Feb 11, 2013
Shacknews - Steve Watts
PC Gamer noted that both of the Steam pages (Half-Life, Counter-Strike) now sport the familiar Linux logo. The push for Linux support goes hand-in-hand with some of Valve's other recent ideas, including Big Picture mode and the Steam Box. All three initiatives seem set to work in conjunction to spearhead Valve's entrance into the living room.
Dec 17, 2012
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
The Black Mesa mod is a remarkable accomplishment, remaking Half-Life in the Source engine, and now a mapper building upon their work has remade another slice of Valve history. Black Mesa: Uplink remakes HL's classic Uplink demo, which curiously for a demo was a new slice based upon levels cut from the game during development. And now that's available in shiny Source-o-vision.
Black Mesa: Uplink is out now on its ModDB page and here on Shacknews. To play, you'll need to own a modern Source game on Steam and have the Black Mesa mod installed. Mapper Michael 'Hezus' Jansen made Uplink over three months, building upon the assets and eight years of work from Black Mesa.
Set roughly around Half-Life's Lambda Core chapter, Uplink sees Gordon Freeman on a mission to activate a radio antenna so people can escape, only an awful lot of soldiers, mutants, aliens, radiation leaks and jumping puzzles are in his way.
"I've recreated something people played 13 years ago, that means it's intertwined with nostalgic feelings," Jansen said in the release announcement. "Have I recreated it according to their past experience? Have I changed too much? Have I changed too little? All I know is that I threw away all illusions that I could please everyone with this remake, right when I started the project. I made it as I saw fit and I hope the commentary tracks will shed some light on my choices."
Shacknews - Andrew Yoon
Fans have been eagerly awaiting Gordon Freeman's next adventure. While the Half-Life series has been long-dormant, an incredibly talented team of dedicated fans recently released Black Mesa--a remake of the first game created entirely in an updated version of the Source engine. While not officially sanctioned by Valve, the company has made no effort blocking the remake--odd, considering the typical C&D approach taken by other monolithic publishers.
So why is Valve so supportive of fan remakes? "This feels like pretty common sense," Valve's Chet Faliszek said. "Why wouldn't we? I guess you'd have to convince me of the benefits to the other side."
VG247 pointed out that companies are trying to protect their interests, "blocking anything that could tarnish the reputation of their products."
"Well, let's say that Black Mesa Source turned out horrible. It's not going to hurt the original Half-Life," Faliszek responded, as the interviewer noted that the original game still exists even after the release of a fan-remake.
Thankfully, Black Mesa turned out to be not-horrible, with Faliszek praising the remake's "excellent graphics." It also provided the Valve writer an opportunity to revisit the original game, something he hasn't played since working on Half-Life 2: Episode Two--which released back in 2007.
Sep 14, 2012
Shacknews - Steve Watts
Grab your crowbars and spectacles, everyone. The Source engine fan remake of the original Half-Life is now available. It went live at 8:47 AM Mountain Time, which should sound awfully familiar to fans. The labor of love has taken eight years and has added a few notable tweaks to the classic, with at least one more revision on the way post-launch.
The Source mod has added some new bits of dialogue, and plans to make revisions to the Xen portion of the game sometime in the future. It opted to remove that part completely from the initial release. Other than those changes, it will be a much prettier version of Half-Life. The excitement was enough to garner a spot in the first batch of Steam's Greenlight program, and chances are we have more than a few Half-Life enthusiasts in the Shacknews audience.
Also available is the full soundtrack for your listening pleasure. Download it from us.
Shacknews - John Keefer
Welcome back from the long weekend, Shack. Hope you had a relaxing Labor Day. While I was supposed to have the holiday off, I still got a few hours in yesterday on a project I have been working on for more than two months, and you finally got to see the start of it yesterday.
David Craddock, author and Shacker since 2005, posted in Chatty back in mid-June about a book he was working on about Blizzard Entertainment, called Stay Awhile and Listen. Now, anything we post on Blizzard usually does great traffic on Shack, so it immediately got the rusty gears in my head cranking. When I was at GameSpy, I had worked with author David Kushner to publish a chapter of Masters of Doom that site as the book was about to come out, so I proposed the same idea to David C., this time for the Shack audience. He was agreeable, having a bond with Chatty and the Shack crowd. We went back and forth for several weeks, discussing excerpts and ideas, and we finally came upon a format. Starting with yesterday's feature, we will publish several stories like that from the book on a regular basis. The grand finale will be Shacknews posting a full chapter from Stay Awhile and Listen, along with an in-depth interview with David C., over the course of a week beginning Monday, October 29.
