Excellent games that don’t exist: Outer Rim

The Long Version

Home, courtesy of X-Wing Alliance

At the beginning of the game, you are introduced to the floating rock in the middle of remote space that your clan of merchants/pirates/mercenaries has lived on for years. It is located far out along the outer rim of the galaxy (wink, wink), where no one else has passed for centuries, and life is good, if repetitive. The game picks up one day after your father died and made you head of the clan, and all eyes are on you today, with everyone wondering what your plans are for your first trip around the galaxy. After all, it's the clan leader's responsibility to go out into space and help the clan to survive however they can.

This is the sort of thing you'd see on your iPad screen and feel badass about.

Whenever you start up the game, you are given the choice of three sizes of ship to fly out in, the one or two-person fighter, the three to five-person freighter, or the six to nine-person starship. First player always uses the Xbox controller to fly the ship, and everyone else in the crew, regardless of size, uses their various Xbox SmartGlass enabled devices to man various other positions, such as communications, weapons, navigation, engineering, science, shields, commerce, and tractor beam operator. There would be a specific SmartGlass interface for each position, and if there aren't enough people to fill each one, more than one will be assigned to some crew members, and they will have the ability to switch between them on the SmartGlass via tabs near the top of the screen. Additionally, for ship-to-ship communication, the Kinect can be used for video, or for just audio, an Xbox Live Headset could be used.

From there, the galaxy is your oyster. The game would function much like any other MMO, in that there are various different sectors of the galaxy run by various different races, and each of them will have different relationships with you based on your actions.  You can do missions for them, trade with them, ignore them, or even terrorize them, in return for credits, which can buy you upgrades for your ship, or even, if you have enough, entirely new ships made available through the constantly released content packs that would keep this game free to play.

You really feel like you're inside a vehicle, just like Steel Battalion.

There would be plenty of space stations, alien worlds, and enormous capital ships to dock at, and fight near, and trade with, and at any time, you can mark one as your new spawn point to teleport your crew back to when you die, and to have the rest of your ships sent to while you're offline so that when you log back on, you can keep going no matter what size crew you have.

Now, on top of being a new entry in a genre of game we haven't really seen in a while, I can imagine the real value of this game coming from this new sort of tight-knit communal play style it encourages. I mean, sure, it'd be silly not to allow crews to connect with each other online, but imagine the satisfaction of jaunting around the galaxy, kicking ass and taking names with six or seven other people, who are there in the room with you, sharing pizza and jokes with you in real time, making eye contact with you, and even just taking over your post while you quickly go to the bathroom. It would really feel like being on a spaceship, and it would be an experience unique to this game.

All of a sudden this becomes the rag-tag crew of a starship. WIN.

Wouldn't it be great if someone took all these gimmicks and peripherals and made them into something like this? Tell me about it below, even if you hate this idea, and by all means share some more of your own, too.

We knew that someone was probably going to try and come up with an answer to the Wii U's touchscreen-toting gamepad at E3 this year, and I don't think any of us were entirely surprised when this mystery copycat ended up being Microsoft, with their "revolutionary" new quasi-peripheral for the Xbox 360 called Xbox SmartGlass. Admittedly, because of the variety of different devices it has to support, it doesn't seem to be as powerful or as integrated into gameplay as it's Wii U counterpart, but that doesn't mean Xbox SmartGlass is not without it's advantages.

More specifically, Nintendo has explained that Wii U is about "asynchronous gameplay" a lot of the time, and as such, only two Wii U gamepads will ever be simultaneously supported, and this won't even be a feature out of the box. Because of how relatively simplistic the software like is, I see no reason why Xbox SmartGlass couldn't support as many devices as it needed to. Also, each Wii U gamepad is likely going to be another $100-$150 bucks out our likely shallow pockets, where most of us are already going to own a tablet or a smartphone that we already take with us everywhere.

With SmartGlass, your tablet is...not quite the controller.

So, that being said, here's what I'm going to posit to y'all: What if there was actually a game based around peripherals like Kinect and Xbox SmartGlass that was excellent and exciting, that hardcore gamers could play with their friends without feeling like assholes, that was deeply engaging to your imagination and truly honestly fun? Ladies and gentlemen, GameZone proudly presents the latest child of our boundless minds: Outer Rim.

The Short Version

You and your friends, doing this, forever, right now.

The game I'm imaging satisfies all these criteria, while also being a free-to-play MMO. It would be a space flight/combat/trading simulator where crews of all different sizes can pilot ships through the open galaxy while sitting together in the same room, looking at the same screen, and manning their positions in the cockpit or on the bridge using Xbox  Smartglass. Gameplay would be a combination of EVE Online, X-Wing Alliance, and Steel Battalion (the good ones), and the social aspect would make it a unique new kind of fun that fulfills the wishes of anyone who's ever wanted to be Wedge Antilles, Han Solo, or even Captain Kirk. Click on for the long version.