Mod News: Everything Changes

By Lewis Denby on May 20th, 2010 at 1:52 pm.


Note from Jim: If any art-folk want to have a go at another logo for this, as we did for Bucket, then please mail them to usual address. Cheers.

It’s a referendum! Sorta! A few people suggested in last week’s comments thread that it might be an idea to rejig the format of Mod News, and by jove, I think you might be right. So, this week, things are a little different. Hopefully more organised. Hopefully tastier. Mmm.

NEWS

Doom 3 mod Thievious, which has the most ludicrous of names, has perhaps the most interesting update this week, in the form of a video of magic powers. While I’m not sure about the third-person view, I do especially like the scary monsters. Keeping my eye on this. If I don’t go blind from all the HDR lighting in the meantime.

There’s also been some activity for Dniepr, whose name, I suspect, I will never have a hope of pronouncing correctly. It’s a very pretty Left 4 Dead campaign set in Ukraine, which rhymes. Here’s three new screenshots and a video, along with an announcement that release should be some time during the summer months.

And, sitting all alone, there’s a single new screenshot for Opposing Force 2, the Half-Life 2 mod which aims to continue the story of that most excellent Half-Life expansion. Which, okay, is something I wouldn’t usually consider news. But I absolutely adore this image. The sense of scale is wonderful. This is about as close to photography as game screenshots get.

RELEASES

Not a huge amount has been unleashed on the mod community in the past seven days, but there are a couple that might be worthy of your attention. There’s an Avatar mod for Crysis, which looks absolutely gorgeous. I particularly love the inappropriateness of the music in the video beyond that link. I’ve not played this mod, but from what I understand, it doesn’t so much change a great deal of mechanistic stuff, but does paint the world a glorious technicolour.

Perhaps more interestingly, the first open beta of Resistance & Liberation launched this week. It’s a hyper-realistic Half-Life 2 multiplayer mod that seems to have been stirring up plenty of interest. Despite being known as Beta 1.0, its developers are keen to stress that this is more a pre-beta bug test, but already it’s getting some great feedback from players.

UPDATES

The Turnbased Mod for Fallout Tactics hit Version 1.3 this week. It’s a mod that attempts to balance multiplayer games in turn-based mode. Version 1.3 adds a few new maps, tweaks some old ones, and “slightly adjusts” most of the weapons.

There’s also a Beta 5.0b release for Battle-Force, an upcoming single- and multiplayer Half-Life 2 mod. I have to say, the description on the ModDB page doesn’t fill me with confidence, coming across more like the HL2 Dramatic Reading vid from last year than a decent synopsis. Still, might be worth checking out.

And there’s a small update to the Fallout 3 Warhammer mod. The eventual aim of this thing appears to be to just transform Fallout 3 into Warhammer. So far, though, it seems to just provide some new factions. But that’s cool because /look at these orcs/!

AND THE REST…

Wow. This new format’s getting lengthy. I’ll move quickly through these. Alec already gave his thoughts on HL2 single-player mod Zombie Zoo, but since this went up too late to make last week’s column, here’s my review. Meanwhile, Andrea’s been playing Civ 4: Beyond the Sword mod Dune Wars, which he reckons is very good. Over at Wired, Mark Brown’s written a nice feature on modding with quotes from ModDB’s Scott Reismanis and Radiator developer Robert Yang. And talking of Yang, here’s his obligatory blog link: this time, he’s worried about exploding the Source Engine with the final part of Radiator.

Awesome. Done. More at UserCreated.

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33 Comments »

  1. Andreas says:

    This column really needs to stop going out as soon as UserCreated is down for maintenance :P

  2. Mr Labbes says:

    I really like the new format, I think it works rather well.
    Radiator has been on my to-play list for months, but I still haven’t come around to play it. Humm.

  3. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Yes to the new format. All we need is the new image.

  4. Rosti says:

    New format gets a thumbs up from me. Much easier to digest.

