Half-Life 1 Fan Remake Black Mesa Is Finally Complete--Full Patch Notes Released

After 16 years in the making, Black Mesa has hit version 1.0 and left Steam Early Access.

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Black Mesa, the fan-made remake of the original Half-Life, has finally hit version 1.0 after 16 years in the making. A slight delay halted its exit from Steam Early Access by 24 hours, but the long-time labor of love from developer Crowbar Collective has now officially released.

It's been a long time coming, too, with the entire project originating as a mod for Half-Life 2 back in 2004. Black Mesa was initially scheduled for a late 2009 release, but that was eventually pushed back until 2012 when a standalone version of the game launched as a free download. This version included recreations of every chapter in Half-Life with the exception of the final chapter set on the alien world of Xen. Gordon Freeman's excursion to Xen was widely considered the weakest part of the original Half-Life, so Crowbar Collective intended to rework the final chapter for a later release.

Black Mesa's initial launch in 2012 also coincided with the introduction of Valve's Steam Greenlight program, which allowed users to vote for games to be added to Steam's storefront. Black Mesa was one of the first games to be voted on by fans and approved by Valve as part of the program, and soon after Valve approached the team about releasing Black Mesa as a commercial project. With full access to the latest version of the Source engine, and the ability to earn money from the project after working as volunteers for so many years, Crowbar Collective agreed. The game then launched in Steam Early Access on May 5, 2015.

At this point, the Xen sections were still a work in progress, but Black Mesa's Early Access release allowed for valuable feedback and bug testing from the community. Eventually, after a couple of betas and some stress testing by players, the full Xen chapter was released on December 24, 2019, which brings us to now and the full release of version 1.0.

"Through luck, hard work, and maybe a bit of ignorance, we didn't shy away from our goal of bringing this game to completion," said project lead Adam Engels in a blog post celebrating the 1.0 release. "We are proud of what we built. We think this upcoming 1.0 release is the best, most polished, and most fun version of the game yet. The anticipation and excitement around our project is beyond flattering."

Part of that excitement also stems from the imminent arrival of Half-Life: Alyx. Launching both games so close together is purely coincidental, but it's funny that Valve should finally return to the series just as Black Mesa exits Early Access after 16 years in development. Black Mesa exists, in part, because fans thought we would never get another Half-Life game. Crowbar Collective filled that void with a project of its own, and now its popularity possibly attributed to Valve's desire to create more new games in the series.

"I hope that everyone has something that inspires them as much as Half-Life inspired us," Engels concludes. "I hope that everyone embraces the setbacks and challenges that come, and I hope no one fears the long road in front of them."

Version 1.0 full patch notes

We have been working exceedingly hard to bring you Black Mesa. Since the full release of Xen (0.9) we have done a complete overhaul pass on the combat design and guidance for all the earthbound levels, redesigned the HECU marine AI, upgraded the Vortigaunts AI, and built a new, modern user interface.

At launch, we'll be right here to fix bugs and add quality of life improvements. After that, we will be taking a break before starting up on any big updates.

So, without further delay, here is a detailed change list for Black Mesa 1.0!

Overhaul

Game-Wide

Our time in Early Access gave us lots of opportunities to beta test new content and talk with our community. We took what we learned during the development of Xen, and applied it to the Earthbound Chapters.

- Improvements to every major combat arena in the game

- Redesigned puzzles for clarity and intention

- Enhance environments to highlight objectives

Art

We took a number of sections throughout the game and updated them visually to help the game feel more cohesive. We also made better use of the dynamic lights that we created for Xen.

Artificial Intelligence

HECU

-Better utilize cover and movement in general

-Put suppressing fire on players last known location and where they expect you to be

-Use grenades more strategically and more often

-New environmental analysis lets them track, flank, and move in for the kill

-Use weapons and abilities depending on their class

-Occasionally use RPGs (grenadiers)

-Use under barrel MP5 grenade launcher (commanders)

-Drop med kits properly (medics)

-Marines wearing a gas-mask will now use alternate, radio-filtered, deepened voice lines, which sound much more like the original HECU!

-Use more voice lines and communication

Vortigaunts

The Vorts got an upgrade too, with features from their Interloper counterparts and new features to make them more fun to fight!

-Dodge on spawn or dodge when player aims at Vort

-Better navigate to the player

-Use close-range charge attack (Dispel)

-Use dynamic lights when attaching

-Vorts AI now behave differently depending on how brave or scared they are feeling, which is based on damage taken / done to the enemy.

