Mod News: Fear And Forget


This week, a mod made me properly gasp. I turned a corner in a cave network to suddenly emerge in an enormous opening, water cascading down the sides of the rock, crashing into the pool below and sending the water churning in turbulent waves. It looked absolutely astonishing. I’ll be writing about what I’ve played of Robert Briscoe’s upcoming Dear Esther remake elsewhere in the near future, but suffice it to say: it’s shaping up to be absolutely extraordinary.

But that’s not this week’s mod news. This is this week’s mod news…

NEWS
I embarrassed myself the other day by saying “holy mackerel” for the first time in my life. What on Earth could have led to such a preposterous outburst? Why, it was this here Oblivion mod, which looks beautiful beyond all words. The Betrayal of Jarvall is due for an episodic release at some point in the near future, it would seem. And good crikey, it does look alarmingly pretty.

Meanwhile, this progress update for Counter-Strike X amused me. The CS1.6 mod, according to its developers, aims to “pay tribute” to the original Counter-Strike mod, “aiming to bring back the classic and evolve it to an entirely new level.” You’ll notice, I’m sure, that one of the new screenshots has /a lightsaber/ in it. A fitting tribute indeed.

Lethal Sigma, a promising Half-Life 2 mod, was supposed to come out this month. It didn’t. Here’s why. August 14th, apparently.

And Halo mod Project Lumoria has released some new screenshots. It’s set on a new planet which, spectacularly, looks a hell of a lot like Halo. Whatever are the chances? The team’s looking for some animators, too. If that’s up your alley, contact details are beyond that link above.

RELEASES
AtmosFear 2 for Call of Pripyat is here! I debated whether to chuck this in the ‘Releases’ or ‘Updates’ section, but hey, there’s a 2 on the end, which means ‘proper sequel, right? Anyway, there are allegedly over 120 new photorealistic textures, new environment sounds, a complete new blowout sequence, and the proverbial more.

And Firearms: Source came out! Hooray! Opinions seem split, however. Is it a fantastic recreation of the old Firearms mod for Half-Life? Is it a bug-ridden mess? Should everyone just /shut the hell up/? ModDB’s comments thread seems very much split between these three viewpoints. Either way, there’s a patch on the horizon, which will hopefully silence at least one of the crowds.

UPDATES
At least one loyal reader of Mod News was unhappy with Firearms: Source, anyway. Billyboob emailed me this week pointing me towards an update for HL2 mod Swarm, of which he said: “It’s sure to soothe the souls of those disappointed with the release of Firearms: Source.” Harsh words. And perplexing ones, perhaps, since Swarm is a single-player mod. It’s a horde-mode type thing for the solo blaster, and word seems good. Grab it here.

And here’s something I actually didn’t see last week: the beta of a LOST multiplayer mod for Half-Life 2 was released – although its creator confesses it has very little to do with the TV show and seems to be getting very angry with anyone who points this out. Anyway, this week it’s been updated, with a patch that fixes some issues discovered during testing. Reception still seems mixed, mind.

AND THE REST
You might have noticed ModDB has been up and down for the past week or so. In case you hadn’t spotted it on there, they’ve posted a quick update about it. Seems there’s a server problem which has no quick fix, but which they’re working to address as quickly as possible. Here’s the deets.

Anyway. I’ve gone and done a small round-up of decent mods over at BeefJack. Probably nothing you didn’t know about, and a fairly obvious (and far from comprehensive) list, but writing for an audience and all that. Have a read if you want – and if there’s something on there you haven’t tried, you definitely should be heading in its direction.

And the Open Outcast guys have gone and done something lovely: they’ve released a PDF artbook! UserCreated has the scoop. And you’ll find more stuff over there to satisfying your mod-hunger, I’m sure. Until next week!

34 Comments

  1. CMaster says:

    Beefjack link doesn’t work, just takes you to the front page

    • Premium User Badge

      Hodge says:

      Same here. I think the URL is right but the article hasn’t been posted yet.

    • Lewis says:

      Er. Yes. This ended up being rescheduled after I’d subbed this column. And I forgot to tell Jim. Whoops.

  2. Novotny says:

    Black Mesa, you make me cry. Why won’t you come to us?

    • Azazel says:

      It will never be. Every mod news update from now until the end of time will be like a taunt.

    • Robert Yang says:

      They’re doing quite well. In the meantime, why don’t you play the 100 other Source mods released in the last 6 years? :P

    • Rich says:

      Because they’re not Black Mesa :P

  3. Schmung says:

    The moddb comments on Firearms are..interesting. It’s all very shouty an angry and spammy. We’re getting some more considered feedback over at the official forums, which is helpful and as you mentioned we’re currently developing and testing a patch for release at the weekend that should sort out a fair amount of the initial problems that we’ve seen. I think a large part of the abuse we’re getting is that people have seen the guns and setting and just thought it’d be exactly like MW2 or something, which was never really the intention. Hopefully in future we can so a better job of explaining ourselves, but with a small team time spent talking and posting and updating webpages is time not spent making the game.

