This news post marks the release of the final version of Surface Tension Uncut v2.0, the latest version of ST Uncut. After nearly a month of solid work on the project I have fixed an absolute tonne of bugs with the previous version, as well as dramatically redesigning several major aspects of the way the maps play, improving and enhancing them both visually and in terms of design.
For those of you who may not know, Surface Tension Uncut was my little project to revamp Black Mesa's Surface Tension chapter. Black Mesa's recreation of this chapter was wholly incomplete, missing a whole 2 maps from Half-Life 1's incarnation - and these 2 maps were, in my mind, possibly the 2 most important of the entire chapter - as they signified the defeat of the HECU and their subsequent pulling out in Forget About Freeman. Without these 2 maps included in Black Mesa, the motive for the HECU pulling out in Forget About Freeman makes little sense, and to anyone who did not know HL1, they would not understand why the HECU decided to pull out.
My mod adds back these missing maps, designed by me and the community, and they fit seamlessly into Black Mesa's existing campaign. If I've done my job correctly, and I certainly believe I have, then you won't even know you're playing an addon mod. Surface Tension Uncut's goal was to emphasize the losing battle the HECU are fighting and bring back many of the memorable moments and sequences which were missing from Black Mesa's incarnation, as well as adding its own unique flavour.
Find here a short(ish) video of me giving a brief walkthrough of the new version of ST Uncut, featuring a developer commentary. In the video I talk mostly about the changes from the previous versions of ST Uncut, and some of the development process behind it:
Even if you've played through the previous versions of ST Uncut, this new version is definitely worth checking out! With all the work I've been doing on OaR Uncut, I've really improved my abilities as a mapper, and I've been able to address a significant number of the problems and issues which existed in the v1.11 release of ST Uncut. It overall performs better, looks better, and plays better.
Some of the more specific, larger changes include:
- An overhaul of the Garage ambush scene on the G map. The destruction is far more believable, as is the nature of the ambush itself.
- A TOTAL overhaul of the layout and design of the TOW Courtyard and its surrounding area, as well as the battles with the HECU and Alien Grunts. It's overall more balanced, a lot prettier, makes a lot more sense, and plays a tonne better. The haphazard side areas from the previous versions was entirely scrapped and replaced with a believable and detailed outdoor car park which also provides a great view of the newly revamped 3D skybox.
- A TOTAL overhaul of the Helipad and its surrounding area. Lots of the lifeless side buildings have been replaced with much more detailed buildings more in the style of Surface Tension, many of which are explorable and feature a tonne of hidden goodies. The landscape around the Helipad is far less monotonous now, far more interesting and aesthetically pleasing. The actual Helipad itself has been redesigned to be more consistent with other Helipads in Black Mesa, and the cover provided for the player has been moved to a far superior location.
- An entirely new and original office block added behind the Helipad to facilitate better connectivity between the two maps, and encourage exploration. Another 5 - 10 minutes of gameplay and interest.
- Redesign of the Abrams battle near the beginning of H. The player can now access the balcony to get a much higher and cooler view of the battle if they desire, which features reworked AI and cooler scripting.
- Recoding of the Sniper AI so that he shoots the explosive barrels against you now and generally feels much more menacing and annoying.
- Reworking of the Satchel Pipe scene and its surrounding area to make it more believable and fluid.
- Redesign of the Gasworks to improve performance and visual appearance, as well as reworking several areas to be more believable and in line with the theme of the area.
- Switched out Barney's dialogue so it no longer repeats lines heard in previous Black Mesa maps. Makes it feel much less stilted than before.
This is just scratching the Surface (get it?) of the VAST number of changes I've made, both visible and under the hood. Just take a look at the changelogs if you're interested in finding out more (good luck, that thing's HUGE!)
On a Rail Uncut
You can find my ModDB page for On a Rail Uncut here.
All that's really left to say is that I've now resumed working on On a Rail Uncut, and really hope to get some good work done on it soon. Development is still going on the B2 map though it has been slow. A1, A2 and B1 have all undergone alpha testing on the Black Mesa forums, and the feedback has generally been fairly positive. You can find walkthroughs of all 3 maps on my Youtube channel (nitrotomato), and you can track progress on the maps in the Black Mesa forums. Hopefully I'll have more to show you guys real soon!