Well, I don’t usually drop by the main website since I directly come here, but I have to say, this redesign looks pretty awesome! Usually I’m not a fan of flat desing, because it’s more often than not badly used, but here it really shines, great job! My only complaint is that for some reason, it lags as hell on my computer (which is quite beefy and I have a pretty good internet speed so I don’t really understand where it comes from)
Yeah, my guess for lags are 5 videos playing at the same time. For my PC it is also pain to scroll down, but could also depend on browser.
On a minor slightly off topic note
The devs had better add dev commentary modes similar to EP1 and EP2 once xen is done. I want to hear about development in game and just hear the history of black mesa. I will rage until it happens.
Really awesome job as always.
I have ideas/suggestions/complaints and so on about this, enough to fill a few books. But let me just say the few important ones. It is on topic if you read it all, but I will be using references from the rest of the game.
In the original Half-Life, you are never truly lost and it is a good thing. In the original there are cues in place to let you know about where to go and what you need to do. In Black Mesa, these are sometimes lost. For example, while it looks really nice, Lambda Core level is very poorly designed in this aspect. Even though I played the original like a 100 times, I couldn’t figure out what to do or where to go after activating the coolant systems. Maybe this is not really a problem for everyone, but if I didn’t look it up online, I don’t think I would have been able to figure it out. (and if other people didn’t have this problem, I wouldn’t find their topics about the subject, so lets not pretend the problem isn’t there). There are no cues or any indications about where to go or what to do. Running around doesn’t lead anywhere unless you are very lucky. Another example would be the Surface Tension level, where you have to get on the tower, pick targets trough a monitor and kill the Gargantua. But the monitor is very fidgety and it doesn’t always function properly, when you click fire, it sometimes doesn’t. But then again, ignoring that, until you kill the Gargantua it still works well enough, it is just that for most people, you might not have any idea about what to do after killing it. I kept launching missiles towards the gate, thinking you could break it or something. (I don’t remember that part from the original well enough but clearly that was never a problem) Since that wouldn’t work I thought it was a bug and kept reloading my game. Until I found out by looking it up over the net that I was supposed to hit the antenna to make a bridge over the wall… how the hell was I supposed to know that? Nothing else is breakable, the missiles clearly doesn’t at all damage anything else including the gate. It is just so poorly designed. So, since from what I understand you are making Xen much bigger and longer than the original, please do something to prevent those issues.
Also, your game is very unbalanced, I looked at the Gonarch screenshot and just thought, well, that will take around 150 or so missiles to kill. For example, while fighting the HECU soldiers, sometimes they wont even die from a revolver shot in the head, yet they are able to shoot you with a shotgun from any distance and do massive damage to your health and armor. It gets even more ridiculous as some shotgun soldiers will start running towards you and able to kill you with a single shot while your weapons (even though they are exactly the same) are largely ineffective towards them. Even the easy setting makes little to no difference on this. If you don’t take cover after seeing a single soldier, you are dead under a few seconds. I am all for making the game harder, but clearly this isn’t the way to go in my opinion. I would hate it if Xen too turned into a chore like this.
In what we got now, some textures seem to be really low quality (maybe they are starting to show their age), I recently replayed the whole thing (yesterday in fact) and noticed quite a examples of this. Tram textures for example, it is way more noticeable where there is something written. Some of the old textures simply wont mix well with the new ones. This brings up an inconsistency that isn’t really a huge problem, but just so incredibly displeasing. I am really hoping that wont be a problem with Xen as well.
And finally, this is more of a question but… with the huge release that is on the horizon, is there any possibility of bringing some of the original actors on board? I mean, this isn’t simply a mod anymore, it is a game that sells well. Why not bring the HL2 voice actors of Gman and Kleiner? (Since they do not even have that many lines) I know this isn’t possible for Eli Vance anymore but still. (Maybe you guys can find someone who sounds a bit more like him)
Where to start with this?
