A deserted island... a lost man... memories of a fatal crash... a book written by a dying explorer. Dear Esther is a ghost story told using first-person gaming technologies. Rather than traditional gameplay, the focus here is on exploration, uncovering the mystery of the island, of who you are and why you are here. Fragments of story are randomly triggered by moving around the environments, making every telling unique. Features a stunning, specially commissioned soundtrack. Forget the normal rules of play; if nothing seems real here, it's because it may just be all a delusion. What is the significance of the aerial - What happened on the motorway - is the island real or imagined - who is Esther and why has she chosen to summon you here? The answers are out there, on the lost beach and the tunnels under the island. Or then again, they may just not be, after all...

Post news Report content RSS feed Dear Esther remake to get commercial release

The remake of the cult source mod Dear Esther will be released commercially in summer 2011.

Posted by on

thechineseroom have announced that the remake of the critically acclaimed, award-winning mod Dear Esther will be getting a full commercial release in summer 2011.

The groundbreaking game, which replaces traditional FPS gameplay with the exploration of a desolate island, a deep and emotional story and a stunning soundtrack, will be launched on Steam later this year. Over the last twelve months, the award-winning mod (Indiecade 2009, Mod of the Year 2010) has been re-developed by Robert Briscoe (Mirror's Edge) in collaboration with the original creator, Dan Pinchbeck.

The re-make features a completely new environment that pushes the Source engine into uncharted territory; a re-orchestrated soundtrack by composer Jessica Curry, new areas to explore and an expanded story.

Originally developed at the University of Portsmouth (UK), Dear Esther has gained a cult following and international critical acclaim since it's first release in 2007. Briscoe and Pinchbeck first showed the rebuilt mod to Valve in 2009 and they were impressed enough to grant a Source license for a full independent release.

Pinchbeck said "We're hugely excited about the license. The new version of Dear Esther will take the game to a completely new level and we're confident it will be one of the stand-out indie titles of 2011. Once again, this shows that games are probably the most exciting and innovative medium on the planet right now, and we're really happy to be right at the cutting edge of that."

"For everyone who played the original mod, we can promise a totally new experience that will keep the soul of the original whilst pushing the game to a completely different level. For people who have never experienced Dear Esther, get ready for a game unlike anything you've ever played. In 2011, we're going to answer once and for all the question of whether games can be art."

You can follow the progress towards launch at www.dear-esther.com

Post comment Comments  (50 - 100 of 222)
Jokerme
Jokerme

I hate it when this happens. Never gonna buy, because I've never thought this as a commercial project. You can't just promise a mod and then decide to sell it and expect people to be happy about it.

I don't care how good the game is. This is just a shameless way to create a fan base and advertise. If I knew this was a commercial project from the start I wouldn't mind but this is just an insult to modding community.

Well then, if this is a commercial project now, let's evaluate it accordingly. As far as I know takes around twenty minutes to finish, there are no enemies, no new gameplay elements, no real story, no puzzles, there is nothing to interact. There are no NPCs, there is no way to increase gameplay time, and no replayability.

Also it has great visuals, and a nice letter.

Interesting game idea.

Good luck competing with good indie projects.

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The_Silver
The_Silver

I can't agree more. ;)

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Danboe
Danboe

I never saw any "We promise to never ever go commercial" statement, so what are you on about? A really polished project getting a license must be like a dream come true to them.
Your words make you sound like someone jealous, I bet you are too.

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Jokerme
Jokerme

Promise? Who needs a promise? "Moddb" rings any bells? I was following a mod, not a game.

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Guessmyname
Guessmyname

It was originally a mod, in case you hadn't noticed. It's simply graduated.

Natural Selection 2 also shows up here, no-one complains about that.

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Jokerme
Jokerme

Natural Selection is a full free total conversion mod for Half Life. Natural Selection 2 is a full game with a brand new engine from the start. NS2 shows up on Moddb, because it's a game in IndieDB.

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Dekaku
Dekaku

Not to mention
Red Orchestra
The Ball
Damnation
Killing Floor
all started as mods and are now being sold
(There was also this other game which name wont come my mind so *shrugs*)

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Rawket
Rawket

Reasonable because they all started from scratch to make them. This however, did it from scratch with the intention of releasing it free then came around and said "YOU GOTTA PAY MAN". Douchey if you ask me.

