On The Hunt For Infinity

By Craig Pearson on April 19th, 2013 at 10:00 am.


“Whatever happened to Infinity?” is a question that regularly pops up in the comment threads and forums posts about adventurous space games. A few years ago, Infinity teased audiences with the promise of the next generation’s Elite. The grand plan was seamless space travel: solar systems, space stations, all the way down to the planet’s surface were going to be rendered, viewable from your cockpit as you flew by. Way back in 2006, they released a combat prototype, and in 2010 there was a pair of videos showing off the engine’s capabilities that still take my breath away. Most people suggested the game was too ambitious, that populating the game’s planets with flora and fauna and cities with missions, was too much. As it turns out, they were right, but it doesn’t mean Infinity isn’t coming out. The team have a plan, and it involves Kickstarter and a combat game called Infinity: Battlescape.

The current plan is to build a multiplayer combat game in the Infinity universe. Infinity: Battlescape is still ambitious, but not quite as daunting as the main game. In a recent blog post, developer Keith Newton notes why they’re not crowd-sourcing the main game:

… we would have to have one of the most successful campaigns in the history of Kickstarter for us to be able to build a minimally viable Infinity. Depending on the full extent of the features we chose to implement internal estimates have this number at around $5 million with a 2-3 year development cycle.

Which is what everyone said. So instead the plan is to build from the ground up, creating a smaller, more manageable game in the form of Infinity: Battlescape, crowd-funding it, and getting the team and tech together to hopefully be ready to crack into Infinity proper. Granted these are just words on a page from a developer that’s struggled to show much more than snippets of a game and some pretty videos and screens, and the KS pitch is still at least a few months off, but I’m a space optimist. According to Keith:

Rest assured that, while the primary focus of Battlescape will in fact be space combat, it will not be an arena shooter in the traditional sense. First of all our arena will encompass an entire solar system. Without getting into too many details the idea is to have a semi-persistent conflict that takes place across this solar system that will involve tactics and strategy. Another major focus of Battlescape, as well as the full Infinity, is the ability to participate in massive, star wars style fleet battles.

That sounds like fun. Make that, please. It’s a better plan than making it with a small team with no money for several years. I joke because I care. I’ve been a fan of the idea of Infinity from the moment I heard it, and about once a year I check in to see if it’s moved on. With both Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen on my credit card balance, I can wait. Take your time, and when the pitch is solid go all out. I’m amazed you’re still going, but re-watching the 2010 tech demo over, I’m delighted there’s still hope.

Part 1.

Part 2.

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51 Comments »

  1. Zeewolf says:

    Argh, I love the procedural universe stuff. But I don’t want a multiplayer shooter.

    • Danda says:

      Same here. The tech demos are amazing, but I don’t want a multiplayer shooter either.

      When they run that Kickstarter, I hope they include at least the stretch goal: “$5,000,000: Main Infinity game will be done instead”. Just in case.

    • Craig Pearson says:

      You know, the point is they don’t think the can have one without the other.

      • neofit says:

        I hope for their sake that the target audiences for each game intersect in more than a few players. I for one am very interested in the original design, but have exactly zero interest in yet another competitive shooty game. And I have too much of a backlog to be interested throwing money at the ‘tardy one just so the big one might eventually be released (and in 6 years with 2010 tech to boot :) ).

    • Gap Gen says:

      Try http://en.spaceengine.org/ – it’s basically Infinity if they had released the engine on its own, or at least licensed it. Which they totally should have done, but eh, it’s their project.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      I want an elite type game, maybe with some coop, a multiplayer space shooter will just remind me how shite my reactions I’ve got.

    • DarkFarmer says:

      Agree 100%. A procedural space game can be anything but it really should be based on exploring those worlds, not circle-dogfighting in empty space above them.

      This is why I didn’t back Elite even though it has procedural planets and systems, something me, and obviously alot of other people are passionate about.

      I would love to see a game that has “down to the surface” level procedural generation but gives you a reason to go down there, perhaps to look for artifacts of some kind and unlock a progression enabling exploration of new planet types or a narrative.

      Maybe an updated version of Starflight?

    • JiminyJickers says:

      I also agree, just not interested in MMO’s. Would love to have a universe I can explore by my lonely lonesome.

