Scylla

for Black Mesa

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Gordon is forced to venture through a dilapidated, hostile environment in order to clear the tram line of an alien infestation.

Offering approximately 15-30 minutes of gameplay, Scylla takes the player through a winding environment full of deadly hazards and enemies. Your performance may alter parts of the level as you progress. Be sure to watch out for special NPCs; not all are obvious.

For designers interested in how the author set up certain scripts and what not, here are the source files for the project:
BM Scylla Source Files

There are a couple small, custom models that I made for Scylla, but they aren’t in the source files listed above. So if you open one of the vmf’s and see some ERROR models, that’s ok. You can dissect the maps as much as you want, but please don’t reupload the files anywhere else.

Basic Details
  • Title: Scylla
  • File Name: scylla.vpk
  • Size : 135.49MB
  • Author: Rhett Barlow AKA hscsguy
  • Date Released: 09 September 2016
Retail Version

This map was built for the retail version of Black Mesa. I do not know if it works with the mod version. For more information about this type of release, please see the Black Mesa Workshop section on the About page.

Download Options

View in Steam Workshop [135.49MB]
***To play, press the tilde(~) key and type: map sp_scylla. Then just press Enter.***

Manual Installation Instructions

There are no manual install options for this release. It must be installed via the SUBSCRIBE button on the Steam workshop page.

Videos

The playthrough/walkthrough below is provided by PlanetPhillip. See more of my playthroughs on this site: VP: PlanetPhillip.

Author Questions

Scylla sees the introduction of a new feature here on RunThinkSHootLive: 10 Author Questions. Think of them as a mini-interview. For larger or better releases, I will contact the author and send the questions. Hopefully they will respond and if they do, I will publish them as part of the main post. This is the first one, but they will be tagged, so once I have added more, you will be easily and quickly be able to find them by clicking the 10Questions tag.

How long did you take to make Scylla?

I started Scylla in about mid July of 2015. Though I took some periods of time away from development for various personal reasons, so development time really was maybe 9 – 12 months overall. Better planning would likely have shaved off even more time, but I’ll get to that later.

What were your inspirations?

Initially, Scylla was going to center mostly around the tentacles as a primary obstacle AND enemy, rather than just an obstacle. I wanted to develop a map for Black Mesa out of a desire to make content for a Half Life game made on tech closer to this decade. Given the fact that, currently, the tentacles only appear once in the game, I thought it would be a fun idea to bring them back in a different setting. However, it seems their AI is designed specifically for its sequence in Blast Pit. Making its application outside of an identical environment more difficult. This is why the tentacles appear to climb up and start swinging at nothing on rare occasion. They’re trying to attack an enemy that would be on a higher level of the silo from Blast Pit, rather than trying to find the exact location of an enemy in their vicinity.

This lead to a change in direction, making the map progress in a more traditional, Half Life style manner. I was partly inspired by bm_bravado by Jason Gimba in this regard. He developed a very short, but polished map for Black Mesa that helped me decide to make Scylla just a simple Half Life map that didn’t strive to be too big with a bunch of fancy mechanics that never appeared in the original game. Ultimately the project still grew to a scope that was perhaps just a bit too big for me. But focusing on the simplicity of the map helped me reach a reasonable conclusion to the map’s development rather than spend another two months suffering with a severe case of ‘perfection-itis’.

Did it go through many beta test stages?

Admittedly, I committed a pretty big no-no of game design where virtually all testing was internal and never saw any proper beta test. This isn’t a mistake I intend to make with my next project, though. Next project will be designed under the philosophy of “release early and often.”

Knowing what you know now, if you had to make it again, what would you make differently?

