Gateway (Frederik Pohl's Gateway, 1992) and Gateway II (Gateway II: Homeworld, 1993), are interactive fiction games released by Legend Entertainment, and written by Glen Dahlgren and Mike Verdu. They are based on Frederik Pohl's novels, but deviate significantly while still being similar enough to make both the games and the books severe spoilers for each other[. ]
Gateway shares its premise with Pohl's first book, of a poor space prospector arrives on the eponymously named space station with the intent to use the dangerously poorly understood alien crafts that are based there to explore distant worlds and strike it rich. The similarities soon end as the game introduces original elements, changes (in the novel's terms: travel times are negligible, Gateway has Earth-normal gravity, all ships are ones and bastard control panels are the norm) and material from the later books. The second game is set ten years after the first, and bears less resemblance to the novels' plots while using more of their elements.
Both games have virtually identical interfaces that hybridize traditional parsers with illustration and mouse-based aids. The games (especially the second) have a number of timed events, but the possibility of player death outside them is quite rare. Unwinnable states are possible, but difficult to achieve.
A century in the future, humans land on Venus and colonize it. Below the surface, thousands of miles of artificial tunnels are discovered. They are believed to have been built thousands of years ago by an alien species known as the Heechee, but little else is known about them until an explorer discovers a Heechee ship, intact and operational, in one of the tunnels.
Rather than report his findings, he climbs in and activate it. The ship launches and goes into "TAU Space," a faster-than-light travel method. It arrives at a huge space station carved out of an asteroid floating halfway between Venus and Mercury, which is full of thousands of similar ships, but otherwise empty. However, the explorer is unable to figure out how to return to Venus, and faced with a lack of supplies, figures out how to detonate the fuel cell of the ship he came in. The detonation kills him, but also attracts the attention of a NASA tracking station, who send an expedition to investigate.
The discovery of the station, named Gateway, almost leads to war among the superpowers of Earth over ownership, until a compromise is finally worked out. A co-operative called the Gateway Corporation is formed, with the superpowers each holding one quarter of company stock.
The alien ships that are found still function, but their built-in destinations are a mystery. Navigation is accomplished by using 5 digit codes with the ships' computers, but there is no way to tell what codes go where. Volunteers called prospectors come to Gateway to test the codes and pilot the ships to their destination, explore and report back what they find (as well as bring anything interesting back). A large majority of the prospectors return with little or nothing, a tenth never return, but the remaining 1.5% return with artifacts or knowledge that make them incredibly rich.
The player character has won a one-way ticket to Gateway, membership as a prospector in the Gateway Corporation and 10 days of provided life support along with a small amount of money.
Gateway II: Homeworld
A strange, incredibly large object, dubbed "The Artifact" has been located outside the orbit of Pluto. The Artifact is assumed to be a ship, possibly of Heechee origin. The Gateway Corporation plans to send a shuttle to investigate, but a terrorist sect attempts to hijack the shuttle. Their plans are to use The Artifact to alert a highly destructive alien race of Earth's presence. The player character launches the shuttle before the terrorists arrive, and takes over the Artifact rendezvous mission.
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- Frederik Pohl's Gateway at Adventure Classic Gaming, screenshots etc.
- Gateway II: Homeworld at Adventure Classic Gaming, screenshots etc.