Many moons ago, you might remember an article we posted about how Valve had given the Black Mesa team (now known as the Crowbar Collective) the opportunity to sell their mod as a full retail product. Despite announcing that a Source SDK 2013 version of Black Mesa would also be available for free, the announcement was met with mixed criticism. There was an overwhelming amount of support for the team, but there were a number of people who were concerned with what ‘ethical’ implications this choice to go retail might have. Should community made content that has always been available for free suddenly be given the chance to be monetized?
Articles tagged with 'Dear Esther'
The year is 1998. A previously unknown group of game developers known as Valve Software has just released Half-Life. Of course it becomes an instant hit, entertaining a generation of gamers worldwide. But beyond that, buried away on the CD-ROM inside that ridiculously big cardboard game box is a program called “Worldcraft”. According to a note at the back of the instruction manual (remember those?) this program would allow fans to “create a replica of their garage or a fantastic alien world”. And create they did. With this tool, now known as Hammer, at their disposal, the possibilities have been almost endless. From Counter-Strike to Ricochet, from Black Mesa to deep space to World War II France, the community created a tidal wave of new adventures, far beyond what anyone might have anticipated. Fifteen years later, we show no sign of stopping.
At their core, video games are essentially entertainment - designed to be fun. They accomplish these two objectives through all sorts of ways, within the various genres of the gaming world. Most of the games we play are, ostensibly, mere entertainment – created to be fun, enthralling and, perhaps, little else beyond that. But recently, many have contemplated and whether or not video games truly are art. But this debate goes beyond gaming itself: for instance, can we classify the Roundhay Garden Scene as art? While we’re at that, can we classify the Mona Lisa as entertainment? Is all entertainment actually art, or is all art somehow entertainment? It’s a multifaceted argument that might be going on for a very long while. I, personally, am of the conviction that, video games are art. Of course, there are some games that simultaneously represent both entertainment and art (Portal 1, Half-Life 2). There are also some games that lead more towards the art side, but they still maintain the basic framework of a video game. If they didn’t, we’d have a tough time calling them video games.
But in comes something that might shake up the way we look at video games. That something is Dear Esther. Originally designed as a free HL2 mod in 2008, Dear Esther was a terrific, if flawed experiment regarding interactive, non-linear storytelling conveyed through a video game. Almost 4 years later, the same team, plus one master level designer, have returned to remake and reimagine Dear Esther, almost from the ground up, as a independent Source game. That which was primitive is now beautiful, and a whole new audience could be exposed to this interesting creation. But is it more than just an experiment, or, perhaps, is it more than just a video game? Well, read on to find out!