Real-Time Strategy based in space, how I miss you so. There was a time when there was no shortage of such games. From independent IP’s like Galactic Civilization, Endless Space and the Homeworld series; to licensed titles such as Star Trek Armada and Star Wars Empire at War. So many great games that I have, like many others, poured hundreds of hours into, and I mean that in the most literal sense. But for all the love I gave these games, they all fell out of my go to games. I recently caught myself wondering why I don’t play these games anymore and I thought I’d share my findings.
At first I thought it might be an access issue, some of these games are rather old after all. However, after looking through my games collection I found that I still had access to most of these games. And I could install them at any time, so, for me it wasn’t an access issue. I then looked to the mechanics and graphics. Maybe I couldn’t go back to older games because I’d become accustom to newer graphics; maybe I couldn’t cope with older game mechanics such as base building in space or the variable slew of resources. I found that while I found both of these points jarring at first, it wasn’t long before I settled into an all too familiar rhythm. Build base, expand, fight some skirmishes, build better ships, go and wreck the CPU’s face. I found myself bored, and that is when it hit me. I’d done all of this before, no amount of nostalgia was going to make treading the old ground any more interesting. That’s when I looked to the only space based RTS that I can say that I still play, Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion. By all accounts it’s decent, but with a lack of a campaign, no special missions or objectives and no over arching goals other than Build, Explore, Expand and Ruin the CPU’s day; it seemed odd to me why I still played this over more fleshed out RTS games.
I booted up Sins to see what the major difference was, what made it unique among all of these other RTS greats. As I did I was greeted with the “Sins of the Prophets” splash screen. And that’s when I had an epiphany. For those not in the know, Sins of the Prophets is a total conversion mod for Sins based on the Halo franchise. As I thought back, my friend and I abandoned playing the base Sins, in favour of playing modded versions, years ago. While I looked at the launcher and saw Sins of a Solar Empire, I was booting up any number of total conversions.
And this is how Sins has retained me. The ease with which mods can be installed is amazing. It takes just a few minutes. But that few minutes has you playing a different game without making you relearn the core game mechanics. I counted up the number of mods I had for Sins and found that I had eight total conversion mods. Every time I got bored with one, I would switch it out for another. Variaty, community generated variety had won over all of my other RTS games, some of them Iconic.
As I wrote this, I wondered if the Homeworld Remastered Collection that I had bought could be modded, as I remember a very good Battlestar Galactica Mod for the old Homeworld II. Sure enough as I browsed the steam workshop, there were the beginnings of a great Homeworld modding community. I wonder if, in a years’ time, I’ll still be playing Sins or if Homeworld, a game I love equally, will be my go to for space RTS. One thing is for sure however. Mods made Sins more than just another RTS.
But that’s just my Two Cents.