Jim Boone of Volition says there are people at the studio who would happily go out and kill someone if it meant they could make Freespace 3.
Volition has done pretty well for itself over the years with the Red Faction and Saints Row games, but for a small group of old-timers its name will forever be linked to one very special franchise: Freespace. There are two kinds of gamers in the world, those who've played Freespace and those who wish they had, but the space sim genre imploded right around the turn of the millennium and that was the end of that. Yet that small cadre of joystick jockeys still dreams of the day when Freespace will rise again, and so too, it turns out, do the folks at Volition.
"You have no idea," Boone, a producer at Volition, told NowGamer. "There is a group of people that would commit murder to do that game. The biggest problem that we have is... oh man, that game is so beloved. I did a bunch of missions for both games and it's so dear to my heart I can't even tell you. The problem we had was Freescape 2 didn't sell as well..."
Boone has an interesting theory about the demise of the genre. He blames it on the death of the joystick, which was standard equipment for just about every gamer until the keyboard/mouse controls of the modern FPS muscled it out. "When we did Descent for example, it was perfectly common for people to have joysticks - we sold a lot of copies of Descent," he explained. "It was around that time that the more modern FPS with mouse and keyboard came out, as opposed to just keyboard like Wolfenstein or something."
"So people just stopped getting joysticks. They were just gone," he continued. "And then you still had console, but it was all digital - so my theory has been, ever since we've got analogue as a standard controller for consoles no one has done a heavy-duty, top, top quality space sim on console."
There are still space combat sims on the market but they tend to be either fan projects or small indie efforts that lack depth and polish, or so thickly obtuse that you have to wrestle with a learning curve shaped like the Schmatterhorn before you get to actually start blowing stuff up. Could Volition one day try to fill the void it left behind? "I feel like there's an opportunity there," Boone said, "but I've got no data to support that."
For what it's worth, Jim, there are probably a few gamers out there who'd be willing to off someone for a chance to play Freespace 3, too. Just something to keep in mind.