Enemy Starfighter Is A Friend To Fans Of Space, Roguelikes

By Nathan Grayson on December 14th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

DANGER ZONE.

Someday, I would like to meet a friendly starfighter. We’d go on adventures together, support each other through tough times, and buy each other presents occasionally - just because. Without a doubt, he’d be the friendliest starfighter in all the land. But today is not that day. No, right now, we’re dealing with Enemy Starfighter, and this one’s quite a menacing, conniving fellow indeed. Planning’s the name of the game – or it would be, if it wasn’t Enemy Starfighter – and a randomized single-player campaign with loot and harsh death conditions adds roguelike flair to the proceedings. See it in action after the break.

As you can see, positioning and pre-planning for the task at hand is key, as haphazard space-Ramboing will just get everyone killed. Permanently.

“The game is a random single-player campaign about planning to shoot things in space, shooting things in space, and using loot from your last strike to make you better at shooting things in space. If you die, that’s it, game over. If one of your units dies, it’s gone (steal another one!).”

One-man intergalactic mastermind (and former Bungie dev) Mike Tipul has only been working on Enemy Starfighter for three months, but it’s already at a point where he can “put the controller in someone’s hand and ask them what they think about it.” He hopes to eventually rope the entire Internet into the testing process, but there’s no set timeframe for that yet.

It’s a really neat concept, though – not to mention something far more focused than the current crop of space revival games, which seem to be locked in an arms race over who can make the infinite reaches of space more infinity-er. I’m certainly looking forward to giving it a go. How about you, friendliest of all readerships?

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102 Comments »

  1. WMain00 says:

    Oooooh, that looks really really fun. Sort of like Homeworld but you’re in the cockpit!

    Where should I throw my money?

    • frightlever says:

      “Sort of like Homeworld but you’re in the cockpit!”

      Exactly, in much the same way that Everquest took Dungeon Keeper and put you in charge of one of the invading heroes. A perfect analogy.

      • Armitage says:

        Ah sarcarsm, I can do that too. The music, art style, and map overview mechanic does not even remotely resemble Homeworld!

        Did I do that right ?

    • Cinek says:

      For me it looks like the presentation Elite: Dangerous should have made instead of this… joke they are presenting all the time (which is closer to the 4 week product of a single student then anything serious, worth people pledging £1,250,000)

    • squareking says:

      I see the Homeworld-iness and I welcome it. Plus they’re using Eurostile, which is the premier sci fi font.

      • MrUnimport says:

        Learning that there was a name I could put to that font ruined a lot of good movies and TV shows for me.

      • deadly.by.design says:

        There’s certainly a lot of Eurostile. Normally, I’d say that font is overused, but I think it’s appropriate here. I think Mass Effect’s Normandy used something closer to Helvetica, if not exactly that.

        /somewhat of a type nerd

      • tipul says:

        You’re close! It’s not Eurostile but Microgramma. Eurostile is a child variant of this one.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microgramma_(typeface)

        I was doing research on fonts and always loved the typeface they used in 2001′s terminals. It was made WAY back in 1952 and still manages to have a classy futuristic look. It’s just brilliant. I bought a license to it, tried it out, and immediately fell in love with it.

        • Bart Stewart says:

          I thought I recognized it from the Franz Joseph Star Trek Technical Manual. Sure enough, the Wikipedia entry confirms that. Nice!

          I didn’t know it was also used for those three-character system name displays in 2001, though.

          60 years old and still looks like The Future. Not bad at all.

        • squareking says:

          Well sir! A tip of the hat is due to you. *tip* Serves me right for making assumptions. I actually prefer Microgramma’s squatter, more geometric structure than Euro’s taller, humanistic leaning.

          /wannabetypenerd

    • tomeoftom says:

      Incorrect. It’s Flotilla where the games last one turn.

    • islisis says:

      Or more accurately, Homeworld’s cockpit view mode ;)

  2. frightlever says:

    Not sure how I feel about permadeath in a space sim, but it might be interesting for someone to take a Trackmania meets Gratuitous Space Battles approach to a 3D space sim.

    • Armitage says:

      Yeah, I personally ragequit after a few hours when playing these roguelikes. Games Like FTL and Flotilla are amazing, but they don’t have staying power with me unless I can “achieve” something persistent.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        hrm, I see where you’re coming from. Although I would say that you can certainly achieve something persistent in those games – your progress is always saved. I think it’s even MORE meaningful when actually dying ALSO produces a persistent effect – rather than being a not-entirely but almost meaningless reload cycle

      • Geen says:

        You are in fact, achieving something by dying in most roguelikes. It’s the end of the tale, the last stand, a grave to be looted later, and, most importantly, knowledge of what not to do next time for you.

      • caddyB says:

        Failure is learning, losing is fun.

