Journals

Heyo,

So, to all the readers who are new and don't know what I do. I maintain the Counter-Strike Deleted Scenes FGD, Which has had a smallish update that was just pushed today. It has been a wild ride.

We left off from the last journal a few years ago. During that time I was in contact with a lot of cool dudes in the early 2000s game development scene. I had tracked down most of the staff from Ritual Entertainment, some of the Gearbox guys and a really cool dude that had left Valve, but still helped me out when making an approach. Made some new friends in the YouTube game and a rather outlier of a person that was fundamental in the rise of early mobile games.

Though all of the planning and searching, thinking and optimizing the path to the proper people. I got to talk to some guys from Gearbox, and a few enthusiastic members of Ritual Entertainment (Looking at you, Castle, Kevin and a bunch more). Then came the greatest, yet strangest contact that I had ever made. For anonymity purposes, I will call them JD. JD was something of an entrepreneur in the early 2000s, and made a large name for themselves with early mobile games. The popularity skyrocketed and made a lot of money, they then acquired Ritual Entertainment and moved the dev teams off of there internal projects and onto other mobile market focused projects.

I messaged my normal opener of who I was, what I do, what I intended to do and how JD could help. Their reply was…

“Can you tell me who told you to contact me?”

My response was “No one in particular, just a lot of my own investigation into who would become the default owner of the materials owned by Ritual.”

The next message I got would send shivers of joy down my spine.

“We recovered a lot of the files from the servers, I also have a lot of boxes with the old tapes and such that I have no idea what to do with.”

There it was. I was exhilarated by the thought of finally putting my hands on the treasure that I had been looking for, 3 years in the making and here I was. Looking at the X on the map and seeing it in front of me.

JD was a key person, a proverbial “Key to the City” of old assets and developer files. I had a back and forth conversation with JD for a few months and even went as far to confirm what was actually extracted from the older raid servers that had been long powered off. Finding not only SiN content, but also the original XBOX version of Counter-Strike. Which I thought was the greatest thing around, and meant that the Deleted Scenes were also bound to be there too.

At this time, I had also learnt that another company, Nightdive Studios, had been in contact with JD about the SiN franchise (Which resulted in a purchase). So, I knew that I was in the right place at the right time. But I would lose contact with JD after a while… The messages just stopped. I would occasionally check in, but no more came in after this.

“We are starting the process soon, I actually started to search through the code archives myself this past week.”

I followed up twice with a message, hoping for a stir… nothing came back.

I had lost contact with the one person that could have put an end to the chase I had started. I was absolutely devastated. Destroyed. Immobilized from the loss of the most amazing cave of treasure to ever have existed for this long. I still am partially dead on the inside from missing my chance. I truly have not gotten over my own disappointment in myself.

After that, I too just drifted away from mapping, modding and developing anything. I just… didn’t get it anymore. I still have trouble coming back to do things for the Deleted Scenes FGD, any of the drafted documents that I had made, or the mod ideas I wrote down so enthusiastically during my free time. I had failed and at the moment, I am still in the midst of understanding that failure. Was it my eagerness, or was it the simple fact that JD might not be an avid user of emails. Was it this or that, I am still unsure to this date. I might check in later to see if the case is the same, only time will tell.

I had failed my goal in the modding community, and real life is still kinda tough with losing my job this month, now the 5th time that has happened, which is a bummer. Not sure what life has in store for me, I still live in Japan, which is cool. I know I can’t do corporate anymore, I am quite lost in real life and in the modding life.

But I came back today, just for a little bit to add in what was done bit by bit throughout last year and this year. I am still in the Discord and still comment on the occasional thing here and there. It was nice to see all the talent again and the dudes making cool stuff in WIP chat. Although, when I look at that, I just think that my skills in everything I do in the past year have reduced. I don’t create as much anymore, and not to the detail that I used too.

Kinda tired nowadays.

