Before There Was ‘Fortnite,’ There Was ‘Starsiege: Tribes’

Starsiege: Tribes quietly turned 20 years old back in November. It seems a lot of people don’t really remember the game or the major impact it had on multiplayer shooter designs, but Ben Lindbergh over at The Ringer wrote an excellent article about it. It is all part of their series highlighting some legendary games from 1998 including Half-Life, Metal Gear Solid, and Ocarina of Time. They are calling 1998 the “best year ever for video games”, and I maybe have to agree with them. The only other year that comes close in terms of big influential releases in my opinion is 2004. Anyway, the article is a great look back on the game and its influence. From the article:

At E3 in Atlanta in the spring of 1998, a newly announced game named Starsiege: Tribes took aim at the whole history of first-person shooters, a burgeoning genre whose hallmarks had crystallized quickly.

In front of a large convention crowd, lead designer Scott Youngblood led a live demo that introduced the PC title to the public. “It started off running around an interior that looked just as good as Quake,” he recalls. “And then [I] go out to the exterior and they see this huge terrain, and then [I] just jump off and then jet-pack to the ground. Like, ‘Holy crap.’ They’ve never seen anything like that.”

“It blew people’s minds,” remembers lead software engineer Mark Frohnmayer. “He was running around like, ‘Oh, yeah, first-person shooter,’ and then all of a sudden rounds the corner and there is this huge terrain in the distance and he runs out there with a jet pack on. Like, ‘What the fuck.’”

In the era of Destiny, Battlefield, Far Cry, and Fortnite, it’s difficult to grasp how limitless Starsiege: Tribes would have looked to the E3 audience only a year after Quake — Id Software’s gloomy, Gothic, muddy-looking successor to Doom — became widely available on Windows. “Now it would be totally normal,” Frohnmayer says. “But back then it was the first time that you really had a high-fidelity interior environment and a high-fidelity terrain environment, and they blended seamlessly.” In a preview posted after E3, Gamespot raved that Tribes “renders scenes with sharp backdrops for miles” and, with appropriate awe, reported, “Instead of waiting … to load a massive outdoor map, the game just moves along without pause.”

Ask developers and players alike to reminisce about Starsiege: Tribes, which turned 20 on November 30, and those three words — “the first time” — form a frequent refrain. Much of Starsiege: Tribes seemed so far in advance of its own time that two decades later, it’s still similar in concept to contemporary titles.

Tribes didn’t just anticipate later trends. It also played an important part in popularizing them. By earning critical kudos, cultivating an active online community that persists today, and demonstrating that the previously undone was doable, Tribes influenced future developers even without being a massive seller. Before such features were standard fare for first-person shooters, it boasted a sophisticated character class system; an emphasis on teamwork, coordination, and team objectives rather than gleeful fragging alone; player-controlled single-person and team-oriented vehicles; a major publisher green-lighting a multiplayer-only release; and ingenious network code that supported an unprecedented number of players amid massive indoor-outdoor environments, in an era when most players were still stuck with dial-up connections. And, maybe most memorably, it offered a degree of verticality and freedom of movement that’s rarely been replicated.

The Ringer

You can read the full article here

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The Resident Evil 2 “1-Shot Demo” was released the other day, and I finally had some time to sit down and check it out. Its called the “1-Shot Demo” because you only get to play it for 30 minutes, which is enough time to finish it as long as you don’t sight see too much. I managed to finish the demo in a little over 20 minutes, and I have to say I really like what they have done. I played Resident Evil 2 multiple times through back in the day, and I was worried that there would not be a lot of new stuff to see here besides a fresh coat of paint. Based on what I was able to see, the police station was greatly expanded on, and I kept running into new puzzles and gameplay mechanics. If the whole game has been expanded on in this way then I think it is going to turn out to be pretty awesome. The link to download the demo is below (the demo is no longer available), and you can check out some of the screenshots I took as well. If after playing the demo you want to pre-purchase the game, Green Man Gaming is currently selling it for up to 26% off.

