The Core is a total conversion single-player mod for Half-Life. Survive the disaster as Maurice Andrews, a low level engineer stationed in Black Mesa during the events of the resonance cascade. Seemingly trapped, Andrews must fight his way to the surface to survive.

Report RSS The Cutting Room - Part 1

One thing that I simply cannot deny with regards to The Core's development is that it has been chock full of mistakes. Game mechanics have been pitched, coded and ultimately removed. Entire maps have been wiped from existence. Story elements and characters have been written, criticised, rewritten and dropped. On the one hand, this is time wasted. On the other, experience gained.

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The Cutting Room - Part 1

One thing that I simply cannot deny with regards to The Core's development is that it has been chock full of mistakes. Game mechanics have been pitched, coded and ultimately removed. Entire maps have been wiped from existence. Story elements and characters have been written, criticised, rewritten and dropped. On the one hand, this is time wasted. On the other, experience gained.

cuttingroom1

The Core is set in the Half-Life universe which has been explored from every conceivable angle across hundreds of stories, both officially and by the community. For the last few years the Core has contained an introductory sequence. The player would descend in a lift, getting the usual Black Mesa commuter experience of massive concrete chasms filled with science team personnel and fantastical machines working away. A section of the mod that I truly enjoyed working on as a matter of fact.

The problem is what came immediately after. The lift doors slid open and the player was greeted by... me. Urby. One of the main NPCs in the mod, often seen alongside Archie during key story moments. The player would be chastised for their appearance and would then need to follow the slow moving NPC between a series of locked doors. All the while, Urby would continually vomit lore out of his mouth hole. Things that experienced Half-Life fans would already know, as well as the purpose of the central complex, the player character's role within it and so on. All the player could do was follow and listen, or not follow and not listen, running laps around dull grey corridors (see below) waiting for the next door to be unlocked.

A fresh start... (Cut Content)

In a word, it was obnoxious. You were going to listen to me babble about my story, whether you wanted to or not. It was the exact opposite of the "show, don't tell" rule. When the player finally reached their destination, it was another bland, grey room. Urby would note the lack of personnel and this would prompt him to take the role of instructor. He would then guide the player through a makeshift training course, introducing new game play mechanics in a way that was completely unnatural and yes, still spouting Core lore.

It is for these reasons, that the sections shown in this article have ultimately been ripped out of the mod. For the first time playing, it might have been only borderline unbearable. Repeat runs would have been simply infuriating. The first five minutes of the mod (after leaving the intro elevator) was set at a snail's pace while listening to Half-Life's Wikipedia entry, and then forcing the player to run through a discount version of the Hazard Course, which was always optional to begin with!

In its place, I am building a section more along the lines of what you would expect from the prologue chapter of a Half-Life title. The lore is still there, but only for those willing to look for it. Otherwise, you can just get the essential info and blitz through to get the action started. So, you're welcome. :)

Urby

Comments
Zorro_de_la_noche
Zorro_de_la_noche

Awesome, dude.

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LeoJFC
LeoJFC

This is interesting!

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Magic_Nipples
Magic_Nipples

The Core beta mod when?

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The-Turkish-Man
The-Turkish-Man

Awesome!!!

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Blue199
Blue199

So it was going to be like Half-Life 2, eh? ;P

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neophus
neophus

Nice ! I like the idea to give the possibility to choose !

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Hezus
Hezus

Nice article. Are you also back to mapping?

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UrbaNebula Author
UrbaNebula

Yes, indeedy

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DarkShift
DarkShift

I kinda agree... and disagree with your choice.

The idea, as I see it, was to do the usual HL intro with a voice over, but you scrapped it as it looked too boring, because the rooms were bland and lifeless.
I don’t know, maybe animate the rooms with some people or windows to see outdoor activities? Or maybe it wasn’t possible because it had to be bland?

Anyways, your new intro seems interesting and a nice compromise.

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UrbaNebula Author
UrbaNebula

The issue is overall bad design for the whole section. Half-Life had the intro sequence in the tram which works for a number of reasons.

1. The player's movement is restricted to the interior of the tram, but they can clearly see the massive environments around them. This gives a sense of scale to the facility, as well as seeing people going about their day to day duties and setting the tone.

2. The announcement system within the tram acts as a lore dump, reeling off information about Black Mesa and the Science Team but in a way that is natural.

3. The information about Gordon Freeman and his role within the facility are provided in text on the screen during the less visually active sections of the ride.

After arriving at the AM labs they could explore to their heart's content, getting world building information from one or two line comments made as you passed various NPCs in the halls.

"Good Morning, Gordon."

"Big day today, Freeman."

"The sample was just delivered to the test chamber."

The problem with The Core's intro is that the player rode the elevator down to the central complex in relative silence. The only thing to do was stare out of one available window as the facility passed them by.

After that they had to follow a scientist, walking down a hallway. There were things to look at as they went, but the scientist would keep walking, often out of earshot and it just didn't make a lot of sense for them to continue babbling away to themselves across the room. On top of that, the dialogue was neither natural nor interesting.

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DarkShift
DarkShift

You know more than anyone what works and what not :D
It's pretty hard to tell from our POV what will be good, or not, for example no one, besides the dev' or the beta testers, would have guessed how HL Echoes was good.

Indeed, what you describes reminds me of the intro of Gunman Chronicles, in the end it was boring because you travel in a space shuttle on the Gunmen's base but you only had a tiny window to see the exteriors...

Well, *when* your project will be done, your deleted/old intro could be put on some bloopers/making of/post mortem stuff, I'm always curious about those things, the maybe upcoming "cutting room : part 2" and so on.

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UrbaNebula Author
UrbaNebula

Not trying to say that I'm judge, jury and executioner with regards to what people should enjoy, but it's just the way I feel after working on this particular section and trying time and again to make it work.

The old map files have not been deleted, just removed from the campaign. I imagine that they will be included in some way, shape or form once the mod is released. I know it's the kind of thing I myself enjoy looking through when modders release old/legacy files. :D

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AlienGruntXT
AlienGruntXT

Ohhh... That's awesome! Can't say how it's cool, because my english is bad. Anyway - still waiting for this!

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xcv2008
xcv2008

Urby the Exposition Spouter

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Qwertyus
Qwertyus

Well, OK. But maybe it will be fun to see outtakes released too one day ;)

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TheRenegadist
TheRenegadist

Good to hear from you guys!

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SabreXT
SabreXT

Sounds like the right call. One of the things that stops me enjoying repeat runs of Half-Life is the over long tram and intro section I've played dozens of times. Ditto with the various long, boring "unskipable cutscenes" in Half-Life 2. So much so I've been tempted to make maps that are one empty room with just a level transition to replace them. I'm reminded of the bridge scene in ep 2 where there's barrels blocking the way and that's enough to keep most first time players on track. That's a way better solution.

My mod might have had 30 seconds of non-story, but I had exposition guy easily be ran past on repeat playthroughs. Yeah, it's not "realistic", but having the player being able to ignore the story, be it by skipping cutscenes or running past everyone is more valuable than forcing them to sit through talking that they hate.

If the section is complete, why not record it and upload it somewhere?

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