Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

This post contains strong and forceful language.

In addition, I hold nothing back concerning my deeply held beliefs about Half-Life.

If you are easily offended, I suggest you give this post a miss.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

In the highly unlikely event that you haven’t seen the short film that this poll is discussing, please do so now, it’s called Beyond Black Mesa.

Tomorrow, Podcast17 has an interview with the makers of the film and initially I planned to be in on the kill, and let me be clear, that’s how I felt my role would be.

These talented but pretentious film makers have taken something we care deeply about and raped it and I wanted to ask them some serious questions. That’s not to say that the interviewers on P17 won’t, I just like to stick my nose into everything.

Responsibility

Every artist that takes an exisitng IP, idea, vision, concept, whatever you want to call these things, and uses it to make something themselves, has a responsibility to that idea. If somebody made a mod for Half-Life 2, where you played a citizen who encountered Gordon Freeman, and GF suddenly turned to the player and started rapping East Coast style, we would rightly be saying “What the fuck is that?”.

With regard to BBM, the most obvious departure from the HL world is the Combine Soldier who suddenly decides to pull out a Ninja sword. For crying out loud, what fucking idiot thought that that would be a good idea? Did they honestly expect all the Half-Life fans would be cheering?
Geez, that would like Frodo whipping out a Jedi Lightsaber!

Sure, it’s fun to imagine stuff like that, but that sort of thing should be done with your friends for “shits and giggles”, not, in what I believe was supposed to be a serious fan movie.

We’ve been used

In fact, I can’t believe that the producer of this movie is a real fan. How can anybopdy who describes themselves as having a “passion for Half-Life” include that?

I’ll go as far as to say that I wouldn’t need much convincing that the producers have used the Half-Life franchise to unfairly promote their film.

Let’s be honest, how much publicity would this film be getting if it wasn’t connected to HL?

The film

For me, the film lacks substance. Yes, stylistically and technically, it’s excellent for a amateur-made short film, but when you base it on a conceptual universe it needs to “feel right”? And at no point did it feel right to me.

If you took all the obvious references out of the film; the lambda symbol, the aperture science logo on the PC case, the Northen pertrol logo on the wall, the mask of the metrocops (which seem like hamsters with nuts in the cheeks to me) and finally, the distinctive grenade colour and sound, what exactly are you left with that is essentially Half-Life?

I would be hard pressed to actually define Half-Life (and that’s next week’s poll question) but I haven’t made a movie that is supposed to be set in the HL world. To be true to the original, I believe that a viewer should, assuming they a fans of the Half-Life franchise, instinctively know that the film was set in that universe.

Just another crazy fan

I have little doubt that thousands of non-fans would read this and not understand what all the fuss is about and why people like me take it so seriously. But you only need to have been visiting this site for a short time to know that I don’t like it when people take liberties with the basic concepts.

Fan fiction has really taken a leap in terms of scope and ambition in the last 5 years. You only need to see what some film groups have doen with Star Wars and Star Trek projects, but in all the cases I have seen, then stayed within the limits set by the original. Star Wars films don’t include “beam” technology and Star Trek films don’t have Jedi mind tricks.

The zombies also need to be mentioned. Since when have Half-Life zombies been fast? Never. Yes, putting Headcrabs on their head would have been a ton of work, but adding zombies it didn’t add to the “feeling” that this is Half-Life. There are a thousand zombie movies out there but I don’t think of Half-Life every time I see them. Why? Because HL zombies are zombies for a reason – those headcrabs. If you can’t include them, and I fully understand the reasons why they didn’t, then don’t include some half-assed version either. That’s no better than bad headcrabs, in fact it might be worse.

The devil is in the details

I want to watch the movie another ten times and list each and every departure from the Half-Life universe, but what would that really accomplish? I might feel better after having written another 500 words, ripping to shreads the concepts used but the film has been made and released. My only hope is that doing something like that would stop other film makers from abusing the creativity that an inexpensive hand-held camera allows them.

What about the film?

Now, putting aside direct references to the Half-Life universe, let’s look at the actual film. I’m confused. Was the narrator the character we saw on the screen? I got the impression that he ended up helping the asian teletubby guy to broadcast a message from Sheppard – which was itself a little too Terminator 4 for my liking.

Why didn’t the metrocops just kill them when they had the chance? Why did the main characters spend the first 95% of the movie looking very carefully around corners only for the final scene for them to just look the other way and rush out into the open?

Why did the metrocops not see the grenade by his feet, or at the very least hear it?

Technique isn’t everything

All through the film I got the impression the film makers had said “Okay, what “effect” can we use here?” By effect, I mean film making style or device to scare, shock or thrill the audience. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. I felt, and still feel, that the film makers were trying to show off their abilities first and foremost not actually tell an interesting Half-Life story.

Twelve minutes isn’t very long to do that and obviously they wanted it to be action-orientated, but having all those pretty people running around, avoiding a lot of enemies was just silly. I mean, two guys standing around and a hot chick comes running between them and they turn to look at each other and then from where she has come from – come on, that’s Buster Keaton type stuff.

Regular readers will know that I have a deep belief that beta testing for mods is an essential process. Screenings for movies probably have a similar function. Did the film makers actually screen test the movie to “real” half-Life fans? Do they honestly care what we think? I doubt it. We’ve been used to further their career as coldly and heartlessly as the Combine have used Earth and its people.

No “real” Half-Life fan would have made a movie like this.

My Questions

Here are the questions I have submitted to Podcast 17 in the hope that some get asked…

  • How many times have you played all the HL games?
  • What’s your favourite HL game?
  • What is you favourite SP and MP mod?
  • How did you expect the fans of HL to react to your departures?
  • If you took out all the obvious references to HL, what is essentially HL in the film?
  • Did you screen test it with serious HL fans?
  • How do you respond to the criticism that you have cynically used the HL universe solely to promote your film making, not because you love HL?
  • Did you make any money from this project?
  • Why did you only use pretty actors?
  • Was the main character supposed to be Shepard? If yes, why?
  • Based on the feedback and your experiences making the film, if you made it again, what would you do differently?

I am sure the interviewers at P17 have a long list of questions too, so that’s enough. If you are curious, the first three questions are there to try and establish that these people aren’t real fans.

The Poll

Okay, it’s time to get voting!

