BMPD: Pre-Disaster Apprehension

I’ve had my eye on Apprehension for some time, mainly to learn the basics of hammer, as the rundown feel gave the impression that a pre-disaster version would very similar. With Admiral Sakai working on a pre-disaster QE transit station, and that there’s actually a lot of inferred story within the maps, I’ve come to realize that apprehension is probably one of the most important chapters for the entire PD project. As Gordon is kidnapped by two marines, the distance between App. and RP could be theoretically as far as the size of black mesa, so an unofficial route has to be made, unless everyone is fine with two drunk barneys replacing the marines in the PD. (That’s called foreshadowing, kids!) Also, one of the biggest things throwing me off track is the doubt of state of repair. “Should this stay how it is, or should i fix it up?”

One of the main reasons for making this thread is that I REALLY HAVE NO CLUE what is abandoned and what should be repaired.
For example: The first half of the bm_c2a3a.
Apprehension proper (I’m considering the train as part of Oar) starts off with a flooded silo that appears to be under renovation. (Note the worklight, crane, and debris)


The player then proceeds through a tunnel which leads to what seems to be a storage or unloading area. This area, as well as the hallway and room it leads to, send mixed signals. On one hand, these areas show signs of water damage and abandonment.



On the other, a deuce and a half is in the back of the tunnel the player has to pass through, and the player can grab 40mm impact grenades in the barricaded room.


I’d suggest going for broke in terms of making the place actively used. Don’t be afraid to lighten/desaturate some textures to make an area look more livable, as a lot of the BM textures seem to have been designed with the lighting conditions where they were to be used already in mind and I’ve for a long time been operating under the assumption that the lighting/atmosphere of a post-disaster map may be some kind of low-power or backup-power mode and not the way the area originally looked pre-disaster.

I wondered a lot what the areas visited in Apprehension were supposed to be. Even if BM gave them more flavor, they’re still puzzling.

The first half I agree is more likely a decommissioned silo, with its own underground rail line and tunnels for logistics. That wall in the middle could have been built to transform half of it into a cistern. Although there’s a hole in it, I doubt it was the sole reason of the flooding of the next area, which seemed to have been still in use (running gas and water, working sprinklers). The next areas are mostly very old looking warehouses and even a rail station and crane for managing shipments. Then we get to a very deep, flooded place room, and some kind of pump room. Several floors can be seen along one of the walls of the room. Past the disused pump room, we get an active area with coolant storage, then some corridors leading to a well maintained helicopter pad and warehouses.

Now for a stretch in reasoning, that deep room could have been an old office complex which was decommissioned along with the silo. Then somehow BM re-purposed the place by flooding parts of it and, it overflowed when they decommissioned the place and stopped using the pumps. Maybe they were making Dr. Evil’s sharks with laser beams attached to their heads? That could explain the presence of a rusted shark cage in a nearby warehouse. >.>
In the end the only areas still in use would be the warehouses by the rail system, the coolant storage and the helicopter pad. To me, this whole area still fits in Sector E because of all those accesses for trucks, trains and helicopters, but features far older and abandoned locations than On a Rail. That guard at the coolant storage does mention the “older industrial areas where the security is full of holes”.

I was actually wondering if the area might be used for some sort of engineering or hardware development, as similar areas around my workplace can in fact get pretty grimy even when in active use (I’ll be able to post some photos when I go back in Monday) and a lot of the heavy equipment gives me a similar design vibe. The existence of modern computers (some of which are still on) in later areas of the complex supports the assertion that it was in use relatively recently.

I am wondering in particular if, since it seems to have had both a rail system and an airlock built into it at about the same time, the shark cage room might have been directly repurposed for holding ichies from a testing area for underwater or maritime equipment which was regularly flooded or emptied as need required. Once I started thinking in that vein, I realized that the enclosed helipads at the end of the level may not just hold helicopters but actually assemble or refit them.

All right! Wasn’t able to get into a few of the labs I was planning to because they were locked, but I did make a pretty good circuit of my building and find some interesting environments:

A very industrial section of corridor near the metallurgical labs; note in particular the exposed concrete floors and poor lighting:

Some kind of shipping area with Ye Olde doors, Apprehension-style metal railings, and supports for a crane. I’ve seen the actual crane in use but today it was pulled back into another part of the building. The support rigging on whatever all that stuff piled up in the hall is also strongly remind me of the supports seen in Apprehension:

Various labs with bare concrete (or filthy tile) floors, exposed piping in the ceilings, and a variety of Ye Olde equipment and chairs. The fluorescent lights with the reflectors also very strongly remind me of the ones used in Black Mesa:

The reason for the metal paneling and giant heavy-duty door in this room was originally to provide electromagnetic shielding for sensitive equipment; we just use it for general storage now. (Those black cylindrical things on the floor are cheap teaching robots called TurtleBots):

Various instances of mild to significant water damage in trafficked parts of the building. That firstone in the corner is caused by an active leak; we contacted Facilities about it and were told it wasn’t worth bothering with:

A maintenance/storage area with heavy water damage and exposed concrete ceiling elements:

Various pieces of equipment I found that looked similar to the control consoles and other doodads in Apprehension. The first two are in display cases in the lobby because they were flown on the Space Shuttle:

One other thing worth noting are these tables that I see in different parts of the building (generally in machine shops) which to me look extremely similar to the green-and-tan metal desks used throughout the industrial parts of Black Mesa:

Really the big differences I see are that:

  • Real labs are universally much more cluttered than Apprehension (which is true for all the other BM levels too and probably has more to do with engine constraints on the number of physics props than any conscious design decision).
  • There are very rarely just bare concrete ceilings around here and instead everything is buried in layers of ventilation and electrical conduit. But as above this is universal to Black Mesa and probably has more to do with performance than style.
  • Bare concrete is relatively rare and instead someone thought it would be a good idea to whitewash nearly all of the walls. However, I think you could get away with making the walls in Apprehension a good bit lighter just on the pretext that they are being lit differently and also before the area flooded they would not be as waterlogged.
    Overall I wouldn’t necessarily want to work in either, but I’d say that with the color-correction and lighting adjusted Apprehension actually would look like a better workplace than the IRL engineering and metallurgy labs a floor below me.

