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Spaceflight Sim Dark Horizon Set for Release 88

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the zen-and-the-art-of-flight-sim-creation dept.
Paradox Interactive has just announced the release date(s) of their latest game, Dark Horizon as September 23rd in North America and September 26th in Europe. Offering flight-sim style space combat (with joystick support, even) and many RPG elements like ship customization and weapon creation, this is the first serious attempt at the genre I have seen in a while. Hopefully game studios will realize that there are still many loyal flight-sim fans out there just drooling for a chance to dust off their joysticks and accelerate to attack speed.
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Spaceflight Sim Dark Horizon Set for Release

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  • Hopefully this can fill the hole in my heart left by the Wing Commander series.
    • VO (Score:3, Informative)

      by PunkOfLinux (870955)

      First serious, recent attempt my ass. This sounds like Vendetta Online in so many ways... that game kicks ass.

      And yes, it runs on linux. Quite nicely, in fact.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        Let's not forget Microsoft's offering of Allegiance. The game was decent enough, single pilot fighter, bomber could have people manning turrets, and a commander that was in charge of sending out mining crews to mine ore.
        Really ahead of it's time, combined RTS, with FPS flight sim, and in space no less.
        It's major pitfall was the $10 monthly access fee required to play.
        Was still a decent game for what it was.
        This was circa Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator.
        • by paganizer (566360)

          and it's now free.
          I grabbed a copy, logged into the free server, but that was about it. without a single player game I'm just not interested, I didn't even dust off my Gravis Phoenix to see if it had joystick support.
          But it looked like a pretty good online space combat sim.

          • by g0bshiTe (596213)
            Very true and yes it does have JS support. I used a Wingman Extreme Force 3d and it was fun.

            Main issue I've had with the free servers, is no one hardly plays it.
        • by MBraynard (653724)
          yeah, I *loved* that game but, unfortunately, it required a player base.
    • by Lisandro (799651)

      Hopefully this can fill the hole in my heart left by the Wing Commander series.

      Have you tried Freespace? Nothing will really fix a Wing Commander withdrawl, but regular doses of Freespace may allow you to live a healty life.

      BTW, Dark Horizon looks really good.

      • by Knara (9377)

        IMO, Freespace is, quite frankly, superior to anything WC did after the first sequel. It's fairly easy to find updates/TCs of it now, due to the source being available.

    • by CaptnMArk (9003)

      Hopefully it has good mouse support, just like Wing Commander did.

  • I know I don't have much to go on at the moment, but the game looks more like the X series [wikipedia.org] than the Wing Commander and Privateer series. While X was cool, it simply didn't manage to impress the same... aliveness? of the Wing Commander universe.

    Case in point: WCNews [wcnews.com] did a first look piece on the game, but it didn't get much enthusiasm from the crowd. While one can HOPE that the game revives the Wing Commander genre, I think too many space sim developers focus too much on realism and/or pretty graphics to truly understand why the simplistic Wing Commander engine was so popular.

    • I liked Independence War [wikipedia.org] myself. They had a realistic space flight sim and showed how it could actually be playable. The tactics you used there were considerably different than the tactics you would use in any sort of flight-sim like space game.

    • by halivar (535827) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @10:21AM (#24480405) Homepage

      Yeah, every new space-sim I play is measured up against Gemini Gold [solsector.net] (successor to the Wing Commander Privateer Remake project). Universally, they are found wanting. It isn't just nostalgia talking; Privateer is still the funnest space-sim available.

      • I still don't understand the Privateer love. In general, the game was well-written and thought out. But when it came time for space combat, I was bored to tears.
      • Yeah, every new space-sim I play is measured up against Gemini Gold [solsector.net] (successor to the Wing Commander Privateer Remake project). Universally, they are found wanting. It isn't just nostalgia talking; Privateer is still the funnest space-sim available.

        Privateer was fun for the time but they chopped out a ton of gameplay to make the ship date. If you looked through the data files, there's tons of storyline that was simply commented out.

        A better version of the Privateer concept was Escape Velocity: Nova. The gameplay was top-down but all the trade and exploration elements are there along with storylines. On the downside, the storyline scripting was kind of sucky and often times you ended up needing to play with the walkthrough to make sure that you didn't

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Agreed. I loved the first Privateer, and the second was okay. Independence War (I and II) were great, but they lacked the open endedness. The free travel patch for the first one helped, but there really was nothing to do as you roamed the galaxy.

          Have you tried X3 Reunion?

    • by andphi (899406)

      I'd like to see a demo of the thing. Screenshots are one thing, but a playable demo would be a much better indicator of this game's promise.

