Waiting For A Wing Commander: Chris Roberts Returns

By Adam Smith on September 11th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

Chris Roberts is making some sort of XCOM sequel? Hmmmm

This is something of an announcement of an announcement but it does contain information relevant to simulated spacefarers everywhere. Gather them together before the screen and allow them to gaze on the website for Roberts Space Industries. Here’s one of the things it says on the site.

If you’ve made it here, you probably know who I am.

I know who you are! You’re Chris Roberts, creator of the Wing Commander series and director of FMV sequences, one of which was feature length. After spending a few years in the non-interactive motion picture industry, Roberts is returning to the world of games, and indeed the world of world-building. His project will be revealed on the tenth of October at 10am (EST).

Targeted at “truly hardcore space simulation fans”, the project has been in development for a year already but there are a projected 24 months of development left. You can sign up to the website to follow progress and receive insider information, such as an occasional screenshot perhaps. Sign up for insider details throughout the process and ponder aloud whether the words ‘Kickstarter’ or ‘crowdfunding’ will be anywhere on the RSI site on October 10th.

Very exciting though, isn’t it, the idea of a grand space sim of the sort that are supposed to have gone extinct? Sounds like it might be a multiplayer sort of an affair, which will either make you applaud with delight, shrug apathetically or gnash your teeth and scream at the stars themselves.

With the power of today’s computers and the reach of the internet I finally feel I have the tools to build the connected experience that I always dreamed of.

Either some sort of multiplayer or Chris Roberts is SHODAN.

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50 Comments »

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  1. MrHairyLives says:

    I’m going to hazard a guess here and say that it could very well be an MMO version of Privateer or Freelancer. Which would be good.

      • stkaye says:

        Yes, Eve. Only with, you know, gameplay.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          The password is a Hitchiker’s Guide reference, but that might just be a general sci fi reference and not specifically a hint at licensed Guide content.

          • dontnormally says:

            Happy to have gotten it on the first guess based on your comment alone.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            If someone actually managed to make a game with DNA’s style of intelligent humor it would blow my mind.

          • HothMonster says:

            I certainly hope you have played the hitchhiker text adventure then Jason. If not then good fucking luck, you will need it.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            Startopia did a good job of it

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            emertonom says:

            In fairness, the prompt is also 42 in binary (101010 = 32 + 8 + 2 = 42), which makes it seem a little less like a hitchhiker reference, though I’m sure there was a certain amount of calculation about what would help create buzz. We can dream, though.

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            emertonom says:

            Also, let’s not forget “Starship Titanic.” It was quite far from perfect, but it definitely had DNA’s fingerprints all over it. And it had that horrifying bit about the corrupted data for the drinks menu…

          • buluke65521 says:

            All right. Hurry up, Mark Hamill is still around, and there are still plenty of porn stars for other FMV sequences.
            http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/categories-list.htm

          • Foxfoxfox says:

            Yes but starship titanic was not so much a game as a punishment for our sins

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      mavu says:

      omg yes! mmo privateer. pleasse!

    • ThTa says:

      Freelancer’s multiplayer is practically an MMO already, though.
      I’d prefer him building a SP world first and foremost, then giving us the ability to screw around in it with massive numbers of other players as was the case with the aforementioned.

      Still, I initially heard of this through a friend’s incoherent shouting over Skype yesterday, and quickly joined him the second I figured out what he was saying. If Roberts in any way lives up to his legacy, this could very well leave me with many more years of fun and fond memories. (And might finally get me over the heart-breaking news that was Freelancer’s sequel’s cancellation all those years ago.)

  2. Unaco says:

    So this article is an announcement of an announcement of a forthcoming announcement? I bet the announcement will be a Live Action Trailer.

  3. Erwin_Br says:

    I think I need to change my undershorts.

  4. stkaye says:

    It’s actually slightly silly how excited I am about all this. Evidence of a misspent youth.

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    Crimsoneer says:

    I’ve just been playing through Diaspora: Shattered Armistice, and it’s made me YEARN for more Starlancer. I really, really miss that game.

    • stkaye says:

      Strange how Starlancer gets forgotten these days – had some great adventures in that game. Chasing down torpedoes!

    • frenz0rz says:

      Good old Starlancer!

      I remember that mission where you had to pilot a stolen Coalition torpedo bomber, fly it through their main fleet in rigid formation (any erratic behaviour would blow your cover), manuever behind their capital ship and – when given the signal – unleash all of your torpedos into its rear end. That was the easy part.

