Halcyon 6 Is Deep Space Nine To FTL’s Voyager

Yesssss, thiiiiiis

Allow me to stop you mid-headline-scoff to go no, really. Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander [official site] puts you in control of a space station, able to build modules, train officers and construct ships to fight, trade and diplomise in an intergalactic war that’s going poorly for humanity. It’s a bit XCOM, limited resources making you choose between this upgrade or that, praying that every scouting operation and away mission won’t lead to a thoroughly bisected crew. Unfortunately, what it doesn’t share with FTL is being out or fully funded. It’s on Kickstarter after $40,000 Canadian (Just over 31k USD or £21k) but that does mean you can at least see it explained and in action below.

I don’t know what to get excited about first. The potential is ludicrous, the promise immense. It’s very Kickstarter, but with a few bonuses that give me confidence. Games like this have proved popular before so funding, particularly at this low goal, shouldn’t be an issue as long as it gets to the right audience. The team behind it is experienced, having shipped a number of games in the mobile sphere, though all were free to play. The art is just fantastic, I mean look at this:

Lad at the bottom here's having a real bad day.

Away missions just being pop-up dialogue boxes was always a great shame in FTL, I was desperate to see my crew members in a different context. It should also mean there’s decisions being made that lead to crew members never returning, rather than a couple of behind-the-scenes dice rolls.

Meanwhile in space, we get this lovely sort of thing:

I find it very difficult not to make sound effect noises while looking at this. Shoom, kabloom, bzzzrrvvvrttt, pew pew pew.

It would be a pity for a game like this not to come to pass. Unfortunately, the pitch isn’t great. Too many stretch goals laid out on day one (I’m fast coming to the conclusion that the right decision is to introduce these only when you meet or are very close to your initial goal); a few typos; not enough in-depth information on the way systems will work, or at least current plans. The video’s good, but the weird 4:3-Widescreen hybrid it’s running in is a hiccup and front-loading the cliché ominous voice-over plot isn’t for the best. The overarching storyline barely matters – FTL’s was disinteresting, non-sensical and barely present – it’s all about the side missions. Finding this ship here, that bit of technology, first contact with THEM.

Halcyon 6 might be strong enough to pull through all that though, and it’s early days for Massive Damage to fix their mistakes. As always, it’d be great to see something playable that shows how these good ideas form into a good game. 15 CAD/$12/£8 will get you a copy, optimistically in December.

38 Comments

  1. yabonn says:

    Halcyon. Halcyon, it’s Halcyon. Oh god make it stop.

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      Harlander says:

      Shivering with horror, I checked the official site. Fortunately, they spelled it properly there.

      As a side bonus, ‘halcyon’ has now reached total semantic satiation for me.

  2. Koozer says:

    I liked Voyager :(

    • big boy barry says:

      Voyager would have been alright if it wasn’t for that god awful crew. Neelix was absolutely shite and probably star treks worse most cheesy character, all the native American Indian stuff was beyond bad, dont get me started on the episode where Paris devolves after traveling past warp 10, even worse than “Masks” that was. Janeway sounded like James Earl Jones would if he smoked 80 a day. but yeah other than that it was alright

      • Jeroen D Stout says:

        “all the native American Indian stuff was beyond bad”

        They set an interesting angle up and forgot about it, like the implications of long-term fascism in Battlestar Galactrica.

    • melnificent says:

      I enjoyed Voyager too. A better setup than the usual fare at the time. Coming off from TNG and mid DS9 it was a change of pace and could have been great. Instead after a couple of seasons everything was solved with shields.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Why are you sad about it? The article isn’t deriding voyager, that wasn’t the purpose of the comparison.

      …Unless it’s me that’s missing something…

      • Lars Westergren says:

        Article tags: “crowdfunding, haha how bad was Voyager though, Halycon 6: Starbase Commander, Kickstarter, Massive Damage.”

