Natural Selection 2: Unknown Worlds Explain All

an unknown man! on an unknown world!

Well, not all, but a healthy “some”. Mostly regarding that recent teaser trailer for the long delayed standalone sequel to the classic Half-Life mod, which delighted and confused in equal measure. I had a quick chat with Unknown World’s Game Director Charlie Cleveland about the most salient points raised by the trailer. Does the game really look that good? Is it really coming out this year? Which is best, daddy or chips?

Clearly the recent footage has sent gamers’ pulses a-racing – but how representative is it of what we’ll see in game? Will it really look that good?

Thanks! Yes, it really does look that good. We’re still optimizing and tweaking of course, but there’s no trickery there. There are a couple scripted bits in there that may not be part of the in-game experience like the Onos ducking through a door, the Onos moving slowly (he’s a playable character and no one wants to move that slowly!) and the metal flaps fluttering when the door is smashed, but I would say it’s very representative of the game.

Are we going to see redesigns for most of the aliens, as with the Onos in this video, or do you plan to stick closely to the familiar?

Some of the aliens changed more than others for sure but we did change the look in the other aliens as well. The old look and new ideas must be balanced, and we nixed some of our more far-out changes, but the aliens look like fresh versions of the old ones. Both sides have evolved since NS1 and for the aliens that means some new squareish elements and armor where they used to get shot. They borrowed these elements from the marines. The marines have some interesting vaguealy animal design characters to their armor, structures and weaponry as well. We wanted all aspects of the game to be dynamic.

Which of the following would you be prepared to bet on NS2 meeting its planned Fall release date:
1) $1000 2) the life of a friend’s cat 2) your own little finger 3) the life of a close blood relative?

Ouch! I think I’ll have to say “#1 for $1000, Alec”.

What does NS2 have to offer NS1 players aside from incredi-graphics?

We are mixing real-time strategy elements and first-person elements unlike any game before us. Like NS1, there’s a full tech tree, buildable structures, upgrades, 5 alien player classes and Commanders on both sides. We also are focusing on dynamic game elements, including dynamic infestation, weldable bulkheads and doors, a “power grid” that can shut down areas of the map and disable structures temporarily and the proverbial much more.

Any concern that all these delays mean you’ve lost support from some former fans?

Judging from the response we got yesterday, no. The pre-orders have been much stronger that we anticipated as well, with about 98% of fans opting for the $39.95 Special Edition instead of the Standard Edition at half the price. If we lost fans, we can’t tell at the moment.

Has the success of Killing Floor, another mod-gone-pro, had any effect on Unknown Worlds?

These guys have done well with Red Orchestra and served as a bit of a business case for us. They seem to be cranking now and it’s great to watch. We’ve also found the Overgrowth guys inspirational, especially with their pre-sales ideas and “open” development style. It’s a great time to be an Indie.

Thanks, Charlie. There’s more information about Natural Selection 2 (including a sudden flurry of site updates yesterday) and a magic pre-order button at the official site. Finally, here’s that video again:


  1. Bobsy says:

    Daddy or chips… daddy or chips…

    “No-one wants to move that slowly”

    Actually, I do. It’s got style. Gravitas. I walk a lot in WoW. I’m such a poser.

  2. MrBejeebus says:

    looking forward to this, they seem to have a very very strong fan base.

  3. CMaster says:

    @ Bobsy – you’ll change your mind when there’s 3 HMGs pointed at you.

  4. Nick says:


  5. Lord Forkington says:

    They should have a customisable walk – it would be epic to see a load of marines strutting their stuff

  6. Ian says:

    @Lord Forkington:

    Perhaps key assignments? SHIFT – run, CTRL+SHIFT – strut, CTRL+SHIFT+ALT – swagger moodily

  7. Tei says:

    The Red Orchestra guys reused a existing engine. This guys are a creating one from scrach (I am wrong?). The danger of a new engine is …. what if the netcode suck? If NS2 is good, and the engine is good and appropiate … Will the NS2 engine able mods?

  8. Spliter says:

    O just hope that now when you walk on the ceiling and walls your camera actually rotates!!!

    I don’t think they should turn this game into Daikatana…

  9. DMJ says:

    SHIFT-ALT = Saunter

  10. RARGPHLAM says:


    With each copy of the game you get the devtools they used to make the game, allowing you to make your own weapons, characters and levels. The engine they’re using seems to be in part based on Source, as the maps for source and their engine use the same container. So, yeah, I think you’ll be able to mod it.

