By strange fortune, I got the Early Access build of a “space sim” on Steam. (Actually, according to Wikipedia this genre is called “Space trading and combat simulator”. I guess that’s more useful than calling all first-person games “shooters”.) I tried it, and like a lot of Early Access games I kind of felt like it went public way too soon. So I tried another, just to compare. It was also pretty half-baked and not in any state to provide entertainment. I might write about them later,
Remember the whole Derek Smart thing? Way back in 1996 Mr. Smart released Battlecruiser 3000AD. It was, as far as I can tell, a one-man effort. He hyped the game with fervor and was famous for his aggressive responses to criticism. (On Usenet. Remember that place?) The game was notoriously rough at launch, but he stuck with it and – according to the internet – made it right in the end. Since then he’s made a habit of giving away his games once they’re done selling, and seems to have done well for himself. He could be compared to people like Peter Molyneux, John Romero, and Phil Fish, but the truth is he’s very much his own thing. He’s mellowed quite a bit since the 90’s. He’s got his own development company now, but I’ll always see him as the original indie.
After seeing everyone heap so much shame on Battlecruiser 3000AD, it’s really odd to see these new sims come along and outright sell their pre-alpha builds. I feel like the internet needs to heap some shame on these projects, or apologize to Derek Smart.
No. That’s not true. I don’t really think we need to unload hate on these new indies. It’s just strange how the industry has changed, and sometimes it’s hard to see how we got from there to here.
For the record, I have’t played a space sim since Freelancer. And I friggin’ hated Freelancer for being shallow, dull, and railroad-y. I’ve heard that people have fixed it up with mods, but I’ve never had the urge to go back. (And now that I think of it, I haven’t seen the disks in years. It’s possible I don’t have the game anymore.)
I don’t know why I have this sudden urge to play a space sim. The last one I liked was the short-lived Earth & Beyond. Before that, I think it was Starflight, way back in 1992 or so. I haven’t spent a lot of time with this genre and I don’t really know what’s good.
Which brings me to the point of this meandering heap of anecdotes: What’s good out there? No need to suggest Eve Online. I admire the game from a distance. I love the drama, intrigue, and unique community structure the game has created. But I wouldn’t enjoy playing the game. I just don’t like PVP, and in Eve PVP is kind of the point.
So, have any space sims you’d really recommend? Have any you want to rage against? I’m most interested in seeing where the genre has gone in the last few years or so.
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