Freespace Boardgame: Sort-Of Interplay Sort Of Returns

It’s the day for gaming comebacks! Just so long as they’re gaming comebacks in which it’s difficult to ascertain whether anyone meaningfully involved in the original thing is on board. Interplay’s latest attempt to re-enter our affections isn’t quite as suspicion-clouded as West Games’ second dodgy-lookin’ gesture towards a spiritual STALKER sequel, but it’s fair to say that whoever wears the Interplay skinsuit are not Interplay’s original founders. They have, however, managed to recruit Chris Taylor, one of the Fallout’s designers, and it’s he who’s made an “officially-licensed” boardgame adaptation of Interplay’s space combat sim Freespace. Wot no Clayfighter 4?

Miniatures game Freespace Tactics is on Kickstarter now, looking for $75,000. It’s conceptually appealing, and seems to have something in common with the rather nice X-Wing miniatures game, but it’s probably not what folk are hoping Interplay would do, skinsuit or not.

This isn’t quite Interplay, though – this is Freespace Development Corp, an unspecified collective who say they work for Interplay by day and play and design boardgames in their down time. Clearly, the use of the Freespace license means they’ve either got Interplay’s blessing or are a straight-up Interplay offshoot. Taylor is namechecked of course, and the Kickstarter page points out that this is not his first published boardgame.

I dunno. It looks quite nice? Probably better than raking over Earthworm Jim’s grave, anyway.

Incidentally, Freespace only reclaimed rights to Freespace relatively recently, as part of the THQ firesale.

26 Comments

  1. Napoleon15 says:

    I feel like it is my duty to remind people that Freespace 2 is still the greatest space shooter ever.*

    *In my opinion. Nothing has come close to topping it for me in terms of atmosphere, excitement and epic space battles.

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      distantlurker says:

      +1

    • Guvornator says:

      I’d go along with that, although it does also have one of the most dreadful endings of all time. I was well geared up for taking on 12 Shivan battlecruisers all on my tod. Talk about Coitus interruptus…

      EDIT: Speaking of which, why is no-one making tight, scripted linear dogfighting games anymore? I’ve been playing Tie Fighter and it’s still as good as it ever was. With modern tech you could be flying seat of your pants through exploding capital ships firing hot beamy death at all and sundry, but instead everyone wants to do this whole open world thing. Which is fine, except it’s basically the same game I’ve been playing since, well, Freespace 2…

      • mlaskus says:

        I loved the ending it was pretty grim, ending with the threat temporarily contained and it gave you a choice if I remember correctly.

        Spoilers below.

        You could race to the wormhole and escape to GTVA controlled space or stay and fight, buying others time to escape.
        Collapsing the wormhole cuts off the Shivan advance but they might find another way. GTVA bought itself time and maybe discovered a way to reconnect with Earth. It’s obvious there was supposed to be another game in the storyline.

        • Guvornator says:

          You had a timer to get to the wormhole, if you didn’t make it you got a much nicer ending than if you did. Regardless if you stayed to help or were just tardy. But it’s more that I didn’t get a crack at those Cain class cruisers (I think). Dangling them in front of me for half the campaign and then whisking them off me in what was a pretty vanilla mission by FS2 standards was probably my biggest gaming anti-climax.

          • mlaskus says:

            Yeah, I see what you mean. It was definitely not among the best missions in the game.
            I think the real climax comes a bit earlier, when GTVA decides to retreat and the Colossus gets destroyed.
            In the end the Shivan forces are just overwhelming and you have to escape, there are no resources nor is there time to fight them. I like that, I think the story works great this way, even if the gameplay suffered for it.

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        Harlander says:

        I have high hopes for Wings of Saint Nazaire for the kind of flavour you describe, even though it’s closer to Wing Commander than Freespace in aesthetics

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      The Freespace Appreciation Law of 2011 means we must also mention the Freespace 2 Source Code Project, which may be installed from link to fsoinstaller.com

    • Thurgret says:

      Yes. Yes it is. I must play it again this Christmas. If I don’t play at least one FreeSpace campaign a year, whether the base one or user-made, I’ll forget what fun is.

      I also conscientiously call it FreeSpace all the time. I seem to be the odd one out.

    • emorphien says:

      Indeed it is, I keep buying it again.

      GOG released it? Bought it.

      Steam released it? Bought it.

