Announcing PSR Digital's Next Project...
You guys have no idea how long I've waited to be able to write this.
If you've been following the development of Black Mesa and the Source modding community in general, you'll know our team (PSR Digital) as the guys who made the Hazard Course addon for Black Mesa. You'll also know us as the guys who, after releasing the Hazard Course for Black Mesa's mod edition, kind of disappeared off the radar for some time for no well-explained reason. You might even remember our brief stint on the 403 Aurelius open-development project that we ultimately put on-hold in favor of... well... what, exactly? Hmm... mysterious!
Well at long last, after years in pre-production, we're finally able to show you guys what we've been quietly working on in the shadows. Here it is-- a small proof-of-concept sneak peek at the next project in our team's pipeline. I hope you enjoy it as much as we've enjoyed putting it together, because this has already been a wild ride getting to this point... and we're just getting started!
Introducing Peer Review
… And the radio silence is broken!
After several years in quiet pre-production, we're proud to finally announce what we hope will fill the last Half-Life-remake-shaped hole in our collective hearts: our team, PSR Digital, is officially working on Peer Review, a re-imagining of the Half-Life expansion, Half-Life: Decay, in the Source Engine.
For those of you who are out of the loop, Half-Life: Decay was an expansion of the original Half-Life made by Gearbox Software, in a similar vein to Half-Life: Opposing Force and Half-Life: Blue Shift. It tells the story of the Black Mesa incident from the perspectives of two of Doctor Freeman's peers, Doctor Gina Cross and Doctor Colette Green, as they work tirelessly to end the Resonance Cascade and close the dimensional rift that has unleashed chaos across the Black Mesa Research Facility.
Unlike Opposing Force and Blue Shift, however, Half-Life: Decay was unique in two ways: First, it was the only Half-Life expansion to release on (and be exclusive to) the PlayStation 2. Second, it was (and still is) the only Half-Life game to have been primarily built for cooperative play.
There have been several attempts at Half-Life: Decay remakes in the past. So far, none have borne fruit. We at PSR Digital figure it's as good a time as any to try and change that state of affairs, and that's why we're announcing Peer Review today. With your support, we hope to be able to take the reins where others have fallen short, and deliver on the missing piece of modernized Half-Life that we have wanted to see for so long.
... Uh, which part of Decay was that video supposed to be a remake of?
The proof-of-concept video shown above is an excerpt of our interpretation of “Surface Call”, the third level of Half-Life: Decay.
But you changed so much! I hardly recognized the level. What gives?
After extensively playtesting the original Half-Life: Decay during pre-production, our team came to realize that a number of decisions that Gearbox Software made with Decay were fairly questionable, from in-universe standpoints, aesthetic standpoints, and gameplay standpoints. As such, we will be taking advantage of every opportunity to improve and update the game to some more sensible standards. Of course, we're still fully committed to preserving the spirit of the original whenever possible. That's the point of a re-imagining, after all!
Ehh, co-op isn't really my thing. Will Peer Review have a singleplayer mode?
We know full well how hard it is to find a partner for co-op sometimes; that’s one of the big reasons why Decay isn’t as well known as the other expansions. So, you’ll be glad to hear that a singleplayer mode is currently planned for the project! However, please keep in mind that Peer Review is still in a pre-alpha state, and as such, the scope of the project may change between now and release.
Hey! The M4 and the Alien Grunt aren't supposed to show up in Surface Call. You guys ruined EVERYTHING!
First: that's not a question. Second: for the purposes of making a short, representative proof-of-concept video, we took a few small liberties with the level so that we could show a vertical slice of how we imagine co-op gameplay might look like throughout the game. We're fully aware that the particular player loadouts and set of enemies shown in the video don't quite match the original version of the level. Rest assured, in the final product, we plan to change it to be more in line with the original.
M4? Ugh. Really?
We know, we prefer the MP5 too. However, since the PS2 version of Decay used the HD pack, a Decay remaster without an M4 would feel wrong! But don’t fret-- both the M4A1 Carbine and the MP5 are currently planned to be available as weapons in Peer Review. Stay tuned for more details!
Why are you using stock HL2 assets?
In the interest of minimizing the time required for our small team to produce the proof-of-concept video, we re-used a few stock assets from Half-Life 2 that we otherwise wouldn’t have. We fully intend to remake them ourselves later.
When will Peer Review be released?
No idea yet. We literally just announced this project and you're already asking for a release date? Come on, seriously?
What about the Hazard Course port to the Black Mesa retail edition? Will you be continuing work on that?
Yes! We still have plans to bring the Black Mesa Hazard Course to the retail edition of Black Mesa. However, we still haven't heard anything from Crowbar Collective regarding their commitment to the level of mod support that would be required to get the Hazard Course onto the Black Mesa workshop. So, at this point, you guys know about as much as we do in that regard. When we hear back from Crowbar Collective about any next steps our teams can take together to bring the Hazard Course to the workshop, we'll be the first to let you guys know! (In the meantime, I'm sure those guys are working their butts off on the Xen update!)
What about 403 Aurelius? Wasn’t that supposed to be your next project?
For those not in the know, 403 Aurelius was a 100% open-development project using the Source Engine that our team tried out as a small experiment a couple of years back. For now, the project has been put on hiatus so that we can focus our efforts on Peer Review. Rest assured though, we still like the concept of 403 Aurelius enough that we’d be totally up for continuing work on it in the future!
I've got some awesome skills. Can I help you guys out with Peer Review?
YES! Please help us! In fact, that's a perfect segue to the next section...
Join Our Team!
PSR Digital is currently a small team of just a handful of people. As we currently are, we're in no way capable of tackling such a Gargantua-sized project alone. Please help us!
We're looking for all sorts of volunteers who would be willing to help contribute to the project. We need people who can help us fill just about every kind of role in game development, from level designers and 2D artists, to programmers, writers and sound designers... whatever! Check out our Jobs page and see if there's a role that fits you, and shoot us an application if you're interested. If you're feeling adventurous, feel free to apply to multiple positions, if you like.
Note: Currently, the only positions we are not actively looking to fill (at the moment) are Voice Actors and Playtesters. We will let you know in the future when we’re ready to begin recruiting for those roles!
If you don't think you're up to the task of directly helping us, that's fine too! But if you know anyone at all who might be interested in helping us out, please send them our way. We're gonna need all the help we can get, and your referral will help wonders with our ability to produce awesome work!
… And that about does it for now! In the meantime, check out some of those sweet screenshots and other media that we’ve posted on our ModDB page. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or cries of murderous outrage, feel free to comment below, or on the mod page in general. If you’re into that whole social media fad or whatever, we also have a Facebook page that you can follow for more updates on our progress. And if you liked our proof-of-concept video, our brand-new YouTube channel is also ripe for subscribing as well!
Thank you. Have a very safe and productive day, and I can’t wait to show you more of what we’ll have in store for you guys in the coming adventure ahead!