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News

Cold Case is now available!
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Welcome to the official site of Cold Case, a highly innovative L4D campaign created by mrfranswa. Here you can learn more about the campaign, download it, keep up with the latest development news, browse a collection of screenshots and in-game video footage, and participate in discussion.

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Left 4 Dead Map Database
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THE AFTERMATH

by mrfranswamrfranswa on 28 Oct 2009 06:25

Another cup of coffee, another all-night'er…

This will be my final post before the release of my campaign. I will go a little into my personal life, along with recent events.

The days are counting down. Cold Case is currently sitting ready for distribution right on my hard drive, (there is a RC out there that a select few people have). I kinda feel like myself sitting in the studio a few days prior to another big student show at the university. My sculpture is done, and now I just have a few days to reflect on it. I've been taking the last few days off from the massive amount of stress that has come with developing this campaign. 60+ hr works weeks will do that to a man. So why in holy hell am I still awake? Why am I currently drinking yet another coffee at 1:25 AM when I could be in bed with my fiance? Is it insomnia? Is it anxiety?

Actually, I think of it as reflection time. There is still a lot that needs to be done, but being an artist I've always seemed to have this happen right after I finish something. I haven't talked much about my artwork on the site, so not many of you are aware that I am a professional sculpture. My primary mediums are in wood, steel, and clay. I've decided to work more digitally, because as an artist with no support, it is impossible to afford bare essentials. Besides, I never wanted to be like Van Gogh, who was a parasite onto his rich brother, (was it his brother? I know it was a family member). I've always wanted to take care of myself and the people I care about. That is why I decided to pursue a career in video game design. I really see it as the future of our society in the same sense of movies during the 1920's. Video game sales have already beaten movie sales, so the money is out there. I've also been keeping tabs on VALVe, and I can see that they definitely need help with their products.

Lets go back to the start. What mood was I in when I decided to make Cold Case? Well, back in 2008 around Christmas, I was having yet another Charles Dickens Christmas. Having to ask your parents for rent money is never a good thing. I always thought it was ironic that even though I've made Deans List at my university, and won every single major award that was given, and I still was unable to find a means of paying my rent. I started a bit of self-reflection; was this really the future I wanted for myself? My fiance has always been very supportive of me. She is currently going to school to be a Special Education teacher. During those few days after Christmas I started contemplating what I could do with myself. I've been working with video games on a non-profit basis with P1@Y with years now. While it is very rewarding, I felt it was time that I worked for something new. So that's when I decided to go all-out and create what is now called Cold Case.

So where did the campaign come from? What made me set it's time and place? Believe it or not, the idea originated from the abandoned idea for REO2. At first, REO2 was located on an entire island, and the players were able to back-track through the maps. this would revolutionize how Sven CO-OP was played. I scrapped the idea due to time constraints. Not to mention it simply was too much of a pain and time sync to make this stuff for free. So I shelved it, and cut it down to a mansion and overgrown factory. The idea festered in the back of my head for FOUR YEARS. For four whole years I contemplated the island idea. What maps I wanted, (An island which had a prison, an air-strip/oil refinery ,a lab, a military base, a city, a mansion, and a forest to traverse), the storyline, everything. On December 28th, I made a decision. I would make the campaign and use it as a portfolio to finally start my career….. or die trying. And I'm not being dramatic. I was serious. What ensued was some of the most difficult, time consuming, thankless hard work I have ever done. I don't think people grasp the enormity of work I have produced for this campaign, and this is because I have yet to release it. When I say there is 36 maps, that means there are 36 maps. Just because they are near mirror images of one another, (versus and coop), does not mean I didn't spend 2x the amount of time to test and prepare them. Consider this a good comparison. Death Before Dawn, Darth Brushes campaign which will also be released on Halloween, has "technically" been in development for at least 4 years now. Like some parts in Cold Case, his campaign started as work for the mod No More Room In Hell. I actually remember seeing screenies of it way back in the day. Not only this, but Darth Brush has a whole TEAM working on his campaign. I on the other hand have no team. Outside of a few donations, some SDK content, and the help of a select few fantastic people, all the work was done by myself. It's been a lonely road.

