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Ivan’s Secrets To Leave Source Engine, Move To CryEngine, And Possibly Go Commercial

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If you’re big into Source modding, then you’ve probably already heard about Ivan’s Secrets, a very promising Source mod built on the Alien Swarm engine. Not only have they got some incredible technology on their hands (including an unbelievable real-time global lighting system that’s miles beyond anything Valve’s ever pulled off), but they’ve also got some very interesting gameplay (And there’s even coop!), by the looks of it. And it’s been in development since mid-2008. But… unfortunately, it seems like most of that might be about to change, because the mod is moving to CryEngine, and, quite possibly, going commercial.

Ivan’s Secrets To Leave Source Engine, Move To CryEngine, And Possibly Go Commercial

PlanetPhillip originally revealed this as a world exclusive in a post on the site – the post was actually quite lengthy, and was more of an editorial in certain aspects. Very interesting – do check it out. Sadly, we don’t know too much about this: all we know is that one of the mod’s lead devs, Jamie, told Phillip the mod was moving to the CryEngine, and might even go retail. Evidently, he gave Phillip permission to go public, but there has been no official announcement from the dev team, although comments from the developers seem to indicate this is, in fact, the case.

Well, what can I say? It’s a terrible shame, isn’t it? I respect the devs’ right to demand at least a bit of compensation for all that they’ve done so far (especially since they’ve done such terrific work), and I realize they don’t owe us anything. But isn’t it a bit unfair that they’ve essentially built the Ivan’s Secrets name (that includes its fame and its fanbase) through promises of a FREE Source mod, and now they’re going to do exactly the opposite? What about the fans that made the mod as popular and beloved as it is (over 2000 watchers on ModDB)?

Just look at the guys developing Black Mesa. They’ve been working on their mod since late 2004. Almost an entire decade. Yet they haven’t moved away from Source, and they’ve stated numerous times that the mod is and will always be a FREE mod. They don’t owe their fans (i.e. all of us) anything either, do they? And they’re still working on it as we speak, and they may very well release this year. And the same principle goes for the numerous other mods that remain free, to this day. What if every modder suddenly decided that he/she deserves a bit of compensation? What if everyone decided to go commercial?

There’s also the fact that moving to a new engine means most of the stuff they’ve created might become completely obsolete. Frankly, such an overhaul might even kill the mod. Let’s not forget that it was the “scrap everything and start over” design mindset that doomed Duke Nukem Forever to a decade and a half in development hell… and we all know how that ended. And how will the mod continue to be relevant when its incredible graphics as a Source mod, become mundane on the CryEngine? Its open-ended, non-linear gameplay might also end up being rather unimpressive as a CryEngine release.

Apparently the Source engine’s problematic and antiquated nature might also be one of the causes for the move. And I understand that completely: I’ve had first-hand experience with all that. But surely at some point between mid-2008 and early 2012, someone on the dev team would have realized that the Source engine just doesn’t support open-world RPG’s. And maybe this move would have been done far earlier, and it wouldn’t have been so abrupt.

Don’t get me wrong – I love these guys and their work, and I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. Maybe a move to the far more capable CryEngine will bring us a better title in the end. Hell, I’ll probably be buying Ivan’s Secrets on the day it comes out, no discussion! But remember that just as they don’t owe us anything, neither do we owe them anything – we needn’t be afraid to express our concerns and our worries.


  1. •Their mod team is capable of it * , but it also lets down many fans who want see the mod push the limits of Source engine.
    Going indie in my opinion is wonderful as long as you stick with the original ideas people.
    *(not the case for the Raindrop Dev-Team)

    •I still think Source Modding is alive and kicking, hell.. Even if GoldSource modding is still going with some seriously talented people (Cry of Fear).
    And if Ivan’s secrets hadn’t leave Source engine it could be an open-world fps/rpg like EYE:Divine Cybermancy.

  2. The problem with moving the mod to the Cryengine is that players will suffer a bit.

    Cryengine might be easier to work with, but it’s terribly optimized.