With regards to visual cues, we use them plenty. Although our game has its weak moments, as with anything else, I think we generally do a very good job of guiding players and keeping them on task. The reason you never got lost in HL1 is because every corridor is simple and empty. It’s hard to get lost because the world has very little visual detail, and generally has pretty uniform lighting. That, and everything is a lot smaller. Your two examples are both outliers with regards to the rest of the game, in my view. The Garg section is somewhat poorly thought out, I agree. I’d like to change it someday. Lambda Core is somewhat intentionally kind of confusing and labyrinthe. That one is more of a matter of taste - I find it fitting for the theme of the chapter and the fact that it used to be the conclusion to our game (and still is, to an extent, it’s the conclusion of Earthbound at the very least). We have been designing Xen with clear navigation in mind first and foremost. Thus far, testers have all uniformly been able to find their ways around the maps without getting lost or frustrated.
Then, your paragraph about game balance. If you disagree with some aspects of our game’s balance, that’s fine, but do you really have to write it in this manner? Let’s stick to things we can verify and actual facts. It’s literally impossible for a .357 headshot to NOT kill a Marine. On ANY difficulty. I just tested it, both by checking the code values and by testing in-game on hard difficulty. The .357 does 45 damage, with a 2x headshot multiplier. The Commander (strongest HGrunt type) has 70 health. A headshot will always kill him. Fire up godmode and test it yourself. If a headshot doesn’t kill him, you’re either using a custom difficulty mod, or something’s messed up in your/the game, or (and probably more likely) you’re not landing headshots when you think you are. On a separate note, our Marines have way less health than in HL1. They are considerably easier to kill then they were in the original. Your examples of poor balance revolve entirely around the HECU. Given that the HECU do not feature in Xen, I find it quite odd that you extrapolate this to think Xen will be too difficult. We’ve worked super hard to make the Gonarch a balanced and fun encounter, without him being bullet spongey. Your assuming (based on no real evidence) that Gonarch will be absurdly tanky has no basis in reality, in my view.
The topic of texture quality is moot. Earthbound was developed over a period of nearly 7 years across a huge variety of iterations by a mod team that is mostly different people now, so it’s only natural that there’s some disparity in assets and quality. We’ve already done a lot with the retail release to rectify some of this - remaking a lot of stock Source assets and pimping up our older ones. This is just a necessary evil for how old some parts of our game are. Again, given that all of Xen’s development has happened over the course of 2 years and is being treated as a cohesive, high quality, retail product, developed by a consistent team, do you really think the same problems will be present? It doesn’t really logically make sense, when you stop and think about it. Some team members (such as myself) would even like to go back and revisit some areas in Earthbound once Xen is out, but that’s a question of if, not when. It may not happen, given time and priorities.
Replacing voice actors, my question is…why? Mike Hillard and Kevin Sisk are TEAM MEMBERS and both gave tremendous and memorable performances as their characters, that are so close to the originals that many people think they are actually the original voice actors. Why would we need to replace them with Valve’s voice actors? Why would Valve allow us to do that? Why would we pay for that? Where’s the upside for anyone?
That said, none of what you posted is really on-topic. You basically posted complaints about Earthbound and then said “I HOPE NONE OF THIS APPLIES TO XEN,” when realistically NOT VERY MUCH OF IT AT ALL can apply to Xen, and when you don’t even know how Xen is designed, structured, or arted. I would ask that you please keep more on topic than this.
You might rage forever then, I’m afraid ;(
First of all, I am sorry. Maybe what I wrote seemed more like I was attacking your work or something (somehow?!) when it was only meant to be constructive criticism. You don’t have to be defensive with me, I have been a fan of this project since it was just a few basic remade maps. Unlike many other games, I bought it and love it despite its faults. In fact most of what I consider to be wrong with it was present even before you guys got to greenlight and I still bought it knowingly. (For instance, a while there I really hated the Sector C Lobby, as it was already remade by Valve in Episode 2, but even that has grown on me a little over the years.)
Now that I am sure you understand I am not trying to bad mouth your game, I wanted to say ALL MY CONCERNS ARE REAL. You might wish to ignore and say “well he is just talking nonsense” as it suits you better, but you must realize that doesn’t change the facts I have given you.
I played Black Mesa and HL2 back to back yesterday. While I absolutely LOVE both games and the combat in HL2 was never the greatest ever made, it is still better balanced than Black Mesa. For example (and this is just one example out of many) you can always run and gun, dash trough enemies in HL1, you can always do the same in HL2, but try to do that in Black Mesa’s version of Surface Tension next time. Without taking cover mind you, no cheating. You will be dead in seconds and unless you are really really lucky this outcome wont change. I can hear you say “well thats not the point”, but it is very much the point. And my concern about Xen creatures being bullet sponges that does massive damage largely comes naturally from the Earthbound. Not to forget you conveniently missed my point about soldiers with shotguns who are able to shoot you from vast distances with the precision of a surgeon.
