Greetings everyone. This is my final project to finish "uncutting" Black Mesa. Though I thought the cuts to Surface Tension were far more severe in terms of them harming Black Mesa as an overall package, On a Rail was shortened from 10 maps in HL1 to 3 maps in Black Mesa. While the BM Devs tried hard to streamline and cut down the experience, it still felt overall lacking in terms of its progression as Gordon's journey towards the rocket. This mod is for those of you who want Black Mesa's On a Rail to be lengthened. There will be 2 versions released; OaR Uncut Lite (extends OaR by 2 maps, making it longer than Black Mesa's version but not too long) and OaR Uncut Full (extends OaR by 4 maps, making it as long as it was in HL1). As with Surface Tension Uncut my aim is for seamless integration with Black Mesa's existing campaign, so you won't even know you're playing an add-on. This mod is currently in very early development - alpha testing is soon to begin.

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10 comments by TextFAMGUY1 on Aug 25th, 2013

 

On a Rail Uncut - Full Beta

Introduction to OaR Uncut

Guys, I've finally finished it! It's been a very, very long road both personally and development wise to get this mod to where it is today, but I'm finally ready to release On a Rail Uncut to the general public. Having been in development for over 8 months, with 3 private Alphas and a private Beta, and with loads of feedback from the community here at ModDB, on YouTube, and over 2,100 posts on the Black Mesa forums, the mod is finally ready for public consumption!

This introduction is for those of you who are unfamiliar with the project and its goals. If you're already familiar with this work, please, skip ahead to the next section.

On a Rail Uncut was my little project designed to add back some of the missing content to Black Mesa's heavily cut On a Rail chapter, which was 10 maps in HL1 but only 3 in Black Mesa. It is an expansion project for Black Mesa. Like with this project's sister mod, Surface Tension Uncut, when you install this mod to your Black Mesa folder, it integrates the new maps seamlessly within the game's already existing campaign. If it all goes well, you shouldn't even know you were playing an addon at all. Enjoy the 1 - 2 hours or so extra content, at no cost! If you install OaRU and Surface Tension Uncut, then you can enjoy Half-Life 1 remade with next to no missing content; I've filled in all the gaps that the BM Dev Team left out of their first version. I will leave Xen in their ever talented hands; exciting stuff.

"But wait a minute," you might ask. "Why would anyone want to bring back those maps from On a Rail? That chapter sucked in Half-Life 1!" This has been said many times, far too many for my liking.

On a Rail Uncut - Beta Screenshots

I too believe that On a Rail was somewhat bad in Half-Life 1, though I certainly never hated it. For all its mediocrity, which it had in spades, it had lots of memorable moments, and the sense of long journey and progression present throughout the chapter whilst traveling to the rocket was excellent and added a lot to the overall feeling of the game. It was long, yes, and boring in many places, yes. But - it wasn't boring because it was long; a common conflation amongst fans. It was boring because of the long stretches of blank, samey tunnels, and the very confusing designs of some of the loops, particularly the very first map, the unimaginative and underdeveloped ideas, and the lack of any form of easily identifiable thematic and story progression throughout the chapter.

My mod is not a 1:1 remake of HL1's OaR, very far from it. The missing maps have been very dramatically redesigned and expanded where necessary, to try and bring back all the good elements of those maps without any of the weaknesses. What all this means is that, even if you hated On a Rail in Half-Life 1, and really liked Black Mesa's version, you should still definitely check out this mod. I've "Black Mesa-ified" the missing maps, aesthetically, design wise, and gameplay wise, so if you liked Black Mesa's treatment of the maps which did make the cut, you should also like these ones! The maps have seen tonnes of refinement over time thanks to the copious amounts of feedback from the ever fantastic Half-Life community. While I may have done all the mapping and technical stuff, this is still very much a community effort, to build a better version of On a Rail!

