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Mod News: Playing Catch Up

Because I was tragically born without a brain, I neglected to include two exciting pieces of Half-Life 2 mod news last week. Whatever could they be? Have a read below the jump to get caught up, as well as survey the most interesting mod-related happenings of the past seven days.

Firstly, even though Radiator 1-3 isn't out yet and doesn't look like emerging any time soon, Radiator 2-1 is already being teased. Issue 1 will be called Flatlander Woman, and is a "film noir love story among Byzantine mosaics in Brooklyn; a sophisticated inquiry into the nature of identity." Also, this one's a first-person shooter, by the looks of it. Curious.

Next! It's Dear Esther. What else? There are some astonishing new screenshots available, showcasing the final section of the mod - which is the bit that wasn't available when I played this staggering rebuild. What I found most impressive was how much the improved visuals added to the world Dear Esther conjures up. It's not just prettier. The game world has a great deal more soul than ever before.

(And do you know what else I just noticed? "TBA" has become "December 2010" on its ModDB page ETA.)

Right, on with this week's news, then. Doom 3 mod Hexen: Edge of Chaos is gearing up to a demo release. This is a first-person swords-and-sorcery affair based primarily on the first Hexen game, and it's looking rather authentic. Here's some in-game footage. The demo releases tomorrow.

Blue Portals - unsurprisingly a Portal Mod - is out soon. I've been tracking this one for a while, particularly enjoying its subtly different colour pallete and grimier visual motifs. Release date is November 30th, and to get us all giddy, there's a collection of new screenshots and a release trailer.

Finally, there's been a Traction Wars update. This is a Crysis Wars mod set in the Second World War, aiming to create a historically accurate and realistic play environment. There's a bit of summary here, along with a couple of new screenshots. I especially like this one:

I remember when all this was fields.

I was going to say that I haven't found anything remotely interesting this week in terms of new releases. Then, pretty much right now, The Worry of Newport: Part 1 was released. It's a Crysis mod, dubbed a "horror mystery", and while I haven't played it yet it sounds quite a bit like Dear Esther. No shooting, no puzzling: just a story which you explore fluidly in this place. It seems very interesting indeed. Must dig out Crysis and give this a whirl.

Empires 2.29 has been released. This patch especially addresses problems with the strategy side of this RTS/FPS hybrid for Half-Life 2, improving balance via a rethink of the commander's research tree. A few new maps are available as well. Here's a big list of everything that's changed.

Meanwhile, Edain Mod - for Battle for Middle Earth II: Rise of the Witch King - has hit version 3.6. It's "one of the most massive" updates they've "ever created," so say its developers. There's even a whole campaign included, named The War of Dwarves and Orcs. Sounds good, no? Well, it seems it is - but only if you speak German. There's no localised version yet available. That's a point, actually: I wonder how many RPS readers this doesn't exclude. Who's a bit multilingual?

This is pretty much essential reading for anyone interested in serious mod development, perhaps with the view to jump over into the full-blown game dev world. Team Chivalry have written up a huge post-mortem of HL2 mod Age of Chivalry, which they're laying to rest three years after its release to start work on a new, commercial project. These are always fascinating things to read, but I particularly like the honesty running through the heart of this one. Go read it now - and why not grab the 'B-sides'-esque map pack that's just been released as well?

'Til next week.

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Lewis Denby