Eterium: Classic Style, Modern Sensibilities

Pew Pewness!
Pew Pewness!

Hey folks, welcome to a preview of the upcoming space fighter sim Eterium, to be released on Steam on April 15th! We’ve discussed Eterium before on our podcast, but if you’re unfamiliar, it’s a space fighter sim very reminiscient of the first two Wing Commander games in look and feel, but with some modern touches thrown in (like fighters attacking your escort are purple instead of red). I play through the first two missions of the game, and wow did I have a fun, challenging time. This video is based on a beta version of the game, so some stuff still isn’t working 100% yet, but it was pretty stable in my run. I therefore hope you enjoy this quick preview of the game, and invite you to stay tuned as more coverage will be coming as the game comes to Steam. :)

Author: Brian Rubin

11 thoughts on “Eterium: Classic Style, Modern Sensibilities

  1. Can we please have a moment of silence for Commander Babyface and Ensign Apathetic? …..

    So sad. We hardly knew them….

  2. “Nozomi” is a given name in Japanese, and “Maru” (circle) is a common suffix for ship names. It wouldn’t shock me if there were tens or hundreds of ships named “Nozomi Maru” right now.

      1. The funny thing is, as far as I understand, the “maru” suffix is common amongst civilian ships, but isn’t used for military vessels, or at least hasn’t since Japan modernized their navy in the early 20th century. IIRC Star Trek got that right; the eponymous Kobayashi Maru was (supposedly) a civilian ship in trouble in a treaty-protected DMZ.

  3. Unfortunately, what i have seen now still confirms my doubts i was having after i have tried demo. It is looking really great, but… too fast enemies, too jumpy controls can make later missions an exercise in frustration
    All wing commander games have this gradual learning curves, but most of the missions you are not feeling like you are trying to hit running cockroachers by ttrowing pins in them (well, except maybe Flash mission in WC3) Xwing, Crusaders, Freespace and most other series are also following this rule – the visual combat distance and lateral speeds should enable you to hit the standard enemy for 10-20 % of shots average and down him in reasonable amount of time, usually no more than a minute.
    But most of the kills in video were from missiles, and solid hits chain was registered only after enemy engines were crippled. And Brian, you are a reasonable good hotshot, Imagine if there was 4 of them against you. You will definetly not survive. And that goes to me as well, and hell know how many people out there.
    Of cause the difficulty should be noted, but i still need to check, what is actually changing with difficulty level, If hitpoint only – its a no-go. If AI behavior – might be something good out of it.

    WIll appreciate any opposite opinion in details, even the one like “you are just an old geezer, who should be flying a wheelchair only”.

    1. Difficulty settings changing hitpoint values is a no go in my book. We do not change weapon damage or ship strengths based on difficutly. Our difficulty scale is actually a range of 0 to 1.0. Where at 1.0 (which is indicated as impossible) the AI plays its very best. The highest difficulty can finish even me in a matter of seconds. This is really designed for the hardcore space sim fan who really wants to face challenging odds. That said, the easier difficulties are very forgiving and at difficulty level of Ace and below, the game will quickly adjust to your play style.

      Assuming you have auto adjust difficulty turned on, the initial difficulty selection determines your starting difficulty and how quickly difficulty adjusts based on your kills vs damage taken vs current ship status. Also starting difficulty determines a few other variable as well. For example on Ace difficulty the mines in minefields have limited homing capabilities, making minefields very deadly if you don’t pulse your afterburner (Read character dialog and in-game dialog messages for hints). Also Ace and above allows certain enemies to use FF missiles, which, while not as powerful as Seeker missiles, do not require a lock and cannot be confused by decoys. You must evade them.

      As far as that one enemy that eluded Brian for so long, I was yelling at the screen while watching the video: Get in behind him and hit your afterburners. Afterburners, as Brian mentioned, are a finite resource that do not recharge as they do in Freespace; but unlike Freespace, you can use your afterburners a lot longer. So there are times and places when it’s okay to waste fuel. Most gun kills require getting in behind the enemy and staying there. Staying there requires your afterburners. In this sense the flight model is a lot more similar to Wing Commander Prophecy/Secret Ops than to the initial Wing Commander 1 & 2 games. In the first couple of missions it is unlikely that you’ll run out of afterburner fuel, but in the later missions it becomes a matter of strategy to balance afterburner usage and missile kills.

      On Ace difficulty, I average around 50% to 70% gun hits. Of course I created the game so I expect myself to be better. During the design of the AI, I had several space sim fan friends that were always looking for a challenge, so I was designing my AI beat them (without cheating). One of our key criticisms has been the very thing you mentioned about the game being like trying to hit cockroaches. As such we spent a lot of time making things easier on the easier difficulties.

      We are aware that Eterium might not be for everyone and that is why we have our demo. I don’t know when you tried the demo last, but much has changed since our kickstarter. I invite you try our latest demo (which was created from the same version Brian played ( and experiment with difficulty levels. If you are struggling with the first five missions, then the rest of the game will be very brutal: you might want to drop the difficulty.

      I admit our AI might be a little bit unforgiving in the evasive maneuver category. But just remember, your missiles are there to be used and your fuel is there to burnt. Keep up with the latest news and get the latest demo at

      1. Holy friggin’ cow! Andrew Luby in person! Oh boy, now just have to buy your game on launch, Shame Intel HD3000 is clearly not supported (mainly because it suck i guess), it will be a while till i have permanent access to my main computer instead of laptop.

        Yes, it has been a long time since i tried demo, so i will follow your advice and try a newer version. Also i’m close to my forties and have considerably less time for games,i suppose i should be honest with myself and select easy difficulty :)
        If i will have my ass handed to me on “Easy” – maybe i have to consider retiring from space sim as a valid option.

        I agree that WC1 & 2 was a little bit too easy overall, compaired to later WC games.And the game will benefit greatly to have a wide array of difficulty settings.

        Have to check what you have said about evasive maneuver. Main damaging factor in most of space sims are guns, missiles are mostly for quick kills or to even the odds at the very start of encounter.You usually never have enough missiles for all targets. As a result – if you cannot kill the enemy one-on-one with guns only – this is not your difficulty setting simply put.

        Thank you for attention and long detailed answer, consider me sold on your game

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