  3. Velko says:

    “where he can “put the controller in someone’s hand and ask them what they think about it.””

    Personally I’m not very fond of controllers other than mouse and keyboard, but I guess if it has a good design…

    • frightlever says:

      Noob.

      We all had controllers to play space sims when I was a kid. If you’re playing your space sims with anything but a massive phallic joystick while your free hand is playing with your throttle then you’re doing it wrong.

      EDIT: I clearly feel very strongly about this game because I’ve paper-bombed the comments. I’m copying 100 Gb of files and I need to re-boot my computer before I can access accounts. Idle hands and all that.

      • Gnoupi says:

        While this is mostly true, I do appreciate the Freelance mouse control for space sims. It gives you the mouse precision, without having to drag it for ages to flip.

        (Yes, I also played Freespace 2 with a mouse from beginning to end.)
        (Yes, I failed to “DIVE DIVE DIVE” on time)

        • Velko says:

          I’m not sure if you guys entirely missed my poor punning attempt or just decided to ignore it and take the message at face value to make a point.

          I must admit it wasn’t very funny.

          • MasterDex says:

            It was the use of the word “Controller”, a touchy word to use around these parts, pun or no pun.

            I liked your joke though, for what it’s worth.

          • frightlever says:

            I really need you to explain the joke. I am drawing a blank and it’s annoying me. If that was your plan, then mission accomplished.

            EDIT: (seriously the data transfer is still on-going) Wait, you mean someone puts the controller in their hands and they say, yeah that’s a great controller. That’s not a pun. Passable joke but you needed to sell it better.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            He was providing his thoughts on the controller itself, not the game USING a controller.

          • zacharai says:

            No, the pun was that the “controller” was the person using the gamepad. So putting the controller in someone’s hand was putting the person in their hand. He tried to sell both versions of the word with the “good design” quip, but it didn’t work. Good effort, though!

        • mckertis says:

          ” I do appreciate the Freelance mouse control for space sims.”

          Since when is Freelancer a space sim ?!

          • El_Emmental says:

            well, it “simulates ” a fantasy space world quite nicely, with its great immersion and credibility of most of its elements – not a “sim” per se, but so good it ‘feels’ like a sim.

          • Cinek says:

            Not it doesn’t. It feels like arcade game set in space.
            Even stupid Asteroids feels more like a space game then Freelancer.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            With feedback like that it’s no wonder no publisher wanted to touch space sims for the last decade.

          • Muzman says:

            Since when is Freelancers mouse scheme and an analogue stick controller really going to be all that different?

          • Joshua says:

            How does that line say that Freelancer is a space sim? It just says that Freelancer’s mouse control would be perfect FOR space sims.
            X3: Terran Conflict uses it, and it works quite well.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          I am pretty sure freelancer was absolutely not a sim but a space based arcade shooter. And taken in that way I didn’t mind the controls. I originally thought it was going to be a sim though and found the controls and camera and game in general a bit of a let down for a while.

          • Alextended says:

            I didn’t like Freelancer controls at all, sim or not. Arcadey flight physics and simple controls are one thing that works fine with joysticks/controllers but freelancer combat was just a matter of holding your free floating cursor over the enemy, it didn’t feel like controlling a ship at all to me, and seemed to lack any skill elements whatsoever (which arcade games should have).

          • FriendlyFire says:

            @Alextended: Lacking any skill element? You sir have never played that game.

          • Arglebargle says:

            How could that be? The great Chris Roberts was there! ;(

      • mckertis says:

        “We all had controllers to play space sims when I was a kid.”

        True. And then Freespace came out, and showed everyone what a PROPER m+k control scheme looks like.
        And to think some lame games even refused to run without a joystick, games like X-Wing Alliance. Bleh.

        • frightlever says:

          I don’t remember a mouse option in Freespace or the sequel but I have them on Gog so must give it a try. But it asks the question – can you imagine Luke on the trench run to destroy the Deathstar, frantically blowing dust out of his 90s era mouse ball? No, you can’t. Well, sure, I’m imagining it now but…

          • Cinek says:

            Yes, Freespace did allow mouse controls, and they were excellent (for some uses: better then joystick).

            And can you imagine Luke sitting on his chair in basement manipulating his plastic joy stick between his legs?
            It’s even more ridiculous ;)

          • MasterDex says:

            Yeah, Freespace had m+kb and they were quite good. I picked up the GOG versions myself not too long ago. If you’re going to replay them, you should get your hands on FS2Open and FSPort from here: http://scp.indiegames.us/

        • tipul says:

          There are also mouse and keyboard controls. I go back and forth between m+kb and a controller while testing all the time (depending on what I am working on), so don’t worry!

