285: The Greatest Game Never Played

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The Greatest Game Never Played

The space-themed MMO Allegiance was ambitious, innovative, beautiful, well-designed, and utterly doomed to failure.

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Such an amazing idea for a game, released so far ahead of it's time. If such a thing were to release now, it would be devoured by the community. Something fresh and new, not done before. That's what the industry needs now, and it seems all the good ideas were released years ago, when nobody cared about them. I'll definitely give this a look.4

EDIT: Holy shit, this game doesn't fuck around. The picture they use on the wiki to describe the learning curve could not be any closer to the truth.

*sigh*
Well, at least I'm sound in the knowledge that I wasn't the only one completely missed this gem of a game. Hopefully in the coming years, they'll find it in their hearts to make this game again.
Now of to youtube to find some gameplay vids of this.
EDIT:


Okay, just gotta say, that looks amazing.
If they remade this game it would easily be a top seller. Maybe even more than the Ace combat series.

The whole "real people control your units" thing makes this sound ripe for griefing to me.

Would so kill for a game like this Updated, Dont get me wrong i still break out my old Wing commander Floppys, but sometimes certain ideas should be touched upon again.

Gods i miss good old Space sim games....

Why have I never heard about this?

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!

I came up with the idea for this game in my head around 2007...90% of my "revolutionary" idea was already done in 2000???

Are you kidding me?!??!

Nice article, never heard of the game when it was still under MS.

I played this one when it became free. By the time I did the community was small, tightly regulated but made regular events for newbies to learn the game.

Gameplay was basically: Scouting. Pinpointing the enemy location. Getting all your team geared up, usually headed by a mission critical craft like a bomber or a capital ship. Travelling, sometimes stealthed. Combat.

Halfway fun when it worked. Lots of ship and equipment possibilities. Too realistic flight physics for many (most?) people to comprehend, especially in a laggy enviroment.

Funny fact I remember: Our team (most in very cheap scouts with "reparing" guns) was told to constantly fly into the main bomber and heal it; this allowed the bomber to fly way faster than normal while being healed constantly. Very weird gameplay. (exploit?)

They really... REALLY need to remake this game... I'm going with Blizzard on this one, they've got the server capacity and bandwith magic down to host such a heavy game online.

.... DO IT!

Like Lullaby above, I too am now glad I am not the only person who hasn't heard of this game before. Definitely going to be spending winter break learning the ropes.

Looks like I'll like this one. But Why IN THE MIDDLE OF A F******** STEAMSALE
I got like a zillion of games to play to justify my spending. ;(

And graphics :P I know Graphics isnt gameplay but its high on my list anyway.

I'm still curious why space-combat games took a nose-dive in the late 90s. I know the reason they were prevalent in the first place was because you could make a good one even with the technological limitations of the time. But why did the whole genre die when those limitations were surpassed? We still have platformers, driving games and beat-'em-ups that have embraced new technology. And in terms of the broader culture Star Trek and Star Wars are still viable franchises with large fanbases, and the new Battlestar Galactica was popular, critically acclaimed and featured space combat. Halo and Mass Effect are popular space opera franchises--you could have a whole spin-off game of space combat in those settings. Why isn't this being done anymore?

I remember hearing from people that this game sounded fun on paper but never worked. This was back in the day though, and I never played it myself.

I did play Starlancer, and I'll love that game until the end of time. Except the part of it which crashed me back to desktop so much. That part can eat a sack of dicks.

Ah, Allegiance - I knew all about that game back when it was actually on sale, and that the source code had subsequently been released and the title was now freely available, but I have never even been slightly interested in it even though I happen to freaking love space simulators.

Why not? Multiplayer-only. Juxtapose whatever you want, hype the amazing and innovating gameplay, release to rave reviews, it won't matter, those words are the kiss of death (of any interest I might have had in your game) - I don't play multiplayer-only games. Or rather, I don't play multiplayer-only games that are not online RPGs with no subscription fee.

Allegiance, at time of release, was essentially the worst of both worlds - an exclusively multiplayer title that they wanted me to pay a subscription fee to play. I've made it very clear over the years that my "I will not EVER under ANY circumstances play a game that has subscription fees" stance is utterly inviolate - there is no even remote possibility of my ever capitulating and compromising that point, so as interesting as the mechanics of Allegiance sounded (and they did sound pretty damn interesting, in principle anyways), it was never going to work.

