Black Mesa Nightmare – GoldSource 2007
“The most cooperative map series ever! This is what Sven Coop was made for.” – Martyrdom, GameBanana.com
One of my first major level design projects. I built this over a 6-7 month period in 2006/2007 using Valve Hammer Editor 3.4. Nightmare features a cooperative experience in which players must work together to solve a variety of puzzles and survive the monsters of Black Mesa.
This project was created in a series, with the setting being the post-cascade Black Mesa Research Facility. The players are a group of science and security personnel who have become trapped in the facility following the resonance cascade. The objective is simple.. ESCAPE!
Sven Co-op was a great game, and being one of the oldest Half-Life mods in existence, it had mountains of free custom content for all players to enjoy. There were a variety of different gameplay styles seen in various maps, from fast paced shoot em up to slow paced puzzle solving. The idea came to me to make Nightmare from the simple observation that players tend to operate independently unless otherwise forced to do so. This also applied to situations where coop gameplay was ideal, but not necessarily vital to success. While it was still fun to go “rambo” and blast away as many foes as you can, I felt that it took away from the overall “coop” experience that was supposed to be Sven Co-op.
With that in mind, I decided that I wanted this map series to force the players to work together to achieve success.
At first, this seemed a very skeptical approach to creating a cooperative experience, but I held through with it and finished. The result was a 4 map long campaign spanning 2-3 hours. The gameplay style was a hybrid of combat and puzzle solving. More of the focus was on puzzles however, as I thought it was great to see how players worked together. I had a lot of influence from games like Resident Evil and Tomb Raider. Many of the puzzles in the maps required more than one player to solve. An example of this is a high ledge which one player cannot reach on his own. Another player must duck down and “boost” him up in order to reach the ledge. Initial beta testing showed that more experienced veterans of the map became “guides” who helped newer players along.
The overall chemistry of the design was magical. It was a blast to play with both friends and strangers alike. In the months following the release, the series began showing up on custom maps servers. A 24/7 Black Mesa Nightmare server (third party) was even created so that players could enjoy the series as many times as they wanted. To date, the series has received votes ranging between 8/10 to 10/10 on websites such as gamebanana.com (see link below) and over 5,000 downloads.
(click on images to enlarge)
Chapter 1 – Trapped in a Nightmare
Chapter 2 – Sewage Control
Chapter 3 – Ascension
Chapter 4 – Surface Tension
Sven Co-op Message Forums: forums.svencoop.com/showthread.php?t=38230
Sven Co-op Map Database: http://scmapdb.com/map:black-mesa-nightmare