Space Is Infinite, Time Is Brief: Kinetic Void

By Adam Smith on May 24th, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

The area around my computer is full of tiny post-it notes with the names of Kickstarter projects scrawled onto them. Everytime a funding deadline is missed, the note peels from the wall and falls to the ground, wilting like a flower on a grave. Kinetic Void’s name has been there for a while but I didn’t have time to look at the bewilderingly ambitious space game until last night and now there are only six days remaining until it joins the scattered thought-petals at my feet. Of all the genres that are in need of a kick in the rump, space combat is one that I’d like to see kicked so hard it actually ends up escaping orbit and drifting to sectors unknown. Kinetic Void isn’t just hoping to be a space combat game though. It wants to build galaxies.

At the moment, all that exists in playable form is a shipyard where components can be bolted together to make vehicles large or small. Then you can take those ships into space and experiment with the flight model. New as of the last update – which are frequent and intricately documented – is the ability to pitch your designs against one another in battles to the death. That anything is playable now is more than can be said for a lot of Kickstarter projects, but the combat engine is only the tip of the spaceberg. See it in action below.

If that’s your first exposure to the developers you may be interested to hear that they’re always just as talkative. There’s a great degree of honesty across the project’s updates, which makes them seem less like a sales pitch and more like a frank discussion about ambition, the process of building something solid and the specific route they’ve chosen to take. The shipyard and combat is only the beginning, a module designed to experiment with design and handling, with the final game’s design being something like Space Rangers 2 in 3D.

So if you were excited about the idea of ship components being glued together lego-like, each having a function that will be disabled if it’s damaged or disconnected, then imagine taking such a ship through a procedurally generated galaxy with factions that interact and go about their business while the player forges his/her own path through the political landscape. Wildly ambitious? Certainly. Starting with the shipyard and combat, the team seem to be building the basics first, if it’s ever fair to call custom-built ship modelling, and implementation of varying physics ‘basic’.

As an example of the thought that’s going into motion, here’s where the ‘kinetic’ in the title comes from:

On every ship in the game there has to be a Kinetic Field generator, and what this sub-component does is that it creates a field around the ship allowing for Non-Newtonian flight, while in a vacuum (space). There are key mechanics of the game that are tied to this, weapons are able to be fired without inflicting a kinetic force on the ship, and allows for high levels of maneuverability.

In the near future we will begin to work on the implementation of the full Kinetic Field system and this will drastically change the way flight is effected and also create a new an unique set of considerations for combat.

Newtonian flight is to be used for accelerating quickly to go from one destination to another.

Control of the Kinetic Field will be left to the player, with the exception of a few safety protocols that can be overridden under specific situations.

Maybe the combat video will make more sense now.

There’s loads more information at the project page, loads more information than I’ve come across for just about any other Kickstarter thingummy I can think of right now in fact. There’s $40,000 to gather in less than a week if the goal is going to be met, a goal which is to pay for licenses and living expenses during the months of development until release, which should hopefully be late 2012 or early 2013.

I’ll be both ecstatic and astonished if I do end up with a million galaxies to lark around in by Christmas, but for now I’m enjoying smashing my oddly shaped creations against one another enough to throw a few dollars into the pot.

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47 Comments »

  1. notenome says:

    It’s worth going to the kickstarter page just to see the user made ship designs. The feared battleship Megamaid.

    Also…. thirsty. Anyone for a beer?

    • philbot says:

      I came to RPS to get away from FIRST!!!!11!1!!ONE!!!1!!

      You already had something to say as well.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      The hivemind is in the habit of deleting entire comments if they contain the word ‘first’, even if they had something legitimate to say. You’ll also get commenters making derisive comments, AND you’ll derail your own comment thread. Look! Everyone’s talking about the first thing instead of about the rest of your comment!

      Less of this sort of thing, etc.
      EDIT: I am particularly thirsty, but I’m not much of a beer drinker.

    • Reefpirate says:

      You know beer actually dehydrates you, and then makes you more thirsty… right?

  2. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I’d love to help these guys, but I can’t. There were just too many Kickstarters lately. :(

  3. PhantomBlade13 says:

    Yea, there are a lot of really nice space games on kickstarter right now.

    Kinect Void should keep up the fight! They might have over-scoped just a bit, but my heart goes to them. I am a lover of space games. Also, making a ship that looks like a giant donuts is def a dream of mine.

    My biggest critique is a 10$ jump to get into the beta client. I think that’s a bit of a large jump just to get access into the beta.

  4. TechnicalBen says:

    Don’t let this die! It needs kickstarting!

