can now move in the wind using tree sway. This creates more much more dynamic looking natural environments, with a very small performance cost.

Implemented Hammer Instance Support - Hammer can now instance other VMFs to support modular level design.

Improved Blood Particles - Updated and improved blood particle effects for NPCs, to not look as blocky and unrealistic.

New Long Jump Mechanics - Modified long jump mechanics to be more similar to modern day games (press “jump” twice to long jump). Added a long jump recharge meter and “mana” mechanic to keep people from spamming long jump in both single and multiplayer (the long jump has a limited charge, with a medium base recharge rate, and the jumps consume this charge). Added a small “pop jump” mechanic to allow course corrects while player is mid air.

Dynamic Light Implementation - Moved all existing old Source dynamic lights over to our new dynamic lights system. This should improve visuals and reduce hitching when a dynamic light is activated (such as explosions, flashlight, Xen portal, muzzle flash, etc).

Doubled Source Displacement Limit - Max number of displacements allowed per map from 2048 to 4096. This allows the creation of more detailed and expansive natural outdoor environments.

Fixed Hammer Shaded Textured View - No more horrendous fullbright mapping!

Bug Fixes
Fixed HECU not holding weapons correctly

Fixed scientist ties jiggling out of control when FPS is low

Fixed instances where Vort would not react to player

Fixed ragdoll errors after loading a saved game

Fixed rappelling HECU sometimes getting stuck in Osprey

Fixed helicopter rockets getting stuck underwater

Fixed grenade throw mechanics, grenades should be much easier to throw now

Fixed crash from blowing up zombie HECU

Fixed HECU turrets not shooting at zombie HECU

Added IK (Inverse Kinematics) setup on Houndeye/Bullsquid

Fixed Houndeye hitboxes, ragdoll, and gibs

Added glow back to Houndeye’s blue stripes

Fixed skinning on Houndeye

Fixed player being able to pick up assassin’s pistol

Fixed and improved Alien Controller AI and combat

Fixed Agrunt hornet tracking to be more fair, making the Agunts more fun to fight

Updated Vort eyes

Fixed Vorts getting stuck after loading a save game

Added HUD icon for players using voice chat in multiplayer

Added hit indicators in multiplayer

Fixed UI spectate bugs in multiplayer

Increased crossbow zoom sensitivity in multiplayer

Fixed satchel being able to be thrown through the ground

Fixed TOW launchers in Crossfire breaking if you moved them too much

Fix fast weapon switch getting turned off in multiplayer

Fixed ent_create not respecting sv_cheats

Fixed filter_damage being able to crash servers

Temporarily removed blood on weapons and hands, to fix the engine hitching when the effect is first applied

Fixed Tau firing with limited ammo. The Tau will not longer auto fire if you do not have enough ammo for a full charge.

Fixed Tau overcharge not hurting the player

Fixed soundscapes not playing underwater

Fixed maps crashing if there were no lights in VMF

Fixed UI errors with certain translation files (Russian, Chinese)

Fixed shotgun shells disappearing during reload animation

Fixed missing translations in Italian closed captions

Split last map of Lambda Core into two maps, for better performance

Fixed VRAD to always pay attention to “Disable Vertex Lighting” in Hammer

Fixed crossbow aiming too high when zoomed in

Fixed various crashes and bugs when using the workshop tools

Known Issues[/size]
Dynamic light shadows sometimes flicker

Wall decals sometimes flicker

Props sometimes “pop” with different lighting values

Shadows from dynamic lights sometimes flicker on surfaces tangent to light, or when light is moving very fast

When using dynamic light godrays, the game is slightly blurred

Player occasionally gets stuck in Inbound tram when turning corner; issue fixes itself

Cameras in game are off angle

Gman gibs are wrong in multiplayer

Crossbow will force you to descope after firing a shot in multiplayer

The Black Mesa Team


Very nice discount, I’ll be sure to recommend Black Mesa to anyone who’s still on the fence about it.

Just fired the game up for a bit, bullets underwater still seem to be missing the bubble trail:

Bug thread

Also, rail-guy is still enjoying his time sitting on the tracks it seems.

rail guy.JPG


Thanks for the great update! I’ll be sure to avoid this forums for a few days so I won’t get spoiled until I get back home to check the update out…people digging through the source files… i dont wanna know what they find!

thanks again and merry christmas to all of you!

