Infinity sandbox space sim to crowdfund combat spin-off

With Diablo III and Duke Nukem Forever released, who will teach our children the meaning of "vaporware?" Fear not, for we still have Infinity, the seamless sandbox spaceship MMO which lets you go all the way down to a planets's surface. Even that's maybe sort of coming in some form though, as developer I-Novae Studios plans to crowdfund a single-system shooter version. Once it's rolling, then we'll get the full game. Honestly.

Infinity began development in 2004 with the dream of a massively multiplayer Elite-like sandbox sim in a procedurally generated universe, where ships could seamlessly descend through planets' atmospheres. It's certainly a grand dream, but tech demos made it seem real.

Creator Flavien Brebion worked solo on Infinity at first, later joined by another full-time member and some part-time help. The community helps too, chipping in with everything from ship models to music. The recent crowdfunding craze seemed a possible way for the game to actually be finished, but I-Novae crunched the numbers and realized it couldn't crowdfund the full Infinity MMO. So last month, it announced plans to Kickstart a small, standalone combat game, Infinity: Battlescape.

After a month of mixed fan feedback, I-Novae has reassured people that it's not all that bad, and explained what it means for the MMO.

Battlescape is to offer "massive, Star Wars style fleet battles" with a persistent conflict across a single seamless solar system. As well as helping I-Novae start making a little money back to fund more MMO development, it'll give it a start on solving the huge technical hurdles of large-scale online combat at speeds of 1,000 kilometres per second.

The Kickstarter should launch later this year.

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be because I-Novae already released a limited combat-based version of Infinity in 2006. That was only a prototype for a spot of public testing, though, not the full-featured game Infinity: Battlescape should be.

"We are optimistic that, with your support, Infinity: Battlescape will be a great game and will provide us with the foundation we need to properly pursue a project as large and ambitious as Infinity," CEO Keith Newton said. "We also believe that getting a game that takes place in the Infinity universe into your hands sooner rather than later is an added bonus."

For now, the Evochron series--also started by one single person--delivers seamless sandbox space. Both Elite: Dangerous and Chris Roberts' Star Citizen are on their way too, thanks to Kickstarter backing, if you can do without descending into atmospheres and don't mind waiting.

Yes, yes, you may find scoff at such an overambitious project, but watch this 2010 tech demo with a shop journeying through a planet's rings to its surface and tell me you don't want it to happen: