This is not a test adventure

See this post for release and Download infos[/size]![/size]


After finishing Black Mesa, I really wanted to get back to mapping and recycle an old map that I started for left 4 dead 2.

So ‘This is not a test’ is a singleplayer adventure I’m working on lately. Its composed of two maps for the moment. The first one introduces a road connecting two sub-parts of the facility.

The second map is taking place in a missile silo.

Here’s a footage of the first map which is almost done and requires a bit more polishing in term of sounds, scripts, details, optimization, AI and lighting.

Screens of first map:

Feedback appreciated!


This looks WONDERFUL. Seriously, mad props to your scripting and lighting.

The grenade puzzle might need some work- there isn’t really any indication that you can get the grenade over or under the pipe to the other side. Try adding some lighting to make the caps more obvious.

Wanna play it

Thank guys!

You are definitely right about this.
I changed a bit the floor under the pipe and put a soda drink can, that will roll under the pipe when the player is approaching. It should teach the player that the other side is accessible to small props.

If it’s still not enough I will add a military light under the pipe like you said.

You’d probably need to focus test it with people that haven’t seen the video to see if they pick up on it.

Looks marvelous!

Thank you! :slight_smile:

From a gameplay perspective, one tester told me that he enjoyed the two maps. He took 1 hour to beat it (there is a 2 major puzzles in 2nd map).

Here’s two screenshots from the second map. It takes places in a nuclear silo complex.

Wow that’s some pretty map. I’m in love with those blue neons in the last screen

Here’s some feedback based solely on the screenshots you posted. If some of my comments are no longer relevant or you don’t agree with them, don’t sweat it. Just trying to help out a fellow mapper. My biggest feedback will be on the lighting as this is my particular passionate subject and I think this is an aspect of the maps that could use the most work. This is going to come across as very critical - please don’t take it the wrong way. I really like what you’ve done here and am only posting this to try and help you take the map to the next level.

Overall, your lighting conveys a really good sense of atmosphere and it has a dark charm, with good choice of colours. But, I would argue that you have slightly neglected lighting’s gameplay function. Lighting in games does not serve only to create an atmosphere and visuals for a scene (though it’s obviously crucial for that), it also serves to direct (or misdirect!) the player. None of the lighting or colour choices in these screenshots really “direct” me, so to speak. From the screenshots, it seems like you’ve totally nailed the visual aspect of the lights, but not necessarily their gameplay function.

Visually, it also seems like the lights always have the default falloff and brightnesses. Whether that’s actually true in the map or not, I can’t tell, but, judging from the screenshots, it seems you only really play with the brightness/colour values and not with the falloff values for your lights. This is a mistake - falloff is crucially important for using lights to their fullest.

From these 2 shots, for example:

In the first shot, the lamp post lighting is incredibly dull, compared to what it could be. I think it would look significantly better if you had the light being very bright near to its source, and then falling off to a dimmer light that casts a bit farther than what you have now. You can achieve this by upping the brightness substantially, and then adjusting the constant/linear/quadratic ratio from the default 0:0:1 to something like 3:2:1, or 3:2:0. Or using the 50%/0% falloff values, if you find those easier (they’re less powerful, but much easier to use).

In the second shot, the lighting doesn’t guide me to important places. The doorway (which I assume is the route to follow) only achieves this by being different to the other 2 lights, and the HEV charger/Crossbow on the wall are illuminated in the exact same way as a neighbouring, unimportant wall. This might not seem like a big deal from this particular shot - but amplify this issue across a whole map and it can make the map feel sloppy for reasons the testers might not quite be able to put their fingers on.

Try and think of each scene in terms of fill/highlight. The way you “fill” a scene with a simple light colour and then “highlight” areas depending on what you hope to achieve, through use of contrast (warm/cold, bright/dark, etc). For example, the scene in that particular shot could be better served from being lit by an overhead warm light, which fills the room with a relatively dim, warm colour (high constant, low brightness). The sconce/wall light above the charger could be casting a very cold, harsh and bright light down onto the elements below it (and you can increase the lightmap scale on the wall to make it look even better). You could then maintain the same sort of yellow fill that you use for the doorway, and maybe up the brightness a little. This would make the scene feel more cohesive and better directed.

