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Mod News: School's Out

This week has been an unusually quiet one within the mod community, with very few developers churning out any hot and spicy news. However, one story has dominated the headlines, not just in the mod community, and not even just within the gaming press. What is it? If you’ve been vaguely tuned into this interesting tale, you’ll probably already have guessed. Either way, read on for all the deets.

NEWS
So yeah, the news dominating the mod scene this week is that of School Shooter: North American Tour 2012. You might have heard of this before. It first made headlines towards the end of last year: a Half-Life 2 mod in which you play as a gunman in an American high school. Hmm.

This week, it came to the attention of some of the more mainstream media, causing something of an uproar. And now, in a bold move, ModDB has chosen to remove it from its website.

The site has explained and defended its decision, saying the admins had received truckloads of abusive emails after several people had assumed they were behind the mod. Others, though, have accused ModDB of crumbling under pressure instead of sticking to its guns. As it were.

I’m not sure where exactly I stand on this. It’s an interesting one.

Yesterday, two of the mod’s devs spoke to BeefJack about their intentions. One of them comes across as fairly reasonable. The other, frankly, seems to me like a bit of a nutter. Luke Stratford, who conducted the interview, assures me that both were very aimiable and seemed genuine in their intentions. But it’s a very interesting one to watch as it unfolds. My guess? It probably isn’t going to be very good. But it’s certainly got people’s attention.

What else? Well, another HL2 mod, the rather good looking Off Limits, has reached closed beta phase. Invites are going out through Desura, and you can sign up by leaving a comment here. There are 250 places, and as I write there appear to be a good 60 or so left. Although I am writing this yesterday, because I am a time-travelling rogue.

There’s also lots of new media for Stargate – Empire at War: Pegasus. It’s a mod for Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption. Writing those two names used up a good chunk of my word count, so I’ll make this snappy: it’s a mod that replaces every Star Wars reference and asset with a Stargate one. An odd concept, but fair play. Check out the rather pretty new things here.

RELEASES
Another Stalker graphical update has been released. Absolute Nature 2 is a mod for Clear Sky which adds some delightful new textures where, before, they weren’t quite so delightful. It also allows you to choose a unique style for each are in the game, from a list of five. So if you want – say – the swamps to be dry and autumnal, you can make them be just that. Lovely! You can grab it from ModDB.

UPDATES
Age of Empires III mod The Forgotten Empires has released a new version after hundreds of emailers complained about various bugs. This 1.32 patch purports to fix them. There’s a full changelog here. I love reading changelogs out of context. Check this out, for example: “Italians can’t gather with animals at their tradecentres any longer.” Those pesky Italians.

Also, Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour mod C&C Shockwave is finished. There have been several iterations of this already, but with this release the team has deemed the mod complete, and won’t be working on it any longer. The aim of the mod, according to the devs, is to “make Zero Hour a more interesting game with more diversity between the generals, making you think twice before you select a certain general, and overall provide more choices, diversity, and strategic freedom than in Zero Hour – while keeping the spirit and design direction of the original Generals game and storyline.” Have they succeeded? Grab the mod from here to find out.

Please do email me (click on my name atop this post to do so) if you spot anything interesting in the next seven days. In the last few weeks, all that has landed in my RPS inbox is the repeated suggestion I might like to make my penis larger. If you must tell me that, try lobbing some mod news in there too. It’s what I’ve been saying to my girlfriend for, like, ages…

‘Til next week!

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Lewis Denby

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