To the experienced star pilot or star captain who likes to control their ship from the overhead view, there are two games that represent near paradise: Star Control and Net Trek. Star Control's Melee mode lets players pilot their ships in the vacuum of space where good strategy and fast reflexes come together. Net Trek is similar but puts more emphasis on the strategy element and lets multiple players battle it out at once.
More recently, Virgin Interactive has entered this genre with their popular SubSpace game. In it, Internet players who are running Windows 95 can logon to a Virgin Interactive server and battle against other Internet citizens. The SubSpace world is filled with black holes and green power modules. It is also filled with walls and other structures. While this adds to the challenge, it may arguably detract from the feeling of really being in space (walls in space?).
Another comer to this market is Ultima On-Line where you build up your character and must explore the universe.
A newcomer is arriving on the horizon -- Stellar Frontier. Stellar Frontier attempts to mold the best elements of all three into a single epic game. Specifically, the great fast action feel of Star Control Melee mode, the galactic background of Net Trek and the modern graphics and sound of SubSpace made available to anyone with a Pentium PC or better.
At first glance, one might not realize how Ultima On-Line, a fantasy game, relates to a science fiction game like Stellar Frontier. But Stellar Frontier is, above all, about building your character and improving your star ship. You start out with just a scout and through your successes, you will rise up. Where Stellar Frontier takes a very different angle is in the amount of toil one must take on to move up. For example, players can leave the room and let the game take control of their ship. Being destroyed only has minor consequences and player killing is restricted to those on different sides. Humans cannot attack humans but you are certainly free to attack Drengin or Torian.
The gameplay of Stellar Frontier is straight forward. You can play alone on your own PC or join one of the many free on-line servers on the Internet and play with dozens of other people at once. You start out with the rank of Leutenant and work your way up to being admiral.
Stellar Frontier has a number of unique elements that bring it beyond other games of this genre. For example, it has a cunning artificial intelligence engine that controls non-player ships. For users who play only against the computer, they'll find they have a tough foe who plays like a human would (indeed, it feels like a multiplayer game even in single player mode). Moreover, if your ship is immobilized in battle, you can be captured and assimilated into another race (resistance is futile). From then on, your former friends are now your deadliest of foes.
Other strengths of Stellar Frontier include the ability for anyone to set up their own Stellar Frontier server. Stardock will maintain a list of reliable servers in which users can download and try out on. Anyone with a 28.8k modem can play over the Internet. Stellar Frontier also supports games over the LAN as well as single player against just the computer giving the game a high-reply value. Moreover, Stellar Frontier is available on OS/2, Windows 95, and Windows NT. Linux users can also run Stellar Frontier as a server (as well as the other platforms) which should ensure that there is no shortage of Stellar Frontier servers available when the game is made generally available in late second quarter of 1998.
in helping shape Stellar Frontier can join the Early Experience program
by visiting Stardock's website. Users can also play the demo version
which allows them to play on the Internet with other players, they are
limited to the Ensign rank (which limits the ships they can fly) but it
does mean that Stellar Frontier will remain free to try (the demo version
will be made available in beta form this Summer). If this sounds
like your type of game, join the beta program and take command of your
own star ship. Stellar Frontier is being developed by Solar Systems
and published by Stardock.
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