On a Rail Uncut - Beta Screenshots

As per usual with every new post so far, I'll just reiterate for those of you who don't know, PRECISELY what my mod adds to Black Mesa's On a Rail:

TextFAMGUY1 wrote:BM_ = Black Mesa
HL_ = Half-Life

BM_A = PART OF BLACK MESA BY DEFAULT.
Introductory map. Introduction the whole rail system. = HL_A.
BM_A1 = MY FIRST A MAP. Introduction to loops and track switching. = HL_A.
BM_A2 = MY SECOND A MAP.  Journey through a huge Office Complex. = HL_B, HL_C
BM_B = PART OF BLACK MESA BY DEFAULT. Smaller office complex. Introduction to the rocket. Rocket Priming. = HL_D
BM_B1 = MY FIRST B MAP. Introduction to Material Transit system. Turntable room ambush. = HL_D, HL_E
BM_B2 = MY SECOND B MAP. Continuation of Material Transit system. Arrival at the surface. Vast outdoor area, arriving at the rocket. = HL_F, HL_G
BM_C = PART OF BLACK MESA BY DEFAULT. Rocket Launch + Passage to "Apprehension".  = HL_G, HL_F


The Beta

You may have noticed that OaRU has been in development for a lot longer than STU was. This is because I've worked really hard to design out all the flaws from HL1's chapter, and have had a detailed and long interface with the community about how best to go about doing all of this. Here are some of the ways in which I've attempted to do that:

  • I've attempted to make the rail system feel expansive and vast, and that the player is only exploring a small portion of it; unlike in HL1 where the whole system felt very linear and small. There are lots of expanded vertical segments and parallel inaccessible tunnels which highlight just how huge BM's rail system is.
  • I've increased the amount of thematic progression throughout the chapter. While HL1 featured a design progression from Offices --> Material Transit, my mod takes this further. The Mat Trans section of the rail system is a much newer and more used part of the rail system, featuring totally different lighting and newer tunnel designs to that used in the Office segments. The maps then progress to outdoor sections, with the almost totally original B2 map featuring a huge outdoor trainyard, and the rocket launch section of C. This alleviates some of the boredom present by having samey tunnels everywhere.
  • There's more music and cool sequences present here than in HL1. Music helps to make cool and unique scenes even more memorable, and as such I've used it fairly liberally, hopefully without overusing it. A2's Office Complex features the brilliantly dark "The Year of Death," by Dejan. B1's Turntable Ambush features the atmospheric "Lights Out," by The Empire (Andrew Bastian). B2's Train Yard features the chill and cool "Dark Skies," also by Dejan.
  • Lots of environmental storytelling moments which leave events up to the player's imagination. For example, the executed scientists in A2's office complex. Over the course of OaRU the player will find lots of little details which tell stories that aren't obvious, and allow the player's imagination to fill in the gaps and create their own world. Even something as simple as a door being barricaded can have a pretty interesting story behind it, if you look deep enough! Keep an eye out for the poor dead scientist on A2's Office Complex, who I've lovingly nicknamed "Ms. Freeman," for reasons you can figure out for yourself!
On a Rail Uncut - Beta Screenshots

 

You can download the beta here on this ModDB page. Simply extract it to your BMS folder, and you're good to go! Start a new game from On a Rail, and check out all the changes for yourself! Make sure you look over the readme first for important information, and be sure to back up all your files first!

On a Rail Uncut - Full Beta

The Beta is substantially different from the Alpha version. I've made absolutely tonnes of gameplay and aesthetic improvements, there really is no comparison between the two. Lots of the maps have been expanded even further, and nearly everything has been tweaked, changed, and improved. The Beta is how I'd envisioned OaRU when I set out to work on it. It's fairly representative of how the finished product (which should be reaching you within 1 - 2 weeks or so) will look, but with a few bugs and optimization problems, which will be fixed for future versions. I'm really happy with how the Beta has turned out, I really am, and I hope you guys enjoy it too!

I look forward to hearing all the feedback from the community on my little mod, and I hope you have fun playing it. Just try not to be too mean; I've poured my heart and soul into this work, even treating it as a full time job for the past month or two. Please, try and refrain from going into it with too much of a predisposed prejudice, based on your dislike of HL1's version. I promise that mine is very different, just like how Black Mesa is very different to Half-Life 1 anyway. Though I am expecting lots of trolling 1 ratings from people who didn't like HL1's On a Rail, and thus simply immediately discount my work, I'd really love to keep that to a minimum! The best thing I can say here, is that if you're sure that you're going to hate it, don't install it! That's one of the great things about this being an optional expansion - if you can't stand On a Rail being long, then Black Mesa's default offering is perfect!

