Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alice O'Connor)

Last year, Natural Selection 2 [official site] creators Unknown Worlds handed development duties on their aliens vs. space marines FPS-RTS over to a team of community volunteers, then themselves dived down into alien oceans to build Subnautica. Ah, but landlubbers will always pine for the shore (or for space?). A year-and-a-half later, Unknown Worlds are getting back into NS2, hiring some of those community folks on as an in-house team to resume development for a few months.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

Released in 2012, Natural Selection 2 pits a squad of heavily-armed human marines against a horde of alien invaders. It's first and foremost a shooter, but it incorporates RTS elements that, as we said in our very positive review, are what "ties it all together." A couple of years after it came out, developer Unknown Worlds turned control of the game's future development over to a small team made up of members of the NS2 community, so it could focus exclusively on Subnautica. Earlier today, however, the studio took the reins back, saying that it's time to "try something new."

"Unknown Worlds is getting back in to Natural Selection development. We have hired a small group of community members to reform an in-house development team," Hugh Jeremy of Unknown Worlds (who, by the way, has a very nice rig) wrote on the Natural Selection 2 site. "We are going to try some crazy stuff. We want NS2 to be huge."

An announcement that had been prepared yesterday turned out to be "pretty shit," as Jeremy put it, but then ended up slipping out anyway, leading to excitement, confusion, and anger. To address those concerns and answer as many questions as possible, he provided links to four separate posts including a Q&A about the studio's return to the game and a more detailed explanation of how the new team will work.

Eight members of the Community Development Team that took over NS2 in 2014 have been hired on as the new, official development team, although all but one are working part time. The CDT itself "will no longer operate in the same structure that it formerly did," but members of the community will still be encouraged to create and share new content for the game. "This time around, with renewed funding from Unknown Worlds, we hope to be able to fiscally compensate people proportionally to the work contributed," Amanda "Rantology" Diaz explained. "This means that anyone will be able to contribute something to the game and, if accepted, be rewarded for it."

Naturally, not everyone is entirely happy with the situation. One well-known CDT member, Mendasp, posted a long message on the Unknown Worlds forums explaining that he will no longer be working on Natural Selection 2 or the NS2+ mod, not because he was left off the team but for what he sees as poor treatment of himself and others in the community.

"I, and the other people that weren t contacted, deserved to know these kind of plans so we could make our choices based on it, especially considering other people that aren t part of this team knew," he wrote. "If this was done fully knowing the impact I don t know, but I can tell you, from my side, that this feels like I was taken advantage of, and it s quite awful to be in such a situation."

But Jeremy said the studio has "no secrets," and suggested that the problem right now is not a lack of clarity, but a lack of certainty. "There's nothing Unknown Worlds knows that we don't want the NS2 community to know," he wrote. "The decision to return to NS2 is a big, complex, nuanced one. It is hard to describe it all in a single email, blog post, or phone call. It s even harder to convey the idea that Unknown Worlds doesn t have all the answers, and that not having an answer is ok."

Thanks, Blues.

Community Announcements - UWE.Strayan (NS2HD)

One of the biggest complaints we read in the forums and steam reviews has always been “why are my load times so long?”. For some it was infuriating to load the game and wait 4+ minutes to load a level, especially when staring at a loading-screen. It can sometimes feel like an eternity. Build 276 is a great leap forward towards resolving this issue.

By taking precompiled data and shipping it with the build, it allows your machine to not have to work through each of the individual files like before and so saves time getting you into the game. Prior to Build 276, a fresh install of NS2 could take over 4.5min or longer to load into a map for the very first time on traditional HDDs. This is now reduced significantly to around 2.5min. While this is still not perfect, it makes huge strides towards solving the issue for good. Where you will notice the most change is in load time after the initial loading process. On average all traditional HDDs should see a map load time of around 46sec, down from 1.5min or more, with SSDs being even faster again. Remember that everyone’s experience may be different, but you will notice a decrease in load times none the less.

