Mods

Pixel Boost: Command and Conquer Red Alert 2

Wes Fenlon at

Twice a month Wes guides you through the hacks, tricks, and mods you'll need to run a classic PC game on Windows 7/8. Each Pixel Boost guide comes with a free side of high-res screenshots from the LPC celebrating the graphics of PC gaming's past. This week: eternal classic Red Alert 2.

Red Alert 2 is not the most balanced Command & Conquer. It's not the most stable—multiplayer matches ended in crashes more often than not. It's not the most serious (that's probably Generals) and it's not the goofiest (that's probably Red Alert 3). But it's my favorite, because it includes a little bit of what made every C&C game special. Westwood upped the production value if its FMV cutscenes without sacrificing the camp and built a huge range of creative units without straying from C&C's messy large-scale battles. Until the Minecraft era, Westwood was also one of the only developers to make smart use of voxels, and Red Alert 2's colorful world and soldiers still look cool 14 years later. RA2 isn't the easiest game to find these days, but if you have a copy, it's still possible to run the game at high-res in modern Windows.

Project Reality: BF2 update ensures life after Battlefield 2's GameSpy shutdown

Phil Savage at

Armed forces are closing in on the notorious multiplayer sympathiser, GameSpy. The matchmaking system is due to be terminated with extreme prejudice this coming Saturday, plunging the games it uses into an offline darkness. EA have said that many of their GameSpy-enabled games won't be updated with a new matchmaking solution. For Battlefield 2, that's meant the battle for online battles must now be fought by fans. It's not just the main game struggling to stay connected; its mods are also at risk. Thankfully, the most popular of those mods—Project Reality: BF2—has received a new update that will keep its multiplayer running.


Purgateus is a dark remix/mod for Proteus, and it looks fantastic

Tom Sykes at

Paradise/Hiversaires/Oquonie developer Devine Lu Linvega is modding Ed Key's Proteus, words which probably shouldn't feel as strange to type as they actually do. Inspired by Ian Snyder, the developer/musician is overhauling Proteus' colour scheme, reducing the palette to a collection of stark, muted shades, while adding new sprites, and crafting a new interactive soundtrack. Stick around for a trailer for Purgateus, and a link to that elegiac soundtrack.

Mod of the Week: Fistful of Frags

Christopher Livingston at

If a mod is released as a standalone game, can it still be called a mod? If a column features a mod that's almost eight years old, can it still be called "Mod of the Week"? Did cowboys in the Wild West really kick each other in the face all that often? The answer to all three questions is: who cares? Labels, dates, and historical accuracy aren't important, because Fistful of Frags, a 2007 multiplayer mod for Half-Life 2, has been released, all on its own, on Steam, for free, and you can get download it and play it and kick a bunch of cowboys in the face. Pass the whiskey!


Total Chaos is the best-looking Doom II mod you've ever seen

Emanuel Maiberg at

Out of context, the teaser video for Total Chaos looks like an interesting, moody horror game. The abandoned cityscape, ominous ambiance, and foggy alleyways remind me of the upcoming Nether in particular, which runs on Unreal Engine 3. The two games look pretty similar. Here's the crazy thing:  Total Chaos is a total conversion Doom II mod.


Fistful of Frags relaunches as standalone game, can be downloaded for free on Steam

Phil Savage at

Here's something that nearly slipped unnoticed from our news noose. Fistful of Frags, the Wild West Source engine mod first released in 2007, recently relaunched as a free standalone game. It was hardly a trial to play before—thanks to the free-to-play Team Fortress 2 providing the SDK base required to get it working. Now it's even easier: just head to its Steam page to download the back-to-basics deathmatch shooter.


Designing an Escape Goat 2 level with creator Ian Stocker

Wes Fenlon at

"My usual approach to puzzles is to build backwards," says Ian Stocker. Most of the 100 puzzles in Stocker's game Escape Goat 2 started that way—with a door for the goat to escape through and an idea of how it would get there. In early April, Stocker updated the Steam build with a beta level editor and Steam Workshop support. When the build launches out of beta, all of Escape Goat players will be able to create puzzles with the same tools Stocker used for his own levels.