  2. Creaturemagic says:

    Wait, so is it a shooter where you can fly around in your spacecraft of choice shooting things with lasers and also land on planets in the solar system to play a traditional FPS? Or is it just an FPS, where once you’ve conquered on planet you move on to the next (A lot like Planetside)

    Because the former sounds like a lot of fun, whereas, I have Planetside 2 already for the latter.

  3. Rumpel says:

    not quite sure why this tech demo impresses you all that much. it was pretty cool stuff for 2010, sure, and the whole planet thing seems cool, but other than that? i dont know, i guess im spoiled by star citizen.

    • Craig Pearson says:

      Because I love space, and this is pretty space.

    • Knufinke says:

      Just watch the second video. I dont think Star Ctizen will have that whole planet exploration thing and that’s what I’m excited about. I don’t care how many little sideprojects I would need to finance along the way. I want it so much. Just thinking about being able to explore every corner of a whole galaxy makes me giggly like a little school girl.

    • Quickpull says:

      Infinity has always been impressive on a technical level. An entire procedurally generated galaxy all the way down to the terrain of each individual planet. I never had much hope there would be an actual game. But it is some very cool stuff. This video captures what makes it impressive to me more than the ones in the article.

    • skittles says:

      Because to be honest all Star Citizen has shown is that it has a high polygon count. Which anyone can do with a budget. It hasn’t shown yet to my knowledge how limited it is in terms of universe. Will it have one big open space of unlimited flying. Or a much more closed off system of distinct separate systems like EVE.

      Infinity is impressive because very few games have attempted to make a complete universe where you can fly anywhere and importantly approach anything and they all be of a realistic size. There is nothing more gamebreaking to me then flying towards a supposed ‘planet’ and having the ship bump against a large ball floating in ‘space’. And I suspect we will not be able to fly right down to planetside docks in Star Citizen, instead having the standard baloney of some cutscene intruding when we approach a largish ball floating in ‘space’… but I am happily prepared to be told I am wrong about that.

      • Stardog says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure what he’s “spoiled” by, because Star Citizen sounds like X3 with better dogfighting at the moment.

  4. Zacqary Adam Green says:

    Indie Game: Unnecessary Subtitle

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Dragon Age: Origins.
      Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
      Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edtion.
      Hitman: Absolution.
      Spec Ops: The Line.
      Red Faction: Armageddon.
      Splinter Cell: Conviction.
      Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
      Warhammer 40000 – Dawn of War 2: Retribution.
      XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
      Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

      Clearly it’s an issue with indie games.

      Edit: Oh, and an oldie but a real good one: Vampire – The Masquerade: Bloodlines/Redemption.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        Dark Souls is just Dark Souls on PS3. That subtitle was added only for the PC version probably to differentiate it from the consoles.

        • Adam Smith says:

          The PC version of Dark Souls had the new content included, which was released later, as DLC, for the console versions. Not that it necessarily justifies a subtitle, but I’d take ‘Prepare to Die’ over ‘Complete’!

        • Stellar Duck says:

          I know. Which only cements it as a unnecessary subtitle.

      • grundus says:

        You say unnecessary, but remove the subtitles and what do you have?

        Dragon Age.
        Hitman.
        Spec Ops.
        Red Faction.
        Splinter Cell.
        Deus Ex.
        XCOM.
        Counter Strike.

        These games already exist, and I’d take Splinter Cell: Conviction over Splinter Cell 7 (or whatever it would be) any day of the week… Maybe Spec Ops isn’t a game already but it’s an extremely generic and forgettable title, as is Hitman (I think the first was techically Hitman: Codename 47, wasn’t it?). It would be like a racing game called ‘Car’ or a first person shooter called ‘Soldier’. I’ll give you the others, though.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Hitman or Codename 47 both works I think, on their own. Driver springs to mind as a title that perfectly says what it’s about though, but your point is well taken. I don’t have a particular stance, one way of the other and I don’t think any of the above mentioned titles are too much, aside from probably Amalur and Dawn of War 2 Retribution.

          I just wanted to point out that just saying “Indie Game: Useless Subtitle” is hardly sensible these days. Aside from that I think Infinity: Battlescape is a fine title to what this game is about. Certainly no worse than most others.

          However I could wish for a bit more imagination in titles in generals so we’d get fewer games called “Franchise Name: Noun that ends in …tion or …on.”

        • QQchan says:

          Original X-COM was called either “UFO: Enemy Unknown”, “X-COM: UFO Defense” or “X-COM: Enemy Unknown”. The FPS game was supposed to be called XCOM, but that seems to be up in the air atm.

