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Mod News: Dear Me

The mod community can be interesting at times. When a mod goes commercial, snapped up by a major digital distributer for a full release, you’d think its original fans would be delighted. This, it would seem, is not necessarily the case. To what extent should mods be anti-commercial? Should they be designed with no aims to ‘go pro’ should the opportunity arise? They’re interesting questions. While you think about your answers, have a read of the last week’s most interesting in mod-related gumph.

NEWS

The big news promised last week ended up being revealed a few days early, so you already know about it, but yeah: Dear Esther, huh? It’s going indie. here’s a big interview I did with Dan Pinchbeck, Robert Briscoe and Jessica Curry, a.k.a. the Esther team. It reveals some things.

What’s been equally revealing this week, though, is the reaction over at ModDB.com. I’m plugging my own work again, but I wrote a little bit about that here. Essentially: a lot of people, even those who adored the original mod, are passionately angry at the team’s decision to go commercial. Analysing why is fascinating.

Moving on, though, here’s a wonderful little project: a Half-Life 2 mod called 1Week. That name refers to the development time. The idea was to rope in an online community to all contribute a little bit to the creation of a semi-class-based capture-the-flag mod, to be finished within seven days. You can read daily updates on ModDB, though they didn’t start until day four. And unfortunately, I can’t lob a release link in here, as there’s no download yet, even though the mod has been finished. Next week.

I feel like we’ve gone back to a bit of Half-Life 2 obsession this week, and I don’t like to get too excited about mods too early in development. However, I’m already looking forward to Scintilla, which was revealed the other day. It’s the new project from the developers of Flesh, an exceptional stealth-based survival horror mod that came out a while ago now. This time, say the devs, it’s a more straight-up horror adventure, it’s in the first-person perspective, and there’ll be some combat. But the focus will still be on story, atmosphere and puzzle-solving. Have some more info and a trailer, why don’t you? And some concept art, while we’re at it.

Meanwhile, more news from the Butterfly Prelude, which is the first part of an ambitious-looking Crysis mod. It’s a video of an enemy! But it’s no ordinary enemy. Instead, it’s a particle system, representing something to do with magnetic fields and oh my goodness it sounds a bit like LOST. Hopefully, when it comes out, we won’t be. Here’s the vid.

And finally, here’s some news about Freelancer mod Freeworlds: Tides of War. This is a huge total conversion based in the Star Wars universe, and which – as this week’s update reveals – adds some swanky new effects to the Freelancer engine. Have a read to find out more.

RELEASES

Freespace: Evolution‘s first public version has been released. The idea here, it would seem, is to take Freespace’s action focus and add a layer of calmer, more intricate real-time strategy. It’s a work-in-progress, meaning there are still balancing issues as well as a bunch of incomplete elements, but it is playable, and so far the response has been excellent. Grab it from ModDB.

There’s also a Half-Life 2 single-player mod called CALL IN (their typographical choice – I like to imagine the name is being shouted in my face). And yeah, more Half-Life 2, but I hear this is fairly good, if short. Grab it on ModDB, if you hadn’t already worked that out.

UPDATES

Left 4 Dead 2 mod Dead Before Dawn now has a Director’s Cut. The original mod had a level cut out of it, in order to tighten things up for its final release. This version sees that level thrown back in, polished up, an integrated into the mod proper. There’s some more information and a trailer beyond this link.

There’s also been an update to the Vampire: Bloodlines Clan Quest Mod. This is a lovely little piece of work that not only adds several new quests, but also incorporates a collection of other mods. This new version adds an achievement system, new voice acting and a whole new quest, as well as some bug-fixing. Grab the latest version here.

AND THE REST

Once again, Robert Yang’s blog is worth reading, this time for a nice little analysis of Half-Life 2 mod Comatose. Yang knows his stuff, and it’s interesting to see him pick apart what is an interesting mod in such a detailed yet succinct way. Have a read.

‘Til next week, my pretties.

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Lewis Denby

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