Thread: Sven Co-op’s 19th Anniversary

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    Mapper Nih's Avatar  
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    Dec 2002

    Sven Co-op’s 19th Anniversary

    Well, well. Today marks the 19th year of Sven Co-op's existence. That’s a lot of years. In honor of this “very special” number, I decided to take the opportunity to write a few words about the game that has taken up so much time of my life.

    As a lot of you may know, Sven Co-op started as a Half-Life modification created by Daniel "Sven Viking" Fearon in 1999. At the time it was nothing more than a single custom-made Half-Life level, svencoop.bsp, which had had NPC enemies enabled by the setting of a cvar. As no development kit had been released for modders at the time, there was no custom code. Gradually people started joining Sven Viking’s project, contributing the skills they had in programming, level design, modelling, and so on. A lot, if not most, of the contributors were teenagers. The mod’s popularity kept growing, and a vibrant community arose, with people creating custom levels, models and other content on their own initiative.

    When Half-Life 2 came out in 2004, Half-Life 1 modding took an immediate hit. This was when Sven Co-op’s community started to show its unique strength, because while other HL1 mods seemed to lose players at an ever increasing rate, Sven Co-op, after a small initial drop in players, somehow managed to retain almost the same player count right up until the game’s Steam release. Mind you, my memory is a bit fuzzy. However, the increasingly antiquated state of Sven Co-op became clear in other ways. It became difficult for the developers to find new people interested in contributing to the development of the game. An ancient game with outdated graphics and a slowly dwindling player base just didn’t seem that appealing in comparison to more modern and lively games - especially for people with ambitions of entering a career in game development. The stream of community created content also slowly dried out. The graph below, gathered from, shows the quantity of map releases (and major map updates) over time, clearly revealing a downward trend since Half-Life 2’s release, with a brief resurgence around the release of SC 4.0 in 2008 (which had been in development for 5 years). As you can see, things weren’t looking great near the end.

    Sven Co-op’s release as a free game on Steam in January 2016 was like a rebirth, as it introduced the game to a much larger audience. No longer did you have to convince your friends to shell out money to play Sven Co-op with you. The huge wave of players that came out on the release date was overwhelming and it was a day of huge excitement for me, but it was clear the release was also troubled by some technical issues. As an example, in internal testing our well-coordinated testers had always lined up to use the same battlefield teleporter in my level, Fortified, but on the many chaotic 20+ player servers that appeared, people would enter both teleporters at the same time, resulting in massive-scale telefragging. Sorry, my bad. The team scrambled to fix the issues that appeared in the release, but you can’t stop the inevitable. The enormous new boost in players could not last forever and gradually declined, hitting a stable level after a few months. A level that seems quite close to when the mod peaked.

    Sven Co-op has come a long way since its humble beginnings, and it’s impossible to say how many years it will continue to last. If you travelled back 10 years in time and told me that Sven Co-op would still be played today, I would not have believed it. Being a game based on around fighting predictable AI, rather than unpredictable and intelligent players, one would not expect it to have much replay value. It’s clear that the longevity of the game can be attributed to the countless people in the community who have put in their time and effort to create new content for the game, keeping it fresh, as well as the many server operators who have fostered a sense of community among the players. The development team is just an extension of the community; players who have grouped up to work together towards a goal of improving the game and keeping it alive. It’s a rather chaotic and directionless group, where people work on whatever project catches their interest, and where people tend to come and go as they please. We have no PR guy or spokesperson; every person on the team speaks only for themselves. And this is how we like it. We have no intention of barking orders to anyone; because in the end we’re all just here to have fun. And fun it is. It has been an amazing experience to work with so many people from all over the world, with different backgrounds, personalities, and opinions about the game, all of whom share a great enthusiasm for our old friend Sven Co-op. A few of us have stayed on board for over a decade, including me, and have gone from careless and free teenagers with all the time in the world, to old and grumpy adults who struggle to find any time at all for the game. It’s clear that if the game is going to last forever, as we dream of course, we’re going to need some more fresh blood. So… Come join us.

    Here, at the end of my rant, I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, the entire community which has made this game what it is. If I were to compile a list of all the people who have contributed to the game, it would seem endless, and I would have trouble finding my own name within. So thank you all, and thank you again. And thank Valve, of course. And if anyone is in the mood, come reminisce about old times in our Discord channel. All the cool kids, and also the devs, hang out there.

    - Nih

    Sven, do you think we can fly? I do.

    Last edited by Nih; 19-01-2018 at 04:09 PM.

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