So then came GAMEX. I had skipped purchasing my text books for my college classes, and instead got a table. It was 250$. I was promised a lot of promotion, a 6 foot table, and some wireless internet. I can easily say I got none of it. So how was GAMEX you may ask? Well, lets just say it was a huge waste of money, with the occasional golden jem or two. To set the tone, perhaps I should just state my trip TO GAMEX.

And this happened…..

1- I get up very early; 5:30 to be exact. Our goal is to be out the door by 6. It is a 2 hr drive to GAMEX, and I want to have plenty of time to set up, and make sure my campaign is running on the entire LAN center. I am taking my brother, and a kid I mentor who is a friend. Both of which are late getting ready, and we leave at 6:30.

2- We stop at McDonalds. Both of them get mcmeat sandwiches and OJ. I get an egg+cheese bagel since I am a vegetarian.

3- We cross the border into jersey. We are late, but at least we will still be an hour early. All of a sudden I hear my mentor teen making weird noises in the back. I think in my head, "oh my god, he better not be doing what I think he's doing". I pull over

4- I open the back door to see my entire back seat covered in vomit. I sigh with a grit in my teeth. My friend repetitively apologizes to me. With an iron constitution…. and 250$ on the line I tell him to get out and take off his pants, (which are covered in puke), and put them in a bag, while I literally scrape the shit out of the car. That's a reusable bag that won't be reused……..

5- We pull over to a gas station. He goes inside to clean up. I buy a bottle of windex, (since that's all they have), and grab a bunch of paper towels. I reach into my pocket to pull out my debit card only to find my fiance took it last night, and never put it back. What followed was a string of very loud words which made the gas station attendant give me a, "better not fuck with him" look.

6- Very late now, I begin scraping and cleaning out the back seat. My brother is behind the building puking himself because of what happened. At this point I'm in such a murderous rage that I could care less about getting puke chunks on my hands while I scrape it out of my back seat.

7- Arrive at GAMEX EXACTLY at 9:30, (aka 1:30hr late). My friend walks over to a BJ's to buy new clothes. I begin setting up in the corner. While my brother sets up my computer, I walk over to the GXL lan center to pick up my projector, and check up on the campaign.

8- Find out that not only is my campaign on NONE of the PC's, but none of the software is installed on the PCs. The event is officially running for about 15 minutes now. When I ask about my projector the people say, "what projector". When I ask to speak to Kyle, (aka the guy who runs it). I first get "who's Kyle?" Since they were saying, "so where's turkey?" prior to me showing up, (turkey is Kyle's online moniker), I then asked, "Turkey… where is turkey". That responded with a bewildered gaze in his eye. "who is Turkey". I said, "THE GUY YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT TWO SECONDS AGO!". After showing this individual his number in my phone, he said, "OHHH he is not coming in until tomorrow". Long story long, he then told me the computers would not have L4D until tomorrow.

9- I set up my table with everything I brought… like I thought I would have needed to.

What followed was surprisingly a helpful day. I had a lot of game developers frequent my table, along with numerous level designers from various companies. All of which were EXTREMELY impressed with the quality of the campaign. ALL OF WHICH also expressed deep resentment for not being able to play my campaign on the big lan center like they thought they could. I was quite surprised to see exactly how positive of a reaction to my campaign people had. I even had some people take my photo, or sign a flier for them. I had a lot of people take my business cards, (less of which gave me theirs. I only received one card…. and you will be getting an email from me soon!!!). When I told them about my desire to work for VALVe, the universally told me that they are one of the premier game companies…. however this campaign should be enough to get me a job. Hearing this from the head developers at numerous video game companies really made me feel a sense of ungrounded accomplishment. Lets hope I can ground it :). I've also been in contact with Chet over at VALVe about my campaign. I'm currently preparing a special version of Cold Case for just them. Day 2 was more of the same, except more gamers who play console L4D, and less developers. There was also a goddamn DDR game machine set up RIGHT NEXT TO MY BOOTH and I had to scream at the top of my lungs just to say hello to people. So was it worth it?

Erm….. um……. Give me a few weeks to give calls back to these companies. GAMEX themselves were a disaster, but getting my campaign out there and receiving such appraise was really helpful to my spirits.


