Someone had to go and bring up 'Freespace 3' again

Having your Google Alerts calibrated to detect the faintest murmurings of never-gonna-happen sequels -- like No One Lives Forever 3, Anachronox 2 and Shenmue 3 -- is a form of self-torture that's unique to the internet and acute within the games press. That's why it's a common flippin' courtesy, NowGamer, to avoid the tragic topic of Freespace 3 when you interview someone at Volition.

"You have no idea," Volition producer Jim Boone says. "There is a group of people that would commit murder to do that game. The biggest problem that we have is... oh man, that game is so beloved. I did a bunch of missions for both games and it's so dear to my heart I can't even tell you. The problem we had was Freescape 2 didn't sell as well..." And the selfish problem we have now: Volition is doing good work on Saints Row and Red Faction with owner THQ, which hasn't dared to touch the Freespace rights. To be fair ... they must reek by now, having been pinned under the immobile body of Interplay since 1999.

Boone is less direct in attributing failure, theorizing that the celebrated (and still supported) space sim lost out due to widespread adoption of keyboards and mice, and the accompanying dereliction of standalone joysticks. (The first game in the series, Descent: Freespace, was once included as a freebie with a couple of PC joysticks.) "So people just stopped getting joysticks. They were just gone," he says. "And then you still had console, but it was all digital - so my theory has been, ever since we've got analogue as a standard controller for consoles no one has done a heavy-duty, top, top quality space sim on console."

If you missed Freespace 2 (despite the fact that it had ROBERT LOGGIA), you might find more relevance by ignoring the question of sequels and licenses, and considering why the space sim genre hasn't found good representation on modern consoles, outside of a few oddities like Project Sylpheed. Our controllers are complex enough to give impetus to simpler, motion-enabled alternatives, and we certainly haven't grown tired of shooting aliens. Also, how about you just call it Darkspacers?

(Note to people arriving here from Google Alerts for No One Lives Forever 3, Anachronox 2 and Shenmue 3: welcome to the cycle of misery.)

This article was originally published on Joystiq.