      I really enjoyed the TIE fighter games, but haven't had much time for space combat sims since then.

    • The flight controls in X3 at least, where like flying through a thick atmosphere. I personally like Babylon 5: I Found Her [firstones.com], It plays exactly how you'd expect a Starfury to.

      Regards
      elFarto

      • I kind of have to agree. I think that while the scale of X3 was a bit larger and the economy made huge strides, it really took a hit in terms of combat versus X2. It was so much easier to capture a ship in X2 and I really kind of miss that. I'm a horrible pilot and I found X2 much more easier to manage in terms of flight controls.

        That, and the ship design just wasn't as good in X2. I missed the ships from X3, and I really got pissed that they removed the ship's cockpits. Sure, someone hacked them back

    • by RogueyWon (735973) *

      Wing Commander was for me at least as much about the story as about the space combat. If I wanted a really decent tactical space-flight simulator, I'd play X-Wing, TIE-Fighter, or, later on, X-Wing Alliance (XvT left me cold). Wing Commander was about cheesy, fast-paced combat and a stupidly melodramatic, but nevertheless enjoyable, story. The final "battle" in Wing Commander 4 (which isn't a battle at all, but a debate), ranks for me as one of the finest moments in gaming history. The Freespace games never

    • by Babbster (107076)
      While one can HOPE that the game revives the Wing Commander genre, I think too many space sim developers focus too much on realism and/or pretty graphics to truly understand why the simplistic Wing Commander engine was so popular.

      I hate to tell you, but the "simplistic" Wing Commander engine drove people to increase their memory and upgrade to 386 from 286, and it was all about the pretty-pretty. Later installments continued to up the ante with their live-action video cutscenes (starring real actors - Ma
      • Perhaps I'm not explaining myself very clearly. When Wing Commander was around, technological advancements were used to give us bigger cap-ships, more weapons fire, cool shield glow, better stardust, etc. Little things that really improved the experience. At no point did they make a change to the engine just to make it "pretty" or "realistic" at the expense of playability.

        Modern space sims, however, seem to be enthralled with the idea of having "pretty" nebulae, bright lights, and realistic shading everywhe

        • by Babbster (107076)
          I actually continued to think about your post as I was reading on, and decided that this was probably the direction you were going with your thoughts. Well said. :)
  • Just about the only mission based space combat game I enjoyed was TIE Fighter; I'm still waiting for a decent Elite style game. I know there's X3 but it's just so dull. Having to cruise around through jump-gates makes the start so slow and I've never been able to get past that.

    I'd love a remake of Frontier, or even a version of First Encounters where the main plot line has been finished!

    • Agreed. I loved the X games and Freelancer because they were so freeform in how you could advance, but starting from scratch was always such a bear. You couldn't just jump into the action, and the long trips in-between systems made minutes seem like hours and doing anything involved took forever because of it.
      • by KDR_11k (778916)

        I agree, though I read that X3 supposedly let you start with enough money to buy a factory right away so you can start with the enterprise management right away and I knew a guy who simply won the lottery in X2, bam, instant riches.

    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @11:29AM (#24481663)

      Just about the only mission based space combat game I enjoyed was TIE Fighter; I'm still waiting for a decent Elite style game. I know there's X3 but it's just so dull.

      The technology is pretty much here now. They nixed true flying in EVE Online because lag would have made it impossible to play. But with a more modest set of goals, a 3D flight sim version of Elite would be great. Provide a single-player game where you can trade, explore, etc, without having the MMO problem of keeping up with the Jonses. Multiplayer element would be for general combat. Just look at the way they did it in GTAIV, multiplay and singleplay are two entirely different experiences but both are tremendous fun.

      The thing I remember wanting as a kid was what I always considered to be the impossible game. The way I put it at the time, "I want a space game you can fly around in like TIE Fighter but where you can land and get out of the ship like Doom." The technology is pretty much here now. The engines can handle taking off from a planetary surface and flying out into space. Games from Flashpoint to Halo to Oblivion have shown that frickin' massive worlds can be created on the current hardware and it's only going to get more impressive in time. The only drawback I can think of is that too much detail can clutter the game. The original Master of Orion was a great space empire game. The sequel threw in more detail but those details didn't really add to the game, it just made each turn take longer. There's a huge difference between adding depth versus annoying extraneous crap but it often isn't clear which is which until after it's been added.

      I hear Mass Effect was along the lines of "imagine if they took Starflight and made it also more of an RPG and stuff" but there were some holes in the concept that made the game that were hard to overlook. I dunno, did anyone else like it?

