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 article 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 chineseroom on Feb 11th, 2011

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  (150 - 200 of 222)
stumpy107 Feb 11 2011, 6:14pm says:

Can anyone give a confimation of price? 15$ I think is a good estimate (and fair price) shouldn't this have it's own game page now, not a mod page?

-2 votes     reply to comment
chineseroom Author
chineseroom Feb 11 2011, 6:26pm replied:

Hi Stumpy, Rob here, although I cant give you any exact figure just yet, we're hoping to aim somewhere just below that figure, basically no more than your average theatre ticket. Im going to work on moving us over to indieDB sometime over the weekend. We weren't expecting to announce it today but some sites released the news early and we were caught a little unprepared (I'll be working on spurcing up the main wesite also)

Thanks for your support! :)

+4 votes   reply to comment
Sporkeh Feb 11 2011, 6:27pm says:

Lol Rawket, people are capable to decide for themselves if this project is worth their money.

+5 votes     reply to comment
chineseroom Author
chineseroom Feb 11 2011, 6:29pm says:

Just noticed the original is offline, sorry I only just noticed that, which is my fault, it will be back up again tomorrow! -Rob

+3 votes   reply to comment
willy-wilson Feb 11 2011, 7:15pm says:

Ill gladly part with some cash to help out another dev, the only thing that gets me is ill have to wait a little longer to play it.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Cyowolf Feb 11 2011, 8:03pm says:

For a commercial mod, I don't quite see the appeal of it. After all, it's merely a game about a man wandering an island, gradually getting the story as you go. True, the visuals may be improved, but I still don't quite see how that merits it becoming a commercial game. :S

-1 votes     reply to comment
Studios Feb 11 2011, 8:33pm replied:

Wonder why some smartys vote down simple opinions without any offence in it.
In other words - Why so butthurt?

-1 votes     reply to comment
jo291 Feb 11 2011, 8:41pm replied:

They are adding more areas to explore and the areas are a bit bigger then the original so it will be longer and it will also have more dialog.

Also awesomatic people on BOTH sides are getting thumbed down.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Cyowolf Feb 11 2011, 8:50pm replied:

As interesting as that is, its more or less bonus content. Unless there's some actual gameplay we haven't seen before, I doubt this enterprise will be successful.

0 votes     reply to comment
ytres Feb 11 2011, 8:30pm says:

I'm willing to pay for it. Congrats =D

+2 votes     reply to comment
bandit55 Feb 11 2011, 8:53pm says:

To the people who are a bit miffed about having to pay, haven't you ever donated, even a small amount, to the people who made an excellent mod you've played? If by going indie means there are more talented people continuing to make games, then more power to them. I hope they get a reasonable return for their work.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Irespawnoften Feb 11 2011, 9:04pm says:

While I completely understand the want to earn money for your efforts, taking the original mod down, and then making us pay for the updated version? **** move.

-3 votes     reply to comment
Bon. Feb 11 2011, 9:18pm says:

Only today was i browsing through the dear ester dev blog for the billionth time, now this news. I am so happy this will be released commercially, id feel like a thief having such quality work for free !

+4 votes     reply to comment
Vcc2cc Feb 11 2011, 9:53pm says:

So this isn't free anymore?

I guess that's what the fans deserve. To inflate a rather unknown and graphically poor mod with a great story into enough hype that draws the attention of its creators to remake it into something better- and then charge for it.

If it's under $2 I'll buy it. But it'll probably be $10.

-3 votes     reply to comment
Pajari Feb 11 2011, 10:21pm says:

it's criminal to charge people for something as insubstantial as dear esther. it's an insult to people who sell actual games.

-4 votes     reply to comment
Spuzaw Feb 11 2011, 10:24pm says:

Wow, all of these self entitled people are making the modding community look terrible.

You people need to grow up, get a job and learn how to work for things in life.

+5 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 11:22pm buried:


hey, just cause i can afford something, doesn't mean i should go buy it.

