Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reminiscing

Anyone remember Chris Roberts?

I do.  I remember Chris Roberts.  In 1994, Chris Roberts was the producer and game designer of the single finest space flight sim ever released, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger.  Yes, I know the X-Wing series has its fans and I am one too, but if you had to coalesce the perfect flight sim game out of many games down to one game, WC3 is it.  Not only was it a fantastic space flight sim taken in isolation, it was also a game with consequences.  Everything you did affected the next mission, and the next.  Each mission you could get your wingmen killed, each mission could lose you the game many missions before you actually realized that you were losing the game.  The game had live actors working on virtual sets about a decade before it was practical to do so.  Star of the game?  Mark Hamill.  Yeah, that Mark Hamill.  It wasn't quite an RPG flight sim, but it was pretty close.  It wasn't quite a mid-90s story/artgame, but it was close to that, too.

And if that's all Chris Roberts had done with his life, that would be enough.

But Chris Roberts also produced and designed the other WCs from one to four.  And Strike Commander (which would make a damned fine MMO).  And Wing Commander: Armada, which was a terrific multi-player space game for its time.  And Wing Commander Academy, which was one of the first level designers for a triple-A gaming title.  Then the guy decided that being a game designer wasn't awesome enough so he went on to produce a half dozen movies, including Lord of War and Lucky Number Slevin which are both quirky and excellent.

This guy was Joss Whedon or J.J. Abrams about a decade before it was cool to be Joss or J.J.  Yeah, I think it's fair to say that I'm a fan.

So you can imagine how excited I am to hear that Chris Roberts is designing a space-based MMO.  He can't call it Wing Commander, because Origin Systems owns the rights to that.  So he's calling it Not-Wing-Commander-But-Basically-Yeah-It's-Wing-Commander.  Or as it's called at the moment, Star Citizen.

I encourage you to check it out, because the concept is pretty damn awesome.  When I first heard about carriers in EVE, my very first question out of the gate was "Can other players fly the fighters?"  The answer in EVE is "no".  The answer in Star Citizen appears to be "hell yes!".   The carrier in the game's trailer is even "Bengal Class" so you're very clear what the ancestry of this game is.

Do I need to explain how wonderful that is?  I don't think that I do.  ;-)

But I'm going to anyway.  Just a bit.  The beauty of this kind of system in PvP is pretty simple: rookie pilots man capital ship turrets.  After a few days, they fly fighters and small ships and don't need to know anything about the game except how to fight.  They launch, they fight, they come home.  More experienced pilots are flight leaders and wing commanders, or act as the ship's engineer.  More experienced yet?  Picket ships.  Until you're the one in command of the carrier.

The possibilities of this alone are endless, and to this Star Citizen plans to add an economy and a sandbox.  This really has the possibility of being the "EVE with aim" that Black Prophecy decidedly was not.  Hell yes, I'm excited about this.

All that said, two years at least before it's released, so CCP will be lacking competition for just a little bit longer.  That gives the guys in Reyk some time to up their spaceship game in the meanwhile.

Will I be donating?  You bet.  Chris Roberts gave me many pleasant afternoons and evenings all through the late 80s and into the 90s.  This has the potential to be a terrific game and it's worth the gamble of a few bucks to help make it so.

37 comments:

  1. The carrier idea sounds pretty cool, but would be hard to implement. Too much of a numbers game or depending on too many people for just one ship to fly. I don't think even rote Kapelle could fly a carrier in that game, or they would have to shaft players in order to fly one.

    I mean in EVE you get complaints that it takes two people or an alt to fly a carrier.

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  2. Have you seen a game called Taikodom? It's like EVE but you can fly fighters and such. I played an early beta some years ago. It was pretty good, but had a flaw that nobody has proven capable of fixing:

    Massive lag. EVE can track a thousand players fight as their server takes one command per second. Try to track just the mouse movement of say, 100 players, and you'll see your server on fire. How many players a modern shooter can have in multi player?

    Don't get me wrong, I would love to see this game working, I too have dreams of being a fighter pilot, but I would like to see the solution from this problem before throut some money at it.

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    1. Planetside handled a 498 in 2004. Later that was reduced to 399 but not for server issues, instead it was because population levels had dropped and they wanted to spread out the player base across the continents.

      Planetside offloaded a lot of calculations that Eve does server side onto the client to make that possible. So their answer was to distribute as much of the load off the server as they could without overly corrupting the integrity of the game. Planetside2 seems to have battles on the same scale but I'm not sure how they hit that, I imagine they are still offloading a lot of stuff onto the client with a MOM utility managing it's integrity though.

