Space Station 13: Galactic Bartender Ep. 1

By Quintin Smith on July 21st, 2010 at 6:00 pm.

Bringing a whole new meaning to Closing Time.

I’ve started investigating Space Station 13, a sci-fi multiplayer sandbox with the same utterly batshit more-is-more design as Dwarf Fortress. It uses Byond, and with that installed you can get SS13 here. The comprehensive Something Awful goon wiki can be read here and there’s a big map of the station here. The game lets you pick your job on the crew each game, but I’ve decided to shirk the responsibility of being captain, chief engineer, detective and so on to see what can be done as a humble barman. This, Episode 1, covers my first hour with the game on a sparsely populated server. This is the adventures of Galactic Bartender Gengy Patel.

Barman’s log, stardate 40125.8. Dunno where to begin. I guess I should be in the bar right now instead of recording this, but the power’s still down over there and I need to take a break. And find a gun. But let’s start by takin’ a break.

The crew here must have gone without a drink for some time, because there’s a weird tension to this place. I noticed it after I’d stepped off the arrival shuttle and nabbed a coffee from the vending machine. It was so quiet. This place didn’t feel like my new home. It felt like a hundred accidents waiting to happen, all of them stacked in a pyramid formation like fancy waterskiers. It made me nervous.

I figured I’d make my way to my bar and I found my first station resident on the way. He was some kind of security bigwig. He was also fast asleep and nothing could rouse him. Strange, yeah, but just really awkward. Was this guy my new boss? I picked up a label gun from a nearby side table, stamped “Hi! Cheers!” onto his desk and left.

And then I found that bar of mine.

“Is that a…” It was, no word of a lie, a monkey. In my bar. This wouldn’t do. No way. Figuring out what it was doing there was going to have to take a backseat to health and safety. I began looking around for something to beat it up with. I mean, it wasn’t doin’ anyone any harm, but like I say, health and safety is dead important in a work environment. I’d just found a beer bottle when I started getting messages through the ol’ radio earpiece.

“Is anybody there”, said this voice. “I’ve had an accident.”

“Hi!” I sent. “Me here. Gengy’s the name. I’m new. How can I help you?”

“Can you get to Genetics?” said the guvnor. “An experiment went wrong. I’m kinda deaf and kinda blind.”

I gave the monkey a look that said “Don’t touch anything, or drink anything, or dirty the place up, because if you do I’ll have to hurt you and it won’t trouble me one bit melad because I’ve been doing this for a long time, 14 years in fact” and went off to look for Genetics.

I passed an even more odd fella on the way there. He was busying himself with all sorts of fuel tanks, gas canisters and other explosives in the middle of the corridor. Nothin’ to do with me though. “Let sleeping space-dogs lie” and all that.

Turns out Genetics is in the far corner of the Medical section. I made it to the lobby when the blind Guvnor piped up again.

“Hang on,” he says. “What’s your job?” I told him I was a barman of 14 years experience and proud of it, and he only goes and tells me my clearance level isn’t high enough and I’ll have to break in. “You’ll need a wrench, a screwdriver, a crowbar and a multitool,” he says. And then he says “No, wait. You’ll just need a crowbar and a welding tool.”

I found the crowbar in an emergency toolbox just down the hall, and told the guvnor so. “But there’s a bit of a problem,” says I. “The lights over here are starting to go out. I think we’re losing power. And all of the doors have stopped opening. I think I’m stuck.”

As everybody knows, losing power in space is just no good. So I was in a bit of a pickl–

There! That’s the same lad from before! What in the blazes is he up to? Is he off cutting the station’s power lines? Fiddling with the power core? Doing whoopsies in the hydroponics? I’m not cut out for proper rogues. I haven’t the foggiest how to defend meself. Best I just help get the Guvnor back on his feet and let him deal with any rogues.

So the Guvnor tells me I can open non-security doors with the crowbar, meaning if I want a welding tool I’m going to have to pry my way into that bit of the station where I saw that jumpsuit guy wandering about. Cor, give me strength.