    Also, wow! That Fallout -> Warhammer 40k mod looks all kinds of ace. Looking forward to geeking out on that when the time comes.

  5. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I did like the Opposing Force shot, Lewis. But photographic? No.

    Really, had I been assigned to photoshop that “photography” for some magazine and I would be forced to increase the contrast, reduce the brightness, add shadows, and probably apply some lens blur. While that would probably ruin the in-game experience they are trying to achieve, it would look great on print.

    And that’s the thing, no? Trying to go that extra mile to produce a real-life shot inside a game is not only overly difficult — if not downright impossible — with current 3D technologies, but also not desirable because in real-life, and with that sky, you would be having a rather drab scene.

    Also, Bloom is a great technology. It really is. It’s the people using it that still don’t get it how great it is. As this shot so clearly reveals.

    • Lewis says:

      I was thinking the framing of that shot was photographic, rather than the composition, if I’m honest. Really seems to capture a moment.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Ah, gotcha! I agree on that.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      “As close to photography as game screenshots get”? I think these are more photographic: http://backslashn.com/post/247696414/half-life-2-is-a-beautiful-game (disclaimer: that’s my blog, but the screenshots were not taken by me).

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      That’s great material, Velvet!
      I can see they did some work on some of them. But others really I couldn’t tell.

      My favorites:
      - Very first one. Absolutely!
      - The last one from CitrusFreak too. The station corridor leading to the ticket booths.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I remember starting up the HL2 Lost Coast ” HDR tech demo” a couple of years ago for the first time. My lady friend at the time thought I was watching a movie rather than playing an actual game where it starts up & you’re looking at the island from a little way out.

      This was only on an 8800 GT which cost in the range of £100 at the time (has since been upgraded to an 8800 GTX as I had to RMA it since the VRAM broke a couple of months ago, not complaining about the free upgrade though). Will take a screenshot later tonght after I get home.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      @Mario: Yeah, CitrusFreak’s pics are mostly done with Garry’s Mod and the real (non-real-time) depth-of-field filter. I think he might do a bit of post-processing as well. All the others are simple in-game screenshots, often unfortunately without even hiding the HUD.

      This is actually my favourite of CitrusFreak’s pics, but I left it out because of the extra manipulation of light and shadow made it differ a lot from the same scene in-game: http://www.flickr.com/photos/citrusfreak12/2523827238/in/set-72157594182287016/

      @Malibu: My favourite visual bit of Lost Coast was at the start there, the sunlight reflecting off the water and glinting on the rounded pebbles. Just a lovely sight.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I never tried Gary Mod, so you got me there.

      About that missing shot, that’s absolutely gorgeous. A real crime you didn’t insert it, although I can understand why. In fact here’s my humble suggestion: A followup where you insert clearly modified material. I can’t stress enough how imaginative and inspirational I find some of this work. And editing a snapshot is often what turns a beautiful scene into a work of art. Where indeed my own defense that games aren’t art (yet) blurs and looses meaning.

      In any case, you are so bookmarked! You have a lot of other interesting stuff to say in that blog of yours.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      @Mario Yay, more readers!

      I like your suggestion of a follow-up; there’s certainly plenty of material, especially taking the “art made out of games” tack.

      My aim with that post was to point out that you can play HL2 as a game and never notice it, you can deride its engine as being old and clunky (which it certainly is in many ways), and yet there are many thoroughly beautiful scenes in it, like those, and you can find many more if you click through to the various people’s flickr collections. And there’s a lot more to find in game. Some of these were obviously crafted by Valve to be attractive scenes, but then some (like those petrol pumps) have an unexpected quality.

    • JB says:

      @Velvet “My aim with that post was to point out that you can play HL2 as a game and never notice it”

      You know, that’s more or less what I was thinking as I looked at those pics. I realized how many great scenes I may have missed just running and gunning around C17. Makes we want to reinstall and play through again, but more slowly.

      I love the pic with the pigeon in the foreground and the metrocop in the background. And the petrol pumps of course, that’s a sweet pic.

