Yes Please Now Please: Diaspora

By Alec Meer on October 29th, 2010 at 9:05 pm.

Hopefully there'll be no 'God did it' nonsense in this

Battlestar Galactica (the new version, clearly) remains something of a magnet for game projects, and there’s good reason for that: its depiction of space battles remains a masterpiece in scale, affecting minimalism and sinister awe. Mighty fine-lookin’ standalone Freespace 2 mod Diaspora does, it appears, absolutely nail all of that. If the finished project can even slightly live up to the apparently in-game footage below, we’re in for a frakking amazing time.


Yes, yes, yes. Yes.

It is, as you may have gathered, a space combat game – something we see all too little of, because publishers these days are wimps. This’ll be free but episodic, made from love, passion and duty by some of the folk who worked on previous Freespace 2-based BSG adaptation, the semi-defunct Beyond The Red Line. The split was somewhat acrimonious, as far as I can tell.

So Diaspora is the future, and it’s doing incredible things with a decade-old engine. For details – including the cheery revelation that, while you don’t get to fly the Galactica, you can land on it – check out the site.

Unfortunately, there’s no time-frame for release, as it’s a spare-time project for its team. Always the problem with ambitious mods, but hopefully this particularly enticing space sim won’t sink without a Thrace.

[Thanks to Seth D. for the tip]

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76 Comments »

  1. Andy_Panthro says:

    Looks nice.

    I seem to recall a Babylon 5 project a long while ago, though I’m not sure if that was for freespace 2… did it ever get completed I wonder?

  2. skalpadda says:

    Oooh, that tickles the old space sim glands. Now if only I could find my copy of Freespace 2. And then there’s the issue of my trusty old joystick needing a game port. Sigh.

    • Torgen says:

      Freespace 2 is on GOG.

      I think you’re out of luck on the joystick, though.

    • Swifty says:

      Hi. Programmer from Diaspora Development here. You don’t need a copy of Freespace2 to play this game. We are using the Freespace engine but not its assets.

    • skalpadda says:

      Thanks Torgen and Swifty, I guess I don’t have any good excuses then :)

    • luckystriker says:

      Hi Swifty,

      Really looking forward to your mod. Will Diaspora be compatible with community generated visual upgrades?

    • Seth says:

      Diaspora’s art assets will be at a level on par with the latest MediaVPs (or, well, better, it looks like), so I doubt you’ll have to worry about that sort of compatibility.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Awesomely, the Freespace 2 engine is open-source, so any old dude can build a wicked space sim on top of it if they want.

  3. Bascule42 says:

    /splutter! /coffee spray… +sugar for x2 monitor damage.

    Er…yes please?

    • P7uen says:

      Even just that little wibble the other viper did at about 1:05 was enough to make me poo my pants.

  4. michaelar says:

    As if Freespace 2 needed any more justification as The Greatest Game Ever Made. A ten-year old engine, you say!

    BTW, Freespace 2 is available on GOG, cheap. I re-bought it so I always have it available. Now what I really need is a digital download copy of my joystick so I always have it available, too.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      i will fight your freespace2 with my independe war 1 & 2 anytime. I will probably loose because of i-war’s “accurate” physics, but still i will feel superior. Why? Because this is the internet.

    • Joe Duck says:

      I-war was absolutely awesome. I have often dreamt about a multiplayer coop version of I-war with one player per station. I know, it’s very hight in the nerd scale, but it would rock.

  5. pupsikaso says:

    Huh. I don’t recall being able to look around the cockpit in Freespace2. I don’t recall even HAVING a cockpit! I had no idea this engine could do that.

    • Seth says:

      FreeSpace Open can do some pretty cool stuff with cockpits. The newest thing you’ll see there is the working DRADIS (I think?) on the cockpit’s center console.

  6. Seth says:

    Chaps, listen up! FreeSpace Open is currently spewing out brilliant releases that do some mighty experimental stuff for a space sim.