    Really, these guys are solid developers, and they already got my 40 bux. I’m vigorously anticipating NS2.

  11. klei says:

    Go go angry hippopotamic unicorn!

  12. diebroken says:

    Alec, was there any mention of how it’ll all integrate with the Steam userbase? Can we expect to use our pre-order keys with the version on Steam? Not that I mind, so long as pre-order people still get that black armor… That’s a thought are Steam pre-orders going to get a bonus too?

    Sorry, too much coffee already today. (OK, I’ll recheck the NS forums).

    Edit: I’ll take this as the only word regarding Steam – link to

  13. Nimic says:

    If there’s a combat mod, I’ll play it. I could never really get into the standard gameplay of NS, but I quite liked the special combat “part” of it.

  14. MikeBiggs says:

    Heh, chips for sure! What brand was that advert for, Mcain?

    NS2’s looking pretty sweet! I have to admit I never played the orginal, but I’m gonna be watching this one closely

  15. Catastrophe says:

    NS1 was awesome. I must admit I loved Combat mode the most as it seemed much more fast paced but I still enjoyed the standard maps too.

    My fave team was Zerg. Ermm… I mean… Kharaaaaaaaa.

    I gotta say it was one of the only games that made me feel like i -was- the alien. A lerk gliding down from a hidden vent, spewing some toxic gas, taking a couple of bites the quickly shooting off back up the vent.

    I -was- stalking the marines. And I was a damned fast Lerk too.

  16. Scythe says:

    NS2 is going to be more awesome than Superman juggling King Kong, the Titanic and the Eiffel Tower, standing atop Mt Everest whist singing “Also sprach Zarathustra”.

    Mark my words.

  17. Catastrophe says:


    I dunno like, that sounds pretty damned awesome.

  18. jsutcliffe says:


    They added camera rotation for the Skulk in a version update. So there!

  19. Scythe says:


    They didn’t release this version. They found that it was just too disorienting and didn’t offer any real tangible benefit.

  20. Ride says:

    However they once stated they were thinking about giving viewrotation as an option. I’m all in for that option.

  21. Heliocentric says:

    I hope the camera rotation is optional, i don’t want ns2 to make me feel sick.

  22. Tom says:

    **** me, so that trailer really is pretty much ‘in game’ ? Ohhhh baby.

  23. dalig varg says:

    damn my cheapness!!!!!!

  24. Richard Beer says:

    So if 98% of people bought the Special Edition, it looks like I’ll have to buy the standard edition if I want to stand out and look special.

  25. Narcil says:

    yea lol. seems like there will be a special green armour for the ppl that dont get the special edition

  26. Ride says:

    I bet you can still choose if you want that black armor or not. IIRC NS1 let you choose if you want that constie icon to show up or not.

  27. Blast Hardcheese says:

    The Marine Commander can now deploy a disco floor so that the Marines can use their “Strut” ability. This allows the Marines to walk slowly and get eaten twice as much.

  28. Redford says:

    Did I mention you can really show your support for the NS2 community by contributing to the IRC or forums? Do eeeet! You get to make fun of Scythe in Real Time!

  29. Scythe says:


    Way to link to IRC and the forums! Tonnes of people will be able to find them easily! I’m not using sarcasm at all!

    I did lie once in those three sentences, see if you can pick which one.

    Forums: link to
    IRC: link to

  30. DMJ says:

    Camera rotation wouldn’t be disorienting. Well, it would, at first. But the camera rotation and the sudden dizzying shifts of perspective were part of what made the Alien so unique to play in AvP. At least give us the option to activate it if we want to feel all hardcore-y!

  31. Jeremy says:

    This could actually get me back into online gaming… actually, my horrible connection is what made me stop, forget it. Let me rephrase: this game actually makes me wish I could get back into online gaming.

  32. Rei Onryou says:

    Yay, yay and more yay. Fall can’t come soon enough.

  33. Brant says:

    I’m sending them my $40 and considering it a retroactive purchase of NS1 with the sequel as an added bonus. Money well spent.

  34. Jayteh says:

    my favourite game site is interviewing my favourite game devs.


