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coeray

Space Games - Where are they?

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I'm a long-time gamer with a pretty broad taste in games. However, this last generation of console games has really shaped and formed the game industry into a sequel-based, non-innovative, money-hungry beast! Okay, it's not ALL bad. Some of the more quirky titles as of late have seriously entertained me. Such as Pikmin, Katamari Damacy, and Viewtiful Joe. However, I've noticed something. Other than major franchise games, such as Star Wars or Star Trek...there hasn't been a SINGLE decent space game for consoles in a LONG time! Sure, the space genre has mostly resided on PCs. But still! Even PS1 had it's share of space flight games and such. SNES ushered in Star Fox and you could even go back to the NES or Atari games when there were tons of great space shooters. But it's like people have forgotten about space! I've read a bit about the latest space PC game, called Nexus. There was also a game suggested to me by a friend that was released in 2003 or 2004, called X2. There was also 2003's Freelancer and the latest Homeworld. Other than those, I can think of only a handfull of other space games that have been released post 2000. Maybe I don't pay enough attention? Have really great games been slipping through my fingers? Or has the space genre been sputtering out of existence for the last decade? I've been playing The Ur-Quan Masters recently, a modern hardware-friendly version of the 3DO Star Control 2 game. And it just makes me wonder...why a game like this has never been attempted again? (yes, there was SC3, but that doesn't count). ;) Any thoughts? Any other space junkies out there itching to explore the hugeness of space?

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You seem to mostly be talking about space as a theme/universe and not about any specific kind of gameplay. What do Star Fox, Star Control, and Homeworld have in common? Almost nothing. So if you're all asking about is space-themed games... well there are tons of them out there.

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I think he means more along the lines of having back-drops in space, be it a space combat sim, colonization, resource gathering, RTS, and what not. As long as the primary environment was in space, flying around, and stuff. I think this is what he meant.

I think the fall in space based games has to do with visual. Its hard to justify showing off the current generation of game graphics and physics in a space environment. The last space-based game I played with cool visuals was probably FreeSpace from the developer of Descent, but that was a while back too and on the PC as well.

I guess part of it has to do with industry trend too.

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Earth and Beyond was a good MMORPG/Space-Sim, I had it for a while but a monetary situation arised and I was no longer able to maintain my subscription to the servers so I don't know what ever became of it. However, that was of course also for the PC.

I think the large part about space games and their lack of portability to the console systems is the dimunitive controller size in consoles. Sure now instead of two buttons and a joystick we have somewhere close to ten and both a joystick and an analog directional pad, however, that still pales in comparison to a several-hundred keyed keyboard, plus five-button mouse/joystick giving you the sheer number of access points to do all the fine-tuning needed to fly a spaceship around and blow things up.

I could be wrong, but that's what I see as being the primary factor. It would seem to me that in the case of say Playstation, a space-based game, wherein one flies around would end up being little more than an overly-glorified version of "Grand Theft Auto", "Need for Speed" or take your other choice of First-Person Drivers. You fly your spaceship around, maybe fire off a rocket or two and then you're done.

However, this has been done to death. We've all flown around, and blown up all the badguys, since the days of space invaders and atari. There is no room for growth in console games when it comes to space-based games because of the sheer size of the command/function/action list involved with most of these games. Turn-based strategy might be possible, but of course, in today's day and age, when it's all about the most over-clocked graphics card you can get... no one remembers what it was like to take turns anymore, it's all now now now!

I hate to sound like the angel of death or anything, or like a pessimist, because I am a large fan of the space-based genre, I just don't see a future in the limited confines of the consoles. On that note, there was a freeware/open source space game from Microsoft... I don't remember what the name of it was... but it was darn decent, I had some problems with my computer at the time so that limited my gameplay, but it showed great potential for the time that I played it.

Anyway, my two cents.