    • keithzg says:

      Gonna just throw this down here (gonna be long folks, sorry, but if you like Star Trek I think it’s a pretty good read) :

      Moore notes, “I’ve said this to Brannon for years, because he and I would talk about the show when it was first invented. I just don’t understand why it doesn’t even believe in itself. Examine the fundamental premise of VOYAGER. A starship chases a bunch of renegades. Both ships are flung to the opposite side of the galaxy. The renegades are forced to come aboard Voyager. They all have to live together on their way home, which is going to take a century or whatever they set up in the beginning. I thought, This is a good premise. That’s interesting. Get them away from all the familiar STAR TREK aliens, throw them out into a whole new section of space where anything can happen. Lots of situations for conflict among the crew. The premise has a lot of possibilities. Before it aired, I was at a convention in Pasadena, and [scenic illustrator, technical consultant Rick] Sternbach and [scenic art supervisor, technical consultant Michael] Okuda were on stage, and they were answering questions from the audience about the new ship. It was all very technical, and they were talking about the fact that in the premise this ship was going to have problems. It wasn’t going to have unlimited sources of energy. It wasn’t going to have all the doodads of the Enterprise. It was going to be rougher, fending for themselves more, having to trade to get supplies that they want. That didn’t happen. It doesn’t happen at all, and it’s a lie to the audience. I think the audience intuitively knows when something is true and something is not true. VOYAGER is not true. If it were true, the ship would not look spick-and-span every week, after all these battles it goes through. How many times has the bridge been destroyed? How many shuttlecrafts have vanished, and another one just comes out of the oven? That kind of bullshitting the audience I think takes its toll. At some point the audience stops taking it seriously, because they know that this is not really the way this would happen. These people wouldn’t act like this.”

      Moore says that he recognized VOYAGER’s biggest problem by the end of the first episode. “By the end of the pilot, you have the Maquis in those Starfleet uniforms, and— boom—we’ve begun the grand homogenization. Now they are any other ship. I don’t know what the difference is between Voyager and the Defiant or the Saratoga or the Enterprise or any other ship sitting around the Alpha Quadrant doing its Starfleet gig. That to me is appalling, because if anything, Voyager—coming home, over this journey, with that crew—by the time they got back to Earth, they should be their own subculture. They should be so different from the people who left, that Starfleet won’t even recognize them any more. What are the things that would truly come up on a ship lost like that? Wouldn’t they have to start not only bending Starfleet protocols, but throwing some of them right out the window? If you think about it in somewhat realistic terms: you’re on Voyager; you are on the other side of the galaxy; for all you know, it is really going to take another century to get home, and there is every chance that you are not going to make it, but maybe your children or grandchildren will. Are you really going let Captain Janeway [Kate Mulgrew] rule the ship for the next century. It seems like, in that kind of situation, the ship would eventually evolve its own sort of society. It would have to function in some way, other than just this military protocol that we repeat over and over again because it’s the only thing we know. You’ve got the Maquis onboard. From the get-go they are supposed to be the anti-Starfleet people. They behave exactly like the Starfleet people with the occasional nod towards B’Elanna [Roxann Dawson] making a snide remark about Starfleet protocols, or Chakotay [Robert Beltran] getting a little quasi-spiritual. But in essence, they are no different than any other ship in the fleet. The episodes that you watch week after week are so easily translatable to NEXT GEN that it’s almost a cookie-cutter kind of thing. It’s a waste of the premise. That’s not to say they don’t have any good episodes. There are some good episodes in the mix, and I have seen a couple. The show can work.
      “But the ship wouldn’t look like that,” Moore continues. “It’s not truthful. On DEEP SPACE NINE, that was the watchword. We wanted it to be true. There was a lot of truth in DEEP SPACE NINE, a lot of difficult questions that we tried to answer, and some difficult questions that we couldn’t answer. DS9 was a real place, a truthful place; it was a place where we explored things on a real level. But VOYAGER doesn’t go there. It just will not go there. You are trying to tell the audience on the one hand, ‘We’re so far from home, and it’s going to take us so long, and we really wish we could get home. It’s rough out here.’ Janeway wrings her hands about all the things that she has sent the crew through. Then, it’s off to the holodeck. You can’t talk with any kind of a straight face about food rations and energy conservation, and having a real kitchen in the mess hall, when at the same time you’ve got the holodeck going. It’s such a facade, and no matter what kind of technobabble bullshit you come up with, the audience intuitively knows, again, that’s not truthful. There is no reality there. That would not happen. Even on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, they didn’t have the Skipper and Gilligan sitting in the Minnow, watching color television. But on VOYAGER, who cares? We want the holodeck to run so we can go do period pieces, and we can do dress up and we can do fun adventures on the holodeck, and we don’t want to give that up. Okay, but don’t try telling me at the same time that you are really out scraping by and barely making it out there on the frontier, when none of their hair is out of place, and their uniforms are pristine, and the bridge is clean every week.”

