Homeworld


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Homeworld pages!


A grand climatic shoot-out
Homeworld, developed by Relic Entertainment, and published by Sierra Studios in 1999, is one of the first true three dimensional Real Time Strategy games out. Its sequel, Cataclysm, extends the basic premise of the original. Homeworld is one of the few games that epitomises elegance. There's something wonderfully grandiose about it. The game interface gives you some exceptionally transparent camera controls and commands and a lot of Chris Foss style spacecraft to play with, but there's no terrain of any kind. You're entirely adrift in outer space, with nothing but distance between you and the enemy in all directions.

For regular strategy gamers this creates a bit of a problem: there aren't any obstacles, choke points, high ground or fortifications of any kind to hide behind or use to their advantage. To play Homeworld you have to unlearn a lot from what you've picked up from ground based strategy games. Most of the elements are still there: rather than build structures like factories or smithies you're building Carriers and support vessels instead.

There are two opposing forces, the Kushan and the Taiidan. Apart from looks, both have pretty much the same line up of shipping barring a few unique vessels with special abilities to liven things up. To cut a long story short, the Kushan discover their lost history and find they have been exiled on the desolate planet Kharak. They rally the clans and build a large Mothership to truck the population across the galaxy to reclaim their ancestral Homeworld, Hiigara. Unfortunately, the tyrannical Taiidan empire, now occupying the old homestead, has other plans: mainly on blasting the Kushans clean off the ecliptic. The single player campaigns are absolutely identical for each side - but this is one of the best single player campaigns I've seen for an RTS. Atmospheric, logical, and possessing a beautiful sense of progression. As you travel from the dark outskirts of the galaxy to galactic central, the skies become more luminous, the Taiidan become more threatening and you meet other groups, like the religious Kadeshi and the Turanic Raiders that give you clues to your distant past and give the story a lot of its colour.

Since every unit is a spaceship and all of them perform in the same theatre - space - the usual paper- scissor- rock trumping doesn't apply: everything can damage everything else. Distinguishing features boil down to size, manoeuvrability and the distribution of firepower. There are several ship classes: light, manoeuvrable Strikecraft,heavier and less agile Corvettes, heavy and slow Capital Ships, and the ponderous Super Capital Ships. Formations of Strikecraft can avoid the lumbering turrets of larger ships and cause damage, but are outgunned by Corvettes. Corvettes hammer Strikecraft but are in turn vulnerable to Capital Ships. Capital ships are the backbone of your fleet and subject your opponents to awesome amounts of force.

Like Total Annihilation, units are 3D models composed of animated parts. Turrets track their targets while formations of small fighters dart like small fish between capital ships to engage the enemy from all angles. Camera control allows you to flick from one ship to another, or view whole formations very easily, panning, tilting and tracking around with complete freedom. The action takes place along an ecliptic plane to begin with, but you can conduct campaigns vertically through the map as well as horizontally!

Homeworld is about formations, getting the right units to the right place at the right time and navigating around the game map effectively - without getting lost or confused along the way! You point your ships to where they're supposed to go and they do all the work, flying in nifty formations and executing very cool manoeuvres. You can record multiplayer games and get some pretty stunning replays.

But there's more to it than just guns: servicing your fleet is essential. Strikecraft and Corvettes will run out of fuel without regular servicing or docking; repairing your damaged capital ships is far preferable than letting them die and anxiously waiting for reinforcements to crawl across the map again. Stealing enemy vessels is another strategic element - you can run off with your enemy's prized motors with Salvage Corvettes and add their firepower to your own, or recycle them for fresh resources! Oddly enough, space in Homeworld has a Fog of War, so reconnaissance is vital. Some of the more advanced and esoteric units can cloak or cloak other vessels, so maintaining sensor coverage can become decisive. There's only one resource in Homeworld called, funnily enough, a Resource Unit. You need a good supply of RU's to build new ships, so harvesting them from asteroids and dust clouds, recycling old ships or ripping off enemy vessels all are vital aspects of Homeworld strategy.

What gives this game its unique feel is the glorious way it uses empty space. It really feels big. Whereas many games desperate for your attention assault you with a barrage of special effects, screen overlays and noisy action, Homeworld's clean views and free wheeling camera convey a tremendous sense of scale and distance.
Kushan Interceptors in formation
Its rare to see such restraint in over cranked graph card days, even outside computer games. Many other 3D games (apart from the human orientated shooters) invariably look and feel like small, pokey dioramas stuck inside a dark, sealed box - just too cramped to feel comfortable in. (Not so much these days though, as graphic cards become increasingly turbo charged) You can't look around in all directions like you'd expect to. Take a squizz at some Dark Reign 2 screen shots and you'll see what I mean.

Homeworld takes full advantage of a good 3D graphics card, although it looks pretty lo-res compared to what's doing the rounds these days, especially its graphically intense sequel. It invokes a fabulous sense of grandeur and has some wonderfully sublime ambient music. With the unlimited movement, fine detailing and some extraordinary perspectives it makes for a pretty spectacular experience. Back in 1999, this meant it hammered average PC pretty hard, but you won't have any problems running it these days at some ridiculous resolution with all its bells and whistles cranked up to full, even on on a typical PC - unless your computer harks back to that bygone age. Its one of the few games around where in the in-game graphics frequently outdoes the promotional art for it, matched only by its gorgeous sequel. There's a number of Homeworld fan sites that specialise in nothing more than downloadable screen shots.

Homeworld boasts a relatively small and civilised gaming community, but an enthusiastic one nonetheless, judging by the number of custom mods that have appeared. Homeworld clans are usually referred to as Armadas. If you want to check out all those spiffy ships in the game (including all the extra races and units you encounter in the single player game and everything else in the Cataclysm sequel), there's a detailed encyclopedia to be found at the Homeworld Shipyards.

Relic released the source code to Homeworld back in 2003. There are currently two projects to port the game across to the Macintosh and LINUX.

HOMEWORLD OVERVIEW
Version & Install

1.0.0.5
Its a straight install.

Spawns

No!

Demo

Yes! A 62.6Mb download from PCGameworld, GamePro.com, or UGO's Downloads Channel (sites picked at random).

FAQ's

Relic

DLH.net

Networks

Up to 8 players on an IPX or TCP/IP LAN

Up to 8 players on internet games via Won.net

But you can't connect direct TCP/IP to someone else direct across the Internet!

Maps

Maps are self contained 3D volumes with nice backdrops and 3D lighting.

Maps are extensive folder structures, not single files. This has something to do with all the myriads of settings and game options that are possible for any kind of game outside the single player storyline.

There doesn't appear to be a standardised, single "default game" configuration of any kind. All Homeworld maps seem to use different starting forces and settings; and with some customs, outrageously so.

Units

Spacecraft only

Only about 24 ship classes per side.

Unit cap is a little limited, but you can opt to eliminate Unit Capping entirely.

Unit class size determines the number of that unit class you can build. i.e. you can churn out hundreds of tiny fighters but only a couple of giant Battlecruisers. Unless Unit Capping is disabled, of course.

Units very autonomous - able to navigate and look after themselves - dogfights make great spectator sport

Extensive use of formations and tactical settings to suit different attack tactics and ship types. What works for one type of ship in one situation doesn't necessarily suit another.

No Heroes, although some scripted alien vessels and wreckage in the single player campaign.

Strikecraft and Corvettes require servicing and refueling, unless this option is disabled.

Resources

The Resource Unit (RU)

RU's are finite and collected from asteroids, space dust and recycled or captured ships

RU's extracted by large mobile Harvesters and Resource Controllers

You can opt to eliminate resource harvesting from a multiplayer game entirely

Research

Research only makes available new ship types; there are no upgrades.

Research is made possible by building a Research Ship. The more Research Ships you build, the more techs you can study simultaneously.

Research is free, costing only time.

Research can be accelerated if more than one research ship is put onto a research item.




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1999, 2000, Sierra On-Line, Inc. All rights reserved. Homeworld is a registered trademark and Cataclysm, Sierra, and Sierra are trademarks of Sierra On-Line, Inc.

Finally returned to Hiigara, Tue, Apr 24 2007 by Lindsay Fleay.
Additional Mac/LINUX repolish Sun, May 25, 2008.