Black Mesa, the fancy, facelifted version of seminal FPS Half Life, will not be getting the Xen chapter until the end of the year. The relatively expected news comes via a community update on Steam, in which the developers claim that December is the “do-or-die deadline”. An eight year long journey will finally come to an end. Then someone can start doing the same thing with Source 2 instead of Source.
Xen turned out to be a tough nut to crack – when Black Mesa first launched as a free mod, it wasn’t even planned. However, after a deal was struck with Valve, the developers continued working on it, and selling it on Steam. It’s pretty much the definitive version of Half Life – well, it will be in December, if all goes well. If you haven’t played the game way back when, this would probably be the best way to experience it for the first time.
In the meantime, Black Mesa will be getting some fancy new features. First of all, there’s a new rendering system that supports dynamic lightning, including real-time light, shadows and god rays. Not all the lights in the game will use this system, since it’s resource-heavy, but the devs say they’re going to use it in special cases, when they want to make the scene look even better.
They’ve also started a color correction pass of the whole game, seemingly out to remove the green tint that covers everything. I’ve always though of it as the HEV suit’s visor, but it does look prettier without it. Finally, they’re working on fixing up some of the animation rigging – namely, soldiers holding their guns all wrong. There’s no time-frame for any of these, but that’s not what’s important anyway. What’s important is that Xen is finally coming.