Take It To The Bridge: Flagship Is A First-Person Space RTS

By Graham Smith on May 21st, 2014 at 3:30 pm.

As more space games get announced, we’re heading towards a point at which every potential role and fantasy from Star Wars is playable as a game, whether under the official brand or not. Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous let you be Han Solo. EVE: Valkyrie lets you be Luke Skywalker. Now Flagship might let you be Admiral Ackbar. It’s a first-person space RTS in which you stand on the bridge of a space ship, use a tablescreen to command your fleet, and then watch the resulting battle play out through your space windows.

There’s a trailer below and it’ll make your eyes open wide. And then move around to the side of your head like some sort of fishman.

It’s a trap! No, not really. Here’s the trailer:

The game is being built by UK-based Urban Logic Games to be functional both with the Oculus Rift and with regular monitors. What’s not clear from the trailer is whether the first-person perspective adds anything more than novelty to a game which is still, ultimately, about drag-selecting units and right-click attacking your enemies.

Which isn’t to say novelty wouldn’t be enough to make this a jolly. The website’s FAQ suggests you’ll be able to climb aboard smaller vessels to pilot them yourself, and order your troops to form boarding parties and enter enemy vessels. There’s also enough screenshots to suggest that the game already exists as more than a pie-in-the-exosphere dream.

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99 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    So… that’s like a Star Citizen C&C module, only with crippled graphics and AI controlling ships to player commands. ;)

    • Eightball says:

      But it may be completed before the heat death of the universe.

      • Premium User Badge

        Cinek says:

        We’ll see – so far there’s little to nothing there and I learnt my share not to trust in dev teams made of 1 or 2 people that got really ambitious goals.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Didn’t know star cit was in cards against humanity XD

      • mouton says:

        And playable on PCs that can’t launch into space.

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        aleander says:

        I just logged in into Star Citizen and found out I earned an in-game towel.

        Totally worth it.

    • nojan says:

      that’s exactly what i was thinking!! i think were gonna have something similar to this in arena commander 3.0 , when they introduce the IDRIS!cant’s wait..

    • toxic avenger says:

      And without the smug fanbase.

  2. gaiusimperator says:

    I feel that if I were to play this game I would do nothing but annouce, “Launch Vipers,” and “Set Condition One throughout the Fleet.”

    • DasBlob says:

      The tactical officer nervously shuffles his feet. The helmsman stares pointedly out of the port bridge window. Finally, a lowly cadet takes all his courage together and replies: “We’re still in space dock, Sir. And you are in your pajamas.”

      • gwathdring says:

        Throw that insubordinate traitor in the brig! Ready main battery on my command, we’re going to have to attempt a full broad-side!

        • DasBlob says:

          That’s why true friends will take your keys to the dreadnaught away from you if you had a bit too much to drink…

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            Stellar Duck says:

            We canlaunch if we want to
            We can leave your friends behind
            ‘Cause your friends don’t launch and if they don’t launch
            Well they’re no friends of mine
            I say, we can go where we want to
            A place where they will never find
            And we can act like we come from out of this world
            Leave the real one far behind
            And we can launch
            Or shoot!

            We can go when we want to
            The night is young and so am I
            And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet
            And surprise ‘em with the victory cry

            Real friends let people drive the dreadnought drunk, people.

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      Yeah, if I can’t shout orders, I’m going to be disappointed. GET THOSE FRACKING BIRDS IN THE AIR!

  3. kalsonic12 says:

    I’m starting to see increased viability of RTS games on touch-screen tablets, especially when current ones are less about click-fests and more about positioning and timing of actions.

  4. LuckyLuigi says:

    This is pretty much exactly the same as The Mandate http://www.mandategame.com/

  5. poetfoxpaul says:

    This is cool and all, but I would be more interested in the mod that let’s you play as Yang Wen Li and/or Reinhard Von Lohengramm. I would play the fuck out of a Legend of the Galactic Heroes game, now that I think about it.

    If your flagship was struck by a missile and you could see the resulting damage – that would be cool.

  6. BobbyDylan says:

    I think this might be a bridge too far.

