PC Gamer
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The story of Jón Gnarr, who in 2010 was elected mayor of Iceland's capital and largest city, Reykjavík, could be mistaken for a story from EVE Online, the sandbox MMO created by Icelandic developer CCP. In EVE, players form corporations and take part in fascinating, often-bizarre political and military shenanigans. In Iceland, Jón ran for office as founder of "The Best Party," which he says wasn't, and still isn't, a real political party.

"It was supposed to be a complete nonsense party," said Jón during a Q&A after last week's EVE Online Fanfest in Reykjavík. "We promised whatever people wanted us to promise, but also promised to break all of our promises."

Icelanders apparently appreciated Jón's honesty, and he earned international fame after becoming one of the world's most fascinating and whimsical mayors. Though he claims he didn't even know what he was running for, he wasn't surprised when he was elected. "I could sense that people appreciated The Best Party," said Jón. "I mean, it's the best party."

Jón Gnarr, CCP, and Hættuspil

With a population of only 320,000, stories about Jón and stories about CCP are really stories about Iceland, all intertwined as part of the country's recent history. And here's where they intersect:

Before becoming a politician, Jón was already well-known as a comedian in Iceland, and appeared in one of Iceland's most popular board games, Hættuspil, which translates to "Danger Game." The man on the cover, dressed as a perturbed woman, is Jón Gnarr, and the company behind it was CCP.

Hættuspil's success funded the initial development of EVE Online, which was the plan all along, so Jón—the mayor of Iceland's capital—deserves some small credit for EVE Online and CCP's success.

An obsession with "building armies"

Jón says the people of Iceland are proud of CCP and what it's done for the country and Reykjavík, but he doesn't play EVE himself. "I suspect that EVE Online could be an obsession," he told us.

"I've been, yeah, I was obsessed with Warcraft and...uh, yeah," he continued, the crowd laughing in acknowledgement. "And Half-Life, and I just had to erase it and get rid of it."

After the Q&A, Tom Senior and I caught up with Jón for a few more questions about his gaming career and obsessions. His favorite game is Heroes of Might and Magic, followed by Elite.

"I played Elite on an Acorn Electron, and I was fascinated by it," he said. "It was quite time-consuming, it took a lot of time...and then of course, Warcraft came about. I dropped out after StarCraft, because it has become way too complicated for me. And the same happened with Might & Magic, it just became too complicated."

What did he enjoy so much about the original Might and Magic? "Building armies," Jón said laughing. "Building an army was my goal and pleasure. But I easily get addicted to games. I couldn't quit."

Danger Game returns

"One more turn" syndrome is the reason Jón now forgoes gaming in favor of taking walks and listening to podcasts, but his relationship with CCP isn't over. To celebrate EVE Online's 10 year anniversary, Jón is reprising his role in an English version of Hættuspil to be bundled with a new Collector's Edition.

Pre-orders are now open to get the box of EVE memorabilia, along with the first chance for us to play CCP's debut game, which set off a decade-long cascade of incredible stories from in and out of the EVE universe. If you don't play EVE, 149.99€ is real steep for just the board game, but perhaps CCP will decide to sell it on its own. Of around ten Icelanders I asked during Fanfest last week, only one hadn't played Hættuspil, and the rest gave glowing reviews.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Maybe there’s more to Half Life 1 mod Cry of Fear than screaming, gibbering faces and jump scares – the trailers have shooting, conversations and chainsaws – but my nerves, frayed rather than reinforced by years of vacationing in Silent Hill, failed to survive the opening scenes when I played last night. There’s something about the look and feel of the dated engine that unnerves me far more than something draped in bells and whistles ever would, although I’ve just conjured the image of a jester at a rave and that’s as petrifying as it is ridiculous. The Half Life engine has taken on the quality of a museum or funhouse packed with animatronics, and it’s perhaps that aspect that is most troubling. Well, that and the jump scares. Here’s how I got on.>


Community Announcements - alfred
We have released a Beta update for Half-Life and associated games.
Changes in this update are:
<ul><li>Fixed music tracks to correctly play across level change and to not stop (or restart) at unexpected times
<li>Clamped health values to fix display issues when it dropped below 1 or above 255
<li>Draw the "Paused" message when you pause the game
<li>Fixed custom game menus (like ones displayed by AMXModX) not rendering correctly
Community Announcements - alfred
We have released a Beta update for Half-Life.
Changes in this update are:
<ul><li>Updated sound track to 44kHz, 128kbit MP3 for better listening experience
<li>Fixed test microphone button not working
PC Gamer
Cry of Fear