Anyway, I hope y'all enjoyed the journal.

See ya.
Meerjel017 months ago2023-07-13 13:09:47 UTC 1 comment
I don't think I'm gonna make any games at all. I'm too distressed and depressed to work on anything all the time. And even if I succeed on getting something finished I'll mess things up and ruin my life even more. I've made something. The Barrel, a thing that I don't want to go inside off. I rather die young than ruin any more parts of my life.
User posted image
Erty7 months ago2023-07-05 23:20:00 UTC 2 comments
Well that was an entire month spent being mentally and physically exhausted.

Don't get me wrong, our new place is still great!
It's just cumulative exhaustion from the previous months, cleaning and handing over the old apartment, work stuff, not to mention unpacking, tiding and furnishing the new place. I don't do well with heat, so the heatwave last month pretty much destroyed what was left of me.
But we went to see a friend of mine who has a farm two weeks ago. That was a nice distraction. ^^

It finally started raining a week ago, and temperatures have gone down a bit. Enough for me to recuperate a bit at least.
SO! Got back to working on the .rmf support on my obj-to-smd converter.
Got the geometry to work quick enough, but got stuck on projecting the UV coordinates for the textures. Took me a while to figure out the Shift Y value and V projection both had to be negated. Took me even longer to figure out the reason rotations were messed up was because it's already baked into the Right Axis and Down Axis fields, so I had basically just doubled the rotation (d'oh!)
Realised my mistake some hours ago when I stepped through the code and recognised the Right Axis and Down Axis values were pretty spot-on for normal vectors at that angle. After removing the lines applying the rotation matrix, all textures snapped right into place.

I used it to convert a few test .rmf files and it all looked as expected!
We have .rmf support now! \o/
So next steps is to implement .jmf support (which shouldn't take too long as the format should be pretty similar to .rmf), should definitely add some proper arg parsing for the advanced users, and find a better name for my application other than "Obj2GoldSmd" as it's not limited to just .obj files anymore.
How about Goldsrc Propifier?

Once those steps are done, I think it's ready for a public release on here.

– Erty
satchmo7 months ago2023-07-05 04:49:13 UTC 3 comments
Tomorrow will be the last day that I work as a doctor.

My flight training is taking longer than anticipated, due to various delays, including mechanical problem with the airplanes, sick instructor, poor visibility, and schedule conflict.

I will be a mental health therapist while I complete my aviation training to help the Asian-American community.

https://yellowchaircollective.com/
Meerjel018 months ago2023-06-27 16:20:16 UTC 7 comments
User posted image
This is a repost from r/halflife dated 1 Aug 2019. Reposting here just in case the account gets nuked.
Seery arts and crafts, a YouTube channel
It's been 2 years so a bit of a refresher: These folks made a series of paper craft animation videos about a continuation of HL2Ep2's story, Here's a playlist. It was exciting, very high quality production, but as suddenly as they started they stopped all production.

Anyone has, or still in, contact with them? I'd be great to get some words out from them as to why production fell apart, and if they would take feedback, support, and whatnot. I want to see more Paper HL3.

edit: Found their subreddit it's just as dead: /r/PaperHalfLife3/
Also rewatching the last ep they published it kinda feels quite telling that they aren't super hyped into continuing the series. Gordon is still in that hangar. :'(
The last episode they released (Ep5) had in my opinion both hints at how they didn't want to continue the series but at the same time how they still had some ideas on their story board... both to do with G-man.

A lot has happened the past 2 years. Epistle 3 came out and that would have provided the team with fresh new direction for the story line. If that alone is what is holding them back, then they would have continued with the series. Money should be no problem as they have Patreon. Even the Monster non-sponsorship of Ep5 would not be that of an issue (in case they faced legal actions) as they could have retracted and remade ep5 without it.