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Cyowolf
Cyowolf

Gotta agree with that. It's a real slap in the face to make something for free, with all signs pointing that it will stay free, then abruptly turn around that it is going commercial.

Let me put this bluntly. Knytt's Story deserves a commercial release FAAAAAAAAAAAR more than this does. If only due to the fact that it would be worth the price, thanks to the gameplay mechanics and wonderful modding tools. (and some of the trippiest stuff I have EVER seen)

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greenmachine
greenmachine

No, they all started as mods.

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xxx.xxx.xxx
xxx.xxx.xxx

raindrop :) is going over to indiedb Moddb.com

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jjawinte
jjawinte

Well, we can stop following it now amigo.

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Guessmyname
Guessmyname

Don't blame the creators for your own assumptions. It's not like there isn't a free version available. It's like the GMod9 / 11 situation: limited free version, paid-for extended version.

As for modding / commercial... you're aware most Indie game producers start out as modders, right? Once you get to commercial quality, it's only fair to go commercial. And Briscoe has long since proved this is of commercial quality.

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Jokerme
Jokerme

They should release their mods before making a commercial game. Old Dear Esther was mediocre at best as far as level design goes. I was following this release just because of its level design.

Don't bend my words. I said if it was a commercial game from the start I wouldn't mind. But they just used mod community to advertise their game.

First release what you were doing, then make a game. That how modding works.

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Guessmyname
Guessmyname

That's what they've done...

The initial Dear Esther release? Free mod. Yes it's a little mediocre in visuals, but it was a proof-of-concept and critically acclaimed in spite of this.

This forms the foundations for the remake, which boosts the visuals beyond commercial level (it's on the Source engine after all, and it certainly beats out Ep2's already high visual standard), which will add to the immersion and experience praised of the original, still freely available mod, along with fixing all the hiccups and nitpicks thrown up in the original release.

So they should make a mod, then move on to make a game? Guess what, you're looking at it.

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Danboe
Danboe

"First release what you were doing, then make a game. That how modding works."

People mod because they wanna utilize the engine but can't pay for a license to go independent, these guys got a license and can do that.
Theres no golden modding rule that you can't "convert" a mod to an indie, the only things that's changed is that they can distribute it commercially now.

They got a lucky break, get over it!

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Darklord42
Darklord42

Well personally, I don't mind parting with 10-20$ And lord knows I will when this comes out. But I can't help but have mixed feelings about this. And Jokerme has a lot of good points.
For me, I always felt that this was a work of art. Something that can only be born out of the modding community. And having to be charged as if it were a game feels like I'm having to pay strict admission at the Art Museum. There is a reason why they have operated on the model of suggested donations and this was what I hoped Dear Esther would become so even hoes of limited funds or, lets face it, simply lack a credit card can enjoy it. You have to be of a certain age to get a credit card after all. And this will certainly limit those who experience it.

Ive always felt that because it was in the pretense of a game being released on Valve, that that would limit the core of the viewers to college age gamers. And that has always made me a little sad...
And now this might limit that group further.

Believe me, when it comes out I will show it too everyone I can.

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Dekaku
Dekaku

To be nitpicking, you do not have to use a credit card to buy something from steam . . .

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Darklord42
Darklord42

Unless you are referring to receiving as a gift. You need Visa or Mastercard.

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Darklord42
Darklord42

I have been thinking about it, and this really is for the best! Lets face it, if they stayed as a mod the only people who would get to enjoy this are people who own a source game. Not to mention the fact that the price of this project will probably be less then HL2. But only gamers, and the project deserves to be viewed by more than that. As people keep repeatedly saying, its not a game. I do wish for the donation model, but if that is not possible for them to reach their eventual goals then so be it. I, for what little its worth, give them my full support! And for whatever the price is when they get around to it ;)

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angrysasquatch
angrysasquatch

Agreed, it can't really stand on its own as an indie game. I suppose if it were a fraction of the price of other indie games (which have far more gameplay), then it might be worth it. But Dear Esther could honestly be better in almost every respect as a CGI movie. Considering this is just a graphical overhaul of DE, why not go one step further and make it a movie, it would look way better than the aging source engine, even with all the good stuff they were able to squeeze out of it.