  4. IncredibleBulk92 says:

    Who watches LOST and thinks multiplayer shooter?

    What a loon

  5. Dean says:

    If you’re a fan of pretty Oblivion stuff, a new version of Unique Landscapes launched this week with some new and updated areas: link to tesnexus.com

    That plus better cities will make Oblivion look amazing. Add in the QTP3R texture pack if you dare though be aware that together you’ll need quite a machine to keep up a respectable framerate. But oh so pretty.

    • jarvoll says:

      I have a not-very-new graphics card and running QTP3 is not even a vague drain on framerates. The real framerate killer for Oblivion is installing FCOM Convergence, which is pure murder on one’s CPU. In my experience, anyway.

    • Deano2099 says:

      QTP and Unique Landscape / Better Cities are fine on their own. Together they need something quite beefy. Of course, depends a lot on what resolution you’re running in too.

      Oblivion is always a bit of a CPU killer as it doesn’t do well with multi-core systems. It runs fine but just on the one core, so modern systems really haven’t helped with the scripting side of things.

  6. Film11 says:

    Argh, you’ve played the Dear Esther remake already? Bastard, bastard, bastard! It looks so good from the screenshots.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yes! That means it must be close to release. My pants are now wet.

    • Jimmy says:

      There is a 720p video there of the cave section on his Website. Looking fantastic. I am postponing completion of the original until this is finished later this year.

    • Jimmy says:

      Erm.. by “completion” I mean experiencing it. I only went as far the caves and since last year, I knew this one was on the way.

  7. Oneironaut says:

    Has there been any news about that ModDB client? I think it was called Desura. I’ve been waiting for that to come out to get into using mods.

    • IncredibleBulk92 says:

      It’s a bit barren at the moment. The beta works fantastically but I couldn’t name anything they’ve added during the beta.

  8. ulix says:

    Have you written about the Oblivion “mod” Nehrim yet?

    Its a total conversion by a German team and is incredible.
    Huge (40-50 hours!), with a beautifully built (hand-crafted) world (much darker and more serious then Oblivion), very good (main as well as side) quests, and the best (German) voice-work I’ve ever heard in a mod (especially of this size).

    English version will be out soon (only subtitles though, but believe me, with this voice talent you wouldn’t want anything else).

    • ulix says:

      And lets not forget the gameplay changes:
      – no level scaling (monsters in certain areas will be too strong for you at the start)
      – levelling is a hybrid of experience points and (standard Oblivion) “improve by use”
      – a crafting system that lets you make weapons & armor
      – no quicktravel (but teleport magic as well as stationary teleportation points)

  9. Zerotonine says:

    Wow, Open Outcast looks like it’ll be absolutely amazing, and almost unrealistically ambitious. But I love the updates they’ve been making so far, they’ve definitely got the look of the original down. However, Cutter’s arms seem a little bit too long to me and out of proportion to his torso right now. But maybe I need to see it in real time, and not a YouTube embed :)

  10. Mad Hamish says:

    Also, Mount & Blade fans. One of the best mods and definitly the one with the most high level content, Prophesy of Pendor just hit 3.0. I urge any M&B fans to overlook it’s awful voice acting and frustraitingly difficult begining and go and give it ago. It’s pretty big as far as M&B mods go and makes massive changes to the game.

    link to forums.taleworlds.com

  11. OctaneHugo says:

    I played Firearms: Source for about 25 minutes – having never played the original – and it was put me to sleep. Nothing unique about it and it doesn’t even execute what it wants to do well.

  12. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    I don’t think I care enough about guns to like Firearms: Source.

    Anyway, how about reviving Dystopia?

  13. Bart Stewart says:

    I’m amazed at how much the “Betrayal of Jarvall” artwork resembles the paintings of long-time fantasy novel cover illustrator Darrell K. Sweet.

    link to sweetartwork.com

    Impressive.

  14. pival says:

    holy shit i love you man.

  15. Navagon says:

    AtmosFear 2 looks outstanding. I want to try that in combination with a good weapon mod (read: one where guns are actually lethal). Any recommendations?

  16. Eight Rooks says:

    Yeah, I admit I partly posted AtmosFear 2 just for something to fill up the space (and to spite Lewis, because he said he didn’t like the idea much and I enjoy being contrary)… but having played a bit more of Pripyat with it installed, I can safely say if you don’t love this you’re insane. This is scientific fact. It’s simply gorgeous, and Stalker Complete doesn’t come close. Blowouts in particular are absolutely terrifying. Again, the only real fault is it’s simply too bloody good for the X-Ray Engine, which plainly wasn’t designed to work with bright, naturalistic sunlight and a giant draw distance, but still looks frequently excellent anyway.