We've pretty much agreed on the chapter (no spoilers here, sorry), but we'll tease you with stories from the development of the Diablo series, the Warcraft series (including that big MMO) and StarCraft, as well as tidbits from the days of Condor (later Blizzard North), and Silicon & Synpase (later Blizzard Entertainment). If the feedback to the first article is any indication, you guys should enjoy what we have planned. Thanks to David C. for being such a willing participant.
Unfortunately for Paragon Studios, one of its superheroes will not be swooping in to save it from villain NCSoft. The developer of City of Heroes will be closed, and operation of the superhero/supervillain MMO will be terminated by the end of the year. With Guild Wars 2 doing so well, maybe NCSoft can see clear to shuffle some of the displaced Paragon staff off to ArenaNet, which has its hands full with its well-received MMO. Well, it's a thought.
Black Mesa is finally coming (we hope). A countdown clock has appeared on the dev site a few days ago, with zero hour on September 14, and we can only hope the team behind the highly anticipated mod can deliver. It's been eight years in the making, and being teased with a leaked video didn't help. This is such big news that even the BBC reported it. The team has promised everything that Half-Life had to offer, but in a prettier updated-Source-engine package that offers some minor changes. Well, all except the Xen section, which will be added later. I'm not going to miss that part in the slightest, but I really can't wait to try it. As hanged_man called it, this has been the Duke Nukem Forever of anticipated mods. Let's hope it fares a lot better.
Random bits & Quick hits: If you aren't excited enough by Dishonored, Bethesda has offered you some more prodding. The free Rat Assassin app has you slicing and dicing plague rats and using your powers to get high scores. Dishonored is already high on my wish list, but I still like the app ... Okay, it's a sequel, but it's not called Final Fantasy XIII-3. It's Lightning Returns and Square Enix will bring an end to the trilogy. Are you excited by this or disappointed that there is nothing to report on FF Versus XIII? ... By all accounts, PAX Prime was a success, and Steve told me he has a ton of content to get to this week. Watch for previews and interviews from his trip.
Flashback: While the closing of Paragon is a shame for all involved, it got me thinking about the studio that I was saddest to see fold up shop. I'd have to go with Looking Glass Studios (loved System Shock and Thief so much), followed closely by Ensemble. What studio do you miss the most?
Have a great short week, Shack.
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Sep 2, 2012
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
You thought the day would never come, and it still hasn't quite yet, but Black Mesa now has a release date. After eight years of development, the fan remake of Half-Life in the Source engine will be released on September 14. Except it won't be quite complete; the team is still working on expanding HL's reviled Xen section and plans to release it later.
Come September 14, we should--in theory, if they really mean it this time--be able to return to the Black Mesa complex, project lead 'cman2k' announced on the mod's forum. The mod recreates Valve's classic FPS with all the polygons, shaders, particles, and gratuitous physics objects we expect from the Source Engine.
It's not an exact remake, mind. The team is adding extra touches like new lines of dialogue, while Xen will be far from the unpleasant little ending section we all know and hate when it arrives.
"Xen is going to basically be a complete game in its own right, it's not going to be just an epilogue to the game; more of a whole new chapter," lead developer 'Raminator' explained. "It'll be pretty well expanded." Work on Xen is already underway and the team hopes to finish it "in a reasonable timeframe," so hopefully we won't need to wait until the year 2020.
cman2k added, "We believe this is a great way to provide a complete-feeling 8-10 hour experience with a solid ending, make our fans happy and help us make the best overall game possible."
The soundtrack is now available for your listening and purchasing pleasure.
Aug 7, 2012
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
The Half-Life remake mod Black Mesa really is coming, and now a leaked video confirmed as real has surfaced with a peek at its jazzed-up 'On a Rail' chapter. You know, that frightful section with the tedious trains then glorious rocket launch.
"The build featured in the video is between four and five weeks old," he explained. "You won't be seeing very many changes between what's in the video and what's in the final product."
