The Half-Life franchise is arguably Valve’s biggest, and most popular property to date, and has been instrumental in setting the stage for such gaming superstar franchises like the Mass Effect trilogy and Dead Space. It set one of the highest benchmarks for first person shooters and boasts one of the largest modding communities of all time.
Today is the 15th anniversary of the release of the original Half-Life on PC.
In the beginning, the premise was not an easy sell. Players took on the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman, a theoretical physicist who has to fight his way out of a secret underground research facility whose research and experiments have taken a horribly wrong turn. With revolutionary gameplay and intense expectations for story and presentation, it was bandied about the industry as too ambitious a project for the time. It took a while before Sierra Studios took the chance and picked it up.
What a chance. Critics fell in love. The game won over 50 PC Game of the Year awards, continued to influence the design of all FPS for years, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest computer games of all time. The franchise has an enormous fanbase, and a cult following that won’t quit. Just try and see what kind of feedback announcing Half-Life 3 will net you, 15 years later.
But fans don’t just have an anniversary to celebrate. Today the devs of Source-powered remake Black Mesamade a new announcement on their forum:
Black Mesa is planned for retail release on Steam.
And for a “relatively low price” at that!
Now, this does not mean that the free version will no longer be available – far from it. The team has also announced that they will be releasing a “completely new free version.”
One of the biggest modding projects of all time, Black Mesa is an impressively popular mod release with Half-Life fans because of its combination of slick, updated graphics, and its dedication to the source material. Valve has been highly supportive of the product, going so far as to officially accept it on the Steam store as one of the first titles ever to become Greenlit – and now it will take that an unprecedented step forward by allowing Black Mesa to actively make money for the devs.
“Last year, Black Mesa was one of the first Steam games to be Greenlit by you, our amazing fans. We’ve had quite a year since then, with a lot happening internally that we haven’t been able to talk about… until now. Black Mesa has been given the opportunity to be sold as a retail product on Steam! This is an incredible honor – one we never expected – but also one we found hard to accept.
We never developed Black Mesa with money in mind. Our team is made up of average, hardworking people, and no one joined the team to make money. For us, Black Mesa is purely a labor of love. We believe this philosophy has significantly contributed to the overall quality and feel of the game.
Our decision to sell Black Mesa rests on two key points. One is we believe we can make the game even better by having full access to the Source engine. This lets us tackle and fix limitations instead of working around them. The second is because frankly, our team could really use the financial help.”
The project leader also laid out some of the long-term plans they have for the project, particularly in reference to the later ‘Xen’ levels. While they have received “overwhelming” fan anticipation for Xen, and the conclusion of the game, it looks like it’s going to be a long wait for Xen.
“Over the past year, we have spent a HUGE amount of time porting the game to a new engine and fixing hundreds of bugs. The work to port to the new engine was not because of the decision to go retail, this was work that had to be done to get Black Mesa onto Steam and support our future plans.”
The retail release of Steam promises to include a multitude of interesting additions which will be announced later on down the road.
Not quite Half-Life 3, but still a lot to be excited about if you ask me!