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Black Mesa: Source Is Back, Kicks Off New Media Campaign

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Pretty sure there’s pigs flying outside.

Black Mesa: Source Is Back, Kicks Off New Media Campaign

The Black Mesa development team have re-emerged, after an eerie 2-year radio silence. Their first new media release, titled “A Red Letter Day!, offers us 8 new screenshots from several of the mod’s chapters: Blast Pit; Power Up; Questionable Ethics; and Surface Tension:

Thank you all so much, it’s really great to have your support! With your help we have now kicked off our social-media campaign towards our first release! You can expect more updates from us in the near future. Today we are sharing this fantastic batch of screenshots that really gives you the first glimpse into the gameplay of Black Mesa. This is just the beginning. We have more in store for you in the near future! Hold on to your lab coats!

Here are the 8 screenshots, in all their high-res glory:

This is taken from the very start of Half-Life’s seventh chapter, Power Up. Here we see the Gargantua taking on a squad of government soldiers. The Gargantua’s flame attack seems a bit… too exaggerated, and the soldier’s muzzle flash looks pretty awkward, but it looks pretty damn impressive overall. Nice.

This is from Half-Life’s fourteenth chapter, Lambda Core. The way the portals have been placed is… pretty primitive and silly (nothing to even remotely indicate that the portals are or aren’t supposed to be there), but the new detail looks splendid and the lighting is gorgeous. Good stuff.

This is somewhere in Half-Life’s eleventh chapter: Questionable Ethics. The level looks absolutely incredible – just get a load of those whiteboards! But I’m a bit let down by the fact that the team is simply using reskinned HL2 content for the Vortigaunts. And I don’t just mean the Vortigaunts themselves, which are simply using the EP2 model and skin, with no modifications whatsoever. No - their slave collars and bracelets are actually reskinned versions of the Combine bonds that HL2′s Vorts carried, which is something that most fans should be able to recognize.

Apart from that, I’d have liked the Vortigaunts themselves to look a bit different. Maybe looking a bit malnourished, much like they did in HL2 (not to be confused with Episode Two’s version of the Vortigaunt, seen in this exact screenshot). As it is, it’s sort of lazy.

Still in Questionable Ethics – this time in the lobby of the Advanced Biological Research Lab. Looking pretty good, and quite authentic. They even kept the ABRL’s original logo and slogan – “Superbus via Inscientiae“, meaning “Pride through Ignorance“. Looks pretty great!

Seems to still be in Questionable Ethics, although just like the Vortigaunt screenshot, this seems to be either an entirely new area, or a radically redesigned one. This looks like a holding tank for the Alien Grunts, although I have no idea why it’s on fire. But who cares – it looks awesome!

Starting to sound like a broken record here, but yes – still Questionable Ethics. This is definitely a new area, as the ABRL never featured any freezer areas. Notice the new Alien Grunts – they look pretty amazing! Can’t wait to go up against these guys.

Now we’re in Half-Life’s twelfth, and perhaps most memorable chapter: Surface Tension. Here, the player has just shot down a V-22 Osprey heliplane at the Topside Motorpool’s main heliport. Looks absolutely incredible, but those two random jets of flame on either sides of the Osprey’s fuselage look really, really odd.

In addition, note how the RPG launcher says “Black Mesa Research Facility property” on the side. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Black Mesa would have any need for anti-armor ordnance, and HL1 implied pretty clearly that the military had brought these things in. So maybe have it say “Santego Military Base property”, for a nice reference to HL: Opposing Force. Apart from that, everything looks pretty great – I approve.

The final screenshot depicts Half-Life’s eighth chapter, Blast Pit. I like the excessively green toxic waste – it reminds me of the good old times. Aside from that, not much else really of note regarding this screenshot. The bullsquid looks pretty cool and fearsome, and the architecture looks good.

Overall, a solid first media release to start off the mod’s new media campaign. Looking forward to seeing more in the near future – keep an eye on Black Mesa’s official Facebook page, as that’s where they’ll likely be focusing their media efforts first and foremost. Also, just in case they hold future media releases hostage in exchange for more Facebook likes again.


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  1. That waste looks much more greener, almost as if it’s alive!