So now it's 2:21. Let me wrap this up:

A- Your T-Shirts will be sent in the next day or two along with your posters. I was waiting for more pre-reg people, but I haven't gotten a new one in a week, so I'm just going to send em out. GAMEX was a bust in that department.

B- Cold Case will be distributed free of charge this Saturday at 7PM EST. I probably won't update the news here since I will be busy, so I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO JOIN THE STEAM GROUP! http://steamcommunity.com/groups/coldcase . I will be making an announcement where to join the MIRC party there. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE LEFT OUT JOIN THE GROUP AND CHECK THE NEWS OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS!

C- Today, www.planethalflife.com "should" be posting a review of Cold Case. If not today, then tomorrow.

GAMEX

by mrfranswamrfranswa on 23 Oct 2009 02:35

Tomorrow I head to GAMEX. Over the next 3 days I will be distributing my portfolio to numerous game execs, and having my first pre-screening of my campaign!

I also have two really great bits of information for all of you to see!

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This is the event T-Shirt everybody who registers for the event will receive. Each one will be hand silk-screened by yours truly. I will be setting up a silk-screen station at my table, and if you come up and register, I will make your t-shirt right in front of you, (unless I get mobbed, then I will just mail them out). That way you can save 5$ on the S&H!

Over the next 3 days I will be trying to promote my campaign as much as possible. After the event, I will let everyone know how many people have registered for the event, so we can start seeing what the prize pool will become!

God it's finally over..... well sorta...

by mrfranswamrfranswa on 18 Oct 2009 07:19

Oh god, it's finally over.

You've heard me right. On Sunday, October 18th 2009, Cold Case…. The campaign that's been in development since December 26th 2008…. The campaign that has been in the back of my mind for nearly 5 years is finally ready for RC.

What's RC you ask? Well it's just RELEASE CANDIDATE!

After a marathon 17 hrs of working, (and counting. I'm currently compiling maps right now), straight, I can say I am essentially done mapping for Cold Case, Version 1. This version will be showcased right at GAMEX. I can see everything finally coming together after such a long time. That means in a mere 5 days, if you are attending the event, you can have a hands-on sneak peak of the campaigns!

During these 5 days, I will be devoting all of my attention to manufacturing the computer cases I am planning on presenting for prizes to people attending the release party. I am also planning on making numerous extra, and selling them at GAMEX. This way I can hopefully make a little bit off of the debt I paid for the table.

With a breath of fresh air, I can finally feel like I've accomplished something. I've set out to prove a point, and I can easily say I far exceeded even my own expectations for what would be made. 25 maps? 10 versus maps? a secret 6th map? Sounds like crazy talk doesn't it?

But that does not mean everything is making this release. While it pains me to type this list, I think everyone fully expects that some things would be cut. Some I have been talking about for months, while others I have literally decided on just yesterday.

Cut1- CC6

Reason:

cc6, or "the secret 6th map", was always a snowballs chance in hell. It required a massive amount of time to animate, model, and texture all of the custom props I needed. It also required a lot of custom animations of the survivor models. I've been saying for months it would not make the initial release, and my reasons still stand. You can expect to download CC6 some time AFTER my extensive holiday.

Cut2- Item Boxes

Reason:

Item boxes were boxes scattered around the main campaign. Players would be able to approach these boxes, open them, and it would tell them their items, current stats, and location on the area map. It was a simple, yet EXTREMELY LABOR INTENSIVE TASK! It required a lot of func_brushes, materials, and cameras. I simply felt that players who would constantly need this would probably not appreciate the uniqueness of my main campaign, and would probably play the versus campaigns instead. I am still possibly considering this for the future updates of the campaign if people really get THAT lost. Internal betatesting has shown it is not needed.

Cut3- Redo of all the wav's

Reason:

Yes, most of the recordings were 1 or 2 takes. This is because I was using them as place holders until I could record some really great recordings. However, once the deadline started approaching, I just simply did not want to devote a good 3 days to updating something that really didn't need any fixing. The only people who whined about it anyways were 15 yr old kids on moddb anyways. You can expect more wavs in future releases.

