Mod News: Black Mesa Street

Oh my. It’s been a week of mod development soap opera. Below the jump you’ll find the whole Black Mesa sorta-leak explained, along with a collection of mod-related gubbins from across the past days.

I’m hugely excited about the prospect of Amnesia: The Dark Descent mods. While I’ve only played a preview build and the demo so far, it seems like John’s Wot I Think last night is pretty much spot-on. So I was delighted to note – albeit apparently months late – that a full SDK will be available soon. I do remember watching a timelapse video of Frictional’s level designers working on a room, and the tools seemed very intuitive. I’m eager to try them out.


Obviously there are no Amnesia mods in development yet. But there are a lot of Half-Life 2 ones being made! Yes, I am the segue king. Here’s one: Dissolution. It was originally in development around five years ago, stopped, has now restarted, and is due out in the next few months. It’s a sci-fi action adventure with what looks like a fairly generic story, but the screenshots look moderately promising. I’ll be keeping my nightmare eye-stalks out.

More Half-Life 2, and Demons Vs Humans has a new video out just in time to hype up the mod’s release at the end of the month. It’s a team-based multiplayer game where the respective sides play as… well, yeah, those. It’s out on the 24th, and I’ll be eager to see what it’s like.

Here’s a video of upcoming Alien Swarm mod The Darkness, which is Alien Swarm but with more darkness. The idea is to create a tenser and more challenging atmosphere by turning off a bunch of the lights – and while I’d like to see some more ambitious stuff done with the tools, I actually think this looks to be working rather well.

The big news that’s spread across two weeks, of course, is the big malarkey concerning Black Mesa. Over a hundred screenshots had been posted by Atomic alongside their preview. Which, er, it turns out the Black Mesa team weren’t best pleased with, because there’d been strict instructions as to what Atomic were allowed to be shown and to post.

Turns out, the nasty pasty on the Black Mesa team who went to show them the build didn’t abide by the lead devs’ own rules, showed them a whole load of stuff, and said it’d be fine to post it all online. In the end it was all settled fairly amicably between the developers and the website, with the agreement being that the preview could stay up but the screenshot gallery had to come down, partly because it showcased unfinished work, and partly because there were a hundred bloomin’ screenshots which showed off basically everything in the first half of the game.

There’s still no word on a release date, and I do think it’d be one of the funniest things in the world if it ended up not being out before Duke Nukem Forever.


FreeSpace 2 mod Vassago’s Dirge, which sounds like it should have been a term used in BrassEye, released this week. It’s been in development for around 18 months, seemingly created by just one guy, it’s a nine-mission campaign telling what looks to be a nice and mysterious story.

Also out is Thrawn’s Revenge, a mod for Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption. Can you even have two colons in a thing? Anyway: in this mod you can play as one of three sides: The New Republic, Imperial Remnant, or Empire of the Hand. It features new units, updated graphics, loads of new maps, and several NPC factions, apparently. Grab it from its ModDB page.

And on top of all that, last week was the release of Call of Pripyat Redux, which I missed, so it’s here.


Sven Co-Op 4.5 has appeared. Having never played Sven Co-Op for some reason, I was curious last week after having been told it was a broken mess. Turns out that’s a fairly recent thing, so hopefully this updated version will go some way to fixing the problems that reared their heads. Here’s a big log of changes.

Return of the Dawn, a C&C: Tiberian Sun mod, has also been updated this week. It’s now on 2.8.5, fixes some bugs, improves AI, and throws a new map in for good measure. It can be found right here.


In California, Radiator 1-2: Handle With Care will be featured in the Learn To Play exhibit at the Euphrat Museum of Art. We’re starting to see a few of these games-as-art exhibits cropping up, and interestingly this is the second time I’ve seen Radiator rear its head at one. Maybe, by the time there’s another, Robert Yang will have finished the third and final part of the series, which I’ve been giddy about playing since June 2009 when it was /supposed/ to have been released. Cough.

Ta-ra for now.


  1. AlexW says:

    It’s a little frustrating to hear that Black Mesa still has spots it considers ‘too unfinished to show’, considering, but it becomes both more and less surprising by the month. Reasonable that they just didn’t want to show everything, though.

    At least they didn’t have yet another code leak, though. They’re still getting complaints about the perceived low quality of the old stolen alpha, last I checked.