Published

5th February 2011

Categories
Get the most from the comments
Follow these comments by RSS feed
63 Comments
  1. PurePareidolia

    5th February 2011

    You're pretty much on the money here – looking at it I ask many of the same questions. In fact it appears that the only reason this exists is as a SFX portfolio. I didn't hate it – I think some parts were competantly made and this is impressive for an indie film, but the fact I did not give it the lowest rating does not mean that approval is happening here.

    It still feels more like a Boll style mock adaption with only lip service paid to the mythos, the characters and the games themselves. Even ignoring that it's story was incompetantly told – I couldn't tell who was doing what, I didn't understand the conventions of the universe they were in (which it claiming to be a Half Life film, I think I probably should) so lots of stuff came out of nowhere and I neither cared for nor understood anything about any of the characters. So this guy is apparently Adrian Shepard. OK, all we know about that character from the games is he's a soldier, so why is he doing kung fu moves and parkour? OK, well what are the refugees doing exactly? did they do it? why did Adrian kill himself?

    It's just not very good.

  2. To be fair the movie was stated as inspired by Half Life not completely based in the same universe. I guess the producer being the only Half Life fan on the crew he would have had to work within the scope the production would allow and team input would also not take into account any required Half Life references.

    The Podcast 17 interview will be interesting nonetheless.

    • Sorry, but I feel that's a cheap cop-out. People say shit like that so they can add their own ideas and think it's okay. I wouldn't have minded a film inspired by HL, with not direct references to it, but whilst you could argue that the "Beyond" in the title is a clue, the references (crowbar, lambda etc), including two thirds of the title, just make the inspired by a weak defence.

      • This fan movie also highlights all the issues that would be apparent in a full scale Hollywood production of the Half Life universe. Anything that strays from the path, is left out or too different would be besieged upon by fans – checkout the Uncharted movie and the fan uproar as evidence of this.

        The flipside argument to this is that a game is usually carried by limited art and assets is bound to be expanded upon in a live action version – hence the combine carrying a samurai sword. The combine is a sentient character in half life so having this character move beyond the scope of the game is unsurprising.

        I am not trying to defend the BBM in any way just trying to highlight both sides of the argument. Whilst I liked BBM in general, it is not even on the same level as another HL inspired vid WIITB: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU_reTt7Hj4

        • You make it sound as if making a movie based off Half life is impossible, but what of Escape from City 17? It was able to stay well in the bounds of canon and was well received, granted its more of a trailer than an actual "film" but regardless, it shows the concept of staying "in bounds" is possible.

  3. Hec 1053 comments

    5th February 2011

    OH god!!!, yep this was a kind of WTF of attempt of HL movie is that, I mean why include Adrian Sheppard into it??, I mean I know the authors clarified that, but that was so bad from the begining I mean come on!!, better you'd had invented another name for the main character, this short film is so out from the HL universe that name someone there like Adrian Shepard, is just so stupid and kind of a bad taste.

    I hated those stupid combines whit those fat idiotic cheeks, and the ninja sword come on!!!!; was that CMB a jappanese one or what the heck!!!, left that sword for a mod like the pretty good HL OLD SCHOOL but not includde it in a movie!!
    also the weapons were not propper at all, except for the granade and the pistol maybe…

    The zombies also need to be mentioned

    oh yes they are need to be mentioned, because those were like a defenitive robbed concept from L4D zombies, so come on!!, was this set into HL or L4D or what tha hell!!!!

    in my oppinion I dislike the mod, eventough I accept there's cool to see things related to that in the amateur filming production on the web, just let's hope future projects don't destroy HL universe so bad.

    also I need to point out that this film, named "ESCAPE FROM CITY 17" is so much better not with that scale of BBM, but I love the first and hate the second I mentioned in this paragraph, and that's for sure: by the way check it out people: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1UPMEmCqZo

    ReplyEdited at 7:54 AM, 5th February 2011
  4. As a sci-fi short film, it was pretty good; as a Half-life short-film, it was lackluster. So I will say it was okay, entertaining to watch, but not really faithful to the Half-life universe.

    I should point out that the same applies for some Half-life 2 mods, they can be entertaining to play, but they may not be really faithful to the universe that they are set in. A good example would be Strider Mountain, I always though it didn't fit in with Half-life, the art-style was drastically different, gameplay was a bit samey, but I still thought it was an amazing mod, and I really enjoyed playing it.

    If Beyond Black Mesa was a Half-life 2 mod, I would put it in the same level as Strider Mountain, an etertaining experience that has very little relation to Half-life.

  5. Jasper 567 comments

    5th February 2011

    It's an anathema to me. As are other videos/films of the same ilk.

  6. Bramblepath

    5th February 2011

    I agree that they took liberties in terms of relating the film to Half-Life. Many scenes made no sense in the context of the Half-Life universe, and they seemed to choose a random main character from the game series (Shephard) and put him somewhere random with nothing in particular to do apart from run around mute not talking to people, running from enemies. It lacked a decent plot, and decent dialogue, and just wasn't very Half-Life.

    It was more of a showcase of the effects seen in the film rather than a Half-Life movie.

  7. "With regard to BBM, the most obvious departure from the HL world is the Combine Soldier who suddenly decides to pull out a Ninja sword."
    That right there was when I stopped watching, before that it was just boring and generic but at the ninja scene it became an insult.

    • Me too, I nearly stopped at that point too.

      • Agree with with you there. That was a seriously painful WTF moment – I thought I was gonna lose my lunch laughing at the sheer audacity of that scene ! And the CP was also scripted with an additional ludicrously " cheesy "cocky attitude !

  8. Count_de_Monet

    5th February 2011

    A bloke runs a round like a beheaded chicken in a derelict steel mill. OK. What else is new? Z series like this go by the dozen on cable TV, as spin-offs of real good movies.
    From the HL2 point of view, a few HL2 paraphernalia gizmos won't change anything. And why not pick up dead Combines SMGs for a plus? And where is the Attica/Annabelle 10-gauge, pray tell?
    The action too is lame. The ninja sword has been pointed out but can you imagine shooting Combines while one is taking a leak and the other one picks his nose instead of covering his buddy? The crowbar fight is OK, tho but that's about it.
    No creativity, no story, no realism.This movie is light-years away from the short but fast-paced jalopy chase scene Kyle revives in his dreams at the beginning of Terminator 1.
    I rest my case.

