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.
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.