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This Page Updated:
Sat Jan 24, 1998

Stat Box
Title: Subspace
Developers: Burst Entertainment
Genre: Multiplayer Action
Release Date: Finished

Page 1: Multiplayer Internet Asteroids
By: Evan Jones

Virgin Interactive and Burst Entertainment have joined together to create one of the most innovative Internet gaming projects yet. SubSpace is a very unique and original game, and it is also amazingly addictive. With a very simple premise, they have created a game which should be quite a hit.

Have you ever played the classic arcade game, Asteroids? I am sure you have. Well, take Asteroids as a starting point, make it a Windows 95 game, boost the resolution up to 640X480, render all the graphics, and add a huge map filled with mazes, asteroid fields and black holes. Add 4 different ship types with different strengths and weaknesses and 17 different ship systems to upgrade, team options, squad options, and a capture the flag type game. Finally, and most importantly, mix in up to 150 other people out for your blood over the Internet.

SubSpace is a game where you fly a small ship around a large arena trying to destroy others. The controls are simple to start out with: The arrow keys turn you and move you forward and backwards, the shift key turns on your afterburners and control fires. Then things get more complex. As you pick up different upgrades your arsenal increases and improves. It is an easy game to pick up, but a difficult one to master.

The way that ammo has been included in the game is interesting. Your ship has a certain amount of energy available, which slowly increases to a certain maximum. Everything that you do except for standard thrust uses this energy. Every bullet, every missle, every mine and every second of afterburner uses up this supply. The problem is that everytime you are hit this pool is drained. There is a fine line between firing frequently to get a kill and conserving your resources to not get killed.

The graphics are quite nice and have gone through an overhaul since the last time I have played. The models are high quality and are quite well animated. The program to connect to a server has also gotten a lot easier to use and a lot prettier. It is finally a finished product, after a year or so of beta testing.

Team work is an important part of SubSpace. You are automatically assigned to a team of players when you enter SubSpace. You can change your team and you can start new teams if you wish. The members of a team share power-ups and cannot hit each other with bombs, mines or bullets. However the blasts from bombs and mines will still harm teammates so you must be careful with the high explosives. You can even merge with another ship on your team and become a turret on their ship. There is a capture the flag variant of SubSpace, which requires team cooperation and coordination. Squads are another part of SubSpace. A squad is a group which puts all of its points together to compete with other squads for the top rankings. Statistics for the past week are posted every friday on the SubSpace homepage, showing the top 5 players and squads in each arena.

SubSpace uses client-side prediction to lessen the noticeable effects of lag, like QuakeWorld. Instead of having all your commands lagged like in ordinary Quake where it takes half a second for you to fire after you pressed the fire key, the effects of your commands are lagged. This means that if you fire a killing shot at someone, it may take them a second or two to actually die. This is because your computer is predicting what will happen in the future and so it predicts that you hit their ship when perhaps you really did not. Until the master server verifies that it is in fact a hit your opponent will still live. This client-side prediction is very smooth and seamless for SubSpace. The effects of it are rarely noticed. Occasionally when you are approach another ship it may change positions a bit because the spot that your client predicted the ship would be was not where it actually was. Because SubSpace is not a game that requires lightning reflexes like Quake, the effects of your connection are almost unnoticeable and playable lag times are quite high. The servers are also very reliable, and drop outs and pauses are rare.

SubSpace is a great game. It shows that good games can be created from simple ideas. SubSpace is a great game because it is multiplayer. If it was single player it would be far less interesting. Subspace is one of the first multiplayer only games that we will be seeing more of in the future. SubSpace completed beta testing in November 1997 and went retail. You can still play it as a demo as long as you like, but you have a limited number of options and tend to get killed by registered players. If your system can run it, which any computer that is four years old or younger should be able to, you should give it a try. SubSpace is a very different experience from most games on the market right now.

Further Info

Virgin Interactive
The company that has created SubSpace

Official SubSpace Homepage
The source of it all

SubSpace Warzone
A page with loads of SubSpace information, including a comprehensive stratagy guide

The Future of Gaming is created by Evan Jones