Video game development is often portrayed both as some fantastic journey as well as a prolonged nightmare, the latter due to cramming to meet hard target dates, long development periods, and even delays. And that’s when there’s a company funding the development. For fan-made, mostly voluntary game development, things can take far, far longer than initially envisioned. Fortunately for hardcore Half-Life fans, the wait is finally over and one of the most popular remakes of the game will be hitting Steam next week.
Waiting for a few days is probably a drop in the ocean compared to the 14 years it took to develop Black Mesa. That fact may make some wonder about the wisdom of working on such a large game for free. Project team lead and now company owner Adam Engels, however, has had no regrets, especially considering how the mostly unpaid work has actually helped him land jobs or make connections in the game industry.
Black Mesa is no small undertaking. Unlike mods that try to upgrade graphics or assets, it is an honest to goodness remake that tries to bring the original to a level on par with Half-Life 2. That was one of the reasons for the latest delay which involved reworking the last and, according to most reviews, the weakest level of the game.
Engels makes it clear that simply releasing version 1.0 doesn’t mean the work is done. The game, he notes, will never really be perfect so they plan on supporting it with bug fixes and more. Getting it out the door, though, is the important first step that has to happen.
After 14 years in the oven, Black Mesa 1.0 will finally launch on Steam on March 5, 2020, for $19.99. This is perfect timing, perhaps intentionally even, with the renewed interest in the franchise thanks to Half-Life: Alyx’s launch on March 23. And in case you also want to experience the original game, all Half-Life titles are available for free up to the day Alyx launches.