Despite it’s small download footprint there is a lot more under the hood of this patch included in the changelog below, and there is still more to come! With the anniversary of Natural Selection fast approaching, we will be releasing one more patch to get into the spirit of the season and introduce some minor balance tweaks and more updates/fixes to our editor tools!

– Dillon (“WasabiOne”)

See the full update changelog on the Natural Selection 2 blog.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Scott Constantine)

Picture from luis.s on the forum.

August was a busy month for the RPS community, with action seen in Dirt Rally [official site], Rocket League [official site], Terraria [official site] and others – including Awesomenauts [official site], Natural Selection 2 [official site] and Killing Floor [official site].

Click on for information about each, along with how you can get involved.

… [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - UWE.Strayan (NS2HD)

The Natural Selection League (NSL) has opened signups for two new NS events: A Newcomer Tournament, and NSL Season 7. These events cater to a wide range of skill levels, and will provide a more organised play experience than public games can deliver.

Natural Selection 2 comes alive when played in an organised environment. Teamwork, voice-communications, and the pressure of playing for a title all come to the fore.

The Newcomer Tournament is aimed at those with less competitive NS2 experience, who are looking to try a more organised play style. Matches will take place on September 19th and 20th. Anyone that does not play in the NSL or AusNS2 leagues is welcome to join up.

It’s not necessary to have a team to play. The NSL will organise everyone into teams (how’s that for service?). That means it is possible to sign up to the Newcomer Tournament as a single player. Sign up to the Newcomer Tournament using the signup form. Detailed information about how the competition will work is also available in the NSL’s help document.

The Natural Selection League has a hallowed history, having operated since the early days of Natural Selection 1 in the early 2000’s. Now, season 7 is here. This is the defining competitive NS2 event – The best players and the best teams come together across multiple, skill-ranked divisions.

Signing up for the NSL requires having an account on the website. Once you have an account, there are instructions for team-creation in the NSL announcement post.

As with the Newcomer Tournament, the NSL will handle organisation and skill-ranking. It’s time to play in some organised 6v6s, sign up now!
Community Announcements - UWE.Strayan (NS2HD)

Fight for control of a derelict biological research facility in this brand new map for Natural Selection 2! Created by the NS2 Community Development Team, Derelict features bespoke environment art and a unique play style.

Derelict is available now on Steam, and is free for all NS2 players. The update also includes numerous improvements to NS2, including bug fixes and performance enhancements. A comprehensive run-through of all changes made in the Derelict Update is available on the NS2 blog.

The raw changelog starts below:

New map - Derelict

by CDT Mapping Lead: Loki

Map developed by Loki – artwork & contributions also from: BeigeAlert, SamusDroid, Zavaro, Flaterectomy, Howser & the CDT/PT/Map Test Teams. Special thanks to the SCC (Spark Crafters Collective) **Note for server operators: Don’t forget to add ns2_derelict to your mapcycle!

New Main Menu Backgrounds and Music

You can now choose your own main menu background and music from the options settings!

**All main menu levels have had an optimization pass to reduce file size in order to increase the speed at which the main menu loads.


NS2 is now being compiled using Microsoft Visual Studio 2013, an upgrade from VS2005. From our testing, some users may gain an improvement of increased fps. The following are other optimizations:

Avoid certain health/armor predictions on client
Use fieldwatching to avoid some OnUpdate calculations
Linux: use FixPathCase only if file is not found.
Implemented filesystem cache to avoid file-lookup penalty for mods.
Improved GUIMinimap performance.
Improved performance of many GUIScripts.
Alien hivesight related LOS-checking was being done even for Marine players, where it is irrelevant.
Alien players are now always shown with Hive-Sight outlines, even when in LOS.
Changed Scoreboard data to only update twice per second instead of once per frame.
Cache OnosDirtEffectGeneration.
Improved Onos camera shaking code
Added caching surface beneath players, prevents additional traces for footstep sounds.