  6. phuzz says:

    Putting on my pedantic fan hat for a minute:
    It’s Warhammer 40k so it’s spelt orks not orcs.

    looks pretty good though, can’t believe I didn’t notice the possibilities inherent in power armour before.

  7. Alexander Norris says:

    The Source engine’s stupid low limits on everything for mapping are something we’ve been struggling with for a while, but that’s mostly because all of Dystopia’s maps are more or less two maps in one. I’m surprised Robert Yang reached the limits – unless he’s trying to keep the whole mod one a single .bsp, that’s a pretty impressive amount of content.

    (Although I guess he also has to deal with scripting issues, which we mercifully do not.)

  8. Dominic White says:

    It’s possibly more than a mod, and thus worthy of an article of its own, but ScoreDoomST was just released.

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

    Using the GZDoom engine, take the (amazingly well optimized) netcode of Skulltag, along with some features and weapons, and apply them to ScoreDoom, a huge mod that adds an advanced scoring system to the game, as well as (optionally) 300+ new enemy types, tiered, balanced and assigned point values, which are seeded in place of equivalent foes. Rather than a shotgun zombie, you might find one with an SMG, for instance.

    The result is one of the best co-op games you’ll find, and it’s compatible with any standard Doom/Doom 2 level packs. It has a built-in server browser (and master server), and really should be on the shortlist of anyone who likes classic action games.

    You need a Doom 1/2 WAD file (ideally Doom 2) and that’s it. Plug, play, frag in solo or co-op. And now there’s the scoring system to provide an incentive to play well. Bonuses for multiple kills in one shot, kill-streaks, gibbing, etc, and penalties for death.

    Again, over 300 new enemy types. Some from other 2.5d shooters, some completely new, some variants of existing critters, and all going to keep you on your toes.

  9. Poltergeist says:

    The Opposing Force 2 guys seem to have used some Just Cause 2 content…

  10. DMJ says:

    Those orks look like they’ve been given some sort of delicious sugary glaze, like angry green doughnuts.

  11. captain fitz says:

    Talk about a missed opportunity in the Avatar mod: when I saw the character freefalling all I could think was “PLEASE land on some giant leaves and slide down them to the ground.” That needs to be a game mechanic.

  12. freepower says:

    Has the Fallout 2 Restoration Project 2.0 been mentioned yet?

    Imho deserves a whole post, it’s WHAT MODS ARE FOR.

  13. Shalrath says:

    This is hilarious. I can’t stop laughing at the gaily leaping Space Marine.

  14. Kevbo says:

    Feel free to join the social modding club at moddb where we get together and play some mods every weekend. This weekend we are checking out Frontlines R3LO4D for COD4 and the newly updated Forgotten Hope 2.26 (BF2 mod).

    http://www.moddb.com/groups/social-modding-club/news/gaming-event-for-may-22nd-and-23rd

  15. mrrobsa says:

    Huh, the ridiculous compile ‘limits’ of Source; both restricting and confusing in their obliqueness. Things I’ve been banging my head against for the last 6 months making my own L4D campaign. Several of my maps are on the verge of crashing at any moment from texture or entity limits and one map refuses to build its cubemaps (worth noting these errors are all due to my amateur, inefficient and bloated mapmaking. Were I to start over from scratch today I’d do a much better job now I understand Source’s quirks).
    The real tragedy (this relates to Propper, which according to that Valve wiki, doesn’t work for L4D) is the asset import pipeline in Source is a real ball-ache, especially compared to newer engines like Unreal or Unity where stuff is drag’n'drop or has realtime updating.
    If anyone wants to see my first foray into Source/L4D mapmaking I have a video here, but it’s nowhere near as nice as Dniepr or various other lovely campaigns:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7CUDkQd7_c&fmt=22

  16. CitrusFreak says:

    I just wanted to say how awesome and bizarre it is to have some putzing around I did in gmod featured on websites and shared among gamers. Thanks for the kind words!

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