Cut4- The intro

Reason:

Since I'm just one guy, I thought the best use of my time would be the gameplay itself. Since I didn't have a team, I couldn't take 2 weeks aside to animate a really kick butt intro featuring new animations and stuff.

Cut5- THE SURVIVAL MAPS

Reason:

Oh my god, I am cutting nearly 1/3 of my campaign? Am I crazy? No. I am simply saving them for my future updates. I thought the campaign was simply way too massive to bunch together these maps. I also have been experimenting with completely changing the way survival maps are played. Instead of simply "surviving", the players would do tasks instead. These tasks would allow them to get to bigger and better locations to hold out.

Cut6- COLD CASE: COVERT OPERATIONS

Reason:

Holy hell, am I serious? Why would I cut a working, tested, finished campaign from my release? Well let me tell you why. When I was devising the gameplay for Cold Case, I had one thing in mind: Make it unique. Traditional L4D, while great fun, is incredibly repetitive. Other than location, there is very little change to the actual "game play" of the maps. This is why Cold Case changes this. The main campaign's gameplay is so radically different than L4D, people have claimed it is a mod instead of a campaign. This reflects my game design I started way back with re1 in svencoop. People expect constant hordes of grunts to shoot, and I give them a survival horror map. CCTF, the campaign I literally started working on a week ago also has this gameplay element. While more linear than it's mother, it does feature some radically different game play elements, (which I will explain later). Covert Operations on the other hand, does not. It was my first attempt at a versus campaign, and it plays nearly identically to a standard campaign. I really didn't like this. It did not show my best intent as a game designer, so I have decided to shelf it, rework the gameplay, and release it as an update down the road.

Cut7- HDR compile

Reason:

Ooohh, this is a brutal one. All of my maps will be only fast compiled. This means….. little optimization.

(holds hands out for screaming angry crowd)

Hey hey, let me explain. If you are not familiar with game design, you might not know how much time it takes to optimize maps. It easily takes a good 20-50% of your time just to do this. Optimization means game-play, FPS hits, and other things that just enhance the fun factor of a game.

Sadly, since I have decided to dump this massive heap of content right on your lap on halloween, I haven't had enough testing hours to really make it as balanced as a valve campaign. I have only been able to test it through betatesters who have signed a NDA. This means, all I get from them are, "it's good. I don't really see anything wrong". This is where the updates come in to play. Over the next few months, I will receive feedback from the community, and I will use it to update my maps.

There is no HDR compiling, because it simply takes too much time, and I don't have a very powerful PC. I would rather just work on gameplay over making pretty sun effects :P

So what does this mean for you? Well, Instead of 35 maps, you will get 15. Less than half. Now, before you go whining to me about, "I thought you said it was done", let me say A- it IS done, and I don't want to release subpar gameplay, and B- If you actually PLAY the campaigns, you will see it's far more than enough custom content to satisfy your needs. By ONLY releasing CCTF, I would have been one of the only single mappers to release a full 5 map versus+coop campaign….. ever. That means working finales, and non game-ending bugs. I also felt that releasing everything at one time would really be dumb on my part, because it's just so much content, I really can space this out.

OTHER NEWS
- The GXL gaming league, (http://www.thegxl.com), has asked me to release my campaign at their upcoming huge release party! This means I will be setting up shop, and starting the virus-like release of my campaign rignt in one of New Jersey's largest lan parties! I will also be on site to host the versus tournament, along with giving out great prizes and t-shirts to people who sign up!

- Noesis Interactive, (http://www.noesisinteractive.com/), has generously donated to me THREE TUTORIALS FOR PRIZES! This is a 150$ value! This fantastic pot will be added onto the prize heap for anyone registering for the release party!