      • Charles de Goal says:

        How absurd is it to call something a simulation when we don’t know anything about the thing being simulated? Mankind has almost no experience in manned space flights, not to mention space dogfights never existed.

  4. Gap Gen says:

    Like like like.

  5. Dlarit says:

    Battlestar Galactica Mod and I’m sold :-)

  6. Casimir's Blake says:

    Immediate interest. There can never be enough first person games IMHO, let alone space shooters. The roguelike element could work very well in such a game, but it will depend heavily on having a variety of missions, enemies, pilot voices etc etc. give the randomiser code much to work with. Looking forward to this!

  7. SocraticIrony says:

    Old style Rainbow Six with spaceships you say? Sold.

  8. JustAPigeon says:

    Oh wow, this looks bloody amazing.

  9. Slinkyboy says:

    Love the beginning going from tactical map to the real thing. After that it’s Alpha footage.

    CANT WAIT!!!

  10. Jams O'Donnell says:

    …locked in an arms race over who can make the infinite reaches of space more infinity-er.

    The reason I play space shooty games is not to experience the vastness of space. Vast space is boring to fly around in. The reason I play space shooty games is to experience the kind of space dogfights you see in the likes of Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica. Enemy Starfighter sounds like my cup of hot beverage.

    Edited to add: Oh man, the transition from warp to cockpit is amazing. Jesus.

  11. MasterDex says:

    Something tells me that joystick sales are going to get a boost in the coming year.

    • aldo_14 says:

      It’d be nice if they made some new ones, then (that didn’t cost a – useful for joystick using- arm to purchase).

      • Jams O'Donnell says:

        Yeah — back when joysticks were an essential piece of PC gamer kit, I don’t think I ever paid more than about £20-£30 for a perfectly good analogue stick. Also, there were many in that price range to choose between.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Well, on Amazon UK you’ve got the:
        - Logitech Extreme 3D (plastic, kinda “cheap” imo)
        - Saitek Cyborg F.L.Y 5 (plastic, but less cheap production value imo, recommended between the two)

        Both are at £35 (shipping included), sold by Amazon.co.uk. There’s also the Thrustmaster USB at £15.3, if you’re really short on money.

        Of course for that price, you won’t be getting a top-notch piloting experience: the software won’t be perfect, you’ll need to recalibrate/disconnect-reconnect the thing from time to time, some buttons might not be as smooth as they should, and the joystick might be a little lopsided (pushing the stick to the physical maximum won’t send a maximum signal – it can or cannot be fixed depending on the situation).

        Of course, if you want to ‘get serious’ about piloting, you’ll need a bigger budget.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Turns out I’m really bad at using a joystick and am way better with a mouse and keyboard. Oh well.

  12. DJ Madeira says:

    What’s with the fuel display? Why is it a bar graph that goes up and down.

  13. Ravenholme says:

    Colour me incredibly intrigued. I still play Freespace 2 to this day, so seeing that little pop-up of “Shields Balanced” was a kick straight into my Space Sim love centre.

    I want!

  14. Jekhar says:

    Nice sim-like approach on this one. Full cockpit with free look, minimalistic but highly funtional hud, immersive sound effects. That’s how i like it. Especially the hud. Finally someone get’s it right again. None of that flashy, techy visual bombardment of other games that does nothing but obscure the action.

  15. SanguineAngel says:

    Looks amazing. This man can have my money

  16. EvilMachineDad says:

    Oculus rift support plz.

  17. -Spooky- says:

    I throw my money against the monitor and nothin´happend. :/

  18. Vraptor117 says:

    I love the concept and I also like the little touches, like the radio chatter. That was also one of the best details in Homeworld: even if your fighters were getting shot to hell, the radio chatter was always calm and level. The only time a tinge of fear crept in was when you ordered them to attack with low or no fuel (or something like that).

  19. Hanban says:

    I must have this!

  20. Runty McTall says:

    That looks… good!

  21. Pod says:

    The term roguelike is truly stretched.

    RPS: Come up with a better term for us all to use and your name will be entrenched in history, like the name of the person who came up with the terms First Person Shooter or Real Time Strategy.

    • Shadowcat says:

      “What’s a roguelike?”

      “Long walks on the beach, moonless nights, and a nice clean cloak.”

    • Armitage says:

      How exactly is the term “roguelike” streched? It has a clear definition with no ambiguity. Maybe you are just tired of it ? Have a snickers.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      It’s almost as bad as “MOBA” which is the most generic name ever created. Although that’s being superseded by LPG which is short for Lane Pushing Game.

      Much like FPS games were originally called “Doom clones” and Open World/Sandbox games were known as “GTA clones” it’ll be replaced by something which fits better soon enough.

  22. rustybroomhandle says:

    “What do we do?”

    “We die.”

