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BioWare's Star Wars MMO To Have Space Combat 122

An anonymous reader writes "Big news for Star Wars fans looking forward to BioWare's upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG — space combat has been confirmed for the game. Players will be able to fly around the galaxy in their own personal starships, avoiding asteroid belts, landing in dangerous territory and battling other vessels. The initial news makes it sound like a cross between Mass Effect's galaxy map and a traditional space fighting game, where players will have to find 'hotspots' on the galaxy map in order to enter a particular zone."
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BioWare's Star Wars MMO To Have Space Combat

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  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:36PM (#33008898)
    I'm having flashbacks to X-Wing and Tie Fighter, two of my favorite DOS era games.
    • I loved XvT!

      Also, Rebellion.
      • Yeah, XvT was the best space-sim I've played. The graphics were... okay. But the feel of each ship was awsome. One really got a feel for the metallic clunkyness of some ships (like Y-Wings), and the brittleness of others (mainly TIE fighters). The missions were varied and intelligent, and not simply attack and destroy.

        I've often wished for a remake, or at least an upgrade. I too bought a Sidewinder joystick, just for XvT.

        The only problem with XvT is that it came out a couple of years too early, bef
    • by Dusty101 ( 765661 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:42PM (#33008966)

      Mod parent up!

      Why LucasArts never released a modern version of these games is beyond me. Utterly brilliant. Back in the day, I bought an MS Sidewinder Force Feedback joystick primarily for XvT. It used to clunk when you picked up a cargo container. Those were the days...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Imagix ( 695350 )
        I've long lamented the death of the space combat flight sim. The last decent ones were X-Wing Alliance and the Descent Freespace series. After that, nothing. No more Wing Commander either.
        • by Radres ( 776901 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @07:17PM (#33009340)

          Have you tried Microsoft Allegiance (now open source!)?


          • It's (IMO and IME) eye candy over substance. The combat engine of the X-Wing series gives cleaner, less cluttered gameplay. X Wing: Alliance is still a great game, even now.
          • by Wylfing ( 144940 )
            I would be much more inclined to play Vendetta Online ( It's not open source, but there is a native Linux client, and they're working on a native Android client. V-O is one of those games like Guild Wars where people keep coming up with new "builds" and ways of dogfighting.
          • I tried. Then I realized that the community of the game offered six-week courses in how to play before you could be credible even in a support role. Not the same at all.
        • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

          It's recommend that you check out Eternal Silence ( []). It's a hybrid space combat sim/FPS Source mod.

          There's also two MMOs coming out specifically in this vein, Jump Gate Evolution [] and Black Prophecy []. I've signed up for the betas on both and have my fingers crossed.

        • Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos is pretty win.

          X2: The Threat and X3: The Reunion (and X3: The Terran Conflict) are decent enough too.

      • Oops. Make that X-Wing Alliance for the Force Feedback. Played' 'em all, though.

    • I have StarControl 2 flashbacks.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chris Burke ( 6130 )

          I was a big fan of Star Control (mostly just melee mode, not so much campaign mode), but never got a chance to play Star Control 2.

          Bless Toys for Bob and the folks behind Ur-Quan Masters for my being able to play that game so many years later. It's so god damn sweet.

          • Oh man you missed the best one! Star Control 2 was just great, especially if you had a buddy to beat up on.

            All 3 of them are considered abandonware at this point, you can (legally) download them here [] if you can handle sprites in this day and age.

            The above link might have it too but I found the page a bit garish and figured I'd save others some time.

            • You have a very peculiar definition of "legally". Copyrights aren't patents: they don't lapse if not exploited.
            • Oh man you missed the best one! Star Control 2 was just great, especially if you had a buddy to beat up on.

              I only missed it for a while; I've played the shit out of Ur-Quan Masters (see link earlier in thread) which is the legally released source code and assets from SC2 ported to various operating systems. It runs natively on Linux, and has some improvements like anti-aliasing of the sprites.

        • I still have that loaded on my computer. I play melee about once a day. It's quick and fun.
    • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:53PM (#33009102) Homepage

      Me too! I'd love to see this style of space combat come back. That'd be awesome.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        I'd rather see a more believable style of space combat come back.
        It doesn't have to be realistic, but believable. I simply can't suspend my belief in inertia, vast distances or vacuum not transmitting sound.

        All of the space combat games I've tried lately play like you're underwater, with the vacuum apparently having even more friction than air, and sounds traveling at extremely high speeds.

