285: The Greatest Game Never Played

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I realized looking back that while I didn't play games exactly in this genre, I did begin with stuff like flight sims, X-Wing, Rogue Squadron before FPSs became the norm... bring em back!

wth
Why haven't I even heard of this?
I used to be a big space combat sim geek, with X2, Freelancer, EVE and the like.
I'm definitely going to try this game.

The X-Series meets RTS, as an MMOG?
I. WANT. THAT. GAME. NAO.
They should remake it, that's the kind of game we nee right now. I would pay any suscription fee for it.

The game's story somehow reminds me of URU: Ages beyond MYST.
Sad.

Whoa. I had a massive jolt when I read the first words in that article, because I thought you were gonna talk about Homeworld.

Not so...

Ephraim J. Witchwood:

You kidding me? Left 4 dead Anything, a bigger learning curve than Dwarf Fortress?

"Published and promoted by Microsoft"
Well there's your problem right there.

An equally awesome game has been Battlezone from '98. It's also a very interesting genre mix, blending vehicle- as well as personal-FPS with RTS like never seen before or afterwards. Being way ahead of it's time, and having a somewhat steep learning curve, too, it also pretty much failed commercially. The critics loved it though, so yet another tragedy.

There's a follow up title, but they screwed that up.

A good recent example of a FPS/RTS mix might be Natural Selection.

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. 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?

Probably the Wing Commander movie killed it.
That and most of these games required more controls than consoles could afford.

I too would have loved to have known about this game when it came out. It seems poor marketing killed it more than anything else. With all the exclamations of surprise and delight over this title, I assume everyone's going to give Black Prophecy a try if it ever actually gets around to a release?
We need to show the rare few who write space flight sims like these that they can still be commercially successful if we want to see any more ever developed, or companies are just going to continue writing Generic Halo Clone no. 37.

This game sounds AWESOME! A true genre-hybrid. Would love to see more games like this come out. RTS mixed with FPS anyone? I am definatly going to check this out.

Imagine a real-time strategy game that took place in full three-dimensional space, where your units weren't just AI-controlled automatons, but real people. Those people were playing a beautifully rendered space combat simulator. You could give them orders, but their ability to carry them out was based on their skill as a pilot. Unlike in StarCraft or Command & Conquer where all units of the same type were created equal, here the best dogfighters could decimate half of the other team before being banished to an escape pod. Such a game came out ten years ago, and its name was...

Eve Online?!

Hey guys... eve does this also... the combat isn't twitch, but skill plays a huge role. FC's command fleets, and fleets battle over systems. (also natural selection does rts/fps fantastically, and maybe planetside.

Here's a video of a guy recording a battle in eve - you can hear the fleet commander giving voice orders (warning language)

MorkFromOrk:
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.

I don't understand this tbh... it seems more like you didn't understand eve. Incidentally you don't need to play it to understand it. The meaningless wars you refer to are the "empire" wars decs. "Empire" or "NPC space" is also the place full of the misanthropic douchebags. Fly out to the player owned areas and it a whole different story. If you want to get an idea of the meaningful battles that occur in eve without playing the game again, check out Eve News 24

Akalabeth:
Probably the Wing Commander movie killed it.
That and most of these games required more controls than consoles could afford.

Let's hope that's not a factor. If whole genres can be taken out by a bad movie adaptation, the only ones left would be puzzle games and RTS!

archvile93:
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.

Back then, most PC gamers weren't 12 year old whiny greifers. I hate to generalize, but that certainly isn't the case anymore. That's my only explanation, and the game worked very well. I never once encountered a battle where one side was just a bunch of scouts flying randomly around.

OhJohnNo:
Whoa. I had a massive jolt when I read the first words in that article, because I thought you were gonna talk about Homeworld.

Not so...

Ephraim J. Witchwood:

You kidding me? Left 4 dead Anything, a bigger learning curve than Dwarf Fortress?

I thought the learning curve for DF was infinite?

AS another long time player and a current Squad leader(some call these group clans in other games) I can tell you its an awesome game that just never gott he support it deserved

The #1 reason Allegiance failed was two fold.

1) MS did not support it enough and
2) In 2000 hi speed internet was rare. Today its the norm. MS servers at the time could not keep up with demand. At least thats my opinion.

What the group that runs Allegiance now has done is nothing less of remarkable. This small goup of guys took it upon themselves to keep allegiance going using their own funds. While also using many hours of their own time without pay. Not to mention the cost of the servers.

You must remember then as now there are bad apples. Those people who make it their mission in life to ruin everyone elses fun. We had them in 2000 which caused the games to crash and someof the player base to bail on an unstable game. MS got most of the blame when in fact it was those bad apples. But today while we may still have a few bad apples who try to screw everyone else to get their kicks, we have a much more secure player tracking system in place to root out those bad apples.