  23. Risingson says:

    Sorry but no: we need combat space simulators with good script and story. You know, you have to do that, then you approach the enemy, then the enemy talks to you and surprisingly it was your brother’s best friend that tells you that your faction is nothing like it seems, then it explodes and someone from your faction tells you that you should destroy that facility that somehow seems like a civil one… Those kind of missions. Freespace, I- War, Wing Commander, and not a rogue-like, another sandbox, another empire simulation.

    • Risingson says:

      However, I’m intrigued by this one.

    • Wisq says:

      Speak for yourself.

      Sure, I enjoyed the old Wing Commander stuff, those twisty plotlines with lots of character and stuff, etc. But inevitably, when I end up in one of those freelancer-style games that have a central plotline but also let you do infinite side missions / merchanting / mining / etc., I end up doing all the stuff except the main story, and saving it for last (if I ever even get around to it).

      IMO, it’s just more fun to do lots of stuff in a free-form emergent manner than it is to follow a storyline, especially when I can generally get a better story from a good book anyway.

      • Risingson says:

        No, please. Enough with the “stories are for books” argument. And obviously, I was giving my opinion… though I think that there are more than enough sandbox and freelancer games nowadays. It seems that linearity is something inherently bad or something,

        • Wisq says:

          I’m not arguing that “stories are for books”. I’m arguing that “books still have better stories”.

          I certainly hope that changes someday, but we’re not there yet. Movies aren’t even there yet, really.

    • Useful Dave says:

      You’re forgetting the scene where this enemy transit happens through hyper-warp-space-point, except it’s bigger than anything that possibly happened before this point, so the same transit message used for everything from escape pods to cargo containers and destroyers get’s turned into an ‘OH MY GOD IT’S SO HUGE’.

      Plus, obligatory Wargods getting slaughtered while someone screams “STEEEEEELE!”

  24. Fox89 says:

    So, for a typical “It’s X meets Y” comparison… It’s FTL meets Freespace? Sounds good to me!

  25. Shadowcat says:

    Well that was kinda awesome. The excellent audio really took me by surprise. Enemy Starfighter is well and truly on the radar.

  26. Sardaukar says:

    Anyone else getting a Starshatter vibe here?

    • Homercleese says:

      Yep, absolutely. I must give that another go, I never tried it again after The Gathering Storm enhancement came out and it looks like it was geared towards adding atmosphere, exactly what I found lacking with the first release.

  27. corinoco says:

    Please direct me to your bucket, I wish to pour money in. I want this game.

    Btw, does anyone still play iwar2? That was a bloody awesome game!

  28. MaxMcG says:

    Sold as soon as I saw “shields balanced”.

    Love the sound effects coming out of/going into hyperspace in that video.

  29. derbefrier says:

    I like the sound of this game. Sign me up

  30. HilariousCow says:

    I am normally really snobby about this sort of thing, but this has me excited. One of the really fun things to do in Tie Fighter was replay mode where you could take over other craft. This looks like it’s turning that into a more involved thing.

  31. TimMc says:

    Although it made it hard to know if he was hitting, the dedication to no sound in space, and then having the breathing effect, made it pretty atmospheric.

  32. PleasingFungus says:

    Looks like a mix between a space sim, Flotilla, and Homeworld’s aesthetic.

    Wonderful.

  33. Iskariot says:

    This has a very good feel to it. I love the in-cockpit soundscape: the muffled sounds of passing fighters (yeah I know space is silent, but I don’t care), the muffled explosions, the way a launched missile sounds and the chatter of the radio etc. It is perfect. It gives you a feeling of really being there in that cockpit. And having a cockpit at all is a big plus too.

  34. cloudnein says:

    Um, how is this a Roguelike? Sorry, methinks Roguelike is bandied about with wanton abandon.

    From Wikipedia:

    “randomly generate dungeon levels” – um, not seeing it (but perhaps the galaxy is randomly generated?)

    “The identity of magical items varies across games.” – do you get loot you have to identify?

    “The combat system is turn-based instead of real-time.” – does this have multiple turns or just “setup” and “fight”? (looks to me like combat being the realtime portion, setup being the turn-based portion.)

    “single-player games” – well, looks single-player…so got me there.

    “Roguelikes traditionally implement permadeath.” – yes.

    But 1-2/4 does not a Roguelike make. Stop sullying the glory of the Roguelike. Oh wait, I think my saying Roguelike so many times in my post sullies Roguelike. I shut up now.

  35. Joshua says:

    Wait.
    This game is using only placeholder assets so far it seems.
    Yet it looks good.
    Sounds good.
    And I have the feeling htat it will just… feel good!

    That’s awesome for three months of work.

  36. diestormlie says:

    It seems to me the opposed AI could use a little work. They made no attempt to stop The bombers (strange in that their job would be to protect the ore facility) and they seemed slow to dodge.

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