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Mod News: The Expanding Mod-o-Sphere

Yeah, we probably need a new pic. Why not make one? 600x200 to contact@rockpapershotgun.com please!

It’s been a week of people announcing that it will be possible to make mods for things in the future. We might not be easily able to mod the below games for now, but it’s looking like the next few months will see some exciting new additions to the moddable titlesphere. You want to know which games, don’t you? Unless you already know. You might. But read on anyway, for all the latest mod-related gubbins. This week: Minecraft, Crysis 2, HL2 meets Shock 2, STALKER, the Witcher and… Wolfenstein 3D.
NEWS

So, mods are coming to Minecraft. Notch announced that we’ll have to pay a small amount for the privilege of being able to make mods, but then everyone shouted at him, so he changed his mind. (I continue to be intrigued by how angry people get with Notch, one of the most user-focused game developers I’ve ever come across, every time he tries to do something slightly different from expectations.) A lovely idea, though, is that Mojang will be looking for the best mods, licensing them, and releasing them as commercial products. A great way for amateur devs to make a bit of cash? Perhaps so.

Meanwhile, at the slightly less indie end of the gaming spectrum, it’s been revealed by community manager Josh Olin that Call of Duty: Black Ops is to see an SDK release next month. It had previously been suggested that ‘Blops would get mod tools, but there had been no word for a while, and we know that Modern Warfare 2 never got any. So this is probably good news.

And Crytek have been all over the mod-related reveals, too, announcing that Crysis 2 will be moddable from “early summer”. They’ll also be launching a full SDK later in the year, which will support full indie development. Seems like Crytek have taken a leaf out of Epic’s book, saying they’ll offer “an innovative low cost licensing model” should you wish to release your game commercially. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes: straying away from what is strictly my remit for a second, and quickly jumping into an indie games point, this means what is probably the most powerful game engine in the world is going to be available for tiny developers to utilise. Wonderful news.

There has actually been some news released by mod teams themselves, too. Firstly there’s these new screenshots of The Gate 2, a mod that looks better every time I see it. Mainly because the media releases are getting better each time they happen. This Half-Life 2 single-player mod now has something approaching its own style, by the looks of things. I’m looking forward to playing it when it’s released in The Future.

Talking of things having a visual style, do you want to see a Half-Life 2 mod looking almost exactly like System Shock 2?

I found that really interesting. It’s a HL2:Ep1 mod called NovaCor: The Fringe, “an exciting sci-fi adventure with a blend of FPS combat and puzzle solving.” So, not quite the same central mechanics as Shock 2, then, but I was genuinely struck by how similar the visual style is.

Moving on once more, it’s probably worth quickly talking about Way of the Wolf, the Call of Pripyat total conversion that’s lookin’ pretty rockin’. In a new news update, the team has released a trio of new screenshots, as well as a bunch of new info about what’s been going on behind the scenes. I like this sort of open development. More please.

RELEASES

Do you remember just over a year ago, when RPS accidentally walked into a portal that flung them back to the early ’90s? I think it’s happened again, because I’m about to report on the release of a Wolfenstein 3D mod called Unsung. It’s a mod set in the trench-ridden horror of the Great War, and I’m actually impressed with the look of this, even though it’s obviously all pixellated and muddy.

But the big release this week is an absolutely huge mod for The Witcher, which I really want to play, and so am heartbroken that I returned my copy to its rightful owner after an admittedly ludicrous period of time. It’s called And A Curse, And Love, And Betrayal, which is a lovely name for a thing. Three years in the making, And A Curse… offers up to 12 hours of play time, with a branching central narrative and a whole heap of side quests. A massive achievement for the team. Play it and tell me what I’m missing out on.

UPDATES

Temple of Elemental Evil modpack Circle of Eight has received some updates this week, pushing it up to version 6.0.0. There’s a big list of tweaks on ModDB, far too many to detail here. An absolutely huge update, so presumably well worth getting if you’re a Circle of Eight fan, as I seem to remember a couple of people were last time I posted about it.

And Star Trek: Armada II mod Fleet Operations has hit version 3.2.0. Four months in development, this patch focuses mainly on balancing, but also adds new art assets and suchlike. Grab it, as you might have guessed, on ModDB.

That’s all for now. ‘Til next time, friendly NPCs.

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