        • I'd rather see a more believable style of space combat come back.
          It doesn't have to be realistic, but believable. I simply can't suspend my belief in inertia, vast distances or vacuum not transmitting sound.

          You want Vega Strike, or any game based on its engine. they do add a sort of warp drive but even IT only magnifies inertia or reduces mass or something. Regardless, the game that you want already exists and offers persistent multiplayer.

        • Babylon 5: "I've found her" had newtonian physics, as did the Independence War games. Frankly, at least for B5, it was just obnoxious. I would expect a real ship to provide computer assistance of some sort to avoid exactly what winds up happening: two ships fly back and forth past each other, as if jousting, with long periods of de/re-acceleration and then a split second of blasting away with hardly any ability to target. It was chaos, and not the good kind. 3D doesn't matter, because unless there are signi

    • I'm playing Tie Fighter right now! Works perfectly in dosbox.
    • by shnull ( 1359843 )
      Ah,the days of being impressed by vector graphics :) Those WERE two of the best dos games ever, then again, i think i can still name more good dos games than windows live games atm .... this would put them in direct competition with Eve i suppose.
  • Star Wars Gaming (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:36PM (#33008900)
    You know you're suffering from post-traumatic-SWG-disorder when you realize that "will feature space combat" actually is newsworthy when you're talking about the relative Star Warsiness of Star Wars' MMORPG incarnations.
  • Co-op Capital Ships (Score:4, Interesting)

    by glittermage ( 650813 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @06:45PM (#33008996)
    Hopefully BioWare will have co-op capital ship combat where multiple players are on a single ship who can fire turbo lasers, missile turrets, repair engines, shields, etc. while other players who can solo (no pun intended) smaller fighter or bomber ships. Raid parties when ship engines and shields are knocked out. Let us put others in airlocks and shoot them into space! Eve Online got it wrong, CCP only let one pilot per ship regardless of size.
    • Battlefront did space combat fairly well. You had engineers that had to repair things on your ship or else it was destroyed (granted you could "repair" a destroyed ship). Why not just do the same sort of thing, minus the respawn?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Hopefully BioWare will have co-op capital ship combat where multiple players are on a single ship who can fire turbo lasers, missile turrets, repair engines, shields, etc.

      Be careful what you ask for. Your "etc." could translate to Jar-Jar Binks...

      That said, they can't do much worse than their honorable competitor franchise, Star Trek did. Phaserfest is so not what Star Trek is about.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Fwipp ( 1473271 )

        Hopefully BioWare will have co-op capital ship combat where multiple players are on a single ship who can fire turbo lasers, missile turrets, repair engines, shields, etc.

        Be careful what you ask for. Your "etc." could translate to Jar-Jar Binks...

        You're misparsing it - he wants to be able to fire:
        turbo lasers
        missile turrets
        repair engines (whatever those are!)
        shields (to defend your allies, of course!)
        Jar Jar Binks.

        I think most fans would welcome the opportunity to jettison him.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And hopefully fighters with laser cannons that point somewhere else than just dead ahead, and an astromech unit to auto aim it. Gods damn it, this isn't rocket science anymore after doing it for 10,000 years, Star Trek already had this! Or is this against some lets-fight-retarded-in-space treaty?

      • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @07:43PM (#33009586) Homepage

        Or is this against some lets-fight-retarded-in-space treaty?

        No, it's the Audiences Find Space Flight Confusing So Lets Act Like It's The Same As Atmospheric Flight -- BUT IN SPAAACE treaty.

        The AFSPFCSLALITSAAF--BUTINSPAAACE treaty is responsible for some of the craziest representations of space combat in movies, and by extension video games. Star Trek is not a signatory, but did feel pressured to conform to some of the standards, like ships all keep essentially the same vertical orientation, and turn in slow arcs like naval ships. In recent years upstarts like Battlestar Galactica, termed "rogue fictions" by members of the AFSPFCSLALITSAAF--BUTINSPAAACE Alliance, have completely abandoned these the societal conventions the treaty is based up, in that they have ships that operate based on Newtonian physics in a vacuum, and also don't have laser blasters at all. But they aren't so crazy that they don't have sound in space. That's only for the real extremists like Kubrik or Wedon.

        Hm weird where that went. Oh well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SAN1701 ( 537455 )
          Agreed, treating space combat as an air combat without the ground is so silly, and Galactica should be praised for trying to change this. But the lack of laser weapons was a mistake. They make much more sense for a fight in space than the cannons the Vipers had not only talking about speed to the target to avoid defensive maneuver (when you see it, you're already hit), but also the lack of recoil, which is more problematic in the vacuum.

