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Discussing variety and expediency of Field Intensity weapons.

Posted by on - Basic Design/Concepts

Field Intensity has a long development history. Initially it started as an Opposing Force based mod. Limited to Opposing Force features we wanted to use the game libraries to their full potential. And that's the reason why Field Intensity features both Half-Life and Opposing Force weapons. But is it worth having such a diverse arenal? Let's figure.

Desert Eagle and Colt Python

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It turned out, some players feel frustrated about having two similar weapons in the arsenal. Gameplay-wise Desert Eagle and Colt Python are similar indeed, yet the damage difference can be significant in some situations. We considered Python an overpowered weapon and it can be found only in a few secret areas, so it's more like a bonus for exploration, not every player obtains it. Still adding the Colt Python may be not justified enough.


Displacer surely was an interesting concept in Opposing Force. However, having it in the game comes with a price of building additional areas for teleportation on each level where Displacer is available. Not only do level-designers have more work to do, but also their efforts might go unnoticed by most players, as not all players use Displacer on each level. Even Opposing Force just recycles a number of same Xen areas through the game.


Most players did not see this beautiful cave made by Ga1alxian

Field Intensity features Displacer just because it's an Opposing Force weapon (remember that we wanted to use opfor libraries to their maximum) and I would probably abandon the idea of introducing it if I had to re-make the mod from scratch.
In some other project the idea of Displacer, however, can be extended and it can play a more important role in the game or even become a story driver to justify the amount of extra work, but such things must be planned beforehand.


Just like Displacer, Grapple was added in Field Intensity only to be on par with Opposing Force arsenal, and just like Displacer, having Grapple makes level-designer's work more complicated, as one must ensure the player won't reach unintended locations using this weapon (e.g. by latching on monsters). The Grapple usage is very scarce in Field Intensity and the mod could definitely go without this weapon at all.


Now allow me to digress a bit and talk about the way the weapon is introduced in Field Intensity. From Opposing Force we know that scientists specifically worked on the Barnacle creature detaching, so the Grapple lying on the ground without any explanation didn't feel right. But that's what we had for the most time of the development! We couldn't let it stay like that, and at first I thought that we need to add some lab section to justify the Grapple presence. But Field Intensity had already enough lab areas and adding a whole new section was too costly at the moment. Eventually the idea of clumsy scientist who got the grapple somewhere else and unsuccessfully tried to use it to traverse the pit came to my mind. The scene is also a homage to the Displacer introduction scene from Opposing Force.

Portable Medkit


Extending a player's arsenal with a Portable Medkit became possible after we moved from using opfor game libraries to our own ones. Personally I see it as a fine and successful addition. It also nicely lies into the setting as the player finds it in the medical lab.
Some Half-Life players feel bad for friendly npcs when they're low on health. With a portable medkit and enough healing juice players finally can take care of friendly npcs and be helpful towards them.
While it did not appear in any official Half-Life game, a portable medkit itself can be considered a classic tool the Half-Life community is familiar with. First a portable medkit appeared in Team Fortress Classic as a special weapon of Medic class, and then it has been re-used in various fan-made Half-Life mods like Azure Sheep, They Hunger and, most notably, Sven Co-op.

Spore launcher


As any other Opposing Force weapon, a Spore Launcher is featured in Field Intensity too. The only problem is that it's given to a player too late (in the last chapter), so they don't get to enjoy the spore launcher action enough. Also the player's arsenal is already too broad at this point.

Lessons learned

  1. Don't let a player carry two similar weapons at the same time to avoid the confusion and frustration that may come with it.
  2. Before introducing a weapon that requires a special treatment from a level-designer (like Displacer or Grapple) evaluate the cost of such addition and consider the imposed limitations and complications.
  3. When giving a weapon, let players have enough time to use it before the end of the game.

Interesting article, it was a good idea to make the Revolver a secret weapon, and I too kind of wish the Spore Launcher was given a bit earlier becore the end.

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I am glad the mod has the Displacer, some players might forget about it but it is one of my favourite Opposing Force weapons, I love the Quake II BFG primary fire and the secondary self-teleport feature as well.

A way to integrate it into the story and gameplay more might be to have some kind of "teleport beacons" that would allow you to change the teleport destination to solve a puzzle.

Presumably the Displacer was invented in order to be a miniaturised personal teleporter, with a way of selecting a destination. (And Shepherd didn't know how to use it, or the resonance cascade made it malfunction.)

So perhaps there could be devices or platforms you could find and activate in some of the maps, and doing so would change the Displacer destination to that platform. So then you can solve a puzzle on Earth, and then use the Displacer self-teleport, and instead of teleporting you to Xen, it would send you to that platform.

Sometimes the teleport platform could be something you walk up to and activate, allowing you to use the Displacer to return there later after completing a task elsewhere in the map. Other times, there could be a platform up on an upper level, or across a chasm, or on the other side of a fence or bullet-proof glass or a pool of acid, but it can be turned on using a computer or switch on your side. Maybe there is a secret or Easter egg there, or maybe it is how you are supposed to progress but normally you would need to do a jumping puzzle to get across.

Give some uranium ammo next to the switch, but not the full 60 ammo needed, so then the player has to decide whether it is worth it, or whether they should save the ammo and do the jumping puzzle instead.

After the teleport platform has been used, it becomes useless (maybe it sparks and breaks, or maybe a screen says "recharge time: 3 hours" or "Displacement Energy: Depleted" or something like that) to justify not being able to teleport back to that platform once you are on another map. If you try to self-teleport before turning on a platform, or after you've already used the platform once, then it takes you to Xen like usual.

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Clonest Opposing force mod that contains the portable medkit?! goodbye sven coop!! This is the real "classic mode" now :D

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