Spotlight On Biscuit – S.P.A.Z.

By Quintin Smith on May 21st, 2011 at 4:21 pm.

Jim wrote a musical titled 'Laser! Laser!' back in the day. He doesn't like to talk about it.

This week’s Spotlight on Biscuit sees UK games commenter Total Biscuit asking WTF is Space Pirates and Zombies, a commendably eccentric top-down action RPG in space type thing. If what you see takes your fancy, you can pick up a demo of S.P.A.Z. or pre-order for beta access over on the game’s official site. Speaking of fancies, when was the last time any of you lot had a French Fancy?

For me, the French Fancy crosses the line into overly rich snacks, along with eclairs, Creme Eggs and all that stuff. I just can’t enjoy it. To make matters worse, I’ve got no interest in sponge cake. Yessir, the French Fancy was definitely not made with me in mind. The French Fancy? I can take it or leave it.

__________________

« | »

, , .

98 Comments »

  1. Fumarole says:

    Hopefully this will silence the beggars.

  2. Unaco says:

    Oh dear. Dear, oh dear, oh dear Quinns. Quintin. Mr Smith… the French Fancy is NOT a biscuit. Quite clearly, it’s a cake. What were you thinking?

    Incidentally, I tend to by a French Fancy every week, when I visit the bakery for bread. Ones from a little bakery are much better than those from a supermarket, or the Kipling ones.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      You know, that occurred to me while I was writing this post but I just couldn’t bring myself to alter my course.

    • Stranglove says:

      Actually, a french-fancy on a rich-tea would make a rather nice biscuit.

    • Faldrath says:

      How can you not like ├ęclairs? What are you, British or something? “Overly rich”, pffft.

    • AndrewC says:

      I find anything that is filled with something tragically sub-optimal, as the potential for the filling to come squishing out the other end is too high. It feels like physics itself is against me. This goes for eclairs, and cream slices, and tacos, and doner kebabs too. This is enormously sad, as this covers most of the best foods in the world.

    • magnus says:

      This may sound like a drastic remedy but have you tried eating them on your back from a cardboard-tube? This arrangement should facilitate a lessening of the effect of gravity of spicy/creamy/chocolatey comestibles.

    • bill says:

      Creme eggs are overly rich?? What on earth!
      They are ultimately rich, but that’s the whole point. You can’t be british and dislike creme eggs, i’m sure that’s a rule.

      Plus, creme eggs and coke are the best hangover cure known to man.

    • Mistabashi says:

      I’m with Stranglove, except I’d sandwich the little fucker between two Rich Teas then squish them tightly together and dip the result in chocolate. Leave it in a vice for a bit until it’s all set and you’ve got yourself a kind of ultra-rich Wagon Wheel type thing. Mmmmm, can’t believe I haven’t tried this yet, it sounds almost as good as the venerable pie sandwich…

      Oh, and for hangovers it’s Quavers and milk. It’s true!

  3. Teddy Leach says:

    There. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?!

  4. Gnoupi says:

    For people interested in space fight from top, with a bit of tactical, I recommend giving a look to Starfarer too, currently in alpha version : http://www.diygamer.com/2011/05/starfarer_alpha_video/

    The fight is less arcade than SPAZ, and closer to the way Freespace 2 handled capital ships, and frigates. (Think huge beams, flak cannons, missiles, all the like).

    It misses TB’s voice for narration, though :P (for now)

    • Sardaukar says:

      Thanks for mentioning that; A friend showed it to me ages ago, and I forgot the name and have been looking around for it. Between SPAZ and Starfarer, I think I can finally give EVN a rest…

    • dadioflex says:

      FWIW I pre-ordered Starfarer and while it isn’t as polished as SPAZ, I prefer the gameplay. HOWEVER, there is a TON of work to be done on the UI before it’s ready for release. The SPAZ demo was slick, the whole interface, outside of the game bit of the game, is slick. I hated the controls so I’m going to pass it by but godamn a combination of the two games would be great.

      NB very different games.

  5. Sardaukar says:

    I just reached the “Zombies” part of this game and holy christ. I was expecting something sort’ve run-of-the-mill, shoot the waves of drone ships and that’s that. No. No sir. It’s like someone crossbred roaches and fungus. Pretty much all of my upgrade points are going to better crewmen. I want flamethrowers a standard part of my fleet uniform.

  6. trjp says:

    I tried this and there’s definately a decent game in there but it’s WAY WAY too “talky” – there’s far too much to read and most of it isn’t strictly necessary.