  2. Why is the burden of proof on me? You’re the one complaining about the shackles not being different. You should be the one justifying yourself.

    All you have to go on is one Vortigaunt locked in a room with a metrocop in the trainstation & another dead in nova prospekt. That’s what you’re basing your “shackles inhibit electrical attacks” theory on. Mine is based on how the model was changed over the course of HL2′s development cycle. You ask me to provide evidence, but all you provide is baseless speculation & theory. It’s time you posted some actual evidence for a change.

    • The burden of proof is on you because you’re the one who’s trying to prove something to me: a bizarre hypothesis that’s not corroborated by any official game sources. I don’t need to justify myself, given that none of the Half-Life games indicate what you are trying to tell me – so you need to justify yourself, my friend.
      And all you have to go on is the non-canon HL2 leak: a couple gigabytes of development content a German teenager released almost a decade ago. And that means nothing. Let me explain just why: you don’t have any parts of the official games themselves to go on… because that whole idea from the leak was scrapped, which naturally means you can’t use it as evidence. Besides, you don’t even know for sure, since your so-called evidence is just more speculation, because you can’t actually know for sure what Valve intended to do. You don’t even have any way of proving that the shackles all the Vortigaunts wore in the leak are not Combine shackles, do you? Can’t you notice that they literally look nothing like the HL1 shackles, in both form and color? Did you even have a legitimate source for those claims? And you have nothing else apart from that – just re-read your own comments.
      And aside from that, I’m afraid you’ve offered no actual evidence. Just some convoluted, entirely baseless speculation that makes no sense when put up against that which is clearly implicated in the games themselves. Meanwhile, everything that I’ve told you fits with the actual Half-Life storyline, and is generally accepted by most of the fanbase. I’ve explained why your theory makes no sense, but you don’t seem to be listening – you certainly didn’t try to acknowledge it in any way.

      • I don’t need to justify MYSELF, given that none of the Half-Life games indicate what YOU are trying to tell ME. I don’t see how anti-electricity shackles are “clearly implicated in the games themselves”. I’ve said it before, I didn’t see any humans punching or kicking metrocops to try and escape throughout HL2, that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of doing so. The same can be said about the Vortigaunts & their powers.

        As for the fact that they “look nothing like the HL1 shackles, in both form and color?” I could almost make the same argument about the Vortigaunts themselves with the differences in appearance from HL1 & 2. The color changed, the texture changed, their posture & proportions changed, they lost two eyes & a few fingers. But at least in HL2 their collar still has a loop on the back of the neck & they have metal things on their wrists, since that’s all their shackles really even were in HL1.

        • Whatever awkward arguments you are trying to make regarding burden of proof aren’t going to change the fact that you have no evidence at all. Again – the burden of proof was on you; you failed to give me any actual evidence… but we’re still at it. Meanwhile, I gave you plenty of reasons for why I believe what I believe – and that is more than enough. But you failed to acknowledge or address them, and you did not offer any rebuttal.
          And if you actually think the Half-Life games don’t indicate what I am trying to tell you, then no offense, but you wouldn’t know much about Half-Life to begin with. But you also don’t seem to know much about the argument at hand – I’m not talking about the possibility of the shackles being anti-electricity. I haven’t brought that up in several comments, so I don’t even see why you’re so fixated on that. Please pay attention to what I’m saying.
          Uh… you could make that argument, but it’d be a stupid argument. The Vorts didn’t change much, really. Meanwhile, the shackles look nothing alike – they’re hardly green, they’re not very reflective, there’s two metal loops instead of one, the wrist shackles don’t go all the way around the hand; and there’s the aforementioned codpiece, which was never in Half-Life to begin with. They are clearly NOT the same shackles.

      • And if you’re going to complain about something in your article, the burden of proof is on you to prove that there really even is a thing to complain about to begin with, rather than lazily grasping at straws.

        • And that’s why I explained to you why your theory made no sense whatsoever. But clearly you weren’t paying much attention, because you didn’t acknowledge them, you didn’t address them, and you don’t seem to know what we’re tackling right now – you keep bringing up something that we stopped touching upon several comments ago.
          You’re tip-toeing around my arguments instead of facing the fact that your pet hypothesis is fundamentally broken, makes no sense, and does not fit with the Half-Life narrative. And your attempts to shift the burden of proof aren’t working – not when you aren’t even trying to prove your little theory anymore.