    ReplyEdited at 12:36 PM, 5th February 2011
  9. I really don't see what the huge problem is.
    I could probably open Microsoft Word and start writing some HL fan-fiction that would throw out the window everything people consider to be canon. I could even write a whole novel and post it somewhere even If I never published it and made money out of it…

    I understand your point that these people are using the Half-life IP as a trampoline to make their short film more popular, and in that case you are right. But wouldn't we have to complain about ALL the level designers who have used their maps from some game (Half-life series for example) to use as portfolio material to actually get jobs in the game industry? A lot of their maps were probably not exactly canon.

    Instead of an outraged reaction, there are other ways to look at this. For example: Half-life is such an important fictional universe that it is capable of spawning all sorts of fan made content, something you can't say about 90% of video-games.

    They way I see it, as beggars we can't be choosers. This isn't Valve turning around the main aspects of Half-life in some twisted fashion that contradicts everything they've done so far. It's just people in their spare time doing something they enjoy and taking advantage of an already established and recognizable mythos to be able to share it with more people.

    Something I should also mention is that you might really be looking at this (and I think mods might be included in this) the wrong way. The main objective of these amateur film makers was probably NOT making a film you would enjoy as a HL2 fan respecting all the rules of said universe in the process. Their objective was having a good time doing the movie. The rest comes after that: sharing it with others, gaining popularity etc.

    I think it's wrong to think that just because we own all the Half-life games, the HL universe belongs to us and everything made with elements of that universe should automatically be tailored to our tastes. Buying a Half-life game isn't what gives us the right to play a user-made mod. It's that user actually making it!

  10. I'm with Kasperg, this comes across as a serious overreaction to something these people just did as more of a portfolio piece.

    I agree that this isn't very truthful to the Half-Life universe, but this isn't some film-studio taken liberties left and right for an official Half-Life movie.
    It's a short, free movie they made just for fun.

  11. Although my feelings are not as strong as Phillip's, I generally agree. The film was OK’ish, but there were so many departures from the Half-Life world that I wasn't really interested after the first few minutes. The film makers simply hopped on the HL bandwagon and did not treat it with much respect. Anyone who uses an established theme to promote their own material should at least be true to that theme. Those that do show that not only are they accomplished film makers, but that they are also prepared to go the extra mile and make the effort to produce something that will be appreciated by the general public *and* the fans. By going that extra mile they earn the extra kudos.

    So, while the film makers are to be commended for the film per se, they get no points for anything else.

    ReplyEdited at 2:19 PM, 5th February 2011
    • Anyone who uses an established theme to promote their own material should at least be true to that theme

      In this case it might be true, but you'd be neglecting the concept of parodies with such a statement. And those do reach commercial status in a lot of cases!

  12. I voted "It was ok" Kinda looked like something from the "SyFy" channel! Low budget style.
    What blew it was the Nija swords and kicking, granted I learned that stuff in the Army, but after playing HL1/HL2 all this time it had no place here!!

  13. Escape from City 17
    The only true HL fan movie to me.

    • Hec 1053 comments

      6th February 2011

      Yep for me too buddy, if the whole attempts of HL short films were like that we wouldn't having this discussion!!

      ReplyEdited at 7:06 AM, 6th February 2011
  14. To me, I felt that it was a good try to make a short film set in the Half-Life 2 universe. But the fact that they couldn't stick to canon all the way and the acting, and actual believability was just a turn-off for me. I feel that with a better plot, details, more canon, and all that jazz, it would've been MUCH better.

    And, maybe some guerrilla style film cinematography would have been AMAZING.

    SO, I disliked it.

    By the way, Escape from City 17 by the Purchase Brothers has set the standards for a HL2 film, you can't be almost similar to that, good luck :/

  15. civanT 166 comments

    6th February 2011

    You're taking this too seriously. Half Life universe is good and all but it's far from perfect. I've never understood the point of using regular zombies in Half Life 2. They are like a joke to me. Whenever I see a regular zombie my only thought always be "what a waste of ammo". Not scary, not challenging, not fun, also I dare say they are stupid. Maybe the most disappointing part of Half Life 2. But Half Life 2 has fast zombies too. Because Valve knows their regular zombies are useless.

    In original Half Life, it was a story about monsters from another dimension. In Half Life 2, it's a dystopia. Half Life has assassins. Half Life 2 doesn't. Half Life has lots of weird creatures, Half Life 2 doesn't. Things are changing because Valve're evolving the universe to the better. It's now darker and has more realistic story (situations).

    Here, a few good film makers trying to show their evolution scenario for Half Life universe. There are good parts and bad parts:

    Fast zombies: Perfect.
    No headcrab: Perfect.
    Looks of Metrocops: Huge letdown.
    "Humane" Metrocops: Just NO.
    Story: Makes no sense.
    Production values: Good.
    Cinematography: Good.
    Ninja Metrocop: Well, I have no objections to that, but it makes Metrocop too human. They are better emotionless.

    That's that. Not a great movie, but I liked it.

    Also I believe artists don't have a responsibility or whatsoever to ideas they are using. They are artists, they just try to create art, however they want, as they like it. Changing Half Life universe isn't a crime, it's just a different way to look at it. Good or bad. (I'm not talking about legal stuff or plagiarism. just artistic inspiration)

  16. As a student film, it's okay. As a Half-Life project, it takes a lot of (needless) liberties.

    My main issues with it are more to do with the execution than anything else. It's flashy, it's loud, and there's very little of substance when you take away the special effects and gloss. An uninspired gotcha/sacrifice ending was the only thing it really tried to do with its story.

  17. I echo the sentiments of many:

    Production values are excellent, but it's not a Half-Life film. I appreciate the great work by all parties involved, but calling it "Beyond Black Mesa" was misleading.

    Really the clincher for me was the Zombies, which would have been okay if they even just looked like the L4D zombies, but they didn't. They even used the headcrab zombie voices in terrible context.

    I thought the action wavered, but all around nice. The ninja-cop thing didn't bother me too much really. If you don't got a gun, then why have no back-up?