  7. 88GJS88 says:

    If you really can jump into smaller ships and directly influence the battle, I’m worried this might struggle with the same issues you find in the FIFA series manager mode. In that your ability/lack of ability at the overall strategic level could become entirely irrelevant if you are able to comfortable outclass the opponent at the actual gameplay.

  8. schlusenbach says:

    This could be great for coop.

  9. Flank Sinatra says:

    From the game’s website: “Flagship started out life as a mobile game inspired by the final battle in Wrath of Kahn…”

    Dang, that would have been fun. Sauce for the goose, Mr. Saavik!

    • DasBlob says:

      Just imagine commanding your spaceship in first-person perspective from your all window bridge… in the Mutara Nebula.
      Captain: “Did you see something?”
      Commander: “I ain’t seen shit!”

  10. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    Too much pink and bad graphics in that trailer. The game itself might be better.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Still waiting for the game where I finally get to be a captain and issue orders to crew manning stations (who do their specific job with a decent degree of AI), instead of piloting my ship like a space fighter or controlling it from outside like an RTS.

    I don’t know if that’s what The Mandate will look like, but it’s definitely not this. Aside from the complete lack of crew, this basically just looks like the typical space-fleet-RTS thing, except with a clunky interface-within-an-interface. The fleet screen looks like a (simple) smartphone game, and I feel like if this footage gets a pass, then it’s only from the wow-factor of issuing orders and seeing them happen around you — something that impresses at first but would likely get old pretty fast.

    Also: Commanding from little glass huts on the very top of the ship? I had hoped that Battlestar Galactica marked a point where sci-fi writers finally understood that you probably shouldn’t put all the command staff in a room that can be easily targeted by anyone with the faintest knowledge of where it is, or even just taken out by a stray shot — or that looking out a window is not a particularly effective way to fight / navigate in space, so there’s not much advantage to having windows in the first place. Hence why the “bridge” is the CIC and is deep inside the ship. But I guess we’re still firmly stuck in the mindset of “WW2 naval ships in space”. (Not even modern ones; those already rely mostly on sensors.)

    • SanguineAngel says:

      When the point of the game appears to be to look out on the battle as it unfolds, whilst commanding it from the bridge, their decision makes sense to me. Just because it’s not the likely course of events doesn’t mean it’s not a valid design choice for a computer game

      • Premium User Badge

        Wisq says:

        Yes, I agree it’s up to them to make the game how they want, even if the entire concept is unrealistic. But the problem I have with design decisions like this is not so much that it’s not the “likely course of events”, but rather, that it’s inconsistent and it breaks the fourth wall.

        Games and movies/TV share the common aspect that achieving a good audiovisual experience generally trumps any sort of adherence to reality. That’s why we have sound in space, or why nebulas are actually small poofy gas clouds you can fly through, etc. And I’m mostly okay with that. While it’s nice to see someone actually “get it right” now and then, I realise that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

        What bothers me is when, in the name of good viewer experience, we put undue burdens on the denizens of the universe — and they all seem blithely unaware of that, and nobody ever tries to take advantage of it or improve on it.

        As a captain on one of these ships, is there really an advantage to being able to see what’s going on around you? Not really; your sensors and UI can tell you far more than your eyes can, and from much longer ranges. So there’s no real in-game reason to have the bridge as a “glass”[1] bubble atop the ship — that’s just for the benefit of the people playing the game. Yet nobody in the game universe ever thinks to figure out where their enemy’s bridge is, target that, and take every ship intact with minimal effort. The first side to think of that would win every battle, gain countless ships to use against their enemy, and leave them scrambling to retrofit their remaining ships to move the bridge somewhere deeper inside.

        In essence, we put a massive mental block on every person in the entire universe — including your own character, supposedly controlled by you — because we want some pretties.

        And yes, you can try to justify it with technology, but that tends to just open up logical cans of worms:

        Maybe that material is actually super strong and is really hard to do any damage to. (But then why don’t you make the whole ship out of that?) Well, it’s super expensive / hard to make. (So wouldn’t you be better off putting the bridge deeper inside and not having to make it at all?)

        Maybe there’s some sort of force field protecting the bridge. (Why not protect the whole ship with that?) It’s only large enough to protect the bridge. (Why not protect every vital system with it then?) Takes too much power / generator is too expensive. (So wouldn’t you be better off not having to make it at all?)