          Since guns have grease, dirty, etc. I believe they were there to m
          • I think the point was to choose low-tech weapons. Bullets existed far before computers did (hence low-tech), and I think that is the point you are missing.
          • Since guns have grease, dirty, etc. I believe they were there to make the Viper a somewhat more "realistic" spaceship. But to me, it had the opposite effect, it was just bizarre.

            Maybe it has more to do with the fact that energy weapons have intense energy requirements. You have to put more energy in to fire it than is delivered to the target. Bullets are the opposite; they deliver much more energy than it takes to fire them. Barring some major advance in physics that substantially changes our understanding, energy weapons will never become more than 99% efficient. But since you can prepare ammunition ahead of time, it's possible to store substantial amounts of energy in 'em. Indeed

        • A realistic space combat sim wold be no fun, presuming Newtonian propulsion methods like today. A pilot wouldn't be able to fly the ship well, a computer would do it. You'd tell the computer what you wanted to do, it'd do it. All weapons would be computer controlled, etc.

          Hell this is how air combat is now for the most part. Planes fly on auto pilot to where they are going. Radar data is cross decked from AWACS platforms. Missiles are automated, and fired from beyond visual range, and all the pilot does is p

          • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Saturday July 24, 2010 @02:48AM (#33011776)

            No, a good space game could be both realistic and awesome. It'd just be really, really hard to make.

            Look, lets break it down. Purely Newtonian physics is doable. No speedometer, no throttle. WASD for acceleration (plus a couple keys to handle up and down), mouse for pitch and yaw. Turn the mouse to turn your ship, then hold a WASD button to accelerate in the direction specified. Stop accelerating and you fly on whatever trajectory you're on until you accelerate again. Limited delta-v (engines can't fire forever) but you make it so that it regenerates like weapon energy and shields when your engines are idle. Thrust for a player controlled small craft could be measured in 10s of Gs or more, with the pilot's survival in the face of such force handwaved as inertial compensation (a perfectly sensible tech if the setting includes generated gravity). You'd be able to radically change course quickly. Bonus points if the exhaust kills.

            This would make landing and other finicky maneuvers tricky, which is why you'd include a good autopilot to handle those. In combat, you wouldn't run the risk of hitting much of anything, at least not if the distances were at all realistic, and the simple notion of pointing yourself toward the enemy and holding W to approach would be easy to understand. More complex maneuvers would be possible, like using side thrusters (A and D) to "jink" out of the way of incoming fire, or turning toward the enemy, hitting S to back up, cutting loose with your guns as you open up the distance.

            Realistic distances are manageable without making things too small to see. Objects in the distance are automatically zoomed in for your convenience - a zoomed in representation overlays the ships location in your field of view - since even if your eyeball MK I can't see them, the ship's scopes surely can. Justify this by saying the pilot is actually experiencing spaceflight through something like a VR helmet or direct neural connection, and he/she is in a "virtual cockpit". This can also justify sound in space - the virtual interface is taking advantage of your ears as well as your eyes.

            So you can see an object a thousand klicks away as clear as if it were right next door, and close the distance from a relative standstill very fast by pointing your nose at it and holding W. Now all you need are weapons. Make the guns fire in a forward arc, instead of straight ahead, make it such that you pick the target, line your nose up with it, let the guns lock on, and cut loose. Beam weapons could be made realistic, with lasers invisibly covering thousands of kilometers in hundredths of a second, and particle beams for the closer in work. Missiles could be kinetic kill weapons. ECM and ECCM would affect targeting accuracy, as would evasive action. Point defense guns would provide missile defense, and added offense at close range, without having to turn your ship about and bring your big guns to bear.

            That would be realistic, at least up to a point. And it would be awesome.

            • by kizza42 ( 978129 )
              Mouse and Keyboard? That just makes it a FPS. "Real" space combat requires a joystick.
              • Descent 3 could do quite well without one and it had 6 axis freedom (+- XYZ and rotation on them as well) which is much closer to real space combat than ships that handle like planes. I want to be able to strafe sideways and up while keeping my guns on target.

                But I' in agreement that, at least for me, a joystick was what really made the game playable. I had +- pitch and +- yaw on the joystick and all other motion vector controls mapped to my Nostromo N52, talk about freedom of movement!! But there are s
              • by RsG ( 809189 )

                Freelancer managed mouse+keyboard just fine, and you want your hypothetical control scheme to require as few extraneous peripherals as possible. I know precisely one computer gamer who actually owns a functional joystick - I don't, and neither do a lot of people. And the reason FPS controls are popular is because they work reasonably well for what they do, and work with universally available hardware, hence why I suggested them.

