Hello guys. Today I am finally going to release new "Improved Xen" update. It will be compatible with the last version of Steam Black Mesa. I'll publish the version compatible with old Black Mesa (2012) after few days. Initially, i planned to publish this update on January, but i missed the deadline. Now I am going to release two versions of the mod. The first one is for Steam Black Mesa version, and the second one is for free Black Mesa version (2012). This is a great opportunity to play Improved Xen even for people who doesn't have paid Black Mesa version.
In the new update many abilities of the modified Source Engine are engaged. They are realistic dynamic shadows, advanced static lighting, sun godrays and geometry reflections. I needed some time to sort out with all these things. Moreover, after different Black Mesa updates by Crowbar Collective, some functions had been changing. Fortunately, most of the bugs with lighting were fixed, but still, the developers didn't fix absolutely all the bugs.
I can’t do my Improved Xen as good as official Xen from Crowbar Collective. It is impossible and there is a reason. From the common mod, Black Mesa became a stand-alone game, and the whole team works hard on it through the years, improving all the details. You can understand it after watching their recent trailer. Also, Crowbar Collective has a financial support to release all their ambitious ideas. My own project isn’t as huge as official Xen, but still, it cannot beat official Xen visually.
A long time ago, Black mesa developers said they would do Xen compatible to the old version of Black Mesa (2012), but I am not sure it’s gonna happen. That’s why I decided not to use the content of official Black Mesa Xen in my mod for now. It gives me a possibility to port “Improved Xen” on Black Mesa 2012 without author rights contravention.
I want to admit that building “Improved Xen” on my own content gives me the opportunity to show that I’ve done a lot of work. However, it is impossible not to use some content from original Half Life 1, because I can’t create some similar sounds to Xen environment.
I couldn’t release new version of my mod earlier because of different problems. Crowbar Collective were updating Black Mesa a few times after the day when I published the last version of my mod. Firstly they added a new code linked with Xen, and it spoiled Gonarch. Then they deleted initial code with its character shell. After those updates Gonarch Lair chapter was destroyed, so I fixed and changed Gonarch during the months. This kind of activity gave me the chance to add Gonarch even in old Black Mesa (2012).
In the updated Xen Engine developers rewrote shaders of the materials, so the graphics in “Improved Xen” was crashed. Despite, I fixed it quite fast. I improved some old low-resolution textures. Most of those textures are used on the open space, so in general the graphics is better than in the previous version of my mod.
Also I experimented with Xen water to do it more specific and dynamic such in Half-Life 1. Moreover, I improved and updated some models. New models were particularly created using the photogrammetry. They are the objects such as Xen trees or rocks.
Besides, I added cinematic physics. It was also used in Half-Life 2 Episode 2, and now it’s engaged in Black Mesa. It gave me a chance to show more realistic destructions without using the physical engine, so it will not overload PC.
I knew about some bugs, and about other bugs I was informed later. I tried to fix everything I could. Though there may be some errors in the mod, because fixing old errors could create new ones. Gonarch’s Lair is the most problematic chapter because of the Gonarch’s specialty. Plus, Source Engine was updated and it can cause some new problems. Old (2012) and new versions of Black Mesa use different versions of Source Engine, so there will be some differences between two versions of my mod. After adaptation of Improved Xen on Source Engine 2007, I was ought to change some things. These changes, however, aren’t fatal. For example, old (2012) Black Mesa version will not have advanced shadows, because that version isn’t compatible with them. Also, common headcrabs won’t be included in the 2012 year version. They will be replaced by baby headcrabs, spawning by Gonarch. In addition, I did G-man and Nihilanth russian localization especially for russian players, using my own edited voice. Also I finally added English and Russian subtitles.