Try playing with lightmap scales. From the shots it seems like you haven’t used them at all - they’re a powerful tool for making the lighting look way better.

This shot, for example. Any time I look at this image, my brain is screaming at me that there must be something important on that table with the blue light, because it stands out so much, lighting wise, compared to the rest of the scene. Additionally, the ladder on the right hand side of the shot is in darkness, so it’s very easy to miss. That works fine if your intention is for it to be a secret/exploration thing, but if it’s intended as a main route? That’s a big no-no!

From your shots it also feels like you’re overloading some scenes with too many different lightstyles - it becomes quite hard to visually understand some scenes at a glance. Let’s look at:

In this first shot, for example, I can count 6 (or 7?) different styles of light. None of them are really serving a gameplay or navigational function, at this point. It also doesn’t really enhance the scene. Sure, this scene looks pretty enough - but it would look even prettier and far better directed through use of just 3, or 4 (max) lightstyles instead. Again, a dominant fill for the room overall, another shade or different (but complementary) colour fill for inaccessible areas, the red danger highlight, and then a contrasting “this is important” highlight. Same sort of idea, but players will subconsciously be able to process the scene a lot better.

The second shot now. I get the feeling there’ll be some division over my opinion here, so take it or leave it as you wish. I don’t like it, personally. That back wall has an INSANE number of lights on it that serve no gameplay purpose. To me, that wall is by far and away the focal point of the scene, but yet it seems like, looking at the gameplay elements, the walkway below that wall or the underpass are supposed to be where the player should be directed. For example, the blue neon lights. They look really cool, I’ll give you that. But think about it - what do they do? They contrast with the entire rest of the scene and direct the player’s attention to (what I assume to be) is just a back wall. And what function would those lights serve in reality? Then, on the right, on the same wall, you have a different coloured series of lights along 2 different levels. I count…14 lights. Again, what are they lighting, and why? If you REALLY wanted to have that wall lit for some reason, you could probably achieve it with 2 lights per level. 7 is just overkill and visually distracting.

Then look at the lights lighting the trim on the walkway. Again - why are those there? From both a realism and a gameplay standpoint, I can’t see any reason to have lights there!

Remember - put the contrasting lights where you want to direct the player and where you want them to pay attention - leave other areas in darkness or just dimly lit. Or at least not lit in a contrasting and attention-drawing way.

Overall this is really promising - keep up the good work! You clearly know what you’re doing and, my criticisms aside, I think the screenshots look pretty great. Lighting, especially in Source, is one of the hardest things to crack, but when done expertly it really makes a huge different to the overall feel and direction of the map. Just try and bear the basic principles in mind beyond just what looks good! Good luck, let me know if you want any clarification on anything I said!

I need this right now, even if it’s broken AF I need to play it. GIMME IT.

On a more serious note, good job! I love your map design, and I think this has some great potential. With some work, this could become on par with the current BM campaign levels.

Thanks for all the comments. It still requires some polishing work and I don’t think it would fit in BM current campaign levels :stuck_out_tongue:

I agree It definitely requires more work on this part. To be honest I had a lot of trouble for this first map due to the complex navigation the player has to do in order to finish the level. In addition, because the environment is a road in a rock cave, I can only use artificial lighting. I also wanted to avoid fake lighting using light with a grey brightness to lit the environment.

I tried to use the light to direct the player the most I could. Nevertheless, I might have flooded the player with too much information. That’s why you must have this feeling. This shows that the lighting requires further work.

Here are some parts where I tried to lead the player like a moth attracted to light:

I only use the 50% falloff values to only a few lights. I tend to avoid the Constant, linear and quadratic ratio because I just don’t know how to use it correctly. I sometimes uses the constant value for spotlight that lit large arenas.

