The Return of Space Simulation Game and the impact of front loaded social network funding model.

So, it is of no secret that I have been pretty over spending my life in X3 etc. Ever since the day of Freelancer, I have always dreamed of games that rival Science Fiction and truly allow you to explore and influence to be part of a virtual reality among space. With great news, I can say that wait is finally coming to an end within one or two years.

The first series of these games are X:Rebirth, which I will be diving head and feet along this Friday without ever looking book (right after my bookchapter writing draws to a conclusion….). I got into X series since X3:TC a few years ago JUST to challenge myself (I installed it like twice, tried to start playing it, got lost, forgot about it). Then, once I read someone’s guide about Sector Trader and Universe Trader and it really took off since I learned how the economy functions and how to actually earn enough to keep the monetary stream coming. X3 for me is really about fleet, asset management and understand the true balance of a supply demand model with everything simulated realistically in terms of economy. It is by far one of the most complicated game I have seen with regard to control, depth and tediousness. X3TC was bad. I think I played a pirated version that was a few version behind, and I could really tell that it does not quite match up with what the online discussion was telling me about in terms of updates, new features etc. So over Xmas, I finally bought the real deal with X Superbox that included every X games ever made and went straight into X3: Albion Prelude. So far, after 300 hours into it, I have to say X3AP truly polished everything and can be called a satisfying game (of course, that is WITH the CAG official scripts etc.). It let me experience the vastness of space, the adrenaline pumping action of a dog fight (actually, M6 against M3 is more like swapping flies with either Springblossom or Hyperion Vanguard, not exactly fair). With all that being said, the X series’ major disappointment so far has been its lack of human element and the complicated menu system although powerful but seems very post hoc add on…. I am not surprised given the vast scope of the game. I am happy they even included all these. Given the trend of where X:Rebirth is heading in (including a lot more human element) I am extremely looking forward to it and its much more streamlined look at managing all these things that goes on at the same time.

Now, X:Rebirth is coming on Friday. I will post something more relevant about details of it once it arrives. However, what you might also have noticed are two other noticable games: Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen. Both of these originate from games before my time being Elite and Wing commander. Again, the only influence related to these that I have experienced is Freelancer. Based on what I have seen sofar, Star Citizen is quite comprehensive with a FPS touch to it and highly personalized experience. I always wonder why no one made a FPS/SpaceSim/RPG hybrid, like a cross between Call of Duty (maybe too scripted, but at least Quake 3 like?) cross Freelancer cross Mass Effect? Maybe StarCitizen will reach that level, I do not known. We will see once it is released. I am highly skeptical of unreleased game no matter how promising it looks. In the same vein, Elite: Dangerous also offer potentially similar (so far I have yet to see a human part in Elite) type of experience? IT is however, much less refined at this point and may still take a while to develope. Now, the reason I mention all these two games is not to be like ” OMG space sim!” but more about how these games come to be.

X series have been around for a long time. It has dedicated hardcore fan base that is similar to EVE. It relies on a more traditional funding model of selling games to make money. Its success is probably based on how often update comes, which discourage piracy and enuser updated contents and new features that make players “stick”. All these have been changed with the onset of kickstarter and the idea that using crowd to generate content request, ideas and even fund the game BEFORE it is made! I think this is .particularly effective when it comes to the games since too many games have been “one shot” deal, and code left to rot instead of on going update development and research to ensure greater functionality etc. X series is the lucky being that they used very similar approach to construct the world since X2 pretty much and literally made everything “grow” like a real universe would since then. X:Rebirth on the other hand would be a true transformation from the ground up. No wonder it only took next to forever to get it ready to be released. However, knowning X, I think the first few months the game will be hardly playable and may even require save resets that obsolete progress.

BTW, X3 some boron sectors have some very cool and tranqil musics…. I could just float there and manage all day… like Kingdom’s End. Well, I’d better cut my rambling here.

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