- The Survivor's Diary, (http://www.supacomm.net/survivorsdiary/portal/), a Brittish based podcast website was given a hands-on preview of my campaign. I was featured in their podcast where I spoke a bit about mapping, answered questions, and more! Here are some of the notes they had about my campaign:

* game play wise, its far from
traditional l4d, with an actual developing storyline as you move
along through the 5 map campaign. The story is delivered through
written annotations from the perspective of the character you are
playing, voice acting through walky-talkies, room d├ęcor and in-game
video sequences
* The campaign as a whole maintains
a haunting atmosphere which gives it more of a feeling of a gore
slasher jumper movie than a zombie film. Depending on the players
preferences this can be seen as either a positive or a negative.
* Overall the general theme ties in well with the use of puzzles, giving it the twisted sense of urgency of a resident evil game tied in with the decaying dystopian distortion of the left 4 dead world. Its kind of like if half life 2 and resident evil had an evil decaying zombie baby.
* Each level is very vast and has a lot to it unlike other campaigns, with each level taking you about 30 minutes to complete you will find that this will eat up a lot of time. But this seems to be close to what I expected L4D to originally be, as a lot of the time you are worried about ammo supplied, grenades and upcoming tanks. You would really have to save your ammunition as you really did not know how far it would be until the next ammo pile. Meaning that a new level of fear is introduced making the game more atmospheric.

Overall, they were very pleased with the campaign, and gave it very high reviews. Pretty good for an internal beta imo :)

FINAL PRE-REG WINNERS
Congradulations to:

- Nick Allen: You won the Hanover drawing tablet!
- Vince Phung: You won BlackSite Area51!

Thanks to everyone who pre-registered! Since there will be a lot more people registering for the release prizes at GXL, you can bet the prizes will probably be EPIC!

Week 1 winners! Cold Case: The Forsaken videos!

by mrfranswamrfranswa on 11 Oct 2009 20:12

zzz… so tired…

Been up for the past 3 days working like a crazy man trying to finish CCTF. I can easily say that all of my hard work was not in vain!

Cold Case: The Forsaken

You have made it to the dock. The ship is within sight. You are finally able to escape the horror that has swept the land….

Guess again…

When the sight of the ship turning around; not willing to take the risk of rescuing you, your heart falls deep within your stomach. For a second, you abandon all hope. You are forsaken…

Map 1: Forsaken

The rescue vehicle turns away leaving you to die at the mercy of the horde. It is your goal to get back to the safe house as fast as possible!

Map 2: New Hope

You are able to reach another form of rescue via radio. He says he has a helicopter, and he will meet you at the southern end of the prison in 14 hours. It is your job to get there! The only way you can make it on time, is if you take a train to the military outpost, cross the bridge, and make your way to the roof of the prison!

Map 3: Obstacles

You have made it to the military outpost, however the way is barricaded to prevent movement of the infected! You have to open the gate with a generator. There is only one problem: It will enable the alarm for the facility! Hold out until the generator can kick in, and open the gate!

Map 4: Lock-down

The survivors have made it to the prison. It is their goal to get to the roof, and use the radio tower to call in the rescue!

Map 5: Freedom

The survivors have made it to the radio tower located on the roof of the prison. Their goal now? Survive until the rescue helicopter comes!


RELEASE PARTY PRE-REG WINNERS!

Here is a list of the pre-registry winners All of the winners will get both a t-shirt, and a poster, (to say double thanks for your support!)

ryan duffing
Thomas Turner
John Goulden
Paul Stephanouk

I will be sending each of you an email shortly! Thanks for the support guys!

WEEK 2 PRE-REG PRIZES

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Hanover drawing tablet:

This is a basic drawing tablet that was given to me as a christmas present. Honestly, I don't really use it, so I haven't even popped it out of the package. All of the components are there, and is a great prize for anyone doing photoshop art!

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Blacksite, Area 51:

This is a used copy of Blacksite, Area 51 I picked up from gamestop. Basic FPS action :P

If you have already paid to be at the party, YOU ARE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED TO WIN THESE PRIZES! If you have won a prize, you will receive it when I do my bulk shipping of the prizes later this month! This way I don't have to waste S&H on numerous packages :)

Sign up friends, get free crap!

To help out all of my loyal fans who are singing up your friends, I have decided to add in another set of prizes. All you need to do is tell your friends to say, "(whoever) signed me up for the event!" in their shipping details. If you have enough people state that, then you can win some of these great prizes:

20 people- 32X64' poster
35 People- Free copy of L4D2
50 People- Internal/External 1TB hard drive
100 People- Radeon 5850 video card

I am sorry for the super large numbers, however I am basically paying out of pocket for these prizes, (you have to remember, these people can still receive the regular event prizes). I am just adding this in as an extra way of saying thanks to everyone who has supported me over this time.

