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Old 07-15-2010, 04:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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1999: The End of Space Combat Simulators

When the curtain came down on the year 1999, no one would have guessed that the curtain was closing for space combat simulators as well. After all, gamers were still basking in the glow of X-Wing Alliance and Freespace 2, two of the genre’s finest entries to that point. Technology was advancing, online multiplayer was steadily improving, and the sky seemed to be the limit.
But once the new century dawned, there was nothing. No more Wing Commander, X-Wing, or Freespace -- the “big three” of space combat simulators. Fans of the genre were forced to subsist on scraps like Wing Commander Arena and Freelancer, always hoping that someone would rescue Freespace from the scrap heap, or that LucasArts would stop making Star Wars Episode One podracing games and resurrect one of their most popular franchises. Imagine what would have happened to the platformer genre if it had gone a decade without a new Super Mario Bros.: Dead on arrival.
The end of the glory days arrived almost exactly ten years after the genre had won mainstream acceptance thanks to Wing Commander and its landmark cinematics. Elite had laid down the initial groundwork, but Wing Commander had truly captured every nerd’s dream of piloting a star fighter with its advanced graphics and gameplay. Three years later, Lawrence Holland and LucasArts gave us X-Wing, bringing the genre to its heyday. These two franchises would be at the forefront of PC gaming for the following decade, maintaining the genres standing even in the face of the advent of real-time strategy games and first-person shooters.

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