    Vassago’s Dirge is a post-traumatic, desaturated journey set entirely to Rachmaninoff: http://www.moddb.com/mods/vassagos-dirge/news/vassagos-dirge-release-on-moddb

    Wings of Dawn is a ridiculously creative bit of standalone universe storytelling that combines anime fanservice with Master of Orion: http://www.moddb.com/mods/wings-of-dawn

    And War in Heaven is a deconstruction of the space opera war in which both sides are the good guys and the moral cost of killing is as much an enemy as the other side: http://www.moddb.com/mods/blue-planet-war-in-heaven

    These mods are lucky enough to be supported by a code team that tweaks the engine daily to suit the needs of the designers. Hard Light Productions a wonderfully collaborative community and I really recommend it.

    (Also the engine just got per-pixel lighting and postprocessing, it’s almost keeping up with modern graphics!)

  7. Mistabashi says:

    Oooh, yes please! The demo/proof of concept for Beyond the Red Line was great, but this looks like a big step forward in terms of immersion – the 3D cockpit in particular is something I crave (if only we could have that kind of immersion coupled with some trading / open-ended gameplay).

    @ Skalpadda: I wouldn’t worry about finding your copy of Freespace 2, this most likely runs on a (heavily modified) version of the open-source engine, and since it won’t be using any Freespace assets it will essentially be a stand-alone game (well, that’s what I’m assuming, haven’t checked the link yet).

    X3: Terran Conflict has been my source of spacey fun of late, but while it’s got a great economy and some interesting ideas that give it a kind of strategy game feel, it lacks the immersion factor that makes you feel like you’re really there in the cockpit, and the combat can often be a bit uninteresting. And the story missions range from dull to amateurish, you really have to make your own fun in that game.

  8. negativedge says:

    Freespace <3

    The stuff that has been done with Freespace Open is pretty damn amazing.

  9. Sushi says:

    @Andy_Panthro:

    Babylon Project did indeed get finished.
    http://babylon.hard-light.net/

    See also: http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?board=105.0

    Also, like the Babylon Project, Diaspora will be standalone and will not require Freespace 2 to run. That said, it’s worth the money to get it on GOG… be sure to check out the updated graphics you can get from hard-light.net!

  10. DeepSleeper says:

    I like how, because the pilot’s head is so busy wobbling aimlessly around the cockpit, they have to switch to behind-ship locked-camera to get anything accomplished.

    • Seth says:

      As far as I know the headwobbly business is strictly if you’re using a TrackIR setup. The game itself is first-person by default and was always best played that way.

    • Swifty says:

      The wobbly head business you see is TrackIR motion tracking. It’s strictly optional for players who own a TrackIR unit. The game is perfectly playable in cockpit view and is the intended way to play the game.

    • Mistabashi says:

      Will there be a bit of ‘wobbly-head-business’ for those of us that don’t have TrackIR? By that I mean, will there be some sort of camera inertia effect when we bank sharply, and will there be a ‘mouselook’ modifier we can press to look around the cockpit? Those are the things I feel are missing in most space sims/combat games, generally we have a completely static cockpit surround and it doesn’t feel all that immersive to have my head glued in place, regardless of whether it’s rendered in 3D.

      Looks mighty impressive though, it’s great to see modders taking up the reigns in an genre that commercial developers seem so scared by, especially when it looks as good as this :)

    • Swifty says:

      Mistabashi, there are currently padlock views that keep your view fixed on to your current target but the behavior you describe is something that has not been specifically done. That doesn’t sound like a bad idea as an option though. ;)

  11. chokoladenudlen says:

    By the gods, this could turn out to be awesome! Which is good, because my old MS Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 has been in dire need of exercise for some time.
    Now, if only they could put Caprica 6 in charge of ‘debriefing’…

  12. Urthman says:

    This looks fantastic.

    The only problem with the BSG mythos is that base ships and battlestars (quite sensibly) don’t have big beam weapons.

    And I love me some Freespace 2 big beam weapons.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Who needs beams when there are nukes?