    ReplyEdited at 12:32 AM, 6th February 2011
  18. Well I just watched it and first I shared your view on that project pretty much, but then I recognized the explanation below the movie and I think they have earnt a bit forgiveness about those weird or improper looking modifications like ninja swords or Left4Dead-like-zombies. Overall its a good movie, not the same atmosphere from Half-Life 2 but after all at least high quality images and some nice looking choreographies, even though this ridiculous ninja sword ^^

  19. Grey Acumen

    6th February 2011

    Basically, I'm right there alongside Phillip; Every departure from HL2 canon just irked the hell out of me, and every "awesome" scene felt like it was jumping through hoops in order to set them up.
    Oh, cool, my post in the chatbox is still there:

    I watched Beyond Black Mesa. It's got some serious high quality, but there are so many liberties taken and stupid things done for the sake of setting up "cool" scenes. If you're a real fan of Half Life, then it's just going to annoy you so much.

  20. I have a small confession to make…

    I took a strong stand simply to generate some passion.

    As others have said, it's just a short film and people who creative something have the right to create anything they want. I have the choice to either interact with it (view, play, listen, touch etc) or not. it's my choice.

    I do really feel that they have jumped on the Half-Life bandwagon for their own purposes though. Better to have made a film with no HL references.

  21. Major Banter

    6th February 2011

    Phillip, you've most likely already read my opinion on the film at various points around the site, and you know damn well that I agree with you completely.

    Fact of the matter is, the film was badly made regardless of content.

    And the content was dire in itself. The Combine soldiers use Stunsticks, not swords. Shephard is a broken, fubar ex-HECU merc – not a looker, a grim bastard who's been to hell and back.

    All of the actors are clean-shaven and healthy looking – the girl even looks like she's stepped out of the shower in every shot.

    Escape from City 17 by the Purchase brothers was perfect, and a prime example of HOW to do it. This was an example of how NOT to do it; HL2 is a specific IP, and by directly bringing in other IPs (the Rage from 28 Days zombies with L4D2 sounds) you're not being "inspired'; you're tearing up the formula in all the wrong ways.

    I understand the effort, skill and detail involved. What I don't like is the idea of Half-Life inspired. The volume of material, ideas and lore in Half-Life, along with its prestige and fanbase mean a film should ALWAYS be 95% accurate to the theme – with that 5% being made up. The Combine are the Combine; same tactics, weapons, skills, with that Hollywood interpretation for added drama. That means no samurai swords, no grenades dropped at feet, cliched saviour scenes, fat people, excessive running, bad zombies or whatever else we've all "latched onto as bad".

    And frankly, the cinematography, scene-setting, camera work and mise-en-scene were absolutely pathetic. Above average – and thus not on a par with the generally stunning VFX. That discontinuity kills it dead technically. It's not just about the content – the film itself, when boiled down to it, is crap.

    End of story, I'm afraid.

    And considering Escape From was made with a zero dollar budget and is fifty times the film this is, I question where that money was spent. Certainly not in casting or make-up, nor in planning or storyboarding.

  22. I stopped watching when the l4d-style zombies appeared.

  23. Phillip, your words a strong but I do agree,

    I have mixed views on it, basically…

    + The effects were absolutely amazing!,
    – The story was very confusing,
    + The City17 style was well incorporated into the detailed set,
    – Could be slightly longer with a better intro and outro
    – The characters were not explained well,
    + Very good camera work,
    – Not good interaction/communication with the Valve community when in the making

  24. I hated it.
    In their youtube description:
    ‘'this film is not HL,HL2 or Opposing Forces. It's a short fan film that takes place in the Half-Life world”.

    So…
    Inspired by Half-Life, film is not about Half-Life or OF, takes place in Half-Life word, "’Black Mesa’" in the title..
    All they did was stole some sound clips from Valve, added a crowbar in their movie and …BOOM! its suddenly a Half-Life movie!

    Now…Escape from City 17. I would pay to see that!

  25. If you can, for a few minutes as I did, look past your own cloud of stubborn self perceptions – born from so many years of playing in the HL universe – it was a thoroughly enjoyable, high quality stylistic cinematic short film, loosely based on our beloved Half Life and little else.

    I really enjoyed it a great deal and was thoroughly entertained by it. Especially that they had the grapes to go with that beautifully " Camptastic " move of having Shepard throwing the empty Glock !

  26. Major Banter

    7th February 2011

    I'm sorry, but I need to reiterate this.

    It was a mediocre shoot.

    The cinematography was mediocre.

    The camera work was mediocre.

    People are constantly focusing on the HL2 thing; and I'm stating once again that the shooting was not to an adequate standard. It was acceptable. No more. And therefore unprofessional. And therefore, not good enough.

    And therefore, bad.

    The quality – because of that shortfall – is thus not good.

    You don't think so, or believe me? Go look at FreddieW's YouTube editing videos. He shows how it's done. BBM did not.

  27. I too feel as if this is a major overreaction.

    Sure, the movie took a lot of liberties with the Half-Life lore and canon. Sure, they gave an Overwatch Soldier a short sword. And yes, they put in 28 Days Later zombies.

    But I found it an entertaining short film. I had fun watching it, and the filmmakers had fun making it, and that's all that matters.

    In fact, I commend them for having the courage to take their own liberties with the plot and lore, and to do their own thing. Not another cookie-cutter tale about some rebels running around.

    I'm not referring just to Phillip here, but I can definitely feel that there's a very palpable sense of entitlement here. Why are we acting like this? It was a low-budget fanfilm. Not an actual Half-Life film adaptation. It was made for fun, as a portfolio piece. Would you rather they stuck to the Half-Life canon, adhering to your standards, but felt miserable doing it? Just so all of you could get your perfect Half-Life fanfilm? Which you already have? What makes you so special?

    The film has its mistakes, of course. The story wasn't very well-developed. There was a bit too much action, and the ending felt rushed. It wasn't perfect at all. It was good, but nothing more. I don't see why we must constantly complain about how it disrespected this, raped that, shat all over that, and so on and so forth. They won't be doing Half-Life again anyway, so what is the point?

    The site and description even say "inspired by Half-Life". Inspired. Not based on, not set in the Half-Life universe. Inspired.