      Moore laughs, “What is the difference really between Voyager and the rest of the fleet? When that ship comes home, it will blend right in. You won’t even know the difference. They haven’t personalized the ship in any way. It’s still the same kind of bare metal, military look that it had at the beginning. If you were trapped on that ship and making your way home, for years on end, wouldn’t you put something up on the walls? Would you put a plant or two somewhere in a corridor? Wouldn’t you try to make it a little more livable? That is the challenge that I think they have really dropped. They just won’t deal with the reality of the situation that ship is in. They look for stylistic twists, and ways to make the show interesting visually, and up the action quotient, and up the sex quotient. But that’s not the problem. If you can’t believe in your own premise, you then certainly can’t take the next step and try to have a point of view about life, about what it means to be human: what is the nature of the human heart, and good and evil, all of the great questions that STAR TREK is famous for trying to grapple with in a science fiction context. When VOYAGER tries to go there it is so completely superficial that it doesn’t mean anything. Even when they are trying to really mine something, it’s undercut by the fact that nothing else surrounding it is real, and that you can’t accept these people in the positions and what they are doing. Kirk and company had a point of view. Kirk was a man of opinions. He was a man who had his own take on right versus wrong, when to take action, and when not to. I think he is respected for that. People that looked up to that character, looked up to him because he was a leader who said, ‘We are going this way, and this is the right thing to do.’ Picard is a different kind of leader. Picard was a more thoughtful guy who saw there was a little more gray in the world, but still had a very high sense of ethics, such a high sense of ethics that I think it bound us a little too much; it bound the character a little too tightly. Sisko [Avery Brooks] was a man who saw the world in shades of gray, who was always thrust into ambiguous situations, who was always having to grapple with questions of faith and reason and right and wrong, and had to do it in an interesting in compelling way. The people around him supported that premise. They were all flawed characters on a flawed station dealing with a flawed situation. It gave them permission to explore that ground. I don’t know what VOYAGER is about. It just doesn’t seem to speak to me. I watch the show; I try to understand what it is saying to me, what it’s trying to explore. But it doesn’t seem to explore the human condition. It doesn’t have a point of view on the subject. It falls back on STAR TREK boilerplate; it falls back on the Prime Directive. The Prime Directive has now become this cop out for doing anything in an episode, for having any point of view.”

      In addition, Moore is bothered by the show’s lack of continuity. “The continuity of the show is completely haphazard. It’s haphazard by design. It’s not like they are trying desperately to maintain continuity of the show. They don’t care, and they’ll tell you flat out that they don’t care. Well, that is misreading the core audience. The STAR TREK, hardcore audience loves continuity; they love accumulating data on these ships. They love knitting together all the little pieces, and compiling lists, and doing trivia. That’s been a staple of the STAR TREK culture from the get-go. People really love the details. They love the fact that the details all add up and make one mosaic, and that the universe holds together. When you don’t give a shit, you’re telling the audience: don’t bother. Don’t bother to really learn this stuff, because it’s not going to matter next week, anything that happened this week.”