    Paring it down – esp the intro and the regular chit-chat – would make reading all the “how to play” stuff much easier. If you want to get talkier as the game progresses, that’s fine because people will ahve learned how to play by then…

    We gamers have short attention spans – if I want to read, I find a book …

    • Sardaukar says:

      That’s only the introductory system; After that, it’ll probably be a day or two of play before you get more dialogue boxes.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      “We gamers have short attention spans”

      Speak for yourself.

    • Witrim says:

      Um no thanks for more stupid game that babysits you and throws in cut scenes that plays half the game for you. If you are that stupid maybe you should read a few more books and play less games. And I’m guessing you are in the tutorial anyway. Sigh.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I’d say that spending too long before getting to the meat of the game is objectively poor design. If for no other reason than a substantial fraction of your potential audience is going to be impatient.

      Lots of people are playing a game because they want to play a game. Shocker.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      I find the assessment to be fairly inaccurate. You are not drowned in dialogue boxes and all of the stuff that pops up can be skipped and read later in the help section within the game where necessary. The actual tutorial bit that prevents you from moving star systems lasts about 25 minutes if that and contains plenty of “game”.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I think trjp has a point. Stuffing the gamer with exposition before the game has even started just gets boring no matter how well it’s done. They came here to play the game, after all. Dunno if S.P.A.Z is actually guilty of this though.

    • dadioflex says:

      “I think trjp has a point.”

      No you don’t. You couldn’t possibly agree with him. He’s just stupid and you’re capitalizing on his stupidity for shits and giggles. You’re basically exploiting a lower form of life for your own entertainment. Wow, big man.

      Sure exposition sucks. No game has ever had a story one fourteenth as good as one per cent of the rejected pages from Twilight but that’s not why we watch the cut-scenes. We watch the cut-scenes because THAT is our water-cooler moment, that is what we talk about, sometimes even years later. We don’t play games, to play games, we play games to share stories. And play games.

    • trjp says:

      @dadioflex one of the nicer things about RPS is that it has few trolls – so would you find fucking off please?

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      @dadioflex

      You must win some kind of prize, because that post was just crazy. You know, ready-for-the-asylum crazy.

    • Wahngrok says:

      I played the demo about two weeks ago and bought the game on the same day. And although I don’t play the game nearly as often as I would like to due to time restraints I can safely say the is much less dialog after leaving the first star system.

    • Melf_Himself says:

      “The actual tutorial bit that prevents you from moving star systems lasts about 25 minutes”

      …. attention span, gone. I just played the demo and lasted about 10 minutes. I’ve played way too many crummy games to trust anything with my time for longer than that. It’s just silly design, you’ve got to hook people right away. Hopefully these guys will learn their lesson for game #2.

  7. hocevar says:

    Just waiting for it to get released on steam

    • Vinraith says:

      Just waiting for it to get released somewhere without a client. Looks like they’re planning to get it out on BMT and Gamersgate, so it’s only a matter of time.

    • magnus says:

      Just waiting to get some money in the bank to try these ‘French Fancies’ you spoke of.

    • Azradesh says:

      Buy on Impulse, download it, install it, uninstall impulse. Done.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Azradesh

      No, not done. If you want to update the game, you’ll have to reinstall impulse. If you want to reinstall the game, even from an archived backup, you’ll have to reinstall Impulse. A game bought from Impulse is tied to Impulse forever, you’re never “done.”

    • DrGonzo says:

      And what’s the issue with that?

    • Tatourmi says:

      GAMESTOP IZ!

    • Vinraith says:

      @DrGonzo

      Control, of course. I value control over convenience, you (and the majority of the market, from what I can tell) feel the opposite. Since in this case you can get it on Impulse (and eventually Steam, I’m sure) and I can get it from a less intrusive platform (once it’s out on BMT and Gamersgate), I don’t see how there’s anything else to discuss here.

    • Azradesh says:

      @ Vinraith

      Surely you can just install Impulse each time you want to update, it’d be a pain to do but you said you don’t care about that. That’d offer the same control, surely?

    • Vinraith says:

      @Azradesh

      I don’t think you understand what I mean by “control.” If the game is tied to Impulse, if I have to install Impulse to install the game, run Impulse to update it, run Impulse to reinstall it, and have no means to store a copy that is not Impulse dependent, then I don’t have control over my game, Impulse does. Should impulse shut down, I lose access to my game. Should Impulse mistakenly ban me, I lose access to my game. Should my internet go out for a week when the game is not already installed, I lose access to my game. There is a middle man between me and a game I paid for, that is something to be avoided when possible. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but given the option to avoid it (as in this case) I always will. Impulse is the least intrusive of the client-based digital distributors, but it’s still client-based, and clients suck.