Releasing the source code, modding the game, and establishing community run servers are all great moves that have extended the lifespan of what sounds like an excellent space sim, but none of that eliminates my complete lack of interest in a non-RPG online-only multiplayer space sim - that isn't what I'm looking for from that genre, and my single-player campaign needs are ably met by Freespace 2 (the greatest space sim ever released, bar none) and it's own source code project.

I've never actually heard about this game until now, sad though it seems like something I'd really like, gonna see if I can get some free time to try it out soon. One question though does this game seem at all familiar to anyone else? The premise I mean? It seems an awful lot like the 'Training Simulation' that shows up in the third act in the story "Ender's Game" by Orsen Scott Card.

:'( I remember playing this when I was a kid. It was amazing, really amazing. The games were long, and involved, and there was space both for lone wolves and teamplayers. Waiting until your commander researched the necessary gunships, and then jumping into one of the turrets and blasting off towards the enemy, escorted by a few fighter ships...magic. Pure magic. And sometimes the tech tree would even get far enough so that you could start building the -really- big ships. Ahh yes.

Nostalgia, nostalgia. Of course, paying for any of this would be silly, and the lack of SP was unfortunate, but as a concept AND execution, it worked perfectly for its time. Sometimes these things bomb though, which is just too damned bad. Oh, Allegiance, I hardly knew thee. Quick, someone get Kalypso to churn out an Allegiance 2!

This game was amazing. I still remember the game fondly.

I always thought that the biggest problem was that it spent too long in beta.

That game looks amazing! I can't believe that I've never heard of this before!

i do believe that after more people read this article the community base might increase a bit....for how long i have no idea but i know that i might try this after i catch up on other things

Yah know I just wish there was a space sci-fi MMO that was more constructive than destructive. I mean...I enjoy space battles too, I do, but really Counter-Strike in space bores the hell out of me eventually. I want to build something, produce something...And no I don't mean just warships and laser guns +40 damage. I want adventure that isn't solely a device to collect exotic loot to p0wn your enemies with. I tried to play EVE Online but really all there is to do is fight meaningless wars or otherwise be a cog in a war economy. Not to mention the game seems to pride itself on being a griefer's paradise, home of the biggest collection of douchebag misanthropes you'd ever likely to find.

this game sounds almost EXACTLY what Yahtzee was talking about when it came to combining RTS with regular Action Games :P

It was really a great game. I played when it was a beta, and still didn't have all the features. But even at that time, I could immediately tell the game was ages beyond anything else. I was completely blown away how well the game handled everything, even considering most players were only connecting with a 14.4 or 28.8 Baud modem.

In 2004 Microsoft released the source code to the public. The game is still being developed and run by a small group of individuals.

Here's the current website for Allegiance.
http://www.freeallegiance.org/

Never heard of it before, but it sounds interesting enough to check out. It's a shame that the game didn't do well- it sounded like a great idea.

Falseprophet:
I'm still curious why space-combat games took a nose-dive in the late 90s. I know the reason they were prevalent in the first place was because you could make a good one even with the technological limitations of the time. ... Why isn't this being done anymore?

I've been scratching my head over this same question for the past 10 years. Freespace 2 was the last space-combat simulator I played, and it was fantastic. I looked forward with fervor at the increasingly monstrous capabilities of powerhouse systems, and could only anticipate how amazing the next generation of space simulators would be. But that game never came.

'Why' continues to puzzle me. Is it because gamers now prefer the banal, evidenced in the blockbuster success of arcade-esque Call of Duties, released ad infinitum, with its godmode killstreaks and X-rated playercards? No, because that wouldn't explain the success of incredibly unique and distinct games like Bioshock, Shadow of the Colossus, or Demon's Souls. Is the flight simulator dead? Not really. One or two get released a year, though to rather bland reviews. Gamers obviously aren't sick of the realm of space or science fiction, as the Starcrafts, Mass Effects, and Dead Space have all done well and continue to dominate in sales.

The capability of a developer to create a fully interactive universe, with visitable planets and space stations, and ripe with space traffic, is totally within the capabilities of today's systems' computing power. And yet the gaming industry is void of anything resembling the space simulators of the 90's.

It's a shame.

Downloading right now! (thank you for the link)
this game sounds awesome!