          I don’t see why naming sequals “Main Title: Subtitle” should be acceptable either. It’s awful that I’m unable to tell the order of games releases based of the title and have to do research of my own to see which is the first or latest game.

          In this case case I think that title format is completely acceptable though, since “Infinity: Battlescape” is supposed to be a spinoff from the main game “Infinity”.

          • Josh W says:

            I really like it when they use the format

            snappy word: evocative or more game-world-specific phrase

            it’s almost like they’re trying to pack all that other stuff into the first word, like the colon is a hopper that they are about to get squeezed through.

    • Eery Petrol says:

      This is the first original title where I feel the subtitle is perfectly appropriate. The game is meant to be a prologue to the main game Infinity. A title like ‘Infinity: Battlescape’ catches that perfectly.

  5. faelnor says:

    Having followed it since its inception, I was always massively impressed by the technical aspects and beauty of Infinity. But I also always thought to myself “such a shame I’ll never buy the game as all I really want is a single-player successor to Frontier, not a MMO”.

    Strange that they never even considered tapping into that kind of games, which are sorely lacking today.

  6. Ludomation says:

    Given the immense potential of this engine I can easily say that I am prepared to kick-start the living bags out of this thing. GIMME NAOW!

  7. P7uen says:

    KSP with guns

  8. philbot says:

    I’ve been following this game for a while too, I can’t wait to actually support them. I think the dev team is a bit worried about not meeting their funding goals, but there are a lot of people that are very passionate about the ambition in this game. I can’t wait to see this explode. It is what so many gamers want!

  9. demicanadian says:

    I always had a problem with spaceships behaving like aeroplanes, but since i started playing kerbal, it just hurts my eyes…

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Probably from staring at too many explosions after “enthusiastic re-entry”.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I used to play a lot of Terminus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminus_%28video_game%29

      It was Newtonian, but had a bunch of stuff to help you not slide about like a toddler on a shopping trolley. You could also lose oxygen, power and fuel and suffocate in space if you didn’t find a space station fast enough. One mission where a bunch of enemy ships appeared and all fired missiles at me at once was terrifying, followed by a swift firefight / running away, and watching the oxygen meter trickle down as I raced back to my home base.

  10. ahmedabdo says:

    If this “Infinity” thing would be combined with a game design and AI engine of “Kenshi” that would be an unbeatable game. Too many possibilities in my mind now!!!

  11. Lemming says:

    If they are going this direction, they are going to have to make the atmospheric flight terrain more interesting than what they were demoing for the exploration version. People are going to want to dog fight through canyons, skyscrapers etc.

    If you can do that, plus the space combat, plus maybe allowing player clans to form and build/take over space stations…

    could be a unique fun persistent multiplayer game.

  12. tarasis says:

    Its a shame that 3 years on from the tech demo that nothing has come of this. While I don’t want the multiplayer game I will keep an eye on the Kickstarter.

  13. SuicideKing says:

    Craig, could you do me a favour? Next time you talk to someone at Volition, show them this, SC, Elite, Limit theory, etc. and ask them: Why you no make FreeSpace 3?

    Most importantly, tell them about the Source Code Project, and how many people love that game.

    Space beards if you do.

  14. Deviija says:

    I also check in on Infinity about once a year. In fact, I had checked it a couple days ago, so seeing this article on RPS is really amusing synchronicity. What is not amusing is how tough Infinity seems to be to create — so many ambitious goals and lack of fellow developers helping — and that Infinity: Battlescape is next up on the Kickstarter block. It is actually quite sad. :( I’ve wanted Infinity for so long… More wait just seems painful. But if it needs to happen to get to the endgame of creating Infinity someday, then it needs to happen, I suppose.

    I’m not a fan of multiplayer competitive space stuff, tbh, however. That’s one of the big issues that keeps me from even being interested in Infinity: Battlescape. If there is a single-player campaign to it, then maybe. I’d also enjoy co-op with one more person, if the design could swing that in some fashion. Co-op as opposed to competitive multiplayer. Having a friend able to play with you through the campaign and so forth. Exploring and fighting and all the things. That’d be quite nice.

  15. Iskariot says:

    Like others said before: I am very interested, but I do not want a multi player shooter.
    I am strictly a single player guy.

  16. SuicideKing says:

    I dunno i kind of think multiplayer dogfights would be fun.