Update on the campaign, and some good o'l news

by mrfranswamrfranswa on 08 Oct 2009 04:31

Beta 4.1 CC1: The Prison

The campaign is going swimmingly, and people have been slowly signing up for the release party. I am happy that I have received a lot of positive news around the net. I guess people are not use to developers releasing content WHEN THEY SAY THEY WILL!

Betatesters have also given me universal praise for the campaign. I am currently working as hard as I can to quash any bugs or complaints they have about the campaign. Right now, I am hitting an annoying wall with various compiling bugs in CCTF1. I wanted to start the campaign in the early evening, and when the players get to the finale it would be around midnight. Anyways, by doing that I am getting a weird memory error. Not a problem; I always fix bugs in a day or two.

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Beta 4.1 CC5: The Source

Each of you who signed up prior to Wednesday will receive this weeks pre-reg prize AUTOMATICALLY! Not only that, but you will receive BOTH THE T-SHIRT AND THE POSTER! I know it's hard to be the first ones to sign up, so here is your reward! I will be messaging each of you directly over the next few days to personally congratulate you. This Sunday I will be posting another news article showcasing the next pre-reg prize!

Again, if you want to learn more about the release party, and the fantastic prizes, just head over to http://cc.l4dmapdb.com/events. To sign up, simply click on the paypal tab, and select whichever you prefer! I am considering upgrading the radeon to the 5000 series since it just came out. Check back in a couple of days so you can find out!

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Beta 4.1 CCCO4: Target Acquired

NEWS

There are a lot of companies that are beginning to express interest in my campaign. One of these is www.CyberGamer.com.au. A premier gaming league over in Australia and I are in talks about possibly holding my versus tournament through their site.

As of right now, I am about 80% sure CCTF and the vs maps will make it into the pre-Halloween release of the campaign. Barring any major bugs, they should be in. The main campaign, and CCCO are already playable. CCCO is just going through some balancing issues, and the main campaign is pretty much finished.

OCTOBER! THE MONTH OF COLD CASE!

by mrfranswamrfranswa on 01 Oct 2009 04:03

October is the month of Cold Case!

Starting today, you can now register for the massive online event right here! simply click on the EVENTS tag, and follow the instructions to sign up for the event. Also included is some information about the fabulous prizes you can win by simply signing up!

PRE-REGISTRY PRIZES!

From October 1st to October 9th , anybody who pre-registers for the event will be automatically placed in a drawing for some great prizes! Currently up for grabs are some fantastic custom-made t-shirts and 24X36 posters! I will be giving away four of each on October 9th in a random drawing to anybody who pre-registers. This is the first of four prize give-aways I will be holding. If you had already pre-registered, you will be automatically entered to win the following weeks prizes!

Custom-made L4D T-Shirt

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These shirts are hand-made for that extra cool factor! On the front it says the campaigns name. On the back, is the number 4 along with the website. These shirts will be made to your size!

24X32 Poster

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This movie-sized poster is the perfect addition to your local computer room. Featuring high detail, it is a must for any fan!

Octoberfest!

by mrfranswamrfranswa on 30 Sep 2009 12:14

All month long during October, I will be releasing new videos and screen shots of the campaign. Also, beginning October 1st, I will be announcing the weekly prize giveaways for those who pre-register for the release parties. By simply signing up online prior to the event, you will have a chance to win some great prizes!

Over the next few days, my betatesters will be uploading numerous new game-play videos. These will show off some more of the unique game play in Cold Case. Over the month of October, I will be going more in dept with the two versus campaigns; Covert Operations, and The Forsaken.

Progress for the campaign is going steadily. Beta 4 was a major success, (in the sense it had some major bugs in it which I quashed). Luckily I immediately followed it with beta 4.1 which fixed these bugs. CCTF is still in development. I am currently on map 4 of the campaign, and expect to have a playable version to my betatesters within the next week or two. Expect to see a lot more screenshots of the two versus campaigns within that time.

Stay tuned for more news updates!

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