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Black Mesa

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Title Screen

Black Mesa

Developer: Crowbar Collective
Publisher: Crowbar Collective
Platforms: Windows, Linux
Released internationally: May 5, 2015[1]

AreasIcon.png This game has unused areas.
DevMessageIcon.png This game has a hidden developer message.
EnemyIcon.png This game has unused enemies.
MinigameIcon.png This game has unused modes / minigames.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
ModelsIcon.png This game has unused models.
ItemsIcon.png This game has unused items.
Sgf2-unusedicon1.png This game has unused abilities.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
SoundIcon.png This game has unused sounds.
TextIcon.png This game has unused text.

ProtoIcon.png This game has a prototype article

This article is about a fan-made game project.
Articles about fan games require explicit permission from administrators.
This article is a work in progress.
...Well, all the articles here are, in a way. But this one moreso, and the article may contain incomplete information and editor's notes.

Black Mesa started off as an ambitious fan recreation of Half-Life in the Source engine, and was later sanctioned by Valve as an official Half-Life title. Somebody had to release a new game for the franchise, and it sure as hell wasn't going to be Valve (well, not until 2020, at least).

To do:
  • Differences between the 2012 Mod release and 1.5 (Definitive Edition) retail release.
  • Models
  • Animations
  • Unused visgroups and instances in the official map sources.
  • As of recently, there are two albums that Joel had released on YouTube and Spotify called Black Mesa: Terra, and both of them feature unused songs to prototype versions of the used music.


Read about prototype versions of this game that have been released or dumped.
Prototype Info
Unused Dialogue
Feel free to speak up at any time, Freeman.
HL2-Hammer icon.png
Unused Map Elements
Level design setups which were scrapped or otherwise abandoned.

Unused Character Variations

Female scientists

The female scientist has skins for seven different faces, however two of these faces are not used at any point. She also has an unused bodygroup for round-framed glasses like her male counterpart.

HECU helmet bodygroup

The helmet worn by HECU Medics has an unused counterpart which uses the texture of the Grunts' gasmasked helmet.


Character Manifest entries

character_manifest.txt, the file used by the game to assign appearances to human NPCs based on their name, has several unused presets:

  • SCI03_Reactor - Listed under the presets for characters in Lambda Core. Most likely intended to be the scientist that tells Gordon how to flood the reactor, who is instead named SCI03.
  • c2a2c_rail_squad_** and c2a2c_launch_squad_** - Entries for the HECU soldiers who originally guarded the launch pad in On a Rail. The launch pad confrontation was reworked for the 1.0 update with new squads of soldiers going by different names.

Unused Textures

Picture frame images

The large picture frame model found in Office Complex and Questionable Ethics has five skins which are not used in-game. Most interestingly, among them is a picture of a younger Gordon Freeman visiting Innsbruck, a reference to his biography in the Half-Life 2 Prima Guide.

Supply Pod notes

The supply pods which provide Gordon with supplies in Xen have seven skins for the note attached to the lid, four of which go unused.

Glock world model

BMS-w glock.jpg

The texture for the Glock model from the mod release still exists in the files.

"Loot Mesa" Glock skins

Three alternate skins for the Glock, with the camo and gold variants being showcased in an April Fools announcement for a loot crate-based update to the game.

Half-Life Nihilanth

Textures belonging to the original Nihilanth can be found in materials/models/nihilanth/.


Seven skyboxes created for the Xen chapters.







Green variant of the finalized Xen skybox.


Two skyboxes from Left 4 Dead 2 exist in the files as well.


BMS-Sky l4d c2m1 hdr.jpg


BMS-Sky l4d night02 hdr.jpg

Unused Melee Weapons

Six unused and unfinished melee weapons intended for Black Mesa Deathmatch. All of them have proper view models and animations, except for the switchblade and suitcase, which consist solely of zombie arms with placeholder textures and have no animations. They were likely created for the sake of providing players with melee weapons based on their team or player model's affiliation.