      After that, as the Alliance fleet jumped in, you had to outrun about two dozen enemy fighters and the exploding capital ship in a metal box that was as maneuverable as a beached whale. Having somehow landed the now-smoking wreck onto your own capital ship, you then launched again in your usual customised fighter and had to protect your fleet from the enemy fighter squadrons.

      Good times, that. Although as much as I’d love a modern linear mission-based space sim, I’d go absolutely INSANE for a Freelancer game that lived up to the original’s (often forgotten) lofty promises.

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    AmateurScience says:

    I am trying not to get overexcited about this. It is proving difficult!

  7. Zenicetus says:

    My excitement over the phrase “truly hardcore space simulation” is in inverse proportion to any suggestion of this project being a multiplayer game (at least, without a singleplayer mode). So…. I guess we’ll see.

  8. RobinOttens says:

    Am I a bad person if Independence War 2 is the only big space sim I’ve played? Loved that game too. And my few hours with EVE were pretty cool too.

    I somehow never managed to play Freelancer, Wing Commander, X, Privateer and what have you. :'(

    • Zenicetus says:

      For me, Independence War 2 was the best cockpit-level space game ever made, mostly due to the way it handled the physics of space flight, and the large scale of the star systems. If you were only going to play one game, that would be the one (IMO).

      That said, there were things I enjoyed in other games, like the RPG aspects of Privateer, the branching story lines in Wing Commander, and the big ship battles in Freespace 2.

      If you were going to try another one of the classics, I’d recommend picking up Freespace 2 (available on GOG, I think) with the FS2 Open high-res mod. That’s the only space game that still lives on my hard drive. If you’ve been playing I-War2 with a joystick, you’ll enjoy the joystick support in FS2.

      There is a recent remake of Wing Commander that I haven’t tried, but you may want to check that out. The actual combat in Wing Commander is very simplistic, nothing like I-War2. But it’s such a classic marker in the space combat genre that every fan should try it, I think. Look for a recent RPS post on the remake, it’s around here somewhere.

      There is also “Nexus: The Jupiter Incident” where you control a capital ship, and it gets generally good reviews but I’ve never played it. It’s always been on my “try it when I can get around to it” list, and I never seem to get around to it.

      • RobinOttens says:

        Thanks!

      • arisian says:

        It’s not really a “remake,” but a new free Wing Commander game based on the FSOpen codebase was released recently. It’s at http://www.wcsaga.com if you want to grab a copy and check it out. Fair warning, it’s a bit old-school in terms of difficulty, but well worth the effort, and it looks absolutely fantastic compared to the original games.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Shooting those palette-shaped cargo ships and stealing all their boxes is my eternal memory of that game

  9. Lu-Tze says:

    10.10.10? 42? IT’S THE ULTIMATE ANSWER PEOPLE.

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    JiminyJickers says:

    I really hope this has single player. If it is an MMO, then I’m not interested, if it is a single player game, then I will be very excited and start throwing my money at the screen.

    A little bit worried about his statement in the signup screen.

    “With the power of today’s computers and the reach of the internet I finally feel I have the tools to build the connected experience that I always dreamed of.”

    Hopefully I am misinterpreting the statement.

  11. FionaSarah says:

    > Targeted at “truly hardcore space simulation fans”

    Good news! That at least means it will have nothing to do with Freelancer.

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      FunktionJCB says:

      Is it still cool to bash Freelancer after all these years, just because they over-promised a number of features that never made it into the game?

      Shame on you. :D

      Freelancer is still my favourite game in the genre. The only real complain I had with it is that the game has a great and big universe to play in, but after you finish the story missions there’s really not a lot to do, except repeating the same couple of mission types over and over. A bigger variety with the bounties was sorely needed.

      I, for one, would love to see the upcoming game built on Freelancer’s template, but bigger and with more variety.

      • Axess Denyd says:

        I thought Freelancer was OK, but I can’t get behind the control scheme. If there had at least been the option of cockpit and joystick control I would remember it much more fondly.

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          FunktionJCB says:

          I still remember how crazy everybody was when the mouse controls (with no joystick option) were announced. :)
          It’s funny how, a few years later, a younger generation believes a joystick or controller of any kind has no business on a PC game (yes, we must use keyboard + mouse on everything). If only they were around when Freelancer was released…

          I admit that I was myself a little apprehensive at first, but honestly I quite liked the control scheme, and I actually found it easier to access the keyboard shortcuts while using it.

      • MDefender says:

        I’m banking on something that approaches freelancer’s original vision, while probably not sharing the name. If ever there was a game in need of an expansion pack or a sequel, that was it.