So I find the welding tool in a store room and go running back to Medical, where the Guvnor sets me to work taking apart a wall. It sounds dead simple. I use the welding tool on the wall, then the crowbar on the melted wall, and then- wait. There’s still a fat girder in the way. The Guvnor apologises and says I’ll also need a wrench, so it’s back to the storehouse I go, picking my way through the shadows and expecting to be beset by some grubby little rogue with a pair of pliers at any second. The Guvnor tells me to make sure I’ve turned off the welding torch, but I can’t figure out how and leave it on the floor.

Finally I disassemble the girder only to find myself in a morgue with nothing but locked doors in every direction. The Guvnor tells me to burn through another wall, which is problematic as I never told him I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the welding tool and it’s now empty.

It’s at about this point I hear a repeated smashing noise. I head back to the Medical foyer where I see a trail of smashed glass all the way to Genetics! Turns out while I was manually taking apart the wall, I could have just grab a bleedin’ fire extinguisher and gone bashing through the windows in the foyer. I was livid.

So we finally reached Genetics, meself and this jumpsuit guy, and then he took off his jumpsuit and to tell you the truth at this point I was beyond caring why anybody was doing anything in particular.

“Great,” came the voice of the Guvnor again over the radio. “That’s me, that corpse over there. If you can get power to the cloning vats and find my record you can bring me back.”

Well, that was about when I decided that this lot could fend for their bloody selves. Restore power to the cloning vats? Jog on.

And you know what the worst part is? Something tells me this all could have gone so much more wrong. All you’d need to do was double or triple the number of staff. Maybe I will go back to that bar. I need a drink.

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75 Comments »

  1. YogSo says:

    Hahaha, brilliant! Looking forward to the ongoing chronicles of the Galactic Bartender. “It was or best, last hope for getting drunk.”

  2. Dominic White says:

    SS13 has provided me with some of my most hilarious moments in videogame history. The goon server has some great playmodes, including Monkey Survival.

    It’s pretty simple – there are angry primates pouring out of the ventilation shafts. They want you dead. The objective is to survive until the escape shuttle arrives, then get on board it. Simple enough.

    I lucked out. I spawned as the captain. I got my fancy Captains Armor, I got my fancy Captains Laser Gun, and then I died almost instantly as a nearby vent erupted like a volcano full of chimps. Angry chimps. Angry chimps swinging wrenches, crowbars and even full-sized toolboxes. I think I got off one shot before they reduced me to a bloody red smear.

    So, I’m dead. And a ghost now, so I float around looking for anything interesting going on. I notice that one of our security officers is named Ivan Drago. I watch as Ivan calmly walks to the station gym, strips down into boxing shorts and shoes, and puts on a pair of gloves, steps into the boxing ring and then calls out the monkeys. All of them.

    “COME, LITTLE HAIRY MEN! FACE IVAN! FACE YOUR DOOM!”

    20 minutes later, and Ivan Drago is undefeated champion, standing high atop a pile of bruised and bloodied monkeys. He beat them all in mano-a-chimpo combat. The shuttle is here, but Drago refuses to leave. There are still monkeys to mash, and while there are, he isn’t the true King of the Ring. Not even a cameo by Rocky Balboa can convince him to leave. The rest of the surviving crew manage to flee, leaving the station a ruined, burning husk. The only things moving are a single angry russian, and a lot of increasingly nervous-looking primates.

  3. bshm says:

    Every day you don’t recieve a toolbox to the head, get shoved into a locker and are launched into space upon entering Space Station 13 is a good day.

  4. Griddle Octopus says:

    This sounds a lot like the awesome tape-based board game Space Alert. I think we’ve played that about 20 times and never survived the whole 10 minutes. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/38453/space-alert

  5. R3D says:

    i hope this dosn’t go the way of the Ai-war diary

    • YogSo says:

      As long as Quinns doesn’t seem to suffer any iron shortage aboard the Station, this diary should be all right…

  6. geldonyetich says:

    It’s always good to see BYOND get a nod. They’ve been providing a portal for players to construct their own online games for well over a decade, but apparently get so little news coverage that some Wikipedia moderating dick shut down their entry for lack of external references. Since then, I’ve been rather against the idea of donating to Wikipedia.

