If you’re the kind of person who likes to see how the sausage is made – and by sausage I mean stellar Half-Life remake Black Mesa – then there’s a bit of a treat in store. Developer Crowbar Collective has just launched the Xen Museum, gathering a host of playable levels and other assorted material from all across Black Mesa’s development.
More specifically, Xen Museum is (unsurprisingly) focussed on the Xen portion of Black Mesa, which saw Crowbar Collective designing a whole series of new stages to replace the lacklustre – and oft-criticised – alien planet sequence that closes out Valve’s original Half-Life.
Crowbar Collective spent five years completing Black Mesa’s version of Xen, generating a mountain of concept art, plans, and work-in-progress levels along the way. Some of that is showcased in Xen Museum, an official mod that feature a total of 56 playable stages.
Black Mesa – Launch Trailer.
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When exploring Xen Museum, players will find three biomes branching off the main atrium, each representing a major Xen chapter – Xen, Gonarch’s Lair, and Interloper. Every biome features multiple portals leading to a specific map from the chapter and each is linked to a computer enabling players to select which development version of the map they’d like to play.
”Each map has several versions, taking you from the beginning of its development to near the end,” explains Crowbar Collective of the newly launched Xen Museum, “allowing you to actually witness first-hand how the map evolved over time.”
”We hope you enjoy this fun and interactive tour of our intensely difficult five years of development,” the studio continues. “We thought this was a really cool and unique way to show off the way a game can develop and evolve over time. We’ve never quite seen anything like it, and we hope you guys have as much of a blast playing it as we did making it!”.
As you might imagine, given that these are work-in-progress levels presented exactly as they were at a particular point in development, not everything is polished to a sheen, meaning bugs and crashes are almost guaranteed. Players might also need to resort to console commands in order to complete certain sequences.
Those undaunted and curious to delve into a fascinating slice of development history can download Black Mesa’s official Xen Museum mod via the Steam Workshop now.