Black Widow Games
Black Widow Games was a computer games developer specializing in promotional mods for Quake and Half-Life 3D engines. Best known for their They Hunger series, Black Widow Games has become quite reputable within the gaming world and has become a household name for fans of Valve's Half-Life series. Prominent members included Neil Manke (Game & Level Design), Einar Saukas (Game Design & Coding), and Magnus Jansén (Game Consultant & Sound Engineer). The company business model is based on developing contract-work mods for the marketing campaigns of customer companies and products (such as the S.O.F. TV series from Rysher Entertainment and the movie Underworld from Sony Pictures), freely distributed for promotion.
Founded in 1997 to produce contractual mods for state of the art 3D game engines, Black Widow Games would release 14 games between their first mod, Soldier Of Fortune (created for Rysher Entertainment), and 2003. Notable releases included the Half Life spin-off, USS Darkstar (produced for PC Gamer), and the They Hunger series (produced for PC Gamer). They Hunger in particular generated extensive player discussion and was considered an example of good game play within the realm of Half-Life mods.
In October 2005, the company declared it was not possible anymore to produce full fledged single player mods working on low budget promotional projects within reduced development cycles, because of the higher level of detail required for modern 3D engines. At this time, the company revealed it had been secretly developing for almost a year its first commercial game They Hunger: Lost Souls, based on the Half-Life 2 Source engine. Based on the popular survival horror series, They Hunger which Black Widow Software had created in 2000 and released as a bonus with copies of PC Gamer magazine, They Hunger: Lost Souls is being developed using the Source engine and will feature a plotline revolving around a zombie outbreak in North-Eastern Europe in the 1960s. Apart from a detailed plotline and a few developers' screenshots however, little information has been released about the game since 2005. Sparse updates have been published over the years at the company's official website and in a few specialized game magazines, and the final product is expected to be released via Steam. Drawing some comparisons to vaporware titles, Planet Half-Life announced (as a joke) on April 1, 2007 that They Hunger: Lost Souls had again been redesigned and was set for release as a Nintendo DS game. A They Hunger game using the Source engine was under development for a time, but has since been canceled. The full title of the installment was They Hunger: Lost Souls, replacing the rumored temporary name They Hunger: Source. The installment had been under development since 2005, although over the years, little information was released, apart from sparse updates at the company's official website and a few specialized game magazines. However, recently, one of the developers confessed that Neil Manke has been very ill and as such the game has since been canceled.
In November 2008, the developers of the Sven Co-op mod announced that they had been working with Black Widow Games to develop a co-op version of They Hunger, which was later released as an addon to be played in the mod in December 2008.
- Jan. 1997: Dark Night (Quake I multiplayer mod)
- Feb. 1997: Outpost (Quake multiplayer mod)
- Mar. 1997: Monastery (Quake multiplayer mod)
- Apr. 1997: SlaughterHouse (Quake multiplayer mod)
- Jul. 1997: Alba 1 (Quake multiplayer mod)
- Jul. 1997: Alba 2 (Quake multiplayer mod)
- Aug. 1997: Starship (Quake multiplayer mod)
- Nov. 1997: Starship II (Quake multiplayer mod)
- 1997: Silhouette Of Darkness (Quake multiplayer mod)
- Special Ops Force: Deathmatch (Quake II multiplayer mod)
- SlaughterShip (Quake II single player mod)
- They Hunger Deathmatch 1-5 (Half-Life multiplayer mods)
- 2003: Abandoned Factory (Half-Life multiplayer mod)
- Oct. 1997: Soldier Of Fortune (Quake single player mod for Rysher Entertainment)
- Dec. 1997: Soldier Of Fortune: Deathmatch (Quake multiplayer mod for Rysher Entertainment)
- Apr. 1998: Soldier Of Fortune: Mission 2 (Quake II single player mod for Rysher Entertainment)
- Jul. 1998: Coconut Monkey: Paradise Lost (Quake II single player mod for PC Gamer)
- Sep. 1998: Special Ops Force: Mission 3 -- Desert Bloom (Quake II single player mod for Rysher Entertainment serving as a continuation of the Soldier Of Fortune Series upon the renaming of the original series by Rysher [see Soldier of Fortune, Inc.])
