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Hard Vacuum - a Dune II clone that was never completed


MrFlibble
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I just stumbled upon this very interesting game: Hard Vacuum. Inspired by Dune II, it would have preceded both Warcraft and Command & Conquer, were it released in time. Unfortunately, Hard Vacuum was never completed, and only graphics are available for download.

screenshot.gif?w=500&zoom=2

Apart from regular features associated with the then-newborn RTS genre, some interesting things were planned for this game:

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There were several interesting systems in Hard Vacuum. Some made it into future RTS games and some did not.
  • Supply Lines: When you built a mining tower on a resource deposit, there was no need to manually build and manage drones to carry the minerals back and forth. Instead, a road was built from your base to the mine. Drones were automatically created when the mine had a full load and sent along the road to your base. Enemies could blast your supply line and interrupt your flow of resources. So protecting fixed supply lines became a bit part of the strategy.
  • Variable Height Terrain: This was a 2D tile-based game intended to run on 386 and 486 machines. We had a full system of variable height terrain. Units on higher ground would have targeting advantages over units on lower grow
  • Deformable terrain with flowing water and lava: You could blow huge holes in terrain with artillery in order to divert streams and lava. Drop a water bomb on a city and watch it wash away an entire troop. Drop a dirt bomb to create a mountain.
  • Walls: Walls played a huge part in the game to give large defensive barriers to attack. These existed in Dune2, but were extended in HV
  • Player created landscapes: Walls, base building, supply lines, and advanced terrain modification all contributed to a game where players built intricate maps during game play. We couldn't afford to spend lots of money building maps so instead we had to create fun systems that let players create unique and interesting combat situations.
Edited by MrFlibble
updated link & screenshot
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  • 2 weeks later...

Could have been a great title back then. Never heard of it though which is probably due to the lack of internet back in that time as I played Dune 2 for so long and so extensively I would have heard of a game like this if I had internet back then.

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I got the impression that the game was developed by a group of students, and it looks like they suspended the project because they did not find a publisher. Of course, were this all happening in the Internet age, spreading information about the project would pose no problem. But back then an unreleased game rarely got any publicity at all.

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People at Abandonia told me this very thing :) It's because the artist is the same ;D

Daniel Cook: I did the artwork and a bit of the HV design. I went to work with Epic and created a game called Tyrian that paid my bills for a long while. After that I designed a program called Anark Studio, which is used to create thousands of interactive 3D project. We even started selling it to the game developers this past year.
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  • MrFlibble changed the title to Hard Vacuum - a Dune II clone that was never completed

It took almost two decades to happen but Daniel Cook's Hard Vacuum resources finally found their use in OpenHV - a project to (re)create this game based on the OpenRA engine. I have not tried it yet but it appears to play exceptionally well already.

 

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