    One could say Opposing Force (and Blue Shift and the Hi-Def Pack and Decay, by extension) raped the Half-Life franchise. Adding some random alien species? Taking liberties with the Black Mesa facility itself? The story? G-Man's intentions? How come I don't hear anything about that? And that was a full-fledged expansion pack. Beyond Black Mesa is a low-budget fanfilm.

    Don't be so stubborn. Look beyond whatever twisted "Half-Life canon" standards you've set. Judge it for what it is, not what it isn't. It's an enjoyable film. Hell, Valve loved it. It's got some mistakes, but don't judge it because it didn't indulge you in whatever Half-Life tropes you want to see, because that's just selfish.

    ReplyEdited at 10:10 AM, 7th February 2011
    • Vic, I suggest you read my commet a little earlier than yours. BAsically, I wrote such a passionate piece because I wanted to stir the opinion pot.

      But I found it an entertaining short film. I had fun watching it, and the filmmakers had fun making it, and that's all that matters.

      I'm happy for you. but "entertaining" is a subjective adjective. As others have said, even without the HL references it was mediocre at best.

      I commend them for having the courage to take their own liberties with the plot and lore, and to do their own thing. Not another cookie-cutter tale about some rebels running around.

      That sounds silly to me. What exactly did they add that made the story, settings or whole film better?

      Why are we acting like this? It was a low-budget fanfilm. Not an actual Half-Life film adaptation.

      How does that make any difference?

      Just so all of you could get your perfect Half-Life fanfilm?

      There's no such thing as a perfect film. But sticking to canon didn't have to be hard.

      Which you already have?

      What film are you referring to?

      What makes you so special?

      Nothing, but I have every right to express my opinion, in any way I choose.

      The story wasn't very well-developed. There was a bit too much action, and the ending felt rushed. It wasn't perfect at all.

      Yet you claimed it was entertaining.

      I don't see why we must constantly complain about how it disrespected this, raped that, shat all over that, and so on and so forth.

      One post doesn't constitute "constantly".

      They won't be doing Half-Life again anyway, so what is the point?

      By following that logic, there is no point is saying it was entertaining. It's irrelevant whether other things will be made by creators. The fact they made and released work, goives all viewers the right to exppress their opinion.

      The site and description even say "inspired by Half-Life". Inspired. Not based on, not set in the Half-Life universe. Inspired.

      Simply repearting a word doesn't make your argument stronger.

      The use of inspired, as I have alrady said, is a cop-out. By using the Lambda symbol and other clearly indentifable imagery from the game I truely believe they lost the right to claim inspiration. If they had use the Omega symbol and icons simialr to the game then I would have accepted that.

      One could say Opposing Force (and Blue Shift and the Hi-Def Pack and Decay, by extension) raped the Half-Life franchise. Adding some random alien species? Taking liberties with the Black Mesa facility itself? The story? G-Man's intentions? How come I don't hear anything about that? And that was a full-fledged expansion pack. Beyond Black Mesa is a low-budget fanfilm.

      Yes, perhaps one could, but the difference there is that as the creator of the I.P. Valve has the right to do with it what they wish. A third party doesn't.

      don't be so stubborn.

      What has being stubborn got to do with it?

      Look beyond whatever twisted "Half-Life canon" standards you've set.

      Why is canon twisted? And I don';t set the canon for Half-Life. Valve do.

      Judge it for what it is, not what it isn't.

      I did. I judge it for nover-effected (is that even a word?)and pretentious film.

      Hell, Valve loved it.

      I don't give a shit whether Valve loved it or not. To do that, would be to be another Valve sheep – following where they go without question.

      • Vic, I suggest you read my commet a little earlier than yours. BAsically, I wrote such a passionate piece because I wanted to stir the opinion pot.

        Why stir the opinion pot with something so controversial and almost mean?

        I'm happy for you. but "entertaining" is a subjective adjective. As others have said, even without the HL references it was mediocre at best.

        Which is why I said it definitely had some issues. Still, following the canon was not one of them.

        That sounds silly to me. What exactly did they add that made the story, settings or whole film better?

        What would sticking to the Half-Life canon have brought to the movie? Would it have made it any better? Since you said it was mediocre anyway, I think not.

        How does that make any difference?

        Because it makes no sense to hate on an unofficial fanfilm because it didn't follow some lore. It's a non-profit fanfilm. It's not official.

        There's no such thing as a perfect film. But sticking to canon didn't have to be hard.

        Neither should respecting the film for what it is, rather than what it isn't.

        What film are you referring to?

        Escape from City 17, Day 8. The list goes on.

        Nothing, but I have every right to express my opinion, in any way I choose.

        I'll go with a "nothing", then.

        Yet you claimed it was entertaining.

        So? I still found it an entertaining film. What, just because I detected some issues means I have to hate it? Of course, some hated it because they found that it wasn't good, and I fully respect that.

        One post doesn't constitute "constantly".

        I'm not referring to PlanetPhillip. Though I was also referring to the comments on this very post.

        By following that logic, there is no point is saying it was entertaining. it's irrelevant whether other things will be made by creators. The fact they made and released work, goives all viewers the right to exppress their opinion.

        No, because telling them it was entertaining is giving them positive feedback relating to their film-making techniques.

        Complaining that Overwatch Soldiers shouldn't have short swords isn't. It's nitpicking.

        Simply repearting a word doesn't make your argument stronger.

        Don't avoid the argument, then.

        The use of inspired, as I have alrady said, is a cop-out. By using the Lambda symbol and other clearly indentifable imagery from the game I truely believe they lost the right to claim inspiration. If they had use the Omega symbol and icons simialr to the game then I would have accepted that.

        This is irrelevant.

        Yes, perhaps one could, but the difference there is that as the creator of the I.P. Valve has the right to do with it what they wish. A third party doesn't.

        Gearbox is a third party.

        Also, does this mean you would accept the addition of whatever ridiculous element you can think of in Half-Life, if Valve (or Gearbox) did it? After all, they can do whatever they want, right? It's their canon, so they must be right? Isn't this being a "Valve sheep"?

        What has being stubborn got to do with it?

        Because you refuse to accept that there is nothing wrong with taking their own liberties.

        Why is canon twisted? And I don't set the canon for Half-Life. Valve do.

        No, these fan-made standards are twisted. The ones that call for every single fanfilm and mod ever created to adhere to the Half-Life canon, to the letter.

