This subject is related to the Black Mesa Incident era.
This is a safe article. Click for more information.


From Combine OverWiki, the original Half-Life wiki and Portal wiki
(Redirected from Alien Grunt Factory)
Jump to: navigation, search

This subject is related to the Black Mesa Incident era.
This is a safe article. Click for more information.

For other uses, see Mine (disambiguation).

Born.png This article would greatly benefit from the addition of one or more new images.

Please upload one or several relevant images (from canonical / official sources) and place it here. Once finished, this notice may be removed.

Alien grunt factory first.jpg
General information



Black Mesa Incident



Game information

c4a1c to c4a1e


Brett Johnson[1] (level design)

The Mines[2] are a large indoor facility located on Xen in which the Nihilanth's forces are tasked with the handling of barrel-stored Alien Grunts.


Vortigaunts and Controllers guarding barrels containing Alien Grunts.

The facility is composed of several large chambers arranged together in an incomplete cylinder-like form and is connected to the outside world via portals. Vortigaunts are the main laborers in the facility, serving as both guards and worker drones. They remain indifferent to intruders unless supervised by Alien Controllers which command them to attack. In the Mines, the Grunts are transported throughout the facility inside large pod-shaped containers using conveyor belts. The Grunts within the barrels are already in a battle-ready state as they will immediately engage in combat if the container is breached. The facility has a portal connected to the Nihilanth's lair and utilizes elevators that allow the personnel to travel through its multiple floors. It also includes numerous Healing Chamber that the Vortigaunts make use of, implying the work in this area can be dangerous.



The mines only appear towards the end of Half-Life in the chapter Interloper. Gordon Freeman arrives there using a portal from elsewhere on Xen. In the first area, only Vortigaunts are present, and they show no hostility towards Gordon unless he attacks them first, in which case Alien Controllers are summoned to catalyze the conflict. In later parts, the constant presence of Alien Controllers ensures the Vortigaunts' hostility from the beginning. Gordon also finds the bodies of Black Mesa survey team members, indicating that Black Mesa had previously discovered the facility. Eventually, Gordon fights his way through the mines and reaches a portal that leads him to the Nihilanth.

Behind the scenes[edit]

The c4a1z chamber.

The design of the Mines evolved a fair amount during the development of Half-Life, as evidenced by images and files released over the years. What appear to be screenshots of unreleased levels set in this location were first revealed by video game reviewers. In 2003, Half-Life 2 was leaked along with .vmf source files for Half-Life maps that were ported to the Source engine; these include c4a1y and c4a1z, with c4a1x mentioned in the maps' changelevel triggers, but itself not present.[3][a] Compiled versions of these maps were included in the game files of Half-Life: Source. Both c4a1y and c4a1z are set in the Mines and feature the areas seen in the screenshots released earlier.

Similarly to the retail version, the combined layout of the cut levels resembles a torus, with c4a1y located in the two southern quadrants and c4a1z in the northeastern quadrant. It is implied that the remaining empty section would be taken by c4a1x. The map c4a1y corresponds to the retail c4a1c and c4a1d, while c4a1z corresponds to c4a1e. The layout, progression, and brush work of the early maps are largely identical to the final product. However, the choice of textures differs from the retail version and some environments are not as detailed or are only present in one iteration of the Mines. Both areas feature a wide, iconic window, unseen in the final location, but are missing the bottomless pits. Of note is that none of these early levels contain Alien Controllers.

The map c4a1y[b] is larger and more developed and contains functioning enemies, scripts, and ambient sounds. Emerging from c4a1x through a corridor, Gordon encounters Vortigaunts laboring in a dark maze of elevators and conveyor belts. He uses button-controlled lifts to make his way upwards to a belt transporting Alien Grunts and drops down a chute.[c] Continuing along another conveyor, he comes across an odd water tank contraption that holds dead scientists and their weapons. Gordon then accesses a button that activates a set of pistons, allowing him to climb to an upper level consisting of wide arching corridors. At the end of the map, he descends via a pair of pillars with rotating cylindrical platforms.

The map c4a1z[d] is less complete and only consists of one room. A vertical level, it involves overpasses and rotating lifts controlled with buttons. It is linked with c4a1x via corridors on the ground and uppermost levels.




List of appearances[edit]


  1. Given their mapversion property value of "1", these appear to be temporary map names.
  2. BSP version 18 — can be played only in the leaked Half-Life 2 engine
  3. Remnants of the old texture design of the chute area can still be seen in c4a1c in the part of the map blocked off by the changelevel trigger.
  4. BSP version 19 — can be played in the retail Half-Life 2 engine


  1. Half-Life section on Brett Johnson's personal website (June 5, 2016) (archived)
  2. Half-Life Prima Guide
  3. Half-Life 2 leak, hl1-wc-maps\auto_compile