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For some of you this information isn’t going to be new, but we notice a lot of confusion or general lack of clarity around the Black Mesa areas, be it the Crowbar Collective Discord server or elsewhere. So we’re here to once again address the whole Hazard Course Steam Workshop version issue.

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Yo! Wow, it’s been a while, huh? After four (4) years we would love to be getting back to you guys with good news, but unfortunately that’s not quite the case. For some of you this information isn’t going to be new, but we notice a lot of confusion or general lack of clarity around the Black Mesa areas, be it the Crowbar Collective Discord server or elsewhere. So we’re here to once again address the whole Hazard Course Steam Workshop version issue.

Putting the Black Mesa: Hazard Course on the Steam Workshop is something our team is actually dying to do. I mean it’s been 5+ years, are you surprised? Xen was released, and HC still hasn’t made its way to the Workshop. That’s nuts! But as with most things, there’s a pretty good reason. Multiple, actually!

Stock Content

First and foremost, the Steam version of Black Mesa isn’t too keen on using content that modifies stock files. In some cases this can be worked around if you know how to properly mount new content, but that’s not always the case. Such workarounds can usually work with general assets, but not so much engine files and scripts.

For example, if you make Crowbar Recolor #9001, Black Mesa won’t read it. You’ll be scrambling around checking your VMTs for typos like a bodyless chicken head. However if you put it into a special folder and then mount that folder on your own, there’s a reasonable chance it might work.

But, let’s say you want a custom resource file. Let’s say you’re doing something wild, like making a training chapter, and you want to tell your players what button the +USE key is. Well, no matter what you do, Black Mesa looks at your modified file, shrugs, and just uses its own. That’s very annoying and restrictive. Or maybe you have custom particle effects? Or say, a custom scenes.image because you wrote an entire script for your mod, and wanted characters to speak during it? Yeah, same deal.

This is usually what people are talking about when they think they ported the mod to Steam themselves. They copied over the files, and Black Mesa recognizes the maps, and custom textures that don’t replace anything in Black Mesa, and they think it works fine. But alas, the features that make our Hazard Course truly unique and interesting, are all broken.

The Workshop

This goes in a bit with the point above about replacing stock files, but has its own quirks. Black Mesa’s Steam Workshop is about as reliable as pinging @everybody and everybody actually being interested. This gets even worse with larger mods like Hazard Course. When I wake up at night screaming bloody murder, it’s because I saw blackmesa_publish.exe in my nightmares.

Horrendous tools aside, the Workshop really is a pain in the UX department. For starters, unless you’re doing a simple map, then it doesn’t work. But you can technically get it to work if you go find your workshop downloads folder in your Steam filesystem, then search through every download to find the series of randomly generated numbers that corresponds to the mod you want, then manually extract (but not before downloading the tool to extract it if needed) and move that to a special folder you create and manually mount in your BM installation, and then if none of the content replaces script or resource files, it should work.

But that’s a lot of work for something most players would expect to be a single click of the “Subscribe” button. Most game workshops are “simply click the button, load the game, and play”. Right now, Black Mesa requires a wealth of prep beforehand, and it’s just going to drive people away from playing. We want an easy, painless installation. Black Mesa’s Workshop currently doesn’t afford us (or most mods) that option.

Also for some reason when installed as a Workshop item, the engine loads our entire changelog into memory and causes a buffer overflow which crashes the game which is a smaller issue but still hilarious.

logic_playerproxy

This is a weirder, more technical one, but one we really do care about. The Source Engine by default has this neat little entity called logic_playerproxy. This allows level designers to make note of various player states, like their health level, and trigger events to happen based on that. We use this a lot throughout the course because it’s useful for some areas, and a way to have fun actions that are just cool. If you recall the “Five Nights at Hazard Course” map we made for April Fool’s years back, that was made with heavy usage of logic_playerproxy for things like detecting if the flashlight is on.

In the Steam version of Black Mesa, logic_playerproxy isn’t functional. Whatever happened during the engine changes, this entity became busted along the way. Crowbar Collective is aware of this, we’ve spoken to them about it a few times. Some years ago we were told that the entity would be fixed in the next content update. Then that didn’t happen and it’s been lost to time.

Long-Jump Module Training

Due to the changes in how the LJM works in Xen (namely how the landing jets system prevents all fall damage) our current training layout actually will not work, because the area directly after where you get the module requires you to take fall damage! Additionally, changes to how the locomotion works and new redirection mechanics will likely require the actual LJM training to get a new layout to be actually useful to the player. This will take a while longer than just recompiling the map! We’ve heard that this can potentially be bypassed with a flag, but haven’t had a chance to confirm that. Primarily mentioning it for transparency in case it does become an issue.


With all of that in mind, “Who cares,” we hear some of you cry! We’re certain there’s a demographic who sees these issues, and thinks, “Well, why not just let me play it? Who cares if there’s no choreography, or easter eggs, or thoughtful functions or fun, cool stuff? Just give me the maps!”

The simple answer is that BM:HC is our baby! We put a lot of thought into many aspects of it. We wrote an extensive script, considered all sorts of player possibilities, and genuinely put plenty of love and care into it. In our testing and the responses we’ve gotten, it’s not an experience that falls apart when you poke it the wrong way, but instead embraces that poke and gives you a little treat for trying to be clever.