At first I wanted to be a warm area because of the supplies the player can find. There’s a HEV charger, the crossbow, some ammo and also a health charger near by. But due to the presence of enemies (barnacle, zombie and turrets) I went into a more contrasted area with a warm lighting on the charger and near ammo and an overall cold blueish/grayish atmosphere rendered by a neon light. For this area I wanted to depict a mitigated sensation on the player: half-safe and half in danger.

I’ll make some changes to this area. The unimportant wall lighting will be removed/changed.

The blue light is effectively pointing out some ammo on the table. Finally the ladder on the right is in darkness because it’s a secret/exploration thing like you said.
On the last version of the map a item_battery which is casting a nice lighting is located on the top of the ladder to drag player attention but still be discrete.

This scene is intent to be really oppressing to the player in term of lighting, darkness, events and enemies. But I will see what I can do. Please take in consideration that the screenshots are not depicting any gameplay events and I’d like to keep the surprise.
I also wanted to cast nice shadow from the truss models but it’s no more on my plan for now.

I confess this area is a mess. I guess I wanted to depict way too much things to the player. I wanted to show that the player is about to enter a huge complex but he had to enter by the small door by taking the maintenance access because the military locked-down the main blast door to avoid any progression.
This access and navigation to the maintenance shaft is ‘lead’ by two floodlights, enemies, a scientist and some catwalk on yellow pipe. Also, the player needs to jump on rock platform.

I will Turn off some of the neon lights, remove lights from the 2 levels and make a few changes.

Thank you for your suggestions

Hello guys!

I worked a lot those past few days. That’s why i’m proud to show you the first public release.

Here’s the show-off thread:

or direct download link from workshop:


The xen jumper mod why is the old model ? I propose you to put the new xen jumper model which was updated after CU3

Unable to pass in the level with those teleporter.

The headcrab felt in the teleporter and I set the crab on fire, but got stuck

At first I didn’t understood what you means with CU3. And then I checked the betas you can opt-in on the game.
Well my default setting is to ‘opt-out of all beta programs’. So that’s must be the reason it’s the old model.

Why betas are such a mess?

The xen push pad is placed with the ‘env_xen_pushpad’ entity in my level and there is 0 control on which model to display.
I guess I need to opt-in to the CU3 to get the new model?!

The lab seems to be not very clear. I apologize for this. Male scientists doesn’t have enough speech to explain it so I had to use the lab board near the teleport to guide the player.
Anyway here’s the solution:

[spoiler]You need to blow up the Xen Tank by over-saturating its atmosphere with Oxygen. Then you need to send a flare with the teleport within the tank to set-up a fire.
Unfortunately it only works with flares due to game limitations (explosives are not heard by the env_microphone entity in this game dunno why)

To Open the Oxygen Tank:

  1. Drain the radioactive water by rotating a pipe wheel located on the catwalk
  2. Pick the red Valve.
  3. Go to the lab and put the Valve on the Oxygen Tank
  4. Open gas
  5. Send a flare through the teleporter
  6. Enjoy the scared scientist and escape to vent



Well I did see the wheel but didn’t go in the radioactive material…

I read the instructions on the board, already turned the wheel, but I thought I just had to turn the other wheel on the other side of the room

All right! First round of concrit!

This is an odd catwalk, which doesn’t really have a purpose as it just terminates in this little balcony. I’d suggest turning this into a section that was broken off, with more (inaccessible) sections continuing on under the bridge.

This jump pad is nonfunctional.

It’s obvious that there is no more building behind this wall, making its existence rather suspect. I’d either replace it with a fence, or fill in whatever’s behind it.

Similarly, this whole side of the building is really bare- I’d suggest adding more electrical bits, or pipes, or something.

Oddly clean maintenance sign in this rusty, Apprehension-inspired area. Maybe replace it with one of the dirty ones?

Not only do I think this was kind of a weird texture to put here, it also is one of the few areas of this map that lacks proper trim.