Thus I think the team simply broke up for one reason or another.
kimilil8 months ago2023-06-26 09:23:19 UTC 0 comments
This is a repost from r/halflife dated 16 Oct 2016. Reposting here just in case my reddit account gets nuked. Original
I'm drawing this just from observation, particularly of this sub, but I think it'd be interesting to share with you what I think are the three generations of Half-Life fandom.

The First Generation

These are the people who were there when the original Half-Life and expansions came out. They've picked up and followed the franchise and the glorious modscene of GoldSrc. If asked "which Half-Life" to play, they'd always point to the original GoldSrc version.

The Second Generation

These are the people who were attracted to the series around the time of Half-Life 2 and its episodes, including the Source leak fiasco. They would still be familiar with the original HL, but maybe not too much on the GoldSrc modscene. If asked "which Half-Life" to play, they'd probably point to the Source version.

The Third Generation

These are the people whose first contact with the series is probably the "Half-Life 3" meme. Having only played contemporary modern games, they might find HL2 to be a bit old in comparison, and the original HL "ancient" and sub-par to their standards. They'll be the one to ask "which Half-Life" version to play.

These are not meant to be definitive, and I don't claim it to be. Pardon any inaccuracies.

I personally am a bit too young for HL when it came out, but back in those days we don't have internet and the latest rig in the house so my brothers and I are stuck with HL and the mods for way longer (in other words we're way behind on the latest gaming goings on). Counter Strike has a place on all three of us. I therefore am comfortable identifying myself as the first generation.

p.s. the choice of "three" is purely coincidental.
This was a repost from r/halflife from 3rd Oct 2019. I'm reposting here just in case my reddit account is nuked.
After the Black Mesa Incident, the global economy must have fundamentally changed. The shift in human population towards the fortified cities during the Portal Storms must have crippled the rural industries, especially industrial-scale agriculture. Then the Seven Hour War happened, which would have done the same thing to those urban centers and vital industries. By the time Gordon Freeman was dropped into City 17, 20+ years have passed and we would have seen the economy stabilized under Combine rule. I'd like to infer from the in-game world which industry survives, and even thrived, under Combine rule.

Before we start, I'd like to think that at least around City 17 there is no such thing as a scorched earth policy being carried out as we see that most of the vital infrastructure remains intact. Maybe other places prior to the 7hr War was totally scorched, and we just don't get to see it.

Food

First and foremost, food production would have been subsistence based, done by individual citizens (discreetly if they have to), and any surplus would have been traded in the black market. We know this because we see greens being prepared in the BME kitchen, and by the fact that Lamarr eats grade-A watermelons.

As for meat, maybe headcrabs have become the new chicken. It could even be the case that standard rations citizens receive are just headcrab puree. Large scale animal agriculture ceased, and game animals would have been virtually poached to extinction.

Resource extraction

We see many abandoned mines, but maybe we've been only to one type of mine (coal mine), as a lot of resource extraction is still talking place because of the products that we can see (see Manufacturing section). This includes iron ore to make steel for the rails, and oil to fill that many explosive barrels that Gordon Frohman ordered. Maybe the reason we're not seeing them much is because the Combine is mining most stuffs in other places in the Solar System which they would definitely have superior technology for.

Trade

Global trade has all but collapsed except for Combine-essential commodities as trade infrastructure was destroyed or made unusable. Destroyed and unsafe highways and railways, and ports are all dry because of sea level drop. The remaining large-scale trade would be Combine-controlled, between Combine cities and for Combine-essential commodities, facilitated by the rail infrastructure that they opted to use for general transportation.

Local trade in the from of black markets thrive. I'd imagine that apart from food, the other stuffs traded would have been antiques from pre-Combine era or things smuggled out of Combine-controlled industries.

Human apparel, weaponry, supplies

Very obviously the Combine has been manufacturing the standard denim that its citizens wear, though as for what material it's made from it is probably synthetic. The weapons and armour and health supplies that the human combine forces use would be manufactured on-world, as it's primitive teleportation tech is reserved to transport more critical cargo.

