Mod News: End Of Term Report

By Lewis Denby on May 5th, 2010 at 10:37 am.


Modders are generally students, it would seem. Which perhaps isn’t too surprising, but is all too noticeable at the moment, as end-of-term exams and essays roll around. It means there’s still comparatively little to talk about, and what is here is typically a bit Half-Life 2 dominated, as a portion of the scene is. Still, there’s some reasonably decent mod news this week, for the first time in several BILLION YEARS, so I’ll not complain too much.

- Big news! Which broke about three microseconds after I submitted last week’s roundup! The long-awaited Black Mesa mod has revealed six brand new screenshots, here on CVG, who quote the devs as saying “a complete, polished game [will] hit your hard drives in the near future.” Wow! The near future is near! Here’s to hoping we’re playing it before long, and that it’s as good as it’s been looking for several years.

- Firearms: Source, successor to the massively popular Firearms mod for Half-Life, will be released this July, its devs revealed to us this week. They’ve also unleashed a bunch of new screenshots and done a cute visual history of the first mod.

- Still on the Half-Life 2, Zeitgeist released some new screenshots. I absolutely love how this one’s looking, so decided to explain a bit about why that’s the case.

- Clear Sky Reloaded has hit version 0.8. Among the alterations is a “surprise” in the credits sequence. Which, unfortunately, means playing through the whole of Clear Sky again. Maybe this mod will make that less painful an experience. Grab it here.

- Hearts of Iron 2 mod 1964 releases some pics of its new tech trees, along with some info about the current internal alpha build.

- Company of Heroes: Vietnam is looking quite nice. Here’s a big ball of fire falling from the sky OH NOES! Particularly lovely is the use of that track that’s in Fallout 3.

- SHIFT, the HL2 racing mod, has decided to go down the simulation route rather than the arcade racing it originally planned. They’ve also been working on some new night lighting stuff. I’m really interested to see how this turns out, as a story-driven racer in the Source Engine.

- There’s a lengthy new vid of Battle for Middle Earth 2′s RC Mod.

- Hmm, there’s a lot of Half-Life 2 stuff again this week. I do try to write about a spread of games here, but hey, if it’s interesting, it makes the cut. Demons Vs Humans releases a new video of an interesting game mechanic, in which the demon can only be seen as a shadow form with the flashlight. A smart move which could open up some nice tactical play – hopefully it won’t result in too much imbalance. This one’s set for release on June 1st.

- And finally, the third part of Radiator – Yang’s HL2 mod series – didn’t release in April, because Valve very inconsiderately updated their editing tools which broke the mod a bit. May it is.

We’ve been a bit rubbish over at UserCreated lately, but do keep on checking there for awesome updates of the mod kind.

.

35 Comments »

  1. Sarlix says:

    Another well compiled list of mods. Thanks.

  2. Alexander Norris says:

    Good news about FA:S; I was looking forward to that. Now, if only someone could pick up and finish Frontline Force Classic… :(

    Also, I’m pretty sure the Black Mesa devteam uses Valve time, so expect “the near future” to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Oh, and: I sincerely doubt Zeitgeist will ever come out.

      It’s been proven time and time again that 99% of Source engine total conversions fall through before they reach anything resembling playable state, and if they don’t, they take a minimum of five years’ development before they’re released. They’re going to have to endure years of SDK upgrades breaking everything, if not a straight engine change eventually. As much as I love the idea and the aesthetics of their mod, I very much doubt it will get anywhere.

    • Rich says:

      I believe “the near future” is a geological measure of time.

  3. Miles of the Machination says:

    I really need to check more of these out. Cannot wait for Black Mesa.

  4. Skusey says:

    That napalm looks fantastic.

    • Rich says:

      Just wait ’till they have some jungle maps and change the model of the plane to a Sky Raider.

      If I’m honest though, I think the Korean war would lend itself better to CoH gameplay.

    • RedFred says:

      Agreed that napalm looks great. Man there are not enough Vietnam war based games. Pretty exiting stuff.

  5. Srekel says:

    Sweet, Firearms was one of my favorite HL mods. :)

  6. NickS says:

    …I just want Minerva finished off, though with Adam locked in bowels of Valve that may take truly geological scales of time, rather than previous Valve scales of time :(

    Though Black Mesa within 3 months would help.

  7. Malibu Stacey says:

    Played plenty of HL1 Firearms but this just looks like Plan of Attack redux & games have moved on a lot since then. Most gamers will already own generic-army-man-shooting-game in the form of Modern Warfare 2/Bad Company 2.

    My kingdom for a return to when mods were built on original ideas (or at least not very well represented ideas).

  8. Tei says:

    I have notice another pattern:

    Some modders (and game devs) only release games to.. other modders (or game devs), not to the general public. So some mods/games only have a public of about 6 persons (with luck).

