A massive and hotly-anticipated Fallout: New Vegas mod called The Frontier launched just over a fortnight ago, following over three years of development. So anticipated was the mod that it briefly crashed its own Nexusmods download page on release.
Then things went very wrong, very quickly. Four days ago it was revealed that one of the project's artists, ZuTheSkunk, had in the Frontier Team's words "posted animated pedophillic [sic] content on their personal artist accounts. The items in question are deeply disturbing to the entire team, and we condemn them in the strongest sense." The modders immediately removed ZuTheSkunk from the team, stopped work on the mod, and took the project down.
Now the Frontier has re-appeared on Nexus mods, alongside a post from project lead Tgspy (spotted by Eurogamer). As well as removing ZuTheSkunk's work from the game, it clarifies that this individual was not involved with some other aspects of the mod that have been criticised, such as dialogue about slavery.
"We apologize for our temporary silence," writes Tgspy. "It has recently come to our attention that one of the artists for the project, has been creating inappropriate content involving anthropomorphic minors for some time. None of the team members were aware of this person's actions prior to them coming to light, and we condemn them in the strongest possible way. That person was immediately removed from the team, and their contribution to the project were removed (which is the vast majority of pip-boy icons). Do note that, despite some claims to the contrary, this person had no influence on the writing of the project."
The Frontier's public Steam release has been pushed back (it has a page on there, but is currently de-listed), and the removed icons currently have placeholder 'vanilla' art while the team looks for a proper replacement. The consequences of ZuTheSkunk's association with the project reach further, however, with Tgspy's statement acknowledging that "multiple characters' worth of voice acting" have been removed, after other contributors "requested that they not be associated with the project going forward." Certain artists and one musician have also requested their content be removed from the mod, and it has been.
It's hard not to feel for Tgspy and the rest of the Frontier modding team: this is an extremely ambitious collaborative mod that represents years of work, and has now been tainted by the dreadful productions of one contributor. The team has apologised multiple times since ZuTheSkunk was exposed, insists no-one had any prior knowledge of it, and is scrubbing the mod of any related work: but serious damage has been done to the project.
"Thank you to everyone who has supported us through these dark times," ends Tgspy, "and we hope that people can still play and enjoy the Frontier."