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Design Direction

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Our biggest priority is to make sure NS2 is true to the "spirit" of NS. We've spent years refining NS and it would be pretty wasteful to make NS2 if it didn't appeal to the community - our most valuable asset.

That said, simply making a graphical port is quite boring from our perspective... if we give you essentially the same game as NS, no one is happy.

So we're going to give you something fresh. Hopefully not hand-grenade-fresh, but something that feels like what NS should've been all along. What it tried to do and never quite pulled off. Incredible teamwork. Rich strategy. Fun social dynamics. Aliens that feel like savage animals and marines moving with precision and employing wicked nano-steel contraptions.

We know what the true core of NS is (teamplay!) and that's what we're focusing on for NS2. If it doesn't feel more "NS" than NS1, we've failed. We're not going to make that mistake.

(Forum post by Flayra)

Design Mantras

  • Easy to learn, difficult to master
  • Depth first, accessibility later
  • Concentrated coolness
  • Polish from beginning
  • Shades of grey > black + white
  • Control is King
  • Visual clarity; do visuals suggest function?
  • Avoid hidden modifiers, eg, bad: shotgun does double damage to lerks
  • Quality over Quantity
  • Have fun making it
  • Don't ship until ready
  • Pacing needs variety; "Up" vs "down" time
  • Legends must grow
  • Include audio/visual subtlety
  • Court newbie

(Photo from twitter update)

Note: Most or all of these mantras came from Blizzard and/or Dani Bunten Berry.

The Four Pillars

The four pillars of NS2 design:

  • Two Unique Sides: Whether you play as one of the elite marine Frontiersmen or the vicious alien Kharaa, you must use unique strategies and your abilities to win. Marines form persistent squads to find and destroy alien hives. Aliens can choose a wall-running Skulk, pudgy Gorge, flying Lerk, murderous Fade or gigantic Onos that can smash through doors.
  • Real-time Strategy: Commanders play from overhead to lead their team to victory. Build structures anywhere, collect resources and research upgrades. Marines buy weapons at an Armory or build sentry turrets and siege cannons to assault the enemy. Aliens build upgrade chambers, evolve special abilities and plant traps.
  • Dynamic Environments: Spreading alien infestation deforms hallways and causes space station power failure, turning off lights and shutting down marine powered structures. Use a flamethrower to clear infestation or weld a bulkhead shut for a last defense. Every game is different.
  • Unlimited Variations: WYSIWYG graphical tools and powerful scripting allow you to create new weapons, scenarios or entirely new games. You'll get all our tools and Lua source code we're using to build NS2. Ongoing automatic updates keep the game fresh by adding new maps, weapons and abilities.

(Overview NS2)


  • On DRM: "Our stance is that we strongly dislike heavy-handed DRM but a small amount of DRM to prevent the casual piracy of our games is probably going to be necessary. We've all seen a lot of rampant piracy and we can't afford to let that happen to us, but on the other hand, we need to focus on the service paying customers get instead of fighting pirates." (Forum Post by Flayra)