What is the purpose of this structure, and why is it elevated? There seems to be no ‘real’, logistical reason for it to not just be a security shack like the ones in Surface Tension. Maybe turn the space underneath it into a parking lot?

While I understand the gameplay reasons for putting a wall here, visually it looks extremely out of place. Maybe replace it with some sheet metal or plywood the military propped up against the staircase.

I know these light textures are used in Black Mesa Inbound, but they don’t really hold up at close range. Perhaps replace them with those nukelight props in a more complicated holder (or no holder at all?).

Fake brushwork railings are fake. Really no reason not to replace these with props.

Another purposeless catwalk- if there’s one on either side of the chasm, there’s really no reason not to make them the torn-off ends of a catwalk that ran all the way under the bridge.

Ok, just in general I think that while the first map was almost at the level of the original Black Mesa in quality, the second needs a bunch more detail and polishing- instead of looking at every single area and saying “go over this some more”, my suggestions will be both more general and more limited to specific logical or gameplay issues.

In general terms, I think that the area needs more work put into it in detailing, trims, rooms that aren’t square, et cetera, but it also needs more thematic continuity- we have industrial areas, maintenance areas, labs, and office sections all mixed together, all with different texture sets and props. This makes the map look disjointed and pieced-together.

Obvious low-res HL2 props are obvious.

The methane-and-oxygen atmosphere puzzle was clever, but there are a few holes in it. For one thing, I was never a big fan of Black Mesa using teleports for really mundane things- couldn’t the entrance to the chamber be re-rigged to use that spinny mini-airlock that provides the jump pack in the end of Lambda Core, or a similar construction? I know Opposing Force used teleporters to get people in and out of water tanks, but it was silly there too.

Also, having a scientist inside the chamber raises the question of why he can’t just unlock the door and let you in.

Not a fan of these really bare ceilings, or of that texture.

Also not a fan of large, nearly empty storage rooms. How was this place even lit when the facility was operational? There’s no electrical connections of any kind.
Also also, Black Mesa itself has pretty much made the transition to the new cinderblock textures by now.

Subscribed to this when I saw it was released, but only now got around to playing it - whoops.

Overall, I think it’s pretty good - the maps are large, provide a small challenge without being overwhelming, and I didn’t get hopelessly lost.

A few places, the first stretch of tram tunnel and the level transition, for example, could use a bit more love, detail-wise, and there were a few places where backtracking was needed but not immediately obvious - though I quickly caught on that that was what I had to do, so it’s not a major issue. About everything else has already been addressed by others.

There were quite a few nice setpieces in the maps, such as the big tunnel, the elevator fight, and the rocket command center - though fighting the LAV in close quarters was a pain - it kept shooting down my rockets and knocking my aim around!

Overall, 4/5 for me.

Pretty nice maps, took me about 30 minutes to complete them, I really enjoyed the gunfights :o So, while playing I noticed some bugs, which I will show right now.

I picked up a battery through the window when I was hitting it

The sound of the radio still play in its original place even if you take the radio (Making it unpickable or make the sound come from the radio itself should do the job)

I know it’s a bit of a nitpick but I’m like that, sorry ^^ But that zombie is clipping through the door

There is no sound when the elevator stops (really pretty elevator shaft though :stuck_out_tongue: )

You can jump on top of an invisible brush (not really visible on the screen, but I was in the air)

Well, despite all of that, I really enjoyed your maps, I’m looking forward to see your next projects if there are any :slight_smile:


Sorry for the very long response time(especially for Admiral Sakai), I was pretty busy IRL and had to make a break from this project.
I just started to gather all the feedback from the various channels. I appreciate all your comments, critics and the screenshots too.

I plan to polish these two maps before starting the next possible continuation of this adventure. For the moment I only have a bunch of ideas around the rocket and how to make it functional (fill it in hydrogen, activate some levers/buttons, etc.). It might even involve Xen xD. But I need to brainstorm more in order to provide a less chaotics mix of environments like Sakai pointed out.


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.