Black Mesa Workshop

31st May 2015

Today saw the posting of the first single player map for Black Mesa retail game.

I’m posting this short article to pre-answer some expected questions.

Black Mesa Retail

In case you missed it, Black Mesa has released a retail version of their free mod. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t include the missing Xen section but eventually it will. Even more unfortunately, the Xen section WILL NOT be added to the free mod version.

The retail version is said to include many improvements over the free mod version (see this image comparison) and not just visual improvements.

Apparently the free version will always be available.

One of the benefits of the retail version is the workshop. This is an official hub for people to add custom content that users can easily add to the game – but NOT the mod (at least not as easily, if at all).

What the Workshop means for RTSL

The workshop changes the way maps and mods will be posted on the site for games that include a workshop. Thinking waaaay ahead, it’s most likely that Half-Life 3 will use this feature and RTSL will no longer need to host the files (see below) or worry about installation (See even further below).

Speaking personally for a moment, I have always worried that the Steam workshops would make websites like this one useless, but if we can keep users posting helpful reviews then perhaps it continue.

So, onto some specific issues…

Is it compulsory to use the Workshop?

NO! If you want to release your map via RTSL or anything website you can do that. Just like other Source games, you can create the maps and just have them installed manually.

Will MapTap manage Black Mesa releases?

Currently, MapTap doesn’t manage Black Mesa files but it is on our list for the next main release.

File Hosting

Whilst it might be possible for me to host the files of each release on my server, I have decided to simply link to the release’s workshop page.

The reason is that if authors update their release, and you have installed it via the workshop page, the file get updated automatically.

I don’t expect this to happen very often but it’s a benefit of the workshop and we should take advantage of it.

I will be keeping a copy of each release on the RTSL Server for possible use in the future but I won’t be publicly linking to them at this time.

Can I make a Multiple Location Release?

Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you plan on updating the release. If you release on the Black Mesa Workshop, I will link to that page.

Retail OR Mod?

I haven’t tested whether the SP maps released on the workshop page work with the mod version of Black Mesa.

I currently don’t have the mod version installed. If in the future I install it, I will attempt to test each map and possibly add a TAG to help users locate content that does work with the free mod version.

Manual Installation

I’m pretty sure that it IS possible to take the VPK (the format used by Black Mesa) and manually install it. However, since I am linking to the workshop page, I will not be including those details in the post itself. It’s so easy to use the SUBSCRIBE button in the workshop, why make life difficult for ourselves?

The details for running the maps should be included in each workshop page. If they don’t I may add them myself.

Your Questions, Suggestions and Comments

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, please don’t hesitate to ask or make them and I will respond quickly.


  1. JG

    It’s pretty easy to just drop a .vpk in the game folders. Black Mesa will automatically recognize it, if it was organized correctly. Half-Life 2’s support for it is a bit dodgy.

    Steam Workshop obfuscates the name, however, turning something like bm_bravado.vpk into something like 449141574.vpk.

  2. Hec

    That’s it. This make me to almost mandatory buy the BM game, I think I’ll absolutely purchase it this week.

  3. Zekiran

    Leaves me out then. I won’t be able to or willing to buy the game and thus, no maps for me. I’d say, make these links to the workshop, because people who are willing to fork over money for that privilege have access there already.

    1. If people release the maps outside of the workshop you could try them on the free version. Also, I might run a competition to win Black Mesa in the coming months.

    2. My case is the same. I’m not willing to pay, for the time being. Might change my mind in the future (during a sale, of course).

  4. I really can’t ever understand this need to rebuild old games in new engines, or why everyone gets so excited about that concept.

    Deus Ex remake is about to release also and looks so out of date (because they chose a very old engine and as a result the new version still looks very dated.

    The Dark Mod did the same for Theif but at least they produced new maps.

    Why spend all this time and effort just to produce a game we’ve already played before. I played HL1 again recently and after a few mins the graphics didn’t bother me at all. I was fully immersed in the world.

    All this time and effort… 10 years worth of modding, could have been used to create something new. A new Episode for HL2, or a new set of maps for HL1.

    What a huge and awful waste…

    1. And this has what to do with the Workshop, exactly?

      1. Oh… i was gonna make maps for it… now i’m not gonna!

        1. Seems a bit contradictory, if you’re philosophically opposed to the very idea of Black Mesa, that you’d have ever considered making maps for it.

          1. Well its another SP game in source. Not many of those. Only Portal and HL2.
            I was excited by the idea of getting my work finally onto a workshop for mass consumption.
            Also I was looking forward to having a new enemy, the HECU but they’re useless…

    2. Unq

      Even if you’re not a fan, you really don’t get the concept? Nostalgia mixed with updated technology, sometimes with some “reimagining”. It can have a pretty strong appeal.

      It’s a fallacy to say the time and effort could have been applied elsewhere – the modders worked on what they wanted to work on and that’s the beauty of the mod scene and user-created content. If it wasn’t a labor of love, would they even be modders/designers/game artists/whatever? You simply can’t say for certain.

      1. It’s the laziest concept in the world.
        When HL2 came out I’m sure every modder on the planet thought… ooh we could rebuild HL1 in the HL2 engine. Now there’s all this talk of rebuilding old mods in BM. What a waste of time…

        New mods in BM like JG’s I’m all behind!!
        If BM had been completely new maps all based at Black Mesa I’d feel a bit better about the project.
        As it is its a poor imitation of the original game.

      2. Oh and the only thing they “re-imagined” I can see was how to replace old fun gameplay with new poor level design. Blast Pit and Power Up were ruined…

  5. bkadar

    not very polished for $20. the vents are bright, no flashlite needed, lots of little things, some furnature you can walk through some on . questionable level change areas. but …still gonna get my $20 of play till hl2-hl2reboot comes out

  6. JC

    Am I the only one who wants to see the classic Half-Life mod “Edge of Darkness” (by Chris Spain) ported to Black Mesa?
    Or maybe a remake instead of a port?

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