    If you go into Space Station 13, expect to get killed violently and regularly in ways that can hurt you deeply as a person. Its days as an innocent space station simulator are long over, replaced with being a fabulous play set for creative grief play. That’s fabulous so long as you’re willing to laugh along with the creativity of catastrophe that will befall you and your fellow doomed astronauts, but otherwise not.

    • Dominic White says:

      SS13 is best looked at as Dwarf Fortress In Space. You WILL lose, and spectacularly. The only questions are how and when. Most better servers moderate against random acts of dickishness (yes, even the goon server), but also provide you with plenty of legitimate reasons to abuse and murder your fellow spacemen.

  7. Supernorn says:

    Hey, i made most of the graphics for this game. I’d just like to note that every screenshot in this article is stretched really badly, and the game looks 100% better in it’s native 32×32 mode.

    • Quasar says:

      I remember you from the NS forums, way back when. Nice to see you’re still kicking about.

    • Scythe says:

      Holy moobs! Norn? Fancy seeing you here. Are you still banned from #ns? You should come back and say hello on the NS2 alpha launch.

    • Quasar says:

      And there’s another name I recognise. YAY.

      Monday’s gonna be great.

  8. Hoaxmetal says:

    Hmm, so I start this game, create a character (clown) and go to the bar. After a minute or two I alt-tab to read wiki guide so I’m not so hopeless. Five minutes later I’m welcomed by sight of some naked dude smearing poo all over the place, including me.

    Great game.

  9. Supernorn says:

    Hey there, this is Supernorn!

    I made most of the graphics for this game. I’d just like to note that every screenshot in this article is stretched, and the game looks 100% better in it’s native 32×32 mode. (you can choose between 32, 64, and a fit to window mode, which is causing the noticeable graphical horrors in the above screenshots).

    Quintin Smith i hope you take this into consideration for Ep. 2!

  10. Zen Master Flash says:

    You shouldn’t just watch out for the griefers, but the cleverest players as well.

    I can recall maybe five or so years ago when I first got into the game. One of the greatest matches of
    “Traitor” I’ve ever played. If you haven’t played Traitor, it’s simple: One person is the traitor, they spawn
    with a weapon of their choosing, and they must kill the Captain, I think (I’ve reached the age where my
    memory has begun to fade, it seems).

    Anyway, I start as the Captain. I put on my associated protective gear, which takes some time, then exit
    my personal room to be greeted by an eager, young administrative assistant. We work together for some
    time, and just when I was about to sign a new station decree, he offers his pen.

    I get close enough to him to retrieve the pen, and am swiftly met with a jab to the neck, the one chink
    in my heavy, bulletproof armor. He’s stabbed me with the pen, which was filled with some sort of
    poison. I crumple to the floor, and he takes all my gear and hides my body, and manages to escape.

    I was left awestruck at how unexpected it was, and couldn’t do anything but applaud and cheer him on.

    • Konork says:

      Yeah, traitors like that are always entertaining to have. The best traitor games are the ones where you think you have the traitor captured, thanks to, say, John Doe, and you’re about to execute the traitor when you get a message that the John, who really was the traitor, has stolen the emergency shuttle and won or something. I used to play it several years back, and traitors originally didn’t get any kind of extra items to help, so subtlety was far more important.

  11. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    As long as it doesnt have a similar interface to Dwarf Fortress, im sold.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      It’s worse.

      Don’t let that stop you, though – once you’re used to it you won’t even notice how horrible the interface is, and the game turns up awesome moments like.. some kind of automated awesome moment dispenser.

  12. Daniel Rivas says:

    What is this. I must have it.

    I MUST HAVE IT.

