Mod News: It’s Brainy

By Lewis Denby on February 2nd, 2011 at 11:32 am.


Zombies. I like ‘em. Well, I’ve never actually met one, so I can’t be one hundred per cent sure I’d like them in person, so to speak. But I like how often the act as a catalyst for interesting fiction. This means that news from zombie mods tends to get me a bit excited, especially if it isn’t the same old dull FPS again and again. Read on to find out what in the great goodness I’m talking about.

NEWS

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts mod ZombieMod! That’s what I was talking about! It’s looking quite interesting, despite being yet another zombie mod. It puts you in the shoes of a military commander, rather than a survivor, and the game takes place a while after the infections originally took place, meaning society has had chance to regroup somewhat. A nice concept – and, to go along with it, the developer has released a bunch of new character profiles and suchlike. It’s all worth a look if you like the sound of it.

Meanwhile, Jurassic Life is still making some moves towards completion, which makes me a very happy man. This is the Jurassic Park-themed HL2 mod that’s been looking awesome for a few years now. There’s some new news, and some new images of a very new T-Rex, up on the official website. Can’t wait to see how this one turns out.

Project Reality, the popular Battlefield 2 mod, has been experimentin’. Specifically, the developers have been seeing if they can remove the supposedly hard-coded 64-player limit, and up it to 128. They’ve been running tests and keeping the community posted on the forums. You can read all about it here.

And, oh, for the sake of it, let’s shoehorn in a bit of Black Mesa non-news. A little while ago, someone from the dev team dropped a hint that the game would be out of the door in the next few months. But the mod’s lead developer has now suggested otherwise on the forums. Referring to a post he made last year, in which he said the current rate of progress would equate to a June 2011 release at the latest, he said: “We weren’t able to continue to hit milestones at that rate of progress. So who’s to say, really?”

So, yeah. I mean, it always did strike me that there was a weird juxtaposition in the Black Mesa PR, where the team’s been chanting “done when it’s done” for half a decade, while at the same time continuing to tease release windows, failing to meet them, then going completely silent when they’re asked why. It would be really, really nice if someone would consider replying to my emails, too. Anyone on Black Mesa reading? Call me, baby.

RELEASES

This week has technically seen an update to Vetron’s Loadout Mod, rather than its initial release. But since I missed that a couple of weeks ago, here we are: there exists a Mass Effect 2 mod that allows you to use any weapons you want with any character you want. The idea, says the dev, is that your abilities should be restricted by your skill points, but that anyone should be able to pick up any gun. This week’s update beefs up the friendly NPCs a bit, giving them recharging shields and the like. It’s on ModDB for your downloading.

UPDATES

Call of Pripyat Reloaded has reacher version 0.7. Additions include side effects of medication, nasty NPCs who mug you, new sniper rifle scopes, and some more stuff. There are also some additional bug fixes. There’s a trailer below, and here’s a link to where you can download the mod.

There’s also Steam Defense, a Half-Life 2 FPS/tower defense mod. This one’s still in very early alpha, but a new version of it has been released, allegedly fixing a load of bugs and tightening the server stability. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I fully intend to when I get a moment. Grab it here.

And even Sven Co-op has been updated this week, with a pair of new official maps. There’s also a low-def models pack, for anyone who’s been struggling with low framerates in the latest version. Which is lovely. This is a 12-year-old mod, and the team is still catering for those whose systems are slow enough to struggle. That shows real dedication to your fanbase (although technically, I believe, the models pack is an unofficial one).

AND THE REST

Just the one this week, and it’s another roundup for delightful RPS tribute site PC Gamer. There, Tom’s been rounding up the best StarCraft II mods for everyone’s perusal. The big ol’ list is here.

And that’s about it for this week. ‘Til next time, humans.

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30 Comments »

  1. Vivian says:

    Black Mesa’s done an Alien Swarm. I’m calling it.

  2. Mr Chug says:

    Links are a bit crazy at the end. Also, that Steam Defense sounds quite good.

  3. NikRichards says:

    My sleepy eyes read that mod as being called Jurassic Park Life at first glance.

    A game which i could only imagine was about a man with bad hair bad thick glasses being rudely awakened by the velociraptors.

    • DrugCrazed says:

      And that name gives me an image of a dinosaur band doing a syncronised dance to Park Life.