      Planetside and Eve shoot for two very different targets though. Eve is shooting for a simulated battle where everything can be counted on to work the same for everyone. Planetside is shooting for a fun battle where a few awkward bits here and there is just the price of doing business. So long as it isn't overly pronounced, no harm no foul.

      If all they want is something that is fun to play and the occasional player who's computer is off the simulation jumps position every now and again is fine... they can cram a lot of players into fights. If instead they are aiming for a truly competitive game where the integrity of the data is sacrosanct above all else... then yeah. They are going to have problems.

      It all comes down to design goals and what you want your game to be.

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  3. Very interesting to keep an eye on, however unfortunately I do share the Penny Arcade's breakdown concerns of the plausibility of this project ever fully coming to fruition...

    http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/chris-roberts-star-citizen-needs-your-money-to-get-more-money-and-promises-

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    1. Some skepticism is perfectly natural. But the simple fact is that Chris Roberts has never promised anything that he couldn't deliver. WC3 was a decade ahead of its time, ludicrously complex to develop, and was a masterpiece that just worked. His other games were only slightly less ground-breaking.

      The guy doesn't have a loser in his gaming portfolio. Is this a gamble? Sure. But it's a gamble with pretty damn good odds. Where he is with two years to go is already pretty impressive if you watch the vids.

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    2. Sorta, Jester... but then again Infinity is at the same place if you watch the vids and played the combat sim. And you and I and the world know and hate that that one's prolly not gonna be seen for years and years to come. Regardless, I'll be donating... I just wish the man had put some damn detail into what I'm donating for. What's an Aurora? What's an Origin 300i? What's a Constellation? And what on earth is the Million mile high club? Some kinda captains quarters-esque strip lounge that I'm gonna only ever invite my deepest friends(and EVE celebs like yourself)? I swear if the Aurora ends up being a super sexy fighter and a Constellation is a dreadnaught, I'll be pissed while I'm sitting in my strip lounge that I didn't go for the cheap fighter... He's setting me up to be a bittervet way too early heh.

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    3. I agree with Jester wholeheartedly. Bet on the man and his track record, not the difficulty of the challenge. This isn't Molyneux we're talking about here.

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    4. Interestingly enough, INSIDE the above referenced link (Anom 12:32) is this link which is a nice rebuttal AND EVE comparison...

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/10/16/star-citizens-big-influences-demons-souls-real-life/

      I'll buy that for an ISK any day...

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  4. You're so right. Wing Commander 3 and Privateer 2 both hold nostalgic positions of high rank. I faked serious illness to complete WC3 and convinced my Privateer co-pilot to marry me.
    If CCP did not have so much on it's plate getting DUST in order I'd recommend they get in with Chris and involved in the project right now because they will lose customers to him.

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  5. I lost many an Evening, and morning to wing commander series, but to me..... Freespace was the quintessential Space combat series (particularly on the harder settings) Fantastic giant space opera's going on in the back ground, objectives to defend your capitals and there individual turrets, they did a good job of evoking a feeling of tension too, and if you happened to get in the way of capital fire, well bad luck old boy, try the mission again lol.

    That said, Wing commander was when I was feeling particularly flight sim, only other game that had that sort of campaign level of planning and consequence to me was Falcon 4.0.... I will definitely be checking this out.

    Btw, if you haven't already check out a game called star shatter, 1 man band studio, but well worth the time :) was basically a space combat sim, capital ship sim and rts carrier command sim all in one.

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  6. To think, Eve might have some competition! I'm curious if CCP even knows how much exclusivity has protected them...

    Excited about the game and the market pressure!

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  7. Wing Commander? X-Wing? They're alright, but the best space fighter was clearly Freespace 2.

    This ain't even controversial.

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    1. Freespace 2 was also excellent, yes. But it didn't have the scope of WC3.

      It's a damn shame what's happened to flight sims. I don't even understand why this whole genre has essentially died.

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    2. You describe them thusly: "They launch, they fight, they come home."

      Years ago when I played WC, XWing, Falcon, F19 Stealth Fighter, etc, my girlfriend already had a common name/description for these games: "Take off, shoot, land."

      We both just LOLed at your description above. Maybe that's why the genre fell into disuse. Maybe they all became too alike and the "been there, done that" syndrome took its toll.

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    3. Freespace 2 still lives. It has an open version wich requires the original called Freespace open.:)
      They upgraded the visuals, effects, sounds, animations, etc. and ported the Freespace 1's campaign to it, and made several new ones. If you have the Original game, and want to relive the thing with today's visuals give it a try, it's worth it!
      All the links and know-how are on the Freespace wiki page if anyone is interested.

