screenshot_spaceTo followers of our forums, no three letters send a sharper chill up your spine than "MMO". Usually paired with the suffix "RPG", MMO's thus far on the iPhone have largely been fairly bland and focus more on friend code trading, point buying, and recruiting other players instead of actual content. Thankfully, Ironwill Studios is about to change all of that with their soon to be released space MMO Outer Empires.

Outer Empires takes place in a persistent galaxy where players can choose from a variety of different activities as you play in the intergalactic sandbox. There are tons of quests (or "Missions" as they're called in game) to complete that range from simple transport jobs to exploring and bounty hunting. Once you establish yourself in the world, you can set up colonies as well as run or join a guild (or "Factions" in Outer Empires).

Of course you have access to a wide variety of ships and upgrades to those ships which can all be purchased from player-created manufacturing plants. Having only clocked a few hours in to the beta so far, I'm reluctant to compare it to EVE Online, but there's not much else to compare it to.

iphone_shot_02

The cool part about Outer Empires is that the game runs both in a browser on your computer, as well as in the app on your iPhone. Accounts are shared between both versions of the game, and you can literally log out in your browser, log in with your iPhone, and be exactly where you left off with all the same functionality of the desktop client on the go.

Ironwill Studios has an ambitious update cycle planned to patch in additional ships, player races, and other content supported by monthly subscriptions. Talking to Producer and Development Lead Paul Hutson via Skype we were told the monthly subscription fee would be "Around £2.50" which at current exchange rates is in the neighborhood of $4.00 per month. Initially subscriptions will be managed via PayPal, but Hutson has hopes to implement 3.0 in-game purchases for subscriptions soon.

screenshot_space_with_stationOverall the concept of Outer Empires is really neat, and I've enjoyed playing both the browser and iPhone versions of the game, although once you get used to playing in the browser the iPhone client seems cramped in comparison. It remains to be seen how the community will react to a monthly subscription based game, but don't worry, you can try it for free without any time limits.

Free players can only reach a maximum level of 10, which will allow you to get a good feel for the game to decide if you want to bite on a paid membership or not. If you decide not to, you can still log in, chat, and do anything you want including completing all the missions for players level 10 and under.

If you decide to take the plunge on a subscription, all the experience you gained from doing extra missions after you hit the level 10 cap is applied. This is a unique approach on MMO trials, as they're usually based on a firm time limits before forcing you to pay up. If you play at a leisurely pace, it could take you quite a while to reach level 10 and if you just prefer the social aspect of chatting in Outer Empires you may never have to pay at all.

Outer Empires is currently under development, and according to my chat with Paul Hutson, they hope to submit the game to Apple later this month. If you want to know more, check out the Outer Empires web site which is absolutely packed with all kinds of information.

  • Silverfist

    Man, I really dislike the idea of a monthly subscription game (I've stayed away from desktop MMORPGs for the same reason), but adding in the free version to get a good feel of the game is a fantastic alternative. Kudos to the devs for thinking of that; it's turned a "no thanks" into a "will definitely try, and who knows?"

    Still waiting for a game comparable to Escape Velocity, but this is close...

    .

  • Silverfist

    Man, I really dislike the idea of a monthly subscription game (I've stayed away from desktop MMORPGs for the same reason), but adding in the free version to get a good feel of the game is a fantastic alternative. Kudos to the devs for thinking of that; it's turned a "no thanks" into a "will definitely try, and who knows?"

    Still waiting for a game comparable to Escape Velocity, but this is close...

    .

  • Swanny

    This looks like an amazingly ambitious game and I can't wait to try it. Devs seem like they really care about community input on this. Will definitely subscribe as long as it is half as good as it looks like it's going to be.

  • Swanny

    This looks like an amazingly ambitious game and I can't wait to try it. Devs seem like they really care about community input on this. Will definitely subscribe as long as it is half as good as it looks like it's going to be.

  • Twazzock

    Monthly subscription? No thanks. As Silverfist says, it's what puts me off MMOs on the PC. Still, I'll definitely give the free version ago as it looks like a brilliant game, although I doubt I'll end up subscribing.

  • Twazzock

    Monthly subscription? No thanks. As Silverfist says, it's what puts me off MMOs on the PC. Still, I'll definitely give the free version ago as it looks like a brilliant game, although I doubt I'll end up subscribing.