      • BigglesB says:

        I still remember being sorely disappointed in Freelancer. The lack of a cockpit view and reliance on mouse control was the first immersion breaker, then there was the way the map was divided up into progressively ‘tougher’ areas blocked off until you unlocked them (I can’t quite remember how the unlocking worked… Wasn’t it level based? Did the game have Levels?!?) which reduced exploration to story dictated linear progression and grind. Then there was the very formulaic way everything seemed to be designed: there are 4 factions, each one has an X, 3 Ys and a Z etc etc… Plus the fairly unimaginative and bland national stereotypes on which each one was based.

        Of course there were some cool missions, I quite liked being able to track ships to find pirate hangouts etc but next to the strong sense of place and character created by Privateer, Freelancer just seemed a bit plastic. So yeah, still bashing it after all this time, because it replaced immersion with feature creep and marked the decline of the whole genre.

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          FunktionJCB says:

          I’m not sure what you mean by “locked map”, after a brief introductory bit the game allowed you to go everywhere, even zones that weren’t already marked on your map. And there were plenty of places to go around, and zones that were never even used for any of the story missions.

          And about the “tougher” zones, there are indeed zones that are tougher than others, because they are controlled by opposing factions. They aren’t really increasingly scaled in any way.

          • BigglesB says:

            I’ll admit, my memory is a little hazy, but I seem to clearly remember being frustrated by the seemingly arbitrary limit on where you could go at first (this may have just been the introductory section as you say, but even then it’s annoying) and then later finding out that the strength of the factions escalated in a very artificial way which was clearly designed to create a sense of linear progression. Firstly: if the Germans (sorry, I forget what the sides were actually called) were so much tougher that the Americans, why didn’t they just conquer them completely? Also, it meant that if you went “ahead” to a tougher region of space you’d be outgunned and destroyed pretty quickly, and if you went back to an easier region there would be little to do that was worth your time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing to have in a game, but the way it was done felt entirely arbitrary. The mechanics simply didn’t support the fiction and as a result for me the game world lacked that sense of place which made Privateer so enjoyable. Anyway, other people clearly enjoyed the game for other reasons but I’m hoping that this next game makes more of an effort to have the world and mechanics tie together in a more plausible way.

            Another thing I miss from the Privateer era was how each ship had a distinct cockpit – often with different instruments – which really helped give each one its own personality. Like how there was one ship which had great upgrade potential and cargo capacity but had tiny windows for actually seeing what was going on, while the Centurian had a great viewable area as well as an additional multi-function display for seeing what was going on around you…

        • Mafia says:

          What freelancer were you playing? I clearly remember there being a cockpit view. look at the manual if you don’t know how or let me just tell you that it was cntrl+v.
          The immersion is your own problem I was fully immersed in that I was playing a spaceship game which had an exceptional color palette and interesting space backdrops. The story was good as wel as the element of exploration.

          The ships weren’t balanced by faction but by “unlocking” as you say, areas. The best ship in the game was a civilian fighter that you’d never even get access to until the campaign was completed. The game when I got it in 2003 cost me around 30 bucks,and was around 45hours of play time 1st playthrough +however much multiplayer time. The last $60 Call of Duty i purchased had a 7hr campaign. I’d say Freelancer was good as it was and over the years mods have taken it to it’s full realization.

  12. Volvox says:

    I just hope he can code games better than websites. It looks bad under Opera.

  13. Iskariot says:

    I would love a new, modernized privateer.
    I would pay almost anything for it.
    But if this is an MMO I will act like it never happened.
    I hate MMO. I want nothing to do with it.

  14. Atic Atac says:

    Where’s the kickstarter??

  15. DarkFarmer says:

    Might be doing Wing Commander a little too much/too little justice with calling it a “Feature Length FMV”, it has the distinction of being one of the worst sci fi films ever made (jocking hard with Battlefield Earth). Thanks to those two Plan 9 isnt even close anymore. At least plan 9 is funny (unless you find the part in Wing Commander where they get really sad that the girl dies and then the captain says “Get that wreckage off the deck” and that goofy tractor pushes the wreckage off the deck as hilarious as I do) and not just super boring.

  16. kert says:

    All right. Hurry up, Mark Hamill is still around, and there are still plenty of porn stars for other FMV sequences.

  17. Jimmy Jazz says:

    I clicked on the link. viewed the timer. saw the access code bar.
    entered “101010” as the numbers above were arranged.

    error, invalid.

    i see a question mark, i hover my mouse over it and it says “the answer to the ultimate question”
    seeing that i thought of Douglas Adams, and entered his answer. i was immensely pleased at the result.

    • Rugged Malone says:

      101010 is binary for 42. :)

      Somewhat interestingly, 42 is also the ASCII code for an asterisk (*) which you could say looks like a star…