Natural Selection Half-Life Mod Released
November 18, 2002 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Fans of first-person shooter games are flocking to Natural Selection (review 1, review 2), the Marines vs Aliens modification that uses the engine of Half-Life. It is a stunning game and focuses greatly on cooperation with your team (it currently is only playable through network). The designers are still working out balancing the strengths and abilities between human and xenomorph but the anxiety of trying to defend the marine base while the mammoth-sized aliens are battering the door down is a delight to all of us who always wanted to be like Drake, Vasquez and Hicks (and Hudson). Download it here (reg req'd) and find games to join over at Gamespy (their Arcade download makes it super-easy). Note: you do need to have a retail version of Half-Life to play the game.
posted by ao4047 (33 comments total)

 
Since when was this Planet Half-Life?
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:39 AM on November 18, 2002


"Since when was this Planet Half-Life?"

I'm half-tempted to say since about a half-hour ago, but that would be a half-hearted attempt at a joke.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:57 AM on November 18, 2002


Now before everyone else jumps on this post like sheep let me add a positive note.

I've played this game (just finished a match 10 mina ago) and it rocks! It is almost a total new hybrid genre of a game.

It really is revolutionary the way it combines two different genres, First Person Shooters (FPS) and Real Time Strategy (RTS). It just shows that groundbreaking innovation doesn't need to always come from game companies. All you sometimes need is a good idea and a C compiler.

The main strength of this game is that you can not win without teamwork. It's the only video game I know where playing as a team and thinking about a common goal (and not just your own frag ratio) is absolutely vital to win.
posted by PenDevil at 8:02 AM on November 18, 2002


sounds good. I am a recent convert to co-operative games, currently taken by Halo and Conflict Desert Storm.
Look forward to a chance to play this.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:08 AM on November 18, 2002


Not sure what the problem is with posting a link that other users might not have a chance to be exposed to unless they were hardcore gamers. I'm not a big gamer (this is the first time I've played a networked game) but read about the mod and thought it was very intriguing from a game design and game play point of view. Just the artistry involved in any of these mods I find stunning and exciting. And I thought other non-gamer readers might be interested. I'll try and dig up something more Godin-worthy. :-)
posted by ao4047 at 8:12 AM on November 18, 2002


(schisse! - I meant Godwin!)
posted by ao4047 at 8:13 AM on November 18, 2002


It really is revolutionary the way it combines two different genres, First Person Shooters (FPS) and Real Time Strategy (RTS)

I haven't checked it out yet, beyond the reviews, but it does appear to be a remake/extension of the Quake 2 mod Gloom. The FPS/RTS genre mix is a promising one, in fact, its something I took a shot at doing with a Half-Life mod I helped to create back in 98 SI (self-link, I guess -- it was back when I went as "Goldmund" and we handed it off to some folks with more time years ago).

Half-life's staying power as the gaming development platform of the masses continues to amaze.
posted by malphigian at 8:14 AM on November 18, 2002


The only problem I have is the pimping of Gamespy Arcade. Whoever wrote the FPP clearly has not actually used it or is in their employ.

Hoo boy YES do I loves me some spyware infecting my system. I also love a terrible 'service' filled with 12-year-olds shouting about how great it is that they can type the word 'shit' online without anybody spanking them. I love the fact that nothing ever works. I love the constant mandatory interstitial ads inbetween each screen THAT YOU CANNOT CLICK AWAY FROM. I *really* love the constant crashing, the unavailability of any tech support, and the fact that it JUST PLAIN DOES NOT WORK.

Absolutely every serious gamer I know uses All Seeing Eye for a reason - it's simple, it's fast, it works, and it's utterly devoid of ads or the chat inanity of sociopathic 12-year-old fuckwits. "USE GAMESPY!!!" ? Yeah, sure, right after my lobotomy, thanks.
posted by Ryvar at 8:19 AM on November 18, 2002


Serious gamer?
posted by ODiV at 8:33 AM on November 18, 2002


ODiV: Would you similarly object to "Serious Music Lover", "Serious Reader", or the like? Just because you don't take the medium seriously, it doesn't mean others can't be serious about it.