      The writer-producers of VOYAGER maintain that they don’t want continuity, so people can watch the shows out of order, for example, now in five-nights-a-week syndication. Says Moore, “I’ve just never believed that argument, because it seems to me that you’re just underestimating the intelligence of the audience. You’re just saying the audience is a bunch of idiots. Who is going to be watching the show in strip syndication five nights a week? People that like that show, and presumably have watched more than one show. Got forbid the stations have to run them in order. It’s an excuse that sounds plausible but is basically a way for them not to have to care about maintaining continuity, because it is tough to maintain continuity. It’s very hard to write in continuity, because of the nature of television. You are writing ahead, and you are writing at the moment, and you are changing things in post. It’s really hard to keep all the ducks in a row, which we found at DEEP SPACE NINE. In that last ten-episode run, where it was almost completely serialized, that’s a tough act to carry off. But it’s also worth the effort, because the payoff is the world has more validity. The audience can sense there is truth in it. It’s a better show, and it will last longer as a result. If you are really just so concerned that this week’s episode won’t make sense because you didn’t see that episode three years ago, why can’t STAR TREK do like ALLY MCBEAL, or THE PRACTICE, or ER, all the big successful shows do. Put a little recap at the top of the show: ‘Previously, on STAR TREK: VOYAGER…’—even if it’s an episode from two years ago. You just quickly get the audience up to speed, because the audience is not stupid. The audience has watched television for a long time. They understand that they have missed some things, that perhaps this is a reference to a show that they didn’t see. They aren’t just going to throw up their hands and move on. If you are pre-supposing that, you are aiming towards the person that is grabbing a beer, and isn’t really paying attention, and is walking out of the room every ten minutes and coming back and sitting down; all you are going to do is dumb down the show. You are reducing it to its lowest common denominator, and what’s the point of that? What do you get out of that? You just get a so-so kind of television experience.”

      Moore asks, “How many space anomalies of the week can you really stomach? How many time paradoxes can you do? When I was studying the show, getting ready to work on it, I was watching the episodes, and the technobabble was just enervating; it was just soul sapping. Vast chunks of scenes would go by, and I had no idea what was going on. I write this stuff; I live this stuff. I do know the difference between the shields and the deflectors, and the ODN conduits and plasma tubes. If I can’t tell what’s going on, I know the audience has no idea what’s going on. Everyone will say the same thing. From the top down, you bring up this point, and everybody will say, ‘I am the biggest opponent of techno-babble. I hate technobabble. I am the one who is always saying, less technobabble.’ They all say that. None of them do it. I’ve always felt that you never impress the audience. The audience doesn’t sit there and go, ‘God damn, they know science. That is really cool. Look how they figured that out. Hey Edna! Come here. You want to see how Chakotay is going to figure this out. He’s onto this thing with the quantum tech particles; it’s really interesting. I don’t know how he is going to do it, but he is going to reroute something. Oh my God, he found the anti-protons!’ Who cares? Nobody watches STAR TREK for those scenes. The actors hate those scenes; the directors hate those scenes; and the writers hate those scenes. But it’s the easiest card to go to. It’s a lot easier to tech your way out of a situation than to really think your way out of a situation, or make it dramatic, or make the characters go through some kind of decision or crisis. It’s a lot easier if you can just plant one of them at a console and start banging on the thing, and flash some Okudagrams, and then come up with the magic solution that is going to make all this week’s problems go away.”

      • EvaUnit02 says:

        Moore, as in Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica? He literally resolved that series with “a wizard did it”, so he’s one to talk.