  8. Scroll says:

    This looks right up my street. I want more space games with a focus on shooting things rather than trading.

    I’d seen a little about this game before but I didn’t give it the time it deserved. It’s clearly a lot deeper than i first thought it would be.

    Oh and it’s nice to hear Homeworld: Cataclysm getting a mention. If only Relic would stop teasing and announce Homeworld 3 in August.

  9. Kent says:

    Why do you link to Biscuit’s reviews instead of taking time of writing ones yourselves? What are we paying you for?!

  10. Spaz says:

    Now this is my kind of game!

  11. mcwill says:

    Zombies you say? In a computer game? I think that’s a splendid concept, I’m amazed it’s not been done before.

  12. drakkheim says:

    Did not see any links to the SP&Z game diary that’s been running all week at quater to three.
    http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2011/05/20/space-pirates-and-zombies-little-things-mean-a-lot/#comments

    It’s a fun little space game..a good bit like StarCon 2

  13. trjp says:

    There’s a place and a time for putting exposition into a game and I just felt the demo had far-too much of it – all IMO but there are ways of setting a scene and creating a narrative without deluging people with text.
    I know this is a 2man effort and I’m cutting it slack for that but it’s far, far, far too talky for the sort of game it is.
    The saying would be “don’t tell – SHOW” – dripfeed the story, characters etc. alongside pertinent and relevant instructions. DON’T bury the instructions in the story and don’t make people read pages and pages when you could give them one instruction.
    Just my 10p and all that…

    p.s. another reply which didn’t :)

    • Dominic White says:

      Man, if you think THIS is talky, then Star Control 2 would have had you slashing your wrists.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      SC2 was extremely well-written and funny. The talking was the almost the whole point. And there was a proper interactive conversation system. Presentation matters.

    • trjp says:

      I don’t want to say that the dialogue is less welcome because it’s not well written of funny – that’s too subjective – it just felt like the demo was swamped with it.

      Clearly not everyone thinks you should get people into playing first and then talk them to death…

  14. Dana says:

    Only thing I hate in this game are horrendous loading times.

    • trjp says:

      The startup/universe creation was a BIT slow but the game is in BETA and so won’t be optimised and will probably still have a tonne of debug code in there.

  15. amandachen says:

    Whoa. Why all the biscuit hate? Fish Biscuit seems like a real nice guy. I know he has attention problems, but there’s no need to call him a spaz.

  16. MajorManiac says:

    The game looks great.

    I stopped at the spoiler alert in the video, but can someone tell me if you have the option to lead swarm-like fleets in the game?

    • JFS says:

      I don’t think so, unfortunately. From what I have gathered, your fleet grows, but it’s more along the lines of four, five or six ships, most of them not really “swarmey” but capital and medium ships.

      However, there’s a lot of debate on their forums, as people demand that the system be adjusted in order to make fielding a swarm of fighters and bombers as viable as using two or three battleships.

  17. Ergates_Antius says:

    2 points worth bringing up:

    1) As TB makes very clear himself, he does do voiceover for this game so can’t be considered totally impartial.

    2) There is a demo. (wuh? whats one of those?)

  18. Fwiffo says:

    A video of someone talking over a game they talk in. That’s the level of meta I like.

    Also: Game is fun. Mix of Star Control with a bit of Homeworld and mmo style questing thrown in. Would like it on steam though!

  19. The Innocent says:

    I’m really enjoying this game. The open universe and sandbox nature are really enjoyable, and I’m having a hell of a time with it. There are a few things that I seriously dislike (ship spam during certain missions and base sieges being probably the biggest), but it is still in beta. I bought it not expecting much, and I’ve spent easily 20 hours with it already, ignoring the main missions and just raising hell for the UTA (which I have no idea what it stands for — Utah Transit Authority to me).

    I’m also not getting the complaints about how “talky” the game is. The tutorial is between twenty and forty minutes long depending on how slow a learner you are and then you’re unleashed on the universe. And the longest conversation was like four teensy screens of two sentences each, and then a couple tutorial screens explaining the buttons. Seriously, certain folks need some perspective.

  20. Teddy Leach says:

    It sorta reminds me of a real-time Space Rangers 2. Although I don’t find it as enjoyable as Space Rangers 2, it does have some nifty features.