        Hell, even the more ridiculous possibility, that the command crew is mystical and manages to divert enemy fire away from the bridge, can be usurped by putting said command crew into little space fighters that nobody can hit because of their mystic fire-diverting powers.

        It’s okay to be unrealistic, but being internally inconsistent — particularly via imposing limitations purely for making things prettier for the viewer — is always going to bother me. It makes everyone seem incompetent, and creates an endless series of “why didn’t you just do <x>?” questions, where <x> is some blindingly obvious tactic that nobody in this world ever seems to come up with.

        [1] Technically, “transparent alloy”, as the devs told me elsewhere.

        • apocraphyn says:

          “Yet nobody in the game universe ever thinks to figure out where their enemy’s bridge is, target that, and take every ship intact with minimal effort.”

          I do see where you’re coming from and actually agree with you, Wisq, but the ship that appeared at the end of the trailer seemed to have figured that out. So at least somebody in the game universe has their head screwed on. (Keep in mind, this is after having blown up all the other ships in the vicinity, seemingly.)

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            Well, maybe I read it wrong, but it just seemed to be targeting the ships themselves (not the bridge per se), with enough firepower to destroy the entire ship in one shot (as evidenced by the explosions). Even the final shot doesn’t come dead-on; it’s down and to the left, as though it’s targeting a vital system that isn’t the bridge.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            I basically see 2 reasonable responses to this as a complaint.
            1. You *can* target the bridge. At a minute and 24 seconds it shows the list of things you can target. The bridge is on it.
            2. If you want to make a realistic first person space RTS then I don’t think anyone will stop you making a game where you stand in a windowless room in the core of what is presumably a ship staring at a sensor readout waiting for a little blip to cross a line that means it’s in the thousand kilometer range of your missiles. I would rather just play this, because it looks awesome.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            Similarly, if you want to make strange assumptions / straw-man arguments about what I want, then I won’t stop you either. However, I described what I was looking for elsewhere in these comments and it doesn’t involve any of those things.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            It’s possible that I communicated poorly, as you don’t seem to have registered the point. You are saying, to the best of my determination, that having an exposed bridge is unrealistic and you would like a realistic, even simulation level game. I am saying that to actually be realistic the game would have to consist of battles fought from well beyond visual distance by command crews sitting at cheap but effective data readout screens in otherwise featureless rooms because no sensible military is going to pay extra to line the walls with plasma TVs so that people can look out at all the nothing they’re flying through.

            The fourth wall breaks in different places for different people. If exposed bridges are your pet peeve then that’s fine, people have those. But you can’t reasonably expect to talk about it like universal fact and not get funny looks.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            That’s the thing. I’m not asking for complete realism. I know what a realistic space fighting game would look like; or at least, I know what it would not look like (since it’s still speculative). I know that it would effectively be Dangerous Waters in space, full of technical sensors stuff and firing on targets sight-unseen and whatnot. I’m okay with not having that, because I know that wouldn’t sell, even if it’s quite possible I would enjoy it.

            But putting a glass bridge on a ship in space goes well beyond that. It’s the kind of thing that any layman could look at and say “gee, that seems like a bad idea”. It’s the equivalent of making a WW2 tank combat game and making all the tanks out of graham crackers. Where the entire crew could easily die from a pistol shot through the paper thin walls, yet infantry still run from the tank or insist on using large anti-tank weapons against it. Where nobody ever considers that maybe the tanks should be made of something a bit stronger, like metal. The kind of thing that works okay for a comedy/parody game, not so much for anything serious.

            Please keep in mind that not every argument on the internet is a black and white argument. I’m okay with shades of gray. There’s a spectrum inbetween “absolute realistic space simulator” and “greenhouses in spaaaace”. You’re suggesting the former goes too far; I’m suggesting the same about the latter. Hence why I’m suggesting that it’s a better idea to meet somewhere inbetween.

        • toxic avenger says:

          The problem with your idea rests on the incongruity between how your mind embodies your…body in real life and how your mind embodies your body which embodies a computer, which embodies a body on screen and in game. Being a captain on a real star ship, in the flesh, would be more exhilarating than ever playing one in a game, because you yourself would be there in person, seeing everything first hand, while not relying on arbitrary gamified constructs to make sense of your reality. The reason why they probably opted for a glass based command center is to skirt around those embodiment issues, to give players more of a sense of “being there”, than trying to simulate space reality would ever be, no matter how well its executed according to your vision. Hopefully that makes sense.

