Daily Elysium: The Subspace Continuum

Lo, tho I was negged by a villainous mine repper
Then, nailed like the steed of an angry farrier
I shall not cry my lowly station, nor act the pitiable leper
Nay, I shall deal my electric death as a stalwart terrier!

Poetry, much like carpentry, baking, and math, is not for me a strength.  But I felt that something special was in order for today's topic, as the focus of this brief exposition is a game near and dear to my heart.  A game which I only just recently learned is not only still alive and kicking, but quite free of any and all monetary charges, and no less fun than the last time I visited.  For those of you who've ever felt the Subspace addiction, who know why repping a vulching neg after picking up an engine shut-down green is a tense experience, who know the joy of destroying a passing turret with a solid Thor's Hammer, who know the pure hate one can have for a cloaked mine repper, then I have both good and bad news for you.  Subspace is still alive.

Usually when people ask what the first MMOG game I played was, my mind leaps straight to Everquest.  Of course that's entirely inaccurate, as are many statements I make, as I so rarely remember the time I spent with Subspace.  Pretty remarkable considering that I probably spent more total hours playing that game than any other.  At one time I fancied myself rather good at the game, a claim that recent experiences completely invalidates.  Despite assertions to the opposite, Subspace is not just like riding a bike for two very important reasons:

i) It doesn't have spokes or anywhere to put baseball cards.

ii) It doesn't count as exercise.

For those of you not familiar with Subspace, or as its known now Continuum, it works like this.  Imagine an updated version of Asteroids, though not in 3D.  Now take out the asteroids and replace them with a few hundred player-manned spaceships similar to yours.  Now add mines, bursts, repels, portals, turrets, shrapnel, bombs, upgrades, decoys, and of course 'greens' and you've got the idea.  I think that clears things up nicely.

Subspace was released originally by Westwood Studios.  In fact, if memory serves me correctly, the original Subspace team went on shortly after to work on the ill-fated and largely forgotten Command and Conquer: Sole Survivor ... bonus points if you ever played or even owned that game.  But, Subspace's true successor is the somewhat popular Sony Station game, Infantry.  In truth, if you've played Infantry, you'll probably have a pretty solid grasp on the mechanics and variety of Subspace (Continuum), and vice versa.  Though, I'm pretty sure that solid comparisons between the two generate a kind of East Coast/West Coast rapper style animosity for players of both games.

Of course, Subspace has been officially dead for several years now, and is thriving entirely off the community that's grown lovingly attached to it.  Even the client is not actually the work of the original Subspace team, though you'd never know it, and, of course, the servers are all player run, managed, maintained, and funded.  Which is not in anyway to say that the enterprise is amateurish or lesser to the full version.  In fact, the players have probably taken better care of the game than Westwood ever might have, and there are as many play types and opponents online now as ever were.  In an industry with shelf-life measured in weeks, Subspace is an anomaly, a game people play years later.

I learned that Subspace was still a thriving and perpetually angry community through my younger brother who, it turns out, has been playing the game since I first showed it to him four or five years ago.  Don't begrudge him this, as I'm pretty sure it's the most advanced game his antediluvian computer can manage.  He's also quite good, or certainly better than it turns out I am now.  He does strange things like aim shots, hit opponents with his shots, and dodge the incoming bullets of other players.  It was all above my concept of punishing my enemies with the burdensome guilt of my death.

In a way, I'm pretty happy being terrible at modern Subspace, it makes it much easier to not play it, a serious issue back in the day.  Where unfortunate incidents such as killing other players or feeling a sense of accomplishment while playing will certainly not be troubling my sleep, I find that playing Subspace now is an experience akin to slamming one's head in a car door.  And yet (with me, there's always an 'and yet') I'm happy to have played again, if only briefly, and revel in a moment of grand nostalgia.  Sometimes that's the best reason to go back and load up a cherished game for just a brief taste: to ride that tram in the opening of Half-Life, to hear the echoing cry of sieged gnolls in Blackburrow, to see the visceral bodies tear apart in Fallout, and Subspace ... ah Subspace with your piercing chirp of an acquired green, and the breathy sound of a repel, and the heavy thwack of tiny yellow bullets spraying from the front of your ship like a (disgusting excretory analogy omitted). 

For those interested in Subspace Continuum, or who even want to download the client and play again, visit Subspace.net.


I seem to recall messing with a Subspace-like game when I was in grade eight or something. Is it tough to get into now since everyone is probably waaaaaay better than the newbies?

I tried this, can't say I ever actually got to the game. I couldn't figure out the damn client when I tried it. Hell, I could barely figure out where on the webpage it said to download the thing. Glad to see thier webpage has straightened up, I may give this a shot.

Gravity is too important to ignore. Try X-Pilot.

I, being the aforementioned brother, feel the need to warn anyone that wishes to try this game: SS players do not speak English, they speak in "l33t speak".

L33t speak is very similar to English, but with many more odd and, quite honestly retarded, colloquialisms.  Here is a quick overview.

  1. own = to kill
  2. pwn = to own
  3. pwnz0riz3 = not too sure, but I think this is the über-l33t way to pwn someone
  4. vulcher = one who steals someones kill from a distance, usually involving a Thor's Hammer
  5. lamer = someone who kills you
  6. tk = type-kill OR team-kill
  7. newbie = someone who kills you
  8. wtf, omfg, lmb, smd, gtfo and ffs are all used liberally.  The more you use them, the l33ter you are!

I'm sure you will pick the rest up later, see you in Trench Wars!

Hello, it's been a year since this was posted but I felt the need to comment. This game has addicted me for 3 years. Want a hint of how addicting it is? Since I made my latest username to play in Trench Wars (one of the bigger zones, trenchwars.org for info) ive put in 2k hours. Since January 2004. I think what makes it addicting is the community, which stems from the way that chatting is absolutely necessary to play (telling team your location etc) and such.

Some interesting zones:
SSCU Trench Wars
SSCX Omega Fire
SSCX Extreme Games
All the SVS Zones