    The good part of this is… It feels like most indie gamers know each another and are friends (is just a feel, can be untrue), share ideas and insidejokes.. make a community. And we all know that It only take about 6 guys, to create a community that will be Self Aware and be a whole bigger than his parts. But if you are a “outsider”, you will miss lots of the creativity of such community (be it mods, indie games, anything).

    This also mean, this month about 80 mods has been released. Maybe more. And these mods have a average number of users of 5.

  9. Schmung says:

    Nice to see people getting excited about FAS. Sadly, most of the videos on the site are out-of-date and don’t really represent where things are right now.

    @Malibu Stacey : Fair comment TBH, if all people want is a generic manshoot then there are many alternatives out there, but there’s a certain dynamic to oldskool FireArms that FAS looks to re-create, albeit with the polish etc that people have come to expect since them and that’s what we’re aiming at.

    It would be nice if we could go back to ye olde Quake (and to a lesser extent) HL days where you could afford to risk things a bit more, but the investment of time required to mod most modern games makes people a bit more risk averse IMO. If you’re sinking that much time into something you want to have some assurance that it’s going to work out ok and considering the turnover in personnel on your average mod team and all the other drama and obstacles it gets harder and harder to do stuff like that unless you can do most everything yourself.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      VALVe rubberstamped that dynamic you refer to about 3 years ago & called it 5CP maps in Team Fortress 2.

      Tei makes the best point. All that time & effort spent & you’ll have at best a few hundred people still playing it after the first couple of months post-release. Look at the numbers for well established original mods like Hidden: Source or even Steam supported ones like Dystopia, Eternal Silence & Smashball. There’s more than 50 thousand people playing Modern Warfare 2 right now & a similar number still playing both Counter-Strike: Source & HL1 Counter-Strike, good luck with trying to convince even a small fraction of them to play your game instead.

      The golden & silver ages of FPS game mods are long over. Hence why games such as Killing Floor & Natural Selection are choosing to become fully fledged titles that can stand on their own. This is even being encouraged by stuff like UDK & Unity3D being completely free (one can only hope VALVe follow suit with the 2010 engine Source SDK soon).

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @Malibu Stacey –

      Yep. Total conversions are dying and very much nearly dead, except for stuff with a commercial impetus (like the MSU entries). To be fair, they’ve been dying ever since GoldSrc became obsolete and Source became the norm. I very much expect that we won’t be seeing any TC mods when Source is finally obsolete, especially multiplayer TCs.

      I mean, I wish the best of luck to the FA:S team, but I really don’t expect the mod to be popular past its opening week (although you never know – it’s sufficiently close to CS/Modern Warfare in terms of aesthetics and doesn’t have the gameplay complications of something like Dystopia, so it’ll probably drive less people away).

    • Jimmy says:

      Interesting to see the data actually shown. I am amazed by how much realtime data is collected on the games I play online and how useful it is. I did not expect MW2 to be top of the charts for PC, and was surprised to see that Team Fortress 2 is not in the top 100 (I haven’t got a copy anyway).

      The golden age may be over, but people are still playing the old games from five to ten+ years ago. This seems to show that people stick to what they invest time in, and that they are more concerned with gameplay and community than graphical fidelity (“bad ass”, “lamer”, or otherwise ;-).

    • Schmung says:

      Oh, I agree entirely, the era of super popular mods is long dead – the best you can hope for is a strong core community to support you. Frankly, if you’re making a mod so that bazillions of people play it then you’re probably in the wrong game.

      The ongoing popularity of Counter Strike is a never ending mystery to me though, though a degree of that is probably personal bias because I grew to hate it.

    • Jimmy says:

      ..ctd

      To actually get the dynamics going again like ten years ago, it would probably be necessary to kill off the existing games like CS1, HL1, and all the other old mods, to redistribute people to the newer mods based on better engines. A bit like the inbuilt failure and destruction programs applied to computing and printer hardware that fuels that constant rise of the “new”, only with little environmental effect.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Jimmy I think TF2 being absent from the Steam stats is a bug. From checking the webstats of a few community servers I play on, I can count over 200 people playing it right now so it should show up in the list somewhere (probably above L4D2 but below the top 3 if it’s roughly the same as it was last time I looked).

      Also I think you’re giving people far too much credit saying “people stick to what they invest time in, and that they are more concerned with gameplay and community than graphical fidelity”. Most people still playing CS:S (and HL1 CS) fully believe it’s the pinnacle of multiplayer gaming & yet they’ll still bitch & whine continually about it’s flaws & how they’re being shafted by VALVe as it’s not had any updated in years. I used to play CS:S a lot until TF2 came out almost 3 years ago & the communities I used to play in still have around 50-75% of the people around from then.