Firstly, I would have created more instances and prefabs earlier on to help speed up various menial tasks like adjusting all the lights in a single area. I would also have tried having a more concrete layout established ahead of time instead of practically making it up as I went. Also, now that features like CSM and godrays are available, I would have designed the map with those features in mind so that they could actually add something to the gameplay rather than have them simply be nice graphical features that just make the scene look prettier. For instance, with CSM, exterior environments can now be more dynamic and animated. More moving set pieces would likely have made the end game much more exciting! And on the subject of exteriors – more line of sight breakers would have allowed for me to add some more areaportals and occluders to improve performance. Source doesn’t like rendering over large distances, it’s not what it was designed for. So breaking up the outside area more would hopefully have helped boost the framerate during the high-action sequences. A problem I should have, but did not foresee.

What part are you most proud of?

Honestly, while there most certainly are areas that could use improvement, I’m actually proud of the project as a whole. It really did turn out a lot better than I thought it would. The beginning of the firefight in the warehouse was a pretty shining moment for me though. Turning around that corner and seeing aliens spawn out of thin air, soldiers rappel down from the ceiling, music blasting over the sounds of explosions and gunfire…..all hallmarks of a memorable fight I think.

What is the weakest part of the map.

I’m probably least proud of the quality of the soundscapes and the use of “ugly-text-prompts-on-the-screen” towards the end of the level. Directing the player to mark mortar targets with flares rather than using the control panel was actually a late design change. The mortar control was fairly buggy and wasn’t very fun to use under the circumstances. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much opportunity to place a similar mechanic earlier in the level to introduce the idea gradually, rather than dump it on the player right at the end. But I felt letting the player move around while marking targets would make the mortar more useful even after its purpose has been fulfilled. Standing in front of a monitor while tanks are trying to blow your head off isn’t all that fun. Throwing lit flares while running to cover sounded like a more fun alternative.

Do you watch many video playthroughs of Scylla?

So far there haven’t been many, but I try to catch as much as I can. Video playthroughs (particularly first-runs) offer invaluable information for designers. Just one video showed me new bugs, exploits and pacing hiccups that I had never seen in hundreds of hours of testing!

Tell me more about the changes based on your performance and the hidden NPCs.

[SPOILERS]There are three NPCs whose existence in the game determine the size of various engagements and the spawning of certain supplies. The changes aren’t super dramatic, but it’s enough to help the player feel like how they play has an impact on the game world. Even if that impact is fairly subtle. The first NPC is actually the one people almost certainly miss first. That first houndeye? It’s not hostile! No, actually if the player refrains from attacking, it will run upstairs to introduce you to its “friends”. However, not killing him will result in fewer hostile houndeyes showing up…and him running off to cry in a corner. The second NPC is the one most people likely interacted with. He’s the guard found at the beginning of map 2. Saving him (or resisting the urge to murder him) will lead to a short dialogue exchange and eventually him opening up a supply closet full of weapons and ammo. His impact on the actual gameplay is the most significant. If he makes it to the cache, your first engagement with HECU will be a bit bigger with fewer supplies and the next engagement in the warehouse will be even bigger with two guards there to back you up. Killing him will spawn some supplies in the checkpoint and fewer HECU. But you won’t have any backup in the warehouse and there’s only a small reduction in the amount of enemies. The third NPC is a scientist in a building outside who will lead you to an RPG if you save him from an active ceiling turret. Not saving him doesn’t really result in any gameplay changes, but you won’t be able to kill the sniper from across the map unless you’re really good with the MP5’s grenade launcher.

Again, these aren’t exactly massive changes to the game. They are completely optional and really are more like additions to help the player feel like saving that character actually was worthwhile. You aren’t presented with a multiple choice answer and told to pick one. The “decisions” result purely out of gameplay without too much flare and are fairly subtle.

What have you learn from making Scylla?

A lot. Seriously, I have so many more instances and prefabs ready to go and I’ve learned how much they really speed up development. But one thing this map suffered from more than anything else was bad planning. I didn’t plan out the progression of events and this lead to an increase in development time as I kept adding new areas and making it all fit together. I’m not saying it’s a miracle that everything turned out as well as it did. Just that it could have been handled a lot better.

What next for you as far as mapping/modding is concerned?

Well there are some things I’ll need to adjust for Scylla, of course. I have some concept tests that I need to run, but I’m going to continue with Black Mesa for the time being. I’d like to make something smaller that focuses on replay value and pseudo-procedural generation. As I stated before, it’ll be developed in a different way. Instead of releasing a map months down the line after it’s “done”, I’ll get the framework of the map working with some content, release it, and then continue to add onto it. This way feedback from the community will help determine future content and people who keep coming back will have fresh content to experience on a more regular basis. Provided it all works of course…

Panoramic Image

WARNING: This panoramic contains spoilers.

Walkthrough Screenshots

WARNING: The screenshots contain spoilers.

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Reader Recommendations
Avoid It!
Think Twice
Maybe
Play It Later
Play It Now!

5 recommendations, average score: 4.4 (out of 5), standard deviation: 1.44 (what's that?)
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Meta Review Data
Statistics based on 8 comment(s) with meta review data.

Installed:
Using Gauge: 0 Users
Manually: 8 Users

Time Taken:
Average: 1 Hours, 10 Mins
Shortest: 0 Hours, 30 Mins by crowbar
Longest: 2 Hours, 4 Mins by bit-848
Total Time Played: 9 Hours, 16 Mins
Jump to a review
Phillip says Play It!Personal FavouritePlay It Now!Personal FavouriteThink Twice

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20 Comments

  1. Phillip says Play It!

    Most of this review is taken from my thoughts expressed in my blind playthrough video in the main post. This review contains spoilers.

    With such a large file, it’s hard not to be excited about playing a release like this. I had seen a few images on the Steam Workshop page, so I kinda knew what to expect.

    Initially, I was a little annoyed because I got caught going one way when I wanted to go another. As it turned out, I would eventually get where I wanted to go, but at the time I didn’t know that. I’m raising the point because sometimes feeling cheated by an author can affect how you feel about an area.

    The office section is fairly typical, but I found the lack of sound a little strange. I also found the colour a little repetitive. That said the office section was split with some more industrial settings.

    I found the combat challenging but would have liked some sections to have more. For example, there’s a warehouse section that features Xen aliens against army grunts. Too often in these situations the player can just hide and then deal with the survivors. Unless the battle is for show, then I don’t think that should happen. I feel the player should be dropped into the fight and made to make combat decisions.

    Once you do get outside the area is large and well-designed and there’s plenty of ways to approach it. I did feel that there were too many elements in the final battle and this gave me the feeling that after each one another “event” was planned.

    It left me feeling “cheated” in the sense that the excitement of “winning” was replaced with yet another challenge.

    It’s a delicate balance between making a Boss fight hard but also fair.

    If I had to be picky, I would say that the setting for the tentacles didn’t seem to make much sense, but as Migga would remind me “It’s a video game”. There were some nice touches too, including the scientist who helps you turning into a zombie if you return to the weapon and ammo supply.

    All in all, this is a fantastic piece of work and I truly hope we see more from Rhett.

    It’s highly recommended – go play it now!

  2. JamaicanDave

    I really enjoyed this map (well maps). The layout was good, it flowed well and, most importantly, the gameplay was great fun.

    There’s a variety of locations (offices, services/industrial and outside), each of which feels like Black Mesa. There’s also lots of nice little touches that bring everything to life: scripted sequences, environmental storytelling, npcs battling against each other – it’s all there.

    The progression of enemies and weapons was well paced. Most enemies in the main game make an appearance, including one of the bigger boss creatures – something we haven’t really seen yet. The weapon selection was slightly more limited but fit the theme, and everything I actually wanted was there. The distribution of ammo and health nicely balanced.