      I still want a game where I can get in my fighter, take a trip to a space station, explore it, take a jaunt to an alien world, take a stroll on the surface, and have all sorts of fun. The development costs would be huge, of course.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KDR_11k (778916)

      There's a game named Darkstar One that might work for you, the hyperspace mechanism is a lot like Elite's (though fuel doesn't need to be restored, the drive recharges automatically over time). What might or might not be an issue is that your wanted status works kinda like in GTA, you build up wanted stars but they decline over time again (though maybe that's a good thing as you can afford doing some piracy without near-permanently fucking your savegame over). The combat controls much like Freelancer IIRC a

  • Damn that was a good game
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @10:05AM (#24480197) Homepage Journal

    Realistic space sims would be good.
    Waiting 17 years to reach the next destination will be exciting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by i kan reed (749298)

      This got labeled funny, but it reminds me of the only open source space sim I know of, which got obsessed with realism. The devs thought it would be a great idea if 90% of your time was spent accelerating and decelerating between planets, and battles would be most interesting if they were spent 99% of time outside weapon range after flying past your target. No offense to those who worked hard on vega-strike, but it is a stunning example of the horrors of realism in a game.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kjella (173770)

        Did you play Frontier: Elite II? Time controls baby, if you ever played that at 1x you would be waiting forever. Realism with a healthy dose of magic works.

      • Falcon 3/4 was similar. A real-time simulator where you taxied, flew through way points, completed your engagement, and then flew home. Often times without incident.

        While you could set-up the mission to start closer to your goal, I always liked flying the whole thing. It gave me time to plan, think about my strategies, take in what was going in around me, and if I was running a mission deep in enemy territory, I would have to dodge SAMs and CAPs.

        You have to be *really* into the SIM to like real-time,
      • by discord5 (798235)

        if they were spent 99% of time outside weapon range after flying past your target

        Maybe it's one of those games where you get to shout "RAMMING SPEED!" once and then try to oneshot your opponent with several tons of hyperaccelerated steel of doom (coincidentally named the same as your spaceship)?

        No offense to those who worked hard on vega-strike, but it is a stunning example of the horrors of realism in a game.

        I never tried Vega strike, but one game that did "realistic" space combat remarkably well (as in "f

        • by Knara (9377)

          Well, there was the original B5 game planned to release called "Into the Fire". There was also one called, "I've Found Her" which, in spite of the strange name, I recall being an impressive looking demo.

          • They could make a great B5 game if they got a good writer!
          • by discord5 (798235)

            There was also one called, "I've Found Her" which, in spite of the strange name, I recall being an impressive looking demo.

            Yeah, that's the one. "I've found her" [firstones.com] was the name and they released a prequel campaign called "Danger and opportunity". You can still download it from the site.

            The site looks kinda dead on a first glance since januari last year. Too bad.

            • by Knara (9377)

              It wouldn't surprise me if they started working on one of the FS2 TC's instead.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by malkavian (9512)

        BattleCruiser 3000AD was the one that felt that way to me.. Coupled with trying to run the whole ship.. It was certainly a hard work game, but realistic for all that!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrNiceguy_KS (800771)

        This got labeled funny, but it reminds me of the only open source space sim I know of, which got obsessed with realism. The devs thought it would be a great idea if 90% of your time was spent accelerating and decelerating between planets, and battles would be most interesting if they were spent 99% of time outside weapon range after flying past your target. No offense to those who worked hard on vega-strike, but it is a stunning example of the horrors of realism in a game.

        As much as I have tried to love Vega Strike, I have to agree with you. It's fun for the first few cargo runs, but it gets old really quickly.

        It's kinda strange. The Vega Strike project started out as a remake of Privateer, but they left out the freakin' autopilot. The developers say that the left out the autopilot in favor of a "Velocity Multiplier" that means you just fly really fast if you're not near a planet. The way it works in practice is that you sit and wait (and wait...) to get far enough from

      • Ah, yes, I played vegastrike back around 2005 and haven't been near it recently. It always had such a half-completed feel to it (although half is probably not the best fraction to use), where you could see the intent and the dream but still lament over how far they had to go.

        I miss Wing Commander II, which is about the extent of my space flight sim nostalga. WCIII was good, but I never forgave them for making Hobbes a traitor in the story.

        God, I still can't believe how much fun I had playing WCII as a kid.