Bug Fixes

Fixed tons of code and libraries issues preventing the NS2 project to get compiled under VS 2013 (should also make NS2 more stable)
Fixed first person spectating causing hitching movement to other players.
Fixed that the server wasn’t necessarily using the same snapshot as the client when the client was extrapolating positions. (Other issues with hitreg will be getting fixed in upcoming patches!)
Fixed cursor not centering properly in Fullscreen Windowed mode.
Reject attempts to load resources using empty strings.
MapCycle now automatically cycles to next map if the attempt to load a map fails.
Detects that a map change failed and cycle to next map.
The restriction that map mods had to be on the filesystem to be cycled to has been remove; the map mod will be downloaded if not present before being cycled to.
Replaced hardcoded keys for spectator drawing with:
Secondary Attack: Draw on the screen.
Reload: Clear the screen.
Bile bombs and gorge spit are now client side predicted.
Gorge Tunnels can now be exited at any height in the tunnel.
Fixed that Hive time-outs caused the “forceventeams”-vote to fail.
Fixed that cached Hive data were not applied correctly onto reconnecting players.
Fixed that the PAX badge was not applied on players who don’t have any Hive badges.
Fixed that it was not possible to disable the team auto-balancer.
Fixed Medpacks/Ammo/Catpacks not showing the pickup icons.
Fixed bug where Loading screen wouldn’t use custom map backgrounds and made it scale with resolution.
Fixed that mod downloading via the web admin interface did not work.
Fixed Insight displaying Health for exos (they only use Armor).
Fixed jetpacks left behind by dead marines not dissolving with the body on death.
Fixed damage numbers and private sounds being sent to the original owner for MACs, Drifters, Whips, ARCs and Sentries. They are now sent to the current Commander.
Old mods are now deleted 24 hours after new versions have been downloaded (kept around for a while just in case you want to play on a server that haven’t upgraded yet).
Fixed that the Swedish translation wasn’t using the correct file.
Fixed various crash issues of the Overview.exe.
Added the latest patches from LuaJIT hopefully increasing the performance and stability of NS2 as well
Fixed a script error with LayMines.
Fixed a script error appearing sometimes when you tried to vote.
Added a blank model check for dynamic props so to stop crashing the client.
Added sanity checks to avoid client crashes from any kind of corrupted texture files
Made net_loss a cheat command so people can’t use it to cheat anymore
Added consistency checking for hmp files.
Fixed embryos not having a taunt causing assert errors.
Fixed sending blank chat messages causing messages to overlap
Fixed being able to place an IP in eclipse where you shouldn’t be able to
Auto deactivate mods on patch release
Fixed menu being unresponsive if mousing over webview while a window was loading
Fix highlighting of view models
sv_tests console command added. This allows server admins to give certain people access to the command.
Fixed error for Gorge Tunnel Enter/Exit screen FX preventing liquid effects from playing


Added remaining cannister ammo on the display for the flamethrower
Lowered opacity for red colored low ammo warning on weapon displays.
Chat now displays tags before the player names for Rookies and Commanders.
Replaced the Reinforcement label in the Main Menu with a label linking to the CDT Trello page
Added the Serbian translation
Lowered the opacity of the tv_glare texture in the main menu so it distracts less from the menu background
You can now change the used gamma correction value in the option menu. This allows you to adjust the brightness of ns2 overall. The default is 2.2 (even though it is not the center of the slider)
Removed consistency checking for the screens folder. You can now have custom loading screens by putting jpg files inside a screens/custom folder.
Removed consistency checking for models/marnie/male/ You can now have custom flashlight textures
Added a separate bind for movement override for commander

Map Editor

Fixed invalid triangle bug!
Displacement window is now properly sized.
Added a default bind to open entity list (‘O’ key).
Replaced “Create Color Grading” with “Create Reflection Probe” on the tools-ribbon.
Added a filter decals button.
Added a selection color option and a new light blue color option.
Added a brightness slider.


