Mod News: All Quiet In New Mexico

I’ve got to be honest: I was expecting a Black Mesa update. It’s been tradition to do one around this time every year – a big post with new information, a trailer, some new screenshots or, last year, a big apology for having not released the mod yet. But nothing. No word. I’ll keep my eyes peeled, but I gave up trying to get in touch with the devs ages ago. Fingers crossed for next week, eh? Until then, here’s some mod news.


Hey, look, it’s Dear Esther! Which, sadly, won’t make its December 2010 ETA, as was kind of expected. Man, what a disappointing week! Still, there’s a big old Q&A on its ModDB page now, along with several more ludicrously beautiful screenshots. Most excellently, it’s going to be localised for a whole bunch of different languages, hopefully allowing a lot more people to play the game.

Still on Source, here’s a bit of a mystery mod. A delightful reader points me in the direction if this YouTube video, which appears to showcase a rather splendid looking Half-Life 2 mod in which you’re running around as a big, stompy dinosaur. But there’s no other information to be found, by the looks of it, and someone over at German website HL Portal reckons there’s a chance it could just be a tech demo for a job application. Let’s hope it’s more than that, and we’ll be able to get our hands on this at some unspecified point in the future, because /dinosaurs/.

Over on the opposing fronts in the company of heroes, there’s a Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts mod called Eastern Front, which you might have heard of already. Released in January, it’s proven rather popular, and there’s been an update revealing some gumph about the upcoming 1.30 patch. Some new images and details await.

Then there’s Crysis mod Butterfly: The Prelude, which… I’m still struggling to figure out exactly what’s going on here, actually. What I understand is that work has halted on Butterfly itself, he’s making Prelude, then returning to that. But then in this new update the dev, Lenox47, says he’s “decided that each episode would take a year of development to come out really successful.” So, yeah. He’s also feeling a bit disappointed at the lack of recent community activity. Show him you care, if you do.

Alien Swarm mod Jatsian Summer continues with its regular updates. This one teases the reveal of a new game mechanic which has never been seen before in the Alien Swarm universe. Ooh!

There are some more Open Outcast screenshots, too, along with some info about how they’re getting on with stuff. And the Men of War WW1 Mod’s multiplayer component has been unveiled.

But my favourite mod news of the week has to be the fact that Return to Mana is back. This was an incredibly exciting-looking Half-Life 2 mod that sadly ceased production in 2007. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there’s a bunch of new screenshots, a 2011 ETA, and it’s all looking extraordinary. It’s a co-op action-RPG for up to three players, with an absolutely beautiful art style. Wonderful news!

A Halo: Combat Evolved mod has been released. It’s called Project Lumoria, it takes place on a brand new planet of the same name, and the first episode’s available to download now. Early reports suggest it’s rather good indeed, though I’ve not had chance to play it yet. Anyone?

Meanwhile, there’s a new mission released for Thief-inspired Doom 3 toolset The Dark Mod. It’s called Flakebridge Monastery, and it is here.

Ghosts of Arnor, a mod for Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch King, has seen an update. According to its developer, it’s “VASTLY improved” over the last version, with too many improvements to list, but the main updates seem to concern the hero skills and faction abilities.

I like this. People thought Chamber 29 in Portal mod Gamma Energy was overly difficult and not very good. So the developer has been working to change it, and he’s documented the week-long process in a post on ModDB. Worth a read, I say.

Also worth a look is the Mod Hall of Fame, a new website set up by the ModDB folks. It’s basically a timeline of pivotal and important mods, and while I can think of a whole load more that deserve to be on here, apparently it’s going to be updated with both new and old mods each year.

‘Til next time, folks. Lob me an email if you spot anything tasty!


  1. Rich says:

    To the makers of Black Mesa: silence is not a virtue.

    • Azazel says:

      They’re just trying to get into the Valve mindset and thus produce an authentic remake.

      I hereby dub it ‘Method Modding’.

    • DrGonzo says:

      They said they aren’t really interested in any coverage. They said they have already released enough screenshots. Anymore and we would have seen the entire mod before release. Another reason is also that they just want to finish the damned thing as it sounds like they’re sick of working on it and talking about it.

    • Rich says:

      They don’t actually have to release anything. Just a rough time frame would be nice. 6 months? A year? If they just said, “assuming nothing happens to mess things up for us, we expect it to be released some time in 2011”, I’d be happy.

      …and that goes for Valve and Ep3 too.

    • noobnob says:

      You see, they did give us several rough time frames before, and they just didn’t make it. They really are embracing Valve Time.

    • vanarbulax says:

      Haven’t they already gone through the insane “media release” cycle and creeping estimates many times at Black Mesa. In fact isn’t it what the mod is infamous for (apart from also looking pretty spiffy)?

      Valve on the other hand I want to at least say something about ep3, even if it’s negative so we don’t have the whole conspiracy theories every time they say they’ll have an announcement (portal 2 on ps3 is not a ‘big’ announcement).