      “All the people, so many people, and they all go hand in hand, hand in hand through NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM”

      That would be an amazing video. Well, it’s amazing in my head.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      I feed the Compsognathus, I sometimes feed the Pterodactyls too
      It gives me a sense of enormous well-being

  4. vanarbulax says:

    Steampunk, co-operative, FPS/RPG/Stratergy tower defense? Sold on concept!

  5. JohnnyMaverik says:

    I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Black Mesa is a joke, if you don’t know why you need to follow the modding scene closer.

    • Urael says:

      Yes, because we ALL have time to do that, clearly.

      Perhaps you’d like to expand your comment with something meaningful, above and beyond the level of ‘troll’? A potted summary, perhaps?

      I only ask because I’m genuinely interested in the answer. It would be nice to know where we actually stand on this highly anticpated piece of modding.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Fair point.

      Ok. Firstly as mentioned by Lewis himself, their PR is frankly a disaster. They’re ultra secretive, were never great at keeping their community informed and have gotten progressively worse as the years have gone on. Now normally I’d let that go, how a modding team wants to present themselves is up to them, some are very transparent, sometimes to the point of literally showing off every asset that’s created (probably a bit too transparent when that happens), some like to update when they feel they have something big and polished that’s worth shouting about and will regularly leave a couple of months between each update. The problem with Black Mesa Source is it isn’t a normal mod, a lot of people will say “valve threw down a gauntlet to the modding community” when they released Half Life Source, basically a challenge combined with a blessing to do a proper, complete remake of the original game in the source engine.

      Now the problem is when Black Mesa Source picked up that gauntlet it’s the one time they made a lot of noise, and the bigger problem is that people listened, when ever there’s a story, however minor (this article being an example, although in this case I certainly wouldn’t say it should have been ignored, being a small series of link to updates on prominent mods, it fits, fair enough) it’s covered all over the place, Kotaku, IGN, occasionally even sites that don’t traditionally cover mods at all, Games Radar, GiantBomb etc…. The modding community, especially on the source side is fiercely territorial, once something is picked up nobody else will touch it, and on the rare occasion they do, e.g. the source sequel to the original goldscource mod frontlines, where we had Frontlines Source going head to head with Frontlines 2, a minor flame war inevitably erupts. When they took that gauntlet they essentially took the rights to make the mod, nobody else will touch it especially after the exposure they’ve had for fear of a massive blacklash, which IMO would be a certainty.

      They owed it to the community to maintain a degree of transparency and haven’t even come close. They never comment, never reply to enquires, never update, these days never do much of anything at all on the PR front, it’s a total media blanket. The infrequent youtube updates have stopped, all you get these days is a couple of out of context screenshots going up on their development wiki, worryingly alpha looking.

      Secondly their staff turn over beggars belief. Now I can’t put a number of this, but I listen to Podcast 17 weekly, their a big deal in the source modding community and have regular interviews with mod teams, the amount of people they get on who have at some point worked on Black Mesa Source is staggering, if I had to put an estimate on it, I’d say the amount of people who had ever worked the mod in it’s life vs. amount of peopleon the working on the mod right now could be as much as triple the number. That’s not healthy, and most worryingly they rarely have anything remotely positive to say about the experience. The mod itself has passed hands too many times and to say the team is regularly in flux would be an understatement, the mod constantly seems to be in transition and there isn’t really a team, just a bunch of people who happen to be working on the mod at the time but usually don’t stick around for long.

      Finally there’s that trailer and the quality of work they’ve actually shown. Now taking the rumours of fakery out of the equation, which may or may not be true, but there’s no way of proving that, faked or not, it set a high benchmark, a benchmark they won’t meet, and the scraps of real content they’ve released certainly do not meet. Not only does the content they’ve shown so far, the solid content that are actual screenshots from the actual mod, not meet the benchmark they set themselves, it doesn’t even meet what other modding teams are doing with the engine at the moment. The mod has been going on so long it’s just a mish mash of quality, some assets are quite good, some are distinctly amateur, some were probably made years ago for the original iteration of the Source engine which the mod first started, the mod has been going on so long and has had so many different people working on the assets, with varying degrees of experience and skill, graphically it’s doomed to be a let down, and let’s face it, for a source remake of half life graphics are what people are really interested in.

      There are other issues, the series of release dates they’ve missed with out explanation, their approaching aggressive unwillingness to work with other mod teams working on re creating original half life content for source mods, either remakes of opposing force and blue shift or just source mods based on the Half Life 1 story and setting.