You said “You basically posted complaints about Earthbound and then said “I HOPE NONE OF THIS APPLIES TO XEN,” when realistically NOT VERY MUCH OF IT AT ALL can apply to Xen, and when you don’t even know how Xen is designed, structured, or arted.” without even realizing thats the real problem. How the hell would I know? I just raised my concerns. You could have just pointed out that my concerns were ill founded, I would have been fine with that actually. My texture related concerns come from how long it has been in the development, for all I know there could have been 10 year old textures in there.
Lastly because maybe you have forgotten, GETTING LOST IN A GAME WITHOUT A CLEAR OBJECTIVE IS NOT FUN MOST OF THE TIME AND IT CAN GET A BIT FRUSTRATING, and it is not something many would call a good design no matter how much you argued that it is…
But lets forget about all that for a second, I LOVE YOUR GAME, I ABSOLUTELY ADORE IT, I ONLY WANT THE BEST FOR IT, PLEASE DON’T HURT ME NO MORE! (Maybe it is never going to happen but I even want DLC’s for it, I would absolutely pay for Blue Shift, Opposing Force and Decay DLC’s for Black Mesa and one of your own members was already working on Blue Shift until a little while ago… hint hint. wink wink)
I do actually agree with a couple of your points. As for Lambda Core, it’s certainly pretty easy to get lost in there, though that can mostly be attributed to how similar the corridors and rooms look. As for the Gargantua thing, blowing up the antenna is a little arbitrary perhaps. And yes, I do believe that some of the earthbound chapters look a little dusty compared to the newer additions to the game, but that is to be expected (nevertheless, I wish the team revisited some of the older chapters, at least to some degree).
Voice actors are totally fine though in my eyes. They’re great. And as for the HECU, yeah, you definitely didn’t hit their heads, unless the the hitboxes were a little wonky.
At any rate, I do believe that textfamguy reacted a little defensively perhaps, though in his defense it’s very difficult to read somebody’s intentions through text. And you could have phrased yourself a little better/ more clearly at times
Aw, I’m a little bummed out to hear this. I can totally understand that there are way more important things to worry about for you guys, but is there really not a shadow of a possibility that you might do developer commentaries at one point? The developer commentaries are one of my favourite things about Valve games, and I feel like you guys have some very interesting stories and anecdotes to tell.
C’mon now, how have I “hurt” you apart from rebuking your points with my own opinion? At no point did I suggest that I thought your opinion wasn’t constructive criticism, nor do I feel like I was defensive. I addressed what you said and that’s it. That isn’t defensive, that’s just a response. I didn’t even deny your concerns were real. I denied that they were particularly relevant to the topic at hand, and I felt like they didn’t hold up upon further scrutiny. If you disagree with me, fine, but there’s not really much of a need to act hurt about it. I appreciate the apology, but don’t worry, it’s not needed. I take no personal issue whatsoever with what you said beyond disagreeing with it. You’re free to express your concerns - I would just prefer that they stuck to a relevant thread. I don’t feel like what you said was terribly relevant to Xen or to the media update. It belongs somewhere else, in my opinion.
With regards to your comment about running through enemies, your “test” for balance seems fairly arbitrary to me. I don’t see how being able to run through enemies in HL1 or HL2 makes them objectively “better balanced” (your words). If you want that point to be valid, you’ll have to explain to me why that’s conducive to better balanced gameplay. I’m not sure it is. For this area, my point is that you expressed that your concern about Xen’s balance comes from the HECU on Earthbound. The HECU aren’t in Xen. The HECU in our game aren’t bullet sponges in the slightest, in my view. They actually WERE in HL1, but in our game they’re toned down significantly. The Xenians in our game aren’t particularly bullet spongey either (nor did you ever suggest that they were in your argument). I don’t see how any of your points really add up to your conclusions about Xen, which is why I dispute your argument. With regard to me “conveniently missing” your point about Shotgun soldiers, that’s simply because there’s no good way to respond to that point. I don’t feel like the shotgun soldiers do that whatsoever. Their Shotguns have high spread and relatively low damage (particularly compared to the player’s one). My feeling is that the shotgun soldiers are actually UNDERPOWERED for what they’re meant to be. Thus, there’s no way to settle those thoughts unless you expand on your opinion. You think they’re too good, I don’t. No way forward. No need to respond.