    (You need bigger or better/clearer images. If you need any, The Devs can provide some nice screen shots. If not, us the users can :D )

  5. LumberingTroll says:

    Hey everyone, Sean here from Kinetic Void. Thanks for the article Adam!
    If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask, I will answer as soon as I see them.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      What made you decide to start this crazy amazing idea!?
      What influenced your decision to keep Newtonian mechanics? I think it would be great to see this in a game, but many devs shy away from it.

      • LumberingTroll says:

        Main influence? Sci-Fi, cant get enough, the next would be the many many space games I have played and loved, Wing Commander, TvX, Elite, Freelancer, Freespace, it’s a long list, so I wont finish it.

        We always planned to have a Newtonian-like physics system, but we decided to add full Newtonian after speaking with our community, and doing some testing. We came up with ways to make it interesting, and have a really fun combat mechanic, see this Kickstarter update for more details on our flight model.
        http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/seanpollman/kinetic-void/posts/226008

        • frightlever says:

          Isn’t there something like that Kinetic field in Evochron?

          Also, Newtonian flight = infinite top speed, effectively – you just keep accelerating forever.

          Anyway… best of luck with the Kinetic Void Kickstarter!

          • LumberingTroll says:

            Im not sure on Evochron, admittedly its one of space games that I have played the least, I do know you can toggle maneuvering thrusters off and enter a Newtonian mode to save on fuel.
            In KV right you you can accelerate forever, this may or may not change as we do more work on the AI and do balance testing, right now our sectors are only 1.8 million meters across, so infinite acceleration may make the areas feel small.

        • notenome says:

          Like a lot of the readers, I’m really enthralled by the idea, but I’m terrified at the ambition of the project. Have you guys contemplated maybe scaling down release, for example making just a ship customization/combat game, and then expanding from there? Seems a phased release might be more feasible, no?

          • LumberingTroll says:

            This is a consideration, and something we will evaluate as we continue to develop. we want to make this as much of a community involved process as possible, so feedback and suggestions are always welcome.

            Something else to keep in mind, what we have is only 17 weeks of 3/4 time work. and about 4 weeks of prep-work/planning

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Thanks for your reply. I wondered if the toggle in the demo meant you were undecided on what model of movement to use. But I think it’s great you decided to use both, and make it part of the games story/lore/mechanics.

          It should not be too much to get use to, as most space games already have lightspeed/jump drives (Elite? ;) ) etc. This seems a nice variation of this. I’d still like to see a mod/hardcore difficulty mode that sticks the player on Newtonian mechanics all the time. Just for the fun of flying past that cargo drop off and leaving your loot to fall into through a planet. :P

    • Unfettered says:

      No questions Sean, I just wanted to wish you luck as one indie space game dev to another. I love your ship building, at one point I considered doing something like that as well.

      Best of luck!

    • JerreyRough says:

      I almost forgot to pledge to you guys, but lucky RPS had this article <3.

      I have a question about the $100 crewmemeber pledge. Is it just a name? Or do we make a bio, suggest a look (I'm not sure if your modeling them), etc.

      • LumberingTroll says:

        At this point its just a name on the crewmember. A bio could easily be included, and might be a neat way to add some fluff.

    • caljohnston says:

      Does your game have Newtonian physics (flight model, objects, etc, like Frontier and I-War)?

  6. Greggh says:

    That awkward moment when I realize that Kinetic Void has NOTHING to do with KINECT

    XD

    • LumberingTroll says:

      You’re not the only one apparently, I keep seeing comments like this!

  7. Salt says:

    Very nice, that’s a Kickstarter Done Right™

    Piles of detailed information, and most importantly actual working stuff. They’re even active Kickstarter users having backed dozens of projects, including plenty of what would be “rivals”.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Durkonkell says:

    I really want to back this, but I can’t really afford to this month. I think this big rush of kickstarter projects all kicking off starting appearing at the same time is a problem for a lot of people. I want space sims to succeed! I want them to get made and I want publishers to take note: There’s a demand for this stuff.

    Argh. Maybe I’ll see if I can free up some money somewhere.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      I think I’ll also go looking for some money. This genre needs far more love than it is getting.

  9. Seafort says:

    Yeah I’m all kickstart’d out atm. I’ve backed 2-3 projects this month and can’t afford to back anymore.

    If only the project had a a few more weeks left so I could back it next month I would do.

    • LumberingTroll says:

      I understand, and appreciate it, if you can’t pledge you can still help by telling others about it!

  10. abandonhope says:

    For anyone on the fence, check out update #5, the end of which contains a lot of specific details on the deeper gameplay–things like variable vessel classes, and the very different activities each class opens up.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/seanpollman/kinetic-void/posts/224630

    Essentially, you can advance from owning a fighter to owning a capital ship that deploys fighters, each advancement giving you more capabilities–both combat and things like manufacturing–that turn you into a mobile micro-empire with the ability to shape the galaxy.