  3. Since you don’t consider Opposing Force to be canon, and a minor reference to it in a fan-made mod would mean absolutely nothing to you, why are you so bothered by a small continuity ‘error’ that can’t even be verified?

    • The continuity error can be verified very easily, as I have proved to you over the course of our heated debate.
      In addition – the OF reference was simply a little suggestion. The reference doesn’t mean anything in the context of canonicity, because, again, it would be nothing more than a simple reference; and the reference itself is not even the focal point of my argument. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the actual continuity error itself, or the reasons I have for wanting it to be corrected. As I said, I would be perfectly content if they just removed that particular line of text altogether.

      • Ok. If the RPG is a military weapon, how come there’s one in the Lambda Core’s Survey Team Supply Depot? And that the weaponboxes, which are found exclusively in Xen near the dead scientist all contain RPG rounds? If it was brought by the military, how did the ammo manage to get where the soldiers had never even been?

        • Well played – you got me there. But still, the place where we first pick up the RPG in Half-Life is most certainly a military supply cache established after the Incident.
          I suppose that the government, which was definitely providing military oversight at Black Mesa, supplied the science team with certain heavy weapons for use in the “world beyond”, as they call it. It makes sense that the same weapons would be employed, assuming that the same military branch had been assigned to Black Mesa.
          In fact, this is a point I previously illustrated in our first comment thread – that the military may have supplied Black Mesa with more robust firepower. So this is really nothing new – I’d say it augments my argument.

  4. Cripes, don’t you think you’re being a bit over critical here? Saying that some of their work is lazy or stupid… Try do it better man!

    • Ebert’s Law.
      Aside from that… over critical? Regarding a mod that’s taken almost a decade’s work? That aims to reimagine one of the greatest games of all time, according to standards of “Valve quality”? I think I might be going too soft on them, actually.

      • Well, you are perfectly entitled to express your opinion, but it seems to me that there are ways of saying things without being insulting. It is precisely because those people at Black Mesa are aiming to reimagine one of the greatest games of all time (a game that you’ll eventually play for “free”, may I remind you)that they deserve a little respect. Sorry, but using word like lazy or stupid is a bit harsh imho…

        Have a nice day and keep up the good work mate… ;-)

        • I was not being insulting, I simply stated that certain elements of the mod were sub-par. The words I used to denote that have no bearing on the underlying meaning of my words (nor on my broader opinion of this media release, which was strongly positive). I’ve seen far more negative and disrespectful commentary regarding this media release on other Valve fan communities, which I will respectfully not name.
          But whether or not the mod is free doesn’t matter, because I don’t think anything that’s free somehow gets a “hall pass” of sorts, forbidding anyone from ever criticizing it. Whatever game they choose to remake doesn’t affect that either – if anything, remaking Half-Life means their results will be placed under even more intense scrutiny, and I’m sure they know that perfectly.
          They’ve done some incredible work, (I love those guys, I really do), but if they make mistakes, fans should be able to call them out on them. The BM:S developers are not infaillible, after all; and their work can only be improved by feedback – regardless of which words are used within that feedback.

          • Fair enough, Vic. There’s nothing wrong with criticism, quite the contrary. You’ve brought up some good points in your review of those screenshots, positive and negative, which btw are purely subjective on your part. After all, some people like Picasso and others don’t. You just have to understand that people don’t like to be called lazy and even less stupid, especially when they can’t be sure of the underlying meaning of these words. Remember that people are not machines, they’re sensitive beings…

            Words are a mighty powerful thing and when taken personnally (which i’m not saying they did in this particular case, maybe they don’t care about your reviews, I don’t know) they can be just as painful as physical wounds. What i’m saying is why take the risk of being insulting when there’s plenty of other words in the vocabulary to express your opinion.

            Take care mate.

            • I did not call anyone “lazy” or “stupid”, Alain. I was referring to individual elements present in the mod – understand that. And I never implied my points aren’t subjective either. You’re making quite a lot of assumptions concerning my statements, and that’s not very cool.
              That said, I do understand your concerns, and I will see about resolving them in the future.