Unused Models

To do:
  • TONS of developer test models for Xen chapters, seemingly for animation/art reference
  • Black hole / "intro sky"
  • Placeholder Interloper machines

Developer test models

BMS-normal test.png

normal_test.mdl, a cube model presumably used to, well, test normal mapping on materials.

BMS-sphereofchon.png BMS-sphereofchon-ingame.png


The model directory moss_test contains two models: sphereofchon.mdl, a sphere textured with a distorted photo of Crowbar Collective level designer Chon Kemp, and test_moss01.mdl, a set of rocks from Xen. Both models, when viewed in-game, will have moss-like growths covering them.


teef.mdl, a cube textured with the default male face.


pomproptest.mdl, a cube with a unique parallax-mapped material.

BMS-voting table.png

voting_table.mdl, a Black Mesa-themed voting booth. This goes unused in game but can be seen in a screenshot accompanying an announcement in Crowbar Collective's Discord server encouraging users in the United States to vote in the 2020 primary election.


BMS-taxidermy roadrunner.png

taxidermy_roadrunner.mdl, a taxidermized greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus).

Manta Scene road


Intended as a cinematic physics setup for the scene in Surface Tension of a Manta destroying a tank and the road in front of it. This setup consists of separate models for the road itself (roadexplode01.mdl) and the debris resulting from the Manta's bombing run (manta_bombing.mdl). The effect of the road being destroyed in the finalized scene is a combination of particle effects and overlaid scorch marks.

Xen skybox elements


An old rendition of the island housing Nihilanth's tower.


throwbackisland.mdl, which depicts a version of the teleporter island more consistent with the earlier Xen art style.


BMS-agruntpod elite.png

A factory pod meant for the cut Elite Alien Grunt.

Nihilanth battle

Several models depicting earlier renditions of Nihilanth's abilities and contents of his chamber exist in the files.


Early version of the rocks that the player could use for cover. It has animations for being knocked down and flying around in a whirlwind fashion.

BMS-nihil chamber top crystal.png

A large crystal meant to be hanging on the ceiling above Nihilanth. It would have served as his chamber's main light source.

BMS-nihilanth vortex shield.png

Early version of the vortex shield Nihilanth uses in the third phase of his fight.

BMS-nihilanth sphere shield.png

BMS-nihilanth sphere shield fancy.png

Two older renditions of Nihilanth's personal shield.

BMS-nihilanth portalquad.png

A mockup of the portals Nihilanth uses to summon objects to throw at Gordon.

BMS-nihilanth dick.png

A rendition of the portals identical to the version used in-game, except with a daytime sky visible through it, instead of a diorama of the outside section of Forget About Freeman!. This model tactfully bears the name nihilanth_dick.mdl (the wireframe in the model preview above demonstrates why) and has five versions, like its used counterpart, which account for objects of different sizes.

Various models with spherical cuts around their edges, all suffixed with teleported. These models were prototypes of the sections of the Black Mesa facility that Nihilanth would summon into his chamber, before the more detailed dioramas were created for this purpose.

(Source: Developer message)

Endgame platform

A platform that the player would spawn on when reaching the final chapter, before being addressed by the G-Man. Has an animation for the debris around it being blown away and slowing to a stop.

HEV Gordon

BMS-hev gordon.png

hev_gordon.mdl, a model of Gordon Freeman himself meant to be featured in Deathmatch multiplayer.

Early ZECU model


zombie_marine.mdl features an older revision of the zombified HECU soldier. In addition to the missing textures, its fingers and body are malformed in comparison to the final model, and its head is tall enough that it clips through the top of the headcrab.

Early (with restored textures) Final
BMS-earlyzecu.png BMS-finalzecu.png

Hidden Texture Parts


A neat developer comment is sitting below this periodic table. Thanks, Michael Dayah! The message section of this texture is hidden within the alpha channel.


