After years of waiting the fan made remake of Half-Life, Black Mesa, was released and most people seem pretty satisfied with the results. Interestingly, the team made some calculated changes in the game — partly to bring Half-Life up to scratch, but also in an attempt to surprise players.
In an interesting interview with Gamasutra, project lead Carlos Montero discussed the development of the game, and the obstacles the team needed to overcome — but he also discussed what changes needed to be made to classic original and why.
It turns out these changes were mostly made as a result of the improvements made in Half-Life 2.
"We actually made some changes to enhance the game," explained Montero. "With the Source engine now and all the physics and stuff we definitely changed a lot of puzzles... We also changed some things relating to weapon progression and enemy progression, and I was taking a lot of cues from Half-Life 2. A lot of it came down to looking at Half-Life 2, and trying to figure out what Valve had learned, and we wanted to see if we could bring those lessons back to the original."
He also mentioned that the team enjoyed messing with fan expectation, but making some tiny tweaks, just to surprise folks.
But, of course, you can't please all of the people all of the time.
"Reception hasn't been perfect, but there were a number of topics that we knew would get a split reception," said Montero. "The whole concept of crouch jumping, for instance. We knew things like that were really tough issues, because if we removed it from the game, people would be upset, and if we left it in the game, there'd be people who didn't like it because they weren't used to it. It was just a split issue where no matter what decision we made, there'd be some people who were upset."
It's a pretty incredible achievement all up, considering the game started life as a student project.