To get a jump on the inevitably heated Workshop competition, I sat down with Stocker to make a PC Gamer puzzle. After 30 minutes of building and brainstorming, I've got a co-designer credit to my name.


Portal 2 community map-pack Cosmogony is a great reason to return to Aperture

Phil Savage at

Every now and then, I like to visit Portal 2's Steam Workshop page. Not to download anything, you understand, but to experience the panic attack of knowing that somewhere in that list of 353,637 maps, there's something really good that nobody has bothered to play. Like great painters not recognised until long after their death, their masterpieces are untouched and their genius is unrecognised. And then I get drunk.

This time, I was too distracted by Cosmogony: a new six-part map-pack that was released earlier this month. Created by 'Dreey', it features a custom story, new locations and clever level design.


Skyblivion trailer shows Oblivion's opening locations recreated in Skyrim

Phil Savage at

Morrowind revival project Skywind looks like a valuable resurrection of Bethesda's 2002 RPG. So much so, that the community responsible for it are also porting another classic Elder Scrolls into the Skyrim engine. The name "Skyblivion" may look like what would happen if you sneezed too hard and smashed your head on a keyboard, but it signals the start of Oblivion's transfer into the newer TES. It's been in the works for a while, but a new trailer has surfaced, showing the progress the team have made.


Mod of the Week: Warsword Conquest, for Mount and Blade: Warband

Christopher Livingston at

Years in the making, Warsword Conquest is finally playable in beta: a full conversion mod for Mount and Blade: Warband that transforms the game into a world based on Warhammer fantasy. There are thirteen different factions to join, including the rat-like Skaven, the scaly Lizardmen, Chaos, pirates, and of course, dwarves, elves, and orcs. But screw all of those, because you can play as a skeleton. Don't you want to play as a skeleton? I'm gonna play as a skeleton.


Mod of the Week: Monstrous Megapack, for Dungeons of Dredmor

Christopher Livingston at

Gaslamp Games recently delayed the release of Clockwork Empires by a few months, but perhaps we can kill the time with another romp through their 2011 roguelike, Dungeons of Dredmor. With the random level generation and robust character customization, every game of Dredmor already feels different, but that's no reason not to add hundreds more differences. The recently updated Monstrous Megapack adds over a hundred items and artifacts, scores of new rooms and dungeon features, plus several new breeds of baddies, boogies, and bosses.


Mod of the Week: For the Enclave, for Fallout New Vegas

Christopher Livingston at

In the Fallout universe, The Enclave -- deservedly -- have a bit of a bad reputation. On the other hand, they have cool armor and they're always landing vertibirds all over the place like total badasses, and while that doesn't make me like them, it at least makes me think they're kinda cool. That's why For The Enclave, which recently released its final version, is the Fallout New Vegas mod for anyone who's always wanted to join the Enclave.


Euro Truck Simulator 2 Multiplayer mod moves into open alpha

Phil Savage at

One of two things are usually the case if a game has "Simulator" in its title. Either it's an overly earnest attempt to provide accurate simulation, or it's a joke. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is something of a rarity. It's the former, sure, but avoids the usual trap of being buggy, obtuse and transparent in its limitations. It's good. You're probably sick of people saying its good, but by all logic it shouldn't be, so it bears repeating.

Only one thing could make it better, and that's the inclusion of friends. Strong is the draw of a convoy, especially when filled with folks hauling concrete across Belgium. That dream is increasingly approaching reality. Today, the ETS2 Multiplayer mod launches into open alpha.


Morrowind Rebirth mod 2.7 update improves textures, adds new areas and items

Omri Petitte at

Tamriel's ashy homeland of the Dark Elves is the source for many a Elder Scrolls hero's first memories—exploring ancient Dwemer ruins, sticking a spear into Dagoth Ur, or cursing the very words "cliff racer"—so it's small wonder a number of large-scale mods focus on overhauling the 2002 RPG. The massive Skywind effort is certainly exciting to look forward to, but some older projects are still steaming along quite nicely. Morrowind Rebirth has been around for a few years, and its latest update adds new areas to the game's already massive world.