      In short (looking at what I’ve written so far saying “in short” is approaching a joke in itself but never mind), they’ve backhanded the rest of the source community, they’ve backhanded the media outlets who have covered them because they care, not just because it provided an easy story for the day, and the legacy this mod will leave, whether it ever gets released or not will be a bitter one. It could have led a real push for modding to become a real topic of interest, something that gets covered by more than just the usual (although very appreciated suspects) suspects, open the doors for a renaissance of modding, instead it grabbed all the attention it could get, never repaid it, and other fantastically ambitious, worthy mods come and go mostly unnoticed. I mean shit, The Nameless Mod deserves twice the coverage BMS has gotten and hasn’t even had half of it.

      Two years ago I was still cautiously optimistic and excited, one year ago I still felt there was a shadow of hope, now, and I know this feeling is shared through out the core of the modding community, the modders themselves and those who follow their work faithfully, I hope that it’ll die just as episode 3/half life 3 comes out on the updated source engine/new engine, another teams picks up the project, starts from scratch and gets it right. I personally still think it’ll see a release in the next two years, but I’m not holding my breathe for it being any more than at best not quite as bad as a lot of people expected but still not great.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      I would but it’s too big to fit into a single comment and I don’t want to be that dick who posted 3 comments in a row… they’re never popular.

      The short version with no explanation is, shit PR, staff turnover is way too high, old staff members have nothing positive to say, trailer partly faked, content looks shoddy due to development time and staff turnover, probably won’t come out and if it does it’ll be disappointing because all people want it a graphical upgrade to the original game, and it won’t look all that great judging for the real screenshots they’ve shown and ignoring the trailer. Also backhand to the community, also hogs press that it doesn’t diserve, basically has turned into a massive bitter mess and has practically no hope of redemption.

    • DrGonzo says:

      The trailer was a trailer, not partly faked. Have you ever watched any other trailers for game?

      Ugh, note to self, stop baiting the trolls!

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      On the plus side Jurassic Life looks awesome and the next time the Dear Esther remake is featured in one of these articles it should be (crossed fingers) concerning it’s release.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      @ DrGonzo

      They claimed it was all in engine when it probably wasn’t and if it was judging from the screens they’ve shown was heavily edited and filtered, and they also claimed it should give a good indication of how far they’ve gotten with the mod, later updates have proven this to be hot air.

      That aside the counter argument I’d give is considering the amount of times they’ve announced release dates, how come we haven’t seen a proper, all in game trailer for the mod. Last time I checked for games you usually get the highly edited cg/filtered in game trailer, then you usually get the youtube, all gameplay footage montage trailer.

      Anyway I can’t be arsed to waste time arguing about BMS anymore, all I’ll say is look at The Nameless Mod, look at how much coverage they got vs. how much coverage BMS has gotten, then meditate on the concept that there is no justice in the world.

    • DrGonzo says:

      “When it *probably* wasn’t”

    • Matzerath says:

      I sense that JohnnyMaverik may have a point. Black Mesa has survived in the public mind simply because everyone would love to play such a thing, if it matches the general expectations. If Valve were getting behind it, there would at least be a hint dropped that such a partnering had occurred, I think. I could swear I heard the opposite, though, some time back.
      I hope this is not the case — but waiting anxiously for the release of a mod is a fool’s errand, anyway.

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, that and Valve’s own Half-Life: Source was so hilariously 1/8th-assed. “Yay, now it’s in the Source engine so…..well. Water and explosions are pretty. There you go. Please give us money now.”

  6. TomA says:

    I wonder how sneaky the raptors will be in that jurassic park mod. “Clever Girl.”

  7. trooperdx3117 says:

    Wait so does that quote mean that black mesa wont even make a 2011 release?

  8. Snuffy the Evil says:

    This is the first time I’ve heard of Project Reality doing 128-player tests. That’s amazing!

    Apparently they’ve got eight-man squads working too.

  9. cjlr says:

    “The idea, says the dev, is that your abilities should be restricted by your skill points, but that anyone should be able to pick up any gun.”

    Gee, you mean like the first game?

  10. mod the world says:

    Personally i think there should be a law prohibiting mod devs to have a website or forum, release a trailer or give interviews until their mod is 100% done.

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