A note as to what molecule structure the calendar is showing is hidden in the alpha channel of its texture.

Black-Mesa-Ceiling-Turret-Texture.png Black-Mesa-Ceiling-Turret-In-Game.png

A decal that sits above ceiling turrets. The center piece can't be seen in-game, but the texture contains a picture of "Tarman" from the film Return of the Living Dead. Additionally, the Tarman section is hidden within the alpha channel of the image, meaning it still wouldn't be visible in-game even if the turret was removed.

St missile.png

The texture for the missiles found in the explosive ordnance building in Surface Tension has a transcript of “The Missile Knows Where It Is” printed on its unused UV space.


One of the cardboard box textures has an image of Mr. Six saying "LOL, HI!" hidden on it.

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Unused Sounds

HEV Suit

Unused sounds were recorded by Victoria "CatzEyes93" Teunissen. Victoria's work heard in public builds includes only Tram Announcer and VOX System Announcer (pre-Resonance Cascade). This variant was scrapped in favor of Kevin Sisk's voice acting and remained unfinished.

Scripted scene audio

Zombie intro

Audio for an unused scripted sequence in which a zombie attacks a scientist, throwing them against a wall.

Vent pull scene

Placeholder voice acting and SFX for the sequence in Unforeseen Consequences involving a scientist being pulled into a vent.

Radio tuning

Intended to be played over the radio transmission at the start of Forget About Freeman!

(Source: Original TCRF research)



Early in development, the developers intended to allow players to switch between the MP5 and M4 (as a homage to the Half-Life HD pack) with the use of a console command. This was scrapped in favor of featuring the MP5 on its own, though two firing sounds for the M4 remain in the game files.

(Source: Black Mesa wiki)



Six sounds for a nearby Tentacle striking the floor. These clips are notably softer than tent_strike1g, the one sound used in-game.


Unused death rattle for the Zombies.

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Unused Music

Black Mesa Theme [bms - theme.wav]

Black Mesa Theme (Mesa Mix) [bms - theme (crazymix).wav]

The original song used at the start of Unforeseen Consequences before being replaced by Resonance.

Unforeseen Consequences [bms - uc1.wav]

The original song for the cargo elevator ride in Unforeseen Consequences before being replaced by Mesa Theme (UC Remix) because composer Joel Nielsen thought the original song "[w]as too upbeat for the moment early in the game."

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S8fCMHSVhc)

Blast Pit 2 [bms - bp part 2.wav]

This version of the song remains unused in favor of playing the Mesa Remix version.

Apprehension (full) [bms - app1.wav]

The full version of Apprehension. A shortened version is used in the cutscene of Gordon being dragged by two soldiers.

Surface Tension 1 (full) [bms - st1.wav]

Surface Tension 1 (part 1) [bms - st1-part1.wav]

The full version and first half of Surface Tension 1 respectively. The full song has gone unused since the initial release, with tracks of Parts 1 and 2 of the song being used for the dam and cliffside fights. The Definitive Edition update then split Part 1 in into three separate tracks for use with the dynamic music system first introduced in the Xen updates.

End Credits [bms - end credits.wav]

Used as the credits theme in 2012 mod release and 2015 Early Access release. Superceded by Limitless Potential and Border Worlds in the final game.

Internal Conflict [xen-gl3.wav]

Standalone version of the Gonarch's final battle theme. The in-game version, xen-gl3b, plays this song followed by Alien, the Gonarch's first battle theme.

Ascension [xen-ride.wav]

OST version of the Interloper elevator ride theme. The in-game version is split into four separate tracks to work with the dynamic music system.

(Source: Original TCRF research)

Unused NPCs

Elite Alien Grunt (npc_alien_grunt_elite)

A larger Alien Grunt intended to be featured in a section of Interloper, set between the conveyor belt and elevator sections, which was cut from the final game. It has slightly more health than the standard Alien Grunt, is twice its size, and has the ability to throw Snark nests towards the player which explode and release Snarks on impact. Its model has less armor on the backside and some missing geometry on the crotch area.