  • Geb

    I've been checking every day for updates on this. :)

    I don't know why its taking so long for a few "real" MMOs to show up on the platform. If they were done right they could make a killing with the possible install base. Up until now all the "Add Me MMOs" just irritate me and CozyQuest was OK until the dev figured out he was making money and didn't have to actually support the app.

    Anyway.... I'm really looking forward to this and to the first WoW type clone to tackle the iPhone. I mean the graphics don't have to be as great or the online world as large an a desktop app -- but the ability to play it everywhere would really trump that.

    -- Geb --

  • Geb

    I've been checking every day for updates on this. :)

    I don't know why its taking so long for a few "real" MMOs to show up on the platform. If they were done right they could make a killing with the possible install base. Up until now all the "Add Me MMOs" just irritate me and CozyQuest was OK until the dev figured out he was making money and didn't have to actually support the app.

    Anyway.... I'm really looking forward to this and to the first WoW type clone to tackle the iPhone. I mean the graphics don't have to be as great or the online world as large an a desktop app -- but the ability to play it everywhere would really trump that.

    -- Geb --

  • Kyle

    Having played the app and browser versions it is really amazing how big it is(20k systems with tons more planets that can be colonised) and it is really pretty fast playing on iphone considering it's an app. I think it will totally be worth the money and can't wait for it to be released and having thousands of people battling it out.

  • Kyle

    Having played the app and browser versions it is really amazing how big it is(20k systems with tons more planets that can be colonised) and it is really pretty fast playing on iphone considering it's an app. I think it will totally be worth the money and can't wait for it to be released and having thousands of people battling it out.

  • http://boydbox.com Andrew

    Very smart to have it be 100% compatible with the browser, this means my non-iphone owning friends can play and I can save some battery for you know.. actual phone calls.

    • Tunawrap

      The iPhone can CALL people?!?!

  • http://boydbox.com Andrew

    Very smart to have it be 100% compatible with the browser, this means my non-iphone owning friends can play and I can save some battery for you know.. actual phone calls.

    • Tunawrap

      The iPhone can CALL people?!?!

  • Rosh

    I hope there's plenty to do (and that it's even possible to advance and survive) if you prefer to remain solo instead of joining a guild. That's what keeps me away from most MMOs, is that I just don't have the time to compete with the hardcore players and I'm not really interested in joining some clan/guild/whatever and getting involved in all their politics. From what I understand EVE is pointless if you don't join an uber-corporation and I can only imagine the same thing will happen here.

    If I can pick this up here and there and tackle some missions and have some interaction with other players here and there, that's cool. If I'm gonna be owned immediately every time I'm logged on by people who spend all day in the game and have access to stuff I could never dream of, I don't see see the point. I don't see how they can prevent it since there aren't too many games that seem to be able to please both camps.

    • http://www.outer-empires.com Paul Hutson

      The game is built so it'll work for the casual player as well as the more involved player.

      You can, if you want, just log in and do a few missions when you have a few minutes spare - without needing to talk to anyone at all... the universe is huge, if you don't want to talk to other players or be in a large faction then you don't need to be.

      For those who like that side of thing there is loads on offer as well, what within built faction forums, banking, membership administration, hanger space and a whole lot more besides.

      I'm all for giving people the tools I think they might want to play and then letting them do what they like with them.

      • Rozz

        Sounds good. What about PVP? Will new/solo/weak players be at the mercy of the large factions and powergamers? And conversely will the hardcore players be satisfied and not think the game is too "carebear" if the PvP is too restricted? And is there a middle ground?

        That's always the tougher balancing act, from what I can see... PvP is fun and even a necessity for a lot of players, but it's also what drives the biggest wedge between the casual and hardcore players and everyone in between.

        Just questions, not doubts.. Looking forward to the game.

    • http://www.outer-empires.com Paul Hutson

      @Rozz : PVP is fully integrated into the game, at first I wanted the whole galaxy to be free to PVP - but, during testing, we've found it unfeasible to have it open in the government areas. Therefore, all gvmt areas now have supression to stop weapons being fired...

      .. however, everywhere outside is open game. For those that like PVP it's incredible in scope.. you are literally free to do what you want - but, for those that don't like that side of thing, there is /plenty/ of space to disappear into.

