This portfolio originally appeared in Jump Point 5.2.
The Star Marine Community
Unless you’ve been living on the edge of the frontier, there’s no doubt that you’re at least familiar with Star Marine. InterDimension Software’s red-hot ground combat simulation game has been tearing up sim pods across the empire. Since its release, countless appearances have made James Romanov the go-to face of the ‘realism in gaming’ debate, while technical mastermind James Vandyke has been declared the ‘Next Gaming God’ by Hitbox magazine. While the release has had its fair share of detractors, with complaints ranging from ethical questions about whether it’s appropriate to let players assume the role of outlaws in the Walzer Massacre to a recent spate of illegal hacks, the game has still managed to garner an impressively loyal community who’ve embraced Star Marine, flaws and all.
The group as a whole is hard to strictly quantify: there is no stereotypical Star Marine fan. Players, who refer to themselves as “Starheads,” range from UEE veterans lured by the incredible attention to detail to successful politicians and even to the Empire’s elite — businessman Silas Koerner keeps a sim pod in his office for regular Star Marine breaks. It seems that fans of all ages, genders, and species have found something that speaks to them in the historically-grounded battles and shoot-outs the game portrays.
The heart of Star Marine community discussion takes place at a dedicated spectrum hub known as MARINE ONE. The core of the hub is a news and broadcast arena which collates every conceivable piece of Star Marine news for the waiting public. From plans for future updates to previews of new game assets in the process of creation and even outright gossip about the game’s developers, MARINE ONE has become the one-stop spectrum spot for all things Star Marine. Hundreds of thousands of Star Marine players can also be found casting their gameplay at any given time, with the most popular being traded around the Empire. Big name streamers like GoodTimeDuke and MARSHMALLOW run casts that have become appointment viewing, attracting sponsors and dedicated fanatics of their own.
Then, there’s the Forge. Managed by a team of die-hard ultrafans, this Marine One forum is a wild, ever-expanding gyre of discussion, speculation, argument, incomprehensible in-jokes, and more. Generally good-natured despite the kilometer-a-minute movement of the conversations, the group is known to fixate on the smallest aspects of the Star Marine experience in a big way. From generating lengthy backstories for each of the game’s corpses to forming what can only be described as an unlikely cult around a cola dispenser prop created for the game, the one word that best summarizes the group is passionate.
Art is also popular form of expression. Star Marine fans have turned their talents to everything from traditional pen-and-ink sketches (an ongoing comic titled Jaeger is the best known) to the creation of mods or minigames that celebrate the smallest details of the Star Marine world. Countless talented artists carefully pose in-game ‘feel shots’ to create their own, increasingly elaborate scenes. In some cases, dozens of players might work together for hours posing not only their characters in particular positions but also rearranging set pieces, props, and lights to improve a composition.
That said, Star Marine players are never afraid to go toe-to-toe with the development team at InterDimension, occasionally engaging developers in debates and often protesting the appearance of bugs and (most especially) perceived inaccuracies in the battlefield simulation. One notable initiative saw players from locations around the UEE shipping empty battery cartridges to InterDimension’s head office as protest for what they saw as an inaccurate feel following a weapons pass.
First time visitors are advised to interact with the community via the marked ‘Landing Craft’ welcome area. While the community is extremely accepting, it is also known for the fact that regular users speak something of an alien language. Recently-created hub accounts should also be on the lookout for grifters who will sometimes attempt to trick new Marines into giving away their weapons, armor, and REC.
Electronic Access Invitational
With the widespread appeal of competitive Star Marine matches, it was only a matter of time before the game went pro and joined the Electronic Access Invitational, one of the largest sim competitions operating in the Empire. The EAI brought together leading players from around the ’verse to compete in the inaugural Star Marine competition in 2946. While the event had always been popular among sim-enthusiasts, the event’s organizers considerably underestimated the public’s reaction to the introduction of Star Marine. Administrators at the EAI were flooded with fans who complained that their favorite players weren’t invited. The event, held at the Intergalactic Aerospace Expo, proved that even EAI’s best laid plans could fall short as record-breaking crowds showed up to watch the matchups. Lines formed outside the venue the night before the event, forcing them to hastily organize a thousand more seats to cover the overflow.
InterDimension even got into the act by supporting this and other tournaments; Romanov famously awarded his Lynx rover to the first player who was able to beat him in a live competition. Based on the dynamic turnout, it’s a natural assumption that Star Marine will return to the competition next year and if today’s fans are any indication, they’ll show up in droves to support it.