Puffball fungus (npc_puffballfungus)

Intended for a “maze” segment of the chapter Xen which was eventually replaced with the big tree section. A poisonous plant that explodes on proximity or damage and lowers player health to one point, with a slow recovery (similar to Poison Headcrabs). It has a non-functioning ability to pulse as a warning if the player enters its "outer radius" (the RangeOuter parameter set in the editor).

Revisional leftovers

  • npc_alien_slave_dummy - Deprecated version of the hostile Vortigaunts, from before the 1.0 update. It lacks the revised Vortigaunt's dodge and dispel abilities.
  • npc_headcrab_black and npc_headcrab_fast - Poisonous and Fast headcrab variants from Half-Life 2. They were meant to be introduced in Xen, but this never panned out due to gameplay and lore concerns.
  • npc_pigeon and npc_seagull - Half-Life 2 leftovers. Crows are the only avians which can be found in regular gameplay.


These NPCs lack models and only exist in the game's FGD file, which means they can be placed in the Hammer editor, but won't be recognized as an NPC type in-game.

  • npc_cockroach - Cockroaches are particle effects in the final game, rendering this NPC obsolete.
  • npc_flyer_flock - NPC rendition of a flock of Boids/Flyers. In the final game, they are animated props.
  • npc_generic - A generic scripting NPC previously featured in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines. If placed in the Hammer editor, it will be represented with the G-Man model.
  • npc_maintenance
  • npc_rat
(Source: Developer responses)

Unused Maps

To do:
Document "Xengine" test maps

Several test and demo maps have been unintentionally included with certain updates, only to be removed in subsequent hotfixes.

“Leaked” Interloper map

A very early iteration of one of Interloper’s maps, bm_c4a3c, was shipped with the October 2016 update and removed in a subsequent patch. It spawns the player with a Tau cannon, long jump, and HEV suit into a very early, dev-textured blockout of the level. A Workshop add-on exists which restores this map.


The playable demo for Black Mesa showcased at PAX East 2020. It features a loop of two areas from Unforeseen Consequences and We’ve Got Hostiles with several additional enemy placements. It was added to the game in the 1.0 update and removed in the Definitive Edition update.

Definitive Edition test maps

Two maps which appeared in the files of the Definitive Edition Beta and were removed after the update was finalized.

  • test_crouchwalk - A map containing an isolated copy of the Hangar Guard’s sneaking choreography from map H of Surface Tension. Likely made to test the fix for security guards “not being able to go from crouch to walk without going into idle pose first” [1].
  • test_xog_intd - The elevator ride map from Interloper, bm_c4a3d, completely stripped of entities and props, leaving only map geometry. The name suggests it exists to test volumetric fog (dubbed “Xog” by the developers) in this particular level.

Hidden NPC features

Assassin radio communication

Setting console variable sk_human_assassin_use_voice to 1 will make Assassins communicate via the Overwatch radio voice from Half-Life 2. In the retail release this command will not automatically work due to the corresponding audio files being missing; importing them from the HL2 directory sound/npc/overwatch/radiovoice will fix this.

Nihilanth summon ability

The Nihilanth has a deprecated ability to summon enemy NPCs into his chamber, similar to his Half-Life counterpart, as evidenced by a large number of console variables prefixed with sk_nihi_summon_. He has an animation set for doing so which is identical to the one used for his mortar, object teleportation, and psychokinesis attacks.

Headcrab latching

An experimental game mechanic which would have allowed for Headcrabs to latch on to the player's head, forcing them to rapidly tap their primary fire to remove it. This mechanic can be viewed in the mod release by setting sv_headcrab_can_latch_on_player to 1 and installing this texture mod (otherwise the screen will be covered by a missing texture overlay during a headcrab latch). Interestingly, while this mechanic was completely removed from the retail release, the viewmodel for it still exists, with the HEV suit arms updated to match.

