The FreeSpace franchise were two games and an add-on developed by Volition and published by Interplay placing the player behind the controls of various fighter and torpedo bombers in situations from small skirmishes to epic battles between multi kilometre long warships.
FreeSpace 1 (FS) Edit
Descent: FreeSpace – The Great War, also known as Conflict: FreeSpace – The Great War depending on sale region is a 1998 space combat simulation created by Volition, Inc. when it was split off from Parallax Software. Published by Interplay Entertainment. The game was ported later to the Amiga by Hyperion Entertainment.
The game is set during the 14 year long war between the Galactic Terran Alliance and the Parliamentary Vasudan Empire where both sides are locked seemingly in a stalemate, with both sides engaging in bloody battles that can cost ten thousand lives or more. Into this enters the player, a newly qualified fighter pilot joining their command ship the GTD Galatea to reports of a mostly failed operation to take a system. As the game progresses though events take a sharp turn forcing both the Terran and Vasudan peoples to contemplate extinction.
Silent Threat Expansion (FS:ST) Edit
Silent Threat picks up just after the events of FreeSpace 1with the player taking the role of a pilot newly recruited into Galactic Terran Intelligence, the intelligence branch of the GTA. The opening missions revolve around tensions between the Terran and Vasudan people when unrelated events archive critical mass with implications for all.
FreeSpace 2 (FS2) Edit
Titled simply FreeSpace 2 the game was again created by Volition, Inc. and distributed by Interplay.
Set 32 years after the events of FreeSpace 1, the player reprises their role as a rookie pilot newly entering the Fleet, though this time the political background is radically different. Over the previous 3 decades Terrans and Vasudans have been able to not only settle their differences but have formed a close political, economic and military alliance involving a joint military command, this new Galactic Terran Vasudan Alliance not only complements their combined fleet with a new generation of ship designs but also new weapons including powerful beam cannons and fighter shredding flak systems. All would be well with the galaxy if not for one thing, the past 18 months have been dominated by a bitter war against a rogue Terran admiral at the head of a xenophobic army seeking to end the alliance between Terrans and Vasudans, As before though, these events pail in comparison with events building in the dark of space.
Post FreeSpace 2 Edit
While the ending to FS2 left the story open to a sequel, Volition's acquisition by publisher THQ in 2000 and Interplay's retaining certain rights to the Franchise Volition was unable to continue development of the series and in 2002 they released the source code for the FreeSpace 2 engine to the public with a Not For Profit licence. Ever since a small but dedicated team of programmers have gathered to improve the game engine evolving it into the FreeSpace Open (FSO) engine, preserving retail play while adding new features and fixing an ever growing catalogue of bugs.
Along with the Source Code Project a large and active community has gathered including a wide verity of talent launching projects to not only create new stories and resources but also to improve the look of FreeSpace 2 and import FreeSpace 1 to the FSO engine. Originally the community centred around http://www.game-warden.com but since then things have drifted towards http://www.hard-light.net which was originally set up as a dedicated forum for people creating visual objects such as ships for the game engine and has now taken on the mantle of being the centre of the active community, though a purely English speaking site there are sites using other languages
Legal Status of FreeSpace Edit
While the game engine has been made Open Source the Intellectual Property behind the franchise remain in corporate ownership meaning the games themselves have to be obtained through legitimate means which some remain open. But the engine can be distributed for free so if a project is able to build their content without any of the commercially owned content then under the terms of the FreeSpace engine being released to the public it is free of restriction so long as no money is taken in the process.
Significant Mods for FSO Edit
To list all the mods, campaigns, total conversions and stories created by the community ever since 1999 is large undertaking so listed here are a small number of the most notable released mods
- Freespace Upgrade Project (Sometimes call the MediaVPs)
- FreeSpace Port
- Silent Threat Reborn
- Vassago's Dirge
- Blue Planet
- Shattered Stars
Total Conversions Edit
Total Conversions are mod's which replace all game content but still use the FSO engine, while due to the work involved these are rare they need to be mentioned separately as they often use custom or specific builds of FSO
- Wing Commander Saga – based on the Wing Commander franchise.
- Beyond the Red Line – Battlestar Galactica based, while the team collapsed they released a notable demo beforehand.
- Diaspora - Battlestar Galactica based, Part of the BtRL team held together and formed the Diaspora project which has released a successful campaign and are working on improving it and their next release.
- The Babylon Project – Based on Babylon 5 the team have released several campaigns and missions over the years and continue development.
Related Links Edit
Community recommended source for legal purchase and download of the FreeSpace games can be found at http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/freespace_expansion and http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/freespace_2
English Speaking FreeSpace Community and links to many of the above mods and TCs http://www.hard-light.net
Wing Commander Saga http://wcsaga.com/
Freespace 1 Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descent:_FreeSpace_%E2%80%93_The_Great_War Freespace 2 Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreeSpace_2