I hope you are all enjoying Sven Co-op 4.0, since it took us nearly 5 years to get it done after 3.0 was released in 2003. The beginning of Sven Co-op goes back even further. Exactly 10 years ago on this very day (19 January 1999), Sven Co-op 0.8 Beta was slipped to the public, as stated in some ancient documents, thus probably making it the first mod for Half-Life ever.
Everyone will probably still remember the road from 3.0 to 4.0 pretty well, but the time before that might be a blur for most of you or maybe some of you weren't even playing games then. Either way, I've taken my shovel and dug into the archives of Sven Co-op to see what I could dig up from the first years of the MOD. Read on!
19 January 1999
Release of Sven Co-op Beta 0.8
The first beta version of Sven Co-op. Back then, Sven Co-op was just the map "svencoop" by Sven Viking, which you still can find nowadays in Sven Co-op 4.0, but it has obviously been updated and added to in the last 10 years.
2 May, 1999
Release of Sven Co-op 1.0
Version 1.0 added the still popular Stadium map to Sven Co-op. Even though SC wasn't indented for internet play, people picked up the MOD and more and more servers started to appear. This also sparked the interest of other developers and mappers and custom maps were added to the release, such as GargHunt and Horde.
16 July, 1999
Release of Sven Co-op 1.2
For this release, SC had the assistance of some other MOD makers of that time (Oz DM and Classic TFC). It also announced the sequel to the svencoop map: svencoop2. The MOD then was picked up by Planet Half-Life and was featured as one of their first Mod of the Week. This made the mod popular and more people were waiting anxiously for the release of the next version.
12 December, 1999
Release of Sven Co-op 1.3
There was the release of 1.3, which was delayed several times. At this point, no-one knew that waiting for a new version could take even longer. The MOD really started to look a game of it's own, with a bigger selection of maps (Helebat, Nightc15, Space Monkeys, etc.) and player models. New code added new features like sharing weapons and better support for Half-Life single player. The demand for new content was satisfied with the release of packs, like the X-Mas Map Pack (1999) and Map Pack 2000, which added more maps and player models.
The popularity of Half-Life was reflected in the amount of MOD's being developed. This phenomenon was picked up by gaming magazines, who then featured MOD's on their cover disks. Sven Co-op was also featured on PC Gamer and PC Zone.
As the community grew larger, the annual April Fool's joke was introduced. In 2000, the entire MOD team was replaced by Mod-Making Gnomes after the deaths, poisoning and finally mass suicide of all SC Team members and mappers.
For the upcoming 1.4, the team wanted to develop a more content-rich Sven Co-op and two new weapons were introduced: the Uzi and the M95 Nomad sniper rifle. This made Sven Co-op PHL's Mod of the Week for the third time. (second time here)
Then June 10th 2000 came, a day to remember for Half-Life modders; Valve released the v18.104.22.168 patch for Half-Life, which broke several mods, including Sven Co-op. A temporary fix was released and this then lead to the sub-release of SC 1.35, which also included the first Linux server port, on July 27th 2000.
In September a particular map was released called Osprey Attack. This map was released by someone who was added to the Team soon afterwards; his name was Sniper. He would become one of Sven Co-op's main coders. More noticeable maps were released from inside the community, including old time favourites like Operation Retribution, SvenCoopRPG and TheDogs Series. A big selection of custom content was being made by Sven Co-op's own community, which became it's strength.
16 December, 2000
Release of Sven Co-op 1.9
The release of SC 1.9 (formerly known as 1.4) was highly anticipated, which caused download servers to crash because they couldn't handle the huge traffic. Players could enjoy a new set of official maps, new weapons and new features for an even better co-op experience. The new secret weapon was figured out quickly enough; the banana bomb.
After 1.9 was out of the door, the Sven Co-op Team continued their work on the next version. New features like the medkit and the HW Grunt were announced and were picked up by various gaming websites and magazines over the world; from French and Japanese sites to Germany's magazine GameStar. A review from PC Zone UK gave Sven Co-op 5 out of 5 stars!
Popularity always comes at a price and because Sven Co-op was aimed at people playing together, there was no defence against players who wanted to ruin your game. 1.9 players encountered "blockers"; players who would block doorways or kill vital NPC's to stall or ruin the map. The SC Team found a solution and started to develop a voting system, so players could kill or kick annoying players. This would be released in 2.0.