  3. I believe the reason they are moving over to CryEngine is because, while Source is able to do what it needs to, to get the job done, CryEngine can do all that plus more. Maybe it’s an easier set of tools to deal with. In fact, they ARE an easier set of tools to deal with. Maybe they’d rather not have that stale Source feeling to their mod/game.

    While it would be a technological achievement to complete the game on Source, it would be best to finish it, with ease, on CryEngine. They could easily remake their levels in less than half the time. I cannot be the only one who is glad they are turning it into a CryEngine game. Would you rather struggle countless hours to make something look great in source, or easily duplicate the same in CryEngine in half the time?

  4. agreed, they are being quite unfair. Source engine may not be the best engine, but it sure as hell is the most flexible one. Quite a shame..

  5. “Just look at the guys developing Black Mesa. They’ve been working on their mod since late 2004.”

    Really Vic? They’ve been working on their mod for a decade? Give me a break. BMS is the worst example to use. Let’s not compare something like Ivans Secrets to BMS, let’s compare it something like… I dunno Age of Chiv. The AoC team worked on that mod almost exclusively until recently when AFTER releasing countless source versions they decided to go retail. This is what Ivans Secrets should have done.

    I’m really sad to see Ivans Secrets to go. I’ve mentioned it this week on Podcast 17. We’ve seen many mods come and go from the source engine, but Ivans Secrets is a real blow. This mod stood for something, it showed that the source engine was still great… it said “Hey look what source can still do”. Ivans was an excellent poster child for source and now that it’s moving to CryEngine I am saddened to say that it will never receive that sort of attention again. When Ivans Secrets does something fantastic on the source engine the viewers say… WOW!! Cool look at what he did with a super old engine! When Ivans Secrets does something on CryEngine people will say “So what? Countless mods have done this before.” I understand that cryengine is easier to deal with, and normally I don’t blame developers from jumping ship, but in this case I think it’s a terrible idea.

    • No, not a whole decade – almost a decade. You’re proposing that I should compare Ivan’s Secrets to Age of Chivalry… but you actually admit it’s not the same case: “This is what Ivan’s Secrets should have done”. Moreover, I’m not actually comparing Ivan to BMS – I’m simply using BMS as an outside example to illustrate something else entirely.

      Other than that, I completely agree with you, and Age of Chivalry should have been the example they strived for.

    • Does Ivan’s Secrets owe it to the engine or to the community to stick through to the end with a limited toolset? I don’t know if I really agree with that. As the engine has started to show its age over the last few years, the community has started to adopt it as a sandbox where developers can prototype the basic mechanics of a game, tune/tweak it, and then move that work over to a new thing which works better and actually allows them to make some dough off of it. Would we like to see them stay? Sure! But we’d also like them to work with something that functioned properly and allowed for the dough to be had.

      And just because rpg-y stuff has been done on other engines does not necessarily mean that everyone will look at this new property and turn their noses up at it. That’s a real possibility, sure, but if there’s enough that the team brings to the table which other teams and games do not, then I don’t see how they couldn’t find success (for some given definition of success). And, from what I’ve seen of the tone of the game, I’m not convinced they have a problem there.

      • It doesn’t matter whether they owe it to the engine or the community – they have been developing this for nearly 4 years. Someone WOULD have realized Source isn’t the way to go. And as William said, so much of the game’s appeal was that this was a fresh, innovative Source experience. That’s why it attracted so many fans – because no one had ever seen anything like it.
        On CryEngine, there’s no denying that the games’ graphics and possibly, its open-world gameplay, will be considered unimpressive.

  6. Fairly certain Valve would rain down on BMS if they tried to move away from Source.

    Not sure how I feel about this. I can see why they’re tired of spending time work with Source. Its certainly not joy.

  7. And also, there’s the example of mods like Dear Esther.
    While striving for a commercial release now, they have stuck with the engine, and had already released a free source mod.

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