  5. Really excited to play this mod.

  6. “No – their slave collars and bracelets are actually reskinned versions of the Combine bonds that HL2′s Vorts carried, which is something that most fans should be able to recognize.”

    How do you know the ‘combine bonds’ aren’t just supposed to be aged versions of the shackles the Vorts wore in HL1? Personally, I applaud them for maintaining consistency & not tacking on needless extra models as so many mods do.

    And who really cares if the vortigaunts have a slightly larger looking belly than the HL2 model? Hell, I needed to compare side-views of them to even notice a difference. The bullsquid’s eyes on the other hand, now that’s something that bothers me.

    • Why would the Combine possibly reuse Xenian technology? For one, the Xenians were never enslaved by the Combine, and secondly, we have no reason to believe the Combine ever reached Xen at all. Particularly since the Combine bonds were designed to also inhibit the Vorts’ abilities – that’s why they have them on their arms too.
      Secondly, the only difference between the Combine bonds and the BMS bonds is the color – metallic in HL2, green in BMS. If the Combine had gotten a hold of these, they would have applied more significant alterations.
      No, by doing this, they do not add consistency – they instead add inconsistency, and they do so through laziness. I mean, they’ve been developing this mod for 7 and a half years, and they’re still cutting corners?

      • There’s your first problem; The ‘Xenians’ WERE enslaved by the Combine, albeit before the events of Half-Life. That’s why even the Nihilanth had shackles. He was covered in surgical scars like a stalker. He even said “we are their slaves”. You’re right that the Combine hadn’t been to Xen, that’s simply where the Nihilanth’s army had been hiding from the Combine.

        And what proof do you have that the bonds in HL2 were designed to inhibit the Vorts’ abilities? The shackles worn in HL1 didn’t do anything, so there’s no proof they’re not the same ones.

        • No, there’s your first problem. They were hiding, but they weren’t enslaved. Not any longer. Also – you forget that the Nihilanth enslaved the Vortigaunts long before the Combine attempted to enslave them, so how do you suppose the Vorts were controlled back then?
          Simple. I don’t see the Vorts using any of their abilities to try and escape throughout HL2, do I? Not once do you see a Combine-enslaved Vortigaunt using his destructive abilities – something that happens every time you see them in HL1. And there’s also no proof, or even any remote implication that they ARE the same shackles – it’s just some assumption you cooked up to justify the BMS’ team’s bizarre choice.

          • “Also – you forget that the Nihilanth enslaved the Vortigaunts long before the Combine attempted to enslave them, so how do you suppose the Vorts were controlled back then?”

            Probably with his psychic powers & not shackles that do nothing to inhibit their electrical attacks.

            “And there’s also no proof, or even any remote implication that they ARE the same shackles”

            Ok, here’s something for you: the vortigaunt model in the HL2 leak was called vortigaunt.mdl & it had shackles, meaning every vortigaunt you encountered in the game wore them like in HL1, including the freed ones. Remodeling the Vort’s new body & shackles was done earlier in development, yet the idea of non-shackled variants wasn’t done until after the leak, with separate vortigaunt.mdl & vortigaunt_slave.mdl files. The freed ones which could be found in eli’s lab & the combine factories in the leak, yet they could charge the player’s suit & other machines with their shackles on. I didn’t see any humans punching or kicking metrocops to try and escape throughout HL2, does that mean they’re incapable of doing so?

            Face it, there’s no proof, or even any remote implication that they AREN’T the same shackles. It’s not the Combine reusing Xen technology, it’s that they didn’t bother to take it off them to begin with! The Black Mesa team simply tried to make the shackles look newer. I remember one of them saying they did the same for Gman’s suit.

