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.
RPS: What stage of development are you on at this point? Are you still designing content, or is it mostly polish now? And, if the latter, is it tempting to over-polish – to tweak every last thing relentlessly because you’ve already put so much work into the project, and anything less than perfection could be viewed as a failure?
Carlos Montero: There’s been a lot of speculation that we have been doing nothing but polish for the last year or longer. This is simply not true. There were and are still parts of the game that we are actively developing, because the game isn’t done yet. It is true that over the last year we have put a ton of polish into the game, but this has largely been because some members of the team are less needed on the forefront of development and have taken to polishing old things and trying to achieve quality and consistency across the board.
There is also work that some may casually classify as “polish” that is really more about making sure we are hitting the quality bar we want. If we are examining level flow, pacing, weapon progression, puzzle challenges, player intuition, where people get lost, or stuck, or confused, is that polish? Perhaps it is, but often I think many people are specifically thinking we are sitting around remaking the same assets over and over a little better each time, or trying to find and fix every bug so our game can be “perfect”. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Thank god. I’ve been holding my little HL-loving heart out for this and I will continue to do so.