I have read through countless works from both ends of the spectrum – from mythology to science, Lovecraft to Shulgin. I am increasingly certain that these phenomena lie somewhere in a realm as yet unaccounted for: the strange place where fact and fiction meet, and a new reality comes into fruition.

Download Nestlings from ModDB

(Half-Life 2: Episode 2 required)

Mirror (MediaFire)

Nestlings is a short experiment in story and mood. It emerges from a task I set myself: to write, design and build a single-player mod in just three days.

It is not a perfect project, by any means. If it weren't for the self-imposed time limit, there are things I'd change. Maybe I will, someday.

A lengthy developer commentary, in which I talk about some of the design and narrative decisions I took for the mod, can be found here. Beware: spoilers lurk within.

Feedback is, of course, more than welcome.

Designed, written and built by Lewis Denby.
Music by Kevin McLeod, used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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It's a few months now since I made Nestlings in three days. There's been less press coverage than there was with the first version of Post Script Ep 1 (by the way: exciting news on that coming soon...), which could be due to its right-before-Christmas release, or maybe its short length, or maybe because I just threw it online with zero fanfare.

Either way, I've been generally pleased with the response, and most people's criticisms have been exactly what I expected. There have been a couple of "it's too short" comments, which I can't really get behind - I'm really interested in short-form gaming and how it works. Other than that, though, I basically agree. There are a few bugs and glitches. The "picking up notes" thing is tired and illogical. The ending... well, that's a funny one. The ending seems to have been loved and hated pretty equally. For the record, I don't like the very end - it's too abrupt and, on my new PC, for some reason doesn't even fade out. But the bit before it I was pleased with. I'm glad to see a few people saying the same.

One thing I've been delighted with is people's response to the atmosphere. I had no idea I'd managed to create something that so many people have found truly frightening. I wasn't going for fear, really. I was going for a sort of morbid fascination, which by the end had transitioned properly into classical tragedy. But so many people have talked about feeling frightened as they walked around the house. That I've managed to evoke such a reaction (with the help of Kevin McLeod's fantastic Creative Commons-licensed music, it has to be said) is just wonderful.

I've only found a couple of reviews so far. Did you like Nestlings? Did you hate it? Do you write for a PC gaming website or similar? Review it! Go on! Anyway, the two I've found are both interesting. One because, well, it's on a website I'm editor of. Yeah. For the record though, the reviewer - Fraser McMillan - wrote it off his own back and I had no input whatsoever. So I'm delighted when he says of Nestlings: "Short-form games can exploit certain elements of design in unforeseen ways, and the very fact of Nestlings’ truncated length allows it to be one of the most consistently psychologically intense and potent gaming experiences I can think of. It’s utterly captivating from beginning to end."

The other is a short write-up from Danish website Half-Life Portal, which is more mixed. They've settled on a score of 65% (how you can put a 1-100 score on something which lasts 5 minutes is totally beyond me), claiming players shouldn't expect too much, but that it is still "a very atmospheric pure-story-mod... very well done from an artistic point of view."

Anyway, further to all this, PC Gamer UK got in touch with me a few weeks back and asked if they could put Nestlings on their cover disc. Well, of course they could! So if you're in good old Blighty and picking up a copy of this month's Gamer, released today, you'll find Nestlings on the attached DVD.

Recommend Nestlings to a friend! Recommend it to a reviewer! And keep checking the Internet for - fingers crossed - a bloody exciting announcement about what I'm doing next. Well, I'm excited, anyway...

Nestlings released

Nestlings released

News 1 comment

A short experiment in story and mood. The result of a task I set myself: to design, write and build a single-player mod in just three days.

Episode 63

Episode 63

Feature 10 comments

William is alone this week because the recording was botched. He explains the situation and then goes through the week's news alone, it lasts for about...

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Full Version 3 comments

A short experiment in story and mood, built for Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

Comments  (0 - 10 of 61)
Re-synthesizer - - 141 comments

After playing through this mod -- I am dumbfounded and perplexed as to why "Nestlings" gets such high reviews.

While it 'lasts,' -- and that's truly the keyword, 'LASTS' -- "Nestlings" is a very good, original, atmospheric and purely 'exploratory' mod: You start outside of a deserted 'chateau' of shorts -- on a very dark night.....and there is a note attached to the exterior of the door. This mod consists solely of reading notes, which are written by a whom I presume is a relative of yours -- who has been 'experimenting' in attempting to contact 'Nestlings' -whatever the hell they are.

You proceed to explore the interior of the house (opening several doors to gain access to several rooms) before you reach the attic. In the attic, you find the bodies of two people -- at which point "Nestlings" seemingly 'begin' to appear.....and the mod VERY ABRUPTLY ENDS after perhaps only 3 minutes.

An elegant piano sonata plays during the duration of this mod -giving it more atmosphere- but once again, this 'turkey' is about a '3-minute-mod' NO LESS.

I cannot rate a mod this pathetically-short any higher than 2/10.

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filthy_beast - - 62 comments

Well at first I was tempted to DL and try this, but then read the comments about the notes being both important, and difficult to read. I DON'T have 20/20 vision. I'm OK with requiring a player to apply a little thought to solve a puzzle, and to have a certain measure of skill and experience to get past a tough fight. But "difficult" is one thing, and "inscrutable" is another. No thanks. On to the next one in the list.

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phipe - - 519 comments

The webpage in the description to the right seems to lead to a japanese bank loan site... I wonder what happened to the guy who made this?

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Terrorist495 - - 267 comments

Add more screenshots!

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Nonlin - - 22 comments

If your primary form of communication is through notes and notes only. Then you need to be 100% sure that your form of communcication is clear and straightforward.

Playing on 1920x1080 the notes were very hard to read. Not only did it hurt my eyes to read the text in general (and I have 20/20) it pained me to decipher the unique hand writing chosen. As such, I like others have failed to grasp the story attempting to be told. Which is clearly a shame since that is the major crutch of the game. Also exiting notes to explorer new areas was difficult once having activated a note. Make pushing e again exit the note as well as activate it.

Once these things are fixed I'd reconsider trying this potential good mod out.

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ehenking - - 45 comments

Can't read the notes.

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GrandBureaucrat - - 16 comments

Change your resolution to 1200 by 900, or anything higher than the default and they become VERY readable.

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Lickwid - - 2 comments

It sais it uses Half-Life 2: Episode 2 required, but its under Half Life 2. Fix it please >_>

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Some-Dingus - - 408 comments

Half-life 2 moddb is all the half-life's except goldsource versions and source the jid head.

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Chompster - - 4,310 comments

not really, look at this mod Moddb.com

it's specified as HL2 Ep2

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