                But sure, add joystick support to the game, just don't require a joystick to p

            • You'll want to check out the Infinity: Quest for Earth combat prototype. It's free, and it's about all you can see of what the rest of the game will be like eventually.

            • There was a game, back in the dawn of time, that did almost everything you listed. Newtonian physics engine, tiny, invisible ships in the distance highlighted by the heads up display so you knew where they were at, lasers, missles, etc. Probably my favorite space sim of all time, it was called "XF 5700 Mantis Experimental Fighter" from Microplay, came out in 1992.

              It was a bitch to get used to, if you wanted to kill a bad guy, you had to think about your velocity and direction, their velocity and direction,

              • The "Elite" sequels went that way as well. Much more physically accurate, but much less actual fun.

            • WASD is lame. ESDF is better due to the single fact that there's a nub on the F key.
              • learn2type
              • by RsG ( 809189 )

                Honestly? That's your objection, out of everything I wrote?

                Okay. You make it so that under the "options" menu, there's a "controls" tab, which lets you do your own keybindings and save them. You know, like every single PC game made in the last decade and a half.

            • WASD for acceleration (plus a couple keys to handle up and down), mouse for pitch and yaw

              Realistically speaking the most rational interfaces for space ships are a keyboard and pointing device (could be pupil tracking) with which you issue commands, and a joystick for when you need to make manual maneuvers.

              Much of what you want is available for free in the game Vega Strike, and it's FoSS so you can add all the functionality you can manage. The game even has enormously long-range weapons, but they don't deliver much power at extreme range. However, EVERYTHING in the game is TOTALLY moddable. Miss

              • ... but is it fun and complete out-of-the-tarball? If not, I'll pass.

              • by lennier ( 44736 )

                Much of what you want is available for free in the game Vega Strike

                Sure about that? Last time I checked out Vega Strike it was very consciously a Wing Commander: Privateer clone/homage/emulation, and that meant Wing Commander physics: absolute velocities, a 'speed limit', and afterburners. No Newtonian velocity addition at all. A mini-hyperdrive mode added to make navigation across solar systems in seconds somewhat more plausible, but still recognisably WC.

                • Sure about that? Last time I checked out Vega Strike it was very consciously a Wing Commander: Privateer clone/homage/emulation, and that meant Wing Commander physics: absolute velocities, a 'speed limit', and afterburners.

                  Yes, I am sure. For literally years now Vega Strike has had a key which turns off your ship's auto-thrusters, and another key which toggles the relative velocity limit between a limit you'll notice and a limit you won't. Further, it's got keys to change which object your relative velocity is calculated from, for stuff like docking with moving ships (which you can do! and with a little tweaking you can pilot ships to which one can dock!) All these features were likely there when you examined it, and you simp

          • Space combat can be made different from air combat and still fun by just making a few changes from realistic. Free Allegiance [] adds simple drag to space combat but keeps side thrusters and momentum to give an effect that feels like moving underwater and produces challenging dog fighting to go along with the complex strategic elements of the game.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          Babylon 5 had newtonian physics before Battlestar: Retcon even twinkled. It also had no sound in space; you only heard shots fired and when stuff connected. Or psychic screams from passing shadow vessels, but when you invent powers you get to determine how they behave.

          How quickly we forget.

          • Everyone knows that psychic screams do not carry across a vacuum...

            Thanks.. now I have to watch my Babylon 5 dvds.

    • by twidarkling ( 1537077 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @07:01PM (#33009194)

      I agree with everything but the spacing.

      A) Unless you're going to model interior ship combat as well, there's no way to justify that certain people are spaced, some killed outright, taken prisoner, etc.

      B) Consider both actual gameplay mechanics and player response. Sure, it may be funny to you, but what happens to the person being spaced? Are they respawned back where they started from? Where they were going? Nearest planet? Does it have differing effects than other methods of character death? Can it be used as a form of griefing?

      No, if you're allowing raids on ships, then either have the crew taken prisoner, if it's a guild/clan PvP thing, and then players need to escape, or have them "escape on life pods" and show up on the nearest planet.

      • by smcn ( 87571 )

        Sure, it may be funny to you, but what happens to the person being spaced?

        They're brought back to life by a mysterious organization and from then on have to take orders from Martin Sheen.

  • to something else by the time this is done.

  • That sounds an awful lot like the space combat system in Star Wars Galaxies. In sounds identical. You can take shuttles around, but it's considerably cheaper to use your own starship, fly it around via hyperspace, and land at a planet.