Balance

-Slightly nerfed assassins to have lower health and accuracy

-Nerfed Abrams 50 cal damage to make it less murderous

-Buffed Apache 30mm damage slightly

Code Fixes

-Optimized sun shadows

-Optimized dynamic lights

-Fixed bug with popping sun shadows

-Removed view punch from smaller caliber weapons

-Fixed trip mine hitbox

-Added dynamic lights to portal effects

-Fixed NPC teeth being black or bright colors

-Made sure all tripod and ceiling turrets use tracers

-Fixed gravity in Earthbound

-Fixed HECU calling wrong SMG animation

-All new, modern user interface

-Expanded options with descriptions and performance cost

-Fixed HEV chargers giving you 76 charge instead of 75

-Fixed slide sound effect playing each time the player crouched

-Changed tank machine gun accuracy for better game play

Workshop Mods Warning

Lots of mods have not been updated to work with the new version of the game. Until they are updated, they may (and probably will) cause all kinds of strange and seemingly unrelated bugs. If you want the best Black Mesa experience, make sure that you do not have any mods installed. If you have had mods in the past, it may be worth uninstalling the game, deleting all local files in Black Mesa, then reinstalling the game.

Level Design

General

-The entire game has been subject to a huge number of bug fixes and improvements throughout. The following notes won’t mention every single fix, but will detail the most important ones! We scoured the community for things to fix.

-Removed all old “dynamic” lightstyle VRAD lights and replaced them with new gbuffer dynamic lights. These will look better and perform better.

-Full dynamic light pass across the whole game. Lighting should be much moodier and dynamic throughout.

-Updated lightmap scales across many chapters, so baked lights will be more defined and have nicer shadows. This will result in generally nicer looking lighting.

-Implemented CSM volumes across every outdoor map, which should substantially improve performance at no visual cost

Black Mesa Inbound

-Updated title card to take up more of the screen

-Fixed various dynamic light errors

-Totally re-arted outdoor/cave sections

-Fixed tram not casting sun shadows

Anomalous Materials

-Updated lighting for HEV suit holder room

-Updated down lights to have crisp shadows

-Went through light maps and increased resolution (now that we are no longer using light styles)

-Updated Vortigaunt Xen scene with newer environment visuals

-Removed light style lights and replaced them with new dynamic lights

Unforeseen Consequences

-Fixed headcrabs on platform elevator from spinning around 180 degrees as they landed

-Fixed various console errors that may have been affecting performance

-Fixed houndeyes spawning in and facing wall away from player

-Updated coolant/valve puzzle to better teach core valve mechanics and for better player guidance in general

-Improved design of AM machine control room to force the player into the space

-Improved player guidance throughout the chapter and added player “drop downs” and closed doors to prevent confusing backtracking, or breaking danger sequences

-Improved box jumping puzzle

-Improved lighting for the “Lamarr jar”

-Changed ladder skins to red to help them stand out from similarly colored walls

-Improved sewer water section to show the player the ladder exit before they find the valve to raise the water level, allowing you to know where your end objective is before activating the flood

-Improved platforming/jumping on the crane boxes section

-Improved Crowbar pickup by highlighting it with door movement

-Added rewards for exploration

-Added guidance light to first retinal scanner to help new players

Office Complex

-Fixed bad autosaves throughout

-Added cover to first ceiling turret section

-Added new dynamic lights to elevator

-Added clip ramped steps for better player and NPC navigation

-Added more dramatic lighting for the “help my buddy” scene where you can first get the shotgun. In addition…

-...moved the Shotgun back to its rightful place with the Guard in this chapter!

-Updated map C freezer puzzle, to better illustrate cause / effect and utilize the entire space

-Improved all “shortcut” doors given consistent signposting (use wooden boards)

-Improved changed ladder skins to red to help them stand out from similarly colored walls

-Removed end valve/fire hazard, to streamline the end of the chapter.

"We've Got Hostiles"

-Fixed consistent crash that occurred when using closed captions at lower resolutions

-The HECU overhaul really shines in this chapter!

-Re-timed music start cue and added an explosion before it so it transitions in less abruptly

-Replaced dynamic lights and shadows in the transitioning elevator between map B and C

Blast Pit

-Fixed janky dying scientist so he doesn’t just pop when he dies

-Substantial improvements to Tentacle AI

-Added art to map E to make it feel more like you’re heading down the shaft where a giant tentacle monster just lived.

-Moved the first .357 here, to match HL1!

-Added xog volumes to areas with radiation liquid

Power Up

-Multiple fixes to the Gargantua to make him behave better throughout

-Added xog volumes to bottom of water section in map B

On A Rail

-Removed redundant console in Map A opening puzzle to streamline progression

-Added alternate route in Map B office fight vs 50 cal, to allow flanking. Also changed approach path to provide more cover to the player.