  2. Daryl says:

    Black Mesa looks awesome, but meh, I’m tired of waiting. It was supposed to be out last year. I don’t want them to rush the thing but it just seems like it keeps getting pushed further and further back. I’ve been hearing about it for about 4-5 years. Same thing with Goldeneye: Source. It’s almost like Valve themselves are developing these mods.

  3. Luomu says:

    Anyone feel like writing something about this russian mega-mod for CoP, called SGM. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, but haven’t tried it yet and the official site is in Russian. Download + English translation is available here though: link to

    • Jetsetlemming says:

      SGM is to STALKER what Lords of Destruction is to Diablo 2. It’s a gigantic batch of almost all good new content, new quests, items, weapons, stashes, achievements, features, new main questline, etc. It also significantly increases stalker activity (freedom and duty will both attempt to clear out the bandits at the Jupiter Checkpoint and take it for themselves, fighting over it, for example), and wild animals. There are tons extra crows flying in the air around you, and they carpet the ground every emission.
      The mod also places new anomalies and mines outside pre-scripted places (I would recommend turning off the SGM anomalies actually because until you get the Svarog detector they’re really just a pain because there’s very little visual indication of a gravity anomaly before you walk into it and become little bits of previous stalker). Don’t forget to buy a mind detector from the SGM trader in Skadovsk, which marks mines on your minimap and turns them from deadly traps into useful tools for leading big dangerous scary things into.

    • Jetsetlemming says:

      Oh, and joinable factions: Bandits, Dawn, Mercenaries, and Monolith. They all have their own trader and questline.

  4. Unaco says:

    I have been reliably informed that Dystopia v1.3 is being released this Friday. This is the move to the Orange Box Engine, so there is some graphical polish, as well as some new graphical effects (particles etc), new maps (and changes to old maps), weapon balancing, sound overhaul and changes to implants and classes, and the usual bug fixes and better code… and all the Orange Box features, like better ingame chat. Supposed to be released this Friday.

    I know Dys is a tough game to get into at first, so, if anyone is interested, we can set up a hand-holding session… get a server, distribute password amongst RPS channels (to keep it to those that want to learn), play a few games with some experienced players around to answer questions… I know there are at least 3 of us that comment regularly here that have also been involved in (playing, testing, throwing a banhammer around the forums) Dys for at least 4 years. If anyone is interested in this, make a comment here, or over on the Dys forum, or on the forum here and we’ll try and get something arranged.

    • Daryl says:

      Looks good. I may give it a whirl some time.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Unaco: I deny everything.

      That said, I wouldn’t be opposed to throwing a tutorial session for RPSers if we can secure a server.

    • KindredPhantom says:

      I’m sure we can snag the testserver, not likes it get’s used for anything.

    • Omega Xi says:

      I’d be really interested in this to be honest, I love Dystopia but if you’re trying to learn to hack on public servers and you don’t know exactly what to do, people tend to get really annoyed with you. In some ways it’s understandable because of the importance of capturing objectives but at the same time things like people TKing me while I was jacked in really put me off the game. Been looking forward to 1.3 for I think nearly a year, I guess in many respects I also just wish I was a better player ^^;

  5. Veret says:

    FYI Denby, the link for the Darkness video needs fixing (the h is missing from “http://”). And speaking of that video, I wonder why they didn’t show anybody using the flashlight attachment? A pitch-black Alien Swarm mod seems to be the only reason such an item should exist, after all…

  6. Rich says:

    Your The Darkness links is broken. The URL you give starts with “ttp://”, instead of the more traditional “http://” :P.

  7. Navagon says:

    There aren’t still people who think that Black Mesa is going to be released are there?

    • Rich says:


    • Navagon says:

      What’s the point in updating a 12 year old game to look 6 years old anyway?

    • Daryl says:

      Well, to be fair, it was supposed to be released last year, so it would have only been an 11 year old game looking 5 years old. But since it’s looking like it won’t be out this year, it’ll at the very least be a 13 year old game looking 7 years old.

    • Navagon says:

      By the time it’s done it’s going to need another graphical overhaul of its own.

    • Rich says:

      By the looks of the screens, they’re using an Ep1, maybe Ep2 version of the engine, with all the effects that offers.

      I’m not likely to ever install and play the original game, simply because the graphics, and especially combat gameplay, are totally obsolete. I’m still very much interested in a reimagining of that classic though.