    • Don't worry, we'll freeze you.... Interested in joining the closed beta so we can work out the bugs?
  • I've been waiting years for another good space sim to come out... I miss my Freespace and my TIE Fighter. And Wing Commander too. All the great times I had back in the day, playing with friends or proceeding through the campaigns alone. I hope it lives up to all those that same before it.
  • I was just thinking to myself recently... "Self, you haven't played a good space sim in a while. You should see what is out there." And here we are. Wing Commander got me hooked. Privateer mastered the genre. Freelancer and Darkstar One were good but never quite hit on exactly what I was looking for. Eve online is way too extensive for me to bother with. If I were younger and had no job... maybe I'd have considered it. I really hope this fills my privateer void. I just hope the AI on the enemies is more var

    • by KDR_11k (778916)

      Strange, no mention of X.

    • Try Jumpgate (aka Jumpgate Classic) or Vendetta Online. Both are twitch-based space flight sims that might be able to scratch the itch. Jumpgate Evolution might be worth a look as well, but it's not out yet, while JGC and VO will give you a free, no-CC trial today.

  • Does that me we, yet again, have a completely lame need of roll and pitch to turn the space ship left or right?

    I've seen that on way too many space games, and I think it sucks. You're in space, there's no air to make you turn using aerodynamic methods, and conversely there's no air to stop you from making a 90 deg turn across the normal axis nor smash your craft to pieces if you tilt it 90 deg across its lateral axis.

    Frontier: Elite II had a really good physics simulation wrt flight though, and I'm constant

    • by vertinox (846076)

      You're in space, there's no air to make you turn using aerodynamic methods, and conversely there's no air to stop you from making a 90 deg turn across the normal axis nor smash your craft to pieces if you tilt it 90 deg across its lateral axis.

      Conversely, there is also the issue about ranges of actual combat. Seeing that space is a vacuum, missile and laser engagements should be in theory far outside the range of human sight.

      • by ObjetDart (700355)

        Seeing that space is a vacuum, missile and laser engagements should be in theory far outside the range of human sight.

        This is already the case in modern warfare! Hell, my dad was in the Navy back in the 50s and he tells me about gunnery practice where the targets were routinely so far away they were invisible over the horizon. So it's not hard to imagine that in space-based combat, combatants would be separated by hundreds or even thousands of kilometers.

    • You're in space, there's no air to make you turn using aerodynamic methods, and conversely there's no air to stop you from making a 90 deg turn across the normal axis nor smash your craft to pieces if you tilt it 90 deg across its lateral axis.

      Actually, there's a very good reason for the seeming "banking" combat in many space sims. (At least in Wing Commander, anyway.) It's not that you aren't able to spin on your axis, but the problem comes down to the ducting of the ship. Since you have your missile loado

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hektor_Troy (262592)

        Well, who says space crafts have to look like either airplanes or ships? An interesting take on the whole idea is Peter Hamilton's "Night's Dawn Trilogy" is the need for any interstellar travel to be done in spheres.

        Besides, if we go with the idea that space crafts should look like air craft, then why don't we have air craft shaped like sea vessels? I mean, wouldn't it make a whole lot more sense if you had massively huge floating tankers, hundreds of yards long, dozen of yards across instead of those puny

        • by T-Bone-T (1048702)

          Spacecraft often turn like aircraft because that is the easiest on the human body. A 9G turn is hard when it pushes straight down on you, imagine being pushed against your armrest with that force. Not to mention, you can only handle -2-3G without redding out.

        • In addition to T-Bone's point, the "wings" were often not wings. They were weapon mounts and pods. When you are carrying several tons of highly explosive ordinance, having that ordinance hanging off side pods is a Good Idea(TM). If those pods get damaged in combat (which they often did in Wing Commander), you were less likely to lose the entire ship.

          Of course, some of the craft DID have actual wings because they were capable of atmospheric flight. (The Dralthi I mentioned were a good example.) So your comme

  • in 1997 Star Trek: Starfleet academy was released, which sounds similar to this.

    It was a space combat sim, that actually allowed quite a lot of control over various aspects of the ship, with some rather amazing (!) 3D graphics. It might have had joystick control too.

    I never spent enough time playing it to finish it, but it made quite a nice cross between generic star trek game and first spaceship shooter.
  • When I heard this I immediately thought Freelancer. It's about time that some one made a "sequel" to the game, after Freelancer 2 got scrapped. Unfortunately, when they started talking about 22 missions it sounds like this will won't even come close to the sandbox style game that Freelancer was. Looking from the screenshots, it looks like more of a Descent: Freespace clone if anything.