I was also just on thechineseroom's site, apparently they showed Valve the DH remake in 2009, and Valve was so impressed they gave them the go-ahead for a source license. Therefore, they've known for just under 2 years they were gonna make it indie, but withheld that information. Smells like they wanted to keep the bait and switch going for as long as they could. Analyzed as an indie title, DH isn't that astounding, they knew that and wanted to keep it as a mod for as long as possible as there are lower standards for mods than commercial releases.

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CockyBoi
CockyBoi

Wow, didn`t know that part about 2009 actually.

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Dekaku
Dekaku

To be fair you can not say, that this was out of the blue, since they have asked us what we would think about Dear Esther becoming something to pay for. . . So no big surprise that they did it in the end.

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Povuholo
Povuholo

Indeed, they have said in the past that they were considering it.

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Argoon
Argoon

No story?! Dear Esther is all about story and how it is told to you. So stop the wining already and be glad they will make it a indie game with more production value them is already apparent in the fantastic level design on the remake.

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thegentleman
thegentleman

I suddenly feel so proud to be Portsmouthian.

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Theon
Theon

FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU-

Was good, but not PAYING to play the same short-story again.

Looks purty, good luck.

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Soldier11
Soldier11

I'm kind of disappointed. I don't really know what it is, but the action of the mod team is shameless towards the community and fans. Of course, it's understandable. They spent a lot their time to create outstanding content. The team have definitely proven their talent.
Obviously they want to get a reward for their hard work now. Charging money is the easiest way to achieve that reward.

Is it really needed to betray all the followers? It' ridiculous in my opinion....

I fully agree to Jokerme, too.

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Guessmyname
Guessmyname

Um.

"The team have definitely proven their talent. Obviously they want to get a reward for their hard work now. Charging money is the easiest way to achieve that reward."

You've just explained a perfectly valid reason for them to go commercial, and then you call it shameless. Undermine your own argument, much?

Valve granted them a license, I think that proves they have the skill to deserve the chance to go commercial.

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Jokerme
Jokerme

If it was a game it wouldn't be shameful, they were creating a free mod as far as I remember.

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Leon_Kilean
Leon_Kilean

We should be proud a few of us indie developers got their hands on a license and got commercial, instead of whining about money.

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gazornonplat
gazornonplat

Can't wait, whatever this is going to be priced at, I'll pay it, because you guys have well and truly earned it.

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VulpineComplex
VulpineComplex

Our top story tonight, developer makes amazing work; gets chance to strike it big commercially. Self entitled nerds cry because everything isn't free. Film at '11.

Guys, he never explicitly stated that it was going to be free, ever. It's alright to assume that, but if it turns out otherwise, don't cry about it. I'd say he's deserved it, and I'll buy the hell out of the game when it comes out.

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INtense! Staff
INtense!

Great attitude, free is awesome but there is a significant amount of work that goes into the amazing games and if you want to see more like them you have to dig deep and show your support.

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Jokerme
Jokerme

(buried)

I can't believe how easy it is to fool people. I don't mind paying a few dollars to good games, and certainly wouldn't mind donating Dear Esther Remake 10$ if this update was about their need for money. But I won't pay even 1$ to this game.

This mod was big. It was being created by a professional level designer, it was pushing Source to its limits. Now what? They made their advertisement here and going for a commercial with a more then lacking game. I like to pay my money to people who really deserve it. And chineseroom wasn't really honest about their intentions. That's why I'm sad. They could at least let us know they were meaning to sell the game.

Is it really that difficult to understand that this is wrong? I thought ethics were important for most people.

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VulpineComplex
VulpineComplex

You sound like a hipster, or a hippie. Keep going against the grain, man!!

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Roland_of_Gilead
Roland_of_Gilead

just make it 3.99$

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Leon_Kilean
Leon_Kilean

Great news dudes, congratulations!
I´ll buy it the day it comes out.

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Tokoya
Tokoya

Some of your reactions makes me wonder if everyone is here purely for the free stuffs and no other reason.

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Awesome_ninja
Awesome_ninja

If you release a demo of the full version to showcase what's new, I may probably buy it (as long as it's not more than 20$), but if there is no demo... You are making a big, big mistake. Look at Bulletstorm! So many people will torrent it just because they don't know how it feels on PC (including myself). Then if game is actually good, we'll buy it, but how hard is it to release a demo?
Anyways, back on topic: Best of luck to you!

EDIT: I just hope you will make it more interesting than the original apart "WOAH!" when looking on the graphics like in Crysis...

