Friday, January 25, 2013

The legalities of Black Mesa

Half Life came out in 1998.  The game was owned and created by Valve. In the fifteen years (well, fourteen) years since the game came out, technology has increased dramatically.

For example, here is the Half Life 1 original trailer:
Here is the Half Life 2 trailer:
As you can see, a big jump in quality, people on screen, AI tactics, etc. 

One day, around 2004 some fans decided to remake the game.  An upgrade is always nice. Technology had improved, and Half Life 3 didn't look like it was coming out.  So, they started.  They realized they would have to give it out for free, but they kind of knew that coming in.

And then they did more research and found out that they couldn't use ANY pre existing assets from Half Life or Valve.

"No big deal" you may say.  "That was the point."

Let me reiterate.  This means, no programming, no skinning (I'm not sure about models.  I thought not, but some might), and no sounds or voices.  They would have to make it COMPLETELY from scratch. Though, they could use the Source engine since Valve lets anyone use that to mod.

Much like Valve, they had to push the date back, a lot.  It was originally supposed to in 2009.  In fact, the game still isn't done.  The Black Mesa mod lacks the Xen chapters.  The Xen Chapters are well thought of to be the weak point in Half Life (as they are repetitive and require a completely different style of gameplay)  but the group promises they will be finished.

But don't worry about Valve striking back.  Valve actually did some promo work for Black Mesa on steam, let it be downloaded from Steam for free and they said they were excited to see it play out.

And, as Valve is known to hire people that impress them... I'd say quite a few of them got e-mails inviting them to work at Valve....

Here is Half Life's "Inbound" level
Here is Black Mesa's

 Can we sit here for a bit and be impressed with how legal issues forced people to improve? 

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