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Action Vault > Features > Designer's Den

Freelancer Q&A; #1
March 04, 2003

In the 23rd century, two factions of humanity known as the Alliance and the Coalition had been at war for over 100 years. Neither side could gain the upper hand, and few remembered what exactly the sides were fighting about. Then, one side gained control, the Coalition. Facing a tightening blockade and imminent defeat, the Alliance launched five immense sleeper ships, the Kusari, Bretonia, Rheinland, Hispania and Liberty. Each was packed with citizens representing the respective cultural groups, all seeking to escape and start a new life far away. Almost miraculously all escaped and began their journey into deep space and the unknown. They finally arrived at the Sirius Sector, where each sought out its own region. These were named after the respective vessels, with individual planets and stations being designated for places and people fondly remembered from Earth.

Digital Anvil's Freelancer picks up the tale some 800 years later. Earth and the habitable worlds of its solar system are nothing more than distant memories, reminders of the race's senseless and seemingly insatiable appetite for self-destruction. While disagreements are not unknown, trade is well established among the Kusari, Bretonia, Rheinland and Liberty blocs, which have expanded to encompass numerous worlds and to acquire needed resources. In the meantime, the fate of the Hispania and its descendents has become shrouded in the mists of time. You become Trent Edison, an unaligned pilot who finds himself entangled in a conspiracy where the only course is victory or the destruction of humanity. With the game expected to ship today, this very timely Freelancer Q&A; #1 asks 11 team members to reveal what they most enjoy in single-player mode.

Action Vault: Speaking as a player, what are a couple of things you find particularly enjoyable or sasfying in the single-player game, and why?

David Chang
Mission Designer

The sounds and sights of space. There's a ton of visual variety in the game, and there are some flat-out beautiful places to visit. (Just watch out for the hostile locals.) And we've put many long hours into giving the NPCs a variety of things to say and reasons to be where they are. It's always gratifying to see or hear something new. You can even scan and hail ships in space to find out where they're taking their cargo - which might give you some good ideas for trading runs.

Click to Enlarge Finding places to turn a quick buck. My prospects for survival and seeing more of the game are intimately tied to my net worth, so I'm always happy to raid a hostile faction's storage depots or run a successful mission from the Job Board on a base. Doing this well quickly leads to...

Upgrading my ship. Power corrupts, and absolute power is absolutely delicious. At least in video games.

Brian Hackert

The openness of the game is what really grabs me, you can go almost anywhere, do almost anything. Side with the factions you choose, hunt the factions you want, sure, there are always consequences to your actions, but it's YOUR game experience. The story may push you in this direction or that, but in the end it all comes down to you doing whatever you want.

Jacob Crow

The plot of the story is pretty fun. It's not your normal space game plot and it leads the player in directions that they may not expect. "You may think you're safe, but you're not!"

Click to Enlarge Physically, the story takes the player on a whirlwind tour of the universe. Sometimes you get to stay in one place and explore for a while, and other times the story just gives you a glimpse of an area before you have to move on. There is an immense variety of asteroid fields and nebula in Freelancer. Some of coolest areas haven't been shown in any screenshots, and the story only takes you to a fraction of the total number.

John Sripan
Mission Designer

I might be a little biased, but I love the story missions. They're incredibly good at immersing the player into the Freelancer universe. There are also these secret ships we have scattered through space. When you shoot them you can loot their remains IF you can find them and if you can survive the trip. Its things like this I love about this game, the little nuances that just add to the living, breathing universe that is Freelancer.

Adam Foshko
Designer / Writer

What I like is that you can be so caught up with the discreetly personal player experience (taking random missions, maybe some tough encounters, your reputation, your changing cashflow or just finding your way around), that when a story point suddenly crops up and things change, it can actually be really unexpected. I like the fact that Freelancer has the power to actually surprise players.

Click to Enlarge Scott Stevens

Just exploring the universe turned out to be far more compelling than I thought it could. As you visit new systems with new planets and bases, they are added to your NavMap, so after finishing the story missions, you become obsessed with filling in the vast amount of space you've only caught a glimpse of at that point. The joy of checking out the scenery and immersing yourself deeper in the fiction of the universe would be enough, but it can also be financially rewarding as you can find hidden treasure, hidden bases and better trade routes by exploring.

Johari Templin

Exploring! Just about every system in the game has some deep history to it and secrets that you have to discover. I find that single-player mode is very addictive because you want to get the best guns and ship and have a lot of credits in the game. How many more systems are left to explore in the game after you complete the game, is one thing that got my attention. The game keeps going on, as long as you want it to.

Jorg Neumann
Lead Designer

I like feeling truly connected to my player character and to the other characters in the game. During the story, Trent, Juni, King, Tobias, Von Claussen and all the other main characters really come to live for me and I care about their fate in the great conflict the story arc describes.

Click to Enlarge John P. Funk

During the single-player game, even though you are sort of being led around through the story, you are encouraged to take random missions and you start to develop a real sense of dynamic about the Freelancer universe. So much of what happens around you, like the random spaceship population and the communications between them or the attacks that happen around the space stations or trade lanes, allow you to feel that this is a living universe. Things interacting around you just as you would expect them to in daily life! It makes playing through the story a memorable experience, creating a sense of anticipation for what is coming up next.

Andrew Sega

I like the feeling of discovery. You're taken through many diverse environments as the story progresses, and your affiliations with the world around you change and mutate over time. At first you might find yourself taking missions for the Liberty Police, but later you find yourself associating with "criminal" groups like the Lane Hackers and The Order. The story always keeps you guessing - you never quite know what's coming up next.

Steve Pietzsch

I mostly liked following the story line, which always led me to new places in the universe. Traveling from one system to the next brought forth an anticipation of what the new encounter would look and feel like.

Click to Enlarge I also liked the trading aspect of the game. It was a nice alternative to just shooting down enemies to gain credits.

With Freelancer expected to ship today, it won't be very long before it warps its way into retailers and then onto gamers' hard drives. At that point in time, we'll all have the opportunity to play through the single-player game, exploring quite a number of systems and visiting dozens of bases along the way. As noted, an even more extensive and completely open-ended adventure still awaits, not to mention multiplayer. We thank the Digital Anvil developers who told us about single-player today, and we look forward to learning more.

Related Links
Freelancer Screenshots of the Week - January 2 - February 26, 2003
Freelancer Preview - February 20, 2003
Freelancer Visit Report - December 23, 2003
Freelancer Interview - June 4, 2002

Richard Aihoshi - "Jonric"

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