Black Mesa VK Community - Interview

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    • Black Mesa VK Community - Interview

      Recently, russian VK community focused on Half-Life and it´s remakes asked us if we could arrange an interview. Hope you enjoy it along with some extra media.

      1.Hello Mr.Sugar,
      Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little about yourself.

      Greetings! My name is Antonín Žoha and I live in the Czech Republic. I joined Operation Black Mesa in its very early days in 2007 and then started Guard Duty in 2009 as my side project. All this was before these two teams merged into one team – Tripmine Studios - in 2011. My main roles are as team leader and level designer.It's great news that the Operation Black Mesa (OBM) and Guard Duty (GD) teams united!Do you have any team members that work in the video game industry professionally?

      2. What is the size of your current team?

      A few of our members work for indie game developers or even AAA studios; but most of us do this just as a hobby and do something completely different for a living. At this moment, we count 17 developers (excluding voice actors), but we expect to expand our team slightly in the near future.

      3.At the moment, what is your main development focus for OBM and GD?

      Recently, we have been focusing on gameplay quite a bit. Slowly and surely, levels are becoming playable from start to finish. There is often quite a few things being worked on at one time, though. In some cases we have gone back to the drawing board as we see big potential in revamping certain areas a bit more than we had originally planned. Regardless of the artistic freedom that we sometimes explore, we still want to preserve the original spirit we all love about Half-Life and its expansions.

      4. Can you tell us, please, what concerns you may have for Operation Black Mesa and Guard Duty. Do you aim to innovate or stick strictly to the design of the original games?

      Our goal is to keep the original spirit of both games and bring them up to todays modern standards. Many things will remain similar, just with a much needed facelift. The Source Engine still has many great features that we will utilize. As to be expected, many puzzles will now utilize physics simulation. We aim to enrich the gameplay, while still keeping that Half-Life feeling.

      We have a goal to expand the game, both in terms of level design with slightly expanded maps, as well as with more NPCs and additional scripted sequences to make the world around you feel more alive than ever.

      5. In Opposing Force and Blue Shift, there are many places interwoven with the original Half-Life. The question is: will we see any similar crossovers with Black Mesa (Crowbar Collectives remake of Half-Life 1)?

      One of the many reasons why we merged Operation Black Mesa and Guard Duty was for consistency. Working together on both projects at the same time (and as one team) allows us to share assets and levels directly amongst both projects without having to worry about copyright infringement, etc.

      We are not associated in any way with Crowbar Collective or their game, Black Mesa. So you will not see any direct crossovers, though some areas may be similar in appearance.
      When OBM and GD started development, Black Mesa had already been under development for a short time, but was still far from release. It was decided to begin work on OBM and GD as our own projects, rather than wait for Black Mesa to release and create OBM and GD as a mod for Black Mesa. This decision was for a number of reasons, some of which are: because we wanted to make our own content for use in a portfolio, for time-sensitive reasons, and also merely because our design choices may differ from that of the Crowbar Collective.

      With that being said, we have the ut-most admiration for the work the Crowbar Collective has done and would not be surprised if we see some unofficial mods in the future that combine our work with theirs.

      6.Will we see Boot Camp featured in OBM? Do you plan to cut anything that was present in the original games?

      We definitely plan to include Boot Camp and I believe fans will love our take on that! But we definitely want to avoid cutting content out and I would say we have been successful on this front. If anything, the games will be expanded upon in almost every way.

      7. Have you encountered any serious problems during development, so far?

      Game development is difficult and I cannot imagine any project that has never enountered any serious challenges during development; we are no exception. As you can imagine, our build being leaked was quite a big problem by itself.
      During development there are always very common problems to deal with. Simply not having enough spare time to work on the projects is a very common issue to work around. We still have to live our lives and go to our daily jobs to bring food to the table, which means less time and energy that we could have dedicated to our projects instead.
      Sometimes we are lacking in man-power in certain departments. On that note, our team is currently more solid than ever with quite a low fluctuation in members coming and going, which is of course very good news. I am confident in saying that we are capable enough to deal with most problems that arise and there is nothing very serious threatening the projects.

      8.Leaks are never a pleasant thing to discuss, but would you be willing to talk a little bit about the OBM MP leak that occurred?

      As you can imagine, no one was happy about it. It´s always hard to deal with something like that. It´s even more upsetting that the leak happened merely because someone found it entertaining to cause damage to our project and development. However, we remained strong and learned our lesson from this. Certain steps have been taken to avoid this in the future. Luckily, the build that was leaked was not the latest build we had, which brought a little bit of optimism to our lives.

      9. Have you made significant improvements in the graphical aspect of the Source Engine?

      We are looking into some things currently, to improve the graphical fidelity of the games; but at this point we do not have anything we are ready to discuss or show off.

      10. Seeing as there are many passionate fans in the community, do you have any open positions for opportunities to join the team?

      Definitely! We are always looking for people who are passionate and dedicated. If anyone wants to join us, there are guildeliness at and a list of available positions.
      In order for applicants to even be considered for the team, they need solid experience in their area of interest and need a portfolio to represent their skill level.
      We would like fans to keep in mind that It doesn´t look good if you tell us you have been working with the Source Engine for 5 years, yet all you show us is a few simple prototype maps utilizing dev textures. Unfortunately, simply being a super fan isn't enough to get yourself a position on the team.

      Anything to say to aspiring content and game creators?

      I wish them the best of luck on the bumpy road. It takes a lot of patience, endurance, and strength to overcome all the obstacles you might encounter and I hope their projects turn out succcessful and the way they envisioned them.

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