So Yeah…This Homeworld Thing…

Sure Looks Pretty...
Sure Looks Pretty…

Preface: Thanks to our talk on Friday, I think it opened up a lot of space in my brain for new stuff, and also helped give me some confidence in my own opinion. ;) With that said, here we go! ;)

So over the weekend, the big news was that now, on Steam, you can not only pre-order the Homeworld Remastered series — which includes both classic and remastered versions of the original and sequel (and still no Cataclysm) — but along with that, a release date of February 25th was announced. I know this because I had several wonderful friends tell me over the weekend. ;) I know a lot of people are excited about this upcoming re-release, but interestingly enough, I’m not one of them. Why is this, you ask?

Because…I never really liked Homeworld very much…

I know, it’s weird, and I’m baffled by it too. When it came out, I was sent a review copy, and it arrived a day early from release at a nearby FedEx depot. I drove miles, in the evening, in the sleety rain (this is when I still lived in PA) to get my copy, as I was so god damned excited to receive it. The previews looked amazing, the graphics looks phenomenal, the story sounded fantastic (if a bit derivative) and the music apparently was phenomenal (and ended up being, to me, the game’s best trait). I rushed home as quickly as I could, installed the game, played a few missions and then thought to myself.

“This is it? Seriously?”

I mean sure, it’s pretty, it has full 3D and yadda yadda, but unlike so many other folks, it just never lit my world on fire. I played through much of the game, but barely remember it. I remember spending time on it, but not whether I enjoyed it. I do recall putting the game down and moving to other things fairly quickly though. I just…didn’t see what was so special about it. It was indeed pretty, and it was in fully 3D. It had a decent story and its gameplay was alright, sure, but I didn’t get what the big deal was. It’s also because of my lukewarm feelings toward the original game that I never played Cataclysm or the sequel.

Sadly the review from back in the day is long since lost (or maybe I never actually wrote it, I can’t remember), but because the games are coming out in remastered editions next month, this gives me a chance to revisit them. It also means I’ve moved up Cataclysm to be next month’s Game of the Month, to coincide with the releases of the remastered versions. Who knows, maybe all this Homeworld love will bring me around.

So does this cost me space game fan points? Maybe, but honestly, I don’t care too much. When I’d rather play a game of Conquest: Frontier Wars (which I feel is a far, FAR superior RTS to Homeworld…yeah, I said it) than Homeworld, I can tell my feelings on the matter are clear. The only thing I truly miss is being able to share in the joy and anticipation that many of you have for this upcoming re-release (I still love you guys though! Hugs!!!).

So I’m thrilled for all of y’all that are giddy in anticipation of these re-releases next month. Any collective happiness over a space game just fills my heart with joy. I just don’t think I can join in the celebration with y’all this time around. ;) It’s not that I don’t want to…I’m just not feeling it like many of y’all are.

Thanks for reading!

Edit: Devin Passage of Martian Arctic Games has some excellent thoughts on where this disconnect might lie.

Author: Brian Rubin

25 thoughts on “So Yeah…This Homeworld Thing…

  1. It’s definitely a style over substance thing. The 3D interface creates the illusion of more depth and complexity than there really is there – because much of the player’s time is spent manipulating the difficulties of the 3D. Zooming, rotating, having a limited field of view of the battlespace because of angles and also “oooh it’s pretty, I’m just going to watch”. However, if you remove all the 3D-ness of it and remade it in an overhead 2D engine, it would be a pretty boring Starcraft game. In fact, it would be quite a lot like Ancient Space, wouldn’t it? Ancient Space being too far pulled back from the ships made them look like “little RTS guys” instead of giant scale ships, because you got too far away from them. In Homeworld you have to give most of your movement orders on the map and in AS you just pull the camera back and click. Thus it feels small and “manageable” instead of too epic vast to fit on the screen.

    So the aesthetics of Homeworld are far superior, while the underlying game is essentially identical.

  2. You are dead to me! I just read that and am at a loss for words. When I received notice it was released I squeed.

    Of course I am one of the fools who is paying for the collector’s edition and have his 12″ Mothership replica at his desk.

    But seriously.. Wow. This is one of those games I still vividly remember and can still hear the narrator in my head.

  3. I played the original but my feelings about the nostaglia $ grab were also kind of muted. Nice game. It was pretty. The most memorable thing I recall was collecting and building a boat load of the paper models on offer by fans, which were actually pretty cool. When this release was announced I got more excited about the remaster of Grim Fandango’s upcoming release than this. It gets my nostalgia dollars first.

  4. The game had great mods. That was my reason for getting it. It also had really fun multiplayer, IMO I did, however, like Homeworld 2 way better than Homeworld 1. So I can understand your frustrations with it. When/if you get it we should play. Along with all the other space game goodness out there.

  5. What I found about Homeworld was that I loved it right up to the point where combat started, and then lost interest. Somehow I enjoyed it much more as an austere asteroid mining sim than as an RTS. I think I would have been much more interested in it if it had been more about building defenses to turn back raids. Not in a “tower defense” sort of way, more of a “build your space castles to fend off the space vikings and capture the map” way.

