So, after way too long of doing FA I decided to occupy myself with some mapping using GoldSrc (Valve's Quake2 fork built for Half-Life) and I figured I could boost my ego by sharing the progress here.
I'm basing it in concept off of the cut "alien labs" style chapters from Half-Life's press release, with an almost tongue-in-cheek level of spooky alien experiment facility built into an open cave system; like something out of a James Bond film.
🠕 Half-life Alpha Screenshot 🠕
I keep defaulting back to subtly Gothic details in things like multi-floored rooms and supporting arches but I think that's just my style carrying over. I might redo it if it starts to come at the cost of quality. I do worry though that I don't have the talent to make believable natural structures like exposed rock faces, I can easily imagine myself making them far too jagged and fail to provide an engaging environment for gameplay.
Something interesting to note about GoldSrc is that most lighting actually doesn't come from a defined light entity like it does in modern games. Instead, a baked and static lightmap is displayed, effectively "painted" onto the level geometry. When the lighting is being calculated the script references a text document which allows for textures to work as defined light sources, with a complete set of values for things like color, range, falloff, everything you'd get with an independent light entity. In this way the light is literally coming from the lights themselves.
An old friend of mine made the (frankly quite insulting) claim that every area in Half=Life, as well as every level using the Half-Life assets, looks the same. "Just another part of the Black Mesa facility." I'm gonna prove him wrong. Like two paintings using the same oil paints, the identity isn't in the assets but the style.
Update about 10 hours later: