GoldenEye: Source - All Hail the Modders


Written by Chris Price
20 Monday 20th December 2010

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, apparently. This is probably true for many things (perhaps not for prescription medication or the George Cross). But in the case of GoldenEye: Source, that’s very much the case. It’s a homebrew project to bring the memories and experiences of the original GoldenEye 007 back to life using Source gaming technology.

So what is Source? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a bit of coding from US game developers Valve that was made public, so any would-be game designers had the tools to amend the content of their games. Valve’s responsible for narrative-based, gravity-defining invasion shoot ‘em up Half-Life, fiendish 2001-inspired first person puzzler Portal and zombie eradication simulation Left 4 Dead.

And with a back catalogue like that, Valve, Source and the community that grew around them have all been pivotal in the evolution of gaming since the turn of the millennium. Perhaps, just as evolutionary as the original Goldeneye – designed by Rare for the N64 and released in 1997.

The idea of ‘open sourcing’ code is also the reason Facebook’s been so successful. Why spend money and time developing add-ons for your title? Rather work on the basic platform and let other, more uniquely-skilled people develop it for you. But Source’s roots reach way further back. Time for a brief history lesson y’all. Sit up straight and pay attention.

When Romero and Carmack released Doom in 1993, it was shareware – the first episode of the title, a playable demo, was distributed across BBS (a primitive Internet, in ASCii, transmitted via telephones) and on three floppy discs. This method of distribution ensured that thousands of people had the code before the ‘proper’ game had even emerged. Which meant thousands had ample time to pick apart the code for this fantastic new game, realising the potential for their own variants. An emerging ‘mod(ification)’ scene of techno-savvy peeps managed to crack open the rather simple coding, pop a nice front end on it and backwards engineer the coding to design their own levels, stick in new sound effects and change graphics.
Fast forward to 1998 and Valve offered their own front end and coding access with the first Half-Life game. And the community that sprung up around this accessible open-source code was so impressive, Valve went on to tap the well for new talent – which led to employment and the creation of Team Fortress (still considered the benchmark for online multiplayer action games).
So, to coin a phrase, “This shit be serious!” There’s potential for employment here. Not to mention a burgeoning community looking for heroes and guiding lights into the future.
GoldenEye: Source is serious as well. A team of coders has used Source to faithfully replicate the original GoldenEye multiplayer for PC, for free, for all you peeps. They’ve faithfully replicated all of the classic multiplayer maps: Complex, Caves, Library, Basement, Stack, Facility and Bunker… They’ve lovingly replicated the pistol sounds, the character animations and scenery. There’s License to Kill mode (karate chops are your main offence) and Golden Gun mode (one gun, one shot, one kill), which are both just as frantic as ever – with a touch of next-generation funk rubbed in.
Mods of this kind rarely get past the Beta stage, with those involved losing interest, patience or their marbles. So the fact that GoldenEye: Source has officially reached a version release is commendable alone. A note of tragedy also follows the game, with the founding coder dying tragically aged 27. It’s a pure labour of love really and took almost six years just to get to this stage – coincidentally, it was released shortly before the excellent new Wii version.
So how to critique? As both a replication of the original and a standalone game, it’s quite spacious. The claustrophobia of the original four-way split screen is missing, but all the mannerisms are the same – the bobbing pistol in front of you, characters dashing about maniacally and plenty of low level scenery to dart in and out of for cover.

The Source engine also adds some excellent ragdoll effects, making mines great fun to play with. GoldenEye: Source sets itself a target and delivers – it doesn’t update the formula, but that was never its MO. And just like James Bond 007: Blood Stone, it’s all about the silenced pistol.
The sheer amount of work that’s gone into it makes me feel a trifle pathetic questioning the dodgy hit registration with some weapons – it’s ultimately an add-on, albeit an incredibly complex one crafted with an exemplary level of dedication and care. Also, it’s free. And if you've got any problems, they’ll be ironed out soon.
So in that respect, the world at large should lay praise at the GoldenEye: Source developers’ feet. And also to Valve, for providing the tools for titles like this to be produced. And who could forget fibre-optic broadband, for letting them continue to circulate. Listen to Clay Shirky. The future is social. All hail the modders – it might’ve taken over a decade to arrive, but your time is now. 
GoldenEye: Source can be download for FREE here – you’ll need Half-Life 2 to play it, or one of the Team Fortress downloads, which can be downloaded here

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  • Guest: chris
    Mon 20 - Dec - 2010, 23:30