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I think that everything being particle weapons surprisingly adds a tension to it. In a good way. With beams, you have instant hits. Which is cool if you can saw things trough with it. But you can’t build up fear. While, with nukes approaching you, you definitely get all sweaty and uneasy.

  13. Urthman says:

    If I wanted to replay the original Freespace 2 campaign, would FreeSpace Open be the way to do it on a modern machine?

    • The E says:

      Provided you have FS2, yes. FSOpen, with all the community-generated visual upgrades, is the best way to enjoy that game on a modern rig.

    • Seth says:

      Yes. Run the FreeSpace Open Installer (ironically it’s been a bit glitchy this week, so you may need to use the manual override if it spews errors.) It’ll give you the mediavps_3612, which you should select as a mod to play the campaign with graphical upgrades.

      It’ll also install a few of the best user-made works like Blue Planet, ST:R, Derelict, so on.

  14. Rosti says:

    Oh Meer, not content with tickling that itch with BSG & space sim news, you drop a beauty of a pun at the end. I’m getting close to signing up to Flattr just to reward each worthy chunk of word-play.

  15. Boldoran says:

    This looks nice. I liked the space fighting scenes in BSG but even more I would love to see Freespace 3. Freespace was the first game that I could expirenece with a 3D accelarotor card and I will always remember it for that.

  16. _Nocturnal says:

    Yes.

  17. Pew says:

    Thanks for all these links to the mods, Seth!

    Maybe it’s about time again to fire up the ole Freespace 2 again. While we wait for Freespace 3 and TIE Fighter Remnant or something :(

  18. Arsewisely says:

    Does anyone remember a browser based EVE-alike space MMO called Diaspora?

  19. Gabbo says:

    I’ve been waiting for this for what seems like ages now. Hopefully it releases in my lifetime.

  20. 0mar says:

    love the flak screen in space….

    Doesn’t make sense in a military way (space is big and in 3 dimensions) but looks awesome.

    • Adam Whitehead says:

      I’m convinced that the BSG CGI team nicked the whole ‘flak screen in space’ from FREESPACE 2, which is the first time I’d seen the idea in use. So it’s fitting to see it back in the FS engine.

    • pupsikaso says:

      Or you know, a myriad of other sci-fi related media such as anime that has had the whole “flak screen in space” since the ’80s.

  21. noobnob says:

    Releasing the source code of old games can result in really, really impressive works from enthusiasts and the FSOpen project is proof of that. I wish more devs would bother doing this, with or without permission from the publisher :P

  22. castle says:

    Looks like Freespace 2 from GoG doesn’t run on Win 7. Hopefully that’s no longer the case by the time this is released, cause it looks pretty promising (I wouldn’t mind another run through Freespace 2 either, now that I think about it…)

    • The E says:

      Well, what you need to realize is that Diaspora doesn’t run on the same engine that the original FS ran on. It runs on FS2_Open, which is the original FS2 engine plus 10 years of enhancement and bugfixing. And THAT one runs on Win 7 without a hitch.

    • Seth says:

      You just need the root FS2 files to run FSOpen, so install that, it works great on Windows 7. (And Diaspora will be standalone.)

    • westyfield says:

      Wha-? Dammit, I was planning on buying FS2 this afternoon. Are you guys saying that FS2 can be played with FSopen installed, or is it that FS2 cannot be played but any FS2 mods using FSopen can? If that sentence even makes sense.

    • The E says:

      The install procedure is simple. First, you install FS2. Then you get the FSO Installer from http://www.fsoinstaller.com/ and point it at the directory you installed FS2 to. It will then proceed to download several gigabytes of fan-created goodness.

    • Axess Denyd says:

      FS2 from GOG does in fact run on Win 7.

      Although right after I played the first mission I installed FS2Open.

  23. Vandelay says:

    Mother-frakkers that looks awesome. I really should try playing Freespace 2 again with all these bells and whistles that have been added to the engine. I did try not too long ago, but just couldn’t get the controls to feel right on a gamepad and I’ve no longer got access to a joystick to play the game how I originally did many, many years ago. This mod, along with some of the ones linked to a little up above, could entice me to try again.

