Battlecruiser: 3000AD (PC)
Long before John Romero threatened to make you his bitch, the master of the one-man hype machine was a young self-taught programmer named Derek Smart. Smart -- who's almost as intelligent as he thinks he is -- had a wonderful idea for a game. He was going to create the ultimate space simulator. In fact, according the pre-release ads, Battlecruiser 3000 AD would be the "last thing you ever desire."
To call the design for Battlecruiser: 3000 AD ambitious is to horribly abuse that term. The player in the game would be in command of an enormous star cruiser that would allow the player to essentially do anything he wanted with it. The game had a tactical side where players could just order their cruiser around, launch fighters, take missions from the government or become a criminal. Whatever kind of game experience you wanted, Battlecruiser could handle it.
The rest of the story is well known. The initial release was a train wreck, but the game was eventually fixed, and even spawned a relatively interesting sequel. The reason this game is on the "Overrated" list, though, is because of Smart's almost supernatural ability to get people to believe his promises. He managed to get people into a frenzy for seven years before the release of the first game, all through promises that he must have known he was never going to be able to keep -- unless he was insane, which is a very real possibility. Smart consistently overrates his own products and his own abilities -- the amazing thing is how many people he gets to come along for the ride.
Delsyn: For me, the amazing thing about Derek Smart is that even after the release debacle, he still managed to recover and continue to promise that same game, time and again -- "the last thing you'll ever desire" -- and he keeps getting people to believe him! He's done it for 14 years and he's currently doing it again with Battlecruiser: Generations and Battlecruiser Online. Will he ever deliver the gaming experience he promised all those years ago? I'm not sure it matters. He's managed to eke out a living all these years with nothing but a silver tongue and a lunatic obsession. In the end, it's become Derek's universe -- the rest of us just keep waiting for our battlecruisers.
Fargo: I've been desperate to play Derek's game ever since Battlecruiser: Crash Directly to Desktop was released and I tried in vain to get it to run for like half an hour. Documentation on the web site told me that I had to put it into a folder with no more than eight characters in the name. Eight-letter folder names? What is this, Windows 3.1?
The real problem is that we gamers just love hype too much. We want the next big game -- we're HUNGRY for it. We'll believe it when people tell us it's coming, so long as they're passionate enough about it. And, say what you will about Derek Smart, he's full of passion. Well, he's full of something, at least.