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Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

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Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
Homeworld Deserts of Kharak logo
Technical Information
Release Date
Classic: 20 January 2016
Game Information
Expedition to find the Jaraci Object
1100 KDS

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a ground-based real time strategy game produced by Blackbird Interactive and published by Gearbox Software. It is the fourth game to be released in the Homeworld series and serves as a prequel to the existing games.[1] It is set on the planet Kharak and involves an expedition to find the Jaraci Object.[2]

Mission List Edit

Plot Edit

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak will be set on Kharak 100 years before the events of Homeworld. It charts the progress of a military expedition led by Rachel S'jet (presumed to be an ancestor of Karan S'jet), sent into the southern deserts of Kharak after an orbital satellite discovers an anomaly.[3]

Assuming the game retains the technology level of the Hardware videos, the game is set around 1110 KDS, around the time of the discovery of the Khar-Toba.

The new story features Rachel S'jet leading an expedition, with the the land carrier Kapisi, into the Great Banded Desert to find the Jaraci object or the Khar-Toba. However the Kiith Gaalsien, who occupy the Great Banded Desert, believe that it is against the first commandment of their God, Sajuuk, to enter into space. Therefore they will do anything to stop the Coalition of the Northern Kiithid's expedition to find the primary anomaly.

Hardware's storyline originally featured different mercenary groups fighting over control of dozens or hundreds of starship wrecks on the desert planet LM-27. These wrecks are an important source of salvage. Aside from turning LM-27 into Kharak, it is unclear how much of this will survive into Homeworld: Shipbreakers. Most notably, there were no such wrecks on Kharak apart from the Khar-Toba itself in existing canon. However, one possible explanation is that the wrecks are relics from the Heresy Wars.

Gameplay Edit

Unlike the previous games, Deserts of Kharak will not be set in space. Instead it will be set on the desert planet of Kharak, featuring ground units such as the 'Baserunner', land carrier, land cruisers, and fighter aircraft. When it was still being developed under the Hardware name, the game featured different groups of mercenaries fighting for control of wrecked starships on the desert planet LM-27. It is unclear how much of these elements will be retained in the final game.

The Hardware videos show combat occurring at close range with the option to zoom out to a considerably larger tactical viewpoint, reminiscent of the Sensor Manager in the Homeworld game (and accompanied by the same sound effect). One of Blackbird's goals was to have a dynamic map of the entire planet with the player able to choose which area to investigate next. Again, how many of these elements will be retained in Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is not yet known.[4]

The game will feature online multiplayer with ranked play.[5] Elevation plays a key role in the game, as forces can use dunes to overlook their enemy and gain tactical advantage.[6][7]

Development Edit

Blackbird Interactive was founded in 2007 by Rob Cunningham and a number of other developers who had left Relic Entertainment over the preceding years. Development of Shipbreakers began in 2010. It was originaly titled Hardware: Shipbreakers and was not related to the Homeworld IP. However, Cunningham did not rule out the game from being set in the Homeworld universe and discussions with THQ, the rights-holders of the Homeworld name and IP, took place early in development, with an eye to THQ publishing the game. These discussions did not proceed very far. In 2012 Blackbird began releasing early videos and promotional artwork for the game. These media releases and the history of the company immediately invited comparisons to Homeworld, as the videos used some Homeworld music, similar radio-chatter and voice-overs, and the desert setting was reminiscent of Kharak. The Hardware logo was also identical to that of Homeworld.

In 2013 THQ went bankrupt and its assets were sold off. Blackbird and Gearbox Software both bid on the Homeworld property, with Gearbox eventually winning. Blackbird contacted Gearbox to offer their congratulations. The two companies then collaborated further when Gearbox discovered that THQ had relatively little of the original games' source code and files. Blackbird's staff members helped in recovering these assets, eventually quadrupling the amount of information provided by THQ. These files included all of the game's graphical assets and sound and music files, including the original raw files and outtakes.[8]

During this collaboration Gearbox expressed an interest in Shipbreakers. At E3 2013 Blackbird provided Gearbox with an extensive test of the game and Gearbox decided to acquire the game to publish themselves. In agreement with Blackbird, it was decided to re-tool the game as a Homeworld title. The final deal for this was signed live on-stage at the PAX East event in August 2013.[9]

Staff working on Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak who also worked on the original games include: Rob Cunningham (artist, project head), Paul Ruskay (composer) and Jon Aaron Kambeitz (artist).[10]

It is intended that the game be more advanced in terms of gameplay than its predecessors, but also reflect its status as a prequel in regards to the tech available. This includes the use of a weathered, older aesthetic.[6]

References Edit

  1. Gearbox lends Homeworld IP to spiritual successor Hardware: Shipbreakers developer
  2. Gearbox/Blackbird Homeworld panel 2013 (starts at 39 mins)
  3. Deserts of Kharak website
  4. Hardware Shipbreakers Episode 3 - Gameplay Preview Trailer: Inside BBI.
  5. Homeworld Gets a New, Ground-Based RTS Prequel. GameSpot
  6. 6.0 6.1 How the Homeworld Series Could Come Back from the Dead
  7. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak Dev Commentary Preview Part 1. IGN.
  8. Gearbox/Blackbird Homeworld panel 2013 (starts at 39 mins)
  9. Games Industry interview
  10. Rock Paper Shotgun interview
Homeworld Series
Homeworld Homeworld: Cataclysm Homeworld 2 Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
Homeworld Remastered

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