Edit: Gonarch looks scary as f***! Can’t wait to hear him (or her?) too!


Great work guys! Your tireless work is appreciated. I’ll keep waiting until the game is content complete before starting a whole new playthrough, tho.

I have plenty of other stuff to play in the meantime.


its a nice update but there seems to be a small thing broken in every level generally just something displaced.

Also what lights do the desk lamps have that they can bleach anything white to the point you can not see what is being lit.


I’m not feeling the new Long Jump mechanics. It feels very clunky and weird. The stamina, fine. But the air control, the amount of times you get stuck, the TF2 scout double jump shenanigans, the God awful controls…
Can we at least get an option to get the old control scheme back (crouch + jump)?

I like what you guys did to RPG and Tau, but RPG in unguided mode shoots way of its mark (too high), and Tau when overcharged only does around 15 damage to the user with some weird AOE?
Crossbow feels way too easy now. I’m basically noscoping at this point. There is no delay between scoping at all.


Mhmm…i like the Lens Flares, i was sceptical at first but they are rarely added and look very good. I also like the new Dynamic Light System, my performance is very well with turned them on. Good Job!

I got a few, very rare shadow flickers, but no big thing for me.

Most things i can say about the Mutiplayer:

Ohh the Tau feels so good now :heart:. I love the lowered Dmg and tthe nice Hitbox. Also the slower RPG is great.

I am fine with the Idea of Stamina to the Lonjump and think its brings a bit of balance to the mechanic.

But…why…why in Jesus Christs Son of Gods Name, do i have to press “jump” twice to long jump???

Who the hell was thinking of this? it feels so god damn unintuitive. If i hang on a prop or a rail i press double jump and waste my precioous stamina. WTF?! It was all fine with duckjump before.

I also think the loading times in SP & MP are much faster now.


Wow, these are awesome!

I have to ask, though: how do you use the new image-based ambient lighting? I’ve tried creating a new map with just a light_env, and it doesn’t seem to be pulling lighting from the skybox when compiled either on LDR or HDR.


Oooh! Oooh! New toys!
I don’t think I’ve ever actually used instances properly before, despite dabbling a bit in L4D2 mapping a few years back. This is going to be interesting…


We’ve added a fair few new things - first things first. LDR doesnt work anymore, we nuked it to reduce file size along with a bunch of other dx8 legacy things. It will simply ignore it if you try and compile with LDR. As a result, you dont need to specify HDR either anymore, as it defaults to that.

In order to use the new image based lighting you have 2 commands you can use

-realskylightscale #.#

we also added some experimental new static prop lighting into the game which is activated using the following


You can also add additional bounce passes for realsky/normal with

-transferscale #.#

We bake ambientocclusion into the static lighting (as ours doesnt currently use SSAO) with


The current game compiles were done with the following command string for vrad in expert compile (as we are still testing realsky and static3 in EB maps)

-smooth 45 -choptexlights -cascadeshadows -staticproppolys -staticproplighting -textureshadows -extrasky 32 -ambientocclusion

so to test out all the new stuff we’ve added (this is a full expert compile setting for the Black Mesa Engine).

-smooth 45 -choptexlights -extratransfers -transferscale 1.0 -cascadeshadows -staticproppolys -staticproplighting3 -realskylight -realskylightscale 1.0 -textureshadows -extrasky 32 -ambientocclusion

Some of these are still experimental - too much transferscale/extratransfer can overblow outdoor scenes so needs tweaking as thats related to static bounce, realsky may or may not work well with some skyboxes, depends on the colours. Interaction with colour correction entities can vary.

You’ll also see fair increases in compile times with transfer/static3/ambientocclusion - due to the additional bounces and calculations it makes on static props in a scene, especially if the map contains alot of displacements, you have been warned.

(example - second map of Inbound outdoor section )
11/12/2017 08:46 bm_c0a0b.vmf xen normal normal final 00:00:10 00:00:05 01:35:40 01:35:55


Great work everyone! Looking forward to play it!


Thanks for the tips. It doesn’t seem like either of those commands work, though, and looking through vrad_dll.dll it doesn’t seem like those strings are in the file. Was the new VRAD shipped?