      Hope that answers your question - we've catered for the PVPers, because it make a galaxy feel more realistic.. but at the same time we have safe areas for those who aren't interested (and/or are newbies).

  • Rosh

    I hope there's plenty to do (and that it's even possible to advance and survive) if you prefer to remain solo instead of joining a guild. That's what keeps me away from most MMOs, is that I just don't have the time to compete with the hardcore players and I'm not really interested in joining some clan/guild/whatever and getting involved in all their politics. From what I understand EVE is pointless if you don't join an uber-corporation and I can only imagine the same thing will happen here.

    If I can pick this up here and there and tackle some missions and have some interaction with other players here and there, that's cool. If I'm gonna be owned immediately every time I'm logged on by people who spend all day in the game and have access to stuff I could never dream of, I don't see see the point. I don't see how they can prevent it since there aren't too many games that seem to be able to please both camps.

    • http://www.outer-empires.com Paul Hutson

      The game is built so it'll work for the casual player as well as the more involved player.

      You can, if you want, just log in and do a few missions when you have a few minutes spare - without needing to talk to anyone at all... the universe is huge, if you don't want to talk to other players or be in a large faction then you don't need to be.

      For those who like that side of thing there is loads on offer as well, what within built faction forums, banking, membership administration, hanger space and a whole lot more besides.

      I'm all for giving people the tools I think they might want to play and then letting them do what they like with them.

      • Rozz

        Sounds good. What about PVP? Will new/solo/weak players be at the mercy of the large factions and powergamers? And conversely will the hardcore players be satisfied and not think the game is too "carebear" if the PvP is too restricted? And is there a middle ground?

        That's always the tougher balancing act, from what I can see... PvP is fun and even a necessity for a lot of players, but it's also what drives the biggest wedge between the casual and hardcore players and everyone in between.

        Just questions, not doubts.. Looking forward to the game.

    • http://www.outer-empires.com Paul Hutson

      @Rozz : PVP is fully integrated into the game, at first I wanted the whole galaxy to be free to PVP - but, during testing, we've found it unfeasible to have it open in the government areas. Therefore, all gvmt areas now have supression to stop weapons being fired...

      .. however, everywhere outside is open game. For those that like PVP it's incredible in scope.. you are literally free to do what you want - but, for those that don't like that side of thing, there is /plenty/ of space to disappear into.

      Hope that answers your question - we've catered for the PVPers, because it make a galaxy feel more realistic.. but at the same time we have safe areas for those who aren't interested (and/or are newbies).

  • Darwiniandude

    Sorry guys, Apple will not approve a game that has a monthly subscription for the AppStore. Will not happen.

    Unless it's browser based on the iPhone which I doubt.

    • Eli Hodapp

      KingdomGame has been on the App Store for a couple months now with a $3 PayPal subscription, and there are many other apps that require subscriptions to other services to work as well. The World of Warcraft armory app, the multiple Netflix apps, etc.

  • Darwiniandude

    Sorry guys, Apple will not approve a game that has a monthly subscription for the AppStore. Will not happen.

    Unless it's browser based on the iPhone which I doubt.

    • Eli Hodapp

      KingdomGame has been on the App Store for a couple months now with a $3 PayPal subscription, and there are many other apps that require subscriptions to other services to work as well. The World of Warcraft armory app, the multiple Netflix apps, etc.

  • http://www.hbdia.com IzzyNobre

    This is a nice change. Right now the "MMOs" on the AppStore are about as fun as working on a spreadsheet.

  • http://www.hbdia.com IzzyNobre

    This is a nice change. Right now the "MMOs" on the AppStore are about as fun as working on a spreadsheet.

  • OhSoleMio

    Looks neat but I'm waiting for something like an Ashrons Call or WoW.

    • http://www.kingdomgame.net Cheech

      I am Beta testing the game now and after playing the creators first game I'm more then happy to pay the subscripyion fees nothing is free folks so with that said the game is very interactive when u are alone it keeps you busy as a person who travels as much as i do there is no better way to spend time in an airport then with iphone games that dont go dull in 3 days 3 thumbs up for me

      • http://Manuelt.de LeJacques

        This really sounds interesting!
        Can you tell me, how I can apply for the beta? I haven't found any information about that on the website, but of course I might just be blind ;)

    • http://www.fftrealm.com Noah

      I think Asheron's Call would actually work VERY WELL on the iPhone. The graphics are about right, and if they can simplify the interface... I would totally subscribe (again) to the game! :)

  • OhSoleMio

    Looks neat but I'm waiting for something like an Ashrons Call or WoW.