Gargantua vulnerability

The console variable sk_gargantua_debug_allow_death, when set to 1, causes Gargantuas to become vulnerable to damage from explosives like in Half-Life. By default this is disabled, with Gargantuas only taking damage and dying from scripted set pieces.

Developer Messages

The soundscape files for every chapter up to Lambda Core each contain a blurb of text related to the chapter.

Inbound: Welcome to Black Mesa! Where hazardous chemical spills are a daily occurance!
Anomalous Materials: Someone explain to me why Gordon's job inside the test chamber, couldn't have been done by a robot, or even a monkey...
Unforeseen Consequences: This is what happens when you 'force' a computer to divide by zero.
Office Complex: Unbeknownst to the staff, the cafeteria had been serving bullsquid for years.
We've Got Hostiles: Hey guys, thanks for the rescue. Oh, what? A bullet with my name on it? Cool!!
Blast Pit: There's an alien tentacle in my soup.
Power Up: The tunnel system smelled like fried chicken for months afterward.
On A Rail: Good thing Gordon was around, or the scientists would have been forced to unleash droves of monkeys to press the rocket launch button.
Apprehension: Luckily, the Female Assassins were in short supply. If Gordon had to face more than 3-4 at once, he never would have made it to Xen.
Residue Processing: Tryouts for the Black Mesa swim team every Tuesday and Thursday.
Questionable Ethics:  Please remain stationary, while we remove your internal organs.
Surface Tension: Look carefully for the hang gliding mini game in the cliffside level!
Forget About Freeman: The 2008 finincial crisis was simply a cover for the repair costs of the Black Mesa facility.
Lambda Core: And in the end, it was all just a crazy, radiation induced, nightmare!

Unused Text

bms_english.txt contains several unused strings meant for on-screen text.

HUD hints

Two commented out hint strings related to the unused headcrab latching mechanic and a mid-air boost ability for the Long Jump Module.

"BMS_Hint_LongJump2"		"%+jump%         Activate Auxiliary Jet\n[Press once, mid-air for a small boost]"

Game Over messages


Of all the failure messages carried over from Half-Life 2, the timed sequence message - originally used if the player failed to prevent Breen's escape at the end of the game - is the only one that goes unseen.


Another message related to the Headcrab latch mechanic.


A message which describes Gordon's mission as "postponed", which was used in the mod release in lieu of including the Xen chapters.

Unused item_crate Presets

proplist.txt contains a list of presets for objects to be spawned when an item_crate is broken. Three of these presets are not used:

	"model" "models/props_blackmesa/octodog.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_sewer/turd.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_sewer/turd.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_sewer/turd.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_junk/watermelon01.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_junk/watermelon01.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/humans/eye_gib.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/humans/eye_gib.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/humans/eye_gib.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/humans/eye_gib.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/humans/eye_gib.mdl"

	"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_1_gib1.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_1_gib2.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_1_gib3.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_1_gib4.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_1_gib5.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_1_gib6.mdl"

	"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_2_gib1.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_2_gib2.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_2_gib3.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_2_gib4.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_2_gib5.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_2_gib6.mdl"
		"model" "models/gibs/props_office/books_2_gib7.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_lab/bindergreen.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_lab/bindergreen.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_lab/bindergraylabel01a.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_lab/binderredlabel.mdl"
		"model" "models/props_lab/binderredlabel.mdl"

"Elimination" Game Mode

elimination_zombies.txt details parameters for what appears to be a Deathmatch PvE zombie mode.

	"SceneId" "Elimination"
		"TotalCount"	"32"
		"MaxActive"		"8"
		"SpawnRate"		"1"
			"Class"	"bot_zombie"

bms_english.txt contains the message strings for this game mode.

"BMS_SCENE_ELIMINATION"					"Elimination"
"BMS_SCENE_ELIMINATION_OBJECTIVE"			"%s1 Enemies Remaining"