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alvarojmarquez
alvarojmarquez

Mmm

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chineseroom Author
chineseroom

OK - the reason we didn't announce it was going indie early on is because we didn't know. License negotiations are long and complicated and we'd have ended up being criticised for going backwards and forwards. So we announced as soon as it was a viable thing to do.

Clearly, the idea we're ripping anyone off is just daft. Going indie means we can access further funds to do things like overhaul all the audio, get the coding really stable and (shock, horror) make sure that the huge amount of time spent on this thing is rewarded - Rob has been on this for two years. I think he deserves payment if we can achieve that. He's done things with Source that a lot of us didn't think were possible, and the remake is absolutely extraordinary - even before we put in the new soundtrack and a whole bunch of re-designed pathways and detail.

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chineseroom Author
chineseroom

I've always been upfront in interviews in the last couple of years that moving towards an indie model meant we could push ideas forwards in terms of experimental design we just couldn't achieve with modding. Where we can, and where there is funding to do that, great, I'll mod. I love this scene and I've always said that. But there are some directions I want thechineseroom to move in and that takes cash, and commercialisation is ironically the one way I can protect the work from having too many strings attached through public subsidy.

Mods are great, the mod scene is amazing, but there are a lot of gamers out there outside the scene and we want to be able to reach them. Realistically, this is a niche game, it's a small indie title, and we're hoping we make enough to slide a decent living wage at the people who have committed huge effort and talent to it, and maybe a little on top of that to get a new project off the ground. The alternative is we exist purely on donations from within the mod scene to make mods, because somehow the bills have to be paid.

So I'm not going to take the idea we've somehow 'betrayed' the scene or 'duped' fans. And we're not talking about a $50 release, obviously. We'll keep posting updates as we have more information to release. It's still early days.

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Danboe
Danboe

Thanks for clearing some things up, hope that calms things down.

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Guessmyname
Guessmyname

Thank you. And best of luck; you've certainly earned the opportunity!

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Argoon
Argoon

Don't be discoreged by all this whiners You guys and especially Rob deserves being paid for their work, we all like to see some kind of reword for our work. Few people like is said here in Portugal "Trabalha para aquecer" this is "Work only to warm them selfs"

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Urby
Urby

Awww, I was waiting for the release to play this since I heard it was an amazing mod but I never played. Was looking forward to the release of the overhaul to get the most out of it.

Don't get me wrong, I would gladly part with the money for it, but I cannot afford to go even £1 over my budget for the next few years.

Shame... but good luck. (I'll watch a playthrough on YouTube) :P

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Sharkz
Sharkz

Good to hear, we posted about this on Modsentry.com but the jist of it was we support the move just as we supported many other mods that made the jump to Indie status. I've always seen the modding community as a springboard to help projects and devs go commercial and if one mod deserves to go commercial, it is Dear Esther. Hope to hear more from you soon!

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Link3737
Link3737

Will this be a similar length as the original release? I can't see myself paying more than $2.50 for a 20 minute game, no matter how long you spent making it look pretty.

I've bought much better games for $5, including Chime, P.B. Winterbottom, Torchlight, Killing Floor, TFC, Lead and Gold, Lugaru HD, Aquaria, Garry's Mod, etc.

You'd be out of your mind to charge the same price for something like this.

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chineseroom Author
chineseroom

Im hoping to get well over an hour's gameplay in there with all the new exploration, content and audio, maybe even more, and with every playthrough being unique Im hoping it will make the replayability all the more rewarding. Dont worry we wont be charging a lot, and I will do everything I can to make sure every penny you spend is worth it. - Rob

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Held
Held

It's your decision and the decision is already fallen. I wished you would have say it earlier. Sure you didn't know if the whole thing with the licence is going glad, but you could have say that you're aiming for an commercial release.

That makes me sad, talking from a big remake, showing amzing things and telling at the end that you have to pay for it. I mean paying for it isn't the deal. I bought "the ball" for example. The ball is a ut3 mod which gone commercial. After releasing the mod, they've said, that there is coming a commercial version. I've loved the mod and buyed their game, so that isn't the point, I'm willing to pay for good work.

But there is a difference between your mod and the ball. The people of the ball are normal people which created a mod and went commercial with their project. Dear Ester got released and a professional game developer went on to create a remake ... and you want to tell me that you couldn't say earlier that you want to go commercial ?