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  8. Gamble or not, I have donated!

    Check the site and view the vids.

    If this project delivers, CCP might have a serious competitor to deal with. That can only be a good thing.

    DeBingJos

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  9. Yes! If I had this game and a Freespace update my space gaming would be complete.

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  10. This looks pretty damn cool. I think it would be a very, very good thing if Eve had some real competition. I'm a big fan of crowdfunding and have funded dozens of projects between Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, and this one might get added to that list after I've researched it further. I hope it makes it!

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  11. I really want DUST players to be able to hop in the fighters someday.

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  12. WC3 was the best. Didn't it also star Malcolm McDowell and "Biff" from Back to the Future?

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    1. Yes and yes. Also Ginger Lynn Allen played one of the possible love interests, the one that players chose by a wide margin. ;-) John Rhys-Davis and a very young Josh Lucas were also part of the cast.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111727/

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  13. Jester I don't know if you or your readers want to watch the Star Citizen Announcement Video presented by Chris Roberts but I think it's worth the time if folks want to make a donation. By the way, Mr. Roberts mentions CCP and Eve Online in the vid around 16:30. I really hope his vision come to comes to fruition. Thanks for the heads up...

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  14. http://www.gamespot.com/shows/gamespot-live/?event=roberts_space_industries_gdc_panel20121010

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    1. I just watched this and though it's a pretty cool entry into the MMO market (if it happens), it just lost some excitement from me because according to this talk it seems that it'll largely be a themepark MMO with "matchmaking" for PVP. I can't stand either of those styles of MMO's; it's sandbox or nothing for me.

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  15. I always envisioned Titans in Eve working like this.

    You'd have a captain directing the ship, and hundreds of players manning guns (of all different sizes), all shooting at different targets etc.

    (On a smaller scale, but think Star Wars, where you have Chewie still piloting the Falcon and Luke and Han shooting stuff from separate turrets...)

    This makes the reality of how Titans in Eve actually work quite depressing...

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  16. Eh supported by micro-transactions sounds like pay to win is probable.

    The game isn't out and you can already 'buy' ships and currency.

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  17. I'm sold. And not too much of a gamble as I can even get my money refunded if I want. Anything to push the genre forward.

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  18. Surprised nobody has mentioned the ELITE projects & Braben's decade old promises to get a MMO with newtonian mechanics... I miss Frontier: Elite every so often & wish there was a multiplayer & open end version.
    ~DarthNefarius

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    1. Wasn't it said that ELITE 4 is already in the works a few years ago? As i remember Barben's concern was the slowness of the back then available internet. That has been improved a lot since then...

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  19. I still have my WC3 collector's edition movie tin. I will also throw X3 into the mix for sandbox space games. Reminds me of EVE without the MMO part.

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    1. I would love to play X3 games in multiplayer with friends...

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  20. Jester, THANK YOU for posting this. I haven't heard of Star Citizen until now, but learning about it is probably the highlight of my week. I am just a little too young to have played Wing Commander, but this looks like THE game I have been waiting to play my whole life. I can't adequately describe how impressed I am. I don't care that it's two years away, this looks absolutely tremendous.

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  21. I threw some money at them, would love to play this game, hope it lives up to the hype.

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  22. *spooge*
    hmmm...i'll bet there's no asteroids to mine, damnit!

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  23. For those who are interested in backing this project, they now have a Kickstarter option for those who want to back it that way: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cig/star-citizen?

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  24. Just a quick GSF Jabber broadcast leak:
    =======
    For those of you mid-thirties nerds who grew up playing Wing Commander, you probably already know that Chris Roberts is making what amounts to a Freelancer MMO. What you may not know is that our little ~news site~ is badass enough to call up people like Chris Roberts and get an exclusive interview with the guy about the project: http://themittani.com/features/exclusive-interview-star-citizens-chris-roberts Feels good. Also makes me feel old, as there's now an entire generation who has no fucking idea who Chris Roberts is or what a Wing Commander is.

    MORE RELEVANT SPACESHIP NEWS: [skipped]

    *** This was a broadcast from the_mittani to all-all at 2012-10-19 18:50:26.754223 EVE, replies are not monitored ***
    =====
    While Mittani is being his usual :smug: self, he does have a point. themittani.com is working, and it's the first Eve news site I'm checking regularily. Maybe you could write a piece on themittani.com/evenews24 differences ? If riverini won't throw your blog out of his sindicated newsfeed of course.

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