What started out as a mod is now, in a week, launching into a fully fledged release version. Black Mesa, a "re-imagining" of the original Half-Life, launches its 1.0 update on Thursday, March 5 on Steam.
Black Mesa started life as a fan-made mod, remaking the original Half-Life with modern graphics on the Source engine. Over time, it grew and even got permission from Valve to go commercial in 2013.
Adam Engels, project lead on Black Mesa at Crowbar Collective, wrote a blog post announcing the 1.0 launch date, while also going back over the 14 years he's spent working on Black Mesa. Despite going commercial, Engels says Black Mesa was still a volunteer project for the majority of his time working on it.
"Even after we got the green light to sell the game, we still did not make any money until late June of 2015," Engels writes.
While Black Mesa works to remain loyal to its source material, it does make a few changes. In a 2017 interview with PC Gamer, Engels discussed removing mechanics like crouch-jumping. "Crouch-jumping was cool back in 1998," he says. "But these days it feels overly complicated."
Black Mesa boasts new graphics and effects, updated enemies with "engaging" A.I., and an all-new soundtrack and voice acting. For Engels and the Black Mesa team, it seems like 1.0 has been a long time coming, but there will still be work to do after the launch.
"Black Mesa is a video game, it is our video game, and it has its strengths, and its flaws," Engels writes. "As Leonardo da Vinci said, 'Art is never finished, only abandoned' and while we plan to fully support this game after 1.0 with bug fixes and more, it will never be a perfect game."
So while Black Mesa will be complete in a 1.0 sense, Engels wants to acknowledge this launch version isn't perfect, and won't ever be. Still, it's exciting that after 14 years of development, through mod development and dedicated work, this team can finally see a 1.0 release on Steam, and right ahead of a new Half-Life game at that.
"I hope that everyone has something that inspires them as much as Half-Life inspired us," Engles writes. "I hope that everyone embraces the setbacks and challenges that come, and I hope no one fears the long road in front of them."