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 27 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...

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Guest
Guest Jul 28 2013, 3:28pm says:

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TextFAMGUY1 Creator
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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Guest Jul 31 2013, 4:50am replied:

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TextFAMGUY1 Creator
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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Guest Jul 26 2013, 1:25pm says:

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TextFAMGUY1 Creator
TextFAMGUY1 Jul 26 2013, 4:42pm replied:

No, I won't, sorry. It doesn't interest me. Someone else on the BM Forums a while back started getting the ball rolling on doing this, though I don't know if it's progressed at all. You could check out that thread if you're interested.

+3 votes   reply to comment
LyokoDesura
LyokoDesura Jul 28 2013, 12:10am replied:

That "someone" was me. I've been having trouble with it though, as that map is so close to the limit on all data types that there's pretty much no room to add the vent maze while fixing its shortcomings.

+2 votes     reply to comment
wmf776759
wmf776759 Jul 26 2013, 1:38pm replied:

He won't.

+1 vote     reply to comment
dstorque
dstorque Jul 22 2013, 8:06pm says:

Figure I'd give my 2 cents as well. Let me start first by saying congratulations on graduating, and thank you so much for your continued work on the Black Mesa mod! Now, to the critiques:

1) This is actually just a question. You made the point that your reaching your limits for these maps and having to cut some very interesting ideas out. But couldn't you just make your map into two maps to allow for more details and content? I would prefer having an extra loading screen for more content and details in the maps.

2) The models you're using for the workers are a great idea, but I saw one that looked like a scientist model just painted orange. He even had an orange tie. Nobody where's an orange tie, that's just ugly :P.

3) The music that comes in when you go outside is fair enough, but imo it cuts off too early. I suggest making it longer. If, however, you decide to add more action to this section, I'd suggest changing it entirely. I can't help but think that in that case something sounding similar to The Thing's theme would sound good. Youtube.com A deep simple bass line like that would create a perfect atmosphere to combat a squad or two of soldiers. Which brings me to my next point:

4) You should add some more action. Nothing really large like in Surface Tension, but maybe a squad or two of soldiers would be nice. It seems weird that such an open space is almost void of soldiers, while the interior spaces seem to be almost crawling with them. It seems like that area would make a perfect area to set up camp and expand from for the soldiers. Perhaps making the control booth a larger building or adding a couple smaller ones would help add more cover and better flow for the combat.

+2 votes     reply to comment
dstorque
dstorque Jul 22 2013, 8:07pm replied:

5) The cave is wonderful, but it seems odd that the giant doors are just left open. I think it would be a cool idea to have them closed off with aliens trapped inside. The soldiers closed the cave because it was filled with them, or maybe they were waiting for reinforcements to help clear it out. My thoughts are that if the doors were open the aliens would simply walk out and expand, not group up in the cave waiting for no reason. Who knows, maybe a Gargantua was locked in there? Food for thought.

6) If it's possible, why not make the crane more important? If the crane can be made to be used like it was in HL2, why not use it to help clear something from your path or open a new area? I realize that could simply be too much work or just not possible, but if it could be implemented it would give the player more time to spend in the area, doing something unique to the map, and a further rest from combat.

+2 votes     reply to comment
dstorque
dstorque Jul 22 2013, 8:09pm replied:

7) Add more detail. I've already touched on this in my first point but some areas seem to be lacking detail or character. It you could find a way to get past the limits of these maps and add more to them, it'd go a long way.

8) You seem confident that the skirmish between the grunts and the guards is completely one-sided, but unless you add some usefulness to the guards, make absolutely sure they lose. Make sure that if you turn the game to easy difficulty and rush in to save the guards at all costs guns blazing you still can't save them. Also it seemed in the video that the guards were attacking the grunts, not the other way around. The grunts had the higher ground, larger numbers, and bigger guns. If I was a guard I'd be taking cover not charging at them. It would make more sense if the guards were being attacked against the wall, perhaps behind more cover.

+2 votes     reply to comment
dstorque
dstorque Jul 22 2013, 8:10pm replied:

9) It would be nice if the broken tram would fall if the player jumped on it like you did. As you said, it's barely hanging on.

10) The sniper might be better placed somewhere closer to the center of the outside area, possibly in a guard tower near the control booth. This way he's pinning you down and forcing you to use the cover around the whole map.

I know it seems like I'm bashing your map, but you really have done fantastic work. As much as I'm sure you'd like to be done with it, and you certainly could be, it would benefit greatly from some more time and work. Great job, and I can't wait to see the final release!!!

+2 votes     reply to comment
dstorque
dstorque Jul 22 2013, 8:17pm replied:

One more! Sorry!

11) The guard with the turret just outside the 'zombie ambush' seems a bit too close. It might be better to put it further down around the corner like it was in the original so the player doesn't get chewed up climbing through the window.

Ok I'm done I promise :D!

+2 votes     reply to comment
TextFAMGUY1 Creator
TextFAMGUY1 Jul 23 2013, 9:26am replied:

It seems you have a lot to say about the mod. Might I suggest checking out the thread on the Black Mesa forums, and/or signing up and posting there if you want detailed discussion? I'm much more active and open there than on here, and I try my best to reply to every post on there. Some of your concerns have also already been brought up and addressed in there, so it might be worth reading! Cheers!

I would say the same for everyone else too! If you want some discussion about your feedback, the thread on the Black Mesa forums is the best place to do it. I'm very active there, and it's a great community!

+3 votes   reply to comment
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