Fixed scoreboard hiding the GUIHoverMenu every frame as long as the scoreboard wasn’t up.
Introduce FieldWatcher, a way for a client to detect that a network field changes.
Introduce a way for GUIScripts to run at less than full fps (set self.updateInterval).
Improve AddTimedCallback to give you time since last callback, return time to next callback.
Added MapChangeFailed Event Hook.
Fixed console commands passed on the command line failing to run because they were running in the loading world.
Added new server admin console command “sv_installmod <modid>” to download the given mod to the server.
New command “hud_rate <mul>”: specify a multiplier for the hud update rate (impacts fps)
Decals also load now in cinematics
Added propnames development console command to show names of nearby props while in game
Known Issues:

We are aware of some render distance issues with the Editor, this will be fixed in 276.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alec Meer)

Gathering together the best shooters is no easy task, but if you’re looking for a new PC FPS to play, look no further.

Your favourite game is at number 51.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Show us your rig

Each week on Show Us Your Rig, we feature PC gaming's best and brightest as they show us the systems they use to work and play.

Hugh Jeremy works at Unknown Worlds—best known for Natural Selection 2, Future Perfect, and Subnautica—and he's got a rig cholk-full of water cooling. As Hugh explains below, the components of this powerful PC were originally in a case he custom built, which is unfortunately not very portable. Hugh was kind enough to show us his impressive setup and tell us about some of his favorite parts of PC gaming. 

What's in your PC?

  • Intel i7-5820k @ 4Ghz
  • 32GB of DDR4 RAM
  • GTX 980
  • 6Tb spinning disk storage
  • 1Tb solid state storage
  • EK CPU block
  • Swiftech 320mm radiator
  • EK 5.25in bay reservoir
  • Laing D5 w/ EK top
  • Laing DDC w/ EK top
  • X99 board
  • AX1200i PSU
  • 4-bank fan controller
  • About 1.5 litres of water

All of that feeds an Asus 2560 x 1440 screen at the magical 144hz.

There's also a Razer Blade & Macbook Pro 13 sitting here. I'm in the process of transferring from the former to the latter. Blasphemy, I know. From a parts perspective the i7 5557U in the Macbook is a really interesting little package. It's also pulling 1.1Gb/s read/write off the SSD, so credit to Apple where it's due.

What's the most interesting/unique part of your setup?

Custom Case

Click the arrows to expand.

This machine is a bit weird, because it's derived from parts transferred from a custom water-cooling focused case I built out of aluminium and tears. At Unknown Worlds, we have a lot of freedom to work wherever we want on the planet. I was using my custom case in the San Francisco office, but at the moment I am working in Australia. I couldn't transfer the rig across the Pacific, disassembling it takes days, reassembling it takes days. So for now many of the parts live on in this Corsair case until I've got the guts to break out the power tools again and give them a proper home. The itch is growing.

What's always within arm's reach on your desk?

At the moment Statistical Analysis by Ya-lun Chou. It's not as boring as it sounds. Crunching data can help make better development decisions, and better games. For example, at Unknown Worlds we collect vast amounts of anonymous data about Subnautica's performance in the wild. From that data, we can work out what we're doing badly. For example, we were able to precisely measure out-of-memory crash prevalence, see that it was affecting large number of players, and devote the resources necessary to remedy it. 

Recently we worked out that 20%+ of Subnautica customers were trying to play with GPUs below min-spec, so now we're doing a better job of communicating min-spec, and assisting customers who don't meet it by providing information about GPU upgrades and so on. Chou makes sure I don't spout statistical lies.

What are you playing right now?