    Really, it was commanding ships in combat that didn’t interest me, which is funny because usually I’m pretty big on strategy games. I think it was because command in the 3D fishtank was a little too fiddly, and you had the classic “the AI doesn’t have to do this with a mouse on a 2D screen” problem so it could be commanding things perfectly in 3D throughout the battle while you were stuck fiddling with getting a pack of fighters to the correct altitude.

  6. You cant really compare Conquest to Homeworld or Sins Rebellion. I would play multiplayer/skirmish/sandbox of CFW or Rebellion over HW any day of the week. But the singleplayer campaign – there IMO is no better RTS at that.

    It does not cost you any space fan points, its your opinion after all.

  7. I loved HW2 way more than 1. To me, the fun was in the single player vs. AI matches more than the story or even multiplayer. I loved building my operating area, defending it against raids, and eventually launching attacks of my own when I’d built enough.

    Add in mods, and I got massive maps that take an hour to cross with most ships (making hyperspace necessary), amazing improvement to combat mechanics or immersion (ie: Trek, Star Wars). I was telling my own stories, much like I do with Distant Worlds: intercepting a raiding party, growing suspicious of an imminent attack after I discover a nearby probe, and rallying at a staging area before the final jump in for my attack.

    That said, each time I play, I enjoy it a ton for a few hours, then put it away for like 6 months.

    Recommendations: Complex Mod, Star Trek: Continuum, Star Wars Warlords

    Complex is the only one with completed gameplay… but I do love building star destroyers and stocking them with fighters in Warlords… even if the AI is laughably weird/bad.

  8. Brian, i’m with you here. In last 15 years i’ve tried 3 times to dive into HW and never managed past first couple of missions. I know exactly what was the point i do not liked so much i was not able to overcome it no matter how i tried. Rock-paper-scissors system at its worst.
    Take Age of Empires and Empire Earth. AOE has done it right – bonuses give you the edge, but you can still fight if you happens to chose wrong combination.As a results – I loved AOE series. In Empire you can do nothing: “paper” units will slaughter “rock” units even in 6-7:1 proportion. I do loved the vast epoch changes – but damage was done – I still hates EE series.
    In HW i’ve seen the same right from the bat: wrong units just get slaughtered on the spot. Being a care-bear and almost exclusively “single player type” i so hated it. And when i read that your resources a limited and lost ships may really cost you battle in the end – i just totally lost interest. It is gloriously beautiful and UI is good as well. But if i’m in for hellish save-load stream – sorry, i have more interesting things to do with my life.

  9. Ya, dead to me also.

    But i somewhat agree with you also, lol. I played it myself wh en it came out and was like meh, its alright. It wasnt until years later that i discovered i really liked it, and that reason is the #1 reason that keeps me in alot of games. MODS.

    There were some great mods out there and that always drew me into it. I could never find any good BSG mods out for any games except for HW it seemed. Then again you could probably mod out, the sims, to some type of BSG mod and id probably think it was the best thing ever created.

    1. If you need mods to actually enjoy a game, then the base game isn’t very good. ;)

  10. Burn the heretic!

    But I agree – what made is so memorable was style (basically, Chriss Foss paintings in motion) and the whole “3d playing field” thing.

    Especially the second point. Prior to that, space RTSes were basically normal RTSes with a coat of space paint. Tanks became spaceships, trees became nebulas and rocks.. were still rocks. Well, SPACE rocks. I was really fed up with the whole “space terrain” thing (sorry, Brian, Conquest was an offender as well) and the fact that ships would move to an enemy, stop, and than, while stationary, slowly pew-pew the hitpoints away. That’s not how space combat is supposed to look!

    And then you get Homeworld, with 3d space, fighters that dance around eachother, and that gorgeous Paul Ruskay music. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it was miles ahead of it’s contemporaries. Pity that it idn’t really have much of a following. HW:C was great, HW2 was … decent, but with some questionable design decisions, and then there were some Homeworld-clones like that thing Brain played (two races, asteroid belt, boxy designs – sorry, forgot the name) – aaand that’s it. Nothing exceptional. It was as if the RTS world completely forgot the game and focused on making bigger and warcaftier Warcrafts.

    Hell, same thing happened with Myth / Myth 2. Remember those games, guys? Amazing base-less RTSes (RTTGes?) that were waay ahead of the competition… and then were ignored. The company that made them – Bungie – moved on and focused on making some forgettable fps series ;)

    1. I love, LOVE the Myth games. LOVE. But Homeworld…yeah, it was 3D, but that didn’t necessarily make it fun.

      And don’t you DARE badmouth Conquest. DON’T YOU DARE SON. ;)

      1. Tell ya what – I’ll reinstall my GOG version of Conquest and see if my older self has grown more accustomed to space rocks and trees ;)

        Although, in fairness, Conquest did have fantastic soundtrack, was (i think) first RTS game with multiple playing fields (systems connected by wormhole network) and space terrain was nowhere near as annoying as in that Space Command thingy.