-5 votes     reply to comment
robofork Feb 12 2011, 4:43am replied:

Is anybody saying you have to?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 12 2011, 1:27pm replied:

everyone who agrees being charged here is.

-1 votes     reply to comment
robofork Feb 12 2011, 5:36pm replied:

They are saying they want to. If it is such a burden to part with a few dollars then go play the free version and stop bitching.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 12 2011, 11:10pm replied:

kiss my ***.

-1 votes     reply to comment
Pajari Feb 11 2011, 10:47pm buried:


"get a job, lol" yeah, maybe if I can score a swank position as an academic in a bogus field like games studies I can get paid lavishly to have other people make bad mods based on my terrible ideas, and then turn around a few years down the road when I decide that I'm not acting shamefully enough and charge a price for them and therefore make the outrageous presumption that they are worth real money. a ton of people who do make their own money and respect themselves enough to not throw their time away on ******** will be steering way clear of this abortion. that doesn't make them the least bit entitled.

-6 votes     reply to comment
Tokoya Feb 11 2011, 11:25pm replied:

Tell yourself whatever you want, the simple fact is you feel entitled to someones years of hard work, you actually think they owe you this game for free.

Valve felt that this project warranted a free license and granted them as much so who the **** are you to question that? Just another insignificant jerk who can't recognize or appreciate what kind effort and talent a project of this magnitude requires.

I make my own money and I respect myself enough to not fool myself into thinking that "The world owes me something and **** anyone who thinks otherwise."

+6 votes     reply to comment
Pajari Feb 11 2011, 11:38pm replied:

well he clearly decided that I was owed the game for free because he made it available for years in that state. he only waited for it to become popular until he suddenly reversed himself and decided that we had to pay for it. as for valve's decision, more proof that there's no accounting for taste.

the people endlessly bleating on here about how no one has jobs and are all jackasses sitting in their basements are most likely the most entitled and pathetic of all the people making comments on this site. this is a terrible mod and its capitalization is a completely unsubtle cash-grab, and if any of you actually did understand and appreciate good work in any field you would easily recognize what an incredible fraud this game is and not reflexively defend these people for the shameful things that they do. out

-4 votes     reply to comment
jo291 Feb 12 2011, 10:51am replied:

Sounds like someone doesn't understand the meaning of the word "entitled"!

+1 vote     reply to comment
MrTambourineMan Feb 12 2011, 9:57am replied:

Do not worry, you won't get academic job due to your miserable knowledge of grammar. The first thing academic has to know is punctuation and capital letters.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Tanshaydar Feb 12 2011, 12:13am says:

So, what about translations, still thinking on them?

+1 vote     reply to comment
superdoughboy4 Feb 12 2011, 2:27am says:

Great. We'll be having to pay for a mod that we've been following forever.

-1 votes     reply to comment
Jike Feb 12 2011, 3:12am says:

wait what?

this dude called briscoe thinks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMvJwctXzqw so he calls up the creator of this one famous mod and says "hey, I can do it better, lets sell it"

as obnoxious as that sounds, it's surely what it looks like...

-2 votes     reply to comment
Captain-Arse Feb 12 2011, 3:23am says:

What engine shall you be using, for this "new" game?

+1 vote     reply to comment
bschou Feb 12 2011, 4:11am says:

The complaining here is absolutely ridiculous.
A lot of mods go commercial.
The free version is still available to download for free
So they're remaking it and adding a price. You don't have to buy it. Nobody is forcing you to. Buying it merely shows your support for the hard work and talent these modders have shown.
The people complaining obviously have no idea how much effort goes into a quality mod like Dear Esther.
Counter-strike, Day Of Defeat, and countless other mods have gone commercial.
People here are basically claiming that this is somehow a "scam" and "free advertising" for a commercial product. There's an element of truth to that. BUT they already released a totally free and complete version that you can download and play at your leisure. I would agree with you IF they never released ANY substantial content and then "boom!" You need to pay money. That is clearly NOT the case here though.