Healthcare

IDK if the Combine cares about basic human healthcare more than it cares about turning them all into transhuman forces which has been demonstrated in HL2 that they have had the infrastucture for. The hospitals in HL2 doesn't look totally trashed so the Combine must has been offering basic healthcare through Breen's own volition, in order to maintain some level of support from the citizens.

Education, entertainment and arts

Officially nonexistent apart from the extremely small production staff that supports the Breencasts.

Infrastructure

The Combine has its own construction technology but it also seems to heavily use the rail infrastructure, so the rail industry chain must have been more or less intact. This includes everything in the chain, from making the steel for the rails, the sleepers, the rock quarries that supplies the ballasting, the specialist track laying and maintenance machinery and personnel, the signalling.

Also the bridges and tunnels seems to have been maintained by human tech instead of Combine tech so the civil construction industry chain is also intact and completely servient to the Combine. They do need to do this as the razor train is physically taller than conventional trains for some reason, and you can see developer oversight in some cases where the tall razor train clips through tunnel ceilings in C17.

Telecommunication technology and infrastructure might have been maintained and co-opted by the Combine, for Breencasts and local communication between Combine cities.

Manufacturing

As stated previously, some level of manufacturing is maintained, it's just the matter of whether it's Combine-controlled or Combine-linked. Most probably clothing, weapony, supplies, and ration production is Combined controlled, manufactured inside the citadels or other combine-built facilities. Manufacturing of Combine materials and tech (eg their blue steel, force fields, gunships, etc.) would have been combine-controlled.

Meanwhile the manufacturing of materials for the human-made-but-used-by-the-Combine infrastructure might have been outsourced to local companies, though unlikely.

Some interesting things that are still being manufactured (i.e. normal things you can see in HL2 that is obviously not 20 years old) includes oil and oil drums, wooden crates, soft drinks, office furniture, and some electrical and electronic products (lights, beverage machine and TV).

Law Enforcement

Last but not least, Enforcement: Civil Protection is a career path guaranteed to get you on the Combine's good side. You could go up the ranks (losing your humanity along the way) and would be surely, maybe, eventually, integrated into the Universal Union citizenry. Also, better rations (though how they make it much better than headcrab puree is unknown.)

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are still a lot of industries needed to maintain a civilization, and a lot of jobs around in the Half-Life universe. It's just a pity that the only thing we see in HL2 are enforcement officers on-duty, and normal citizens off-duty. It would be interesting to see City 17 during rush hour and at night where we might see a lot more people coming off of work. Imagine working as Combine Oil and Gas Engineer, or Breen's make-up artist, or Combine nurse, or Combine electrician, or being the guy that restocks Breen's water reserve vending machines.

Let me know if I missed something, or anything you have in mind.
MMProductions8 months ago2023-06-14 17:21:13 UTC 3 comments
Time passes and we get old. And we set up plans which we often never imagined having set up.

I'm happy to have released 3 maps for Counter-Strike at the end of the previous decade. What will be next ones?

I bought a Sony hi-fi equipment, a digital audio clock, which I never imagined having so fast. What else am I going to buy next?

Everything needs to be organized to have a well-paved and peaceful path.

Don't give up on your dreams and plans if you have one. I already have mine.
kimilil8 months ago2023-06-12 20:18:03 UTC 3 comments
After reading the notes on monster_nihilanth, how it's very specifically coded to interface with specifically named entities in the map etc, and how awfully basic the retail map was, I became interested in experiencing what an alternative, reimagined Nihilanth's chamber would look like.

I feel like this would be a good opportunity for a competition (or a compendium mod) but seeing that TWGL is still ongoing I've been postponing. Plus the fact that I don't feel like shouldering the burden of judging a mapping competition, because I don't matter in the grand scheme of things, or even on the day to day.

