Darkspace has some great ideas but I didn't get a chance to see them in action.
The game: choose your side, pick a ship (as a rookie you have limited choice) and fly into massive space battles.
Actually, scratch that. Fly through empty space. Orbit around planets in silent atmospheres.
Also, this game is far too dark - that's not a riff off the name. While the darkness of space might be fairly true to reality, it doesn't work in a game. Most space games find ways to "cheat" around this issue by displaying gorgeously lit nebulae (like touched up Hubble photos) or some kind of ambient lighting.
When I played the most populated server had about 10 people on it. And for some reason I kept running into asteroids before I got to the action.
With enough people and some graphical tweaks, this could be a fun multiplayer skirmish game. The control are great, allowing you to zoom all the way out to a galaxy-wide map. You even get the opportunity to send soldiers down to planets to take them over - though this option needs more feedback.
Keep in mind this is a Beta, so that's why I'm staying positive despite my criticisms.
They do apparently have a payment option, and I'm not sure if that gets you on different servers or what exactly changes. I would guess they instituted it in order to pay for server maintenance and in an attempt to fund the game itself. That's just a guess, but it makes sense for these kinds of independent efforts.
The down side is that there's no real guarantee that they can continue to maintain support for the game, even with an income stream. So I'd say pay at your own risk.
I might keep an eye on this one.