If your reading this comment you have nothing to lose. Go play 10 games and you too will fall in love with the game and the hard core players who have kept this game alive even though a multi-billion dollar corperation bailed.

Rules for new players to increase the chances that you will stay and make your gamming experiance better

1) Read the Alleg Wiki
2) Listen to your commander and higher ranked players
3) Join the Allegiance Flight School (AFS)to lesson the learning curve
4) Then join the cadet program )@CDT)
5) Learn the controls and concept of what this game is. That is a TEAM BASED Space sim. While a single player can make a huge difference, those players are rare.
6) There is no I in TEAM
7) Ignore some players ego's:)

After you have played 10 games with a minimum of 30 minute game time, if you still have not fell in love with Alleg maybe you never will

Unlike most games out there, where a new player has little chance to compete with a long term player due to them having better ships and equipment, this game only gives a new player a disadvantage because of SKILL. If my team has HEAVY INTERCEPTORS and YOUR team has HEAVY INTERCEPTORS we are on EQUAL terms. It is then only a matter of the players SKILLS and his teams level of TEAMWORK.

Thanks you for reading and hope to see you in game

Ryjamsan

Squad Leader

BlackShadow

archvile93:
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.

It's amazingly easy - you just implement a reward system. You do what the commander says, you get bonus XP or something.

Btw, I'm afraid here I'll have to plug Freeworlds: Tides of War.

Just google it. The tests of the concept done so far have been amazing, a Star Wars universe mod set just after the battle of Endor that allows players to join various factions and move freely through the Star Wars universe, gaining ranks amongst the community and fighting with other players, or trading and bounty hunting. It's a mod for the game Freelancer and if you like Star Wars, Freelancer or just space combat, you owe it to yourself to google this thing. It manages an excellent balance between easy accessibility that Freelancer is known for and hardcore, in-depth multiplayer combat action. The final version is edging it's way towards completion with plenty of steam driving it, and I urge anyone who likes the sound of this to check out the development pages. If Alliegance sounds like a great idea but sounds far too narrow and far too hard (not to mention time consuming) then this might just be for you.

A joystick is one good interface for the game. The other is your basic mouse. (Use the 0 key on the numberpad to toggle "virtual joystick".) An xbox controller will work, but it's not recommended.

We have a lot of information on our wiki, so I encourage everyone to have a peek there for basic game information.

And thanks to the author for the article. Well done!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxgakXiOXng

there are squad games on sundays. here is fraps of one.

--- Answers to questions/criticism from a 3 year Allegiance vet ---

G r a p h i c s:
Yes... Allegiance is ten years old... the plus side is that it runs smoothly on anything larger than a phone.
However, if you want your eye-candy, we have that too! Practically every bit of art in the game larger an icon has a hi-res replacement, for example eyesores like the 256x256 space environments have rich, creamy 2048x2048 alternatives.
Hop over to Mesial's Corner to see most but not all of them... people are always making new ones and you can too!

Community aspects:
Warthur says:

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

Allegiance is the most griefer free game you can have. The emphasis on teamwork means anyone not there to play stands out like sore thumb and the commander can kick any player without a vote, no fuss no muss. Also, Allegiance is a hard game and griefers are lazy.

Community size:
Yes... Allegiance has small community and during some times of the day there is a shortage of players online.
On the plus side, (and this is a big plus) the community is tight. You know all the best players and commanders by their callsigns as well as styles of play and personalities. It's like a school playground, where you know everyone even if you're not sure which class he's in or what's his last name. I say him, but we have a few girls, probably... definitely? XD

BTW, you cannot put a price tag for the feeling you get when you pwn someone who you know for a fact is a top pilot. Something you will never get in any pick up game with an enormous player base.

Learning curve and skill:
Allegiance has a steep learning curve to start with, during which you will be shooting enemies with a repair gun, crashing into asteroids and misspelling the word "turrets".

After that, you will find Allegiance has the most rewarding skill based gameplay.
Unlike EVE Online (which only looks similar) Allegiance is played in first person with hard skills only!
No experience, no leveling, no class based bonuses.
You aim, you shoot, you evade and maybe you pwn. And when you do it feels so much better since it's actually you, not your character who is getting better at doing things.

@HELP / AFS / Cadet / Wiki
We love newbies!
Ask any question in-game and you will get an answer.
Ask anyone with the tag @ HELP and he'll gladly take you aside and show you the ropes!
Have trouble running Allegiance? Try our helpline!
Don't know what questions to ask? Join Allegiance Flight School!
Like reading a lot? Check out the wiki!

See you in space!