    I’m afraid I haven’t a clue how well it combines with other mods at the moment. Something to look into for future posts, perhaps!

    • malkav11 says:

      I’m not sure what basis for comparison you have. Are you talking about Stalker Complete for Shadow of Chernobyl? If so, well…yeah, an graphical enhancement mod for a modern DX11 game is going to look better than one for a game that’s several years older and DX9. If you’re talking about Call of Pripyat Complete… I didn’t think that was out.

      In either case, a mod that -only- makes the game prettier isn’t going to be as interesting to me as a game that also tweaks the game to make it more me-friendly, the way the Complete mods have done.

      But it does look quite nice.

  17. Adam Whitehead says:

    I couldn’t remember if you’d covered them, but COMPANY OF HEROES: EASTERN FRONT has gotten a major update, named REVOLUTION (patch 1.10, followed by a 1.11 update and then a micro-update to stop the patcher asking you to patch the game even when it doesn’t need patching). The Russian side is now much more fun to play, better balanced and less prone to being wiped out in the first three minutes of battle. Plus it hasn’t crashed once since I installed it, whilst the old version crashed reliably once an hour.

    THIRD AGE: TOTAL WAR has released v2.0, featuring the revamped Eriador faction (which can now morph into Arnor) and introducing the Orcs of Gundabad. There is also a ‘Fellowship Quest’ mode which is, it has to be said, an extremely amusing little micro-game, pushing the MEDIEVAL II to the limit of what it can do. Unfortunately, I found the Battle of Helm’s Deep to be rather broken (when the enemy attack it, they don’t pull your reinforcements into the battle if you are nearby, but if you attack the enemy army besiging the castle, then it sticks the army from Helm’s Deep on an inaccessible ledge, leaving your forces to be wiped out by the vastly larger enemy army) which kind of wrecked the whole thing. Still, a nice idea.

  18. Eight Rooks says:

    @Malkav: fair point there’s quite a gulf between Stalker: Chernobyl and Stalker: Pripyat, but firstly I’m only on XP64, so this is sans fancy polish on the effects, and secondly it’s partly a reaction to the fact that the Complete packs are the ones everyone makes a fuss about, when for me (and, well, I hope I’m not that unique) visuals and audio play a huge part in establishing atmosphere. It might seem like an obvious thing to say, but from the amount of mods that scale the damage you take up by five thousand percent and remove all but a fraction of the loose ammo, one could be forgiven for thinking an awful lot of people only get a kick out of whacking the difficulty all the way up, and couldn’t actually care what the Zone looks like.

    The Stalker Complete packs are hugely impressive – I nearly completed Chernobyl with an older version before realising I’d locked myself out of the true ending, and haven’t gone back to it since. I just think they sometimes get a little too much praise solely because of the amount of work that’s gone into them. Clear Sky Complete still doesn’t measure up to Pripyat with AtmosFear 2 visually, as far as I’m concerned, and from the descriptions you’d think it ought to.

    But I admit AtmosFear’s ‘just’ a graphical tuneup, and if you want an overhaul, like I said, the Complete packs are still the way to go. No-one should limit themselves to just one of the Stalker mega-mods, after all. ;-)

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, the primary purpose of the Complete packs is still a visual tuneup – and I think Shadow of Chernobyl at least looks substantially prettier with Stalker Complete installed than it does without (I’ve never played Clear Sky unmodded). But it also happens to fix other stuff without cranking up the difficulty (if anything, it seems to make the game a bit more approachable which == easier), which is why I dig it so much.

      Again, though, Call of Pripyat is the most modern Stalker release and even without running in DX11 mode can reasonably be expected to look the best, especially when one compares versions that are both visually enhanced by mods.

  19. Eight Rooks says:

    Me personally – can’t speak for the others, obviously, but I haven’t written about too many RTS mods for UserCreated so far given I’m a little wary of commenting in passing on something where it would seem you’d need quite a bit of play to properly explore everything they change, and most of them are for games I don’t own, or haven’t yet touched the base versions of. I have tried Third Age: Total War, but that was a few versions back. But I’ll bear the suggestion in mind. I bought Men of War and Red Tide in the last Steam sale, and I’ve been meaning to give them a shot.

  20. Mas says:

    I really don’t recommend installing that Stalker mod Atmosfear. 90% It doesnt work, crashes instantly when you try to play. And when you do get it working… well don’t touch any ingame options (like lowering something to get playable FPS) or it will again make your game crash. Had to reinstall the whole game to get it working again.