How about you guys start telling us about the actual game instead of flashing bright shineys at us. :)
Take it away, Brad!

Actually - I think Brad's out right now... Hmm. Okay, I'll do the best I can.

The game mechanics are going to be very similar to the original Privateer. One of the major differences is that we're actually going to allow you to become a full-fledged pirate, rather than the Privateer version, where nothing much changes besides the Faction standings. So - you'll have the ability to own an Pirate base of some sort, and to get the benefits thereof.

The entire game is going to be from the first-person perspective. This means that you'll be walking around bases, talking to fully modeled people and things. If you need to get a new gun, you walk from your ship on down to the Ship dealer, purchase the gun, and have it delivered to your ship on the landing pad. (You'll have to remember your pad number)
This is not as hard to pull off as it sounds at first. We're basing the art and mechanics of the base system off a totally modular design. So people will be completely random, as will the various base layouts.

This also applies to walking around your ship - although this is a later feature than the ones we've got planned right now.
You hire crew to man your turrets, and to repair your ship. You can also hire a Co-pilot to fly the ship while you use the turrets. He also helps keep track of things happening around you. He's kinda similar to the narrator - he informs you of anything noteworth that's happening.
The Mechanic works the same as a Repair droid, except the initial cost is less - but you have to pay him a salary. Same with the rest of the crew. They'll have ratings - a level 1 turret gunner is not that great of a shot - but he's better than an empty chair. A level 5 would kick everyone's ass, and auto-tractors goodies into your hold.
We're kinda undecided how they'll divy up the cash - either a flat rate per time you take off, or a perchentage of the takings of the last mission you flew. Definately up for sugestions there.

Anyhow -I gotta get back to work, but that's a pretty good start, I think.
Few quick questions;

How far along is the actual engine?

Is any kind of multiplayer planned?

Any plans to make the engine open source?
The basic framework is there - we need to go about adding the features I mentioned above, and all the database and behind the scenes stuff that gonna need to go on. We're in pretty good shape. I've not talked to Joel for a bit, so I don't know exactly where we're at now - but that wa the status last I heard. He's Incommunicado in Canada right now - truly a remote location.

Multiplayer....Yes. If we can make it work in a fun way. It won't be in the initial release, that's for sure.

No, the engine will not be open source. Which isn't to say, of course, that we won't share when it's all done - it's just that the mentality that surrounds an OS project is something we want to avoid.
I'm interested in why you chose to make all the interaction weird and first person( :D ).

Will you be able to hire on Wingmen? Form a local vigilante group?

And if I wanted to start a flame war, I'd say something about how Priv:Remake is the reason I think OS is bad. But I don't, and I'm joking.
Halman: Because it's a more interesting aproach to the Privateer game type. Sure, we could do static bases, just like Priv - but we've seen that before. We really want to put you in the shoes of the character. We've mentioned before that we might do some "out of body" cinematics - launching and landing for instance - but they're purely eyecandy. The gameplay will be first-person. Yes! you will be able to hire wingmen, as well as do Privateer 2-style transport rentals. U-Hauls of the Future! At least I think that last one is in there. I don't have the docs infront of me, so I can't say for sure.

Conrad: The gameplay and storyline will be pretty freeform. We're gonna try and make it as interesting as possible, of course - so people don't want to go off and do their own thing . There's nothing stopping you, however. We've also discussed the possibility of having randomly generated mini-storylines. These would pop up after the main storyline is complete, or if the player hasn't accommplished some main task by a certain time. You know - damsel in distress, Kilrathi offensive, crooked CEO, Family feuds, you get the picture. they'd be quite a few of them - so they'd tend not to ever repeat. And your success failure would probably influence the main storyline in some small way.

Wow. I'm getting even more excited!
Even though it has some problems, I really like renting large cargo haulers in Privateer 2. Escort missions can be pretty exciting when you have all your money invested in expensive goods. I hope that feature makes it in.
Yeah - the thing is that we'd have to make you a pretty big target. Otherwise no one would ever but the big cargo ships, they'd just get the biggest cargo rental they could and the bes fighter and go that way.
I'm just worried about having to spend several minutes running around just to buy a laser cannon or find a new mission.
Howard Day said:
We're kinda undecided how they'll divy up the cash - either a flat rate per time you take off, or a perchentage of the takings of the last mission you flew. Definately up for sugestions there.
would it be possible to do it where you do a flat rate if you play as a privateer but a percentage if you're a pirate? it makes sense to me because pirates would want "their share" in the loot where privateers hire themselves for a certain price
I certainly hope any cinematics you guys intend on doing aren't FMVs. They take users out of the game experience. If you're going to be interacting entirely in-engine in first person view, I'd keep the cinematics in-engine as well.

Of course you guys have probably thought of this already and I'm just repeating it... just thought I'd add my 2 cents. :)

In terms of suggestions for divying up cash, I think this should purposely be left up in the air. Why not give players the option of selecting the form of payment for each new hire, and having that outlined in a virtual rendered contract for each? You select the options you want--lump sum, percentage of winnings, flat rates, etc--and then negotiate with your hire for their pay. When you two agree, he signs the contract and is yours for the term of the contract you set. Sounds more complex than it really would be.

What do you think?
Halman: Absolutely. Don't worry about the time spent on bases. we'll make everything reletively close to the landing pad. I would estimate only around 8-10 second trips from your ship to the ship dealer.
TurboTim: Good idea! That's actually a pretty decent gameplay mechanic! I'll pass that off to Brad.
Cam: Heh. You know me well. As much as I'd love to do them as FMVs - it's not going to happen. There are far too many planets, with too many bases, in too many configurations, to allow for a FMV for each. No - all that will be in-engine. I think we'll have an advanced enough Game engine to hit almost FMV quality anyway. A lot of the engine specs will be made availiable in the next few weeks - we hope to have everything from post-process specular bloom to full-scene real-time motion blur. Yes, you heard me. Look here:
That's the quality we're going for. And I'm working with some of the people who invented these effects at my job right now. So that said, it's not as hard as it might appear. I'm using 3DSMAX7's native Render-to-Texture support. It's a pretty nifty setup that allows be to create a Color, spec, Glow, and Normal map from a model with a single click. All these models are automatically unwrapped, so there's a maximum of texture resolution per pixel, and almost no wasted space in these maps...Truely a beautiful system. Anyhow - those new paintjobs will hopefully be up sometime tonight. I've had around 7 days of 12-15 hours of hard work per day. Little drowsy.
Are you guys building on an old engine, or starting one from scratch? Also, how many programers do you guys have on your team?
Nope - New engine. We've already said that the Vision and Vegastrike engines just simply don't have the visual oomph to do what we want. We currently have only one programmer on the team - Joel - but he is more than capable. And at this point, I'd rather not have more than one on it anyway - it's nice to have well-organized code to work from.
How about this question: What's the release date? :D And are you having open or closed alpha/beta testing?