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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

Post comment Comments  (0 - 50 of 222) Feb 11 2011, 9:57am says:

So are you going to share your earnings with the original creator too ?
ohw wait that is you :) right ? nevermind

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sharkz Feb 11 2011, 12:25pm replied:

Not sure if your being sarcastic but from the original author's (Dan Pitchbeck) comments it certainly looks like he will be getting a cut of the profit and is involved in the project in someway.

We've posted about the change and how we feel about it over at Mod Sentry

+3 votes     reply to comment Feb 11 2011, 1:04pm replied:

yea i was a little, so how about Valve, they getting any money for the eninge your using (not that they need it)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sharkz Feb 11 2011, 1:08pm replied:

"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."

They are licensed by Valve to use the engine commercially

+2 votes     reply to comment Feb 12 2011, 4:30am replied:

i hope you find enough people to sell it too, (who havent played it)
Maybe i will try it sometime when it is cheap :) (knowing whats coming and all)

+2 votes     reply to comment
foeaxe Mar 7 2011, 2:45am replied:

You need some help :)
Get your facts right before you open your mouth...

0 votes     reply to comment
Studios Dec 29 2012, 2:22pm replied:

It`s better tip for you.

+1 vote     reply to comment
hogan_skoll Feb 11 2011, 10:08am says:

hell yes this is good news - sad to part with the money but i loved the original so its deff going to be worth it

+4 votes     reply to comment
Stealthgato Feb 11 2011, 10:09am says:

So it's no longer a free mod?

+14 votes     reply to comment
Artaxxz Feb 11 2011, 10:10am replied:


+10 votes     reply to comment
Triden007 Feb 11 2011, 2:39pm replied:


-3 votes     reply to comment
Meraqel Feb 11 2011, 10:11am says:

"bla bla bla ... Dear Esther will be released commercially in bla bla bla ..." - Meh

+40 votes     reply to comment
Darthlex Feb 12 2011, 7:28am replied:

I believe I've read about 4 or 5 comments now, that go "But NS2/Orion/Raindrop/Etc did it too, noone complained then?" and to that, I'll say this:

No, noone complained. Why? Because they were never promised as mods, starting off. They were never labeled as remakes of a mod, showing dozens and dozens of pictures, in order to reel people in.

NS2 started right off with saying "Hey guys, we are doing an Indie now" same goes for Orion, going "Orion is actually a project that has an insanely long story, we are going to release 3 games!" It was all about *brilliant* PR strategies.

Here, we've followed a game for god knows how long. We've not been promised anything, so we are not allowed to rage, make no mistake. Still, we are allowed to be disappointed, in a poor choice of presentation, when we are told that everything we've seen .. A game which we voted 2nd place in the freaking

*UPCOMING MOD OF THE YEAR AWARD* - Keyword here being "Mod"
(Nevermind that the editors also gave it the *Editor's Choice Award* for UpcomingMOTY..)

*Sigh* Before this, I was a definite player .. Yes, I would have contributed, had you needed this kind of help, but this is just 'meh' behaviour to me.

[EDIT]: Gah, fail reply system.

+8 votes     reply to comment
sbnewsom Feb 14 2011, 6:55am replied:

Sorry, but Orion was originally promised to be a free mod.

+2 votes     reply to comment
thefoofighter Feb 14 2011, 9:56am replied:

True and now its not even on the source engine anymore

-1 votes     reply to comment
Vcc2cc Feb 22 2011, 4:30pm replied:

It's "no one" not "noone"

Orion wIS free, and once they changed engines- announced it'd be better and cost money.

NS IS free. NS2 is a sequel to an existing game, and since it is on their own engine, they announced very early it'd cost money.

The main problem here is the "all of a sudden" announcement. That's why most of these people are ****** off. They were waiting for their free government **** *** robot, and then a month before release were told it'll cost money.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Minuit Feb 11 2011, 10:19am says:

Queue everyone feeling "let down" that they have to part with a small amount of money for an absolutely amazing project that people have spent months and months and months of their time on doing a remake of a mod that is already for free.

Greedy community. Be ashamed.

+14 votes     reply to comment
AJ_Quick Feb 11 2011, 10:48am replied:

This project looks astonishing, and has obviously been given a great deal of care and attention (read : many, many hours of work). Don't feel like rewarding that kind of talent? Good. Then don't play it.

All these whiny, entitled responses are casting the community in a very bad light.

+5 votes     reply to comment
Croco15 Feb 11 2011, 2:09pm replied:

Just gotta join in. Seriously, this is an awesome project! Stop whining! I didn't see this much negativity when Orion said they were going commercial.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Otter. Feb 11 2011, 2:59pm replied:

It's not whining, rather then the same old story like it was back in kindergarten where the kids with the well-earning mommy and pappy get all the good and shiny toys while the rest of the kids who can't afford these have to share what they have or make.
We wouldn't mind it that much if you rich kids don't always rub it under our nose. There is a reason why we hate that they announce something free will cost money. We understand the developers, and wish they have luck, but still hate it. Imagine something you got for free all along now suddenly going to cost money (like Youtube for example) you would be mad too, even if it's just 5$/year. Oh of course you can use a trial to watch 10 videos... well gee, thanks a lot. Now we feel suddenly better...
I think Minuit wouldn't get such a big karma now if they quickly announce that Cry of Fear will cost you money.