    • Superpat says:

      Didnt Asimov have a short story where there were not actually windows but just huge ass tv screens?

      • darkshadow42 says:

        I had exactly the same though. Any civilization advanced enough to have spaceships probably manages pretty well on the wall size TVs technology.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      Star Trek Bridge Commander did that and I really enjoyed it.

      I hear it has a lot of mods too but I don’t know for sure. It’s a good game though.

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      was thinking the same. This looks like homeworld (graphically too, despite a decade of time gone by) but with a very simplistic interface and a poor view of the battle that is questionable from a sci fi perspective. I think this game could be interesting if it could generate the tension of command on a bridge, but it appears to be more of a gimmick to me.

      • Premium User Badge

        Cinek says:

        Nope, it does not look like homeworld, not even the first one. It looks like a stock unity game with blocky ships bought off their market and very interesting mechanic implemented on top of that. Don’t insult Homeworld.

    • Behrditz says:

      There was an MMO, star-something, that worked kind of like that. It was basically Star Trek without the liscense. All the ships were fully modeled with the full multi-deck interiors that hundreds of players could be in, and the bridge had actual stations that everyone manned that did their own specific functions. Here is where it gets interesting: Your characters didn’t dissapear when you logged off. On top of that, your rank actually mattered because higher ranked officers of your ship could order your AI-self around via chat. The captain would literally say, in chat, “Liutenant Grimm to the bridge” over the ships intercom, and your character would make its way up to the bridge, and then you could tell it to take control of a console and say things like “Shields up!” or “Helm, set a course for Alpha Ro” You could run a ship made entirely of your alts being ordered around by the guy you are currently using. Unfortunately, all the devs left the game, as did most of the players. When I tried it out it was cool, but because there were like 30 players left who knew each other too well by that point, everyone was kind of just a gigantic asshole to other about everything and they hated new players.

    • jrod says:

      I would say you are spot on with your observations. If you haven’t already, check out the Atomic Rockets site. http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/ it is an amazing resource for hypothetical space combat that is actually plausible given what we know of physics.

  12. Shadow says:

    Please forgive the acid, but that has to be the brittlest, most exposed bridge in the history of science fiction. It’s a glass cage visually screaming “HIT ME HIT ME!” like there’s no tomorrow.

    Why don’t people ever do some research or simply use common sense?

    It’s really not a necessary compromise for the first-person perspective to be viable, before anyone says so. A heavily armoured combat information center sitting deep within the hull, with just as effective screens for windows, would be far less clichéd, far more realistic and cooler to boot.

    EDIT: It seems I got ninja’d just now.

    • Frank says:

      I’m betting it’s because this is more immersive, taking better advantage of the VR helmet on your head, and a heckuva lot easier to set up than this “realistic” thing you have in mind.

      • Shadow says:

        It’s not, really. With suitable screens the CIC can look pretty much like a glass cage from inside. Only much more protected than an actual glass cage sticking out from any and all armour. That is something that can break immersion, for anyone who knows two bits about actual warfare.

        • Premium User Badge

          aleander says:

          In fact, if we want to be super fancy and all, we can just replace all CIC surfaces with screens, make a chair levitate/be supported with a robot arm in the middle of it, and you can just “pretend” the ship isn’t even there. You’re in space! There’s no gravity! It’s super cool and you need no floor! And no ceiling either!

          • Zenicetus says:

            That concept of a command chair or platform extended on an pylon, and optionally surrounded by other crew members inside a large spherical display has been used in many, many sci-fi novels. It’s practically the default configuration for space opera combat, with the control center placed in the deepest, most protected part of the ship.

            The other paradigm is where all the crew members are inside individual high-G gel tanks, with direct neural taps to control the ship. A wrinkle on that is where they all share a VR construct where it may look like they’re on a conventional ship’s bridge with windows, but it’s still just a VR world and they’re inside the tanks (Reynolds, “Century Rain”, etc.).

