"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.