SOL: Exodus Closed Beta Contest Winners Demonstrate the Soul of a Space FighterS

Over the Thanksgiving break we asked fans of space sims to prove their passion for a shot at one of 25 spots in the closed beta test for upcoming PC star fighter SOL: Exodus. Time to see who made the grade!

SOL: Exodus is a (currently) single-player space shooter crafted by developers at Seamless Interactive with games like Wing Commander and X-Wing Vs. Tie Fighter at heart, so they wanted their beta testers to share the same passion for deep space battles as they possess.

We received a ton of great entries, and narrowing the list down to the 25 most qualified candidates was a heart-wrenching task. Some of you shared your personal space sim anecdotes. Others chose to write self-starring fan fiction of their piloting exploits.

We picked one from each category to start things off

First up let's take a trip down memory lane with commenter lordkyellan.

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Oh, I remember the joystick port. Wing Commander hit in 1990. I was 5. We never had a Nintendo, but my dad loved PC gaming (cut my teeth on Nethack's predecessor before I could read, playing while dad read the screen to me).

By 1991, I had learned how to fly and loved every minute of it. I had beaten Wing Commander 1 more times than I can remember. Of course, being a kid, I had never gotten the 'good' ending - always getting left behind by the Tiger's Claw at the end. I never even knew there was another ending until years later.

Then there was another one that same year. Wing Commander 2. By now we'd gotten a joystick for the $2700 486/33 that my dad had built specifically for gaming. I had learned how to reconfigure config.sys and autoexec.bat to free up the necessary memory to play. I remember being floored by the idea of a Kilrathi wingmate (Hobbes), completely pissed off when that douchebag Jazz betrayed the Confederation, and devastated when (SPOILERS!!) Spirit flew her ship into that station.

When 1994 came around, and Wing Commander III was released, family problems had prevented the PC from being upgraded enough for me to play it. I missed III, and IV came out after my dad passed away unexpectedly in 1995, which meant that we were too busy just coping to even think about a video game.

I played Prophecy in 1997, and was so happy just to be playing a Wing Commander game again. Played it through, beat it, and then we downloaded the Secret Ops expansion from the Internet on our cable modem. I want to say that it was about 100 MB, and it downloaded in an hour. We were *floored*. It was so fast!!

Like all other WC fans, I was severely disappointed when Chris Roberts slaughtered his own IP when he tried to commit it to the big screen. I don't care what anyone says - Mark Hamill is Blair (even though I never played III and IV until much later, I'd seen some of the cinematics and fully trusted that he was Blair, especially when I played Prophecy), and Freddie Prinze Jr is some kind of horrible monster masquerading as our hero.

Since then, I played Freespace and Freespace 2, both of which were very good. The space sim had already begun to taper off to nothing, and the few entries that came later were mediocre at best, save for Freelancer, which was amazing. I even tried to play Starlancer (it never worked on my computer - ever).

More recently, I've played Allegiance (which is good, though I wish it had more story) and waited for what feels like forever for JG:E to come out. I even played HAWX with a bloody joystick because I fly better with one, even in a game that's barely designed for it. I currently own a USB Thrustmaster X (no snickering, please) with the throttle control, because THAT'S how you fly a spaceship, dammit!

Long story short, I was literally raised on the space sim. I had not heard about SOL: Exodus until this article, but I plan to check it out. Thanks Kotaku!

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And on the fiction side of things, commenter Jezuz regales us with a tale from his time with X3: Terran Conflict.

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It was the first time I had been welcomed into a foreign base, a base outside of my territory, and I was tense about the situation. I had a carrier, with two M4 fighters, one M3 bomber and an M5 scout in the hull. I also had two freighters with me, which was the core of my fleet. I was planning on finding a good trade route within this new territory, as I had to deliver some goods to the region from Jupiter anyhow.

Once there, however, I found the locals to be less than hospitable. They wouldn't trade with me, they wouldn't give me contracts, they wouldn't even let me dock in most of their bases. I decided it was time to get out of there, and I prepared for an unknown space expedition, something that I would end up regretting, and relishing for a very long time.

It started about three jumps from the ever-so-unfriendly natives at the beginning of my journey. It was a small attack, it seemed, just a few pirates against what looked to be a caravan. I jumped in to help, partially hoping to get some reputation with the locals, partially hoping they would wipe most of each other out before I got there so I could pick their corpses clean. When I got closer, I realized it was Yaki, a race of pirate people, far more dangerous than simple pirates. Now, in most cases, most people would run. This was not one of those cases. I had casually sent my M4s in to harass the pirates, as was my opening moves so many times before.

One of the M4s arrived before the other, something that is never a good omen, and also an oddity. The shields went down quickly, and I realized that I'd have to intervene with something more than just my pathetic freighter defenses. I jumped outside my ship in my space suit, and slowly moved toward my carrier. I set my freighters to auto-pilot, to intercept the Yaki M3s. Just as soon as I got to my carrier, my first M4 was destroyed. It was a devastating blow. Not only was that the faster ship, it was more heavily armed as well. The only thing the other M4 had going for it, was the defenses. I quickly made my way to my M3, and began my descent into madness.

The second M4 was nearly down by the time I got into combat, so I told him to retreat to the system I had just come from. It was all up to my skills now. I managed to take down the shields of the Yaki bomber, and my two freighters did substantial damage to the hull before my carrier managed to finish it off. Feeling confident, I decided to let my M5 get a piece of the action...

And then reinforcements arrived, and they weren't friendly. Three Yaki bombers, and two M4 fighters. My M5 died instantly, and my bomber was nearly destroyed just as quickly. I quickly made my way to my carrier, who was already retreating to the gate with my two freighters. I caught up with him, boarded my M3 mid-flight and made a mad dash for the gate. My slower freighter was being hammered, but managed to get to the gate with the rest of us still.

As I jumped to the system, I gave a sign of deeply saddened relief. I had lost a lot of good ships, a lot of expensive ships, with little to no gain... And then, the Yaki came. They came through the gate, something I had never seen before. They followed me, and I knew my freighter was doomed. As I made my way to the base, the freighter exploded, and I was forced to abandon the contents until I was further out of danger. I made my way to an M1, hoping they would intervene, but in the end, it wasn't the military that helped me, it was a Terran trade caravan. In what seemed to be sudden salvation, the Terrans unloaded with three freighters, two M3s, and four M4s. The battle was over quickly, with only the loss of one of their M4s, and the nightmare was over.

I scoured the battlefields, looking over the wreckage of my valiant ships that had been so mercilessly destroyed, as well as the enemies that had plagued me. In the end, I came out with 4,000,000 credits in losses, with no way to recoup them. It was a hard lesson learned, but I escaped with my life, and with knowledge of battle that I hadn't beforehand. I had maneuvered against insurmountable odds, and came out on top, something I am still proud of to this day.

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Thanks for your entries, folks!

Here's the full list of 25 winners, followed by important instructions about how to facilitate your entry into the SOL: Exodus beta test:

Congratulations, winners! Now you've got to email me!

I'm going to need each of the winners on this list to send me an email to
fahey@kotaku.com with the subject "SOL Exodus Contest Winner". In the body include your Name, the email address you want us to give to Seamless, and your Kotaku handle. I'll pass the info along to the developers, and they'll start the process of getting you into the closed beta test.

It's a little convoluted but you're a space fighter pilot; you can handle it.