Subspace, later known as Continuum, is a massively multiplayer two-dimensional topdown shooter developed by Virgin Interactive Entertainment in 1997. Once a commercial product, the game is now freeware and completely community driven with players developing zones, bots, graphics, sounds and new game types. The game is entirely multiplayer with different servers offering varied PVP experiences.
At its core, Subspace is much like Asteroids. Using the keyboard the player is able to adjust the thrust and yaw of a ship of their choosing. They can also use bullets, bombs, and abilities equipped to their particular ship. This is the only static element of gameplay however. Because of the multitude of game types unique to each server the actual objective of play can be widely varied.
Despite the hundreds of different games users have created during Subspace's history all games are based off of four main types: flags, elimination, ball, and racing.
The objective of flag-based games is to capture the flags scattered around the map. The number of flags is different in each game. In basing games there is generally one or very few stationary flags inside a base (or bases) with many choke points. Two teams contend for control of the base(s), specifically the area where flags are located, known as flag rooms. To gain ownership of the flag a player must pass over it. After a set amount of time has passed the team with the flag(s) in their possession for the most amount of time wins the game. Other games have many flags placed around very large maps with one team defending and the other team constantly pushing to get deeper in to the opponent's base. The game ends when all flags are captured. In some games flags may be mobile after being picked up by a player. In these games, teams vie to gain control of the flag and either hold it for a set period of time or bring it back to an established scoring location. If the player carrying the flag is killed the flag is automatically given to whoever killed them, creating a necessity to protect the flag carrier at all times.
In elimination based games players must simply eliminate other opponents from play, however the way they go about doing this is extremely varied. In individual elimination games the player is pitted against the opponent and tries to kill as many as possible without reaching the death limit and being eliminated from the game. These games can be played with people of the same ship or with all ships included and the death limit can range greatly. Some games arrange players in to two or multiple teams, known as frequencies. The different maps and rules used for any of these elimination games are extremely diverse. Here are some popular variants.
- Zombies: There are two teams, the humans and the zombies, each with their own particular ship. At the game's beginning the humans vastly outnumber the zombies. However, each kill a zombie makes switches that human's ship and team to that of a zombie. The object is to stay alive until the safe zones open, then running to them quickly.
- Hunt: The player is given a player to kill. If the player manages to kill their opponent, their opponent is removed from the game and they are awarded points. If they kill any players unnecessarily their points are removed. Players must kill their designated users without being killed themselves.
- Duel: Two players fight one another to a specific death limit. Often used to settle disputes and trash talking.
In some forms of elimination the player doesn’t need to kill the opponent to eliminate them. In these games the players are all placed on the same team and must fight the environment to win. Traps can include black holes, walls that disappear and reappear, or moving safety areas.
Subspace has many servers devoted entirely to ball based games. Much like flags, balls are mobile and can be picked up by players. Unlike flags however, balls can be passed from player to player. Since the player with the ball cannot shoot, teams must protect their ball carrier to either the opposing team’s goal or their own set scoring area. This game type has spawned many different sport-based games including soccer, football, and hockey. SSCE Hockey Zone is the most popular server hosting sport-based games with highly competitive play.
While there are no zones that center their gameplay on racing many zones host racing games with many different maps and playstyles. Racing pits many players against each other on a map, often with several obstacles throughout its course. The player that makes it to the end of the map first wins. Many racing games have customized graphics to emulate other video games such as Mario Kart and Initial D.
While all games in Subspace are competitive, most are simply played for fun. Many zones focus entirely on this aspect of gameplay, while others have incorporated competitive leagues. Squad based gameplay has a long history in Subspace. All players have the ability to join or create a squad of their choosing. Provided they have enough players, squads can challenge other squads to elimination games. While generally there is a single league, often there are two separate leagues found in a zone, a practice league and a competitive league. Practice leagues allow players to hone their skills and manage their squad to the top of the ladder by gaining points through winning matches. Any matches lost and the squad loses points. All of the kills, deaths and various other statistics are recorded and can be seen in-game or on websites.
The best squads of the practice league advance on to the (generally) annual competitive league where only the best of the zone compete for the championship in their respective ships. Fighting in these leagues is fierce and most of the players are skilled veterans. The most notable of the competitive leagues is SSCU Trench Wars’ TWL. In this league, players compete in three separate sub-leagues, TWLD (for Warbirds), TWLJ (for Javelins), and TWLB (basing). After a few preseason matches TWL goes into a qualification round where each TWL squad will face every other squad invited to the league. The teams with the best records advance to the playoffs, where squads are eliminated after a single game of two rounds. This continues to the championship match. All of the squads involved in TWL are at the top of competition in the zone and hundreds of people often come to watch matches. Predictions, betting, analysis and even a fantasy league run alongside all three of the TWL sub-leagues.
In addition to squad-based leagues there is also often dueling leagues to see who is the greatest individual player in the zone. This involves a ladder that records all statistics with the top of the ladder moving on to an elimination tournament. Players are slowly weeded out until the final match. Many different ships compete in these leagues. The skillset in dueling is much different than that of squad based play as concise teaming and positioning are not required; the player must simply kill his opponent without being eliminated by the death limit.