I can’t believe the day has actually arrived. Version 1.0 of the fan-made Half-Life 1 remake Black Mesa is released. You can play the game all the way to the end! It has been a long… long… long… long… long… time coming but I have to say it was worth the wait. The project started back in 2004, and I first posted about it here back in 2008 when they dropped a pretty awesome trailer. As I wrote at the time:
Black Mesa, which began in November 2004, was born of the discontent fans experienced when playing Half-Life: Source. When looking at the living environment Valve created with Half-Life 2 using the Source engine, the original game fell far short of what many players thought could be done with the software. Half-Life Source was basically a straight port, except for improved water and lighting effects. According to the developers, “Black Mesa: Source was built and founded on the principle that Half-Life: Source did not do the original title enough credit…[Black Mesa] set out to reconstruct the original title, giving it new environments, models, and abilities.”
I made a follow-up post about the game in 2009 when I commented about the delays:
The mod was previously scheduled for a 2009 release, but it appears that it is going to be delayed. This isn’t the first time that it has failed to meet deadlines, but the game looks so good that I honestly don’t care when it comes out, just that it does come out.
Black Mesa: Source, the Half-Life 1 remake, has been released. Well, sort of. The release today includes their re-envisioning of Half-Life all the way up to the Lambda Core. The Black Mesa: Source team believes this is a great way to provide a complete-feeling 8-10 hour experience with a solid ending, make their fans happy and help them make the best overall game possible. They are still working hard on Xen and BMDM.
I remember playing it at the time and being absolutely impressed with how they re-imagined the Half-Life environments. The game was pretty buggy, and the mod crashed a lot, but it was still a lot of fun. Since that 2012 release, they have been fixing bugs, adding engine features, updating AI, polishing, and tweaking the game as well as working on the final Xen levels. Xen in the original Half-Life is generally viewed as the weakest part of the game (and not very good at all in my opinion). So I am not surprised that they reworked it significantly and that it took a long time to get done. Still, 15 years is a really long time!
A recent YouTube documentary (embedded below) on the history of this game reminded me just how awesome it was. While its not my all-time favorite RTS game, its certainly up there, and I now have a strong desire to replay the campaign. Luckily the game is available digitally over at GOG. If you never played World in Conflict before you should check it out. The game focuses on unit tactics. There is no base building or resource gathering. You have a set amount of credits to purchase units that are air dropped into battle, and when units die their cost is recycled back into your pool so you can buy more units. There is a lot more to it, of course, including a pretty unique class based multiplayer setup.
This is the 1st livestream from the “new” studio showing off some of what is going to be in their first big content patch.
Mobilize your Outfit and gear up for deployment, soldiers, Escalation is inbound and the war for Auraxis will be forever changed!
Camaraderie, teamplay, and scale are the bedrock principles PlanetSide 2 is built upon, and the new Escalation game update aims to reinforce all three of them. This massive game update introduces new content for players of all levels, creates a deeper experience for our most dedicated player communities, and adds strategic depth and communal goals to PlanetSide 2 gameplay.
Escalation is scheduled to launch on PC live servers on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. It will be available TOMORROW, Friday February 7, at 2:00 PM PST to play on the Public Test Server. Start patching up Test now, Auraxians!
Things were not looking good in the world of Planetside 2 last year after the failure of Planetside Arena and the layoffs in October that cost almost all of the remaining Planetside 2 developers their jobs. It looked like the Planetside 2 team was down to maybe two or three people. I was ready to write off the game as dying with no future.
But then last month Daybreak announced that they were restructuring the studio around their key franchises:
SAN DIEGO, CA – Jan. 21, 2020 – Daybreak Games today announced its “Franchise First” initiative in the form of a business structure that establishes three new individual creative franchise studios — Dimensional Ink Games, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games. Building on the success of the teams that introduced genre-defining games and franchises including DC Universe™ Online, EverQuest® and PlanetSide®, this business model is the result of a long-term strategy designed to amplify the existing franchises while enabling each studio to further foster its unique identity, community and culture.
By allowing the identities of each of these studios to thrive under their individual studios, each team will have the flexibility to continue their work developing current and upcoming games, recruiting new talent and building upon the legacy of their respective franchises.
