To be honest I wanted to email this letter solely to Alex Garden, but since turning up his email address somewhere on the net has proven difficult I'm posting it here instead in the hope that it might find it's way into the hands of the Relic devs.
I just completed Homeworld not more than 20 minutes ago. You're probably wondering what took me so long. I first bought the game about a week after it was released and attacked it with great fervour. I played up to Rocks and Shoals and failed the mission on my first attempt. I was a little frustrated since my progress until that point was very much unfettered. I decided to take a break, got distracted and here I am 3 years later.
About a week ago I was watching Platoon which opens with Barber's Adagio for Strings. Immediately I thought of Homeworld and the choral version of that piece which accompanies the opening of the game. The next day I searched through my closet and found my copy of Homeworld and I sat down and leafed through the manual.
It was just as I remembered it - a flawless tome if information and lore which set the scene of the Homeworld universe very nicely. Reading the manual turned into reinstalling the game which in turn led to many, many hours since working my way back to Rocks and Shoals and beyond until tonight where I finally rested at the keyboard watching the ending sequence.
In my opinion Homeworld transcends the mere label of "entertainment" and is the first game I've played that approaches "art". It excels in every department. At rest the music is serene and augments the sensation of vastness (and loneliness) that one must feel floating in the abyss of space. When the action heats up, instead of some contemporary pounding rock music we hear tribal beats which so aptly capture the tension of the moment, but also harkens back to the base human simplicity of war. It's raw, and a divine juxtaposition - "advanced" and "enlightened" races far ahead of us that still engage in barbaric conflict.
The voice acting is superb - especially the nebula missions in the Garden of Kadesh. The delivery of the Kadesh ambassador - a staggered, staccato manner which swept from wistful to fierce in the space of a few words was chilling. Instead of coming right out and making the Kadesh seem crazy, it created a "something's not right here" vibe which is much more disturbing.
Also during the Kadesh negotiations, when invited to join the Kadesh in their garden, there was a moment where Karan spoke up. She had to decline. They were on their own path and couldn't join the Kadesh. The remorse in her voice was tangible. I could feel her sadness, due to both turning down the Kadesh and from the realisation that she knew her reply would lead to conflict.
The graphics, F/X and interface of the game are absolutely amazing to me - and bear in mind I've had another 3 years to grow accustomed to the latest improvements and innovations in game design, but I still think Homeworld towers above them. I'm not going to dwell on this point however - I'm not as well equipped to comment on technical aspects.
I'm sure some people who read this will probably think I'm investing too much sentiment in a computer game, and that's fair enough. I often ridicule people who express enthusiasm for things I can only find disdain in - pen-and-paper RPG's and the like - I'm not perfect.
But... yeah... I just clocked Homeworld and it's had a profound effect. Not life altering; I'm not going to turn left instead of right, quit smoking or foster a starving Ethiopian, but I'll always remember the game and remember that it made me feel something deeper than just excited while I played it.
Now that I've appropriately embarrassed myself, I think I'll be moving on.
That is all.