My Steam favourites list currently features Future Perfect, DayZ, Kerbal Space Program, Maia, Natural Selection 2, and Subnautica. A lot of these games aren't finished, or were available initially in a very unfinished state. I think this is one of the most exciting parts of PC gaming. We can be part of and influence the creative process.

What's your favorite game and why?

Right now, my favourite game is  Future Perfect. It's another Unknown Worlds game. I'm not trying to plug it though, I'm being genuine. I don't get time to play it much, and it's at a very early stage. But there is just so much potential. It neatly captures the strengths of PC gaming—access to unfinished games, iteration on those games, modding, openness.

Community Announcements - UWE.Strayan (NS2HD)

It's common knowledge that Natural Selection 2 has no bugs, issues, or problems.* It has never had any bugs. Ever. Fact. Full stop. Ok, maybe a few... And maybe Update 273 had a few too many. Some say that Onoses (Onii? Onosii?) were very upset by seriousr problems with their damage type.

Never fear though, Update 274 has arrived quickly from the Community Development Team, and it addresses some major issues that crept into the game in 273! Enjoy!

*This statement may not be entirely accurate.


Remove erroneous file exists check in particle handling (fixes Shotgun & other bad hitching)
Ensure servers actually try to update all mods on changemap
Remove curl progress reporting spamming server consoles
Fixed damage types; Onos, bile bomb, Flamethrower, axe & Welder. (Onos were upset. Not good.)
Fixed lua error on linux for users with certain locale settings
Community Announcements - UWE.Strayan (NS2HD)

Natural Selection 2 has just received its first update for 2015, courtesy of the Community Development Team. Read all the details in their release blog post!


Added ability to click on a player’s row in the scoreboard to check their Steam/Hive profiles
Added option to mute Text chat
Added icon to the scoreboard indicating if someone is your friend on Steam
Made it so the scoreboard shortens the player name if it overlaps
Muting a player’s voice/text chat will last 6 hours so it’s persistent across map changes
Rookies will always show the “(rookie)” tag in chat even if they’re not in your own team
Spectators are now sorted above ReadyRoom players
Dropping structures as a Marine Commander will display the location name and status of the Power Node for the structure
Missing files will now show up in the log instead of being silently ignored
Added a new variant of Alien Vision based on Huzes’ AV – Thanks Huze!
Added no_ip material which disallows placement of Infantry Portals on this surface
Added a separate bind for movement override for commander
Added consistency checking for hmp files

Stop sounds from playing on destroyed entities
Stop Insert from running destructors on uninitialized memory
Linux should now support non-ascii
Fixed being able to tell who’s the enemy Commander by their chat color
Fixed that commanders bots did not work or got kicked by the AFK kick
Fixed that the Alien Buy-Menu messed up with some translations (e.g. Russian)
Fixed embryos not having a taunt in the ready room
Fixed Babblers being invisible when cloaked by a shade
Fixed menu being unresponsive if mousing over webview while a window was loading
Fixed sending blank chat messages causing messages to overlap
Fixed being able to place an IP in eclipse where you shouldn’t be able to

Prototype – Added Utils\WorkshopBackup, a simple server to allow servers ops to add backup download for mods. See ns2\utils\workshopbackup\readme.txt for details.
Added support for servers to point clients to a list of backup servers and clients to download from backup instead of Steam
Backup servers also solves the problem of the server running an old version of a mod
Fixed bug that required all http request to finish inside 15 seconds
Made clients more stubborn when it comes to requesting downloading mods (10 retries)
Improved progress reporting

Relevance calculation offloaded from main server thread, freeing up about 5-15% main thread CPU. It is now recommended to run the server on at least 2 cores.
Servers running close to the edge will now show up as Loaded in the performance browser

Known Issue
The progress indication on mod download is broken – it stays zero until download complete. Late build blocker forced a revert, should be fixed in 274

Removed holiday themed ready rooms

Fixed stuck spot in hangar bay vent for fades

Fixed FPS problem in access alpha

Removed random pipe prop in locker room

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