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      phuzz says:

      I think the name ‘CargoCult’* was primarily aimed at the Black Mesa devs.
      (ie if you pretend to be a proper studio, then somehow your mod will magically be great), never seems to stop being apposite…

      If you want to know what happens when people ask for updates or dates just check this thread. tl:dr? They’ll tell us when it’s done.

      *see Minerva

    • evilbobthebob says:

      The way I see it, Black Mesa has taken so long to release, they are having to remodel a lot of content to bring it up to modern standards. The graphics looked good back in ’08, but now they probably feel like they can do better. And so it goes on…Alternatively, they’ve just had a massive period of inactivity. As a (sadly ex) modder, and mod-team leader (on this project: link to I’ve experienced that kind of lapse multiple times. Unless Black Mesa has a really good team leader to push people, I doubt release will occur any time soon.

      Incidentally, I’m ever so slightly surprised at the lack of Star Wars: Empire at War mod coverage in this column. There are certainly plenty of mods for the game, and not just based in the SW universe. I do appreciate that the RPS fanbase isn’t interested in many of them though, as they do tend to be a bit fanwanky sometimes.

    • Urthman says:

      They don’t actually have to release anything. Just a rough time frame would be nice.

      Nice for you, maybe. But I can’t think of any incentive for the Black Mesa team to make any public guesses about when they will be done. No matter how long it takes they’ll get tons of attention when they release. Announcing a schedule doesn’t help them any if they’re right and just generates ill will if they’re wrong.

      If I were a dev team who had missed a publicly-announced schedule once already, I’d just keep my mouth shut until it was actually done.

    • Rich says:

      Yeah Urthman, I see your point.
      If their silence means they just don’t know yet, then fine I guess. It’s a pain, but there it is.
      If they do know though, I hope they’d let us all know too.

      When it comes to Valve though, repeatedly missed deadlines is definitely preferable to hearing absolutely nothing interspersed with crazy yelps from the HL3 believers.

    • Cymelion says:

      I believe even though they’re not admitting it – Valve have made an agreement with the makers of Black Mesa and will be releasing it with or just prior to Half Life 2 Episode 3.

      Valve is pinning hopes that with Black Mesa being released just prior or with episode 3 then it will lessen the realisation of all gamers that Episode 3 no matter how good will never have been worth the wait.

  2. Turin Turambar says:

    There is a list with all the missions released for the Dark Mod. Here
    link to

    • Fabian says:

      Is the Drk Mod worth installing? Are there enough missions of decent quality. I’ ve never seen anyone expressing his opinion.

    • Jock says:

      I can vouch for the quality of the missions. Most I have played are very well made. I don’t think I’ve come across a single mission that I didn’t actually like. In fact, I daresay that there are a few which quality are on par with LGS’ craftsmanship.

    • Fabian says:

      Could you name some of your most liked missions?

  3. Navagon says:

    Dear Esther has to be my second most anticipated mod after Open Outcast. Both are looking incredible right now.

  4. MINERVA says:

    I am not here for what reason?

  5. Caleb367 says:

    Besides the usual bunch of HL2 mods, there’s been a pretty huge update on Darthmod Ultimate Commander for Empire: Total War.
    Can’t remember if this has been already posted, but go check the 1.9 release for Dune mod for Civilization IV (which in my humble opinion is rapidly approaching Fall From Heaven levels of awesomeness).

    (on an unrelated note, anyone here waiting for the Sins of a Solar Empire mod called Dawn of Victory? I’m honestly drooling in advance XD)

  6. Wilson says:

    Probably the biggest thing about the new Eastern Front release is that (apart from a new version of the British faction, not a replacement but an optional way to play them) is that they’ve solved the bug where new teams (e.g. the Russians) could not recrew weapons like AT guns or mortars. The mod is excellent and very well supported, it deserves to be successful.

  7. Spacewalk says:

    Massive GZDoom powered map Dawn of Reality got released (you’ll be needing that SVN then). It needs a system with a lot of grunt but it looks a treat.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      This looks staggeringly good, considering the engine it’s using! Far, far more interesting than any of the other releases mentioned here. Randy and Graf have done sterling work on the ZDoom engine, and it’s ease of modding means that people STILL pump out tons of maps for the game. I don’t think a year has gone by, for me, since maybe 1998 that I haven’t played at least ONE Doom level.

  8. Matt says:

    That Mod Hall of Fame is pretty barren. I can think of several Quake mods alone that deserve a place in there.

  9. TychoCelchuuu says:

    That dinosaur thing looks fantastic.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      Yeah. If it isn’t a real mod, let’s hope the guy does make one sometime soon.

  10. Urthman says:

    Anyone tried the Blue Portals mod?

    link to

  11. rei says:

    I really need to get Doom 3 so I can play the Dark Mod already.

  12. dragon_hunter21 says:

    Wow, nostalgia. Halo:CE was the very fist shooter I ever played. I still remember trying to calm down during the mission where you have to go underground to find the way to the control room, in the room after the two hunters. I tried stealthing my way through and panicked halfway through.

    Cripes, now I have to dig out the disc again.