I do also want to have a go at this. I wanted to go back to the concept (or a fan theory at this point, idk which) that Nihilanth was imagined as a giant alien baby that Gabe thought of as the personification of his unborn child at the time (Gray), and of Xen being more organic in the conceptual stage. I imagined Nihilanth's chamber as a uterus with life support structures surrounding and protruding the walls, and the mini-chambers being organically connected, taking a little inspiration from the HL2 beytah citadel advisor level (see right).
look at those curves!look at those curves!
However, two problems hindered my ideas:
  • There are no good texture sets.
  • I just can't get JACK to align the textures how I wanted. I wanted the fine-grained control of a 3D modelling UV mapping, but instead had to rely on completely arbitrary Hammer/JACK view angle hacks that is just impossible to get to align to an organic structure.
    • The alternative is to model the outer walls in a 3D modelling program but I suck at that more. I feel at least competent in CSG.
And thus my enthusiasm was very quickly lost. Close shop. Scrap the idea.
But I still feel there's value to be had in this. I might have a go at my idea again, but at the same time I wanted to experience others' take of the core concept. I probably shouldn't participate if I'm judging, but I'm 95% sure I wouldn't make the deadline if I participate. And TWGL is still not out.

I feel so incompetent. Cool idea though.

p.s. Black Mesa doesn't count.
AfroApe8 months ago2023-06-09 18:24:52 UTC 3 comments
User posted image
WIP
So I was scrolling Scratch (please don't ask why I do this, I'm pretty sure it's self-esteem related) and I came across a project on Explore called "The Mast." Turns out it's a full-3D first-person game with a fantastic story and great gameplay. Its art style is consistent throughout, and the graphics were frankly unreal for something rendered in Scratch. The experience I had while playing this game was only surpassed by the experience when I teleported to Xen in Black Mesa. Yeah. It almost rivals Black Mesa Xen in terms of how it made me feel.
The first room of the game, rendered at 480x360p resolutionThe first room of the game, rendered at 480x360p resolution
The areas in the game were somehow beautifully detailed and charmingly minimalistic at the same time, and it really just took my breath away.
This incredible lighting, I would never expect this from a Scratch projectThis incredible lighting, I would never expect this from a Scratch project
But most of all, it was a calming experience. Unlike Quake and other games I've been playing recently (so, basically just Quake), it felt like a break itself, instead of something to take a break from.
I mean, just look at this view of the "mast" the game is named afterI mean, just look at this view of the "mast" the game is named after
I would highly recommend this game to literally any member of the human race, it's that good. You can play it here.
Erty8 months ago2023-06-04 11:19:28 UTC 3 comments
So the moving went great!

Slowly getting set up at the new place now. I'm exhausted, but it feels great here. Even with boxes and bags and disassembled furniture all over the place, it's still so much more spacious than the old place! The neighbours here say hi back when you greet them unlike back at the old street where they'd just look at you weird for trying to be friendly. The stove and oven are working perfectly and no cabinet doors insisting on staying open! Finally, a home!

– Erty
Erty8 months ago2023-05-31 10:29:27 UTC 3 comments
So here I'm sitting surrounded by moving boxes. Even using a couple as a makeshift desk.
Moving is stressful. Even if I've moved a few times before, it feels a bit extra stressful this time around. Part of it is that I have a job this time, and at that job there was suddenly a lot of extra stuff happening that coincides with the moving (at least I get Friday off so I get to spend that day moving most of the stuff to the new apartment).