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PlanetSide Arena Announced

PlanetSide Arena was announced today. The game will feature a number of multiplayer modes, including a 250 player vs. 250 player mode, a Battle Royale mode (solos and teams of 3), Search and Destroy, Deathmatch, Global Conquest, and more. I really do enjoy the core infantry combat in Planetside 2, and I could see that working well in a more round based setting. It looks like they are reworking the class system (Assault, Engineer, Combat Medic) and are adding new passive and active abilities to those classes. Oh, and everyone gets a jetpack!

A round based conquest mode similar to Battlefield could be fun, especially at the scale that Planetside is known for. I am a bit more skeptical about how well a Battle Royale mode would play. I also can’t help but wonder, who asked for this? People play Planetside 2 because its so different from any other multiplayer FPS. If people wanted a different experience they could go elsewhere to many other games to get it. Battlefield V just launched, and we all know there are dozens of Battle Royale games to choose from now: PUBG, Fortnite, Call of Duty, Ring of Elysium, Islands of Nyne, Daybreak’s own H1Z1 and even the upcoming Battlefield V battle royale game mode. They are really going to have to do something unique to get people to pay attention to this, and I am not sure just having everything on a larger scale is enough. I have a feeling this game will play just fine but struggle to find an audience.

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Most Anticipated Games 2019

With 2018 coming to a close I decided to make a quick post of my most anticipated games of 2019. I have posted about a bunch of these already in the past, but here they all are again in one post. This list is not in any particular order.

Metro Exodus

Flee the shattered ruins of the Moscow Metro and embark on an epic, continent-spanning journey across the post-apocalyptic Russian wilderness. Explore vast, non-linear levels, lose yourself in an immersive, sandbox survival experience, and follow a thrilling story-line that spans an entire year in the greatest Metro adventure yet.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 is an upcoming role-playing video game developed and published by CD Projekt. Adapted from the 1988 tabletop game Cyberpunk 2020, it is set fifty-seven years later in dystopian Night City, California, an open world with six distinct regions.

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds is a new single-player sci-fi RPG from Obsidian Entertainment and Private Division. As you explore a space colony, the character you decide to become will determine how this player-driven story unfolds. In the corporate equation for the colony, you are the unplanned variable.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

A deadly virus engulfs the residents of Raccoon City in September of 1998, plunging the city into chaos as flesh eating zombies roam the streets for survivors. An unparalleled adrenaline rush, gripping storyline, and unimaginable horrors await you. Witness the return of Resident Evil 2.

Rage 2

Rage 2 is an upcoming first-person shooter video game developed by Avalanche Studios in conjunction with id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game is the sequel to the 2010 game Rage. Players assume control of the last ranger, Walker, who must survive in a world inhabited by dangerous mutants after it was hit by an asteroid. The game will take place 30 years after the original game, and feature a cast of both new and existing characters.

Atomic Heart

Atomic Heart is an adventure first-person shooter, events of which unfolds in an alternate universe during the high noon of the Soviet Union. The principal character of the game is a special agent P-3, who after an unsuccessful landing on enterprise “3826” is trying to figure out what went wrong.

System Shock Remake

After two decades, Nightdive Studios is rebooting and re-imagining the original System Shock. We will keep the new game true to the classic experience, keeping all the things you loved while giving today’s gamers the modern look and feel expected from a great game.

The Division 2

The fate of the free world is on the line in Tom Clancy’s The Division® 2. Lead a team of elite agents into a post-pandemic Washington, DC, to restore order and prevent the collapse of the city.

Void Bastards

Inspired by BioShock and System Shock 2, Void Bastards is a revolutionary new strategy-shooter that will test your wits as well as exercise your aim. Can you lead the misfit prisoners of the Void Ark through the derelict spaceships and myriad dangers of the Sargasso Nebula?

Psychonauts 2

Psychonauts 2 will be a third-person platform game similar in gameplay to its predecessor. The player will control Raz, a newly graduated Psychonaut with powerful psychic abilities, as he delves into the minds of others. The player will use “Psi-Powers”, such as telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and levitation, in combination with more common platform game elements, to explore the mental worlds of several non-player characters.

Doom Eternal

The forces of Hell have begun to invade Earth, and as the Union Aerospace Corporation struggles to defend it, the Doom Slayer arrives to repel the demons.