Hello Black Mesa team,
First of all, congratulations on the completion of the mod. It is truly superb.
I would like to comment on the ability to download the correct files to instal the game. The official download link page is not appropriate for a mod of this caliber.
Simple text instructions and a few links to file sharing sites misleads the customer to think that the process is easy. It should be, but it is not. The following were my experiences as a very computer savvy person.
The download link area is filled with malicious ads with fake buttons that read “Download”. Misleading, but quickly overcome. I saw that one of the two buttons was labeled as advertisement, but the other was not. I tried the download button of the other and it brought me to an unrelated site. No issue, exit the site and look for something else, but already a negative experience
I began checking the download mirror sites. I found most of the sites used were very confusing layouts and either do not have the correct files or any related files at all. There was not a single site link that contained all of the “Required” files. File Shack “cannot find files”, Game Front part 3 of 3 does not load on the site, AtomicGamer only has the .7z file, and so on. Eventually I did some research online. I found that I “could” install with only the BlackMesa.7z and BlackMesa-Setup.exe files, even though all the third-party installation guides show a BlackMesa.md5 file being needed. Okay so I have the two files I “Require” for the install. This was another negative experience because I had to dig for information that was not available from Black Mesa directly.
I begin installation by installing SDK base 2007. Then I exit Steam and ran BlackMesa-Setup.exe. I followed the instructions and there was a installation progress bar. It completed and asked if I wanted to run the game, I surely did. Steam launched, but an error occurred. Something to do with not finding a text file. So dug into my Program Files>Steam>Steamapps>Sourcemods>etc and found that the files were never extracted. Instead, a copy of BlackMesa-Setup.exe, BlackMesa.7z, and magically BlackMesa.md5 were placed in a folder titled “Black Mesa”. Odd, so I ran the BlackMesa-Setup.exe in this location. The instructions were the same, but this time I could see that the files were being extracted at the installation progress window. Once completed, I double-checked the sourcemods folder and saw that all the files were now extracted. Yet another negative experience that there were no instructions for and I had to figure out on my own. I mean come on! The installation file didn’t even work correctly…
So after the files were extracted, the game ran correctly and all my frustration melted away as I jumped into my hazard suit.
This was my experience. It may not have been so difficult for others, but on the other hand it might have been even more difficult for some people. I wanted to voice my concern because you guys have put a tremendous amount of effort into this mod. It should be played by all and enjoyed by all. But the way things are set-up (or not) for downloading and installing the files (Properly!) is too difficult and a lot of potential players will be lost because of this. This process that I experienced will drive some people nuts to the point of giving up. It might not be worth the time for them to look into the issues as I have (albeit successfully).
I highly recommend that two things be done to improve the experience of the aspiring players:
Firstly, add an official “How-To” for the file installation. A process that you guys KNOW will work. Tell people where to put the files and exactly what files are required for the installation and what their function is. Add pictures of the process showing folder locations and examples. Show a step-by-step of the installation windows, simple, but helpful for some people. Show what is supposed to happen for a correct instal.
Secondly, ensure your download mirror sites are functioning properly. If they are not, fix the issue or remove the link. This added a lot of time and confusion to my installation experience. Also, I understand that advertisement is going to be present and set-up in a way that we, for lack of a better term, get tricked into pursuing. This just adds to the confusion. I would suggest making the download mirror sites stand-out more at least.
Again, this may not have been a huge issue for me personally and I was able to eventually achieve a successful download/instal. This is for the potential players that you are losing because of this set-up and lack of information. If this was any other run-of-the-mill Mod, I wouldn’t complain or suggest these things. But this is a high-caliber mod of a game that should be cherished and forever remembered in the history of Half Life.