I think you had the idea getting commercial at the first minute you've startet with the remake. You could have say it with one little sentence two years ago

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Docm30
Docm30

Hourences, the creator of The Ball, has worked professionally on several games, including UT2k4 and Killzone. I'd say this qualifies him as a professional game developer---so what exactly is the difference between The Ball and Dear Esther?

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Held
Held

The difference is, that not the creator of the mod is developing the remake. It's a outstanding game developer.

The point of my first comment is about the late release of the information (being commercial).

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PytoX
PytoX

wow awesome, congrats

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Sporkeh
Sporkeh

(buried)

ITT: Jews

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Tom@engineaudio
Tom@engineaudio

? wtf

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Metalspy
Metalspy

Ohh congratulations! :) I never finished the mod because it bugged at some point (I think :/) but I've been looking forward to the remake. It's great that you will be able to sell your mod-turned-into-a-game.

I can understand some of the comments here about being disappointed, but making such a huge problem of it is a bit silly IMO. It's a game, a piece of art (hopefully), I think it's the 'dream' of every modder to get paid for his/her work. I expect some comments like "no I want my mods to be free and blahblah" but let's be honest: I think even those persons wouldn't decline the offer to sell their mods.

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Darklord42
Darklord42

Well personally, I don't mind parting with 10-20$ And lord knows I will when this comes out. But I can't help but have mixed feelings about this. And Jokerme has a lot of good points.
For me, I always felt that this was a work of art. Something that can only be born out of the modding community. And having to be charged as if it were a game feels like I'm having to pay strict admission at the Art Museum. There is a reason why they have operated on the model of suggested donations, and this was what I hoped Dear Esther would become so even those of limited funds or, lets face it, simply lack a credit card can enjoy it. You have to be of a certain age to get a credit card after all. And this will certainly limit those who experience it.

Ive always felt that because it was in the pretense of a game being released on Valve, that that would limit the core of the viewers to college age gamers. And that has always made me a little sad...
And now this might limit that group further.

Believe me, when it comes out I will show it too everyone I can.

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DazJW
DazJW

I normally feel disappointed by these announcements but not this one. I'm more than happy to pay for a remake of Dear Esther of the standard that has been shown.

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ghostings
ghostings

No, can't complain they want monies for all their hard work. But this still takes away this game's status as a mod, and mods are what I support. The same damn thing happened to Raindrop and Killing Floor. I guess I can start assuming that when I see a mod with great gameplay or graphics, it's going to go indie.

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NFEM
NFEM

Кому он на хуй нужен? Даже бесплатно.

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CockyBoi
CockyBoi

Ай лолд =)

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Studios
Studios

Гейб будет доволен.

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Rawket
Rawket

Go ahead and charge money for it. I'll get it for free in the end anyways.

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KILLER89(FIN)
KILLER89(FIN)

Seriously guys, what the **** is wrong with you?

Is it really "going greedy nazi bastard", if someone who has made a succesfull mod with his / her spare time, and wants few bucks from it?

It´s called getting bread from the hard work.

Yes, game / mod making is not piece of cake business.

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MrTambourineMan
MrTambourineMan

No way, I never thought I'm gonna agree with Killer89(FIN) but now I do. What a happy day!

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OriginalPerry
OriginalPerry

Congrats, and now, i shall definitely *not* be waiting to torrent this. Damn pirates.

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Varsity
Varsity

This comment thread is shameful. I cannot stand people so obsessed with money they can't bear to part with it.

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AJ_Quick

Yeah I think it's fair to say this has gone from "shameful" to "utterly disgusting" in a hurry. You've got people threatening to pirate it, people calling the devs greedy .... what the hell!? Does a single one of you have any idea what it takes to develop a game, let alone one of this quality? Apparently this community is full of cheap, paranoid hipsters, and self entitled, whiny children in equal measure. Or they just picked today to come swarming out of the wood work. Really, really pathetic. And disappointing to see, as someone who's also working on a commercial project, and has done the mod-retail thing in the past myself I empathize with the DE devs, and hope they can turn a blind eye to this BS.

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Tokoya
Tokoya

No they don't realize the amount of effort game projects take because a large amount of them are just here for free content and haven't learned to appreciate it at all.

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Bad_D0g
Bad_D0g

Doesn't matter how much it costs, I'll buy it and play it because I loved the original

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NikolaiChekhov
NikolaiChekhov

This is slightly disappointing, if only because I won't be able to shell out the money for it.

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