  13. Incompleteness says:

    Space Station XIII also simulates the atmosphere, which you can fill with poison gas or vent into space. There’s an ingenious pipe system so atmos engineers can easily refill sections where hull breaches have just been repaired, or, more commonly, set the ship on fire from the inside out. Oxygen tanks are found around the ship for use in emergencies and can be filled with different gasses and put back into the cupboards for your convenience.

  14. jeremypeel says:

    This sounds great! Any chance of an RPS server is that not something that happens in Space Station 13?

  15. Supernorn says:

    Appreciated!

  16. Forch says:

    I feel like I don’t get this game.
    I played maybe 10 rounds of it on various servers, mostly the goon ones.
    I seriously had no idea what i was doing and when I did know what I was doing I felt like the game wasn’t much fun.

  17. Head says:

    Hello guys i just wanted to point out that Bay12(dwarf fortress) community runs a active SS13 server.

    With a greater focus on Role-Play and also a lot less poop.

    So if you feel like dropping by then you can find the IP and related information on http://www.baystation12.co.cc

    Have fun!
    -Head

  18. stuntwaffle says:

    Looking forward to more articles. Also I noticed a significant lack of poo. Either way, great read.

    • 1stGear says:

      You are the only person who likes poo stunt!

      And I will add my voice to the people saying that you need to have something of a thick skin to play SS13. If regular goon antics offend you, this is not the game for you. You will be beaten, brigged, lockered, spaced, and generally inconvenienced and/or murdered quite frequently. Take it all with a laugh because if you flip out and complain FOR NO REASON, you will swiftly banned.

      That said, it’s quite fun and I recommend everyone try it.

  19. Kits says:

    ..interesting. My first foray into this game ended in a painful, cooked death. I joined just as the station was being flooded with plasma. I barely had time to work out how to put on my mask and oxygen tank. Sadly I couldn’t do much about the immense, blood boiling heat. Fun fun.

  20. QuinnR says:

    Don’t see why not!
    We people over at the Bay12Games forums have our own popular server.

  21. Armyofnone says:

    Hilarious. Makes me want to download and try… so I will! Thanks quinns, even with your iron deficiency you manage to provide a vastly entertaining read.

  22. Bart Stewart says:

    Actually, this reminds me more than anything else of the two Traveller computer games made by Paragon way back when.

    Which were brilliant for the day. Where’s my Traveller MMORPG made with today’s technology? We wants it, we does!

  23. Tei says:

    The interface is somewhat obscure. A bit of wiki study need this one :-/

  24. CommissarKip says:

    SS13 is one of the games saved by the chaps named Goons. They’ve been tweaking and tinkering for ages and it’s become super fun.

  25. Nova says:

    Very nice looking forward to Episode 2.

  26. Bobsy says:

    My own experience with this last night really showed up the depths of abuse you can take in this game.

    As a Chaplain I arrive on the station and on the way to my chapel I’m beated up, knocked down and have my bible stolen from me. On running into a security officer he claims to be on the lam himself after being falsely accused of something. I offer him sanctuary in the chapel and he becomes so incensed by the beeping of messages coming from my PDA he stuns me, beats me up, handcuffs me to a chair, and forcibly takes my earpiece and PDA.

    Eventually I’m released from police brutality and wander off to try and get some medical aid and run into someone else who beats me to death, and continues to beat my corpse into a bloody mess.

    So yeah, that happened.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Byond really looks like a great place for the networked Chaos remake I keep thinking about making/hoping someone less lazy will make.

  28. Tei says:

    Geezers… to this point is bloody obvious a Space Stations is the perfect location for a comedic/drama/trillers movie. One where people is mostly randomly killed, fun, tension, traitors, imbecile, and all the things we know and love. It can be “In space.. SHIT HAPPENDS”. It will also be educative, space is a hostile territory where dyiing is really easy.

  29. Antlia says:

    Seven days a skeptic.