- Oct. 1998: Coconut Monkey: Dry Gulch (Quake II single player mod for PC Gamer)
- Dec. 1998: Special Ops Force: Mission 4 -- Cold as Ice (Quake II single player mod for Rysher Entertainment)
- Jan. 1999: Coconut Monkey: Saving Private Monkey (Quake II single player mod for PC Gamer)
- Aug. 1999: USS Darkstar (Half-Life single player mod for PC Gamer)
- Feb. 2000: They Hunger (Half-Life single player mod for PC Gamer)
- Sep. 2000: They Hunger 2: Rest in Pieces (Half-Life single player mod for PC Gamer)
- Nov. 2000: Vidar's Niflheim (Half-Life multiplayer TFC map for CNET Gamecenter [later updated to Vidar's Niflheim 2])
- Jun. 2001: They Hunger 3: Rude Awakening (Half-Life single player mod for PC Gamer)
- Sep. 2003: Underworld Bloodline (Half-Life multiplayer mod for Sony Pictures and Big Spaceship LLC)
- Female Player Model for Counter-Strike (Half-Life multiplayer CS model)
- HK G36 Model (Half-Life multiplayer CS model)
- HK PDW Model (Half-Life multiplayer CS model)
- M16 w M203 Model (Half-Life multiplayer CS model)
- M82A1 Barrett .50 cal Model (Half-Life multiplayer CS model)
- They Hunger Multiplayer Models Pack (Half-Life multiplayer They Hunger models)
- Phillips, John. Black Widow Games: Five Days of Fear (Day 1). GameSpy. 2 January 2006.
- Black Widow Games. Retrieved 24 November 2008.
- Burnes, Andrew. New Version of Half-Life Underworld Mod Released. IGN. 16 September 2003.
- Underworld Announced. GameSpy. 23 July 2003.
- Black Widow Games. MobyGames. Retrieved 24 November 2008.
- Bernekärr, Magnus. Skapandet av en Flygfarkost. Luleå Tekniska Universitet - Institution i Skellefteå. Datorgrafik. 2007:305.
- Howarth, Robert. Black Widow Games Special. IGN. 3 January 2006.
- Hosted Sites. GameSpy. 15 September 2006.
- Wright, Talmadge; Boria, Eric; and Breidenbach, Paul. Creative Player Actions in FPS Online Video Games - Playing Counter-Strike. Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research. Issue 2, Volume 2. December 2002.
- Amaloo, Al. They Hunger: Lost Souls announced. GameWinners. 20 October 2005.
- "Black Widow Announces They Hunger: Lost Souls" (Press release). Steam. 2005-10-24. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
- Goldstein, Maartin. Black Widow Games Q&A. Shacknews. 4 January 2006.
- Heaslip, Stephen. They Hunger: Lost Souls. Blue's News. 19 October 2005.
- Goldstein, Maarten. They Hunger: Lost Souls Preview. Shacknews. 7 January 2006.
- Phillips, John. They Hunger: Lost Souls Alive & Well. GameSpy. 4 January 2007.
- Burnes, Andrew. They Hunger: Lost Souls Announced. IGN. 19 October 2005.
- 'They Hunger' Makes History Again. Planet Half-Life. 1 April 2007.
- BWG: The Second Encounter Part 1. GameSpy. 9 April 2007.
- Phillips, John. They Hunger Co-Op. GameSpy. 26 November 2008
- Fearon, Daniel. Sven Co-op 4.0B + They Hunger Co-op Beta RELEASED!!!. Sven Co-op. 24 December 2008.
- Official Black Widow Games website
- Black Widow Games mods website
- Black Widow Games entry at MobyGames
- "Five Days of Fear" - 2006 interview with Black Widow Games at Planet Half-Life
- "The Second Encounter Part 1" - 2007 interview with Black Widow Games at Planet Half-Life
- "The Second Encounter Part 2" - 2007 interview with Black Widow Games (junior members) at Planet Half-Life