One of Natural Selection’s key strengths lies within its active modding scene. You can subscribe to a plethora mods on the Steam Workshop there comes a moment you feel confused and don’t really know what to look for neither to figure out if such a mod would help you having a better game sense. Today is the first article of, hopefully, a long series that should introduce some of the most interesting and thrilling (in our opinion) mods made by community players. As the saying goes: “to each his own, there’s no accounting for taste” so any personal remarks here are, obviously, individual and belong to the author(s). Each article will be cut out into different parts.
I. How did this idea come out?
Cr4zy AV (Alien Vision for newcomers) is a new mod that has been created and designed by Cr4zy, a competitive player but also doubles up as a maptester – he’s from United Kingdom and yet, he doesn’t have that particular british accent. Skill-wise, Cr4zy used to work as a level designer and scripter, using unreal engine. Although “level designer” as a loose term, he messed with many aspects of the engine including creating material shaders and some screen effects. So while these skills don’t translate directly to writing AV shaders, knowing the maths behind material shaders leads to understanding a lot of the code and maths behind them. As many mods require, you might need some skill to actually work on your own AV.
Lately, he got the idea to make an AV that could potentially meet his own needs: “Kash mentioned an idea for it on the NS2 Discord. That was at least the idea behind the bite aid. The AV itself was originally just going to be an alternative to the orange alien vision everyone else has made, I wanted to have green marines instead.”
Before that, he had worked on some NS2 crosshairs (one among many) that you can find on the Workshop too. Those last years, players have seen many different AV, some were good and some were awful (nostalgia). NS2+* added a feature, an option allowing players to switch between 5 different AV and yet, it didn’t seem to be enough. As for crosshairs, players, especially high level players, tend to look for anything that may help improving their ability ingame. AV is part of those elements since it makes it easier to notice Marines on the field.
II. What is it exactly?
Since this article is full of text, let’s embellish this article with images (made by Cr4zy) on what his AV looks like. These versions feature Aid Bites, meaning basically, whenever you’re in range of a lifeform or structure, the game will make it change color, pretty helpful to figure out whether you can hit your opponent or not. Minimal versions do not have this purple background/fog in case you haven’t noticed, highly inspired of the Huze Minimal Version AV and classic Old Alien Vision (my personal favorite). So those just below are the ones I tested (go to Part IV for my review).
You can find all iterations of Cr4zy Alien Vision on Cr4zy’s Workshop.
III. How does it work?
You subscribe to this mod on Steam Workshop and you’re ready to play, don’t forget to tick the mod as “Active” in the mod menu ingame (see image below).
However, some servers prevent players to change their AV so you might not be able to use it, as for any other community AV on a server that would include AV into this check list.
At the moment, you can’t change the AV on competitive matches as per the NSL rules say (regarding 11. Game Modifications -V.). Using other AV which are not available on NS2+ is currently prohibited on the NSL. It would be about time to change those rules, wouldn’t it? There are many AV available on the Steam Workshop and most of them, if not all fill the criterias of enjoyable and not overpowered Alien Visions. Hopefully, rules will get updated soon and even competitive players will be able to enjoy Cr4zy’s Alien Visions. But you’re more than welcome to try it out on public servers.
IV. Personal Review.
One can’t give a personal opinion on a matter without testing it himself so I played a couple of games using different of those AV. Here’s a video below to show how does the AV look like ingame, again, not made by me (guess who did).
As I’m used to playing with the Old Alien Vision, which is available on NS2+, I signed up for two normal versions (with the lovely purple fog, background), and two minimal versions (background excluded) in order to test in various conditions. Bite Aid feature was part of the test as well. So far, I don’t know any other custom AV on the Workshop that uses a similar feature, it’s very exclusive to this very mod.
In a whole, the Bite Aid feature didn’t make much of difference or at the very least, didn’t really impact how I played. However, I knew when the server was at fault or, at the contrary, when my eyes were failing me because it allowed me to figure out if I was actually in range to hit a Marine or if my brain was playing tricks on me and I wasn’t in fact in range. I’ve found it a bit more helpful with viewmodels off. Indeed, turning viewmodels off might be tricky, some players may not figure out whether you’re in range to hit the Marine.
If you’re accustomed to both Huze’s AV available on NS2+, using Cr4zy’s versions would make only a small difference (beside the Bite Aid) – you’d be able to change your AV colors because it’s available in many different color versions. However, I can’t really speak for those used to default, or the old Orange AV, those are way too disturbing and different so you might not enjoy playing with these AV, unless you want to give it a try and find out how better your life is with them. Yes, really, I don’t like neither the current default AV and even less the old Orange AV, never been of my liking. Worth a shot and since it’s a mod, you can get rid of it quickly.
Some unpleasant stuff:
First of all, the Green to Blue version is a bit unpleasant to use in Logistics, on Tram. Small detail but worth sharing, whenever I was fighting a Marine, the more I was getting close, the more he was becoming blue, and the blue was pretty much the same than the large sphere in Logistics so I couldn’t see the Marine properly. Yes, this is truly the only small thing I can complain about.
Second, not a detail though, the game doesn’t allow to switch AV ingame, that’s a thing unless you do it through a dedicated mod (à la NS2+). I subscribed to all Cr4zy’s AV to try to have a look. So once enabled on the mods menu in the main menu, it replaces your default AV on NS2+ or directly your AV if the server does not have NS2+ (yes, such servers exist) but if you want to switch to another Cr4zy’s AV or even any other custom AV, you need to uncheck the said AV you were using previously in the mod menu, check the new one you want to play with, and, restart the game. You heard it right, you have to restart the game, important step otherwise the game will not switch to your new AV and stick with the previous one. So UWE, get on that please.
V. What to expect in the future?
While Cr4zy is always looking for more improvements, more colors for instance, it appeared that the NS2 Development Team has become interested in potentially adding this new AV into the vanilla game. Nothing certain but at least it’s being discussed so we do hope Cr4zy’s work will be rewarded by seeing his baby being part of the original game. Getting a community mod being implemented would be one of the first steps of a team development repaying its community. So we can only hope for the best.
As for the mod itself: “Just waiting to finish updating all the mods I currently have on the workshop, after which I will be uploading the first version of the ‘Accurate Range’ mod. This mod will work in tandem with the alien vision to increase both their bite aid accuracy and give even more feedback for things such as gorge heal range and umbra range, these may change in the future. I’ve decided to not add any aids for spikes, parasite and gorge spit due to them pretty much being maximum range. As for the future of the mod, the PDT have spoken to me about possibly including the AV or at least the ‘Bite Aid’ part in the vanilla game. This certainly is not a final decision and could not happen. Outside of that I would love for this to be even more customizable so expect the mod to get improvements.”
Some raw examples: