BMPD: Pre-Disaster Questionable Ethics

I didn’t really plan on 90% of the pre-disaster planning thread being Questionable Ethics updates, so I’ve spun that project off into its own thread here.

Map F, Map G, Map H and the new “Map D” (actually parts of E and F) have been updated to work following the December Update. Next up is a revamping and update of the rest of Map E, which will include some new areas as well as general fixes. I was going to be working on the tram station (tram station!) in H map, but currently most of my new-areas focus is on Map E, which is becoming a very large map (hence why I put half of it in D).

Working teslas and quests will have to wait until custom LCS support is implemented by the BM developers, but both are planned. Custom LCS support will also allow me to make the NPCs show much more life than they do now.


Have to stick this in a few extra posts because otherwise it exceeds the character count:

Map H
Map F
Map G
Map D
Map I - Coming Surprisingly Soon




All right! First update on the new thread!

So, there’s the laser labs. Smaller than most of the rest of Questionable Ethics and with only three hidden areas, but absolutely packed with sprites and beams and a lot of logical entities that I am really not especially familiar with, so it’s been kind of a chore to get the expansion out. Now that it’s done, though, I’m really pretty happy with it.

The classified laser labs have already kind of been addressed in the previous thread, although I should mention that they were actually my second choice for what to put in that area- originally, I wanted to have a “macroscale quantum system” that kept two headcrabs entangled so that whatever happened to one was transferred to the other, but I wasn’t sure how to build a machine representing that. The maintenance room I added is what I am thinking of as the HVAC hub for the entire advanced labs, much like there is a dedicated generator room and a freight handling facility in E map.

I would still sort of like to have a custom machine made for the advanced labs, but actually my bigger desire in terms of models is to have matching ‘L’-shaped lab counters made for the classified red-laser labs- I have one for the right but not one for the left, so I just had to go and make both straight.

I’ve been cleaning up the lighting a fair bit as well, and while I really like the brighter corridors as a whole you’re going to have to give me some feedback on the brighter, yellower floodlights. I thought it’d be nice to have some lighting in the hallways that isn’t overpoweringly blue, but they’re very, well, bright and yellow, and I’m not sure if I like the way they stand out.

I’m also going to keep messing around with the lighting and ceiling tiles in the office areas, even though I think I’ve gotten it mostly right- however, my big problem is actually the bulletin boards- there is something about that prop that just causes them to glow super-bright when everything else is under what I would consider normal lighting. Usually I can fix that with info_lightings in darker areas and a lot of fine-tuning, but sometimes it just doesn’t come out right.

Here’s an example of what I mean, from Office Complex: notice that both the “labor postings” sign and the lower left corner of the board are both pretty much equidistant from the light up above, and that both should be the same color of copy-paper white. So why is the board glowing like it’s just been nuked while the sign is fairly dim?

I’ll keep messing around with this since I’m now getting pretty good at tweaking the optical properties of some of BM’s stranger textures, but if it’s a shader issue or a vertex issue or something I’m not at all sure how I’d go about fixing it.

As for H map, I’m having some issues with getting it updated to match the new STU-ified canon version. Without a canon VMF to work off of, I can’t get the locations and IDs of the new static props (they changed up a bunch of rocks and things), and trying to decompile the map just breaks decompilers. Furthermore, while I was able to get the godrays working, even on the canon map the CSM puts this horrible brown cast to everything in the tunnel, along with weird glowing edges and too-bright props:

As I am to my knowledge the first developer to ever even have to interact with the CSM system, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to fix this too, although I suppose I could redo the whole area in all new materials that had been recolored to “subtract out” that brown…

I’m not sure if this is something you wanted, but I do have an unstained version of the plaque. It looks like this in-game:

Now, I know it’s a bit too shiny, this is due to normal map problem. I tried fixing it but I couldn’t. I used a standard issued normal map generator, so most likely I have to use premium software to generate normal maps for it, but I do not have any resources to get my hands on it. Or it’s just that I did the settings wrong.

If you are an optimist like me, and would like to not mind it by saying “Eh, it was before the incident. Maybe the cleaner wiped its ass really hard with an oxiclean”, then it’s great! Problem solved (that was easy)! Else though, I will have to consider alternate way to generate normal maps. I’m not sure if I like the idea of literally hand-editing the normal map TGA, that would take 3 centuries to finish.

Go ahead and send it over, I’ll see what I can do about the normal maps on my end.

I do have one request, though- if you can, see if you can change the date to either 1967 or 1980? All that blue panelling in the QE labs always gave me a sort of 1970s “trying too hard to be Space Age” vibe.