So really we should stop with the "You are greedy";"Stop whining"; etc. comments because for some people this hurts even though they would surely pay if they could, and it will really make you look like a smug a******

I seriously say that there should be an indicator here on moddb in the sidebar under the Release date (for example) that says: "Chance that this mod will go commercial:" with options like "Highly unlikely" "Yes" "If I get a chance, but surely I won't", etc.

Tl;DR version: I'm not against Dear Esther going indie and priced, just want to stop this war about priced and free things.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sadonikus Feb 11 2011, 4:10pm replied:

Jeez, we are probably talking about 3,99 Dollars! Get it from your mothers purse you stupid kid and stop WHINING!

-2 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 5:06pm replied:

If sega is selling their genesis games on steam for 4 dollars, then what are they going to charge for dear esther hmm?

-2 votes     reply to comment
jo291 Feb 11 2011, 5:34pm replied:

If your so poor why is it that you can afford a computer to play games on and internet?

-2 votes     reply to comment
Otter. Feb 11 2011, 6:24pm replied:

Ahh, everybody just read between the lines. Wasted my time again...

+3 votes     reply to comment
Jike Feb 12 2011, 3:25am replied:

I also find it very sad how the dumb kids, pretending to be mature, vote down all the argumentative comments about why some people feel screwed with and why however it is legit for pinchbeck to earn money.

Then on the other hand the "stop whining"-comments become the most popular...

+8 votes     reply to comment
Croco15 Feb 12 2011, 4:11pm replied:

That's cause people want karma. I was gonna say "no one complain", but I was already 50 something comments behind. I understand people may feel cheated about having to pay, but hey, how are we supposed to get new developers?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Dekaku Feb 11 2011, 10:41am says:

I am more interested in how much you will charge for it (than for the fact that you will charge for it). I just can not think of Dear Esther as a game you will have to pay 40 Bucks or even more, i mean it is hardly a game the way it is. . . Its too unique / hard to categorize thus also hard to think of a price . . . But oh well we will see once it is released . . .

+1 vote     reply to comment
chineseroom Author
chineseroom Feb 11 2011, 1:40pm replied:

rest assure you will NOT be paying 40 bucks for this, not even close :) - Rob

+14 votes   reply to comment
Jokerme Feb 11 2011, 10:47am says:

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.

+5 votes     reply to comment
The_Silver Feb 11 2011, 11:14am replied:

I can't agree more. ;)

+5 votes     reply to comment
Danboe Feb 11 2011, 11:24am replied:

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.

0 votes     reply to comment
Jokerme Feb 11 2011, 12:05pm replied:

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

+3 votes     reply to comment
Guessmyname Feb 11 2011, 12:11pm replied:

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.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Jokerme Feb 11 2011, 12:16pm replied:

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.

-1 votes     reply to comment
Dekaku Feb 11 2011, 5:41pm replied:

Not to mention
Red Orchestra
The Ball
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*)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Rawket Feb 11 2011, 6:23pm replied:

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.

0 votes     reply to comment
Cyowolf Feb 11 2011, 8:14pm replied:

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)

+4 votes     reply to comment
greenmachine Feb 16 2011, 7:48pm replied:

No, they all started as mods.

+1 vote     reply to comment Feb 12 2011, 4:27am replied:

raindrop :) is going over to indiedb

+2 votes     reply to comment
jjawinte Feb 12 2011, 2:19pm replied:

Well, we can stop following it now amigo.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Guessmyname Feb 11 2011, 11:41am replied:

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.

0 votes     reply to comment
Jokerme Feb 11 2011, 12:09pm replied:

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.

-4 votes     reply to comment
Guessmyname Feb 11 2011, 12:19pm replied:

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.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Danboe Feb 11 2011, 12:27pm replied:

"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!

+3 votes     reply to comment
Darklord42 Feb 11 2011, 2:16pm replied:

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.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Dekaku Feb 11 2011, 5:51pm replied:

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

+1 vote     reply to comment
Darklord42 Feb 11 2011, 7:32pm replied:

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

+2 votes     reply to comment
Darklord42 Feb 11 2011, 7:44pm replied:

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 ;)

+1 vote     reply to comment
angrysasquatch Feb 11 2011, 12:31pm replied:

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.

+3 votes     reply to comment
CockyBoi Feb 11 2011, 1:23pm replied:

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

+3 votes     reply to comment
Dekaku Feb 11 2011, 5:38pm replied:

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.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Povuholo Feb 11 2011, 8:25pm replied:

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

+1 vote     reply to comment
Argoon Feb 11 2011, 5:38pm replied:

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.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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