    • P.Funk says:

      Voyager felt like the result of TNG suffering a transporter accident with two new Star Trek shows materializing on the transporter pad instead, one containing the best qualities and the other the worst. DS9 was good Kirk, Voyager was this guy:

      link to murrayewing.co.uk

  3. RaoulDuke says:

    Where can I get more information about Halycon 6? [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haly_Abenragel] I managed make it to Halycon 4, but I missed 5, I heard they might have discovered fragments of books 6 and 8, exciting times to be an Abû l-Hasan ‘Alî ibn Abî l-Rijâl-head eh guys?.

    p.s. – Yeah… I thought it was select articles but the grammar really has gone to shit on this site, try to give more of a shit guys, please, it hurts to read sometimes.

  4. Snowyflaker says:

    I completly agree that developers should rein in the amounts of stretch goals in the starting phase of a Kickstarter but I can only see two stretch goals on the kickstarter page, which I hardly think are too man. Did the developers pull back some goals before this article was posted?

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Before or after it was posted yeah. They had quite a long list before.

      • Snowyflaker says:

        Ok, that makes sense then. Anyhow, the game itself looks promising and I’m tempted to at least add my 15$ to the pile since this Kickstarter scratches my Sci-Fi game itch.

  5. Reset says:

    Title and concept seem to be pretty deliberately evoking Babylon 5. Which has my getting out my money to throw at this.

  6. MaXimillion says:

    I can’t trust a developer that refers to FTL as a rogue-like.

    • RanDomino says:

      Permadeath, character upgrades, exploration, intentionally low-fi graphics… how is it NOT a roguelike?

      • MaXimillion says:

        Going by the Berlin Interpretation: Not turn-based, not grid-based, arguably not non-modal, low level of complexity. It also fails several low level elements like single player character, ASCII display and dungeon setting.

        • Razumen says:

          Definitions are only as good as the amount of people that use them, and so far it’s become pretty much acceptable in the general gaming community to refer to games with characteristics similar to Roguelike games as…Roguelike.

          Seriously, they should’ve just called them Rogueclones, that has long been an understood concept amongst games and would have made more sense. Roguelike sounds like games that are only ‘like’ Rogue, but not completely.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      The purists lost exclusivity on that word many years ago now. Everything from Super Mario Bros. and up in terms of failure-state is a rogue-like to more than two people now. And it’s getting exponentially worse. So why care?

      • MaXimillion says:

        Because using the term incorrectly signifies potential incompetence on the part of the developer.

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          Harlander says:

          Man, what happened to “roguelite” as a short term for “X with roguelike elements”? It had a real punny elegance, IMO

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          The word has such a broad meaning today that it can pretty much be used just as another bulletpoint feature if your game even has player-death with consequence at all.

          They are allowed to use it just as everyone else without it making them incompetent. The word has been (miss)used that way for years and the meaning has changed, like natural language always do.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Anecdote on genre word warping: I remember a game mag I subscribed to in the 90’s. They insisted to call Command & Conquer, Warcraft 2 and other accessible RTS games of the time “war simulators”. It made me choke on my Rice Krispies every time.
          They also classed some tycoon games (Theme Hospital and even I think even Dungeon Keeper) “simulators”.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            I remember when it wasn’t uncommon to call FPS games “doom clones”. Times change. I don’t see a problem with expanding the definition of roguelikes, but I’d much rather see them get their own version of “FPS”.

        • P.Funk says:

          Or the developer is deliberately evoking a popular trope.

  7. xfstef says:

    Redshirts will die.

    • Snowyflaker says:

      It’s alright, they knew what they signed up for the moment they put on a red uniform.

    • P.Funk says:

      Wanna hear something funny? Voyager had like zero random blue shirts. It was like ensign Wildman and a handful of others in a few odd episodes, and the rest were nothing but yellow engineering or security people, on a primarily deep space exploration vessel.

  8. Siimon says:

    Glad you posted this one, totally backed! :)

  9. Sandepande says:

    Enjoy my hard-earned bits in financial systems.

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    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Aaaaand they’ve reached the pledged amount.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Also, this article has already been quoted on their Kickstarter page.