Dimensional Ink Games in Austin develops and operates DC Universe Online, the one-of-a kind DC Super Hero-based MMORPG enjoyed by millions across PC and consoles. Dimensional Ink will be led by Jack Emmert, the mastermind behind City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter. The studio will continue to support DCUO while developing its next high-profile action MMO project starting in 2020.
“Crafting iconic MMORPG experiences has always been Daybreak’s lifeblood,” said Emmert. “We intend to continue that legacy and grow Dimensional Ink, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games into the future. Whether it’s DC Universe Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2 or our future projects, we’ll be giving players their ideal fantasy game experiences for years to come.”
Darkpaw Games will be focusing on EverQuest, one of the most legendary MMORPG IPs recognized worldwide. Holly Longdale will continue to lead the studio as its Executive Producer. Darkpaw’s mission is to continue to expand upon the unique and amazing fantasy adventure that is EverQuest and EverQuest II and develop the next innovation for the franchise.
Rogue Planet Games, the studio branch in San Diego that broke new ground in the massively multiplayer first-person shooter genre with PlanetSide and Planetside 2, will be working to craft even more new and unique experiences in the space under Executive Producer Andy Sites at the helm. The team is looking to develop its next genre-defining experience for fans of shooters under its new banner.
In a “Producer’s Letter” on the Planetside 2 website, Andy Sites wrote:
Welcome to the genesis of Rogue Planet Games!
By definition, a “rogue planet” is a celestial object that’s not gravitationally bound to any star or its origin. This perfectly illustrates our philosophy as a team and defines the games we create – we are unbound by convention, exploring new frontiers of creativity and always pushing the limits of our imagination to deliver unparalleled experiences for our players!
While the studio may be new, the PlanetSide franchise has been going strong for 17 years. As we begin this new chapter, we’ve taken several steps to prepare for an exciting future!
Rogue Planet Games will focus solely on the PlanetSide franchise and our dedicated community. While Daybreak will continue to act as publisher and provide live operations and infrastructure support, Rogue Planet Games owns the vision of PlanetSide – present and future.
As many of you may have noticed over the past few months with PlanetSide 2, we’ve increased the frequency of our game updates, made an effort to reduce publish times by streamlining deployment processes, addressed lingering live service issues, and stepped up communication with our community.
One aspect of the new studio we’re most excited about is bringing our players into the fold like never before. As Rogue Planet Games, we view ourselves as an indie studio that values our community in the highest regard. We want to bring you into our day-to-day development processes more across all disciplines – programming, character and environment art creation, systems and content design, and any general nonsense that happens on a given day. We can’t wait to start sharing more with you across our various social channels!
Rest assured, the future of PlanetSide is very much at the top of mind here, and the expectations for a true sequel are, as expected, astronomical. The establishment of Rogue Planet Games provides a runway and opportunity for us to deliver our vision for PlanetSide 3, but that discussion will happen in due time. Until then, we have a lot of great stuff in store for PlanetSide 2!
On behalf of the entire Rogue Planet team, THANK YOU! We look forward to having you join us on our journey!
We define our future. We are Rogue Planet Games!
Andy “IronSites” Sites
Head of Rogue Planet Games
Executive Producer, PlanetSide Franchise
So it sounds like Planetside 2 has a fairly significant development team again, with all of those people that were working on PS: Arena now working on Planetside 2. Thats great news, but it is a real shame that this couldn’t have happened before the layoffs to the Planetside 2 team back in October. They lost a lot of really great people who were very familiar with the game, and I was fairly impressed with what they were able to get done with the extremely limited resources they had available to them at the time.
Still, I am actually excited about the future for this franchise again which is something I have not been able to say for quite a while. If you have never played Planetside 2, check it out. Its completely free to play:
Wow! This game look amazing. Its going to be a long wait until March. I know a lot of people are disappointed that this is not Half-Life 3, but I am just happy to have another game in this universe. To all of you that are upset that this is a VR only title, sorry but the future is coming whether you are ready for it or not. I am super excited to have a game of this quality to play on my Rift.
Here is the trailer:
Check out the interview below for some additional details:
Natural Selection 2 was released in 2012. It is nearly 7 years later and the game is still getting substantial updates. This update contains a remake of a Natural Selection 1 map called “ORIGIN”, tons of balance changes, dropping DirectX 9 in favor for DirectX 11, new Temporal Anti-Aliasing options, and various other tweaks and optimizations. The full list of patch notes can be found here. If you are not familiar with Natural Selection 2, check out some gameplay videos here.