Subspace / Continuum History

Archived from an unknown source. Possibly Gravitron?

In regards for history:

Chapter #1

(Around) December 1995 is when it all started. Rod Humble wished to create something like Air Warrior but online, he approached Virgin Interactive Entertainment with the idea and they replied with something along the lines of “here’s the cash, good luck”. Rod called Jeff Petersen and asked if he’s interested in helping him creating an online only game, Jeff agreed. Inorder to overcome lag Jeff decided it would be best to test an engine which simulates neutonian physic principles - an object in motion tends to keep the same vector, and on that he also built prediction forumlas. They also enlisted Juan Sanchez, with whom Rod had worked before to design them some graphics for it. Either way, after some initial advancement they’ve decided to put it on the public gamers block to test it and code named it Sniper. They got a few people who played it around and gave feedback. After a short alpha testing period they’ve decided that they’ve learned enough and decided to pull the plug. The shockwave that came back from the community whence the announcement was recieved impressed them enough to have it kept in development. They moved onto beta at early-mid ‘96 and dubbed it SubSpace. From there it entered a real development cycle and was opened and advertised by word-of-mouth around to many people. Michael Simpson (Blackie) was assigned by VIE as an external producer from their westwood studio division to serve as a promotional agent, community manager and overall public relations person. Jeff and Rod are starting to prepare to leave VIE.

Chapter #2

At late ‘97 SubSpace officially started entering retail cycle with pre-orders being collected and demo priviledges being revoked (demo clients confined to 15 minutes of play alone and only first four ships accessable). The reason behind this was that VIE was going down hill, loosely losing money (only thing kept them afloat this long was westwood and C&C frenchise) and tried to cash out on any bone they could get. Early 98 a small work, primarily on Juan’s part and mainly being blurped about by Michael, begins on SubSpace 2, it soon enough dissolves to dust and never being discussed again. Skipping to 98, VIE classifies SubSpace as a B-rated product, which means it gets no advertisement budget. In addition, they only manufactured a mere 10,000 or so copies of it and tossed it to only a select few retailers for $30 a box. Along those lines, VIE also lost on an opportunity to sell SubSpace to Microsoft, as part of the “The Zone” which would’ve ensured the game’s long-term success and continuance, for a very nice sum. The deal fell through the cracks due to meddlings of Viacom, who owned VIE at the time, untill it was completely screwed up. Rod and Jeff, being enraged on all of this realised it was over and notified VIE several months ahead of their contacts expiring (they were employeed by a 1 year contract with an option to extend it another year at a time) about their intentions to leave and go independant, they tried to negotiate with them to enter developer-publisher relationship, naturally it didn’t work and they seperated up. On October ‘98 the wind broke from an inside source and rumors, which would later be proven truth, begun to fly about VIE bunkrupting and SubSpace being abandoned and left without support nor a development team. Although franatically denied by Michael, the horror was proven true, and not too soon after of, VIE officially announced the shutdown of SubSpace and complete support withdrawl accompanied with that of a filing chapter 11 and sale-off of its remaining assets (Viacom had WestWood already sold to Electronic Arts, along with Michael). The owners of Brilliant Digital Entertainment (Kazaa/Altnet.com) created an asset holding company called Ozaq2, and are now the sole holders of SubSpace copyrights. By then, the original developers are long gone.

Chapter #3

Early ‘98/Late ‘97 the ex-SubSpace developers : Rod, Jeff and Juan move to Origin, which contracts them to create Crusader Online. Unfortunately, however, after producing an alpha version, Origin execute a clause which states that they may pull the plug if they do not like their demo and terminates the project. Nick Fisher (AKA trixter, as known in subspace) approaches them, and together they form Harmless Games, their first task, taking what they had done and building it further onto a viable profitable online game, the crusader online demo is redubbed as Infantry (online). On a side note, I have no idea if what they made was what is known as the would-be “Crusader : No Mercy” (the so called online version of Crusader with only 1, possibly fake, screenshot ever released of the project). Nick creates the GameFan Network which will rehost warzone.com and Infantry’s gaming servers, among other websites and deals. Jeff have the game quickly plow through pre-alpha and rapidly working it up to be suitable for alpha testing. Larry Cordner is contracted to create content editors for the game, though he won’t be staying on pay for long (and disappear/sacked upon the move to SOE). By October ‘98 the Harmless Games site is being put up, along the “most” official Infantry section, which is the only one which gets any attention at all throughout that site. Juan creates for Rod the insignia of HG - the Tri-Nitro-Teddy. Jeremy Weeks is contracted to create secondary concept art for Infantry. On November ‘98 HG officially announces Infantry, alpha testing is to commence shortly. Juan, with his artwork part finished, leaves the team. At March ‘99 HG officially announces BrainScan, a company founded by Nick, to be the game’s publisher, after many attempts at signing a publishing deal kept falling through, beta testing is to begin later that year with a full release with pay to play schedueled not far behind. Rod and Jeff clash about Rod’s desire to bring Infantry to verant/studio 989 (later renamed SOE) via his connections, Rod eventually leaves Infantry and HG to head up a high window position in Sony Online Entertainment (senior executive of games development I believe it was). At late 2000 due to the dot-com crash, express.com fails to pay GameFan Network its dues (advertisement banner payments, of course) and GFN crash and burns due to the lack of millions of dollars to cover its debts (as well as silently BrainScan), Infantry’s servers are slated for a shutdown, the hunt for a new host/publisher begins. And so they contact Rod, and eventually all of the intellectual properties owned by Nick are sold to SOE (the ICQ-esque EGN2 program as well), with Infantry & Jeff among them for an “undisclosed sum” (according to Nick the deal earned him a figure around 6 million USD). SOE’s “The Station” announces the aquisition of Infantry. Infantry is still being ran on GFN’s last remaining online server, which for some reason someone (whoever the box-hosting was bought from) forgot to take down, well that is, untill late of October at which it is being brought down and the long coma begins.