    Edit: I recently played through Freelancer, and, barring mods, once the campaign is over there isn’t a whole lot of room for progression–new ships and wealth don’t change things. A sandbox game really needs to tie expanded gameplay options to advancement (e.g. Minecraft), which is why I’m liking Kinetic Void so much.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      Oh, bloody hell, VERY WELL. I don’t need money, and I’m certain my manager won’t mind when I tell her that I can’t come to work because I’ve spent my money on a game that won’t exist for a year instead of petrol…

  11. pupsikaso says:

    I’ve always wondered what happens if a project doesn’t meet it’s funding goal by the deadline? Do the people get their money back?

    • Brun says:

      I believe it works like a pledge system – the individuals that pledge to the Kickstarter don’t actually have their accounts charged until the goal is reached. If it is not reached, their accounts are not charged.

    • abandonhope says:

      Kickstarter is all or nothing, a model I tend to prefer since it seems more likely to generate successful projects that deliver the rewards backers pledged for.

      Indiegogo, another crowd funding platform, does flexible funding, where the project creator receives all funds pledged regardless of whether the project meets its goal or not. With flexible funding, if a project looking to raise 100K only made it to 2K, that would probably be wasted money, but Indiegogo tends to have smaller projects which makes this model a better fit.

    • LumberingTroll says:

      Backers do not get charged at all until the deadline is up AND it has met its goal, if time goes up and the goal is not met, you do not get charged a penny.

  12. Blackcompany says:

    Kicking for this today. Soon as I get home. Well, after feeding my cats. But yeah, chipping in. This is exciting.

  13. Lemming says:

    When people say they can’t afford to back this kind of stuff I’m wondering:

    Are they talking about a mid-to-high tier reward? Because I think you’ve got bigger problems if $10 or less is something you have to move some money around in Zurich for..

    • abandonhope says:

      I’m backing Kinetic Void at the $55 level. As passionate about this project as I am, I’m also backing about a dozen other projects, most at the entry level tier, some higher. While I think $10 is about as rock-bottom as you can get, especially for a game of this scope, I also understand that a fair number of potential backers are pretty close to maxed out on what they can afford to spend on future games.

      This is really the only argument I can make at this point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeRQD0tK8h0#t=3s

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      Commenter in “not understanding that other people’s situations may differ from their own” shocker.

      Some of us have to be very careful indeed to avoid spending more money than we earn each month. Yes, $10 is a consideration – its money spent on something which isn’t necessary. Additionally, if I bought something every time I thought “it’s only $10″, I wouldn’t have very much money at all. None, in fact.

      When I speak of shifting money around to pledge for this, I mean that it will preclude buying something else. I’m obviously not going to my bank and instructing them to shift £6 from my savings account…

  14. weddo says:

    Looking at this situation it goes to show you how screwed up the situation with kickstarter has become, which was heralded as the new platform for the indies. Here you have a project that is doing everything right, an excellent prototype, great idea, very very reasonable amount they are asking for and yet people don’t seem to want to support innovation apparently. Kudos to RPS for giving them a chance.

    Unfortunately kickstarter seems to have become a place for washed up has-beens (with exception of few respective individuals) to cash out easily and games media is not helping at all in that regard also. This is what I feared would happen eventually.

    • abandonhope says:

      Spot on. Revived franchise projects come with the benefit of known entities and existing good will, but they certainly seem to be crowding the crowd away from funding more innovative titles. At some point, these developers were part of the mainstream. Changing tastes and publisher mandates pushed them out, and I’m happy that they’re now merging forces with more “indie” indies, since this has the potential to create a rising tide for everyone.

      However, Kinetic Void is a perfect example of a bang-up awesome project that isn’t just reviving a dying genre, but seriously building upon its predecessors. (Nekro is another.) There was a pure combat space sim project from a known entity that got a lot more attention than KV, and from what I could tell it was pretty much a straight rehash of past titles. Part of the problem with the industry as a whole is that familiarity sells (for media, it gets more views), and this seems to be equally true on Kickstarter.

      At this point, I try to go out of my way to look for projects that take some effort to understand, because they’re often the ones that are trying something new, and I miss the weird innovation from the Bullfrog era. Lodestar is one of these; it sounds like a mash-up of Minecraft, Towns, and 3079 with turn-based RPG goodness, but even those comparisons don’t convey what it is, because it’s too unique to understand without some concerted mental digestion.

  15. wonkavision says:

    “Every” and “time” do not become one word just because they appear next to one another.