  35. CJohnson03 says:

    According to the website, they are shipping NS2 with everything needed to create mods, weapons, models, everything. Source code is included, and with everything in Lua they say it’s less than 100 lines of code for a new weapon. This is going to be crazy.

  36. Wulf says:

    Well, they have my $40, too. The critters in NS1 were rather hawt, but that Onos redesign is downright sexy. I can’t wait to strut around as one of those.

    “everything in Lua”



    I’m very familiar with Lua, and being able to mess around with the inner workings of NS2 with that knowledge excites me greatly. Oh the possibilities…


  37. Aubrey says:

    Thanks Charlie for the favorable mention of our game! NS2 is looking AMAZING. Love the colors.

  38. Serondal says:

    I’m pretty excited about this. In many ways it may have been a good thing for NS2 to wait this long be release their game (Or take this long rather) IF this would have come out around the same time of CS:Source and DoD:Source ect it would have had a lot more to go up against. Even TF2 would have made it a lot harder for NS2 to get as many sales. As it stands now there is nothing like NS2 on the market other than Savage 2 (which is old I think) and I never reallyed like those Savage games and I’m pretty sure Savage 2 is free now or something O.o NS 2 has the market all itself plus tons of time between now and when NS1 was released so plenty of time for our brains to replace real memories with fantasy about how good the game was. All we remember is the fun we had playing it, not the horrible blocky graphics or strange movement, getting stuck on stuff or having horrible commanders that ruined the match. We most remember the good times and remember the graphics as good for back then ;) Nastalgia can be a dangerous thing but it can also be a good selling point. I think that is why Half Life 2 did so well.

  39. Heliocentric says:

    Nostalga? I played this last month. Still rocks.

  40. joe says:

    charlie cleveland is one great guy. he actually called me on the phone to give me some personal advice about working in the video game industry. what a nice guy!

  41. John says:

    Thanks for the shout out Charlie. You guys have an awesome game and I’m glad things are going well!

  42. Serondal says:

    I’m sure it does still rock, I’m just saying those of us that haven’t played it for years have this mythical memory of it that only lends pressure for us to buy this new version of the same game we used to love but forgot to play any more.

    I want a new version of The Specialist personally ;)

  43. Alex says:

    Notice the little guy running underneath the grating on the left side, just before the PCGamer quote? ;)

  44. Serondal says:

    I wonder if there will be any changes to the building system for the aliens and marines alike to make it more flexible and less build order based. If I recall if your team didn’t have the perfect build order combined with good defence from the enemy you were gimped after a very short time (Say fighting giant marine eatting aliens with a pistol)

  45. Stabby says:

    @ Serondal, they’ve said this isn’t simply an NS remake, they’re making a completely new game. New weapons, abilities, an alien commander, everything!

  46. Doctor Doc says:

    What, Killing Floor is such a piece of crap. Red Orchestra is good though but Natural-Selection is a masterpiece. That’s insulting to even mention Killing Floor!

  47. ketch says:

    I really cant wait for this!

  48. Ghostunit says:

    I would like to note that for people with lower-to-mid range PCs, ‘incredi-graphics’ can be quite scary.

  49. Wirbelwind says:

    That’s funny, mentioning Killing Floor and NS in the same sentence. Sounds as if you were implying they are even remotely on a same kind of level.

  50. Crispy says:

    I would like to note that for people with lower-to-mid range PCs, ‘incredi-graphics’ can be quite scary.

    It is possible that the engine requirements shown below are out of date now they have a fully-working engine and a working game, but the devs have said they are focusing on making the engine and game scalable so lower-spec machines can still run the game.


    What are the system requirements?

    A 1.2 GHz Processor, 256MB RAM, a DirectX 9 level graphics card, Windows 2000/XP/ME/98, mouse, keyboard and of course, an internet connection.


    The engine’s main features are it’s fully dynamic lighting, ease of editing (our editor looks like the game with no compiling or pre-processing) and efficiency even on low-mid end machines. To get an idea of visuals and performance, check out these two blog posts. (here and here – editor)


    According to Valve’s hardware survey, about 80% to 85% of respondents meet our minimum system requirements currently. Our plan is to deliver a great experience even on the minimum spec machine, so we don’t expect many people to have to upgrade their computer to play Natural Selection 2.

    Source #1: link to
    Source #2: link to
    Source #3: link to