(Editor’s Note: This piece comes to us from Two Step, CSM6 and CSM7 veteran.)
As I look at the hype for the upcoming game Star Citizen, I can’t help but be reminded of very similar hype that took place 18 years ago. Back then, the Internet was a new thing, and in the days before the web, people talked about games on Usenet newsgroups. Back then, I used to hang out on a newsgroup called “comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic”, and there was a very famous flame war going on about a game called Battlecruiser 3000AD (BC3K). I even got involved in the flame war myself, and for a while it was the top search result when you searched for my real name.
Lets take a look at what BC3K promised: (obviously, some of this is a little dated now)
Full 32-Bit processing power, takes advantage of 486 & Pentium(tm) processors.
Full 16-bit digital sound plus over 350 unique personnel digitized speech.
A fully dynamic virtual world with various alien nations to interact with.
Three modes of play including Free Flight, Advanced Campaign Mode and Xtreme Carnage.
Dynamic space & planet flight models with manual flight control of 1 combat carrier, 4 combat support crafts, 4 shuttle crafts, 4 all-terrain vehicles and 40 fully armed marines.
Complete access to over 256 planets and moons sporting the most advanced surface terrain engine since Magic Carpet(tm). The Visual Reality Engine, VRnGine(tm) is one of the fastest and most advanced rendering engines to date. Complete with Gouraud shading, texture mapping, SVGA capability and future support for 3D graphics accelerators.
The most advanced artificial intelligence ever developed for a game. Artificial Intelligence & Logistics, AILOG(tm) allows you to do what you want, when you want and how you want. The entire universe reacts and counteracts independent of or in concert with your input. Destroyed objects are rebuilt or replaced, worlds are discovered and populated. Wars are fought, won and lost regardless of what you do. Ai controlled alien nations strive to achieve their goals based on the current state of the universe.
Unlimited plug and play support for add-on modules including additional ACM scenario disks, ship boarding module, parallel universe creation incorporating the ability to link new galaxies with the default one shipped with the game, new technologies, alien nations and goals.
Supported upgrade path to platform dependent Windows 95(tm) and OS2(tm) versions if developed.
Future support for head to head serial, modem play and on-line network play using the SCI-LINK(tm) add-on module. Features include unlimited number of players representing different alien nations within the game. Players can be any of the game supported entities from any race, including EarthCOM and GALCOM commander, pirate, raider, insurgent, trader, explorer, diplomat, criminal etc. What you choose to be will significantly affect the way you play the game.
A game with the most advanced and usable feature set ever developed for an entertainment software:
Carrier bridge and cockpit systems with over 15 fully functional systems, including space/planet radar, interplanetary navigation, manual carrier turret control, jammers, threat displays etc.
Eight fully functional computer sub-systems including Datacom, Logistix, Tactical, Navitron, TacOPS, Tacscan, NID & CVD driven by an ai controlled on-board computer, code name Mother.
Advanced systems include ship cloaking, tractor beam, electro-magnetic disruptors, probe and satellite launch/tracking systems, hyperspace traversal engines, FTOL and VTOL flight modes, auto and manual support ship launch and monitoring.
Over 35 different ship classes, 25 weapon systems, 10 special artifacts, 13 evolution based alien nations and your usual mix of asteroids, meteoroids, comets, novae, blackholes, worm holes, flux fields, jump anomalies etc that create a truly wonderful universe to explore.
Complete control over up to 125 personnel and over 100 MB of fully digitized voicefx responses from wingmen, bridge personnel, engineering and flight prep personnel.
Launch probes and satellites for deep space data analysis. Create and launch flights of support crafts with specific mission assignments. Deploy marines on planet and moon surfaces or to other ships using shuttles or particle beam transporters for combat missions.
Replace or repair all ship systems. Install upgraded systems, heal personnel from infections, radiation and strange diseases. Dead personnel? Have their DNA signature on disk? Clone them!
Wow, that sounds kind of awesome for 1995, doesn’t it? Of course, what actually happened when BC3K was released at the end of 1996 was that it was universally panned. The game was buggy, incomplete and just plain not fun. Amazingly, some people who had really bought into the hype stuck with the game, and the developer eventually re-released it (at least three times!), though it never lived up to the initial hype.
“Star Citizen won’t be like that!” is what thousands of people are angrily saying right now. Perhaps it won’t, but look at what has been promised:
Star Citizen takes you further than any other online game with an unparalleled level of immersion. Step out of the pilot’s seat for the first time: traverse your cockpit, explore planets and cities and even engage in first person boarding actions to take over other ships, bases and orbital platforms. Play with your friends on your wing, watching your back or manning turrets on your ship all in a massive universe that evolves with players instead of against them.
At the same time, Squadron 42 will allow players to experience a single-player campaign in the grand tradition of Chris Roberts’ Wing Commander. Progress through a pulse-pounding narrative whose outcome depends on your decisions and skills as a pilot. A branching storyline means you’re never playing the same game twice. Optional drop-in multiplayer allows friends to join as wingmen during the story!
Raw power, unchallenged customization and an open system: why would we choose anything other than the PC? Star Citizen aims to return PC gaming to its former glory by taking advantage of the platform’s incredible strengths. Star Citizen will feature constant content updates, fully equipped modding tools and the ability for players to host their own custom servers. The full range of PC peripherals will be embraced, from HOTAS flight sticks to the Oculus Rift; you have control over how you play the game!
No more churning out gold: the Star Citizen universe will have a fully simulated game economy driven by supply and demand. The commodities and credits in the game will change the way the universe evolves in dramatic ways, shaped by the player’s actions. Failing to mine raw materials means a planet will stop producing missiles and players will compete to arm their ships; mining a surplus will decrease costs. Everything from space pirate attacks to planetary disasters to coordinated efforts from player groups will have a noticeable impact on how goods work in Star Citizen. Everything in turn generates jobs for players and NPCs alike, from planets hiring mercenaries to restore their supply lines to additional haulers to move surplus goods where they’re needed.
[W]hen you build a ship, we want you to feel like that ship is yours; that it’s not just a carbon copy of every other Aurora or Freelancer that you encounter. […] All the items in the game are there for a reason. They fill a role, and accomplish a specific task. In many ways, our equipment system has a lot more in common with legendary table top battle simulations than it has with modern fantasy MMOs.
Even the most rabid Star Citizen fan can see that there is a worrisome level of similarity, even across the many years. Replace “Pentium support” with “Oculus Rift support”, or perhaps the two simulated economies sound really similar to you? Just like with BC3K, potential players see exactly what they want to see in the giant list of features that Star Citizen is promising. In fact, people see so much potential, 200 of them were willing to put down $1,250 dollars each to pre-order a special edition ship for a game that isn’t even in Alpha testing.
I guess it is a good thing Kickstarter wasn’t around in 1995…
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Submissions.