      I full agree with your idea to kill off old multiplayer games though. Wouldn’t take much for most of the Quake & GoldSrc engine games (not sure about Unreal Engine or others as my experience is only as a player rather than modding & server admin with those games), simply drop the public server trackers & no more browsing for servers. People would still be able to play either by directly connecting to server hostnames/IPs or through favourite servers in games whose browsers support them but the appeal of public servers would drop sharply with no easy way to find them & players would start to move into the modern age. Other genres/publishers do this already (see EA closing lobbies/matchmaking for 2-year old releases of their sports games).

  10. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I’m very excited at the 1964 Hearts of Iron 2 mod. I really hope this pull this one out and does not get either forgotten or ends up becoming a forever unbalanced mod.

    It’s been a few months since I last played the game. With the Summer coming, I think me and my usual wargame partners can find the time again to play it all the way through the Christmas as we usually do for the past 3 years. It would be swell if this thing was done by then. But clearly it will not. Next year hopefully.

    • RedFred says:

      I really wanted to get into HOI but I just find it soo daunting. It’s incredibly complex.

  11. terry says:

    I was very excited for Battle for Middle Earth 2’s RC Mod until I realised they don’t mean remote control wacky racing. With orcs.

  12. Jakkar says:

    UserCreated is doing just fine – I’m not dissatisfied by the rate of updates and you can hardly be blamed for ‘em. If you get truly quiet I’ll knock up some kind of philosophical rambling on the subject of modding, or a love letter to golden age of HL1 modding, or something. And you shall read it, in your inbox. And you shall see how desperate you are for postable content. <3

  13. Grunt says:

    Played Clear Sky to completion yesterday, actually, but have no desire to repeat the experience. Ever. Not a bad game, just woefully thin by comparison to it’s parent which I have already jumped back into :)

    News from the Modding Fringe – Armada 2: Fleet Operations has updated to v3.1.2, with some new ships (A Borg Dodecahedron!), game engine updates and completely re-worked (and quite spiffy) weapon effects, and of course the usual boat-load of fixes and balancing tweaks.

  14. OJ287 says:

    With the absence of any new space fighter RPGs, the Freelancer mod CrossFire is worth a look. Its hard to believe that it’s created by one man.

    http://www.moddb.com/mods/crossfire

  15. sbs says:

    whats the point in only seeing the shadow when the light source is your own flashlight, he will always be where the shadow is only the shadow may be smaller or bigger i dont know

  16. The Dark One says:

    The quality of some of those Black Mesa shots was a bit surprising. I know something as sprawling as a Half-Life remake can’t realistically cram in the detail like the new version of Dear Esther that’s been posted in the Mod News updates, but it still looks pretty sparse. Sure, it’s way nicer looking than Half-Life 1, but those outdoor shots really don’t look too hot for 2010.

    • Lewis says:

      I guess it’s important to bear in mind the development time. This is a mod that’s been in production for six years. When they started out, shots like that looked astonishing, and far beyond what HL2 itself achieved.

    • Dominic White says:

      Really, this is looking a gift horse in the mouth at its finest. These people are remaking – in their spare time – a full-length game. For free. And people are griping that it doesn’t look up to 2010 standards? That’s ridiculous. The fact that it generally looks better than the game they’re getting their engine from is worthy of applause in itself.

      If you ever feel compelled to complain about BM:Souce, just go and fire up the original Half-Life for a while and compare.

  17. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    I hope you guys at RPS give Renegade-X a mention next week, its just been released version 0.5 – I think.

    I may actually buy Unreal Tournament 3 for this mod…

  18. The Dark One says:

    Dominic White said:
    If you ever feel compelled to complain about BM:Souce, just go and fire up the original Half-Life for a while and compare.

    Oh, I know it’s better looking than the original game, but that’s not really enough. Sure, it’s a mod and the barriers to entry are quite low, but at the same time, there are lots of mods out there that I haven’t tried yet. There’s no stick-to-it-because-you-just-spent-$50-on-this motivation to keep going if it’s coming across as dull. If they want me to play it, it had better be really snazzy, because ‘better’ isn’t good enough. Like you said, I could just fire up the original and not bother.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I don’t think that was quite the point dominic was trying to explain.
      I think his point more was, you’re getting a game, which IS the same as the origional, with updated / modernised graphics etc, and you’re getting it for free. If you want it, you don’t have to have it, and if you do choose to take it you get it for nothing, honestly wtf is there to complain about.
      These days i’m stoked if I get something for free, especially something like this.
      I am sorry but I have been hurt bad by the gaming industry lately, Ubisoft can now stick it where the proverbial sun dont shine, EA is still inline with hitler, and so too Activision joins satans pawns.
      And Ubisoft, as much as I like(d) the Splinter Cell series, I am NOT dropping 100$ on a DRM infested absolute POS. I’ll spend my money buying petrol and getting fat thank you.