    In other BSG, much sadder, related news, apparently the rather excellent (to a few of us) spin of show Caprica looks to be cancelled. Here is the link: http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2010/10/27/breaking-syfy-cancels-caprica/ . There is supposed to be another spin off in the works, although this time it sounds as if they are going for the more obvious and mass appealing space fightee show, about the Cylon War.

    • Seth says:

      You can just play with the keyboard if you’ve got a numpad. It’s what I’ve been doing for years.

    • pupsikaso says:

      Played about half-way through the campaign on the numpad until I realized that there was a good mouse-mode available.
      /facepalm

  24. mlaskus says:

    This looks wonderful, which reminds me… It’s Freespace 2 time. See ya!

  25. bill says:

    I know i say this in every flight sim thread, and it sounds like a broken record – but i just cannot get into flight sims without a joystick – and somehow i can’t justify buying a joystick for one or two flight sims.

    • Shadowcat says:

      But it’s not for one or two sims. It’s for one or two sims right now, AND all the others in the future that you will be able to get into because you have a joystick. Get a joystick!

  26. Vodkarn says:

    This is a weird question, but I couldn’t tell from the video: When you turn, do you have inertia? As in, if you ‘look’ right while going forward, do you slide sideways?

    Thanks!

    • Seth says:

      Yes. This is called Newtonian dampening in the engine’s parlance, to my understanding. Additionally there’s a glide mode in Diaspora to reflect the show’s maneuvers – you can flip it on and turn your ship 180 to shoot at a Cylon behind you while still moving along your previous vector.

      inb4 i post too much :/

  27. Solcry says:

    MY GOD. I have been wanting a new Space Sim game for the LONGEST time (i.e. since I replayed X-Wing Alliance two years ago and was like PLEASE WANT MORE). Can’t wait for this. :)

  28. Kayden says:

    This mod is shaping up nicely! It is looking great and I can’t believe the work that has gone into it since the demo, keep up the good work!

    Nice pun there Alec (c;

  29. HidesHisEyes says:

    JUMP

  30. Samattack says:

    Doesn’t this mean that every level will be an escort mission? :)

    • Karajorma says:

      Nope. We’re working on a variety of missions. We’re somewhat limited in the first release since that’s set during the Fall of the Twelve Colonies (not exactly the sort of time you’d expect big strike missions or recon missions in enemy space) but you’ll be doing other stuff too.

  31. pagad says:

    This looks really ace.

    SPOILER FOR BSG FINALE

    Just as long as the last mission doesn’t involve landing on Earth as the fleet goes into the sun and then living a short, brutal life of suffering and deprivation

    (yes, I didn’t like the series’ ending)

  32. bloodpukesalvation says:

    $10 deal on a joystick for anyone who wants to jump back into 0 grav:

    http://deals.woot.com/deals/details/cd44b748-67d1-454b-885d-49025b6add60/save-50-on-logitech-attack-3-joystick-dented-box#7

    • Vodkarn says:

      Holy crap, I bought that very joystick over a year ago for 10 bucks, hahaha. (It’s actually quite good)

  33. RakeShark says:

    Just so you know, if that simply whets your appetite for space-sim combat but leaves you wanting more, there is also a Freespace 2 total conversion based on Wing Commander.

    http://www.wcsaga.com/

  34. Johann Kwan says:

    Wow. This is the first bit of significant Diaspora news to hit in a quite a few months… and it’s not on their main page. I have been waiting for this game to come out for soooooo long. I even bought a Saitek joystick and had it shipped to Canada some time ago to play Freespace 2 again.

  35. david says:

    just a heads up, your local goodwill has half a dozen respectable sidewinder and saitek joysticks for a fiver or so. every single goodwill in seattle has a ton of them, i bet its true everywhere.

  36. Wee says:

    Since this is kinda the topic, there is a babylon 5 game called I’ve Found Her.
    I think it started as a freespace mod but last time I played it, it was standalone. You don’t need FS2.

    http://ifhgame.ru/main/