As for the iron sights aiming seen on the revolver, a feature not in the original Half-Life, that's only available for the .357 and crossbow, boosting accuracy a little but lowering firing speed. After fans grumbled about seeing this in the leaked video, an option's been added to disable it.
Raminator says that following the leak, the team is going to be "moving some things forward" when it comes to showing us more of the long, long, long-in-development mod.
Some frankly unwatchable footage of an early version of the 'Surface Tension' chapter has also been leaked, though darned if I can see anything in it.
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
We may have seen the final release of Half-Life co-op mod Sven Co-op last week, but oh, it's far from over. It's getting a free standalone release on Steam, and Valve has given the team engine access to tinker under the hood and add new features.
The free release through Steam will include the base Half-Life campaign so everyone can play without even owning it, the announcement explains.
"Full engine access will allow many previously impossible features to be added to the game, as well as new functionality for Half-Life's level editor," team leader Daniel Fearon said elsewhere. The announcement specifically mentions "larger and more detailed" levels.
The mod's been going for a staggering fifteen years, but apparently is still warming up.
Jun 10, 2012
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
After eight years of development and several years of silence, it seems Black Mesa may be coming. No, seriously this time. The fans remaking Valve's Half-Life as a Source Engine mod have shared new screenshots, teasing that there's more news to come. At some point. Hopefully.
The eight screenshots came after a campaign to drum up attention with 'Likes' on that social networking thing Facebook. I don't know, kids these days! Back in my time, you'd simply send your mod news to sCary's ShugaShack.
"You can expect more updates from us in the near future," the dev team said. "This is just the beginning. We have more in store for you in the near future! Hold on to your lab coats!"
But why has Black Mesa taken so long? Well, it turns out there are a fair few hurdles to overcome when a volunteer team attempts to "reimagine" one of the most-acclaimed games of all time with professional quality. Project lead Carlos Montero explained it all in a recent two-part interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, which is well worth a read if you're interested.
Oct 30, 2011
Shacknews - Shack Staff
Released in 1998, Half-Life set the stage for story-driven first-person shooters. Widely considered one of the best games of all time, the original Half-Life is a welcome addition to our list of classics. After the break, the Shacknews community tells their stories and impressions of Half-Life, and answer why they feel it's deserving of a spot on our list of classics.
Replayed it a few times, and a few times on source. What always surprises me is how well it flows, from combat to puzzle," Shacker nutcrackr wrote, adding that the Team Fortress Classic mod stole hours from his life. "Half Life is probably my 2nd all time favorite game, behind Deus Ex." Coincidently, Deus Ex was the first game inducted into the Moby Games Classic series.
"One of the games that truly marked a spot on my life and really opened me up to what could be done on a PC, which was great since I came from a pure console background till about 13," edge198 admitted.
Beyond the fact that Half-Life was awarded "over 50 Game of the Year awards" when it launched, it helped usher in a new era of gaming. Titles like Counter-Strike owe their creation and success to Half-Life's development and Valve's support of its passionate community.
"The bad thing about classic games is they are dated. If someone has never played Half Life and decided to play through it they would wonder what the fuss was all about. But honestly that person would have to play other FPS's that existed prior to Half Life to understand what that game did to the industry," Shacker dookiebot says. "It was the little things about Half Life that took the FPS to a whole new experience.
Marrbe agrees, noting that by "modern standards" Half-Life may seem humble. "But in ? Going through an underground research facility with things going on left and right, an information and safety announcer, moody ambient music, and opening credits? That was memorable."
That is what makes a classic. A title that remains memorable for years after launch. A title that, when you ask for memories from a gaming community, brings in a flood of positive reaction.
Check out the original Chatty thread for more stories and memories from the original Half-Life.
Description: Black Mesa Research Facility is an ultra-secret laboratory under government contract, conducting top-secret and extremely volatile experiments, where the protagonist Gordon Freeman works. One particular morning, Freeman makes his way to the office for an ordinary and scheduled experiment. However, when the experiment initiates, Gordon realizes that it might not be as ordinary as he thought. Chaos ensues and aliens from the planet Xen begin to flood the complex. Gordon is then thrust into a new role: one of defender and survivor of the Black Mesa complex.
Moby Games Classic is our chance to look back at the games that helped shape the video game industry with the help of our sister site MobyGames.com. It combines a short history lesson on the title and anecdotes from the Shacknews community.