            Of course, that’s how you could hand-wave away this game’s ridiculous looking “exposed bridge”. It’s just a VR construct, and the actual crew is deep inside the ship, in protected high-G gel tanks. Simple!

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            Yeah, that also solves the issue of putting the command crew all in the same place (no matter how protected that place), since they could be distributed throughout the ship.

            It’s also true that this may already be the case, and we’re just seeing and navigating a visual construct. I don’t think that’s the case, because it didn’t come up in my brief direct conversation with one of the designers on Twitter, and they raised the notion that sensors aren’t perfect — which suggests they wouldn’t be relying on them, and that the view is the real, human, mark-1-eyeball view (even if that’s a much less “perfect” sensor, IMO, especially in outer space). And if they were just simulating a shared environment inside a simulated glass bubble, I’d at least expect to see some HUD-style readouts of what’s going on around you, rather than relying entirely on human sight.

            But hey, maybe that’s part of the lore (or hell, maybe even a plot twist) and they’re just keeping it under their hat for now. They did mention that they intended to “smooth over the gaps in logic”, which I found interesting.

        • Shadow says:

          That sort of reminds me of Professor X’s spherical chamber. :P

          While possible, there would likely be crew around the player, however. I’m not sure what they’d be doing, if you can control everything from that table thing shown in the trailer, but… yeah.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wisq says:

        I agree that “taking advantage of the VR helmet” is intended to immerse me in the game. But glass bridges that nobody ever targets — usually without ever being specifically told not to target them, either — is immersion-breaking and thus completely at odds with that.

        If there were ever any genre of games that needs to stop worrying so much about fancy visuals and focus on local gameplay, it’s space flight games. I would love to just walk around a giant ship, see my crew in action, look over their shoulders, check their work. I’d love to switch to a 3D Rift-VR tactical interface showing everything with fancy little tags and data readouts. I’d love to rush to a console and push the crewman aside if there’s something that needs precision work right here, right now.

        Heck, I’d love to even just retreat to my quarters and read up on the news, or crew reports, or just take a nap, maybe to be later woken by klaxxons as I have to hurriedly don my uniform and rush to the bridge. That’s immersion, to me.

        Looking outside would be the very last thing on my list — something to be done between fights, when we’re just cruising to our next destination, no enemies anywhere on the sensors. And I’d be fine with doing that from the safety of the CIC, deep in the ship, maybe via viewscreens or even via my character donning some sort of VR goggles / implant.

        • bill says:

          Removing the room and just putting you in a VR chamber would totally destroy the whole point of the game. What’s the point of a VR chamber in a game (which is a VR representation).
          Making an armoured room in the center of the ship with screens would also separate you too much from the action.

          You really seem to be taking it all too seriously. If it makes you feel better, just imagine that you ARE in a CIC (whatever that is) in the center of a ship, and the VR is making it look like you’re in a glass cage. Or maybe the glass cage has cool shields. Or maybe they’ve developed a form of glass that is just as tough as steel.

          And don’t play any WH40k games ever, because all the commander characters don’t wear helmets.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            Except that none of those suggestions make it any less unrealistic, and I dealt with all of them in a previous post.

            Glass that’s as strong as steel? Doesn’t help. As an enemy, presumably I have weapons that can puncture your ship, or I wouldn’t be firing on you. So why should I be firing at your weapons or hull or whatnot when I can just take out your bridge first? Why would you not want to protect against that?

            Cool shields? Why not use those on the entire ship? Or put the CIC deep inside the ship so you could spend those resources / power on shields for other, more vital systems? Or not need to make them at all and produce more ships faster / have more power for weapons?

            The only one remotely usable is the notion that you’re already deep in the ship and it’s just a VR environment, but then the question becomes, why? You can get better data from sensors or a 3D tactical map than from looking out via a camera, and you’d be better off showing that, rather than distracting everyone on the bridge with gas clouds and lens flares. That’s the sort of stuff you would watch while off-duty to relax, not to monitor a battle in progress.

            Ultimately, all I’m trying to do is point out that to command your ship from a greenhouse is a massive piece of unreality, an anachronism born from trying to take WW2 naval combat and put it into space. It’s the equivalent of 19th century people thinking that modern air combat would involve, say, flying horses pulling air-chariots firing muskets at each other. Quite possibly a great concept for a video game, but something that would make you laugh rather than think “yup, I’m a fighter pilot flying my plane”.