Really? I always imagined QE labs to have been constructed in the later days of the Black Mesa - at least late 80s. Well, it’s not that hard to change the date, though. I went with 1967. Looks cooler than 1980.

And that’s one normal map, served up hot!


I’m perfectly happy using this for what is probably a not-frequently-looked-at prop, but it’s not quite like the official one- I think the developers just took the text layer itself and used that without any of the sign parts. Somebody who actually makes textures would probably be able to have better control over the process, so for all of your future normalmapping needs I recommend this GIMP plugin.

Looking great! You can go ahead and do the map that I had claimed - unfortunately I would not have time to do that any time soon and I’m still doing Unforeseen Consequences in my spare time. That being said, though, I’ll probably still claim parts of another chapter once I’m done with UC.


Well, it’s taken a surprising amount of effort, but E Map is finally out, as you can see from the media release just above (It doesn’t help my schedule that I live in Cleveland and there is literally assault-rifle fire outside my apartment this week). Initially I wanted to work on it a bit more to try and ameliorate the odd, sterile feeling a lot of the areas have, but now I’ve come to think that it makes perfect sense- this is a medical research facility, after all, so it’s supposed to be sterile. We’ve also found another one of those odd, superbright textures in the form of the cafeteria tables:

The plate, cup, papers, and table are all “white”, and under the same lighting conditions- so why is the table glowing when everything else in the room is relatively dim?

I will of course be continuing to tweak and refine E map (along with now very small changes to F and G), but in terms of adding new content I find myself at a bit of a crossroads with where to go from here, and thought I would give the community a chance to add their own input.

My most major of questions right now is whether I want to keep working on Questionable Ethics straight through to the end (or as near as I can get to it without long-term objectives like custom voice acting and models), or take a break and work on other areas of the Facility before coming back to QE- I do have my eyes on a few multiplayer maps that I think would be interesting to have rebuilt and some people have expressed a desire for pre-disaster Surface Tension to be next, but since both of those things are dependent on the developers releasing updated VMFs and they seem unlikely to do that any time soon what I would probably be doing is returning to Office Complex.

In between what I’ve learned from restoring Questionable Ethics and what I’ve seen in the Office Complex levels of a mod called Black Mesa Hardcore by Russian user BlackPriest (sadly not available to American players without a lot of effort), I’ve decided that to make OCPD good I am going to have to start back at the beginning and redo it more or less from scratch. I’ve actually gotten a little bit of a start on this goal, and so far the areas of c1a2a that have been restored are actually looking pretty promising. So, I guess the Big Question here is:
Office Complex again, or more Questionable Ethics?[/size]

I will be posting more information on the restoration of Office Complex on the Office Complex PD thread, but assuming that I do keep up with Questionable Ethics right out of the gate, there’s the question of what exactly I want to work on next. There’s of course additional areas that need to be added to E Map, quite a few of them in fact, ranging from additional research labs to the rest of the maintenance area to the female bathroom and wherever HEV suits are stored, but there’s also a whole new map to make in the form of the “violet” labs, and there’s the rail access in H Map’s tunnel. Once I decide what to do I’ll talk a bit more about what I have planned for each area, but so far…

Well, my main stumbling block in the work on Map H is that it contains content that needs to be updated to match the post-Surface-Tension-Update canonical version (CSM, new props, etc.), and that such an update is currently impossible to do without working off of the updated VMFs that the developers currently have not made available. However, while I have a tradition of making major polish passes at the same time as I add new areas to a map, I suppose there is nothing in the changes to the canonical map that directly affects the layout and design of the expanded areas, so I guess I could still make it work.

In terms of the other two maps, expanding both (in the case of the violet labs, creating a map) would be a pretty major undertaking, one that probably would leave me tied up and not doing much of anything else for a very long time, with little to no public payoff until the very end. Logically, since E Map is simpler and needs some more polishing I should start on expanding that one, but I also feel kind of tired of working with E Map and would enjoy the thrill of making a completely self-made map for the violet labs- it’d be much more enjoyable, and by being more creative I might also be able to create a better product faster. So, my second Big Question is as follows. When I do keep working on Questionable Ethics (which could be now or after working on Office Complex for a while)…
Expand Map E, make a new Map I, or build a tram station in Map H?[/size][/size][/size]

If Map H is the one that has the Biodome Tram Station, I’m all for it… :slight_smile: It’d be also fantastic to have a secret vent connecting it with the rest of the Biodome facility directly, w/o need to pass through the main entrance. (after all, how one is supposed to bring new supplies to the Biodome, if not via the Transit system)?