    The maps do lack a little polish and consistency. For example (in no particular order):

    Some of the areas were sparsely detailed and slightly repetitive, particularly in the offices. Lots of corridors consisting of just pillars and rooms with very little in. Some identical looking doors made locked sounds, others didn’t. There were a couple of odd, low res texture choices. The sound the tentacles and mounted gun at the start made was incredibly loud (not necessarily the authors fault though). I could pick up items in lockers without opening them. The vent collapse near the start to prevent back tracking with the crowbar needed more debris rather than an invisible wall (ordinarily that vent would be easily navigated). The electrified water puddle with pushable crate was a bit small, it looks like the player could skirt around or jump it even though they can’t. The flooding water room was slightly harsh with both the electricity and vorts appearing simultaneously. The first Glock I came across (in toilet) wasn’t collectable. The dead soldier vanishing after map transition. The button to lift the train bridge could do with a light. Additionally I found pressing the green button to open the doors first, then lifting the bridge and prevented the second green button (to move the train) illuminating – I figured it out by mashing the use key on stuff. The big red surface access lettering looked wrong – maybe just make the ladder more visible with lights? A few of the combats need tweaking, usually either npc numbers (e.g. first pack of houndeyes is too many, too close) or timings (e.g. lure the player into the office lobby before triggering the zombies). The ospreys, tanks and mortar barrage after defeating the tentacles felt too much. The route back to the tram wasn’t necessarily the most obvious.

    My criticisms are nit-picking and more for the benefit of the author (on the very slim chance they read this) than players. To reiterate, this map was nicely put together and great fun to play.

  3. Personal Favourite

    I must say with Scyalla did the author some damn fine work!

    The locations are believable and unique. The architecture, the textures and light settings are well chosen and believable some say a little repetitive but frankly I don’t mind after all the early parts were office sections and not a Disco so in a sense it was realistic.

    The map pack comes with several memorable moments too. Be it the water trap – the clever and fun made train riddle or the epic end fight.

    All in all a solid creation down to the tiniest detail.

    Balance wise I think this mod was well executed although had some rather annoying spots which made it fairly difficult at times. But once you got a hold of it those situations were easily solved and dealt with.

    In my opinion the author of the map pack did everything right and for me personally it was the very first custom map series where I truly feel compelled to rate it a “personal favorite”. The fact that it plays smoothly has no lags (only some minor frame drops outside) the clever riddles and monster placement. As well as few game events deciding further outcomes of how the mod proceeds monster and supply wise are making this a gem.

    Very few bugs remain in this mod at the moment but the author will address these in a follow up patch as he wrote above in the question section so that’s another nice bonus.

    The 15 to 30 minutes are also hoax it takes a lot longer that is if you’re not going after a speed run. Play it people! In my opinion it’s along with Brevado one of the most polished up custom Black Mesa map packs to date.

  4. Yes! More BM mods, keep it coming!

  5. Play It Now!

    This would be a personal favorite for me if the final battle wasn’t a mess, I mean I don’t know if it was the final battle, I didn’t complete this. I’m talking about the one with the tanks. So much weird things happened. First when you arrive here there are weird turrets in weird corners which I could never see before they attacked me and already did tons of damage. The reason for that is simply that they were as I said either in a weird corner or really far away and the picture wasn’t clean, there was a lot going on, lots of things lying around, I just couldn’t see them.

    Then I get rocket launcher ammo here, but I don’t have a rocket launcher, ok…
    I go up to the artillery thingy console and I get onscreen text for something that was obvious. I get that onscreen text while I get attacked by lots of enemies, while music is playing, while those tentacle things are doing their thing. I couldn’t concentrate on anything.

    There was a MG but it didn’t work for me … at first, maybe I didn’t press E hard enough I don’t know. I die and restart from the last save, all ragdolls are floating in the air and the music is doubled now…

    Tanks arrive, I have no rocket launcher, okay I’ll use the artillery. Why can’t I use the console but have to use these extremely awkward flares? Even taking them out of the crate was a pain in the ass. I spam E but he doesn’t take them unless I stand perfectly or something I don’t know. Then you have to throw the flare but prey to god that it doesn’t get stuck in some weird thing and you get bombed yourself.

