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.