The From Earth public beta is now available for download via Steam here (or install directly from this direct link). From Earth requires you to own Half-Life 2(which is roughly 10 euros at the time of writing) on your Steam account, but you should not need to have it installed. The mod itself is a 5GB download and should run on any computer that can run Portal or any other Source Engine games of that period.
What is From Earth?
For those unfamiliar with From Earth, here's a short synopsis:
You take the role of Zenaida Liu, one of two human beings sent on a voyage to a remote alien planet designated EX775. As the first humans to ever set foot on the planet, she and her companion, Anthony Yaremov, have little to no idea of what to expect. Anthony soon runs into trouble with the local alien government, and Zenaida must find a way to rendezvous with him before the situation can escalate. She has to make a choice between either fighting the local populace or trying to learn their language in order to communicate with them. With limited resources on an unknown, potentially hostile alien world, Zenaida must find a way to use the alien technology to her advantage.
From Earth features a first person combat system that the player can use to fight the Z-Duw government soldiers – if they so choose, that is. Alternatively, the player can unlock alien words by simply listening to what the aliens are saying and attempt to use our custom built language system to unlock alien sentences. Once the player has unlocked an alien sentence they can always speak that sentence without having to use the language system. The player must also examine the alien’s technology in order to understand how it works. If one pays close attention to how the aliens themselves utilise this technology, they too can learn how to utilise it. The player also has an array of climbing abilities, allowing them to stay out of sight of the the Z-Duw project soldiers trying to catch them.
So, what is included and not included in this public beta?
The public beta features the entire From Earth storyline. Simply put, you can play it from beginning to the end. Some choreographed scenes might be a bit unfinished, and there are certainly placeholder models in place in some sections of the game. That said, all major features are in and the game, as stated, is fully playable. However, because of the scope of the game it was impossible for us to find enough playtesters to properly give the game a thorough examination. So, we are releasing the public beta in order to gain feedback on the game in its entirety. Is the language system fun? Is the combat too difficult or too easy? Is it intuitive to try and create new items? And so on. Any and all feedback is appreciated. We will do our best to iterate and improve the game based on your feedback.
Some aspects of the game might be more difficult to change, but don't be afraid to leave any kind of suggestions on the Steam forums for From Earth.
What's in store for the future?
We will obviously try to fix any bugs that arise, balance the gameplay and fix any parts of the game that are too difficult or are simply not interesting enough. We will also continue to roll out visual updates to the game as we go forward. The aforementioned placeholder models will eventually be replaced, and we will continue adding new props to the game. On that note, please don't be afraid to leave any feedback on the visual aspects of the game either, as this allows us to know where we should be focusing our efforts.
Apart from that there will some smaller updates and even some small feature additions too. I am also thinking of adding Workshop integration and writing a few tutorials for people interested making maps for From Earth, but right now it's too early to say if there will be anyone interested in pursuing that – it’s simply a possibility going forward.
At the moment I am thinking future updates will be released on Friday. I will try to provide adequate warning beforehand if there's ever an update that might potentially break your save files. You can follow From Earth on Twitter or Facebook for more frequent updates and descriptions of what will be included in that week’s update.