So it’s been a little too long since our last instalment of In Development. Let’s rectify that, shall we?
Okay – just in case you may have forgotten (or didn’t care to click the link posted in the first sentence), this series focuses on Source community mods and map packs that are currently in development, but have no official release date or are not set to release for quite some time. We are here to help shine a little spotlight on these titles to help them get the attention they deserve. So to keep the formalities to a minimum, let’s get straight into it.
Half-Life: Echoes … REALLY Committed to the Immersion
From the moment you first set eyes on the ModDb page, you can tell that Half-Life: Echoes is set to pay an extensive amount of attention to detail.
The description isn’t really a description at all. It’s a G-Man-esque evaluation form similar to the beginning of Half-Life, depicting an estimate of the project’s development status. It’s appearance is crude, but actually fits in with the style of the old 90’s CRT computer monitors that are littered throughout Black Mesa. It does take place in Black Mesa after all. Again, attention to detail.
Speaking of detail, one thing that’s evident is just how good these maps look! Some of the lighting is a bit dark in certain areas with a simplistic color palate (that will vary more in later sections of the game), but the level geometry, light maps, prop placement/usage and setup of scripted sequences is nothing short of awesome.
The gameplay is certainly what will make or break this project, of course as it would with any game. But if the designer’s sense of pacing is as good as their eye for aesthetic, chances are good that this will deliver on a pleasant revisit to the crippled, alien ridden wasteland that is Detroit…..I mean Black Mesa.
Backstock … Time to Show Portal 2 Some Love
This mod is actually an interesting one to look at for sure. Not for pretty maps or amazing gameplay mechanics. In fact there isn’t a lot of info on that at all at the moment. What’s interesting is just how much it promises. AiCreation is proclaiming that Backstock will be a heavily story-driven mod that is longer than Portal 2, introduces a variety of new mechaincs and “testing elements”, and make us “think in ways you never would have before.” That’s a pretty tall order if you ask me.
Admittedly, I’d normally look at this kind of description and immediately think the authors have bitten off a little more than they could chew. Especially considering they pulled a mulligan recently and completely restructured their development plan and organization. However, the way they’ve reorganized themselves seems to show that they have learned from a number of mistakes in their development process that could actually make things turn out for the better. When you see a team actually set out a plan to both maintain communication between colleagues and structure the pacing of the game, it can actually be quite encouraging.
The screenshots indicate that they seem to have some people that are fairly familiar with Hammer. My only concern is that they’re following Portal 2’s map design a little too well (i.e. too few ‘portalable’ surfaces make it somewhat easy to know where to place the portal). Certainly worth keeping an eye on. I hope the developers manage to reach the bar that they’ve set for themselves.
The Core … ‘Pretty’ Seems to Be a Theme for This Week.
It’s always fun returning to Black Mesa, again, right? Of course it is! Just because we’ve already brought it up once in this article doesn’t mean we can’t show off yet another retelling of the events of the Resonance Cascade! But in all seriousness, this one is a very nice looking take on the tragic incident.
The story of The Core is pretty much a cut and dry reinterpretation of the events of Half-Life from the perspective of a different set of eyes. In this instance, those eyes belong to Maurice Andrews, an engineer at Black Mesa. Nothing too dissimilar from a huge number of other Half-Life mods that have been released over the years.
The gameplay sounds like it will remain unchanged from the base game: intense combat, intricate puzzles, the works. But an overwhelming number of textures have been added to the game. The environments are gorgeous and many of them are quite, as the devs puts it, “ambitious”.
So even though this mod “sounds” like it might play similarly to many others out there (though I have a feeling it may not), there’s plenty of interesting stuff to still check out here. The Core’s fresh coat of paint and quality level design are enough alone to make this project a must-have on your ModDb watch list.
Portal Stories: Mel … Damn This Mod Looks Slick
I won’t lie, the trailer – as simple and vague as it is – captivated me. Probably because the first-person animations are top-notch. But that’s not surprising as the team behind this is enough to make you interested in this mod: MissStabby (known for projects like the Portal 2 Marriage Proposal Map, Dr. Doozer (1187, Cry of Fear, Underhell), Harry101UK (Lil Guardian Pyro – winner of 2013 Saxxy’s) just to name a few!
That’s already a pretty impressive group of talented folks, and the footage and screenshots certainly show a fair amount of high quality work. But, I don’t want to bore you with another paragraph of first impressions and minor details.
Just watch this video, check out their (successful) Greenlight page and their ModDb, and join the rest of us who would very much like to play this in the new year. Oh and it will be free on Steam. Which is a nice change of pace to the recent trend of Source mods being monetized. But enough shameless self-plugging, just watch this video.