Alongside the likes of Slenderman and that ghost girl from Curse of the Blood Moon, another indie horror contender has been brewing in the original Half-Life engine. Cry of Fear is a free total conversion mod constructed on the back of Gordon Freeman's maiden voyage, and it's releasing standalone this Wednesday. Using 100% custom assets, the mod was developed by Team Psykskallar, which even went so far as to implement animated cutscenes and a few other non-native elements in the 15-year-old engine.

This release will be available on Steam as a stand-alone download that won't require the original Half-Life to play. Although, if you don't already own the original Half-Life, you could snag one of our highest-rated shooters of all time for $10 at this point. The original Cry of Fear mod is available on the official site.

Cry of Fear looks to take place in a dark, urban area, and your character is shown equipped with a pistol, a phone-mounted light, and a drab hoodie. Somehow, I don't think that's going to be enough to feel safe. Just a hunch.
PC Gamer
Operation Black Mesa

Since the release of Black Mesa, modders have been bending and shaping its spruced up Half-Life assets to create Source upgrades of every one of the game's expansions, demos and curios. But mod group Tripmine Studios are attempting to go it alone, Sourcing up Gearbox's Opposing Force expansion entirely from scratch. The name of their project? Operation Black Mesa. Wait, what?

Confusing name aside, it's looking like an accomplished upgrade of Adrian Shephard's adventures through the bowels of Black Mesa. It's certainly looks more muted than the other Black Mesa's visual shock and awe, but the lighting seems to nicely capture the underground claustrophobia of HL1's dated engine.

According to Tripmine's team leader Antonín Žoha, the multiplayer portion of the mod is due to arrive in Q1 2014, and will bring "classic modes like deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and one brand new game mode for people who are also looking for something new." There's currently no release date for the singleplayer portion.

Despite the wait, you can already vote for Operation Black Mesa on Steam Greenlight. More details are available on the project's ModDB page. Also on ModDB are details of Tripmine's other expansion overhaul, Guard Duty, a Blue Shift remake.

More Operation Black Mesa screenshots below.

Community Announcements - alfred
We have released a Beta update for Half-Life
Changes in this update are:
<ul><li>Updated SDL drop, fixes some mouse input issues
<li>Fixed 3rd party mods that use the base Half-Life 1 client.dll having bad mouse input behavior
<li>Fixed view jumping when coming in and our of VGUI1 menus under Half-Life, Team Fortress Classic and DeathMatch Classic
Community Announcements - alfred
Changes in this update are:
<li>Fixed typing in text when using mods
Community Announcements - alfred
Changes in this update are:
<ul><li>Fixed mouse cursor snapping back to center when using mods like SvenCoop
PC Gamer
Double Action Boogaloo

There are a few notable things about the Kickstarter campaign for Double Action. Firstly, the final game will be entirely free. It's a spiritual successor to The Specialists - a Half-Life mod with similar John Woo inspired acrobatics to Action Half-Life, but with added bullet time slow-mo for the multiplayer mayhem. Secondly, the pitch video is refreshingly frank about the team's distribution of funds, project scope and disinterest in stretch goals.

Thirdly (and most importantly?), the codename for the game's first version is Boogaloo.

Double Action: Boogaloo is a multiplayer shooter with an emphasis on style. "You fill up your Style Meter by doing stylish things - stunting, brawling, headshots, and so on. When your style meter fills up, your chosen style skill is activated." Diving, sliding and rolling feature heavily as you fight in ridiculously over-the-top slow motion battles.

The team are looking for $18,000 for a summer blitz on the game's development. With no price tag on the game, there's no minimum funding amount to get your hands on it - instead, purely cosmetic items are available at certain tiers.

It's also playable right now. The pre-alpha client is available on the Double Action forums, although, as the post warns, "It is probably crashy and everything is a placeholder. You may find it difficult to use."

Why no stretch goals? According to the Kickstarter page, "Those things would only detract from the game's design and create additional busywork for us." Instead, they're interested in using additional funds to support the game through further development and a Valve engine license.

More game footage below.


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