    • MrSafin says:

      @Rich: You should really try Half-Life 1 in its original engine. I loved it much more than Half-Life 2. Maybe I’m just a retro-geek.

    • Rich says:

      Sorry, I should’ve said “I’m not likely to ever install and play the original game again“.
      Half-life was, I think, the fourth game I got for the PC, and only the second I bought myself.
      I tried going back a few years ago, but couldn’t get over the way the weapons handled compared to modern shooters.

      I agree that it was better than Half-life 2, which is why dearly I hope Black Mesa will be able to meet my expectations of modernising the gameplay, while being true to the original game. So far I haven’t seen anything to dash those hopes, not even in the masses of leaked screens.

    • Urthman says:

      Yeah, it’s 90% done, but some people on a few forum boards said “meh, I’m tired of waiting” so the Black Mesa team is probably going to just give up and throw all that work away.

      Because a Half-Life remake would have been great in 2009, but now it’s almost 2011 and we have brand new games like Crysis that make the HL2 engine look old.

      Gamers are used to short little games like Modern Warfare 2, so no one is gonna want to play a game as long as the original Half-Life. A Half-Life 2 mod that’s actually longer than HL2 and Episodes 1&2 combined? Who would want that? Especially now that we’re so tired of thinking about it.

      It’s been an additional 2 years to forget the details of the original Half-Life, so a remake might actually surprise us with more things we’ve forgotten, and nobody wants that.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Never have I read such a stupid comment. The team has clearly stated many times, they have no interest in what anyone thinks of the mod.

      Also, you realise that Modern Warfare runs on a modified version of the Quake 3 engine? The biggest selling game in the world runs on a horrifically outdated engine, and looks gorgeous.

      IMO, Left4Dead 2 is still one of the best looking games on the market, and that’s the same engine as Black Mesa.

    • DrGonzo says:


      Unfortunately the mod will not be anywhere near as long as Half Life 1.

    • Rich says:

      I’m not certain, but I think Urthman was being sarcastic.
      At least I hope he was…

    • Rich says:

      “Unfortunately the mod will not be anywhere near as long as Half Life 1.”
      Do you have a reference for that?
      I’m hoping you’re wrong, and if they’re actually remaking the whole thing, there’s no reason why it should be much shorter than the original game.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Looking back at their site I can’t find any reference to it being shorter, so I hope your right and I imagined, or just assumed it would be shorter.

      Also, I should have made my post clearer, it was aimed at the OP and his other comment about it being 6 years out of date. I only mentioned MW2 because Urthman reminded me of it. So apologies for that.

    • Navagon says:

      I certainly hope that Urthman was being sarcastic. Just because FPS have expanded into casual console non-games with barely any length or difficulty doesn’t mean that’s what PC gamers want.

  8. salejemaster says:

    I have tried to get into Dys about two times now never really worked, I’m interested in trying this!

  9. Wilson says:

    Ooh, thanks for the Sven-Coop news. That’s a favorite mod of mine that I’ve forgotten to check in a while.

  10. salejemaster says:

    hmmm the reply button is kind of broken, I AM INTERESTED IN THIS, the thing that you are speaking about!!!

  11. The E says:

    Hooray for Vassago’s Dirge. Axem really is one of the kings of FS2 Modding, and all his work is required playing for the discerning FS2 fan.

    As are Blue Planet: War in Heaven, the FSPort, or just plain old FS2 with the latest FS2_Open exe and the latest MediaVP enhancements.

  12. oceanclub says:

    “What’s the point in updating a 12 year old game to look 6 years old anyway?”

    Um, because it’ll still look a lot better? Graphical improvements have followed a logarithmic curve; the difference between a game released in 1999 and one in 2004 is a lot more than ones releases in 2004 and 2010. I play HL2 recently and it still looks damn good; the animation of Alyx puts recent games to shame.


    • Rich says:

      Look out oceanclub, here come the Crysis fans!

    • DrGonzo says:

      Also, as I said elsewhere. It’s fairer to compare it to Left4Dead or Episode 2, not Half Life 2. The engine has been significantly improved since then.

  13. CheetahMen says:

    I’ve been watching closely a game called Depth. It’s not a mod, but an indie UDK project and it looks mighty fine:

    link to

    • DrGonzo says:

      Wow! Thanks for the link, that looks fantastic, and terrifying.