    It's really too bad that the Descent (non-Freespace) and Freelancer franchises have fallen away. I would pay good money

  • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @11:01AM (#24481103)

    Don't get your hopes up guys, this is being made by the same Russian developers that produced the positively awful Tarr Chronicles [gamespot.com] back in September of 2007, Akella and Quazar Studio. Furthermore if you watch the Dark Horizon trailer [ign.com] and look at the dialog text, you'll find the name "De'khete" in there, that was one of the enemy factions from Tarr Chronicles.

    It looks like this is the sequel to Tarr Chronicles under a different name to hide the fact that it's related to that flop. I hate to judge developers before they even get their work out, but when their last title was an abomination and their next title is a sequel coming out a mere year later, I wouldn't put much faith in the game being anything more than a hunk of junk even more rushed than their last game. Go read the reviews for Tarr Chronicles, Dark Horizon is probably just going to be the same thing all over again.

    • To allow you not to waste time on the review (as I did), here are some quick quotes of interest:

      GameSpot Score 4.0 (poor)
      Tarr Chronicles is the painful combination of incomprehensible and insipid.

      The Good
      * Attractive space scenery.

      The Bad
      * Unintelligible storyline
      * Incredibly peculiar dialogue
      * Dull, linear missions. ...

      English teachers should stay far away from Tarr Chronicles. Actually, let'

    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      Thanks for the trailer. You know, watching the trailer, some of the graphics and fill-in music reminded me of War Planets (aka "Shadow Raiders"). [youtube.com] Suddenly I wonder how cool it would be for someone to take that license and run with it. Would make a kick-ass space flight combat sim. Lots of opportunities to fly craft from the different planets, against Beast ships, eventually taking on the Beast planet itself. Awesome!

      (Too bad I don't see this game being made.)

  • Dark Horizons Lore: Invasion was published over 2 years ago. Being a russian company they dont care.

    http://www.dhuniverse.com/ [dhuniverse.com]http://www.dhuniverse.com/

  • I miss X-Wing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Khan (19367) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @11:23AM (#24481549)

    Man, talk about one of my all time favorite games along with Tie Fighter. Great story and overall game play. It's too bad that X-Wing vs Tie Fighter just didn't work out as well as the originals. Now, the game that I really wanted to play was the Babylon 5 space sim that was canceled waaay back in early 2000. That baby looked great!

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Lucas Arts really needs to make a sequel to XvT, but with a storyline that's as good as X-Wing.

      I used to love taking on star destroyers solo in my A-wing.

    • Man, talk about one of my all time favorite games along with Tie Fighter. Great story and overall game play. It's too bad that X-Wing vs Tie Fighter just didn't work out as well as the originals. Now, the game that I really wanted to play was the Babylon 5 space sim that was canceled waaay back in early 2000. That baby looked great!

      you're talking about X-Wing Alliance. It is the final evolution of the X-Wing/TIE development line and by far the apex. LucasFarts expressly said they were going to avoid doing any more classic SW games in favor of the prequel universe. *barf* No word on whether they're relenting on that one yet.

      The great thing about Alliance is you can see it's still the original engine, just with glossier graphics and more detail. Keyboard shortcuts, flight model, all are the same, just extra pretty.

      • Alliance was pretty good, but the "Family cargo business" missions kinda ruined it for me. They were a really good idea, but too many of them turned into, "sit in the turret and shoot the incoming missiles". Which wouldn't have been so bad if they'd given you a decent way to control the ship from the turret.

  • .. the economic aspect of second life, the social aspect of WOW and the privateer engine... man that'd be THE game for me, having played Privateer over and over.. Privateer II was quite a disappointment..
  • This is a long neglected genre that I'm itching to play something new in. I think I'll even dig out my old Logitech Force Feedback joystick for this; the OLD one that weighed a ton - I payed $125 for that thing while I was still in high school - 3 weeks worth of pay. I was really into the space sims back then :D. Particularly the story driven ones. Freespace (and it's sequal, but moreso the original) were just masterpieces IMHO.

  • Hmm, Terminus [wikipedia.org] was a nice one, came out 8 to 9 years ago, supported Mac and Linux, fully 3D, first real physics game since Elite.

    Haven't played it since my 15 pin joystick went out of fashion.

    • Terminus was great. Full of problems and overall kind of half baked, but still great. The enormous range of customization allowed in ship configuration took things to a whole new level.

  • Reading this got me to thinking about what, exactly, I would like to see in a new space sim in this post-WoW age. And what occurred to me was this: a realistic space sim would have a fairly unique advantage over most other mmo's. Namely, the physics of it are well understood and easily modeled. And that in turn set me to wondering whether it would be possible to have a truly distributed gaming universe. That is, one in which people could create their own weapons/ships/whatever, and it would be fair beca

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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