        I did. I judge it for nover-effected (is that even a word?)and pretentious film.

        Pretentious? I hardly found it pretentious. But I don't know what "nover-effected" is.

        I don't give a shit whether Valve loved it or not. To do that, would be to be another Valve sheep — following where they go without question.

        Didn't you say Valve can do whatever they want with the canon? And that it's theirs? Would I be incorrect in assuming that you would accept whatever they chose to put in, as ridiculous as it may be, since it's their canon? Wouldn't that mean to be a "Valve sheep"?

        I also agree with Wesp5.

        In any case, Phillip, take no offense. It's just a harmless little argument.

        ReplyEdited at 4:50 PM, 7th February 2011
        • Outstanding parley gentlemen ! More people should be willing to feel the comforts of the freedom to honestly speak their minds in a public forum without fear of embarrassment or reprisal.

        • The use of inspired, as I have alrady said, is a cop-out. By using the Lambda symbol and other clearly indentifable imagery from the game I truely believe they lost the right to claim inspiration. If they had use the Omega symbol and icons similar to the game then I would have accepted that.

          This is irrelevant.

          It's far from irrelevant and is in fact the crux of my argument. If they made the film with no references to Half-Life then we wouldn't be having this discussion because the film wouldn't been relevant to this site. I truly believe that you can't use important symbols from something and go against accepted convention and then calimed it was "inspired".

          You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about the asian guy's forearm device. Whilst it's a little stretch oif the imagination it hasn't really broken any canon for me. It is essential to the plot and could easily have been stolen from the Combine. My problem is taking things from the game and twisting them to suit the needs of the makers, simply to provide entertainment in a Hollywood style.

          In any case, Phillip, take no offense.

          Unfortunately, I have taken offense. I saw no reason for your passive-agressive insult of "I'll go with nothing then." It is both annoying and disappointing, considering the help and support I have given you and your site.

          Up until then we were talking about the film and our opinions of it but then you made it personal.

          Whilst I accept that I insulted somebody in my post with "What fucking idiot thought…", the person in question is not part of the Half-Life community and as far as I am concerned has brought nothing positive to it.

          I had planned to respond to all your points but now I see that it would turn into a flame war and I don't want that. You need to understand that it's my site and as childish as this sounds, I can say anything within the law I want. I treat my site as an extention of my home and as such don't expect my guests to insult me unless they are my closest friend, which you are not.

          • I understand that, Phillip, and I do not want to take that right away from you.

            I didn't intend for my comment to be any sort of insult, and I certainly didn't want to make anything personal.

            I sincerely apologize for anything that may have offended you.

            ReplyEdited at 6:24 PM, 8th February 2011
        • Hec 1053 comments

          9th February 2011

          Escape from City 17, Day 8. The list goes on.

          Escape from City 17, the best, Day 8 pretty good, but BBM oh god how that crappy so bad called "fan" short film could compare to those u are mentioning there!!

          Gearbox is a third party.

          Also, does this mean you would accept the addition of whatever ridiculous element you can think of in Half-Life, if Valve (or Gearbox) did it? After all, they can do whatever they want, right? it's their canon, so they must be right? Isn't this being a "Valve sheep"?

          Oh vic, cmon!, but Gearbox did lots of money because they had the blessing of Valve!!, they are not just "any" third party, they are valve's bussisnes partner, that's so different, imagine, how houndreds of real third party modders, would do to have the valve's conscent to develop an "official" mod related directly to HL universe and even so earn money for that!!, at least there's a big difference in being a valve's sheep, and a true gamer and fan of HL world.

          So come on im just stating that the facts and time will tell if BBM is really worthy or not. And if valve loved it as u say, well then let's see a cmb with a stupid ninja sword in the next ep 3!!, but as phillip stated valve can do what the hell they want with their game, and so phillip also can do what he want with his site, as well as you can do with your site whatever u want, but please dont fight against each other, we need a united HL community..

          I mean does BBM deserves the title to split a strong HL communty?, I think not that thing is just so vanish to do that.

          ReplyEdited at 9:52 AM, 9th February 2011
          • Yes, they loved it. Check their YouTube page. BBM is in their "Favorites". I don't think they'd add swords just because of that, though.

            As for the "Valve-Gearbox" thing, I'd like to believe my argument still stands. If Valve and any third-parties can do what they want, then why would a fan-made short film that has nothing to do with Valve cause so much harm? We even forgive mods and maps for doing this!

            I won't be maintaining it, though. As Phillip said, I exaggerated a bit, and this could cause a bit of a flame war, so I'm out, gentlemen. Well-played!

            Phillip and I aren't fighting, though. I just went a little overboard on my argument. I've apologized, and I do hope he forgives me for anything that might have caused offense.

            ReplyEdited at 10:27 AM, 9th February 2011
            • Hec 1053 comments

              10th February 2011

              why would a fan-made short film that has nothing to do with Valve cause so much harm? We even forgive mods and maps for doing this!

              Good point. I think it causes bunch of troubles because is something real I mean is not a mod (if u dont like a mod, then u can change to another one and play it, if it's crap ther's not much trouble you still keep on playing till u found something really cool), is a film, I mean that could affect the perception of the game itself I think, imagine, someone who wouldn't know anything about hl, and saw suddenly BBM, maybe would say what the hell is that, what a bad game to be the inspiration of a wierd short fan film??, I mean I think watching day 8 or Esc. From C.17, are so much interesting an fun to watch and then even could awake more interest to playing the game.

              Respecting to gearbox, I still think they are not a third party anymore from the moment they started to get profits and enter to the gaming industrie as valve's partners, I know they are an "external actor", but to going straight to the point they are so much closer to be a part of valve than a wholy independent third party. I mean even HL1 was created by external quake modders, but they became part of valve as a team, and not as a indie 100% third party working on their own, because they became employes and assosiates of the valve corp.

              ReplyEdited at 11:46 PM, 9th February 2011
    • Cmon Guys, forget about the "OMG ITS NO CANON!!" stuff and enjoy the show!

  28. Okay, the movie wasn't very good and the anti-happy-end was especially stupid, but raping the Half-Life world? Come on, that is what Half-Life 2 actually did and few of you seem to care! Someone already listed the differences above, or to speak with Phillip, if you would remove the few references to HL1 from HL2 there would be nothing much left!

    Just look at the grenades so prominent in the movie, real in HL1, fake with light and sound so the player knows where they are in HL2. All the cool aliens gone and replaced by multiple headcrabs and zombies and Combines. Almost all the weapons just rehashes of the original ones with the creative bioweapons gone. The setting completely different with little explanation.

    If all of you could stomach that because it was Valve who did it, you should be a little more tolerant to a fan movie like that…

    ReplyEdited at 4:26 PM, 7th February 2011
    • Major Banter

      7th February 2011

      Valve created the IP, thus they can change it however they like. I won't dispute and baww over what a company does, because they own the rights and can steer it as they see fit; and I feel that HL2 was a move in the right direction. Maybe that's a stupid argument, but legality plays a small part in it.

      A collective mind came up with HL1, and largely the same mind came up with HL2. Who else guides the ideas, enforces the canon? A fanbase cannot – we must accept what we're given, and interpreting it otherwise is fair game.

      However, interpreting and expanding on an idea does not equal shallow imitation and references.

      Fact of the matter is, remove the badly placed elements and we're left with a forgettable, and shit film.

      Let's reiterate that in more depth.

      If the film had nothing to do with Half-Life, would it be better? No. By using Half-Life IP, they entered an unspoken contract and series of taboos, and they all center around one key point: if you're going to use an IP, interpret, expand or add. Do not imitate, change or warp it. The Combine short-sword stuff is the perfect example.

      Combine soldiers use Stunsticks. We know this. This is canonical fact.

      There is no reason to change that.

      However, by doing so they add something utterly alien to the film. It's not a matter of it being "not a stunstick" – it's a matter of a Combine soldier – known to be brutal, harsh and generally brainwashed husks of meat assigned to a task – doing Kung-Fu.

      Explain to me how that is acceptable. Explain to me how using an IP and deforming it is acceptable in the art form of film. Explain to me why a film-maker can choose to not bend, but shatter the expectations of an audience, introduce alien features and generally mess about with an IP to their own ends.

      This was not a Half-Life 2 film, inspired or otherwise.

      It was a film that contained elements from Half-Life 2, the same as it contains elements from 28 Days Later.

      Ergo, I feel that branding it as a HL2 fanfilm is short-sighted and limiting. I would have been far, far more receptive to a film that acknowledged use of multiple-IPs in a "blend of inspiration". That one, ONE change in the description is vital.

      Perception is a personal thing, and I will not change my opinion on what I perceive. I perceive the use of the HL2 IP as a core idea to be fundamentally flawed.

      And once again, remove that HL2 IP, and what are we left with?

      Something with a fat Asian, forgettable generic western characters, bad filming, awesome effects and mangled plot and ideas.

      This film has gotten attention from the HL2 IP alone. I'm not saying that's a bad thing – I'm saying that in my opinion, if you're going to do that, do it well.

      I would be amazed if anyone can put up their hand to say they haven't been outraged at some sort of "adaption" from Hollywood or Indie level. Because we criticise.

      And I will criticise this because there is no excuse to do it differently.

    • Wesp5, you echoed my exact sentiments on Half-Life 2 versus the first game. I salute you!

      As for the fanfilm, it was pretty 'meh’. Seems to me that the creators jumped on the special FX-bandwagon that seems to be so popular among young "film"makers these days, rather than creating something that is well directed and with an emphasis on portraying a story and not "awesome EPIC stuff!".

  29. I can understand a certain disappointment arising from this fact: Something that at first seems like it will blend into canon, ultimately does not, without forewarning its intent of being a parody.

    This happens in mods very often. Both by addition of new elements and mechanics that aren't usual in the original game, by replacing existing elements like weapons or characters, adding a new voice to character that already had one etc.

    It's always about a balance between what we expect and what we actually get.
    In that sense I think a lot of people have unrealistic expectations of what can or should come out of fan-created content. The gap between professional level design and some amateur level design got quite small in the last decade (it's getting bigger now again regarding big productions) so it was inevitable that something like that would happen. The multiplayer maps created for HL1 in later years (at least visually) left the original batch of HLDM maps looking very mediocre. This is a fact.

    Are those expectations realistic? How entitled are we to claim quality, coherence, faithfulness etc from something that isn't a product and something for which we have never reimbursed the author or authors?
    Yes, we are always entitled to an opinion. But does our opinion actually have any authority at all?

    • You are correct, except for the fact that almost all of the things that people aren't happy with (Trans-humans during the Seven Hour War, short sword, 28 Days Later zombies) were visible during both trailers, and were mentioned in interviews.

      ReplyEdited at 9:56 PM, 7th February 2011
  30. Beyond Black Mesa is not bad if you love the current Hollywood Land rash of dark and blue tinted fiction, with all the life colour-graded out of existence. It even has that high focus, jittery and strobing action that filmmakers love these days.
    So it works as a technical piece of cinema with high-end effects and as a pretty good advert for those responsible.
    Not as Half Life 2 compliant as "Escape from City 17" with I liked, but it worked. Although the combine seemed a bit chubby cheeked, but you can't really complain about it because many mods have differing combine looks. The combine with the Ninja sword is one of those typical cringe worthy Hollywood scenes that is best forgotten quickly for the sake of your digestion! That said. I like the idea of sword carrying combine, it's a lot better than their usual electric lollypop and would make for interesting combat.
    One other important thing is the title, "Beyond Black Mesa". It had nothing to do with that facility and should not use that name, except as a cheap attention grabber maybe!
    Its not "Half Life", has a fair connection to "Half Life 2" and it isn't set in Black Mesa. So what is it?
    It is a good piece of work and I didn't bother me that it had a chubby Asian guy in it, as it has some here! People are people!

    End of Line.

  31. No No No No No.

    It starts off immediately with "Look at edgy me not wearing a hazard suit". Did they get the fat guy from L4D and was he about to blow up as a boomer? I dunno. Epic fail on multiple levels. Hardly anything of the HL atmosphere. If I had them, it would be five thumbs down. As things are, only two.

  32. I liked it, well, what there was of it, only a trailer after all. I've been hoping for ages that someone would do SOMETHING about making a HL film…so it's a start, and I don't see anybody else doing anything….fair play to them, I'd go see it.

