Everyone has their hobbies, their vices, their ways to decompress. Mine is gaming. I don’t devote anywhere near the time to it that I once did, but there are still times when I like to get away for a bit (without actually going anywhere). Normally I look for strategic games, simulations, or RPGs: Civ, Diablo, Sim City, Starcraft, etc.
But for the longest time I’ve had this nagging itch in the back of my mind, a game that I would never be able to resist. I wanted a starship game, something with elements of the Wing Commander and X-Wing, but with fully customizable starships and a sandbox style universe to explore. I wanted to be able to be Han Solo before he cleaned up his act. I wanted to be part of Rogue Squadron. I wanted to explore deep space like Kirk and Picard, finding new worlds … then plundering them like a Ferengi in debt. I wanted to be Boba Fett. I wanted a hidden base. I wanted to tinker with my starship. I wanted to blast my enemies to hunks of metal floating in zero G and pick through the wreckage for salvage.
I never expected anyone to actually do it.
But it looks like someone finally did. Chris Roberts, lead designer of the old Wing Commander games (that I played on a x386), has come out of obscurity to drop a bombshell on the gaming world called Star Citizen. It’s everything I listed above and more. It’s multi-crew starships, player-reactive economy, procedurally generated missions based on in-world happenings, ships that are realistic inside and out, and a universe that will grow larger as players push to the outer limits of exploration … and sell the maps to the highest bidder.
The game is still in development, but they had a huge kickstarter and are continuing to raise funds for development on their site. The scope and development to continue to grow as more players pledge. I’m caught. They hooked me. I thought I could resist these sorts of temptation, but I forgot that they could tempt me with stuff I wanted.
With alpha and beta access, a beta that will go into live release without a purge, and a Dogfighting Module that will debut at PAX East in a couple weeks, and a single-player campaign (Squadron 42) that will be a combination tutorial/introduction/training system, it seemed like I’d have plenty to look forward to during the wait to the 2015 anticipated launch of the full game.
I’m now the proud captain of a Freelancer long-haul freighter/exploration vessel. It’s a 2-person vessel, so I’ll either be bringing friends along or hiring an NPC to crew my gun turret. I’ll make cargo runs to keep lights on, and fund deep exploration missions to find new star systems and chart jump points. At heart, I think I’m more of a Picard than a Fett (though I much prefer the Mandalorian battle armor to the Starfleet uniforms).
Don’t worry, I’ll still be writing. If anything, it’ll be a great inspiration for my current side project, which is a space-based fantasy that I’ll be focusing on once I finish the Mad Tinker Chronicles .