FTL Meets Dwarf Fortress: Universe Edge

By Adam Smith on April 24th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

When we asked readers how they had chosen to spend their eggstra long weekend (for those in countries without a Holiday Eggfest, my apologies), I learned one thing – with the release of the expanded edition, FTL has ensnared the crew of the good ship RPS once again. I enjoy the game – Captain’s Edition, naturally – but I crave a more complex ship management and construction component. Universe Edge may have me covered. Citing Gnomoria, The Sims and EVE Online as inspirations, the space exploration simulation is seeking Kickstarter funding right now.

If anything, Universe Edge might be too complicated. There’s a small pre-alpha demo but with 14 months of development left to go, it doesn’t contain a great deal of the planned content or possibilities. When (and if) it’s finally done, Universe Edge should have block-based shipbuilding, mining, fleet control, crew management, planetary exploration and base construction. It could be huge.

The initial alpha release, which won’t be ready until June 2015, should contain the following:

An extensive collection of different shaped blocks for ship building.

Manage your crew, set their task, provide their needs, guide them to survive.

Build and design your power-grid, hydroponics, life-support, weaponry system, waste-disposal, water recycling, crew recreational activities, food production, and other item crafting production chains.

Several star-systems that contains planets, asteroids and other structures.

Roaming AI ships that you can interact / trade / fight.

Control multiple ships. One could be in another star-system, and the other on a different star-system. One could focus on gathering resource, the other could focus as a Battleship.

Crew visual customization and skill progression.

The target is minuscule considering the length of development. One-person development squad Albert Olivera is seeking $26,400 and the campaign has just begun. I’m not entirely convinced but I admire the ambition on show and now I’m thinking about Space Station 13 with procedurally generated planets to explore and hyperventilating all over my screen.

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29 Comments »

  1. NikkorLass says:

    This sounds like the perfect game for me. But..
    I’m going to remain deeply cynical about this one, not because I think its destined to fail or anything. I just don’t want to get my hopes up to have them dashed.

    • rebellion534 says:

      Hi NikkorLass,

      Universe Edge gets this impression for some time now, and it might look a bit ambitious for a one man team, but it’s actually not.

      Here are the features that might gave you some impressions about the game, I’ll be adding this list in the Kickstarter/Update about this soon!

      1) The planets will be finite-size, it will not be too large. But it will be enough for a unique exploration.
      2) When landing on planets, there’s a transition between the outside space into the planet ( like some sort of loading screen )
      3) No realistic physics like the one in Space Engineers.
      4) No plans for multiplayer, I am not currently designing the code base to handle future Multiplayer capabilities.
      5) There is a 999x999x999 hard-coded limit on the ship size, but I am pretty sure PCs will lag out before it reaches that size. More optimizations are planned much much later in the development, but the current system right now works smoothly.
      6) AIs will have pre-defined traits, there is no historical simulation just like in Dwarf Fortress.
      7 There will be only several starsystem and planets when the game reached Alpha on 2015.

      Overall, the only biggest challenge right now are mostly on the AI the other ships that you will meet in, and I am reserving 6 months of development time for this feature alone.

      Hopefully without those feature will not deter from supporting the game, as I plan to work on the game for a really long time. As a mainly programmer person, this is what I strive for, programming problems :)

      I might have missed some features, but please feel free to ask me :) I’ll be here in the next… until I sleep!

  2. Jomini says:

    This sure doesn’t look like another StarMade/Blockade Runner/Corneroids/Scrumbleship/MinecraftInSpaceNr.756.

    • rebellion534 says:

      I actually started the development of Universe Edge way way back in.. 2011, I think. Then the great postponement happened. Universe Edge was originally planned to be a FPS, If no postponedment happen it would have looked a lot lot closer to StarMade/Blockade runner and the rest.

      During the postpostment, I subsequently played FTL and Gnomoria, and then the idea hits me.

      I would have gone back to the FPS style, but SpaceEngineers/Starmade pretty much owned the genre. So I decided to focus more on Crew-Management, which was inpired from FTL and Gnomoria, so I could atleast bring something a bit different to the Spaceship-building genre.