    • l1ddl3monkey says:

      I’ve been watching this one too. Considering mankinds obsession with sharks (witness the Discovery Channel or the UK’s Channel 5 and their almost constant parade of shark documentaries) I think the most impressive thing about this is it’s originality. It’s also got an interesting visual style to it that I think captures the look of “underwater” very well.

      Will definitely be up for playing this when it comes out. While listening to THAT piece of music from Jaws…

    • MrTambourineMan says:

      …and it’s made by the same guy who made Killing Floor!

  14. panther says:

    Wow sven coop on goldsrc is still being developed?

  15. Seth says:

    Vassago’s Dirge is excellent, the work of an auteur. Play it. (And if you don’t have FreeSpace 2; it’s no longer just one of the greatest games of all time, it’s a genuine platform.)

  16. Seth says:

    Also, I want to submit the release of Blue Planet: War in Heaven to Mod News, but the email is giving me an ‘address out of date’ autoreply.

  17. JohnnyMaverik says:

    “I do think it’d be one of the funniest things in the world if it ended up not being out before Duke Nukem Forever.”

    I agree…

    • DrGonzo says:

      I don’t understand this joke. A game made in their spare time for free should take less time than a multimillion dollar AAA game?

      Also, Duke Nukem Forever looked really bland a crap in the recent videos. Black Mesa still looks great!

    • Rich says:

      A multi-million dollar AAA title that has been in development on and off since before the release of the game this mod is a remaking of. So I suppose they’ve done really well, but anything that has been in development for ages and gets released after Duke Nukem Forever, which has become legend at this point (even if the game eventually sucks), is bound to be poked fun at.

      In a way, Black Mesa is already the Duke Nukem Forever of mods. Lots of silence, interspersed with the odd flurry of (apparent) activity, plus a little developer drama thrown in. Although I don’t believe it’ll end that way. Like you, the stuff I’ve seen of DNF so far doesn’t interest me, unlike Black Mesa.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Someone pointed out the other day though that Half Life 1 came out after they started developing DNF. So they do have a little while to go until they reach DNF’s level of slowness! :D

  18. Justin says:

    I’ve been playing Stalker COP Redux. It makes it much more about resource conservation, which is neat, but there’s no stashes or weapon upgrades, which removes some of the fun. Maybe they’ll be back in a newer version.

    The SGM mod is neat and yes, turn off the SGM anomalies. Some parts aren’t translated to English yet, unfortunately. I get this feeling that there’s all this neat stuff for STALKER that I’ll never quite get to see because I live on the other side of the Atlantic.

  19. The Great Skratsby says:

    Need more h in your http of the The Darkness url!

  20. wellsaidted says:

    Surely it’s time to rename this series of posts: ‘Mod News: Robert Yang Tributathon, I: Wasn’t Radiator Just Like The Best Thing Ever OH ALSO HALF-LIFE 2 IS WELL GOOD’

    Just for the jokes, like. Denby is a hero really.

  21. Agent 47's therapist says:

    Really disappointing that Roma Surrectum 2, probably one of the most significant as well as long awaited mods for years, is not even given a brief mention.

    C’mon guys, I know you like all the Half Life stuff, and who doesn’t, but that’s quite a major oversight. Especially given BM hasn’t even released.

  22. MK says:

    Anybody here beaten Call of Pripyat and then tried it with the redux mod? If so, do you recommend playing the original game and then do a second run through with the mod or just skip straight to the mod?

    The reason I ask is that I’m one of those that likes to try and play the game close to what the developers envisioned and then play with mods to make the experience new again. I typically only use mods on the first play through to remedy bugs or silly design decisions.

    So which should I go?

  23. Anaphiel says:

    @MK, definitely play through vanilla first… Redux dramatically changes some key aspects of game play. Combat is a lot harder and less forgiving, it fudges item drops pretty dramatically, and as has been mentioned upthread this mod removes the weapon upgrade system and all of the hidden caches, so there’s actually less “stuff” to do in game. Recommended once you’ve gotten your fun out of the vanilla game and just want a tougher, more unforgiving playthrough to just *be* in the Zone.

  24. MK says:

    @Anaphiel, thanks for the info! Time to descend into the Zone. It’s been too long…