            In any case, given that we’re here on a gaming website having in-depth discussions about video games, technically all of us are “taking it all too seriously”.

  13. Ross Angus says:

    I wonder how this would solve the Republic problem: once the game can be played using menus, the graphics become distracting. I watched a friend playing a space strategy once, and he was constantly zoomed out so far, the whole experience could have been a spreadsheet.

    Nothing wrong with that, of course.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      As someone who loves staring at troops in Total War and planets in Planetary Annihilation, I’ll admit I’ll be rubbish at this game but enjoy it thoroughly.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      It’s the eternal struggle of real time strategy games at a scale worthy of actually being called strategy. Someone working at a strategic level shouldn’t really need to micromanage troops, but it’s infinitely more awesome to see the results of your brilliant master plan unfold when you can actually see what’s going on down there beyond counting icons.

      • Ross Angus says:

        Interesting. I guess this would be good then – do a bit of strategy, then glance up from your Windows 8 table now and again, to watch your fleet go boom.

  14. Gyro says:

    This is kind of what I fantasize Freespace 3 would be like.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Well, this did remind me of the Ravana coming out of the nebula and destroying the Actium (or was it the Lysander?)…

  15. Rhodokasaurus says:

    I don’t know why RPS reports every space game with a wink and nudge, like “oh GEEZ, another one of THESE, amiright, guys?”

    We had a dry spell of nearly a decade with not a single space sim. Literally every game from now until the end of time could be a space sim and I would be perfectly happy. FUCK YES, another space game!

    • Lanfranc says:

      Isn’t that how they report on pretty much everything?

    • MadTinkerer says:

      When Call of Duty 4 came out, it was a nice break from WW2 shooters. And then what happened. Some people just don’t want the same thing to happen to space games. Again. For at least the third time.

      • Chuckleluck says:

        I’m wondering, what genre will be ignored because of this? Everyone’s making modern FPS’s, and the WW2 setting is nearly extinct (something I’m very sad about).

        • myelbow says:

          Hear, hear! I fell in love with Battlefield 1942 a decade ago and now Gamespy’s death means ’42 is dead as well. I wish someone would successfully pull off the WWII MMOFPS better than Cornered Rat did with WWIIO in the early 2000s. Also that Heroes and Generals game doesn’t seem to be getting along too well either. I’d kill for a properly constructed WWII Eve-alike or something along those lines. One server and thousands of people within a giant theatre of war, etc.

          *sigh*

          Dreams.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      There wasn’t a complete dry spell. You just weren’t looking.

      It’s the same as people saying adventure games were dead and Double Fine brought them back. All the while people kept making adventure games.

      • Zenicetus says:

        If we call a “space game” something you could fly with a joystick (and I mean a real flight sim joystick peripheral), then it was pretty dry for a long time. All we had was the X series, and then Evochron, and that’s all I can remember for a long time. Maybe I missed something?

        • Premium User Badge

          Stellar Duck says:

          Well, assuming we don’t count all the FreeSpace mods (which I’d argue we should. Count them, I mean), a bunch of X games and the Evochron games aren’t really a complete lack of space games.

          That’s like saying that aside from these 5-10 games there were no games. Well no.

          It was certainly not an abundant selection but they were there. Just as with Dave Gilbert et al and their adventure games.

          • Rhodokasaurus says:

            Oh damn, we WERE awash in space games. Thanks for pointing out we had 1) mods of a 10 year old game, 2) a trading and management sequel to a buggy 10 year old game, and 3) an indie game that looks like it’s from 2001. I’m all set for another decade, thanks!

  16. MadTinkerer says:

    So it’s Gratuitous Space Battles, but you’re in one of the ships.

    Basically it’s Extremely Gratuitous Space Battles.

  17. SillyWizard says:

    It’s probably not fair to pick this specific game to complain about this specific issue, but…

    It bugs me to no end that so many space-combat strategy games are essentially 2D naval battles…just with a black background with celestial spheres instead of a blue one with islands.

    Where are the flanking actions coming from some above, below, or anywhere else in between?!