I also have some issues with anxiety, and it gets excarberated by cramped spaces. It's not outright claustrophobia, but a persistent discomfort. The bad air ventilation in this tiny underground basement apartment probably isn't helping either. It has been very draining and there was also that whole pandemic business going on too, causing us to spend more time in this tiny basement than what's good for us. Now that we're two days away from the big moving day, that tiny space we had available is now filled with moving boxes and disassembled furniture pieces and bags. In other words, my anxiety is all over the place. 🙃

At the same time I know things will be so much better once this is over with. Just a few more days.
That's also part of why I'm writing these journals. Writing things kinda helps me with stress, as do drawing or painting (though all my drawing/painting things are packed away so writing it is, for now). Apparently writing code is calming too, which I hadn't noticed before.
This is my third journal entry in just a week, after not writing any at all, ever, on this site, and just last night I did my fourth alpha (pre-) release of the Obj2GoldSmd converter and sent it out to the testers today (I sure hope they don't feel like I'm spamming or pestering them at this rate 😅).

Now I don't believe us moving will magically solve everything, but it will make a lot of things better.

Just to be able to stand and stretch without my arms hitting a ceiling, to be able to walk around, and to feel like I have the space to breath, in my own home, I've missed those things so much.

– Erty
Erty9 months ago2023-05-26 18:25:26 UTC 6 comments

Hi again!

I thought that now that I've broken the ice with making journals, I could talk a bit about the obj-to-smd converter I've been working on.
I mentioned it in my previous journal entry and I've talked about it in the Discord server. The project basically began as a test to see how easy it'd be to convert an .obj exported from J.A.C.K into a .smd file that could be compiled into a studio model for goldsrc. Apparently it wasn't that hard and it didn't take too long until I had something basic working.

Other people had shown interest in the project, and I could see the potential it could offer to other mappers, so I decided to build on the project to make it into something others could use. I added a logger to display info in the console and save warnings and errors to a file. I added the functionality for it to write a .qc file for a basic static prop along with the .smd to make compilation easier and faster. I set up a condition to make it skip any faces with NULL texture. I made it collect all textures with {-prefix and write a $texrendermode-entry for each one to make them use the masked mode.

Then I sent out this alpha version of the program to a few select individuals that had agreed to test it.
I've already gotten some very valuable feedback from two of them. The first helped me track down a coordinate system related error I had missed. The other brought to my attention some errors with the logging and input prompt which I hadn't noticed earlier either, and gave me an idea for how to make the program a bit more convenient to use.

During my own testing I had mostly just focused on whether all the polygons seemed right, whether the UV maps were correct, that weird geometry didn't throw exceptions here and there, and that sort of stuff. These two testers were able to notice things I wasn't paying attention to. This is why this sort of testing is very valuable and I appreciate the help a lot! Their names are already included in a special thanks section in the readme that will be included in a full release of the program.
Currently I'm working on a class for reading Wad3 files. This feature was inspired by the second tester.
The problem with the .obj file from J.A.C.K and the assosciated .mtl file is that they only include a reference to the texture used, but not the texture file itself. So in order to compile the model one would need to manually extract the textures from the assosciated .wad package and place it in the work directory. A solution we came up with was to let the program look for .wad packages in the work directory and search them for the textures by name, and automatically extract them. One would still need to place the .wad into the work directory, but that's definitely a whole lot less work than manual extraction. Especially when the model contains many different textures.

Before I started on the above feature I was working on a smooth shading functionality. I'm not completely sure how an user would turn on the feature, but so far I've thought of just looking up a _smooth[x] keyword in the end of the filename where x is the angle threshold and not using x (or using 0) would smooth all edges. I think the Wad3 support is far more useful and should be prioritized, so I switched to working on that instead.
After I finish the two features mentioned above I want to add some commandline support to the program. Currently it works by just drag-and-dropping the .obj file onto the executable which is plenty good enough for the typical use but one might want to be able to mess with various options, such as whether to not skip NULL-textured faces, not automatically set masked rendermode on {-textures, and setting a different output folder. Possibly also the ability to set various .qc options as well, such as $scale, $origin and $gamma.

I also want to add in support for reading .rmf/.jmf as well instead of just .obj (many thanks to Captain P for showing me the MESS code for parsing those!) This will make the program useful to even more mappers and break down the paywall due to the .obj export only being supported by J.A.C.K.

– Erty