    • patricij says:

      Is Space Rangers 2 better than the first significantly? I happened to review the first one (on a fancy CDProjekt Czech (R.I.P.) CD-R, oh the glorious days) and I couldn’t force myself to give more than 3 out of 10 (for the music)….

    • MythArcana says:

      I might have to give this a try (and Starfarer) because I LOVE Space Rangers 2 Reboot, but that franchise is now defunct apparently (UGH!). To answer patricij, Space Rangers 2 Reboot is the standalone expansion (final version) which adds quite a bit to not only SR1 but SR2, as well. It’s one of the best space trading games ever, but it seems not many actually know about it.

  21. Vandalbarg says:

    I played a game of Ace of Spades with TotalBiscuit and everyone else was freaking out over it, saying “Oh wow are we gonna be in your videos?” and stuff. I had no idea who he was, and when I asked him he replied “youtube”. So THAT’S who he is. Cool stuff. This must be like what spotting a celebrity at the supermarket is for non nerds.

  22. mcwill says:

    Played the demo. Looks like good stuff, will have to pick it up at some point. Preferably from Steam.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Ditto. Though you can get it directly from their site.
      I’m not quite sure if their pre-order is for the full game or just the Beta though – I’ve dropped them a mail to check.

      Edit: Holy fast response Batman! It is indeed for the full game.

  23. Legionary says:

    Oh gosh I really want a French Fancy now. They are delicious. And yet if I have such a fatty snack, I will have a gallstone attack. It’s almost as if Quinns knew this and wanted a guarantee that I’d be caused either the physical pain of an attack or the psychological pain of being denied a brightly coloured iced cream-cake snack.

  24. The Army of None says:

    Huzzah! I bought the game day one, have absolutely got my money’s worth (25+ hours, and more in the future I’m sure). glad to see it getting more attention, it totally deserves it :)

  25. Towercap says:

    SPAZ is excellent. So is Starfarer. Very different games and you should give both a go.

    I prefer the gameplay and ship design in Starfarer, but it doesn’t AFAIK have a demo, so you have to take a $10 leap of faith.

  26. Nim says:

    Some comments about the Beta version so far.

    + It’s a very solid game for a two-man effort.

    + Beautiful and smooth graphics.

    + The freedom to fly anywhere you like and interact with each faction in each star system as you like.

    + The ability to configure your ship load-outs, hulls, weaponry, research etc.

    However there are a couple of problems that kept bugging me.

    - You are for a very long time limited to very few ships, which can turn very problematic when attempting to reach new star systems as you sometimes have to pass high-level systems in order to reach other low-level systems where your current level would be more appropriate. (You can bribe your way through gates but that will require…)

    - Far too much grinding. Especially goons suffer from this. Passing through a high-level system can require a 80+ goon bribe in addition to the 50 to 60-sized goon bribes needed to get the necessary reputation. Also your ships are limited to the number of goons they can pickup and carry (reasonable), however excess goons do not get sent to the mother-ship, they simply cannot be picked up. Add in the fact that the chance of goons joining you depend on the reputation you currently possess with that faction you will toss a lot of picked-up goons out the air-lock.

    - You can’t upgrade or change your mother-ship outside of the plot missions.

    - Your mother-ship’s hangars can only contain a single ship at any time. No matter if it’s a several megaton-heavy super-cruiser or a puny lifeboat shuttle.

    - Too few plot missions in low-level systems. I had to pass level 32 systems on my way to mission 5.

    - Too few factions. Currently there are only CIV and UTA.

    - Loading times are long to get into the game. It will take a minute or two to get to the main menu. Several more to load a saved game. Is it re-generating the whole world from a seed value on load or something?

    - Very very addictive.

    I will recognize its Beta status, that its a two-man effort of love and the fact it will only require a bit more polish to be perfect. Spaz is really fun, go try the demo.

    • Tacroy says:

      In re: the goons are hard collect issue (which I agree with btw, they should be shipped back like Rez and not just when you warp): there’s a way to kinda mitigate that; by default, all of your ships will carry a loadout of 50% goon capacity. They can run with 0%, so if you set them to that they’ll essentially have twice the goon space.

