Moon Chases Sun

Moon Chases Sun
Gaming's Fringe Cults

Joe Blancato | 19 Jun 2007 12:02
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However, the good far outweighs the bad, according to Lenartowicz. "Our visitors are an educated and wholesome bunch, [that makes] this community worth our time. There's a lot of expertise to be gained here, I should know first hand. Having joined the community fairly late (around the time Van Buren was cancelled), I have really benefited from it in terms of Fallout and gaming lore."

In terms of the future, all three share reservations about Bethesda picking up Interplay's ball. "Part of me is happy that the franchise didn't die with Black Isle Studios," says Beekers, "but for the most part I realize Fallout is only a name, and the fact that Bethesda's Fallout 3 is called Fallout 3 doesn't mean anything unless they make it a Fallout game. If they don't, I'm guessing I and other fans will be about as upset as we were with the release of Fallout: BoS [Brotherhood of Steel]."

However, regardless of what the future holds, Beekers remains optimistic for NMA: "Considering we're still that active on a set of decade-old games that were never enormous hits, I don't think we're going anywhere, anytime soon."

Heirs to an Empty Kingdom: The Continuum Team
Released in '97, Virgin Interactive Entertainment's (VIE) SubSpace was a victim of its novelty. Just barely scraping the traditional MMOG qualifier (64 or more players on one server), the top-down space combat game - along with Meridian 59 and Ultima Online - laid the foundation for online gaming. The game played a bit like Counter-Strike or Team Fortress, only with spaceships: Players battled over flag capture points and for bragging rights, and thanks to a robust chat system, people didn't even need to log out to torment their victims.

However, in 1997, those ancient times Before Broadband, back when some people were still paying by the hour for flaky internet access, the idea of paying an additional fee to log into a virtually non-persistent world with little record of your existence beyond a name and a win-loss record just didn't take. By 1998, VIE had lost its funding from parent company Virgin, and the SubSpace license went un-purchased, leaving the remaining community with little support.

Players were able to create their own servers, but without a unified developer to patch the game in an official capacity, cheating ran rampant, which pushed the game even further underground. If SubSpace was going to survive, it needed something bold to happen. Enter Priit "PriitK" Kasesalu. Kasesalu, who would later go on to design Kazaa and Skype, reverse-engineered SubSpace and renamed it Continuum, the version of the game most people play today. Since then, Kasesalu maintains a few servers, but has handed over the day-to-day responsibilities to the community he saved.

One of the leaders in the community is Scott "PoLiX" Binford. A nine-year SubSpace vet, Binford runs SSCentral.com and acts, in a way, as the game's publicist. "I am a lone man in some ways ... keeping what I can together while trying to get a new face and grow the site again." Binford says he, like many other of the game's diehard fans, grew up playing SubSpace. "I've known many of the players I consider friends since the time I began, and some I have worked with for years now building the websites."

Sometimes, all the work he and the rest of the team does can be exhausting and frustrating. Binford admits he's thought about giving up his responsibilities "a few times. It has gotten frustrating being the last general site for the game ... But I still keep the sites up and running and keep my active user base happy. I know I am the media for the game, and without our websites, we would slowly die."

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