The rumors of Black Mesa‘s death have been greatly exaggerated. It has, however, been over three years since Gordon Freeman went for an all-too-brief jog in his shiny new hazard suit. No, gaming’s favorite man of zero words and 1000 crowbar swings per minute hasn’t suddenly affixed a chainsaw to his gun or moved his adventures to an unnamed wartorn Middle Eastern setting, but a lot’s changed.
Once upon a time, this was Valve’s firstborn with a fresh coat of paint. Now, though, the Black Mesa team’s pouring its own blood, sweat, and tears into one of gaming’s most sacred holy grails – for better or worse. Only time will tell. But how much time? One more year? Two? Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (aka, a billion)? And what state is the remake in now? I spoke with project lead Carlos Montero about all of that and more.
The universe has a weird fondness for improbable coincidences. Name your franchise Half-Life, and it takes half a lifetime to come out. Create a robust mod based around a game in that franchise, and its development mirrors that of its crowbar-wielding, hazard-suit chic father series nearly one-to-one. The lofty promises, the incredibly lengthy periods of radio silence, the incessant cries of “vaporware” and “it’ll probably be a huge letdown” – all of it.
Maybe, though, that part’s not such a coincidence. To hear project lead Carlos Montero tell it, Black Mesa‘s an obsessively redesigned, rebuilt-from-the-ground-up love letter to Valve’s opus. The goal, then, is to improve on something already considered by many to be perfect. And that, as it’s turned out, has been a lot harder than Montero and his constantly fluctuating team first assumed. So, first up, we’re delving into what exactly has taken so long – especially in light of 2008′s rather stunning trailer that promised a release date of, er, three years ago.
The appearance of Valve’s Gabe Newell on the inaugral Seven Day Cooldown podcast seems to have generated all the headlines in the world. Apple’s new boss didn’t really visit Valve, DOTA2 will use a brand new kind of free-to-play and, now, why ‘Ricochet 2′ has been so long coming. There is, I’m afraid, absolutely no way that ‘Ricochet 2′ is a veiled term for another game rather than a sequel to weirdo Tron-like jumpy multiplayer mod Ricochet. And doubly-definitely not a game that might have a ‘Half’ in the title. No sirree. (more…)
Valve have created themselves an interesting situation. Presenting themselves as bastions of consumers, remarkably accessible to gamers, regularly inviting in groups of modders – often to give them jobs – and always being present to offer a quote on how customers deserve to be treated with more dignity, they establish themselves as being our friend. And then from that position, they sure do like to muck about. And as Eurogamer’s Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell mentioned on Twitter this morning, it’s hard not to sympathise with a growing body of Valve’s customers who are asking for better communication.
If there’s one downside of having an SSD as your main hard drive, it’s that you find yourself aggressively removing any and all games you’re not convinced you’ll play any time soon. And so it is that I have no Source-powered games on my PC right now, and need to sit through a 5GB SDK download just to play this 200MB mod. While I wait, I’ll show you what it is I’m waiting for – Water is a mini HL2 mod about a singing Mermaid with magic powers who isn’t wearing a shirt. No Jamaican lobsters and crying here though: this puzzle-blessed action-adventure makes fish-people all grimdark, by the look of things. (more…)
Something old for you today, which you may well have seen before, but I think it’s worth reminding people of. It’s Radiator. I’ve included something new for good measure, but nothing blue because this isn’t a wedding, it’s a little article about mods. Sorry if that’s disappointing. You’re going to be even more disappointed if you don’t like pretentious artsy mods. I’m talking the kind that have trailers with sombre piano music playing and try to evoke a sense of loss while definitely never having guns anywhere in them at all. Imagine you’ve walked into a small cinema in Paris. Instead of popcorn and nachos, the butler (for there is a butler) provides you with a glass of port and invites you to take a seat. He places a keyboard on your lap and a mouse in your hand.
Another Valve-inspired short film to enjoy this morning. Many years ago, John showed off part one of the Purchase Brothers guerrilla-style Half-Life homage, and now they’ve only gone and released part two. It uses the same blend of live action and game footage to fine effect. They spent $250 making this. To put that into context, Michael Bay spent 742 billion dollars on each of the Transformers films. This contains marginally less robots hitting one another but otherwise it’s far superior. Remember to watch in HD.
Okay, Internet! Okay. I’ll play
It’s brilliant. Exquisite, even. I can’t spoil it by talking about it, but there’s a trailer below, if you want to take a look. But you shouldn’t look. You should play it.
Half-Life – Singularity Collapse is an impressive Half-Life 2 fan movie which you can see below. It’s a first-person movie, and features quite a bit of the protagonist looking at his hands, for some reason. Fortunately it’s also heavy on the action, including a Highway 17 style buggy driving sequence, which is particularly awesome. It’s not short on the special effects, either, with a bonkers hi-tech reactor sequence, explosions, HUD weirdness, and lots of explosions and gunplay. Worth a watch, I would say.
With Bellevue’s finest
Well, in August we might find out.