That said, Ryvar was clearly in rant mode, so you need to cut him some slack. He's right, too, All Seeing Eye is the way to go.
posted by malphigian at 8:50 AM on November 18, 2002


Since when was this Planet Half-Life?

Anyone else think that maybe, when he's apart from MeFi, Dark Messiah is really a quiet, unassuming tea-connoisseur who enjoys cucumber sandwiches, Fred Astaire musicals and meetings of his "Positive Attitude Friends" group?

Nah...
posted by Shane at 9:02 AM on November 18, 2002


I was going to do a FPP about Natural Selection, but thought it wouldn't be of widespread appeal, so posted to my own blog. Find it yourself if you're interested, so I don't get told off for self linking :p

As to NS itself, it rules. Of course there is the usual problem of lamers, but if you can get a bunch of people together, its a great way to spend a few hours. I'm still learning - and there is a lot to learn. The two teams are completely different, so you can be great at one and suck at the other. If you own Half Life (and you can't call yourself a gamer if you don't) then you NEED this mod. Only a 6 hour download on my 56k...

Oh and finally - the All Seeing Eye is the ONLY way to go
posted by Orange Goblin at 9:07 AM on November 18, 2002


I have used Gamespy actually (and am not in their employ) - though only for about a week so I haven't yet encountered the support problems and annoyances you detail. Thanks though for the mention of All Seeing Eye - as I said, I'm not a big network gamer - so I'll give this one a whirl and rely on AdAware to help catch the spyware from GameSpy.
posted by ao4047 at 9:13 AM on November 18, 2002


Anyone ever play Battlezone? FPS with RTS doodas. I always thought that Starcraft done FPS style would be great - anyone agree? Time to reinstall that copy of half-life..
posted by Mossy at 9:41 AM on November 18, 2002


I always thought that Starcraft done FPS style would be great - anyone agree?

Well, Blizzard certainly does. See StarCraft: Ghost.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:24 AM on November 18, 2002


I've been debating whether I should download this and fire it up. The true question for me is, does it topple the great Counter-Strike? I dunno if it's worth learning to play, and getting good at, another game...
posted by swank6 at 12:32 PM on November 18, 2002


swank6: NS and CS are not really comparable as they are two different types of games. Granted both are both first person shooters but that's about where the similarities end.
posted by PenDevil at 12:40 PM on November 18, 2002


Oh you dirty ratbastards. I'd given up the Counterstrike ghost almost a year ago when I found that the cheaters had overrun the place. Since then I've blissfully been FPS free...

Now you've pull me back in!
posted by aaronscool at 12:50 PM on November 18, 2002


PC Gamer did a survey a year or so back where they found that most of their readers considered themselves "serious gamers" -- buying perhaps a game every month. But 5% of their readers were "hardcore gamers" -- buying a new game every week. The two groups had completely different interests -- e.g. Quake for the hardcore group, Myst for the "serious" group.

Dang, though. I need to get off this crappy ISP and get some real ping again.
posted by dhartung at 1:01 PM on November 18, 2002


CS will never be overtaken. I myself cannot understand the appeal of it, but there we go. I used to play TFC, but it got dull, with too many idiots. NS was a chance to start again...but unfortunatly the idiots are making their way in..
posted by Orange Goblin at 1:46 PM on November 18, 2002


...but unfortunatly the idiots are making their way in..

I don't see them staying around long.. After all, this game does not keep track of frags for Marines, and there's way too much strategy for a casual gamer.

Anyway, a serious team-based player needs only to go to a semi-private server (xlii.com) to enjoy all of these types of games (CS, GR, AA, NS, etc.) the way they were meant to be played. Truly a great place to play.
posted by eas98 at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2002


malphigian: Would you similarly object to "Serious Music Lover", "Serious Reader", or the like? Just because you don't take the medium seriously, it doesn't mean others can't be serious about it.

Forgot the smiley, sorry. It's just I usually think of seriousness and fun as opposing each other. If you take your music, books, and gaming too seriously, you're probably not having as much fun as you could be. Plus, music, book, and game snobs kind of annoy me and this was sort of a poke at them.

