Station To Station: Astrobase Command

By Adam Smith on August 15th, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

Craig sent me a link to Astrobase Command earlier today, wisely recognising it as the sort of thing that would cheer me on a dank and earthbound Thursday (I spend Wednesdays on the moon). Unfortunately, the link appeared in a tiny chat window, running over two lines, and momentarily creating the thrilling promise of a game called Astrobastard Commander. I want to play that game. Thankfully, Astrobase Commander looks great as well and should present plenty of chances to behave like a terrible space-bastard. It’s “a sci-fi sandbox space station-building game with roguelike elements and AI-generated stories”. I’m thinking Redshirt, Space Station 13 and more conventional base-building all mixed into a potent brew, or perhaps compacted into a nutritious pill.

Coming from a team of three based in Montreal, Astrobase sounds intensely ambitious but it also appears to have a focused design. Players create a race, deciding the body type and traits, as well as tweaking stats, including ‘social’ and ‘variance’. Then it’s onto station-building, with basic modules available from the start and more advanced tech unlocking over time. Then the characters arrive and the stories begin.

We’re taking a page from tabletop RPGs on how stories diverge based on character skills. Will diplomatic missions result in making friends or enemies? Will adventures on unexplored alien planets yield artifacts or casualties? Will choosing an inexperienced but very intelligent recruit for a power plant job give you more power or a fiery-meltdown-of-epic-proportions? Anticipating and matching the needs of a job or mission team to the skills of your crew is critical to your success.

The website contains plenty of details, including some possible scenarios. Many of them are drawn from existing future-fiction:

OH MY GOD SOMEONE BROUGHT BACK AN ALIEN EGG THAT SURVIVED DECONTAMINATION AND IT HATCHED IN THE CREW QUARTERS. NOW THERE ARE ALIENS RUNNING AROUND THE STATION AND ONE JUST CHEWED THROUGH MAIN ENGINEERING AND THERE ARE FIRES AND PLASMA LEAKING EVERYWHERE AHH WHERE ARE THE SECURITY TEAMS!

Lesson Learned: It’s a dangerous universe out there. Be prepared and Don’t Panic!

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18 Comments »

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  1. Dog Pants says:

    I like it. Fun (of the Dwarf Fortress kind) in space. It seems conceptually similar to Maia, but I have room in my life for more than one space-based disaster sim.

  2. lordcooper says:

    Why isn’t it out yet?

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      Biscuitry says:

      Because they only just started on it?

    • geldonyetich says:

      My sentiments exactly: sign me the heck up for this – aw, dang, I have to wait how long? (Current estimation: 2014.)

      Not sure if this is more Startopia or Dungeon Keeper than Dwarf Fortress, but it involves building and running your own futuristic space vessel and watching as things go horribly, horribly wrong, and that sounds like a good time to me! (At least whilst I’m sitting safely outside of said contaminated simulated environment of hilarious peril.)

  3. Triplanetary says:

    Looks promising. I’m a fan of any game that lets be build bases in space (where the focus is on the base management, I mean, so I don’t mean Starcraft, not that there’s anything wrong with Starcraft). Which reminds me, I need to get around to playing Space Colony sometime.

  4. pupsikaso says:

    I’m rather skeptical these guys can pull off what they promise with their “example stories”.

  5. aircool says:

    They should mix it with Theme Hospital for that ‘Alien’ vibe.

  6. AbigailBuccaneer says:

    Hoorah! This is incredibly similar to a game I’ve wanted to make for a long time. I’m going to go and play this now; if I enjoy it I shall take that as proof of my genius.

    (Edit: It’s not even out yet? I’m not used to time working this way.)

  7. Jehuty says:

    What a strange feeling; I’m both excited and utterly crushed. This is one of my dream games made real, a sort of randomly generated Dwarf Fortress approach to Startopia. So much so that I’ve been writing ideas down for something almost exactly like this for a few years now. This was going to be the project that finally made me get off my lazy ass and learn how to do this stuff. Oh well, as the poster above says, I can always still enjoy it when it comes out.

    • geldonyetich says:

      I kinda feel the same way, actually. But, you know, just because somebody’s making a game similar to what you were thinking of making doesn’t mean you should give up. The thing is, there’s an infinite number of infinitesimal things that lead to completely different game experiences, and I promise you that whatever you were planning to make will end up being completely different than anything anyone else makes.

      (Unless you deliberately set out to make a clone, like a triple-A development house under the yoke of a publisher who puts blinders on them to meet an arbitrary bottom line.)

    • Ilaliya says:

      This is Ilaliya (from Jellyfish/Astrobase) and let me say… I hear you. This is also our dream game, and we at Jellyfish got together to make it because it doesn’t exist, and could probably never get made at someone else’s studio. So we started our own.

      We have a huge commitment to community, because we’re all actual gamers in addition to game developers. And when the developers of some game (or franchise) I’m enjoying doesn’t listen to the playerbase and does something completely asinine, I get just as frustrated as you.

      And speaking as a developer, I’ve always thought that community should be built from the game’s inception to provide feedback and gut-check the progress… rather than make a game and “add community’ when it’s 99% done. Which isn’t community at all, it’s marketing.

      Long story short, you can head over to our forums and help us make this thing :)

      • Jehuty says:

        This is why I love indie development. When was the last time a publisher of AAA titles said something like this and actually meant it, and understood why this was important? Thanks for the welcome, I’ll wander over to the forums to poke around as soon as I get a chance.

        Thabks for the words of encouragement too, geldonyetich. My heart just sank when I saw the article synopsis, but now that I have the chance for a more measured response, this is nothing but good news.

  8. The Random One says:

    It looks like it’ll give the DF9 prototype from Double Fine’s Amnesia Fortnight a run for its money. (I told you you should have voted for the giant monster roguelike, you fools!)

    I’d give anything to just look at that preview image of the race creation with the tooltips enabled. But I won’t give that.

  9. Geen says:

    So… A single player Space Station 13? Hell yeah.

  10. Drehkt says:

    Hey all! I’m Adam from the Astrobase Command team. We’ve got a new devblog post up around what I’m currently working on. We’re shedding some light on ins and outs of module construction: http://astrobasecommand.com/?page_id=775. Check it out!