The developers don't owe you anything. Nowhere in moddb's rules states "no mods here will ever go commercial". They've already done a tremendous amount by making free content and releasing it. What exactly have you done to contribute to the modding community? Besides whining in comment sections?
If you don't like it, don't buy it. If a talented musician decides to sell an album of songs he used to sing at gigs for free when he's become popular do you suddenly denounce him? A film-maker does some free screenings of a movie he's worked hard on. Why should he be blasted if he wants to sell some DVD's? Shouldn't good creative work deserve some compensation?

+4 votes     reply to comment
Wesley Feb 12 2011, 4:26am says:

I understand the decision from the developers. Robert did as myself, he quit his job at a good paying company 2 years ago and worked on his project for free. The amount of money we both lost in those two years of unemployment is huge for any working person. Dear Esther is a project where they can and should go independent and try and make a buck from it. Some remarks about them going mod first and then go indie is just ridiculous because it's a unique single player experience. If it were a multiplayer mod then they could try this approach. I've been working myself day and night almost for the past 2 years being unemployed and I to wonder if it will all be worth it in the end. As Off Limits is a multiplayer mod I don't plan to go indie myself and first see how well it's received by the masses. Even then I doubt we'll plan any independent release. Heck, I'll be glad to see it on Steam someday alongside Insurgency/Zombie Panic... But now there's Desura so... :)

To me the times have changed and the tools have now become available for any modder to not mod anymore but try and make a buck out of any small project. This is why some older mods who spent years of development work and resources into their work now decide to make the move. I lost a lot of money over a period of 8 years working on my mod (website hosting and game servers...) Probably over 500€. So in general I believe every mod developer has the right to try and earn some money back from their hard work.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Kiory Feb 12 2011, 6:46am says:

I can't imagine them charging much, it's not a full blown game after all, it's more of an interactive story book that you walk through as someone once put it.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 12 2011, 6:56am says:

A man builds, a parasite asks, "Where's my share?" XD

-1 votes     reply to comment
RangerC Feb 12 2011, 7:06am says:

Holy cow!

+2 votes     reply to comment
D3ads Feb 12 2011, 8:05am says:

I'm appalled at some of the comments here, people whining about going commercial is ridiculous. This was a project done in Robert and Dan's spare time, they don't owe you anything, it's entirely upto them what they do with their work.

Why shouldn't they make some money out of something they've spent 18 months working on especially with (according to an interview I read in PCGAMER UK) very limited income.

The thing about mods is that it's all done in people's spare time, Black Mesa for example as big as it is, is still such a project, it's not a game people work full-time on which is why it's taking a long time to come out. Sometimes mods stop development and people get annoyed about it, but they shouldn't because they have no right to. It's down to the developers what they wish to do. Same goes for the case if a project goes commercial.

I don't believe for a second that they intended for this to be a retail title from the offset, they saw an opportunity and they took it and for that they should be given support and if at the end of the day you still want it free... play the free version.

+5 votes     reply to comment
Qured Feb 12 2011, 8:47am says:

Rank: 1 of 13,591.

Speaks for itself. If there ever was a mod to do this, it's DE.

-2 votes     reply to comment
PinothyJ Feb 12 2011, 9:48am says:

The game will be receiving an independent release some time in the middle of the year. This has obviously been the plan for a while now and while I and many of the DE fans are thrilled that TCR are doing so well, we cannot help feel betrayed and stabbed in the back by this **** move.

DE received second place in the Upcoming *MOD* of the Year category of the ModDB annual awards and Editor's Choice Award in the same *MOD* category. So unless we're having a Californian, 1980's mod revival here in 2010/11, this is a complete rip! It is like paying extra for a collector's edition for exclusive items that are added into the game come the first patch day.