    (Also, it would be nice to have a game acknowledge the ridiculous expense that constructing a spaceship would entail, and have combat center around attempting to cripple/board/take enemy ships captive, instead of just blow everything up because lol splosions.

    The terrifying hostility of space itself seems like it would urge all belligerents to go about their battles in a relatively gentlemanly manner in hopes of surviving — even when losing — as opposed to a psychotic urge to destroy everything with no regard for themselves.)

    • Zenicetus says:

      Full use of 3D space is one of the two things I’d like to see in one of these games.

      The other thing I’d like to see (and I keep harping on this) is a game where there are no magic hyperspace jumps, but ships can have very high, relativistic velocities when they meet in space. Which is what they’d need to get out there at all, under currently known physical restrictions.

      With lightspeed delay and large distances between ships, you wouldn’t know how the enemy’s ship was maneuvering due to sensor delay. Relativistic effects are like cloaking shields that way. Matching courses for combat with high Delta V differences would also be interesting. It would be a whole new set of tactics, which have already been explored in sci-fi novels by authors like Niven and Reynolds.

      It would be a slower-paced game though, and I guess most people want quick pew-pew action like a WW2 dogfight. George Lucas has a lot to answer for.

      On your last point about the terrifying hostility of space encouraging a different mode of combat…. I dunno, there is a similar situation with modern undersea warfare, and attack subs are still focused on the kill, even though they’re damned expensive to build. Like space, it’s an environment where being detected = death, so you focus on finding the other guy first and shooting first. Unless it’s a piracy scenario (and there are interesting sci-fi stories written about that), a purely military conflict will probably be more like today’s hunter-killer sub tactics.

      • SillyWizard says:

        That’s a valid point about submarine warfare, though I’d argue that the ease of moving about in a vacuum vs the impossibility of launching a boarding party in high-pressure deep-sea situation should address the issue a bit.

        More importantly (to my mind), a vessel capable of space-travel is a much more significant prize than a vessel capable of floating from one place to another. Nobody has ever particularly needed to capture an enemy’s submarines to wage war. It would be easy to devise a sci-fi scenario in which spaceship losses are best mitigated by capturing and incorporating enemy ships.

        • Zenicetus says:

          It’s an interesting premise, like the value of capturing naval warships in the Golden Age of sailing ship combat. There was a lot of that, with “prizes” being re-used by the other side.

          That’s an example of convergent technology, though. As a future space combat scenario, it presupposes only humans fighting other humans in space, where the tech on each side would be familiar. What if you’re fighting aliens, like many of these sci-fi scenarios? Capturing and using an alien ship would be a big stretch, with vastly different internal gravity, atmosphere, and controls designed for who knows what… definitely not a human at the helm. :)

          • SillyWizard says:

            Ha, I just had an image of a David Cronenberg-designed alien vessel which requires unspeakable (and uncomfortable and unsanitary) ship-control interface requiring a compromising relationship between the crew and their work-stations….

    • Dozer says:

      I often think about how these space games could be improved by making them more consistent with the expected rules of fighting and travelling in space.

      I just end up concluding that more realism makes the games worse, and the best solution for the ‘space is an ocean’ trope in games is to take away the ‘space’ and recast as a naval game on a literal, fictional ocean.

      I kind of want a cross between the ship and ocean environment of Silent Hunter, the factional wars and map-wandering and crew management of Mount & Blade, and the empire-building of the X-Universe series. And the systems/disaster management of Submarine Commander (the new one, which only exists on a SubSim forum thread).

    • buzzmong says:

      Regarding capturing rather than killing, I know two things that push against it:

      1) These are ships that are made for fighting in the hard vacuum of space. They’re going to be designed take damage, probably resulting in hull breaches, which’ll mean it’ll be very compartmentalised with heavy duty bulk heads inbetween. As a result it’s going to be easy to lock down your ship and your important bits will be very heavily armoured. This means capture operations will be risky and probably costly.

      2) If it’s worth the effort to capture because it’s a valuable prize, it’s also worth the effort to deny your enemy that prize.
      It’s the logical extension to a point raised by Sun Tzu: “One cartload of the enemy’s provisions is equivalent to twenty of one’s own”.
      If you ship is being boarded and you can’t stop the boarders, destroying your own ship is a valid response to damage the enemy as they lose a boarding crew and also have expended resources on a failed operation which they’re not recouping.
      Basically, if you’re going down, try to take the other person with you.