Chapter #4

Coming November 2000, Infantry is going back online at SOE. Not so long after of, Cosmic Rift begins development, the SubSpace Clone which at at April 2001 is being announced publicaly. Jeff is becoming more and more abscent untill finally disappearing from Infantry and its development altogether (we later learn that he was pulled away by Rod’s steering and removed onto EQ projects and SWG). SOE partially “fires” Jeremy only to rehire him later. Then at April 2002 the hellfire spits the brimstone : Infantry is going Pay 2 Play and the chain of broken promises and EQ Customer Support personall being assigned as the games’s Exec. Producers begins. Alot of miscontent and grief grises from the player base. Some people begin to run private limited-ability servers from the beta era. Infantry players who had access to beta software, Gravitron among them, being outragous by the injustice done to Jeff, the game, the betrayel of Rod, not being able to stand SOE’s continued abuse, mistreatment and lies, make a shoe stomp by gathering all possible available material (namely mainly, beta client, beta server and editing tools) and making a statement&point by releasing it to the public and whomever desires (despite the predictable effect of anger and alienation by Jeff). Rod plummets onto the depths of EQ, Jeff disappears off radar. Everyone else continues with their seperate lives, employements and projects.

Chapter #5

A supplemental as for SubSpace’s well being.

About post-VIE SS: A Norwegian named Robert Oslo, his alias Baudchaser, approached a finnish ISP called Inet. Cutting a lot of events (and shit) short, he, along with the one known as Xalimar (an Exodus/C&W employee) whose name eludes me, became the two carriers of the SS torch, as they arranged for the hosting of the game’s zones. BaudChaser formed the SubSpace Council and for as long as he stayed around upto his departure, took care to have SS kept going and battled a lot of cheating, staff troubles (abuse) and grief. Eventually Inet stopped hosting SS and now Xalimar alone carry the burden, for the most part, of hosting core SS zones. Priit Kasesalu, who apparently been playing the game, started working for the current chief in power of SSC and ex-Vangel AML league sysop, Alex Zinner (AKA Ghost Ship), hacking the server software and eventually creating his own client by reverse engineering the original SS, possibly having some sort of access to the source.

About “SubSpace 2” rumors mid 2003: The owners of BDE wished to create the perfect Peer2Peering network (Altnet.com), they needed a flagship product to prove investors that their way is just and right. For that, they contacted a company called Horizon which was specializing in P2P technology. Horizon was creating a P2P technology called Horizon’s DEx, later on Horizon renamed to SilverPlatter and their technology to Alloy. Somewhere around 2002-2003 they were supposed to use BDE’s Altnet in an E3 show to present the manifestation of this technology - Space Commander, presumably, SubSpace remade a new and being used as the first massive MPOG under Peer2Peer. However, silverplatter eventually went bunkrupt, for some reason, and nothing was known since and before about BDE’s attempts at using the SubSpace properties which they owned aside this single E3 presentation.

Chapter #6

Additional update:

(wow, I must put this through a grammatical correctional application) Somewhere along 2004-2005 Rod quit SOE as Executive Producer/VP of production (SOE seeming nowdays as a leaking boat about to drown) and joins Maxis to head off sims projects. October 2005, in a series of lay-offs Jeremy Weeks (yankee) is fired from SOE, apparently permanently this time, any shread of hope (not much to begin with) Infantry had is now diminished next to null. Jeff is still assumed to be working at SOE. Juan surfaces at pendamic studios, working for Lucas Arts on BattleFront I & II (and has a website, www.allinjuan.com). Somewhere later that year or in the beginning of 2006, a high ranking moderator-player known as Mar snaps in face of the continued abuse/neglect by the owners and in an anti-SOE move releases the latest editor tools, his efforts are quickly hashed, however, and it is unknown if anyone got their hands on the software, he is of course terminated of status and subsequently banned from the game. February 2006, Rod is tracked down and grants his point of view, being accused of not lending assistance to infantry while being games development exec. at SOE and clearly in a position to help:


You know what? You are probably right. At the time I was focused entirely on the big EQ issues which the entire company’s survival hinged on. In retrospect Infantry could have been turned into a bigger product than it was by extra rescources (although I will say it got more than other titles of similar sub bases). Somewhat ironically now I am completely fatigued by graphical MUDS, games like Infantry are interesting to me again. So yeah, I could have done some more at the time. Hopefully a lesson learned. Anyways I hope that serves by way of an honest explanation. I can imagine how frustrating it must have been as a player. All the best,

Rod