On a Rail Uncut - Beta Screenshots

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On a Rail Uncut - Full Beta

On a Rail Uncut - Full Beta

Aug 25, 2013 Demo 24 comments

This release contains the full beta version of On a Rail Uncut, comprising the maps A1, A2, B1, and B2. These maps integrate seamlessly with Black Mesa...

Post comment Comments  (60 - 70 of 133)
WorldsAblaze
WorldsAblaze Jul 28 2013, 3:59pm says:

So, Text, what kind of projects do you plan on doing after OaR uncut?

+1 vote     reply to comment
TextFAMGUY1
TextFAMGUY1 Jul 28 2013, 4:01pm replied:

Finding employment! My involvement with Black Mesa will be done at this point, except if the Xen update breaks the Uncut related stuff. If that happens I will fix it.

+3 votes     reply to comment
WorldsAblaze
WorldsAblaze Jul 28 2013, 4:04pm replied:

Cool. Would you ever "Uncut" parts of games like Operation Black Mesa or Guard Duty? (if anything cut is worth re-adding, I mean)

0 votes     reply to comment
WorldsAblaze
WorldsAblaze Jul 28 2013, 5:13pm replied:

I have one thought. Would you ever join TripmineStudios? It's definately a bit much to ask, but your work is so amazing, and I'd love to see some of it incorporated into those games (I'm not talking about the uncut chapters, rather your amazing mapping skills in general). It might be interesting to see some design decisions shared in both games, since your work revolves around Black Mesa but their's doesn't

+2 votes     reply to comment
TextFAMGUY1
TextFAMGUY1 Aug 4 2013, 5:44am replied:

I have no plans to continue modding in any way after finishing OaR Uncut. My priority is to find employment once work here is done. Maybe that'll change in the future but I doubt it. We'll just have to wait and see what the future may hold!

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TextFAMGUY1
TextFAMGUY1 Jul 28 2013, 3:54pm replied:

This is something I've considered actually - but it is a fundamental problem with the way the aliens are balanced in Black Mesa - and is ultimately outside my control as a result.

I'll explain.

There aren't that many fights in OaR Uncut, in terms of number of encounters, which weren't in the original. Take B1 for example - the only fight which wasn't present in the HL1 edition was the HECU fight right at the start. Every other fight on the map was present in its HL1 version.

You are right in saying that I added MORE enemies to these fights, however. Typically I only did this where there is an aliens vs HECU encounter. This is for the simple reason that the aliens and the HECU in Black Mesa are really poorly balanced relative to each other. This means in order to make the fights more balanced, I HAVE to add more aliens.

For example, in HL1, the balance between Vorts and HECU Marines was very roughly 1:1. If you put 5 HECU against 5 Vorts, the outcome of the fight would typically be 50:50. This is CERTAINLY not the case in Black Mesa due to their core gameplay changes. The ratio is more around 3:1. This means that every fight between HECU and Aliens needs to have roughly 3X more Aliens than HECU if it is to be even slightly balanced.

Unfortunately, I have to balance fights around Black Mesa's default settings, so this is why we end up with so many aliens in OaRU's maps. I agree with you that it isn't ideal, but sadly I'm not sure there's too much I can do about it.

I agree that there are quite a few superfluous encounters which I will trim off for the next version. I could probably stand to remove a few. So yes, to an extent, I agree with you.

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TextFAMGUY1
TextFAMGUY1 Aug 4 2013, 5:46am replied:

Heh, thanks. I will definitely have to rebalance it when the time comes around, assuming the BM Devs do change up a lot of the gameplay of the mod - which I really hope they do, there are a lot of balancing issues present. The most pressing concern is to make the Vorts less **** - most of my maps which feature Vort vs HECU fights involve me throwing crazy numbers of Vorts at the HECU simply because they're so weak in Black Mesa.

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