  30. Wrongnumber says:

    Hi guys, I saw above in a post that some pep’s are looking for a RP server. Well I happen to have one. Its the bay12 server, found at byond://74.194.120.230:9625/ , dedicated to full on RP, non-gimmicky rounds and the lack of poo to be found. If your also interested in becoming an invited person on the server (should we be assaulted by a bunch of griefers, we switch to ‘invite mode’, which blocks all non-invited players from doing anything beside watching and is only used as a last resort), go to http://baystation12.co.cc/index.php if you want to apply for it, contribute to the community or just chat to fellow players, thats the place.

    Hope to see you RP lot there soon!

  31. Daniel says:

    I have yet to try this game for fear of being labeled a noob (plus the lack of populated servers apparently), but I did watch the trailer, which is a voiceover and a bunch of random scenes from sci-fi movies. It’s awesome. I suggest everyone check it out.

    http://www.byond.com/games/Exadv1/SpaceStation13

  32. Ohhh says:

    There was a MONKEY in the BAR!

    And it actually has GRAPHICS (without external addons I mean)!

    Sod dweef fittriss, this is teh win!

    Now if I only kinda understood what it actually is about.

  33. Bobsy says:

    Further adventures:

    Became a botanist. Arrived at hydroponics to find a singularity tearing it apart. Couldn’t save my mushrooms. Was cut off from the escape shuttle and couldn’t escape.

    Went back to being a chaplain. An atheist chaplain at that, which meant I spawned without a bible to bash people with. Annoying, but I made do with a custard pie I could throw at people. Then took to leaving threatening notes on the altar. At one point all the fire doors in that section closed and I was locked out, but I managed to break back in through a maintenance tunnel, grabbing a crowbar along the way, and pried the doors open again. This small triumph was met with considerable indifference from the rest of the station crew.

  34. Bobsy says:

    Further adventures:

    I was a botanist again, growing plants in my space-greenhouse and ignoring the many security breaches and escaped clowns going on in the rest of the station. My friend the chef dropped by and asked me to grow some tomatoes, chillis and synthmeat (ew), and drop them through the pressurised delivery tube to his kitchen.

    The pressurised delivery tube caused the tomatoes to explode in transit, deploying tomato-y splatters all over his kitchen. Whoops. He came by to collect them in person.

    A little while later, with a fellow botanist taking over (by now most of the plant pots were far too toxic to grow anything) I visited the canteen and my chef friend gave me the fruits of our labours – a synthburger with hot sauce. Om nom nom nom.

    Oh and there was some business with wormholes and a murderer and so forth. Whatever. We made burgers!

    • Malagate says:

      Ohhh, weirdly enough Botany was what I was thinking of doing after reading though all the goon wiki thingie about ss13. When I get home, I’ll bake some cookies. Then I’ll try this game out.

      I just want to grow some mutant tomatoes maaaan…that catch fire and explode upon impact when thrown…also seems like a much more dossful job rather than wrestling with singularities in engineering or having people’s lives in your hands as a medic.

  35. Will says:

    I never understand how you can do SO MUCH in these games, it’s like a MUD without the “I didn’t understand that command” being repeatedly thrown at you.

  36. mujadaddy says:

    I’m interested in what Byond actually provides… any further information?

  37. Akirasfriend says:

    I both love the fact that SS13 is getting wider coverage, and fear for it becoming a watered down experience if too many new people come along, although that’s possibly just my elitist goon side talking.
    To be fair, if you don’t click with the game or you just don’t get into the swing of things on the server, you won’t last that long anyways.

    Speaking of which, if you see a guy called George Melons, RUN. Or Rathen.
    Or, in fact, anyone else.