I am looking forward to trying this game out, however.
posted by ODiV at 3:10 PM on November 18, 2002


PC Gamer did a survey a year or so back where they found that most of their readers considered themselves "serious gamers" -- buying perhaps a game every month. But 5% of their readers were "hardcore gamers" -- buying a new game every week. The two groups had completely different interests -- e.g. Quake for the hardcore group, Myst for the "serious" group.

Interesting, dhartung. I'm certainly in the hardcore category by that definition, although I spend a lot more time 3D modeling for games than actually playing them.


Continuing this line of thinking and in response to further comments:
I'm really having trouble believing that even people who term themselves 'serious gamers' would be caught dead playing Myst. It's the Britney Spears of computer gaming - lots of eye candy, but lacking in the brilliance of the art that Deus Ex & Planescape demonstrate. Unfortunately gaming as a medium has a long way to go until strata of taste even begin to appear as in other mediums (Citizen Kane over Freddy Got Fingered, Godspeed You! Black Emperor over Ms. Spears, etc.) Having sampled a very large percentage of 'what's out there' in the last 12 years (playing probably an average of 8 hours every day in that time), Thief 1 and Planescape strike me as the most clear examples of 'high art', but a lot of people would correctly point me to the fact that art definitions are pretty subjective things.
posted by Ryvar at 3:27 PM on November 18, 2002


Just played it for an hour and some. Only played on the marines side so far. This game is pretty complex... fun though.
posted by swank6 at 3:38 PM on November 18, 2002


It's the only video game I know where playing as a team and thinking about a common goal (and not just your own frag ratio) is absolutely vital to win.

i've been playing a team pvp game lately with a team-fortress esque feel (kits) that is HEAVILY geared towards team work. you can't win without it.

it's neverwinter nights... the neverwinter tactics module. it's a 3rd person capture the "gold" team game... set in the D&D world. rangers and paladins and all that other dorky stuff.
posted by lotsofno at 4:25 PM on November 18, 2002


Thief 1 is the only game I have ever seen that made me nervous. A friend and I were watching another person play, and we started actually jumping and the like. Very impressive game.
posted by stoneegg21 at 5:53 PM on November 18, 2002


I'm really having trouble believing that even people who term themselves 'serious gamers' would be caught dead playing Myst.

I consider myself a fairly serious gamer, and I enjoyed playing Myst, and to a lesser extent, Riven. They're puzzle games (and old ones at that), comparing them to modern FPS's is just dumb.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:00 PM on November 18, 2002


Out of retirement for five minutes. Couldn't beleive it when I followed a link to this post, but I still don't miss the name-calling... And since I'm old, crotchety, and rarely come here any more... Dark Messiah, you can shove that "Planet Half-life" comment up your ass until it tickles the autonomic brain-stem that you use to produce such posts, ungkay? Why not come in with a "First post!" next time... it'll contribute more to the discussion.

Now, on with the post.
NS is an excellent mod. The way that they've set up the teams to use two completely different resource and combat models is astounding. It's complex, rich, and gives players tons of room for individual expansion. I love how they implemented StarCraft in an FPS... Ghost didn't catch my attention, but NS certainly did.

The challenges that the NS team will face are fourfold.

First, the game is a server resource hog. You need some kickin hardware to work correctly on the server end, and the client end isn't much better.
Second, the resource system in the gameis badly in need of balancing. They've been great about getting to particularily hot topics; two server patches have been released in the past twenty days. The game is also modular enough that those patches don't require a client download. The balance has already improved a lot with those patches. Unfortunately, the game still depends too much on start-of-map initiative.
Third, the game has an immense learning curve. Many problems have arisen from n00b commanders going up against good aliens... the marines get frustrated with their commander quickly, it seems. This almost always leads to death. It seems that it's going to be some time before a species of good commanders arise. It would help greatly if they could produce a commander-simulator -- a tutorial game that would allow prospective commanders to get used to the game in an environment where they won't be hurting other players' experience.
Fourth, people are already learning to exploit the game. The resource model for the Kharaa allows a lot of leeway with individual player choice near the beginning of the game, and if you have a player that becomes a Gorge and 'hides' somewhere, sucking resource points and not using them, you lose the vital beginning-of-game initiative that comes from having two players go Gorge and build resource chambers. There are several prospective solutions, but no one's hashed it out well enough yet to discover the best. On the bright side, once the game gets going, it's hard for a single player to derail it for everyone else. It'll be a while before the lamers are controlled, as many lamer-killer mods haven't been ported to the new model yet.