TCR have done a fantastic job of lying to the public and feeding nothing more than false hope - what more is it than building reputation and report on false pretences? Imagine turning out in droves to a movie screening of your imagination's choosing on an impression that 100% of the day's profits are going to the flood relief effort and only when the doors open and you are all let inside do you find out that this isn't the case? You still want to see the movie, and you're right there at the ticket counter, but now it is different. You still want to see the movie and you still will pay for that movie, but being jerked around and led by the nose like that is one word: rude.

I know it's yay for indie gaming and all that crap, but this is NOT the way you do it, and this is not the way you treat your hardcore, check ModDB daily, fans.

Who needs honesty and respect when you have talent…

-4 votes     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 12 2011, 10:21am replied:

You havent paid anything yet and still can play the old version for free, so whats your ******* problem?

Its THEIR WORK and they can do whatever they want to do with it! When they have the opportunity to reach a much bigger audience with their project wich leads to proper reward, more fans and more awareness of their studio in the industry, WHY THE **** should they bother about some whining kids here on moddb. When they earn money for they work, they will be able to produce more games with more production value wich leads to more experimental gamedesign in times of Call of duty, wich is good!

All this whinery is so pathetic its getting more funny than sad

+1 vote     reply to comment
Studios Feb 12 2011, 12:27pm replied:

Are you feel like answering every post with opinion opposite to yours? =)
Also funny how moderator didn`t notice your expressive language.

-1 votes     reply to comment
jo291 Feb 12 2011, 1:39pm replied:

Awesomatic this place has turned into a flame war if you noticed rawket was responding to everyone planning to get this game also.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Studios Feb 12 2011, 1:41pm replied:

Sry, my fault

+1 vote     reply to comment
sappy_nirv_bg Feb 12 2011, 10:43am says:

Congrats guys can't wait to pick up the mod on Steam. Will there be any chance of developer commentary? Also are any achievements considered?

+1 vote     reply to comment
jo291 Feb 12 2011, 1:38pm replied:

I'm not sure if they would want achievements in there game but my guess is there is probably going to be commentary.

+1 vote     reply to comment
chineseroom Author
chineseroom Feb 14 2011, 5:26am replied:

If we can, yeah, I think we'd both really like to explore putting a commentary in - dan

+1 vote   reply to comment
jjawinte Feb 12 2011, 2:44pm says:

I believe that this high level of emotional response - neg. and pos. - is purely a testament to just how much everyone loved and respected the teams work and we were looking forward to more. I don't feel that anyone has been mislead - there's no better venue for showcasing your skills and showing off your work than right here. If you work hard and by some chance, happen to have the good fortune of getting some recognition and respect for your skills, what could be better than that ?

I've been tracking this team and the DE remake for quite a while too, but for Christ's sake people, these guys have some serious skills and have been rightfully recognized for them with the offer of a legitimate once in a lifetime " break in " opportunity.

If you feel jacked somehow by the switch, it's too bad - business is business and it's a tough friggin' industry. Good for them !

+4 votes     reply to comment
MrMazure Feb 12 2011, 4:18pm says:

I am kind of dissapointed by this. I don't feel this has anything that make it worth being commercial aside of the level design. Since this is in reality a "novel in 3D" it mean it will have a replayability close to zero, there's no point to replay something that will be exactly the same as the previous playthrough.

It shouldn't cost more than an android game, that is, 2$.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Argoon Feb 12 2011, 4:53pm says:

Alley this " there's no point to replay something that will be exactly the same as the previous playthrough." is exactly what 90% of the so called AAA 60€ games are about, Dear esther will be a one time experience yes, but is just like going to the theater or the cinema, i bet it will be even more interactive them the later and more engaging. From what "i think it was Rob" said They will not take the free DE and just make better levels to it, they will make it BIGGER and BETTER for the commercial release. Just think of your payment as a donation to a game that will CHANGE how we perceive games.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Dosycool Feb 12 2011, 7:14pm says:

I'm quite happy to pay for such an amazing mod.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 12 2011, 11:11pm replied:

"game", not mod. at least not anymore.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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