Chris Roberts, the man who made Wing Commander and Freelancer, would like to create a world for you.
Chris Roberts made Wing Commander, and if that was the only thing he ever did he’d still be a legend in the game industry. But he made the sequels, too, and then in 2003 he killed it with Freelancer – and then he quit. He dabbled in the film industry, producing flicks like The Punisher and Lord of War, but for almost an entire decade he washed his hands clean of videogames.
“I grew up making video games. I sold my first game at the age of 13 and created Wing Commander when I was 21. But 10 years ago, at the height of my career I took a break. Not because I stopped loving or playing games but because I had become frustrated with the limits of the technology at the time to realize my vision,” Roberts wrote in a semi-hidden message at the Roberts Space Industries website. “I always said the moment I became interested in making games again was when I was going to come back.”
I say “semi-hidden” because the site boasts a countdown overlaid by an access code prompt, with no indication as to what the access code is – until you start entering random guesses or clicking the “go” button, at which point some very helpful clues pop up and the gate, assuming you’re any kind of credible nerd, swings open. Roberts doesn’t reveal exactly what he has in mind but says he’s been working on it for nearly a year, and that it “embraces everything that my past games stood for but takes it to the next level.”
Roberts’ LinkedIn profile lists his “new skunk works company/project” as Cloud Imperium, but the website at cloudimperiumgames.com is somewhat more legitimately password-protected and not nearly as forthcoming with the hints. But the links at the bottom of the Roberts Space Industries page lead to pages which have a poll asking whether gamers preferred cockpits or chase views in Freelancer; and below that are links to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Tumblr pages on which a couple of very Freelancer-like images can be found.
It’s worth noting that in spite of his complaints about the technological limitations of the 90s, Wing Commander was a lot more than just a hot space shooter. It was a sweeping, epic space opera, with engaging characters and a unique and fascinating enemy, that wove storytelling into the action with a masterful and groundbreaking touch. The possibility of Roberts building that experience around contemporary technology is very exciting indeed.
The full reveal of Roberts’ new project is set to happen at 10 am EST on October 10 – that’s 10-10-10, for those of you with a thing for numbers. In the meantime, you can find out what there is to know (and sign up to learn a whole lot more, but I’m not going to spoil that for you) at robertsspaceindustries.com.