That being said, it looks like all of the other commands are included. The new lighting looks great, and I can’t wait to play around with it.


it’s possible it wasnt shipped with this update, as its still very experimental and currently we aren’t using it in any of the Earth maps. However it will be fully available post Xen release, and we’ll likely have a full FAQ setup on how to work new lighting including dlights and all the new functions for those.


Is the picture of the Gonarch concept art or a (heavily edited, of course) screenshot?
PS: new vortigaunt eyes are spooky af


Having had a chance to do a quick look around and use the new crossbow, I have to say I disagree with the changes made with it. While the new scope model is really nice, I hate how using the scope now just instantly flips to what appears to be a flat texture drawn onto the HUD in a single frame. That’s going to have serious repercussions in multiplayer, since now people can quickscope, and it kind of breaks the immersion in singleplayer because there’s no in-between transition animation. Despite the lower-than-needed resolution and the occasional visual glitch, I liked having the rendertarget scope because it felt more like actually using a scope than every other game with their “fade to black, now you’re a giant flat reticule” scopes.

Because it did have some issues, I don’t expect you to bring the RT scope back, but is it possible we could see a sped-up version of the old “scope-in” and “scope-out” animations to smooth the transition between normal aiming and scoped aiming, similar to how CS:GO does with the AUG and SGs?

I haven’t played with the LJM yet, so I can’t speak for any of the new mechanics, but is it possible we could get a “Classic Long-Jump Controls” checkbox in the options menu, similar to the “Classic Iron-Sight” option? I know crouch-jumping is frowned upon in modern games, especially with the increased focus on physical accessibility, but it’d be nice to have the option for those of us who are used to the old controls, same as disabling auto-crouch jump.

New lighting looks awesome ingame, by the way - really like it, and I look forward to both seeing all the places you used it ingame (I only checked out the QE-ST transition tunnel so far, haven’t done a playthrough) and implementing it in my maps. Will report back with more feedback as I come up with it. :slight_smile:


Great update, I don’t know how to describe it. New features are awesome! But I think the effect of vortigaunt’s eyes is a bit exaggerated, hope for a little cut of it.
I have downloaded the new patch but I still want to know that when can we get the formal update, not via public beta?

And another question: Is this Xenengine the final update before Xen is coming out? Or you still need to release several more updates to us in the coming months for the bug fixes and game improvements?

Keep up your great work guys!
Hope we can play Xen as soon as we can, better in Spring, 2018.


are the new VMF’s Released or are we still 2 or 3 CU’s behind?

also can we have it so the custom folder works without having to modify game files please it makes modding far easier to accomplish when testing out certain things

also the snd_restart issue seems to be fixed hooray!

i plan on implementing some new fixes for dm_wgh then shippeda fixed version which no longer crashes on map load

also what happened to grenades getting thrown from the center of the screen? right now they still use the old throw system and are difficult to aim still

another thought can you make the shotgun do the pump animation before reloading? prevent BOOM BOOM RELOAD RELOAD RELOAD PUMP PUMP FIRE FIRE it makes the shotgun feel clunky TBH


I actually personally agree with you - I wanted the scope to have a smooth transition into the animation like the AUG/SG553 in CS:GO, but the brogrammers were pretty adamant it needed to be an instant kick in. I don’t know why. I brought it up a few times but…they think the way it is now works best. I can try and get them to look at it in the future but no promises. Don’t worry about MP - the Crossbow scope was always instant in MP, for balancing reasons.

I think we had plans to do a “Classic Long Jump” setting in the options menu. The whole options menu is pretty janky and broken right now because we basically don’t want to ever touch it. This is because we have a big new UI in the works - and that’s the one that we’re putting all the fancy, proper working knobs and bolts on. Even the options settings for the new dynamic lights we added are only semi-functional, so this will all HOPEFULLY be addressed with the actual Xen update. Fingers crossed.

We thought the Vort eye effect was a bit much too - never got around to adjusting it. We will hopefully be able to tone it down in the future.

We will put the update onto the live branch after we’re sure it’s relatively stable for more users. We will likely put out some hotfixes before the real Xen update, time permitting.


Black Mesa looks incredible now! Am I just imagining it or are the colours in general somehow different now? They look more balanced and realistic, not sure how to explain it…

So, lets say some dude made a new menu background mod (just the background, no other changes). When this new UI comes out, will it break this poor dudes background mod?


There is some problem with RPG accuracy.