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Homeworld 3

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Developer: Blackbird Interactive
Release Date: March 8, 2024

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'Homeworld 3' Introduces Capital Class Vessel: The Hiigaran Carrier

by Rainier on Oct. 6, 2022 @ 1:45 p.m. PDT

Homeworld 3 is a true sequel to the legendary space-faring RTS with a gripping continuation of the story, fully 3D combat, and the classic RTS elements you expect.

Homeworld 3 is a new and true standalone game in the Homeworld series, continuing the game-of-the-year winning story generations after the events of Homeworld 2. Assume control and battle through fleet combat in dazzling, fully 3D space while the award-winning story unfolds on a galactic scale.

Strategic freedom is yours. Hulking space derelicts called megaliths bring 3D terrain into the classic Homeworld battlespace. Use the crumbling remains of an ancient civilization to funnel foes into a brilliant ambush or hide your fleet from powerful enemies. Fortresses teem with menacing turrets and invite your strike craft into dangerous trench runs deep behind enemy lines. But not everything is in your control. Dangerous space phenomena like particle storms and asteroid fields will test even senior commanders.

Attack head-on, with a clever flank, or even from above and below your foes. Homeworld 3’s fully simulated ballistics make line of sight and cover critical strategic considerations. Your fleet persists from mission to mission. Scars on your ships linger. Strike craft pilots and capital ship captains pass along critical information through battlefield chatter.

Homeworld’s timeless art style evolves with modern technology, offering an incredible sense of scale, destruction, and wonder. Strike craft fly in formation between hulking Battlecruisers against a backdrop of stars and nebulae. Iconic ships cast silhouettes over the remains of ancient civilizations. Explosions ripple and erupt across hulls as one fleet stakes its victory over another.

During the above Kesura Oasis gameplay trailer release back at gamescom, both the Gearbox and Blackbird Interactive teams nervously lurked the community threads. A little scared but also extremely excited to see what the fans had to say. Today I’d like to talk about “The Carrier” and all that goes into designing units for a Homeworld game.

Let me start by saying, nothing hyperspaces past the Homeworld Community. It makes this game such a labor of love for the team. You are correct, that is the same Carrier “cereal box” from the Gameplay First Look trailer from The Game Awards last December, but reskinned for the Kalan Raiders. Today, we’ll tell you how that happened and also reveal the brand new Hiigaran Carrier. But first, let’s dive into some Homeworld history.

Sometime in 2020 we were workshopping ideas for the Kalan Raiders, back then we just called them Pirates - the story was still very early in its evolution and we focused more on their visual backstory. Design needed a small fleet to introduce early game mechanics and the only nugget for faction identity was “Pirates that hide in terrain fields”. Our first intuition was to start with some earlier concepts from Homeworld 2 to get inspired. The concept team came up with the idea of using the Civilian Tanker from Homeworld 2 as a base with the backstory of Pirates stealing civilian ships retrofitting them as their own. The idea sounded solid, so we built it in traditional linear development from early sketches to full concept, even building a final asset to be used in game. We went so far that it was the basis for our capital ship destruction system.

The Pirate Carrier was very far in production, but in the back of my head it just didn’t feel right. Something just didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the Raiders faction identity- their visual language was more brutalist and imposing with angular lines and animalistic pageantry. Rob Cunningham finally put it into perspective, it was “too derivative of Homeworld 2 and doesn’t feel fresh”. He was right. So, I parked the problem for another date to gear up for our first gameplay trailer. We were moving rapidly sketching, building, texturing, and adding polishing touches on the Hiigaran faction. The Hiigaran Carrier was being developed to the same level as the Pirate’s - but things were still very early in their creative process and not every piece was dialed in. Like an orchestra, if an instrument is out of tune the whole composition just doesn’t feel right. We knew it, but more importantly the fans knew it as well.

The Carrier was not worthy of a Capital Class Vessel and we heard about it from fans like you. The Mothership had such a strong visual identity, but the Carrier…well it was the instrument that was playing a different tune. When making artistic decisions about fleet composition, we have to consider a mountain of factors. Creative intentions, production realities, an editor’s eye on consistency, scale, and power across each fleet. In December of 2021, we were left with a situation where we didn’t like the pirate carrier we’d built and you didn’t like the Hiigaran “cereal box” Carrier in the trailer. So we jettisoned our first KUNDE design of the Pirate Carrier and experimented with a retrofit of the Hiigaran “cereal box” Carrier to the Pirate faction. There was a breath of relief! The design just fit much nicer with the Kalan Raiders which allowed us to focus our efforts to the ship players would spend much more time with: A totally revamped Hiigaran Carrier.

Before I discuss the new Hiigaran Carrier’s art and design intentions, I need to give context to the overall Hiigaran fleet design. At the start of the project we knew the narrative was going to take us down a different path than the previous games. The original mothership was a colony ship that took an epic road trip across the stars. It was much softer with rounded features. This really supported the intention of a non-combat ship. But Homeworld 3 is an exploration of mystery surrounded by epic space battles. The mothership started in horizontal orientation but as we developed the look it became more diamond-cut, more battle ready and sleek like a next-generation navy ship. With that as our visual guidestone, we had to build something that complemented that design ethos.

To bring this ethos forward in the Carrier, we did a few variants but eventually found ourselves circling the same design - a wide diamond-cut body that is more armored with a fork nose for frigate production and a side bay for fighter deployment. So, we took all the concept sketches and refined it, arriving at the final unit design. There are many things we needed to consider such as the speed of the ship being much faster than in previous games, as well as the shapes and sizes of all the units it would need to produce. The biggest wildcard was the resource controller, it was much wider than frigates and already a unit that was further along in production. Thinking laterally during development we had to widen the bay but preserve the diamond-cut armored top.

With an overall shape set, the unit continued to develop during its production stages. From iteration on how the panel logic was distributed along the surface to the arrangement of antennas along the exterior. Every square inch continues to be scrutinized through all stages of development. We’re still not completely done with the carrier, there is more room to polish but at the end of the day, the path to building ships for Homeworld 3 is never linear, it’s one long sketch.

Since the end of Homeworld 2, the galaxy enjoyed an age of abundance thanks to the Hyperspace Gate Network. Cycles of plenty and war have come and gone. Now the gates themselves are catastrophically failing and Karan, who has passed into myth and religious idolatry, is the key to the mystery threatening a galaxy’s future.

An all-new, co-op capable multiplayer mode extends your game beyond the campaign. Fusing Homeworld’s RTS gameplay with roguelike structure, one or two commanders take on a randomized series of fleet combat challenges. Manage your fleet strength across each battle and claim powerful rewards with each victory. Based on your results, you’ll unlock incredible powers that carry over run after run.

Your ultimate test of tactical skill comes in battle against human opponents. Sharpen your instincts in AI skirmish matches, before squaring off with human opponents in 1v1, free-for-all, or team battles.

Blackbird Interactive, founded by original Homeworld Art Director Rob Cunningham takes the helm on development, and further supported by the veterans of Homeworld Remastered Collection at Gearbox Publishing, Homeworld 3 is coming to life and the teams couldn't be more ecstatic.

Homeworld 3 is coming to PC (Steam / Epic Games Store) in the first half 2023.

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