All right. Considering the response from the community (and by “the community” I mean @danielko- I appreciate your contribution, I just wish there were more of you), it looks like the next step in BMPD is sticking with Questionable Ethics and adding the rail station to Map H. So, that means it’s time to do something that, since most of QE has pre-existing maps, I have not had to do since the Office Complex days- plan.

Looking at the entrance to the rail system from inside of H map, it’s clear that we aren’t starting out with a whole lot to work with- just a single corridor heading downwards and away from the main body of H Map:

I guess I could just build a random generic tram platform off of both ends of that t-junction, probably one with two suspended walkways like the ones from Sector C or something, but there’s actually two distinct elements of the way Questionable Ethics is set up that have been bothering me and that I think I can solve with just a little bit more effort here.

The first problem sticks out to me as a native of the Northern United States who is rather not at home in temperatures above around 70 degrees- why does the Biodome facility, which is part of the sealed, climate-controlled environment of the Black Mesa facility and probably shares at least some ventilation services therewith, have the only entrance through the semi-sealed, climate-controlled tram system cutting through the outdoor parking lot? My university does the same thing (providing no indoor personnel access between buildings that are physically connected to each other),and it’s always bothered me.

The second “problem” is really more just an Odd Thing: on the upper balcony in the lobby, there is this little stub of corridor that doesn’t really go anywhere:

It’s marked on the map, but according to the same source nothing at all connects to it.

I suppose it could just be a little area with vending machines or something, but…

I think this little corridor leads to a second facility entrance, connecting directly to the tram station.

To be sure, the facility map says nothing about this being a facility entrance, but then again it’s actually marked more than the official entrance we already know about:

And, while I certainly agree that the Biodome is a secure facility and shouldn’t have doors in and out scattered all over the place, I’d be sure to construct the entry with an airlock just like the one on the ground floor, so I don’t think security would be too impacted by its presence. I’m wondering if this is at all similar to what Danielko was talking about regarding a “secret vent [to] the rest of the biodome facility” up above?

Actually, in something of a reverse of the usual PD problem of being annoyingly constrained by pre-existing level geometry, the big stumbling block to implementing this plan is that I have no real idea what to do with all the distance between the lobby and the transit system entrance. Here’s how the area looks from the top- I’ve moved the sections we’re interested in to another map for clarity, which since both F and H maps share the same “origin” is pretty easy to do, and added the giant chasm from Inbound (the one containing the “Area 9 hub”) for scale:

Vertically, it’s not so bad- about one and a half stories, which makes sense because that’s what the player traverses to get between the two via existing routes. Most every tram stop we see in Inbound goes that deep already, and while the tram stops don’t really have much if any verticality to the sections people can actually walk on I’m pretty sure I can handle it inside the corridors leading from the platform- especially if I fudge the height difference a little.

The problem is that, horizontally, the roadside entrance and the balcony entrance are really nowhere near each other:

I’m… not 100% sure how to deal with this. I could make an ungodly massive tram station, one that puts the Area 9 Hub to shame and takes half an hour just to walk through… I could make a series of insanely long corridors, which would also take half an hour to walk through and be really kind of boring to boot… or I guess I could just completely disregard in-game geometry and hide a trigger_teleport in the secondary airlock that warps the player halfway across the map. I really don’t know.

On another note, I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do with the other end of the T-Junction we see- the one that doesn’t seem to go anywhere near the rest of Questionable Ethics. I was wondering if it might in fact connect to some part of the hydro-dam area, but now that I think about it I realize there’s another part of the facility that also studies alien biology and has that exact same wall texture:

However, I really don’t even want to think about restoring anything to do with Apprehension yet. That whole entire chapter is just so unimaginably confusing.

@Admiral Sakai - thanks so much for reacting to my small reply :slight_smile:

First - it’s a big work of thought here, appreciate it a lot. I’d add that I looooove reading through your posts - things that people do while planning new stuff always amaze me. :slight_smile:

Second - I’m all in for connecting the Biodome complex with the Transit System directly, w/o the need to go to the station through the Lobby. Your approach to use the balcony as the entrance to the station sounds quite credible.

Third - why one has to make a god-like station, if not to put Area 9 Hub to shame? Well, if that is the purpose, why not. Otherwise, maybe the problem could be solved if one would look into the details…

Look, it’s interesting that the station entrance leads to “BIODOME PLATFORM 1” which means that there could be a “BIODOME PLATFORM 2”, why not?