      This is Universe Edge on late 2011 :

      • PerspectiveDesigns says:

        You sir should try Dwarf Fortress. It’s amazing. Another intriguing management sim in development is Prison Architect.

        • rebellion534 says:

          I tried to get into DF, but it’s really hard. Even watched videos and read wikis. I only managed to play Gnomoria at the moment. But looking into playing other Dorf-like games.

    • Asdfreak says:

      To me it looks like Rodina from Elliptic Games, just more blocky and without that great procedual planet generation and without the hacking. Maybe it will shine, but it will have to try and stand out, because as of now it seems like one of those games that suddenly everyone wants to make after Notch announced and canceled 0×10^c, even if it has other inspirations.

  3. rebellion534 says:

    Hi everyone! Dev here! I just registered, and I hope it’s not too unethical to do so. Haha this is the first time I’ll be doing this. I’ll try to answer questions about the game or anything about development.

    I’d like to thank Mr. Smith for featuring Universe Edge despite it being too early in development and unpolished! It certainly gave me some hope.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Not unethical at all – it’s lovely to have developers talking here!

    • rebellion534 says:

      I will be away for 8 hours now. Will definitely come back here tomorrow! This has been a huge day, Thank you very much everyone!

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Hope it goes well. The mechanics in Dwarf Fortress are quite wonderful. It’s generally the emergent systems, details and characters that make it so interesting. So hope you manage to get that sparkle in this game. :)

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      Too often in games like this, the player is some unseen abstract force swaying the action of their unsuspecting pawns. Instead of top-down, it’d be a refreshing change to see a game like this take a bottom-up approach to manipulating the player’s units. One where you assume the role of the “captain” and in addition to having to control that character directly, you also have to manage the other units indirectly in a more DF fashion. Instead of unquestioning lemmings to dispose of at will, let the non player characters have their own will and opinions of the captain to consider the any orders they are given.

      Say you as the captain carelessly order a lone, unprepared crew member to harvest resources in a dangerous area and they are accosted by some nasties and manage to escape with their lives. When they return, they are going to harbor animosity towards the captain and be exceptionally reluctant to follow future orders as commanded.

      Conversely, say you as the captain risk your own life digging your engineer out of a pile of irradiated reactor-breach debris, when you ask Mr. Scott for, “more power to the engines!” he will be doubly certain to really give you ALL she”s got.

      I think that interactions like this could really bring a player into a game world more than any amount of fancy graphics ever could.

  4. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    Certain things about it do draw from popular themes at the moment, but it looks like it’s planning to collect them together in a way that might suit me. I’ll keep an eye on this, and $9 for a finished copy is hardly the biggest risk in the world.

  5. mlaskus says:

    Space Station 13! I’ve never learned how to play it properly, but the few times I’ve stumbled into the escape pod while the station was falling apart around me were glorious.

    I’ve even had a successful run as the randomly selected evil person(I don’t remember how they’re called), it’s one of my more treasured experiences in gaming.
    My mission was to kill the Captain. Almost right of the bat I’ve jumped him with a sleeping pen when I saw him alone in one of the corridors but not before he called for help on ship-wide comms. I got promptly subdued by a group of security who hauled my ass to jail to await trial and execution.

    It was rather obvious that I had no idea what I was doing so they’ve left me in the brig with only a single guard on duty. Soon after my imprisonment, an engineer stopped by my cell’s windows and started whispering.
    He revealed to me that he was my partner in crime and that he was going to bust me out – he had done something elsewhere on the ship that made most of the others players scramble there to fix it so we had a short window of opportunity. He busted down a wall, knocked down the guard, stripped him down, took away his comms and welded him inside a locker inside my cell. I took all of the guard’s clothes, weapons, the ID card and I’ve retrieved my equipment. We’ve made our escape to some maintenance areas of the ship where we could talk calmly about the mission.