            • “Probably with his psychic powers & not shackles that do nothing to inhibit their electrical attacks.”
              Uhh… so then why would he have had them wear them anyway? But then how would the Combine have successfully re-enslaved them and kept them docile… and then have them wear the shackles anyway, which you are telling me are more or less useless? I just don’t see how you could have possibly reached such a conclusion. In addition, you don’t actually know how these shackles work to begin with. I don’t either, but out of the two of us, you’re the one who’s making the strangest suggestions regarding the way they function, or how/why they were created.
              Aside from that, I like how you think the HL2 leak qualifies as evidence. Because it doesn’t – it’s not canon in the slightest, and whatever choices Valve made back then do not apply in the same continuity, more than half a decade later. Not when the final product makes no implications towards them, and not when these ideas was scrapped for a reason. And if the Black Mesa team is actually using the leak for their story-related decisions, then that is just a testament to how poor those decisions are. Imagine if we took everything the leak implied into account, just as you’re doing right now. We’d end up tearing the Half-Life continuum a new one.
              Face it – you can offer no actual evidence that they ARE the same shackles. It is nothing more than a hypothesis you cooked up using non-canon sources. It makes no sense (To begin with, they don’t look anything alike; and the HL1 shackles don’t have any kind of codpiece, while the HL2 ones do), it doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen the Combine doing, it doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen the Nihilanth doing, it doesn’t even make sense with what the Vorts were doing (You really think they’d keep their shackles on? You actually think they wouldn’t take them off during the Portal Storms, when many of them settled on Earth?). It’s sad that we have to come up with outlandish theories that bend the games’ currently established backstory, to justify a mod team’s poor story decisions. I’m not even sure if these guys have a dedicated story writer, and to be honest, it kind of shows.

              • Can you offer actual evidence that they AREN’T the same shackles?

                • Not only did I literally just tell you why they can’t be the same shackles – but the burden of proof isn’t actually on me. It’s on you.

  7. “I don’t think Black Mesa would have any need for anti-armor ordnance.”
    For some reason I have a lot to say about this. Please forgive my over-analyzing self.

    * I always got the impression that Black Mesa was very secretive, almost like they were expecting something to happen.
    * I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a weapons cache along with their extensive security – a rocket launcher probably has uses outside of shooting helicopters.
    * In real-life, top secret research facilities have a LOT of defense.
    * I always thought that Black Mesa, with its extremely valuable portal technology, was pretty lightly defended. The security guards weren’t all that smart, and the military didn’t have too much trouble getting in.
    * I’m surprised Cave Johnson couldn’t do it.
    * And why would the military bring in a rocket launcher at all? Doesn’t really fit, unless they want to shoot down their own helicopters.
    * So putting Santego instead would be a clever Easter Egg, but I could see it working either way. Black Mesa does make sense to me.

    Overall I’m REALLY impressed with the mod, even with the little details are off. Who knows? They might even read this and take your criticism into account. They’re Valve fans just like us, after all. :)

    • Knowing Black Mesa, they probably made the laser-guided RPG seeing as how they also make tau cannon’s, gluon gun’s & one scientist even mentions being in “weapons research”.

      • Well, Dias, it’s never implied that weapons research goes beyond energy weapons such as the Tau Cannon or the Gluon Cannon (the Displacer as well if you consider Op4 canon)
        As for Josh’s points:
        * Black Mesa were very secretive, yes. I never said they weren’t.
        * Sure. But never is it even remotely implied their weapons reserves include anti-armor and anti-air ordnance. Remember that most of the threats the Security Force would engage would come from INSIDE the facility, and using a rocket launcher inside a cramped former ICBM station is NOT a good idea, particularly when the Security Force’s responsibilities include the preservation of facility equipment.
        * So? Since when is the use of anti-armor weapons the primary criteria for top-secret base defense? Again, the threat would come from inside.
        * Lightly defended? Then that’s even more reason to believe the Security Force did not have any anti-armor weapons in their arsenal.
        * The military would bring in a rocket launcher for the same reason they brought in Howitzer and Abrams tanks.