-Fixed bug in map B where battery light would show through the world

-Overhauled launch pad fight in Map C so that the player must use the entire space and a variety of different angles and tactics.

Apprehension

-Overhauled opening barrel puzzle for map A to remove redundancy, better signpost the various stages of the puzzle, and encourage more exploration of the initial arena.

-Overhauled lighting around the shark cage to better signpost objective.

-Mood lighting across the entire chapter to enhance the ambiance and also better direct the player in multiple places.

-Removed soft lock where players could put barrels in the crushers and lock progression.

Residue Processing

-Reworked navigation around the trash compactor to stall the player a bit more (gives the doors more time to open so there’s less of an awkward pause), and better direct the player.

-Entirely re-arted Map A opening section.

-Significant streamlining across the entire chapter to reduce length of backtracking and make the path clearer and easier to discern for players.

-Substantially improved performance throughout the chapter

Questionable Ethics

-Improved signposting in the lobby fight to make the origins of each wave clearer to players

Surface Tension

-Several major performance fixes and optimization tweaks throughout the chapter.

-Completely redesigned and re-arted Map A (dam map). Every combat encounter on the map was redesigned and the Apache fight was improved.

-Added structure to the end of map B to help guide the player better and highlight the exit

-Replaced all old HL2 rock models with new, beautiful models

-Foliage pass in many places across the chapter

-Moved around some cover and rocks in map C to help the player

-Fixed the Apache fight in map C to use proper health values and move between phases

-Implemented cinematic physics rocks at the end of the Apache fight in map C

-Reduced difficulty in the “whack a Gordon” section (removed some I/O logic that makes it so the Marines always know where you are) and improved player guidance

-Fixed bug in the “whack a Gordon” section where the tank would blow up a wall randomly for no reason, even after it had died

-Art pass on transition from map D → map E.

-Added a system to eject high velocity gibs when you kill the snipers

-Art pass on map E’s trip mine warehouse. Now with 200% more explosives!

-Reworked map F’s intro sequence so it’s more like you are coming into the middle of a conflict, rather than some Alien Grunts randomly standing around waiting to die

-Lighting / guidance improvements in map F’s bombed out building

-Door to the bathroom in map H will now close behind you so you can’t escape the Snark sequence just by backtracking

Forget About Freeman

-Redesigned map B big finale fight. Now features considerably more aerial action and a big bang for an opener!

-Re-arted the snarks devouring HECU scene to better reflect the prominence of the alien infestation throughout.

-Redesigned map B underground garage fight to more prominently highlight the aliens vs HECU aspect.

Lambda Core

-Substantially improved player signposting and direction across the 3 “hub-like” maps (C, D and E).

-Several guidance and path improvements to map C, particularly the main path by the huge turbine, to let player flow through easier.

-Significant optimizations across all Maps C, D, E, F and G. Performance should be drastically improved for all users.

-Several lighting improvements between maps D (orange map) and E (blue map), to better visually differentiate them and reduce player confusion.

-Simplified several paths around Map D and E to make navigating to your destination easier, and also massively simplify backtracking to map C.

-Multiple new dynamic lights across maps D and E to help guide the player better.

-Improved signposting on the Map G teleporter puzzle to make it feel less like trial-and-error. Burns now appear around each teleporter you’ve gone through, so you know which ones you’ve tried. The “right answer” teleporters gain a new sparkly particle effect once you’ve used them a first time, so it’s easier to remember.

-Overhauled Map I finale sequence before the teleport to Xen. You now no longer take falling damage (as previously intended), the combat is now centered entirely around controllers, and the core navigation of the arena has been rebuilt to facilitate better flow around the arena and serve as a light bit of long jump training.

Xen

-Added missing collisions to many props

Gonarch

-Fixed crash when you shoot Gonarch’s mortars (again)

-Fixed some logic in map B where the Gonarch could randomly be missing during the crystal cave sequence

-Fixed bug in map C where Gonarch wouldn’t show up for the final chase

-Added missing collisions to many props

-Re-balanced Gonarch AI for all the difficulty modes

Interloper

-Fixed bounce pads during chase in Map A1 to always put the player where they’re meant to go

-Fixed map D glass at the end of the elevator section sometimes not shattering

-Fixed transition bug at the end of map D so players will always transition at the end

-Fixed sucky vent in map D1 to fix a rare case where players could fall through it out of the world

-Added another layer of lasers to the bottom of D1 to prevent rare bug where players could fall out of the world

Nihilanth

-This was already perfect so we did not need to fix even a single thing on this ;)

Endgame

-Fixed tram door occasionally going missing for some players

Thanks. Hope everyone enjoys Black Mesa!

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