    • http://www.kingdomgame.net Cheech

      I am Beta testing the game now and after playing the creators first game I'm more then happy to pay the subscripyion fees nothing is free folks so with that said the game is very interactive when u are alone it keeps you busy as a person who travels as much as i do there is no better way to spend time in an airport then with iphone games that dont go dull in 3 days 3 thumbs up for me

      • http://Manuelt.de LeJacques

        This really sounds interesting!
        Can you tell me, how I can apply for the beta? I haven't found any information about that on the website, but of course I might just be blind ;)

    • http://www.fftrealm.com Noah

      I think Asheron's Call would actually work VERY WELL on the iPhone. The graphics are about right, and if they can simplify the interface... I would totally subscribe (again) to the game! :)

  • http://www.outer-empires.com Paul Hutson

    @LeJacques : The beta sign up form is on the website, in the menu area to the left in the "Community" section.

    HTHs.

  • http://www.outer-empires.com Paul Hutson

    @LeJacques : The beta sign up form is on the website, in the menu area to the left in the "Community" section.

    HTHs.

  • Aaron

    Shouldn't that first "no" be "know?"

    • http://www.powso.com Totalsam

      No. It should not. You fail.

      This game looks dec...I mean they've clearly packed a lot of depth into it. The interface is super cluttered though. I hope you can collapse those windows cuz I need SOME room for navigation and combat (which looks awkward based on this footage).

      I wonder how this'll fare against Freeverse's Warp Gate. Maybe they'll feel pressure to implement online play as well? WG's graphix are certainly superior, but the gameplay will be the true test of longevity.

  • Aaron

    Shouldn't that first "no" be "know?"

    • http://www.powso.com Totalsam

      No. It should not. You fail.

      This game looks dec...I mean they've clearly packed a lot of depth into it. The interface is super cluttered though. I hope you can collapse those windows cuz I need SOME room for navigation and combat (which looks awkward based on this footage).

      I wonder how this'll fare against Freeverse's Warp Gate. Maybe they'll feel pressure to implement online play as well? WG's graphix are certainly superior, but the gameplay will be the true test of longevity.

  • Aaron

    Yes. Yes I do fail. That's what I get for very little sleep and not seeing the comma. LOL!

    • http://powso.com Totalsam

      Don't worry about it. And get some sleep.

      -Momma Sam

  • Aaron

    Yes. Yes I do fail. That's what I get for very little sleep and not seeing the comma. LOL!

    • http://powso.com Totalsam

      Don't worry about it. And get some sleep.

      -Momma Sam

  • Alex

    This is rediculous. 4 dollars a month? I love kingdomgame, in its free version, but this game sounds like it needs the $4 a month in order to play.

    This sounds amazing but ridiculous in price.

  • Alex

    This is rediculous. 4 dollars a month? I love kingdomgame, in its free version, but this game sounds like it needs the $4 a month in order to play.

    This sounds amazing but ridiculous in price.

  • Kevin

    Looks great but not great as 4 dollar per month great for me. Rather stick with free mmo in pc since i use internet on ipod rarely and play game on my ipod in my home rarely too.

  • Kevin

    Looks great but not great as 4 dollar per month great for me. Rather stick with free mmo in pc since i use internet on ipod rarely and play game on my ipod in my home rarely too.

  • http://www.final-iteration.com Andrew Ogden

    While I am not generally against monthly subscriptions for MMOs, I see some problems with people paying monthly subscriptions so the developers can produce updates to the game. iPhone users expect developers to update their games/apps at no extra charge and might see your new content as something they should not have to pay for. Although, with the rise of in-app sales and microtransactions, those days of update entitlement might be over soon.

    Looks like a fun game. I'll be sure to give it a try.

  • http://www.final-iteration.com Andrew Ogden

    While I am not generally against monthly subscriptions for MMOs, I see some problems with people paying monthly subscriptions so the developers can produce updates to the game. iPhone users expect developers to update their games/apps at no extra charge and might see your new content as something they should not have to pay for. Although, with the rise of in-app sales and microtransactions, those days of update entitlement might be over soon.