Vopisk

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Dobbs: I was referring to what WeirdoFu said. The backdrop of space itself isn't used very often these days. Sure, there are lots of futuristic or sci-fi games. But how many of them let you take to the stars, and that be the bulk of the gameplay?

Vopisk: I can agree that the current generation of consoles is limiting in terms of the controller. But I don't think space games have been done to death. The problem is that most space games in the past dealt with only ONE type of gameplay. Specifically, strategy, or dogfighting, or the like. How many open-ended space adventure games have you played? Other than maybe some MMOs, there are almost none.

I don't think the genre is dead because of limitations. I think it's dead because people aren't as interested anymore. You're right, space games don't show off the greatest graphics. But this has been a major problem in my eyes for the past 5 years or so. A game's graphics can be fantastic, but the game totally blow. I just believe there is more to games than impressing people with flashy visuals.

Anyway, if you think space has been done to death, then you have to look at all the FPSs, RTSs, fighters, street racers, japanese RPGs, platformers, Sims expansions (my god), and MMORPGs out there. I'd say in comparison, space is long overdue for some attention.

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Quote:
Original post by WeirdoFu
I think the fall in space based games has to do with visual. Its hard to justify showing off the current generation of game graphics and physics in a space environment.


Man, I hate it when people say this! Try depicting flight through a jovian ring system filled with thousands of particles, some reflective and refractive, all with pinpoint shadows! Or try grazing the photosphere of the sun and flying under massive, world-sized solar prominences. And we're not even talking man-made structures like Mount-Everest sized asteroids flekked with glittering mining bases, or halos of Bernal spheres and canned cities perched at L4 and L5 points around planets.

And we're not even talking about getting out and walking around.

(Sorry, WeirdoFu, rant not directed at you, but sometimes I have to wonder how hardcore the sci-fi game creators sometimes)


Quote:

I guess part of it has to do with industry trend too.


This I agree with, though. It seems like in Hollywood sci-fi goes in and out of popularity. One year its hot, the next not. With console game budgets ballooning to the tens of millions, I wouldn't be surprised if they started following similar trends.

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There is an RPG that takes place in space setting called Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht. It was released for PS2 back in early 2003. The sequel (Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose) was released earlier this year, but it mostly takes place on one of the planets.

Bob

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Quote:
Original post by sanch3x
@Wavinator: You're making a space sim, how come that wasn't mentioned? :P

I think it was, in a way :P

I'm waiting for the next gen Defcon 5. There wasn't so much seeing empty space, but a very strong feeling of being alone in space. The game was also incredibly atmospheric.

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Quote:
Original post by coeray
...<snip>...
How many open-ended space adventure games have you played? Other than maybe some MMOs, there are almost none.
...<snip>...


The only real way to have an open-ended space adventure would be to make it MMO wouldn't it? I mean you have the rare exception of something like Freelancer, but those are few and far between. Other games I've played in the last few years include Earth and Beyond (MMO), Allegiance (MMO, Open-Source from MS I believe...), Masters of Orion 3 came out recently, Star Wars Galaxies (Loosely fits...), I'm sure there have been three or four Star Trek games... I don't know, the list goes on.

The real thing to note is, that I can name more of the space games that have come out recently than I can MMORPGs or Action Adventure games because space games are so rare. This makes them a delicacy of sorts when a good one comes out and we have an actually decent time-span to enjoy them before we're harried off to the newest, latest and greatest.

However, of course, all the examples I gave above were PC platformed games, because I will stand by my previous statement that console controllers are too limited to allow for true development and advancement of the sci-fi genre in the console field. It has nothing to do with graphics, but limited resources would make it kinda difficult to have an "open-ended" anything in a console, I'd imagine...

Then again, I'm no expert when it comes to console games, so I don't know what they're capable of as far as graphics and memory go now-a-days. However, I'll sit by my intraweb and eagerly await that next big development in the sci-fi genre and savour it for what it is while I can.

Vopisk

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