Also if you don’t have all those ‘extra’ features, like choreography, you literally can’t beat it without noclip because, for example, a lot of the doors are scripted to be opened remotely by NPCs. Plus, without Dr. Cross giving her scripted demos, is it even really the Hazard Course?

If we wanted to just push out some pretty maps, we wouldn’t have spent as much time on it as we did. We don’t really want to put out a stripped, incomplete, or non-functional version of our creation on the platform where it’s more than likely going to get the largest audience it ever will. It’s a bit of a slap to the face. We released The Course back in 2015, and while it may not have had every cool idea we had, what we could implement, we were happy and it was well received. It’s still possible to play for free if you can spare the extra few GB for the free version of Black Mesa. Maybe it lacks some of the fancier possibilities of the Steam version, but it’s still a complete and functional experience that we’re happy to have you play.

So what’s next? Crowbar Collective is well aware of all of this. They know the workshop has issues, they know the logic_playerproxy entity is broken. They know their playerbase wants the Hazard Course because it’s mentioned multiple times a week every week in their server, and they even directly link to us in their official FAQ. They know, we know. Once again, we’ve spoken with them directly in the past in hopes of getting things sorted. We hate to be silent and keep you in the dark, but there’s just no light so far, unfortunately. We’re at CC’s mercy in regards to whether the issues are ever addressed.

Trust us, we want to put this thing on Steam more than anyone. And heck, just as modders, we want the Workshop fixed. Did you know both Notewell and Chris from our team have projects they want to release for BM’s Steam Workshop but can’t because the Workshop won’t play nicely? Boo!

We see you all want the Course on Steam, we’re crossing our fingers and holding out for it all the same, and if the day comes that we can do it, you can rest assured we’re still interested in doing it! Until then, though, we’ll keep our eyes on it while we focus on other stuff. Like hey, did you know our team’s moved on to developing a reimagining of Half-Life: Decay? It’s called Peer Review, and you should check it out over here.

We’ll see you guys next time we have something new to share, yeah?

Comments
MR.SUPERIOR
MR.SUPERIOR

well maybe after 1.5 update ?

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wmf776759
wmf776759

Patiently waiting...

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23-down
23-down

As usual I hold my thumbs pressed for you guys.. I want the HC as much as you want.. I feel that Black Mesa is incomplete without it. Other cut chapters of Black Mesa were thankfully restored and partially even recreated in a more clever way by now. And even officially implemented as they recruited the guy responsible for that.

The best thing you can do is to keep pester them about it. Same goes for the public.. Raise your voice and link Crowbar Collective to this very news post, people. So that they get things done.

They did start out as modders as well. Let them remind them of their roots in the hopes that they help out the very modders here and essentially us the loyal fans of both Black Mesa and the Hazard Course mod. Ultimately allowing us to play the Hazard Course as it was intended by this modding group.

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ChrisBryant Author
ChrisBryant

It's a weird spot. Is us reaching out to them again showing that we're eager to be on the workshop and help them sort things, or is it just being impatient and making them resent us? We want their Workshop fixed, but we don't want them to hate us for nagging them to fix it (along with every other modder out there). They haven't clearly communicated anything openly or even just to us about the topic, but maybe they have good reason.

We were tempted to pencil in a line joking that if everyone bugged CC about HC on the Workshop all the time, it would eventually make them cave and focus on fixing the workshop, but we didn't want any bad blood or to come across as aggressive since we're sure they're busy.

If it's any consolation, supporting modding and then breaking everyone's mods later is a pretty Valve-like thing to do, so maybe they're staying to true to their roots after all ^~^

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Gloveman
Gloveman

Was hoping Crowbar Collective and you could collab and make the Hazard Course official on the start menu instead of Workshop, but whatever works eorks.

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ChrisBryant Author
ChrisBryant

There's a lot of legal logistical work that makes that pretty much impossible, unfortunately. Would certainly be nice, though!

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☢AlieN☢
☢AlieN☢

Is it really impossible? I mean i too would love to have it officially in chapters menu once it's fully fixed.
Well if that won't work out i might try to make it myself when mod will be fixed for steam, i think i once added custom chapters to HL2's chapters menu, it probs the same thing in BM. =)

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Guest
Guest

How much work would it be to replace/remake the parts that don't work with the Steam version? How much would it change the mod itself?

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dky.tehkingd.u
dky.tehkingd.u

It's not just a matter of replacing or remaking things. Some things could potentially be replaced after maybe months of effort (e.g. the longjump training). Other things are simply 100% impossible to replace (e.g. logic_playerproxy).

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Guest
Guest

Okay, thanks for the answer!

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wolfprince1
wolfprince1

Yeah, Hazard Course would be sweet to play again. The whole After Disaster mod just wasn't the same, but like you said a lot's happened in the last half-decade. I don't understand half the stuff you posted, but I trust you.

Keep up the good work though, the Peer Pressure thing looks awesome, especially the swimming pool.

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Guest
Guest

Setting aside the possibility of a steam release do you think it could be possible release it as a stand alone sourcemod? I think it would be great to be able to play this without having to download another Black Mesa.

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dky.tehkingd.u
dky.tehkingd.u

It's possible, but unlikely that we'd do it. The Hazard Course mod uses so many Black Mesa assets and files that you may as well just download all of Black Mesa to get the files you need to run the Hazard Course.

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