Hello. I'm another Allegiance fanboy flooding into this thread to pimp my favorite game. If you see me in game, feel free to say hi and ask questions. I might not be able to help you right then, but we can hop on a different server and figure stuff out.

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

It's not so much "real people controlling your units" as "real people ARE your units." They may or may not obey the commander's orders, and they only fight as well as the real person's ability. Some days, commanders probably wish that their units were AI -- nothing is more frustrating than coming up with a great battle plan, only to have a quarter of your team show up to party. The commander can eject players that are attempting to cause trouble, and that solves most of the griefing issues.

The thing that I love most about Allegiance is that anyone at any skill level can find a useful role to play, and the game is designed around teamwork instead of lone rangers trying to PWN everyone on the map (it's not Quake in Space). For example, my aim sucks ass, but people still want me on their team because I'm good at tons of other things that are essential to winning.

I've been playing Allegiance for 5 years now, and it has been the only game that has held my attention for those 5 years. I hope to see some Escapist folks in game!

Sounds kickass, I'll get it one day.

I have played this game since it's release. I bought it in the store because it sounded like just what I wanted. A game that isn't all lopsided
because you are playing against AI.I don't play other games. They bore me. Also, allegiance can be played on older computers. As a matter
of fact, I joke with the guys on the forum site because I'm playing on an 8 year old computer.You can spend a gazillion dollars
trying all of the other half functional games, or play this one for free.The graphics are spectacular.On an 8 year old computer!
A great game witha great community. And the more it grows, the better it will get. This game will NEVER be old!

Hi, im one of the many allegiance players! This game is AWESOME!! I found it randomly 2 years ago looking for MMORPG's and never stopped playing it! I havent read all of the Allegiance players post here, but what I learned quickly is that THEY ENFORCE THEIR RULES!! I got a two month ban for doing something I wasnt supposed to and I guess it was a really big issue, but I had done some other bad things before that so it added onto my ban... As soon as the two month ban on me ended I went RIGHT back to playing Allegiance like nothing ever happened! It is an addicting game with some "bad apples", but they shouldnt scare you off. If you ever see me in game and need some help just ask me. We also have an AFS(Allegiance Flight School) and CDT-I and II(Cadet). They both help you learn how to play the game and once you finish all of that we have ACS(Allegiance Command School), where the top commanders of the game help you learn how to command against others, factions strength/weaknesses, and more. Hope to see you all in game! :D

I go by SRM_Sarajevo, MastaMint, and ChocoMilk

SRM is a fabulous squad(guild/clan whatever you wanna call it.) We are going through a rough patch right now, but we are a good squad and are accepting all. If you want to join one just ask any SRM member.

can't believe I missed this game when it came out, great article.. although, at the time, I was probably running a dial-up connection anyways.

InterAirplay:
Btw, I'm afraid here I'll have to plug Freeworlds: Tides of War.

Looks cool and it's nice to see the tactical overview in FW:TOW is inspired by Allegiance...
http://www.freeworlds-tow.net/dev/index.php/news/index/33-tactical-overview.html

Oh wow, I actually bought this game when it first came out. Came back to it right when free allegiance started. I'm so happy there is still an active fan base for this game. First thing I'm going to do is download it and start playing again.

Nothing better than sneaking in a couple of stealth bombers into a system and demolishing stations with a bunch of buddies acting as tail gunners.

For those of you who are wary of the commander thing, don't be. By control, they can set you autopilot points in space and point you in the direction of important things like locations of warmholes etc... You can always turn it off. But its usually in both peoples interest to work together to win.

edit:
User name:
Created On 3/8/2004 10:18:52 PM
Last Played On Apr 23 2007 3:21PM

oh wow, can't wait for the morning :D

romitelli:
can't believe I missed this game when it came out, great article.. although, at the time, I was probably running a dial-up connection anyways.

You still can play Allegiance with a dial-up connection. That was one of the original design criterion simply because most people were on dial-up. The devs who continue to work on the code keep dial-up users in mind.

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.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.

I thought that image was used to satirize the learning curve of EVE Online.

OT: Great article, the game looks pretty good, it's simply not my type, but the concept seems very fresh and new and, as it was already said, way ahead f it's time.

There is another game currently in development, called Miner Wars, it has similar concepts and it's still on pre-alpha stages right now, but I think that much of it's concept came from this game, even EVE Online, the only thing I didn't liked about that game is the indirect control you have over your ship, or at least making it optional.

I may never play this game, but it was a great article nonetheless.

Yeah, I'm afraid to jump into multiplayer to play as I will stink at the beginning, and though it says mouse control is necessary, it won't let me practice the mouse control in the tutorial missions because it's trying to teach the keyboard controls.