    I’ve had no idea how to destroy walls, sabotage the ship or infiltrate the more secure areas… but I could still hit people on the head with stuff. We’ve decided I would play the role of a bait while my partner destroyed the ship.
    I procured a lightsaber from the shadowy organization sponsoring us(the evil players could teleport in some equipment, they’ve had a limited supply of them) and started looking for important people roaming the ship.

    I’ve caught the detective alone and proceeded to hit him with the lightsaber until he dropped dead. It took me a while and he was running around announcing my position to the rest of the security forces all the time. That was followed by a few minutes of frenetic fighting and running away from a large group of security who dragged their dead away to the med bay for revival. I’ve had a very powerful weapon and fighting in the maintenance corridors where I could break the line of sight favoured me a lot.

    Finally I got away, barely alive and having just stolen new clothes and ID from another of my pursuers. I’ve had only a few minutes at most until his body was found so I’ve had to find a new disguise. That’s also about the moment when an evacuation was called.

    I’ve made my way to one of the labs, killed a scientist there, took his clothes and ID and made my way towards the escape pod. Once there, I’ve found my partner, who was still wearing his engineer disguise, which was never revealed. I waited until he was alone and revealed myself to him, whispering.

    He was incredulous I was still alive, much less free with an identity that no one was suspecting. He told how he infiltrated the bridge, killed the captain and called for an evacuation, I’ve told him of my wild chase with the security and we waited for the evacuation countdown. We calmly entered the shuttle and won the game.

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      Space Station 13 can be absolutely hilarious, but in my opinion it requires you to know quite a few of the on-board systems in order to have any fun and participate in the chaos. If not, it you can just end up doing the assigned job for an hour and then dying whenever whatever happens happens. At its worst, it’s Service Industry Simulator 3013 – but at its best, it’s Fawlty Towers meets Alien.

      • mlaskus says:

        Yeah, the complexity is off putting. Most of the games I’ve played were rather boring, they ended with anticlimactic deaths or amounted to trying and failing to learn a new in-game skill for half an hour or had someone weld me inside a locker for no apparent reason.

        The few times it clicked for me were fantastic enough that I look back on the experience fondly, despite it’s flaws and my very limited understanding of it’s systems.

      • JimboDeany says:

        Is SS13 available to buy?!?!

        • mlaskus says:

          It’s free. :)
          There are servers maintained by a few communities – they differ in functionality and culture, so you should probably try a few to find a community that suits you.
          http://www.byond.com/games/Exadv1/SpaceStation13

          I played on a server maintained by Baystation 12 community, they generally didn’t weld people in lockers just for the kicks ofit and were really helpful when I requested some help and advice.

  6. Spoon Of Doom says:

    The title of this article makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for this game.

  7. Notelpats says:

    Hmm.. I haven’t backed a game on Kickstarter for about 2 years, since Nekro and FTL. But I must admit this game is very tempting.

  8. Flamepreacher says:

    Backed – think that’s worth a £9 punt, looks really interesting

  9. Mackinpuff says:

    “…but I crave a more complex ship management and construction component.”

    Have you picked up on Starship Corporation yet? Design your own ship, place rooms, make clever use of power, cooling and life support and… use it!

  10. BurningPet says:

    That’s a very interesting start that shows a very good promise. i like that the player have to connect the different parts to controls/electricity/containers. cant wait to see how it progress both features wise and graphics wise (although, the blocky looks is not a problem at all, it just needs some further details on some of the parts).

    Btw, i noticed a few days ago on r/indiegaming that Universim has also launched a kickstarter campaign. another game to keep an eye on:
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crytivogames/the-universim

  11. geldonyetich says:

    This looks like one of the better stabs at capturing the space grail that I’ve seen. Keep up the good work, hope to dabble with a “finished” version before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

  12. BadBannana says:

    I going to hope that this is good and not whatever Double Fine’s “space sim” was

  13. Beefsurgeon says:

    This looks really cool. Backed it!

  14. HiFiHair says:

    Needs 10% more Lorne Greene.