    Looks like a fun game. I'll be sure to give it a try.

  • http://Warpz.info Mark Firman

    I loved KingdGame & WILL definetly pay for the subscribtion for this game.
    Can't wait! Outer-Empires looks great!

  • http://Warpz.info Mark Firman

    I loved KingdGame & WILL definetly pay for the subscribtion for this game.
    Can't wait! Outer-Empires looks great!

  • Dana

    I've played kingdom game (pauls other mmo) for almost a year. I can't wait for OE to be released. The subscription price is well worth the money. Paul is totally accessible to his players, always willing to answer questions or deal with problems.

  • Dana

    I've played kingdom game (pauls other mmo) for almost a year. I can't wait for OE to be released. The subscription price is well worth the money. Paul is totally accessible to his players, always willing to answer questions or deal with problems.

  • Mod

    I've been playing kg for a few months with paid subscription and love it. I've been looking forward to Outer-Empires for a while. I'll definately be getting a subscription on it.it looks awesome and lets face it guys it only $3. 75 cent a week isn't gonna break the bank.

  • Mod

    I've been playing kg for a few months with paid subscription and love it. I've been looking forward to Outer-Empires for a while. I'll definately be getting a subscription on it.it looks awesome and lets face it guys it only $3. 75 cent a week isn't gonna break the bank.

  • oftheheavens

    i am a beta tester for this game and let me just say, it is awesome. if you want to check out more you should check out the forums, there is a ton of cool stuff. this game is going to be huge!

  • oftheheavens

    i am a beta tester for this game and let me just say, it is awesome. if you want to check out more you should check out the forums, there is a ton of cool stuff. this game is going to be huge!

  • Caleb

    This game looks pretty neat, but monthly subscription? I rather pay a larger but one-time fee. At least there's a free version, but that would let all the kids with their iphone/ipods in. Hopefully the community chat won't fail. I'm really glad that they didn't put a time limit for the free users. Actually to be honest, time limits almost never help for me. I never bought/subscribed to any game that didn't let me explore enough due to the freaking time limit. This may be the 1st game I'll subscribe to but that all depends on my experience beforehand.

  • Caleb

    This game looks pretty neat, but monthly subscription? I rather pay a larger but one-time fee. At least there's a free version, but that would let all the kids with their iphone/ipods in. Hopefully the community chat won't fail. I'm really glad that they didn't put a time limit for the free users. Actually to be honest, time limits almost never help for me. I never bought/subscribed to any game that didn't let me explore enough due to the freaking time limit. This may be the 1st game I'll subscribe to but that all depends on my experience beforehand.

  • james andrews

    Massive Multiplayer Disappointment

    This game showed early promise but has sadly fallen into a deep pit over the past year. It has been plagued by extremely frequent app crashes which the development team have been unable to resolve. This coupled with appalling browser lag, freezing, and numerous bugs have led to very many players losing ships to 'lag death'. These ships take weeks of grinding to buy and compensation is rarely forthcoming.
    The grind is extremely repetitive and unsatisfying and the colony work is tedious in the extreme with very little reward due to the collapse of the in game economy secondary to 'cash for points' (see below).
    Many promises have been made concerning new content but very little is seen. Any changes are actually steps backwards 'bandaid solutions' which attempt (and fail) to reduce lag eg. reducing weapon firing speeds from 3 to 15 seconds.
    Another disturbing trend is the addition of 'points' to be bought (in addition to monthly subs) which can be exchanged for in-game items. The items very quickly become superseded and are therefore a huge waste of real life money. Sadly players are severely disadvantaged in-game if they don't spend the extra cash.
    To top this all off there has been a worrying amount of developer interference and less than ethical activity. Two developers run the most powerful in game faction and have been seen to use their privileges to their own betterment and their opponent's detriment.
    For the above reasons, and many others, players leave the game at an alarming rate and few new ones join - the player base is therefore extremely small and insular.
    If you are looking for a fun, fair and interesting game - Outer Empires is not for you.

  • http://outer-empires.com/ collisoldfield

    Just an update, Outer empires is back, after a shutdown period, the game is back live in beta, on browser only at the moment.