Personally, I'll keep tabs on it... playing occasionally. I'm still fascinated by a different mod, FireArms, which is a very mature mod (ver 2.65). It's a counter-strike style FPS, but it's a much richer environment that almost forces you to develop an individual style. Teams have to listen to their teammates, and skills have to work together to do well... but you can still just go have a fragfest. ;) It has a dedicated fan base, a slow but steady development team, and a small enough community that being banned from a server actaully means something. There are also mature administration mods, and many servers are hosted by a clan or bunch of friends, so you don't have to worry too much about llamas. All hail the munkey!

I go by JohnGotti, and play NS in the lanvancouver.com servers and FireArms on either theDownwardSpiral or ChunkyBoy's. Give me a shoutout if you see me.
posted by SpecialK at 9:28 PM on November 18, 2002


Thief 1 is the only game I have ever seen that made me nervous. A friend and I were watching another person play, and we started actually jumping and the like. Very impressive game.

NS is the ONLY scary multiplayer game I've ever played. Walking around as a marine, not knowing what lurks in the shadows..its great. One time I was playing, me and another guy were guarding a hall way. All of a sudden, a Skulk (small dog-like alien) leaps out of the shadows, and at his throat. *Bam* I shoved a shotgun into it just before it hit him. Straight out of a film...
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:24 AM on November 19, 2002


Orange Goblin: I agree wholeheartedly, you can't just run into a room guns blazing like other games. You're literally scared to walk into a room unless there's a group of marines.

One of the main reasons that this game is so atmospheric is the fantastic maps. They're chock full of detail and foreboding, tense sound.
posted by PenDevil at 3:11 AM on November 19, 2002


better download link for ns
now this is my kind of post!
i used to enjoy cs a lot but then i started wondering why i kept getting headshot by some guy ten times in row, cs is pretty much ruined for me now.
im downloading this new mod as we speak and look forward to playing it. i didnt know about gamespy alternatives so thanks for the all seeing eye i usually play on the blueyonder tfc classic server under this name so feel free to say hello.
i cant stand llamas at all..snipers picking up ammo and gren packs in the heat of battle etc.
im thinking maybe we could start a clan or something, i've been looking forward to joining a clan for ages but havent had the time.
i reckon a mefi tfc clan would be great fun..or if anyones got a clan space i'd be interested..im a good wee spy..
anyway give me a shout if you see me on this ns server thingy....great post!
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:21 AM on November 19, 2002


Ooo! How fortunate that I'm such a addict of NS I read this entire thread!

I've been looking forward to this mod since the hyping on PlanetHalfLife (a few months now), and downloaded it on Halloween. Haven't booted up any other games since.

I've started a very loose and casual clan (we only have a yahoo groups, and are currently using Gamespy (*ducks and runs for cover*) to find each other).

The name of the clan is very tough and really elite. We are [OF], that's Old Fogies =:OD . So, that should give you an idea of the type of people who are on it.

Requirements :

must be 18 or older (i know I know, what a snob I am! But there are PLENTY of clans for the young'uns), I think our avg age is around 25ish, we just recruited a 44 year old (YAY!!).

MUST have a sense of humour.

Can only use 1337 speak facetiously :D.

anyhoo, drop me a line if you want me to add you to the group :D

momentsofdecision@hotmail.com
Cheers!
[OF]Niteowl
posted by eurasian at 9:42 AM on November 19, 2002


this mod is amazingly good, i just finished 4 hours since booting up ! help!
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:46 AM on November 19, 2002


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