Thursday, June 19, 2014

Someplace Else source files (for Black Mesa Source) + "Majestical" env texture set

A year and a half ago, I was working on a Source re-mastering of Adam Foster's classic "Someplace Else" to plug into Black Mesa Source. The appeal of modding a mod to remake a mod was intoxicating. Unfortunately I haven't really touched Hammer since then though, so I think I'm now forced to admit that I probably won't get around to finishing it.

I am open-sourcing the map file and textures I made for it in hopes that maybe someone more motivated can pick it up. If you're interested in finishing what I started, here are some design notes:

  • A decent Xen-themed 3D skybox would involve some sort of particle system / translucent space-jellyfish that I didn't really want to make. In general, there weren't as many Xen assets as I was expecting in the Black Mesa Source release, and I didn't really like their style direction with Xen either (too muddy-neon...) and I much preferred where Adam Foster and Henning Horstman were taking it in Nightwatch (fleshy cavernous pink)
  • The "V-beam" texture + Half-Life 1 era brushwork just didn't look very good; ideally, I'd export the brush geometry out into 3DSMax or Maya, model much more detail into it, then re-import it as a prop. I think the brush geometry mostly holds-up everywhere else though.
  • My planned re-modelling of the central chamber involved it turning into a "holodeck" once the gravity was re-activated... this involved toggling off the surrounding func_brush so that you can see the skybox brushes underneath, so it's like you're floating in mid-air suddenly, but still have a func_brush glass overlay on top so that you know it's a holodeck kind of thing... Anyway, I had problems controlling visibility as carefully as I wanted, the area portals weren't accurate enough, and there'd always be some bleed from nearby hallways. You could probably hide the bleed with clever use of transparent gradient cards, or just put a wall in front of it, etc.

The port is mostly functional. There are a few half-implemented planned gameplay changes there too:
  • Add a garg, or some other large setpiece monster, in the central chamber. The original was too much of a grunt-fest.
  • Add more of a puzzle for turning on the gravity while dodging said monster, maybe about connecting power nodes or something. (Adam has always said he disliked how "back-and-forth" and "push-the-button" it was, and I think I agree with him.)
  • Have a "global gravity setting" that's level-wide, and when you activate gravity and then have to backtrack, the level will play slightly differently because you'll either be lighter or heavier now. (I think the original was unclear about communicating the state change / what that button actually did.)
  • Add more of a puzzle for fixing the machinery near the end. I wanted the player to have to carefully crawl on ledges, on the inside of the central chamber, to reach the appropriate panels. Then once you activate the portal, it will kill the setpiece monster.
If you want the full package (VTF / VMT materials, VMF map file, etc.) then download that here: (300 mb)... make sure to put the "verc_18" folder in your \bms\materials\ folder, etc. (You may or may not have to flip the green channels on the normal maps, I forget.) It also has a few PK01 and PK02 textures made by Philip K, so credit him as well if you end up keeping them. I've lost the skybox placeholder I was using, but I think it was a modified Hipshot "Interstellar" skybox...

If you are interested in exclusively the textures, for use outside of Source modding:

This x4 HD subset of the original "Majestic" textures are pretty much re-painted by me with substantial modification from originals, complete with specular and normal maps. (Simply upscaling the originals was impractical and blurry.) While a lot of the concept is heavily inspired by Randy 'ydnar" Reddig's original work, as well as Adam Foster's modifications, I believe in good faith that their licensing was in this spirit + I've done enough original transformative work on executing the concepts that I am permitted to re-license them...

I hereby place this "Majestical" texture set under a "Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike" license, which is a commercially-permissive license that requires the user to credit us ("Majestical textures by Adam Foster, Randy Reddig, and Robert Yang") and also CC-BY-SA license any modifications they make to the assets as well.

You may download the textures at here:

(NOTE: the Xen textures are not included in this package because they source parts from actual textures from Half-Life 1, and those textures are property of Valve, licensed only to mod-makers who keep that content in Valve games. Sorry.)