      Both of those (and there’s others) would mean a kill is the cleaner and safer option.

      Besides, in space, where commodities are limited, do you really think taking prisoners is going to be a good action to take?

      • SillyWizard says:

        That’s all well and good, but if I were on a space-ship which was obviously either going to be captured or destroyed, and the only options on the table for me were to surrender or self-destruct and ensure my own death, I would probably surrender. Not one for going out in a blaze of glory, me.

        If you check out On Killing by Lt Col Dave Grossman, you’ll see compelling evidence that most of us, given not only the opportunity, but the obligation to kill an enemy (despite Sun Tzu’s recommendations), will try to weasel out of that particular unsavory task to the best of our abilities.

        If I recall correctly, something like only about 1/5 soldiers actually fight effectively, trying to kill the opposing army/navy/what-have-you. Of those 20% of soldiers willing to engage, about 1/10 are able to kill without suffering severe PTSD. (Which is because they’re psychopaths.)

        So you’ve got an optimistic estimate of 2% of your fighting force which will gleefully slaughter whoever they can, given the opportunity. Fortunately, those people aren’t typically put in a position where they can order their men to die because Sun Tzu said some shit about a cart.

        Besides, in space, where commodities are limited, do you really think taking prisoners is going to be a good action to take?

        I think, in space, where the only options would be to trust in the mercy of your enemy or the whole thing degenerates into mutually assured slaughter — that yes, a case could be made for a game about relatively gentlemanly warfare.

        • Premium User Badge

          Cinek says:

          Set the power core to overload / torpedoes to explode / rig few essential systems with explosives and eject. Captain doesn’t have to go down with a ship, you know?

          • Phasma Felis says:

            [quote]Set the power core to overload / torpedoes to explode / rig few essential systems with explosives and eject.[/quote]
            If you insert an “a” between “rig” and “few,” this becomes a pretty wicked rap.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Great, so your captain gets to escape.

            Where are you going to find a crew willing to enlist in a navy with a mortality rate of (100% – captains)?

    • bill says:

      Agreed.

      This game looks sweet, and I actually think that for this game 3D space might be too much (you’re already dealing with a First-person viewpoint and using in-game control surfaces).

      But in general, it’s maddening that more (read zero) space RTS games make use of 3D space. I’m assuming it’s because they think it’s complex/confusing, but I thought the first Homeworld handled it fine (and that was with a horribly dated UI). With a decent UI it shouldn’t be that confusing at all.

      Heck, just make it based on a flat plane, click a spot to go, then mouse wheel up/down to pick a height and click again.

      I loved pulling off, and getting surprised by, 3D tactics in Homeworld.
      Like the Junkyard Dog one, where I sent the fighters up and over the junkyard, and then divebombed down vertically straight at the target.

  18. Moraven says:

    I always like Star Wolves for the mothership launching fighters feel.

    I always felt we needed a Star Wars game where you could run your own Corvette or Star Destroyer.

    • ZephyrSB says:

      Star Wolves really took me by surprise in just how much I liked it, and would love to see more in its vein, particularly the third one.

  19. bill says:

    I’ve always dreamed of Space games like this, where you can move around your ship and interact with systems. (though I mainly dreamed of a decent Millennium Falcon implementation). So, cool!

  20. headless97 says:

    Did anyone else read the part at the beginning of the trailer that said, “Footage captured in-game using PRE-ALPHA ASSETS”? The game isn’t even in alpha and you are criticizing its graphics. How well the game will play and the depth of strategy is unknown at this time, but there is no need to dismiss the game as something that will never come out or that will suck when it is in such an early state. I think they have an interesting concept here that could be really fun for people who like to roleplay and be immersed in games.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Game developers have a choice. They can withhold early previews if they don’t think it’s good enough to withstand critiques, or they can show early graphics to build buzz about the game.

      When they take the second option, the potential audience for the game has every right to comment on the graphics and what we can see of the rest of the game content. Comments will inevitably focus more on graphics when not much else is shown about how the game actually plays. Nobody is forcing them to release pre-Alpha trailers like this.