Around 4 years ago a team of freelance and mightily enthusiastic developers undertook a project called Black Mesa: Source, which would be a complete re-imagination of Valve’s award winning classic Half-Life utilising today’s Source engine. A trailer was released at the time and it looked, well, just short of incredible. A few years down the line however and there is still no sign that the highly anticipated project will come to fruition, fortunately, that’s about to change.
At Rock, Paper Shotgun, reporter Nathan Grayson was fortunate enough to spend some time with Carlos Montero who is the Project Lead on Black Mesa: Source. Whilst speaking with Grayson, it becomes clear that Montero feels perhaps the talented team bit off slightly more than they could chew and also overpromised with regards to unrealistic release dates which has kept fans waiting for nearly 5 years now.
As Montero clearly states, Black Mesa: Source cannot be a straight up port of Half-Life, since that is actually illegal – instead the project has become a full blown remake which features over 2,000 custom models, choreographed scenes and over 6,500 lines of new dialogue.
“We have always wanted Black Mesa to be Valve-quality,” Montero tells RPS. “Turns out that is very tough to do from every angle of development. Imagine that!”
Yes, I can see how that would be somewhat of a challenge, considering Valve’s limitless resources and time in making their titles, not to mention the vastly talented team behind them. It’s like trying to remake Top Gun without Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, it just wouldn’t work.
With regards to the trailer released in 2008 that got everyone excited, Montero says looking back it was probably a mistake by releasing media so soon into the project. “If I could go back in time and prevent us from releasing the media and hyping up the public the way that we did,” he says, “I would. In the end, all of that hurt us more than helped us.”
Montero was quick to dismiss fears that the game has simply become a myth, something that is mentioned every April fools with the hope of one year it might be coming true. They are still indeed working on Black Mesa: Source, tirelessly; they have just learned not to say when exactly it will be released.
“This hasn’t been about polish for polish’s sake; it’s been about learning all there is to know about how to make great games, and using it to make a great game. There aren’t any shortcuts there. We just had to learn by doing, by making mistakes, by screwing things up and starting them over again. Sometimes along the way we have learned things that fundamentally changed our way of thinking, and sometimes we have gone back and fundamentally changed parts of the game to reflect that.”
“So no, I don’t think it is tempting to over-polish at all. We are all eager to get the game out. We are dying to get this game out and show everyone what we’ve been working on, but we aren’t so eager that we would sacrifice our values and what we believe will make this game great. We aren’t going to put out something that isn’t good enough for us.”
When pressed further for some sort of release window by Grayson, Montero simply put, didn’t give one; “We’re working very hard to get something out to our fans in the soon-ish timeframe. I really won’t say anything more than that.”
At least it’s more details that we have on Half-Life 3 right?
A link to the full interview on RPS can be found here.