      The only downsides to this are that your armor repair rates are governed by the number of goons on the ship, and if someone attempts to board the ship it’s the goons who offer resistance. Neither of these is really an incredible issue in the early game, though, so it’s worthwhile to set all your ships to 0% goon loadout when you’re building up your forces (especially since you almost always pick some up during combat, and if they stick around they’ll get started on the armor repairs)

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      All you have to do is send your ship back for repair when it’s full of goons. The excess goons are dropped off and you ship reappears in the system ready for more pickups. Whilst it’s away, you can take over one of the AI controlled ships and pick up goons in that one, then when your main ship returns, send the second one back. Rinse, repeat.

    • MaXimillion says:

      You can blast your way through each blockade, AND you can destroy stations and loot blueprints instead of buying them. Both greatly mitigate the grind. In fact, I don’t see any reason to bribe your way through or buy blueprints at the current costs, unless there’s a blueprint you really need at an extremely heavily defended station.

    • Nim says:

      I am aware of those tactics, at least I hope so, considering the amount of time I’ve spent so far.

      Additionally when grinding for goons ( when I want that blueprint from that 3/3 strength station early on ) I can just fly around in a faction battle where I am neutral or greater with both factions and just collect tons goons, black boxes and data. It reduces the burden, but I still prefer a economy revamp of some sort.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Might be you spawned your universe too small. You shouldn’t have to blast your way through too many high-tech systems if you work your way around the outside. Before you know it, you’re leveled up beyond the problematic systems you were having trouble with before. However, if you spawn a particularly small universe, you’ll be unable to do that..

      It’s sort of interesting the way they leveraged Flow into SPAZ. Every time you choose a system to visit, you’re basically setting your difficulty level based on your tech level versus that system’s. So if you find the game too hard, go to a lower tech level system. Too boringly easy, go to a higher tech level system. As long you spawned the universe of adequate size, you’ll always have an option available that’s right for you.

  27. Luke says:

    Bloody loved this, but want it on Steam for sure.

    • Urael says:

      Would you Steam devotees please stop commenting that you want every game mentioned on RPS tied to your beloved distribution channel?

      I think two years of reading constant repetitions of “Does it register on Steam?”, “Will it be on Steam?”, and the never-irritating “I’m waiting for the Steam sale.” is more than enough, thank you. We get it, we really do. You like Steam; that’s great. It’s a fab service that every gamer should know about. But can we please stop saying the same things in every thread?

      Please?

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Ureal, do you register on Steam?

    • Antsy says:

      I’m waiting for him to be in the Steam Sale.

    • Bobtree says:

      You may recall that Impulse is now owned by GameStop, which is a great reason to buy elsewhere once it’s available.

    • Archonsod says:

      Can’t say I’ve ever had a problem with Gamestop.

  28. JFS says:

    I wonder if your eyes really do pop in space.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      probably not

    • tungstenHead says:

      I did an experiment to find out. After I threw the first goon out, my ship’s point defenses took the opportunity to shoot him. After shutting the PDs down, I threw out a second goon. My wingman proceeded to lance him with his lasers. So to avoid that happening again, I threw five out at once. My wingman launched a flurry of SRM missiles at him. The goon for the fourth test? HE GOT MOTHERFUCKING BOMBED!

      Conclusion: The eyeballs most definitely do pop in space, but the exact cause of catastrophic ocular expansion is still a mystery. The current candidates are vacuum exposure and extremely high energy discharges.

  29. raskolnik says:

    Played through the demo, and am sorry to say it sucks. Tons of grinding, and the balance is completely screwed up … I can’t even get out of the first star system, because the blockade can wipe out my fleet in under a minute. I mentioned this on the forums, and was basically told to fly around aimlessly until a random event happens that may help. Um, no.
    Second, the combat is terrible. Light ships have no meaningful advantage in speed or maneuverability, even those whose maneuverability is maxed out. So you always lose to something bigger, and battles come down to whether you’d previously harvested enough resources to spam smaller ships at the AI until they die. So, cool concept, terribly designed. If you’re into this type of thing, go check out Starscape instead.

    • Scroll says:

      Uh… I never had any issue with grinding or difficulty. Or any other issue you’ve complained about.

      I’ve been really enjoying it so far, in fact the first few gates have been easy.

  30. nathanebht says:

    Played through the demo. How do you lose? Rez is free. Goons are very easy to accumulate.

    Only difficult things to acquire are new ship designs. Lose a ship? Who cares? Considered buying it but decided it wasn’t for me.

    • mcwill says:

      Every ship you lose = rez lost. I don’t know if the full game has any way to “lose” permanently, but the “lose” condition in the demo equates to “run out of Rez and be forced to sit mining with the free ships for ages.”

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>