21 December, 2001
Release of Sven Co-op 2.0 Beta
After a while of internal beta testing, the Sven Co-op Team decided to release the Beta version to the public. There were new features like the medkit, a new line-up of official maps and fought new monsters; the HW Grunt and the Baby Garg. Most monsters also had their friendly or evil counterpart, like Barney's evil cousin, Barnabus.
One of the most noticeable features of 2.0 were the donator features. Players donating a small amount to Sven Co-op's development, would get an electric crowbar and gold plated Uzi's (which are still available in 4.0) The voting menu and crowbar pull ended the notorious days of the blockers. This new interface also gave players the in-game MP3 player, which was used to play your favourite music, while playing your favourite game.
Sven Co-op fan sites started growing and played an important role in organising all the SC related content that was available on the net. One of the most popular, Creepsworld, reviewed maps and eventually released it's own map pack and has the première of showing content from the upcoming version; SC 2.0 Final.
2002 was a very interesting year for Sven Co-op. A conversion of Neil Manke's They Hunger was announced on June 28th and around the same time, the SC Team was invited to show their work on Valve's MOD EXPO in Texas, USA. A preview of 2.0 Final was shown there on the 23rd of July.
14 September, 2002
Release of Sven Co-op 2.0 Final
While most players thought 2.0 Final would just polish the previous Beta release, it actually came with a lot of new content. New monsters appeared; Robogrunts, Male Assassins, Gonomes and the soldier and Barney version of the zombie. Even Barnabus' evil twin came to the scene: Otto, Otis' evil counterpart. It also featured some new maps, along with the co-op conversion of E.T.C, a popular single player mod.
The extra content added mostly came from Half-Life official add-on: Opposing Force. The SC Team was working on converting all the monsters and weapons to Sven Co-op and the content that didn't make the cut for 2.0 Final followed quickly.
19 December, 2002
Release of Sven Co-op 2.1
This version added more Opposing Force content like the pipe wrench, Shock Trooper, Pitdrone and Shockroach and fixes glitches and bugs from 2.0 Final. The new content was welcomed by lots of players.
Just before the start of 2003, Sven Co-op's leading fan site, Creepsworld, started the Top 50 SC Maps vote. They compiled the best 50 maps ever released from their arsenal of reviews of which a selection ended up in a map pack. Other Half-Life communities wrote reviews of the new version as usual. This time Sven Co-op was mentioned on the famous Mod Database as #2 "Mod that you shouldn't leave your home without" of 2002, an honourable mention.
Sven Co-op had converted a lot of content from the Half-Life universe, but it felt like it needed more content of it's own. Thus, the developers started working on a weapon that soon would be one of the trademarks of Sven Co-op: the minigun. The minigun was a tactical weapon that would encourage co-operative play, since players using it were very slow and needed protection. This weapon would be the new beauty of the upcoming 2.5 release.
Now most of the Half-Life content was part of Sven Co-op, the Team started to enhance the old engine with new code features, such as MADWHACK Physics, where monsters would align better to the world, being throw around by explosions and float in water. On the 1st of July 2003, Sven Co-op announced plans for a Half-Life 2 version of the MOD (though HL2 was later delayed to November 2004). The Half-Life 1 MOD still had priority and thus far Sven Co-op for HL2 has not been released.
23 December 2003
Release of Sven Co-op 3.0
3.0 came with a huge changelog: Improved AI, MADWACK physics, super-definition models, new monsters, new weapons and lots of tweaks and bug fixes. This time the demand was so immense that the website broke down before the actual release. The popularity gained Sven Co-op a third place on Fileplanet's "Best Mods of 2003", second place in ModDB's Mod of the Year 2004, and first place in ModDB's Best Action Mod category.
Because the community mappers were important to Sven Co-op, the developers added special features to customise maps. There's variable health, classifications, model and sound replacement for all monsters, which gives mappers more freedom and players a better experience while playing.
Sven Co-op 3.0 was also the first version that would run on Valve's Steam. This also fixed the well known Out_of_SFX problem a lot of WON (Valve's old platform) users were experiencing. Many players switched to Steam and WON was shut down later, ending an online home for many.
Sven Co-op had been into nearly 5 years of development at that point. Work continued as normally where new features and idea's were announced, but no-one would ever had suspected that the road to the current release would take another 5 years. With these words, ends our look at Sven Co-op's history. I'm happy I can put myself under the people who've been through most of the pre-3.0 days and could relive distant memories. I hope you've enjoyed it!
As a bonus, Nih has started a Sven Co-op nostalgia thread, with various pictures from the last years. Feel free to add whatever SC-related content you have to it. Head over to the thread here.