        • Another thing that both of you are neglecting is that Black Mesa did have military oversight and perhaps, defense, as we see during “Black Mesa Inbound” and “Anomalous Materials”. So even if, somehow, the Security Force were to use RPG weapons (which I still very seriously doubt), then they would likely be supplied by the military, since they are some pretty heavy and destructive weapons, and since Black Mesa did receive some substantial Department of Defense funding. In which case, the RPGs would come from a military base.
          But at the same time, military oversight means they might not have allowed the Security Force to carry such heavy weapons. After all, in the event of a major disaster (just like the Black Mesa Incident), the government is to intervene by wiping out the facility and its employees, so there’s no reason why the government would let Black Mesa carry weapons with which they could resist a military cover-up assault. So in that case, that’d go towards the possibility of the military bringing in the RPGs themselves after the Incident – and that’s my territory.
          Either way, it would be best for it to say “Santego Military Base property”. Such an interpretation and approach would wrap up all possible inconsistencies, and encompass all in-universe possibilities.

          • Yeah,Vics got some clever points.Hopefully the mod guys change it

          • It’s never implied that weapons research goes beyond energy weapons such as the Tau Cannon or the Gluon Cannon… Except for the whole “Ordnance storage facility” full of conventional missiles found right after the area you get the RPG in & right before their “Infantry Repair Bay” which is followed by the Lambda Core which you enter right next to the “Test Firing Chamber” where the Gluon Gun is. Why would they have all three of those things unless they designed & sold military equipment to the government?

            It could just as easily be that the RPG’s aren’t being supplied by the military, but that Black Mesa is the ones who supply the military with the RPGs. It wouldn’t say “Santego Military Base property” if it wasn’t their property yet. (Or if they even exist as far as canon is concerned)

            • The Ordnance Storage Facility? You realize Black Mesa is a former ICBM base, right? They’d obviously still have a few nukes lying around – in fact, that’s probably why they have so much nukage all over the place.
              The Infantry Repair Bay is more or less the same case, repurposed by government forces during the Incident. You don’t even have any proof that Black Mesa was actively manufacturing modern-day military equipment – you’re just going off a hunch at this point. You also haven’t offered any retorts for my other points, which doesn’t look good.

              • Those same missiles can be seen being built & transported around during Black Mesa Inbound. Clearly these missiles aren’t just lying around if they’re actively being worked on in the facility. Not to mention the test rocket silo in the tentacle pit & the satellite delivery rocket shows that they were developing rockets.

                There’s also the existence of the tranquilizer crossbow, which as far as I know don’t exist in real life, so that might be another non-energy weapon that Black Mesa could have been developing. There’s no way of knowing for sure.

                Explain to me why it would be best for it to say “Santego Military Base property” rather than not saying anything there at all? Or are you really that attached to the idea of an Opposing Force reference?

                • The US government would have no need for scientific missiles designed to deliver networking satellites into near-Earth orbit, and those are the only ones we know for sure that were being developed at Black Mesa. Aside from that, there is no serious indication they were creating any weapon technologies, apart from heavily experimental systems such as the Gluon cannon and the Tau rifle.
                  As for the RPG markings – I’ve already explained why above. Of course, they could also have it say nothing at all, and I wouldn’t mind, since I don’t consider Opposing Force to be canon, and a minor reference to it in a fan-made mod would mean absolutely nothing.

  8. “The way the portals have been placed is… pretty primitive and stupid (nothing to even remotely indicate that the portals are or aren’t supposed to be there)”

    Not entirely sure why you made this statement, seems to me that in context it’s rather obvious that glowing ball of whatever shouldn’t be there. Could you elaborate?

    • There isn’t really any trace that the portal manifested violently, or arbitrarily.
      First off, the grating standing between the Lambda Reactor Core, the source of the portal, and the portal itself, hasn’t been damaged in any way – which I’d expect it to, considering that’s where the portal manifested. Same goes for the surroundings, which are totally pristine – not so much as a scratch, not even directly under the portal.
      In the original game, they had emitter pads directly beneath them, which at least provided clear context for the origin and position of the portal. It was still a bit silly in its execution, but I’d say it’s better than what the Black Mesa team tried to do here.

      • Ah, I see. Yes, maybe there should be holes in the grating or something. I had forgotten about the pads, but honestly the pads don’t make any sense given the way the portals themselves ended up working. I may be misremembering the game, but I thought the portals were a rather random manifestation.

        • Yeah, the whole pad thing was pretty weird in itself. This is a more interesting approach, but it needs a lot of refinement.

  9. holy shit that’s really fukken noice!



  10. HELL YEAH!

  11. Gman in first picture