That’s some great stuff for reference. :thumbsup:

As for comparison, I’ve visited the assembly building for the first stage of the French launcher/rocket Ariane 5. The work space overall has good lighting, clean floors and such, despite the advanced age of the building (at least 40 years old). Still, the building is always in activity, with launcher stages completed and shipped several times a year. I don’t doubt it was in similar conditions back in the 90s.

Pics for reference:

Looks to me more like the better industrial parts of Black Mesa. :smiley:

Yeah actually a lot like Lambda Complex.

Currently my plan for pd_c2a3a is to have it in a “remodeling” stage, where the staff are in the middle of replacing and repairing old, aging equipment and fixing up the rooms themselves. Also, I’m adding a rail line starting from next to the broken silo door that will be a secondary way to get into the ichy pen lab, as well as the rail line that ends inside the loading bay-turned temporary holding pen.

pd_c2a3b/c I haven’t thought about too much yet, but I’ll probably figure a way to connect both with the aforementioned rail line that can continue into RP or QE.

I had explored doing something with this area a while back and was just as confused. I arrived at a similar conclusion that most areas of this chapter (excluding the helipad area) have been long abandoned and only recently are being repurposed, mainly for studying the ichthyosaur.

Some aspects of this don’t make sense, though - notably the lack of safety or security measures one would expect to find around a dangerous alien predator. The QE labs have plenty of these, while the flooded areas in Apprehension feature rusted, crumbling catwalks that offer little to no protection. The shark cage doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, either.

It’s clear this area is more of a stop-gap measure while other, more permanent areas are being constructed. That still doesn’t explain the apparent lack of security, however. There is one apparent security station right before you enter the shark cage room, but that’s it as far as I can tell. I’d suggest including some more security checkpoints in expanded areas.

Also, it’s probably not an issue due to how convoluted a lot of spaces are in general, but there is a lot of collision/overlap between c2a3a, b, and c if you try and put them together. The helipad area clips into most of the flooded rooms in the a and b maps, for instance.

I was planning to address the ichy tank’s security measures by saying that it was actively in use as a submersion testing lab for vehicles and equipment, then someone from the Biodome had all of the engineers kicked out of it to temporarily accommodate an ichy that they could not fit in the hydrofauna studies lab’s preexisting specimen pens. It was only supposed to be there for a week or so until the Biodome staff could clean out another pen.

I think that Itchy was placed there temporary, because there wasn’t any place in Biodome. I am not sure if HEV teams would capture fully grown Itchy to bring it to Biodome, also they would have at least prepared large fish tank. More likely scenario was that team brought eggs or larvae into Biodome and after some time they realized about its dimensions and behavior. So Itchy was temporary moved into abandoned flooded sector for further examination.

Also scientist mentioned that is it was moved there very recently, but he sounded like maintenance man to keep an eye on it, rather than doing any research.

I think he might have been one of the engineers who worked in that area normally, got kicked out, and only went back in to investigate after the Disaster.

I had the idea that the scientist was an Intern or some other low-security clearance position, and the staff that knew the truth had to make something up.

At the moment my plan for the ichy lab rail station looks something like this:


To be honest it feels a bit large, and I don’t exactly know what to do with the space. I can’t really make it smaller, because the stairwells and track define where three of the walls can go, and if I compress the forth wall too much it starts to feel claustrophobic.

The y-junction in the corner was originally supposed to be fully functional with players being able to use it to go straight from the silo entrance to the ichy lab and beyond but I decided against it because working with off-grid geometry is a bitch, and I can’t just copy-paste existing corners in this case the player can experience most of the first map before continuing on to QE and RP.

The concrete by the blast doors to the ichy pen will be an airlocked pumping station, which can be visited either by the rail line passing through the ichy lab station, the freight elevator in the ichy lab station, or the valve airlock room which is conveniently covered up by textured geometry.

Hmm, perhaps add a security office sticking out of the corner where the garage doors currently are? Maybe some crates in the middle of the room, or perhaps a support pillar?



While the lighting and small details still need to be finished up, I think I have the near final station. I didn’t add any security station because that I felt that would set the ichy lab from a temporary state to more of a it’s-technically-temporary-but-it’s-a-government-bureaucracy-which-means-it’s-actually-permanent, as a the original low/medium level security area would not require its own security office. Two guards with shotguns, cameras, and doors should be enough.

Looking really good, lighting and other details pending of course, although I still think you could stand to maybe add a concrete support pillar right in the center or alternatively near the tracks dividing the entrance into two segments.

The Ichy station is just about finished. The only things really left (other than the connecting stairwells and tram tunnel) is polish up the lighting, and to make the elevator work

I think the concept behind these rooms is solid, but some additional detailing would be helpful. For instance underneath the pipes and ductwork the ceilings are very flat and could probably use some additional brushwork for support beams etc. The doorways also don’t seem to have much of any border or trim and are just square holes cut in the walls.

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