Remaster Area 51 (2005 FPS Game)
Remaster Area 51 (2005 FPS Game)
THE PROBLEM: In 2008, while Midway Games struggled to stay afloat, Midway Studios Austin was shut down which resulted in laying off between 90 to 130 employees; and in 2009, Midway Games officially filed for bankruptcy and was acquired by Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Most of their assets and intellectual property were handed over, and some of them now lie abandoned. The 2005 version of Area 51 also became freeware/abandonware thanks to being sponsored by the United States Air Force (supported by somewhat annoying in-game ads), which allowed its community to continue downloading and distributing it to enjoy the campaign and multiplayer modes with friends, both old and new. Although, once GameSpy servers were shut down for good, the in-game ads ceased to function, which broke both campaign and multiplayer modes. In time, a patch was released to remove the ads; and even further in time, the community figured out how to patch the game to connect to an emulated GameSpy server known as OpenSpy. There's even an alternative package developed by community members known as Project Dreamland, which offers game fixes (FOV, for instance) and a separate multiplayer server entirely. Despite all of this, the game continues to grow older and with that comes loss of functionality and aging of the engine itself. The FOV fixes are only temporary, as they reset after cut-scenes, the servers offered are shoddy and unreliable, a framerate above 50 inhibits the player to jump while running on sloped surfaces, a framerate above 100 breaks jumping entirely, etc. There is still a community of hungry fans longing to experience Area 51 as if it were alive and official again, without the need to seek out unofficial downloads, patches and networks.
THE SOLUTION: Amidst all of this "Storm Area 51" hype, we felt that this could be a good time to reach out to Warner Bros. and encourage them to team up with a game developer to remaster Area 51 and provide the support the game needs to feed its community. This could be the perfect "climate" to advertise a remastered version of Area 51. An ideal remaster would include:
- Porting the game over to a modern engine such as Unreal Engine 4, Unity, or, the less-likely alternative, a custom engine.
- Keeping the campaign's story mode intact (no need to change the writing)
- Improving game settings including, but not limited to, graphics, physics, FOV
- Higher-quality audio (this is a want but not a need, as it would be tricky, especially in terms of voice actors and sound effects — R.I.P. Powers Boothe)
- Multiplayer servers provided by the developers and/or the ability for players to create dedicated servers (dedicated servers would prevent the developer from having to pay for server hosting)
- Releasing on a gaming platform such as Steam to provide content updates, achievements, and community features
- A multiplayer game mode with bots similar to the original Red Faction — even when you're alone, you're not really alone
- To be continued...
THE GAME & ITS HISTORY: In 2005, Midway Studios Austin (comprised of members from Inevitable Entertainment) had concluded development on a first person shooter that, little did they know, would become a cult classic. Midway Games (the same company that published classics such as Mortal Kombat, NFL Blitz, Rampage, and more) released said FPS, Area 51, to the public on both PC and consoles. The game is considered a loose remake of the 1995, arcade, rail shooter of the same name. Area 51 offered both a creative, story-driven campaign along with intense, action-packed multiplayer. In campaign mode, the player controls protagonist Ethan Cole (voiced by David Duchovny), joined with HAZMAT Team Bravo as they are sent in to seek out HAZMAT Team Delta after the team was attacked by an alien mutant. Early into the game, Ethan becomes "separated" from the rest of HAZMAT Team Bravo and the player is forced to navigate and survive on their own as they uncover the secrets of Area 51... the real Area 51 hidden 3 miles below the surface of the Earth. Along the way, Ethan encounters mutants, alien lifeforms (one of which is voiced by Marilyn Manson), and alien weapons, as well as classified intel regarding conspiracy theories, the origin of the mutants, and a pact between secret societies that puts all life on Earth in danger. In multiplayer mode, players could host/join games using GameSpy servers and choose from 19 maps to engage in game modes such as deathmatch, team deathmatch, infection, capture the flag, and hold (territories) with up to 16 players.