    ReplyEdited at 10:17 AM, 8th February 2011
  33. Hot topic. As I say before, there is too much integrism and fanatism about the HLverse, but this is the very core about the poll and discussion here, so I won't get into this, especially seeing this has a little dgnèrated into flame war.

    What I Want to say is That one day, I've accepted Gunman Chronicles as an unofficial sequel of HL, a faux HL2, with the protagonist as an future Gordon Freeman working for Gman and blowing up aliens for him.
    I was so desperate waiting for HL2. And with a little imagination, Gunman fitted well as a sequel.

  34. Dienstbier

    8th February 2011

    Hi Phillip, I thought I were the only person who thinks that this film does not fit into the HL Universe but only uses it to cast its own ideas in a nice looking form. Seen as a self-produced film, they made an honorable work, that I enjoyed. But they shall never claim having made a film about Half-Life, because it is not.

    • Anon_242565

      8th February 2011

      Of course, and technically that may be hard to do..would need some pretty good special effects…it's a game ! I think some do get a bit anal about it, It's just a game, a good one, granted, but it wouldn't be the first 'spin off’….wow, maybe someone will make a game about a film…oh, they did…a few times already…

  35. KingDaniel

    11th February 2011

    I just saw Beyond Black Mesa, and I thought it was great. So what if they made a few changes to the Half-Life universe for the sake of their little fan film?

    Changing the zombies makes sense – they weren't gonna be able to do convincing headcrabs on a tiny budget (the Escape from C17 ones looked awful in the clips I saw) so they changed it.

    Resident Evil, Doom and the other film adaptations didn't mesh with the games" continuity. The Batman, Superman, X-Men and other superhero films don't mesh with the comics. The Star Trek reboot doesn't mesh with the old 60's TV series (time travel plots don't move planets around or change characters" ages) and Wolverine doesn't quite line up with the other X-men movies. Why on earth does Half-Life demand a more rigid standard of continuity?

    ..and, yes, I'm a "real" Half-Life fan

    ReplyEdited at 1:21 PM, 11th February 2011
  36. Joji 24 comments

    14th February 2011

    It sure had quite a lot of flaws… they should have asked fans or their friends if the plot was good enough. But again, it was fairly ok. Remember, it was made within 2 days!!

    Other than that… the combine helmets and headcrabs are understandable, well, actually… they could have made a cardboard headcrab instead!! At least that would be better than nothing. :/

  37. I haven't read all of the comments except the first couple, and Phillip's, but I need to say this before I get any further into the comments.

    I liked it. Yes, there were differences and departures (even the Harry Potter series and the LOTR trilogy had departures–some fairly significant enough that could alter one's perception and enjoyment of the films). But that's to be expected, thanks to artistic license and budgetary constraints.

    Overall, the film had a good tension to it. I do agree that some of the departures were a tad odd or silly, to wit:

    * Zombies: yes, if you're gonna do that, do it right. I agree on this one, they should've stuck to the original here;
    * Combine: eh, costuming. It's possible Valve wanted $$$ to license the exact likenesses; or, they had someone interpret things a tad loosely. It was still fairly effective;
    * The kung-fu battle: okay, it got a tad silly, especially toward the end, but we do have to remember that in combat, when the weapons go empty, the fighting gets rather nasty and wild, it can't really stick to the game sequences without looking fake or poorly done;

    **** The combiner's "ninja sword": remember, people, these are SOLDIERS–and soldiers have backup weapons!! And the rebels are poor folk who have to make do with what they can scrounge. Thus, the ninja sword as a backup weapon is entirely believable. So the fight got a tad Hollywood–big deal. If they ever get to produce a movie or series, let's hope they come to their senses and render the combat more realistically.

    * Sheppard, or someone else? That was part of the appeal, you weren't sure, and there was enough info in the film to make you think "yes" or "no", and keep you guessing. And talking.

    * Grenade/suicide? Maybe–again, part of the "keep 'em guessing" system.

    Overall, I was engrossed (thank goodness I didn't read the entire article first, it would've colored my opinion considerably). It was shot well, it pulled enough from the HL/HL2 universe to build the story without bogging the viewer down in questions or minutiae, which would've rendered the film into crap.

    I did watch "Escape from City17" right after, because it was linked to the YouTube page, and I have to admit, the PB boys did a better job of remaining "faithful" to the HL/HL2 universe; on the other hand, you have to be at least mostly familiar to the universe to get what was going on with them, whereas the BBM film was a tad more self-contained, requiring less backstory or explanation to make it understandable.

    And if you're gonna throw BBM under the bus, you've got to tie it to WIITB and shove 'em both, hard. I, personally, won't do it, because WIITB was even "cheaper" than BBM, and still had a strongly engrossing story, despite the cheap-o costumes and props, and the HL2 sounds.

    As for the commercialization of the franchise: isn't it commercial already, thanks to Valve? If you would like to see it on the silver screen, or the small screen, it's gonna take money–and LOTS of it–to make it happen. And if the wrong people get hold of it, they'll absolutely ruin it. At least this way, we find out that some people have already had experience making films, and know the universe, so there's a point to hang some hope on.

    So, I think y’all should cut 'em all some slack. ;-)

  38. Product

    20th April 2011

    Oh hey look, the ONLY youtube video favorited by Valve!

    So what happens when the creators of the content love something, and the fanboi's hated it?

    We are all reminded that fanbois are retards.

    BTW, way to man up and ask the guys all your questions and concerns live on the show…
    Oh wait you didn't have the balls to do that…Classic fanboi

    • Oh hey look, the ONLY youtube video favorited by Valve!

      So? It's unlikely they would publicly go against you. Even if they did like it, that doesn't mean everybody has to.

      So what happens when the creators of the content love something, and the fanboi's hated it?

      That happens all the time. Why the stupid spelling of fanboy?

      We are all reminded that fanbois are retards

      Is that the best insult you could come up with?

      BTW, way to man up and ask the guys all your questions and concerns live on the show…
      Oh wait you didn't have the balls to do that…Classic fanboi

      Actually, the reason I didn't appear on the show was out of respect for William. He made it clear in his pre-show arrangements that he didn't want a confrontation or negative questions and I didn't want to turn the show into my personal rant. Also, there's a lot of stuff behind the scenes that you don't know about.

Post a comment