Deus Ex: Revision video shows remastered levels, teases "near future" release

Phil Savage at

This new Deus Ex: Revision video is the perfect encapsulation of the heroicly scrappy spirit of the modding community. It's professionally created, contains interesting insights, and features an audio mix that muffles the majority of its narrator's speech. Still, while the words are are bonus, the real treat is a to see the souped up, gorgeously lit recreations at the heart of the game's "re-imagining".


Stalker: Lost Alpha released, restores cut content to Shadow of Chernobyl

Phil Savage at

Usually, to make a STALKER mod, it's required that you make everything 700% harder, possibly while pouring homebrewed vodka into any available orifice and glueing beard-extending bear fur directly to your face. Lost Alpha is a little more subtle. It started life as a pure restoration of Shadow of Chernobyl's cut levels, but later expanded into a more expansive project: creating a new parallel story that takes place across these restored and recreated zones.

The mod has now been officially released, after an unfortunate leak dashed the creators chances of having their work become an official paid-for expansion to the series. Now, it's instead a great, free excuse to dig the oldest Stalker out from its bunker.


Mod of the Week: Thinking With Time Machine, for Portal 2

Christopher Livingston at

I've never really gotten into playing custom levels for Portal 2—I just don't find the game that much fun without the inclusion of Wheatley, Cave Johnson, and GLaDOS. That's why it's great when Portal 2 mods add something new to make up for what's missing. In this case, the added element is a hand-held time device that lets Chell make a time-shifted duplicate of herself, and team up with it to solve puzzles. Thinking with portals is no longer enough, now you're Thinking With Time Machine.


Dark Souls 2 modded: Durante's GeDoSaTo enables downsampling, texture modding

Wes Fenlon at

In 2012, Peter "Durante" Thoman wrote the popular mod DSfix for Dark Souls: Prepare to Die on PC, fixing its locked 1024x720 resolution and other issues. In 2013, he released a similar fix for Deadly Premonition. We asked Durante to analyze the PC port of Dark Souls 2 in a series of articles. He also modded the game. The image above is an in-game texture, not a Photoshop.

My first two articles about Dark Souls 2 investigated the PC port’s features and how generic PC tweaking tools like SweetFX can be used to further improve its graphics. Now it’s time to look at the full extent of what can be achieved by modifying Dark Souls 2 on a deeper level. First, I’ll provide a short overview of the general avenues available for PC game modding and how each applies to Dark Souls 2. Then I’ll detail the modifications I have implemented so far with a new tool I’m calling GeDoSaTo, which enables texture modding, arbitrary downsampling, and more. Consider it the successor to DSfix and DPfix—except its final goal is to work with any 3D game, not just Dark Souls 2.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines finds immortality with new 9.0 patch release

Omri Petitte at

As a game all about surviving in a hidden bloodsucker culture on the oblivious streets of Los Angeles, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines fully deserves the embrace of undeath. It was the last effort from masterful RPG studio Troika Games, and its release in 2004 drew much ardor from fans yearning to join the World of Darkness canon—but it's also known as one of the glitchiest games of recent memory.

A troubled development path caused Bloodlines to launch in an unfinished state plagued with bugs, missing dialogue, and other Broken Things. But Bloodlines' heart has kept beating thanks to nearly a decade of fan-made patches—headquartered in the online coven Planet Vampire—fixing longstanding flaws, refreshing textures, restoring hidden content, and generally piecing back together Bloodlines' intended glory. Even better: the game is currently $5/£3 on Amazon.


Portal 2 mod Thinking With Time Machine now available on Steam

Phil Savage at

Steam's Portal 2 Workshop is filled with unique twists on the space-bending puzzler's central mechanic. With such creativity lurking in the primordial soup of the Workshop, it would take something special to crawl out and into the main Steam storefront.

That something is Thinking With Time Machine, and it fits the bill for two reasons. Firstly, it introduces a new time recording mechanic, in which you can replay your actions to create a temporary clone in-level. Secondly, it lets you look at your legs.