I mean, you can find lots of examples where stations changed in their shape and geometry in the real world as time went by. Consider this:

In the beginning, there was a small station built (think of our Platform 1), that was used for material transit and for entrance, and it was used for accessing both the Dam AND the future Biodome Complex. Later, it turned out to be a good idea to build a second part of the station, closer to the complex, but the name of the first station preserved its historical name, “BIODOME PLATFORM 1”. One could imagine it to be used to bring visitors to the Biodome, as well as engineers to the Dam. Now, the second platform would stand closer to the complex, and it could be used to bring scientists and materials to the Biodome complex directly (with a different approach to security).

So, two platforms, located in two different places, but called as “BIODOME”, why not?

It could be also possible to raise the Biodome Platform 2 to make it easier to access it from the balcony… Perhaps it could be even more reasonable to do that if the rest of the tunnels were at that same level, and they went down to the Platform 1 because of the Dam on the way…

Here’s how it could be done (just to provoke the discussion, nothing more):


PS one could also imagine another tunnel coming to the station holding Biodome Platform 2, from material transit (it would also explain the elevator shaft in the first floor of the Biodome complex on the left side).

This actually was how I solved the “platform 1 platform 2 problem” - by adding a new, seperate second platform inside the main Biodome Complex. Like Dr. @Admiral Sakai, I was intrigued by the idea of having a train station outside the main facility. Dr. @danielko 's little “history” given to these platforms is something that could be implemented, too. All of them are certainly an interesting idea that I hope to see work out beautifully.

I wouldn’t mind about the facility having an extra entrance as long as they are well secured in theme of Questionable Ethics. In the end, a sole spinning door would be too small for everyone to get in through in the rush hour time (seeing how the facility is pretty large, probably having a few dozens of scientists and the guards). One thing though, I would heavily against the use of trigger_teleport unless it is ABSOLUTELY needed due to a geometrical problem. It would really take out the realism and immersion.

The floor map most likely was drawn without much attention. You can spot many mistakes in the map, so what would be to, say for example, how much of the Lab C map, or that “protuding lobby room” is drawn to how it actually would have looked like in the game? I’d say don’t put your mind about it too much. Work as how you please. My hypothesis is that it might have been a vestige of Half-Life 1 where there was a stair connecting the first floor to the second. Speaking of that, why isn’t there a stair in the lobby? Seem very illogical to not put one, but put two elevators. Most likely a design trick to discourage players from exploring the second floor, I know.

The idea of connecting Apprehension and Questionable Ethics physically is an interesting new hypothesis I never heard someone proposing it before. Could have never imagined, simply due to how different they feel, and also the fact that by the time you reach this chapter you are long forgotten how Apprehension chapter looks.

Ok, looking at the vertical issue in more detail, I realize I may have been too hasty to dismiss it. Using the same grade of ramp featured in the corridor leading to the tram station, it takes a section longer than the Area 9 hub is wide in order to bridge the distance:

That’s kind of put me off the whole tram station project. I do, however, think that with some more experience designing these stations, I’ll be much better equipped to handle this one. And there just so happens to be one in nned of building in Office Complex.

Therefore, my current game plan is to work on expanding/polishing E Map here, and resurrecting Office Complex from the quicksand of poor decisions it found itself in as my first major project. Expect more updates on both of those things on their respective threads.

So, I’m getting tired of fussing with Office Complex again- it’s my favorite level of Black Mesa to play, sure, but it’s an absolute nightmare to work with especially where lighting is concerned- the conventional rules and design patterns of lighting in the Source Engine just don’t seem to apply to it, and things that look fine in other maps look horrible in OC. So I’m coming back to Questionable Ethics with some fresh ideas and a strong desire to look at walls that are a well-defined color. I’ve done a little work on The Legendary I Map, but at the moment that’s not really showable and won’t be leaving my computer for a long, long time. My primary concern at the moment is therefore adding new areas to E Map, which is rapidly becoming the gold standard of everything a pre-disaster map is supposed to be. This here is part of Xeno Flora- it took me about a week to put together, start to finish, but I’ve been working on a bunch of other stuff at the same time so I don’t consider this to be representative of the pace the entire project will be unfolding at.

Been focusing on the maintenance and mechanical areas of the labs these last few days, and while the generator rooms are giving me a little bit of trouble overall I’ve had very good results:

Beautiful, keep it up!

Founded in 2004, became one of the first online communities dedicated to Valve’s Source engine development. It is more famously known for the formation of Black Mesa: Source under the 'Leakfree Modification Team' handle in September 2004.