  38. WiPa says:

    I can’t connect to any servers. :<

  39. lorde doome says:

    Hello, I am a notorious griefer on this gay game (a gayme, if you will) and here is my story:

    i cum so hard while hurtling through space toward a decommissioned space station. slowly, i pull my knees to my chest and close my eyes as my bowels begin to expel hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful, symmetrical turds, brown as the day is long. i laugh like a young girl as my turds drift aimlessly behind me; they are as butterflies to a child frolicking in the fields of elysium.

    i approach the station’s docking port, flaccid cock in hand, and prepare to float gently into its inviting confines. i extend my cockless arm jubilantly, as to celebrate the majesty and depth of space, and thank jesus christ for this ultimate gift and blessing. but suddenly, my outstretched arm collides with the outer rim of the docking port, and the trajectory of my quaggy body is violently halted.

    the fates afford me barely enough time to turn my head before the turds arrive. one thousand turds, each one seemingly larger than the last. i try in vain to cleanse mu eyes of the shitsting, but succeed only in smearing my own fecal matter into a fine asspaste, which slowly seeps into my eyes and nasal cavity. i inhale three hundred and twenty four Space Turds; my lungs are permeated completely with my own shit. i hang lax, spirit broken, defeated by poop. i will never be the same. i am forever a shit faggot

    I hope this helps anyone who was deciding whether to play this game or not, It’s just as I described.

  40. Thomas says:

    that actually happened in game

  41. malkav11 says:

    This is one of those games that fascinates me, but I can’t tell what the point is. It seems to be primarily freeform roleplaying, something I’m not into. At least with Dwarf Fortress the point is clearly to make a thriving, successful fortress full of happy well adjusted dwarv…. I’m sorry, I can’t keep typing this, I’m laughing too hard.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Freeform roleplayers continually under siege by people who just want to raise havoc is more or less correct. There are, technically, scenarios complete with victory conditions. However, generally speaking, these scenarios will take a back seat to disaster.

    • 1stGear says:

      If you want roleplay, you are better off using the Bay12 servers. The Goon servers are very much about murder and hilarity.

    • malkav11 says:

      Murder and hilarity is nonetheless a sort of freeform roleplay if it is not in service of any sort of organized gameplay.

  42. Incompleteness says:

    The crowd from the Dwarf Fortress forums actually had a server of their own up for a while

  43. Kid A says:

    I spent a gleeful 30 minutes running around one of the Goon servers bludgeoning all-comers with an emergency oxygentank, then a poor guard got bludgeoned and dropped his stun baton, and things just went to hell from there, really.

    Good fun.

  44. Premium User Badge

    Biscuitry says:

    This game seems like the kind of thing that I might enjoy if not for the culture of griefing mentioned so prominently in the comments here. Not too far removed from the kind of stuff that came up on some of the Garry’s Mod Spacebuild servers I used to frequent.

  45. Pani says:

    Well I’ve been playing this for a couple of days now and really getting into it. I feel like it’ll take months of play to really get the hang of it, even using the (somewhat inadequate) wiki.

    For anyone trying it for the first time, play as assistant. You get access to maintenance (fun stuff to play with) and you’re not expected to do anything.

    So do we have a forum post yet for organizing games (I couldn’t find one) or even an official RPSS13 server?

    • Premium User Badge

      Biscuitry says:

      I’d certainly be more inclined to try it out on an RPS server than brave anything affiliated with Something Awful.

  46. Twerty says:

    Oh, no… First Bay12games, now you, Rock Paper Shotgun. As someone who has played this game for several years, then stopped as soon as the source was leaked and the game got utterly destroyed, I am disappointed.

  47. Akirasfriend says:

    Whaddya talkin’ about, man, the goons have done wonders for this game. Try playing the original then joining the dev server. Gotta have my space botany.

  48. EthZee says:

    I just realised that this game is like a version of Sleep is Death; that turn-based roleplay game that garnered critical praise then apparently disappeared from sight.

    Except it’s massively multiplayer, and filled with buffoons, sociopaths, and bumbling malcontents. Everything is breaking down, nobody does their jobs, and your own team is usually more dangerous to you than the actual enemy (if they’re still alive, that is).

    So, in other words, like a much improved version of Sleep is Death. And it’s free. And it’s in SPAAAAACE.

    *Is incapacitated, welded into a locker, then fired out an airlock*

  49. chesse says:

    this is a really cool game

  50. Mark Overmars says:

    On my first time playing Space Station 13, I met a bunch of niggers. I promptly stopped playing thereafter.