Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Insects Infestation

II was a Half-Life 2 multiplayer modification, created years ago, and even among all the interesting mods that came out at that point it stood out. Players chose to be either ants or termites (wasps were announced as a third team but the game died before they got implemented) and fought to exterminate each other's hives. They dropped pheromone trails for AI workers to follow to food sources, shot formic acid from their abdomens at each other, dropped sticky patches of feces as traps, climbed up walls and jumped off leaves, all in settings like a backyard garden, an overgrown backalley or the inside of a dead cow. It was amazingly creative, played smoothly, was both fast-paced and left room for planning and forethought, and of course, being so much better than other mods it died out much faster than hey did.

The blame rested in part with its creators. The basic setup of the mod was an FPS/RTS hybrid where players relied on gathering resources to get access to buffs or soldier-caste bugs. At one point, before they had finished the basic version even, the programmers decided to implement a second game mode, completely removing the strategy element and turning it basically into a deathmatch. This had the effect of polarizing the game's already scant following into those who only wanted to play the full version (me 'n me droogs) and the majority who jumped at the chance to play without thinking.

From barely maintaining its critical mass of players to keep a few servers going, the game split into two versions, each dying out as its fanbase failed to fill even one server consistently.

The real kicker is that this is exactly what had happened to an earlier mod of the original Half-Life, Natural Selection, a case study with which II's creators must have been familiar. Those who do not remember history...

P.S.:  Seems that ModDB kept the II files up even though i can't find the creators' own site anymore. linky-linky

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