        1. GORKOMATIC, I’m absolutely with you on everything what you said! I think the only thing to make HW1 even better than it was is to be able to issue commands while in Pause mode (as was then possible in HW:C). Other than that, HW1 to this day is the best space RTS out there.

          HW2 was really weak in that it catered to you puny 2D space goons. I mean, what a ridiculous concept to reduce three-dimensional space to a two-dimensional plane? Laughable. When you can’t handle true 3D it’s YOU who failed, not the game! I laugh at you! Here, see me laughing at you: HARR HARR HARR!!! XD

          Anyway, sure tastes are different and all, but I’m really happy that there were enough HW fans out there to warrant part 1.5 and 2.

          GORKOMATIC, what you missed in your list is the incredibly beautiful vistas! This is to my knowledge the first one that has this brightly-colored background.

          1. Yeah. And, IMO, Homeworld approach to 3D was rather intuitive – you’d pick a ship/asteroid/whatever and that would become a point of reference that the camera would orbit around. I have no idea why that dod’t become more popular. Nexus used it… and that’s about it, I think.

            In comparison, HW2 felt a bit… flatter. It also had this silly autobalancing mechanic, that encouraged scrapping your ships before next mission. Oh, and the story that went full Mystic Space McGuffin of Mystic Destiny route.
            But I’m probably gonna buy the remastered version anyway ;)

            Of course, Homeworld itself was a bit unbalanced. After all, it was more aptly referred to as Grand Theft Starship. But hey – if you show me cool enemy ships don’t act so suprised that i’ll do everything to steal that shit ;)

            And the vistas…. oh, yes. Noting back in ’99 even came close.

  11. I think you give a very fair opinion. We all have our tastes and our experiences differ and you recognize that there are those of us who are highly anticipating the remastered release.

    To be fair, my experiences have not always been perfect. The concept that has driven the game with its 3-D environment is very unique and separates it from all other space RTSs by feeling like it is a real space battle by being able to manipulate its 3-D dynamics. It also adds another element of strategy that near-impossible to find elsewhere. And the story of the exodus from Kushan is something that really resonates with me; perhaps because it evokes memories of Battlestar Galactica (I’ve only seen the classic series). The gameplay really complements that with its persistent fleet between missions. Add on top of that a universe that has given the breath of life by its fans and it is an incredible experience to be part of (there is an incredible amount of dedication from the fans).

    But then the game has never lived up to the world its fans have created. I can’t say exactly what it has been. For me, I think that it has been the lack of unique abilities for units and the outdated graphics (I discovered the game in 2010). I played a game of Homeworld recently and the AI is definitely no tactician, rather it just gets immense resources and throws ships at you. But even bigger than those reasons have been my loneliness with the game. I have NO friends that play Homeworld or Homeworld 2 and I spend the vast majority of the time spent playing RTSs with friends. The remaster should correct my graphics issue I have (my issue alone, it is not the games fault for being old) and I have friends who are buying the remaster with me so I’m looking forward to playing with them. As well, I’m looking forward to competing against an active multiplayer community.

    And despite its problems I’ve still had great experiences with the original games; battles and memories that have immortalized them for me. It has always been for me at the very least a GOOD game with its moments of glory that have driven it it to be one of my favorite games. My favorite space strategy game by far is Sins of a Solar: Rebellion and to be honest I’ve never heard of Conquest: Frontier Worlds so I’ll have to check the game out!

    Overall, I’m pretty excited for the remaster and I hope in the future this leads to a Homeworld 3 that will be the perfect Homeworld. But I’ll just enjoy the moment and think: Homeworld Remastered is here!

    If you’ve read through my entire rant I thank you a lot for your patience :) this is just my opinion of my experiences and is by no means reflective of how you may view the game.

    1. Hey, welcome man. It sounds like you’ll be quite happy with the new versions then, as they support multiplayer, mods and all that fun stuff. :)

      1. OMG it’s just so much easier to put news there. Link, title, done. No huge post, no HTML to format, yadda yadda. This will definitely free up my brain if I decide to keep at it this way.

  12. To be honest the 3D aspect didn’t become important in the single player, if all you did was play the CPU or single player I can see why you might be lukewarm on the game. I’ve never seen the CPU use the 3rd plane in any skirmish I ever played. The 3D aspect was far more important in multi-play, and to those who used it as part of their play, pretty damn effective. It’s like the original StarTrek 2 movie, if you can’t think in 3D in multi-play and your opponent can, you are going to get squashed. One of the most important aspects of the 3D was the fact that where you hit the ships determined the amount of damage you would deal, Each axis would have different modifiers for damage with head on attacks dealing the least and rear the most. Good players were always jockeying for the best position for dealing the most damage, I hope you will give the game another look but also try it in online matches before making your final judgement.

    1. Welcome to the comments, Alpha, and thanks for sharing your view of the game. :)

      1. Thanks, as I said I hope you’ll play some multi-player games once HW:RM is out, it should be a blast with all 4 races being an option.

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