Then, your point about Xen. I would suggest that what I stated is pretty logical if you think about it for a moment, or if you look at any of our recent newer material (MP maps, Surface Tension Uncut, Xen screenshots, etc). Xen’s only been in the works for the past 2 and a half years, it’s not been in development for 10 years like the rest of the game. I thought that was pretty common knowledge.
Then, there’s this part:
This annoyed me a little, I’ll admit. Obviously I know that, our game has been designed against that as much as possible. Xen has been designed against that as much as possible. We’re not idiots. I’ve never argued that getting lost without a clear objective is good design. Show me where I stated that above. There’s no need to twist my argument and strawman me when I think I was reasonably clear with what I stated above. If I wasn’t, tell me where I should expand, and I’ll happily do so. Naturally it’s always good to give the player a clear objective and clear navigation. It can be very challenging to do so. As I said above, I consider Lambda Core to be somewhat of an exception due to its place in the game and the theme of the chapter. I wasn’t saying that getting lost or confused is good, I was saying that if you were going to be there at some point in our game, Lambda Core is the most appropriate place for such a style of design.
Why are you talking about me like I can’t read what you say or I’m not here ?
I just want stuff in the right threads!
Sad that I am going to rage forever. But I can understand why you guys will not do dev comentary after reading that over seven years with different people line. IT just wouldn’t be possible.
Maybe it would work for just xen?
Regarding the Dev Commentary -
I think part of the problem could be that if you put a microphone in front of a dev member and tell them, “Ok, talk about the level you designed”, most of them would draw up a blank. Especially when you have been on the team for 5 years and are asked to tell us something unusually different, so you stumble trying to encompass all that has happened during the 5 years. Something interesting enough that the majority would enjoy it or even find it somewhat useful/interesting information.
Case in point. I did the voice over for inbound. But what exactly could I say about it? Um… That in the original game I used to practice sounding like the tram system lady? And then years later I squealed “pick me pick me” when they announced they opened up the jobs to the public? See what I mean, that isn’t very interesting at all to tell you the truth. From a gamer’s perspective, I would be rather stupefied if something so boring wound up in a game I was playing.
At least say something like: ‘After 15 years in development, hopefully, it will be worth the weight’ or so
Well, it could also be something among the lines of Half-Life 2 update commentary, like thoughts, trivia and stuff, or the challenges encountered during production, not necesseraly a “explain that particular thing you did”
Edit: Or a dev commentary playthrough like bungie did with Halo 1 and 2, very laid back and funny, yet interresting
Just make Valve do the commentary on what things would be like if they’d designed the game. Or any game
Yeah, because requesting something arbitrary and unnecessary, such as funny commentaries, right when they´re in the homestrecth of finishing Xen, isn´t needy at all. You´d need a developer to be comfortable to be sitting next to a mic and then you´d need the commentary to be carefully written so that it would be completely coherent. After that someone has to cut it and edit it. Sounds like a lot of work with a very little pay-off.
Once Xen is said and done, then they might think about adding some flavor content… if they feel like it. As stated above, I don’t think the devs are in mood for a commentary.
It would be something akin to: ‘we are super tired and burnt out’ or so
I just hope we get On a Rail Uncut Retail once Xen is done and TextFamGuy will have come back from a vacation, all rested and inspired
It’s not like I’m pushing on you or anything like that of course
Chon had said many times that On a Rail Uncut would not be added to the retail version, even though I really hope he would change his mind. What they will do is probably fixing and improving the game according to the feedback after Xen.
No one is requesting anything, we’re just throwing ideas on what would be nice to get as bonus once they feel comfortable doing so when Xen is done, no need to be so snarky about it.
As you remember, in the original HL during the resonance cascade player are teleported to some xen areas. In BM those areas were cut. So idea is - release those scenes as some kind of teaser to xen, when you are really nearing the actual xen release.
that either means you’ve never really did anything xen related until latter part of 2016, or that you’ve started making it from scratch several times. Either of these don’t fill me with optimism.