    And you can have 'epic space battles', and 'space combat levels' are independant compared to your 'ground combat levels'. *sniff* I was on the edge of qualifying for experimental light cruiser, too.

  • by morari ( 1080535 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @07:01PM (#33009200) Journal

    How many parsecs will it take me to make my run?

    • by Huntr ( 951770 )
      Less than 12, if you're good.
    • At least twenty, since the hyperspatial tollbooth at Barnard's Star is all buggered up right now so you'll have to take a detour.
    • African or European?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2010 @07:15PM (#33009332)

    But who's gonna fly it, kid, you?

    • Yeah, I'm not such a bad pilot myself. Look, we don't have to sit here and listen to this.
      • by lennier ( 44736 )

        Travellin' through hyperspace ain't like dustin' crops, boy. Without precise calculations we could fly right through a Womp Rat or bounce too close to a Sarlacc pit.

        Okay, it is exactly like dustin' crops.

  • EVE Online (Score:4, Funny)

    by gravos ( 912628 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @07:19PM (#33009354) Homepage
    So it will be like EVE Online, except with Wookies?
    • by linzeal ( 197905 )
      Only if those Wookies work in accounting.
    • EVE space combat SUCKS... it's click a few buttons and the the ship shoots, so boring. I am hoping it is much more like XvT or SWG where you actually pilot the ships. Space combat in SWG was one of the very few great things about the game.
  • A better space combat game than Star Wars will ever be: []
  • /quits job
    /sells house
    /leaves wife
    /returns to mothers basement

    /force chokes noob1, "ShavenWookie"
    /force lifts noob2, ""
    /slices noob3, "xxxdarthmaul6xxx", with my uberleet dual blade lightsaber skillz,
    /totally_owns 4 xwing squadrons with upgraded Slave1TieInterceptor freighter hybrid with a few personal modifications
    /orders guild star destroyer around with a few 1000 guildies doing all the boring grind stuff
    /orders Gungan genocide
    /brags about how I control and o
  • Dozens of identical TIE advanceds circling around in one big furball, desparately trying to get on each others' tails for minutes on end. No skill needed. Just lean on the stick and twitch the trigger whenever you see a craft flash past your sights.

    No thanks.

  • Just a sneaking suspicion but, recalling the controversy of multiple game modes (and space flight) involving star fox adventures, it seems like they wanted to keep quiet about any plans for space combat so they could scrap it if it didn't pan out. I'm thinking star trek pulling it off as well as they did in STO was a heavy incentive for them to include it. I'm not sure if it's such a good idea though. I think of epic space combat when i think of star war's original trilogy/prequels. 'The old republic' has n
  • I'd love to see someone take a look back and learn some lessons from Microsoft's Allegiance. []

    The 3-D space combat and more realistic physics were awesome, and the GUI was very intuitive. It definitely took a joystick to play right, however.

    This game was way ahead of its time for 1999 and died way too soon. Curse you Microsoft for killing it!


    • This game was way ahead of its time for 1999 and died way too soon. Curse you Microsoft for killing it!

      But it's still around! Check out Free Allegiance [].

      Microsoft Research released the source code in 2004 (some kind of shared source license) and a small but determined community of players and developers enjoys and keeps improving the gameplay (the R6 client is currently in beta).

      • (the R6 client is currently in beta).

        And could use development help if anyone is interested in looking under the hood of a Microsoft creation. 10 years later and still squishing MS bugs, but gameplay is awesome.

  • My ship shall be called the Jar Jar Stinks. No but really... I don't care about any of this. I just want the damn game released. Even if it's only half done and they have to finish the rest after release. An even half done BioWare game is going to be vastly better than anything I've got left to play (tired of WoW, Aion, etc...)
  • by Psychor ( 603391 )
    I doubt this will be the first MMO to make big promises and then disappoint. In fact it won't even be the first Star Wars MMO to make big promises and then disappoint.
  • Exactly. Star Wars Galaxies already has a space combat system. Complete with personal fighters, cooperative capital ship fighting, and dodging (and mining) asteroids. It doesn't change the fact that all MMO's are the same. Grindgrindgrindgrindgrind - get a trinket - grindgrindgrindgrindgrind - level up! so that it's easier to grindgrindgrindgrind - get jumped on by some lvl 90 jackass who likes picking on level 20's who wander into pvp areas, so you want revenge and so you grindgrindgrindgrindgrind.

    Even the

  • boy, time is passing quickly... - Cigs not sigs

The absent ones are always at fault.