      I probably still have my original CDs and the keyboard map buried under stuff in a drawer somewhere, at least for Freespace 2.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Oh, yes indeed. I replayed it only couple of months ago to test drive my new HOTAS X. With the source code mod and a joystick it is superb, really doesn’t feel like a 15+ year old game. And some of the design decisions are still uniquely brilliant: The way missions adapt and can still be completed even as objectives fail and key ships/people blow up. The way the story never lets up that feeling of “the human race is doomed!” despite stretching over sequels and a number of ‘victories’ of sorts. The ending is sudden and poorly delivered, but such a brave, shocking and yet totally logical conclusion. And the combat is still unsurpassed, if you stop and look the levels seem pretty sparse but in the heat of battle there seems to be and endless carcophany of targets, lasers, missiles, small ships, big ships, MASSIVE ships. I can think of very few games that hold up so well nearly 20 years after release. Planning to try out some of the many mods over Christmas, any suggestions?

      • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

        And the menus! They change when you get assigned to a different carrier. Genius

      • KDR_11k says:

        To be fair branching campaigns that adapt to failed missions were standard for this genre, I remember branching in Wing Commander and Star Crusader too. The latter even allowed you to defect to the other side of the war and win it for them instead (though come to think of it I haven’t tried if NOT defecting actually continues the campaign or just declares your side the victor immediately). StarLancer stood out as unusually linear for the genre with its instant failure if you deviated from its prescribed script.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Alpha 1 of the 242nd agrees, good sir. The only thing that can ever top FS2 is an equally well done FS3, which is perhaps as difficult as pulling off HL3.

  2. velvetvoulge says:

    Unpainted miniatures makes this a deal-breaker for me, unfortunately.

    • aldo_14 says:

      I think they just grabbed the now-ancient game models, too (the Athena – one of the bombers, looks a little different but the rest seem identical to what I remember). Probably just stuck them through Shapeways or something.

      Pissed off that THQ held the Freespace IP and owned Volition for so long without doing anything, though. Even just an HD-up version could have been a start (slightly self-defeating given the pre-existing source code changes and mods, but still).

      • Dave L. says:

        The Freespace IP was actually split between Volition and Interplay. Interplay already owned the IP and Publishing rights to Freespace, which is why the GoG deal to sell the games was with Interplay, not THQ. THQ/Volition owned the source code and development rights. The only way Volition could have made another Freespace game in the Freespace universe would be if THQ and Interplay had made some sort of co-publishing agreement.

        Oddly, the “Freespace” Trademark had actually lapsed in October 2011, so they could’ve totally made Homeworld: Freespace. It looks like Interplay re-registered it in October of 2012, though. Hilariously, Stompy Bot (they of the failed Heavy Gear f2p kickstarter) apparently tried to snipe the trademark in August 2012 and it went through, but they let it expire a year later. Descent: Freepace The Great War is still expired, however…

  3. Dilapinated says:

    I closed-tab at “entry into the hobby”.

    I don’t feel like this is going to have anywhere near the fan-momentum to compete with stuff like X-Wing or D&D Attack Wing. But it looks like that’s the way they’re going, with an LCG-esque miniatures game that you’re supposed to have a local community to play with.

    If this were a standalone boardgame (even one with one or two expansions!) fine. If it’s going to be a constantly-expanding competitive-community thing, then.. I don’t see it getting off the starting block, I’m afraid. (though if they proved me wrong, and FLGS the world over were talking about Freespace? I’d be jumping for joy.)

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    FhnuZoag says:

    No capital ships shooting each other with gigantic freaking laser beams? No sale.

  5. peterako1989 says:

    I want freespace 3 :,(

  6. kermat says:

    From the pitch video (2:15):
    There’s new ships, like the Ura Bomber; there’s new races, like the Shivans…
    Really now?

  7. Jason Moyer says:

    So we have this series of games that came out 15 years ago that everyone loves and would like a sequel to. Let’s make a board game?

  8. hugolefou says:

    If you feel like backing a board game inspired by a PC game, check out V-Commandos on Kickstarter:

    link to kickstarter.com

    It’s a sort of squad based, WW2 themed dungeon crawler with emphasis on stealth, influenced by PC games such as Commandos (obviously), XCOM, Silent Storm, etc. The designer is a former videogame developer who used to work with Ubisoft, among other publishers.

  9. Dread says:

    What really puzzles me is, that they apparently base the boardgame on Freespace 1.

    What’s the point in that? Freespace was good and all, but Freespace 2 is the beloved masterpiece. They lose a lot of recognition value by using only old technology ships.
    Going with banking on expansions seems a bit overambitious.

    Personally, I’m a bit annoyed, that the new Freespace after 15 years is a boardgame, which appears to be a clone of the X-wing miniatures boardgame.
    Oh well, Freespace 3 will forever be a pipedream.