    The tanks were weird as hell too… They shot random things with their main canon while shooting me with multiple MGs. Later the other tank ignored me completely for a while.

    Oh I forgot the phase where you get attacked by soldiers from the helicopters. I was out of ammo for everything except SMG and I get attacked by soooo many soldiers. Flares don’t help because they move too fast I have no cover there. If the AI wasn’t so stupid, then this would be impossible. They had a lot of trouble going up the ramps. This problem was also in other parts of the maps, with hound eyes especially, who couldnt even go through a door at one point.

    Maybe some of these problems are the game’s fault and not the map’s, but then you should build around those problems.

    Oh also my fps was under 60 in that big area, and also dropped under 60 multiple times during the whole mod, and I normally play with at least 80 fps on official maps, which also isn’t great considering my hardware, but Black Mesa …

    Other than this though the map was awesome. From start until the final battle it was a joy. Exploration, combat, level design all done very well. Nice “puzzles” here and there too, not really puzzles, but small obstacles where you have to think for a second, not shoot, you know, usual Half-Life stuff.

    After the final battle I didn’t know what I’m supposed to do, so I stopped. Also the maps have weird inconsistencies from small things like wrong sounds for doors or not-solid things which should be solid to bigger things like there was a platform at the final battle that was not-solid, I jumped on it and fell to my death.

    1. also the map were way too dark indoors. Really hard to see stuff, especially barnacles were a pain in the ass because of this.

    2. I changed your playtime to 30 minutes, is that correct?

      1. yes, what was it before? 🙂

            1. oh just another thing I remembered that happenend to me: At the final battle vortigaunts attack themselves. They look at you but the lightning goes to themselves.

  6. JamaicanDave

    When clicking the link to the source files I get the following:

    404 File Not Found

    This site contains the maps and mods listed on PlanetPhillip.Com.

    It cannot be accessed directly.

    1. Fixed. Sorry about that, I should have been more careful.

  7. Hec
    Personal Favourite

    Great maps! I really like BM add on maps. You know is this great feeling of playing HL1 mods in the source engine that make em so special.

    And here this 2 maps have the elements that i definitely like in a HL mod, cool close combat, a realistic mission and very nice mapping.

    Overall I enjoy it all. The ending was a really epic battle ending, though it has some confusion because it’s in the middle of that hardcore battle.

    The tentacles are a great element to built the maps around them. though its frankly quite easy to get rid of them, I expected a little bit more of challenge to kill them but it was piece of cake.

    Also that ending gman appearance was cool, but expected some voice acting there but it was mute.

    Overall enjoyed this mod, fits perfectly if you’re an combat aggressive gamer like me. So if you’re looking for some HL-BM combat hardcore action play this now.

  8. I could never get this to download.
    Of course *I’ve subscribed*.
    Of course I’ve restarted steam.
    Not working.
    Where’s the “download” button??
    Nothing like it!
    Hate this poorly designed system!

    1. Subscribing does download the file. What happens when you start Black mesa and press the tilde(~) key and type: map sp_scylla. Then just press Enter?

  9. It was great but i got hard times to see where do i have to go or what do i have to do

  10. it was a really fun Experience

  11. Disappointing is the best way to describe this.
    Some performance issues straight off the bat. This defiantly strained the CPU. In particular the smoke effects while onlooking the tentacles.
    To its credit, the mission layout starts out promising, the first map has some good pacing some good pacing.
    Unfortunate that I ran into multiple game breaking bugs. Which forced multiple quick loads.
    First one in the large warehouse battle as you come down the elevator.
    Game had Vortiguant spawning issues and crashed twice in this particular section.
    As for the ending it was imbalanced and again spawning issues with the Vortiguant, as well as way too many tanks with little or no health resupply.
    I couldn’t actually finish this as once I eventually destroyed all the tanks the Vortigaunts were just stuck in mid air.
    Shame as the map design are layout are decent.

  12. Think Twice

    Sorry, can this duplicate post be deleted please.

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