If I ever meet Justin Emerson I'm buying him a beer. Or a sandwich. Or a thank you card. Whatever, something nice. This looks like a real jem. I'd played Oolite until the loneliness and repitition killed my space wanderlust, and this looks as exciting as an asteroid about to collide with the Bangco. Fireworks Interstellar Ltd warehouse planet.

Ekim Takusan:
I've never actually heard about this game until now, sad though it seems like something I'd really like, gonna see if I can get some free time to try it out soon. One question though does this game seem at all familiar to anyone else? The premise I mean? It seems an awful lot like the 'Training Simulation' that shows up in the third act in the story "Ender's Game" by Orsen Scott Card.

Oh snap! YES, absolutely though the same!

I really want to play this game once my internet connection gets sorted in the new year.

I don't mean to sound like a complete dickhead here but,

"So if you did like space games, and enjoyed multiplayer-only titles with no [single-player] campaign, and you heard about the title somehow, and were prepared to pay a subscription fee, and managed to connect to our servers for more than 5 minutes at a time, you would have had a chance to experience one of the most scary learning curves in gaming history."

That doesn't sound like a very good game to me. I'm not saying it was bad either. It sounds like the game basically got killed off by bad marketing decisions, but that kind of statement wouldn't make me want to rush out and buy it either.

jjcobra:
It was really a great game. I played when it was a beta, and still didn't have all the features. But even at that time, I could immediately tell the game was ages beyond anything else. I was completely blown away how well the game handled everything, even considering most players were only connecting with a 14.4 or 28.8 Baud modem.

In 2004 Microsoft released the source code to the public. The game is still being developed and run by a small group of individuals.

Here's the current website for Allegiance.
http://www.freeallegiance.org/

I went and downloaded the free version. A word to the wise, my anti virus caught 2 trojans in the artwork folder of the game, be aware and download with care.

hansari:
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!

I came up with the idea for this game in my head around 2007...90% of my "revolutionary" idea was already done in 2000???

Are you kidding me?!??!

i was thinking of doing this in a footsoldier perspective. like rts COD

btw, i first thought of this in '05

Sounds like it was doomed because it requires large numbers of players, and keeping them in line. How do you keep them from not just ignoring your orders and doing their own not helpful thing. I don't even trust players to in Battlefield games to do what their commander orders.

Ekim Takusan:
I've never actually heard about this game until now, sad though it seems like something I'd really like, gonna see if I can get some free time to try it out soon. One question though does this game seem at all familiar to anyone else? The premise I mean? It seems an awful lot like the 'Training Simulation' that shows up in the third act in the story "Ender's Game" by Orsen Scott Card.

My thoughts exactly.

Great article - thanks for bringing attention to a worthwhile title. I've never heard of this before, and it's a shame I'm no different from a lot of people in that regard.

Ephraim J. Witchwood:
Such an amazing idea for a game, released so far ahead of it's time. If such a thing were to release now, it would be devoured by the community. Something fresh and new, not done before. That's what the industry needs now, and it seems all the good ideas were released years ago, when nobody cared about them. I'll definitely give this a look.

Couldn't have said it better.

Really cool. I've always thought that some kind of RTS where you commanded real players would be cool, but I always thought that deciding who was gonna be the main leader "floating in the sky" and who the players would be could cause trouble.

I think if someone made a space sim now where you could visit planets, go into floating space stations, have dog fights, on ground shootouts, and travel around with far distances being reached with warp,etc. You'd have a great game. If it was MMO, it could be amazing, or if it was just a SP adventure with multiplayer capability, like GTA, it could still be incredibly awesome. But I suppose thats all too much to really carry out anything.

Chasom:
I went and downloaded the free version. A word to the wise, my anti virus caught 2 trojans in the artwork folder of the game, be aware and download with care.

FYI, the login client of FreeAllegiance (ASGS) uses Xenocode. Some anti virus programs (like Comodo, Norman, Avast) don't like Xenocode at all, because some idiots tried to hide their Trojans with Xenocode. So some AV companies putted it on their black lists and didn't talked to the manufacturer.

These alarms are false positive and community is working on replacement of that login client.

Perfect timing for this article, I just procured a good joystick about a week ago and have been looking for games to play using it.

Actually, I wonder if the necessity for fine grained control (joystick, xbox controller, etc) had something to with Allegiance's failure. It's nearly impossible and nowhere near as fun to play flight games with a keyboard.

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