It’s time for an encore.
In 1999, one of my best childhood friends introduced me to a demo of a game that would define, actually, invent, a genre: Homeworld.
It was a 3D space strategy game, and even that would have been enough to create and define a genre, but Homeworld went so, so much further: Homeworld was art, of the kind of art pioneered by the 1970’s greats like Peter Elson and Chris Foss, but reimagined into a new medium and accompanied by an acoustical score that defined the term Space Opera for the digital age. Much more than just the first 3D space strategy game, it was a visual, aural, and emotional journey that, twenty years later, is still as alive as it is unmatched.
Certain titles transcend being mere ‘games’. A game invokes thoughts of casual fun, something to pass the time enjoyably. Homeworld, in contrast, joins an exclusive and short list of IPs that made a contribution beyond being ‘just a game’. Homeworld made it’s mark not only as an homage to classic science fiction and the illustrations that graced them, but wove storytelling, art, and music together on a new new medium in a way that had never been seen before…or since. Homeworld’s breathtaking and nebulous backdrops, 3D environment, and ship motion were all a result of new ways of utilizing the still-emerging PC platform, and pushed gaming hardware to the limits in order to do so. Further assisting the title’s elevation to ‘art’ status was the far-East inspired standalone soundtrack by Paul Ruskay and a 57 page ‘technical briefing’ full of backstory, ship schematics, and cinematic stills. Then, in 2015 Gearbox released one thousand copies of ‘the Art of Homeworld’, an absolutely gorgeous collectors item with hundreds of pages of concept illustrations, design notes, and commentary.
Twenty years after the original masterpiece, Homeworld 3 is coming.
While the PC platform has matured and beyond, there are still few titles elevating themselves to an art form in a way that the third installment of this timeless series promises to do. A lot has changed in twenty years, but judging by the teaser below, some things haven’t: Homeworld remains a work of art.
The trailer has a more ominous, aggressive feel than previous cinematics in the series, aided by Ruskay’s deep, bassy soundtrack that seems to depart from the Eastern influence used in the previous titles. That, is until strings and flutes peal out in classic Homeworld drama. The traditional animatic style has been combined with 3D renderings and scenes plus dynamic lighting in an all-new way, yet still feels authentically Homeworld, complete with ship-to-ship chatter and punchy strike craft drive trails. Two new elements are going to be obvious to die-hard fans: the smooth, curved design of the strike craft is unlike anything we’ve seen before, as is the jump gate. This makes sense, as Homeworld 3 is set sixty years after the events of Homeworld 2. Some things don’t change, though, as I think we all recognize the woman in the scene that flashes at the end…
BBI has also done something that an AAA studio has never done that I’m aware of: taken Homeworld 3 to crowd funding/investing, via the Fig platform. It seem the Homeworld 3 team will allow backers of the title to participate in exclusive surveys that will help shape certain aspects of the game, such as features, priorities, and what the collector’s edition will contain. It really is a neat idea, because the most loyal fans are the ones most likely to back the title, and allows the studio to create a game that’s based on what the fan base wants, rather than what’s profitable in today’s gaming culture. However (and thankfully!) this isn’t a project that needs crowdfunding: Gearbox has ensured that Homeworld 3 is going to be a thing; and BBI has decided to up the ante and scope of the title by accepting additional funds from fans. Go contribute here.
Homeworld 3 is still in pre-production, so it’s early stages yet, but we’ll make sure to continue the coverage here at Fists of Heaven.
Honestly, I never expected Homeworld 3, much less two titles announced in one day, but it’s true: Homeworld Mobile (name subject to change) is also in the works. Excepting the teaser below, information is scarce, but it does appear to be Homeworld: Remastered style visuals on mobile. I’m very much looking forward to a mobile version, because it’s so accessible. As someone that uses a desktop or laptop once a month if that, having one of my favorite titles of all time on a phone or iPad is something I’ve always wanted but definitely never expected. I just hope there aren’t any micro transactions…
I can’t wait.