What I don't get, and this happens in most space sims I've played not just this one, is that when they say shields, they mean freaking SHIELDS. 30 seconds of direct hits to knock those things down (not even counting the hull) yet typically (without boosters) the time between weapons range and direct danger of collision is more like 5.

galdon2004:
Yeah, I'm afraid to jump into multiplayer to play as I will stink at the beginning, and though it says mouse control is necessary, it won't let me practice the mouse control in the tutorial missions because it's trying to teach the keyboard controls.

The training missions in Allegiance have always been a little funny about control schemes. The default key for toggling mouse control is numpad-0. There is also a menu option for it. That should get you through the training missions.

More importantly, though, the best way to learn is to hop into a game. Most of us have very low expectations of newbie players, so you shouldn't catch much flack for making mistakes. There are a few jerks out there, but they are well-known jerks and most of us mute them at the first opportunity. Read the chat, ask questions, and try the best you can. I look forward to seeing you in game!

What I don't get, and this happens in most space sims I've played not just this one, is that when they say shields, they mean freaking SHIELDS. 30 seconds of direct hits to knock those things down (not even counting the hull) yet typically (without boosters) the time between weapons range and direct danger of collision is more like 5.

Dogfighting in Allegiance is less about jousting in space and more about using sidethrusters to dance around your enemy. Most dogfights take place at lower speed, with pilots thrusting in all directions to land shots on the enemy and dodge enemy shots. Bullets in Allegiance take time to travel to the target, so learning how to aim is a major skill for any pilot.

clay_pigeon:

galdon2004:
Yeah, I'm afraid to jump into multiplayer to play as I will stink at the beginning, and though it says mouse control is necessary, it won't let me practice the mouse control in the tutorial missions because it's trying to teach the keyboard controls.

The training missions in Allegiance have always been a little funny about control schemes. The default key for toggling mouse control is numpad-0. There is also a menu option for it. That should get you through the training missions.

More importantly, though, the best way to learn is to hop into a game. Most of us have very low expectations of newbie players, so you shouldn't catch much flack for making mistakes. There are a few jerks out there, but they are well-known jerks and most of us mute them at the first opportunity. Read the chat, ask questions, and try the best you can. I look forward to seeing you in game!

What I don't get, and this happens in most space sims I've played not just this one, is that when they say shields, they mean freaking SHIELDS. 30 seconds of direct hits to knock those things down (not even counting the hull) yet typically (without boosters) the time between weapons range and direct danger of collision is more like 5.

Dogfighting in Allegiance is less about jousting in space and more about using sidethrusters to dance around your enemy. Most dogfights take place at lower speed, with pilots thrusting in all directions to land shots on the enemy and dodge enemy shots. Bullets in Allegiance take time to travel to the target, so learning how to aim is a major skill for any pilot.

I did a bit of reading in the wiki and found the mouse toggle button but it didn't seem to do anything during the training missions. I had figured that to be probably due to the training mission being set up to teach one set of controls and not allowing alternate controls.

galdon2004:
I did a bit of reading in the wiki and found the mouse toggle button but it didn't seem to do anything during the training missions. I had figured that to be probably due to the training mission being set up to teach one set of controls and not allowing alternate controls.

You're right, the training missions are quirky that way.
It doesn't matter how you end up flying in the traning missions, as long as you figure out the primary concepts and the secondary controls (cargo, chat etc.)

Fighting against the drones in the "arena" mission is not important. They're nothing like live pilots anyhow.

How do I feel as if RTS+Space Combat Sim would be head-explodingly awesome yet a hard to comprehend concept unless you played it yourself. I guess there's only one way to find out! ;)

galdon2004:
Yeah, I'm afraid to jump into multiplayer to play as I will stink at the beginning, and though it says mouse control is necessary, it won't let me practice the mouse control in the tutorial missions because it's trying to teach the keyboard controls.

What I don't get, and this happens in most space sims I've played not just this one, is that when they say shields, they mean freaking SHIELDS. 30 seconds of direct hits to knock those things down (not even counting the hull) yet typically (without boosters) the time between weapons range and direct danger of collision is more like 5.

Becuase it hates you =P JK but seriously that sounds like hell, remind me to watch suspiciously at games that do that!

The thing about Allegiance is it has a ridiculously steep learning curve. That, combined with the rather insular community means that new players are more likely to be shunned and kicked than welcomed and tolerated.

Some games deserve to die.

Grampy_bone:
The thing about Allegiance is it has a ridiculously steep learning curve. That, combined with the rather insular community means that new players are more likely to be shunned and kicked than welcomed and tolerated.

Some games deserve to die.

Have you tried playing it at all? The community is really nice and while the learning curve is like running into a brick wall they have the flight school and newbie games to help.

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