If You Dig It: Miner Wars Early Access

Hybrid MMO/single-player space adventure Miner Wars is offering early access at 70% off, making it about $13. I’ve yet to see anything of the game myself, but the concept of a fully destructible environment shared with multiplayer players is certainly intriguing. If it can offer an Elite-like space trading experience with Red Faction-style space-action destruction then developers Keen Software House might onto something. Hell, it might be a game experience all its own, unlike anything that has gone before – the idea of blasting your way through the inside of giant asteroids is certainly unusual. Whether these guys are too keen, however, will depend on the state of the early build. I feel like developers take a big risk going into these things early. It’s a good way to get the community bringing in money and feedback, but it also means you might earn an unfair rep on your earlier build.

Anyone had a look? (The obligatory trailer is just a click below the surface.)


  1. Dominic White says:

    I gotta say, I’m VERY interested in this. It looks like Descent meets Minecraft + Red Faction. Unless word of the alpha is that it’s outright mind-crushingly terrible, I’d be willing to toss my $13 into the ring.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I’m not interested at all. Because all I saw on my monitor, was black-on-black-on-black. In other words: Someone failed at gamma/black/white level calibration again.
      And the saddest thing is, that most people won’t even notice it, since their screens also never saw a calibration.
      I don’t care, if some random guy on the Internet fails at this. What I have a problem with however, is when seemingly professional people fail miserably. :/
      I swear, If someone dares to complain about my own videos being too bright, I’ll hit him on the head with a Spyder 3: Kettenmorgenstern edition!

  2. Heliocentric says:

    So… Er, mmo=subscriptions then? Because apart from that acronym this sounds great.

    • tanith says:

      I haven’t read anything about subscriptions yet but I may be also mistaken.

      Well, got it for the 10€ because it peaked my interest some time ago already (it is one of the games I was kinda looking forward, next to infinity) but wasn’t able to try it out yet.
      What I can say is that the installer doesn’t work with wine because it cannot install additional software.
      Hope I can test it on my Windows machine this weekened.

      It looks fun, though, and since it’s 13$ now and 70% off it will probably cost around (40-45)$ when released. Maybe they are taking a big risk but I’d much rather support an indie developer than buy another lame console-port.

    • Spoon says:

      While looking at the forums to see if anyone had any impressions on this alpha, I stumbled across the answer to your question. Apparently the “first installment” will be a pretty standard game, single player story mode and multiplayer competitive arenas. After that will come the MMO. So sort of like a Torchlight model, then?

  3. Antialias says:

    That was a very, very long dogfight.

    • dobber says:

      between a spaceship and a rock

    • MadMatty says:

      Some fairly optimistic firing of rockets

    • Stromko says:

      The target didn’t seem to have much inertia to their movements, so I can’t see how they were ever going to get a hit with a weapon that isn’t hit-scan based.

  4. Meatloaf says:

    Well. I’m certainly interested, but lets hope their game-making skills are above their trailer-making skills. Goodness.

    • Mr Labbes says:

      Works every time with Bioware games.

    • Dominic White says:

      I saw that video sometime last year – it’s a tech video, showing off the deformation. That’s not the trailer.

      link to youtube.com – here’s a much more cinematic take on it. Also, remember that this is PRE-ALPHA. The fact that it’s playable (supposedly) at this point is surprising.

    • Torgen says:

      Just watched the linked youtube.

      “Crazy space-peace militants!” are the bad guys? Who wordlessly attack the miners, and pass right by the mothership? :eyeroll:

      Think I”ll be passing on this.

    • Dominic White says:

      Amazing how people are willing to pass judgement on the cinematic merits an old trailer of a game in pre-alpha development by a tiny indie studio.

  5. filix says:

    I just bought it and downloadin it right now

    • irongamer says:

      *Hoping for a small review*

    • filix says:

      I just played around in to …

      Its really alpha, mostly an engine tbh .. didnt find any bugs, and it was fun a few min to create tunnels and such but when they get some gameplay in to the game it will become much more interresting :) .

      The gfx is nothing to write home about some simple lighting here and there … but hey i think it could become huge because it run on really small systems and its very fluent to play.

      But now only buy it for the support because their idea is great !

  6. Adrian says:

    muss…….. weiter…….. ballern……..

    (german for mindless continuous shooting)

    the terrain destruction could be fun tho…..

  7. bbot says:

    Way, way too early. This doesn’t look at all worth $13.

  8. jt says:

    from the FAQ:

    “Will there be subscription fees?

    No, you buy it and play it. There are no subscription fees.”

    sounds good to me!

    • Heliocentric says:

      Excellent, I’m going to watch a few videos of game play so far and maybe buy it, does anyone who has bought it have an opinion.

  9. Urthman says:

    Even if this particular game sucks, seeing stuff like this makes me feel really optimistic about the future of PC gaming. The ability to do high-quality, innovative stuff is getting easier and easier. It really doesn’t matter at all if Activition and Ubisoft keep churning out stale sequels to boring games.

  10. Dominic White says:

    Man, you can practically hear the crickets chirping here. People rushed in to whine about how too many people were talking about Minecraft in that L4D mod-thread, but here? A 6DoF space-combat game with deformable environments, and a persistent MMO mode on top of a singleplayer campaign, for 10 euros?


    Ladies and gentlemen, this is PC gaming. So much sound and fury, signifying nothing. So, I’m going to buy the game now, and liveblog thoughts as I go here – link to twitter.com

    All aboard the tweet-train!

  11. Dominic White says:

    Alright, been giving this a bit of a spin. Tweeted a fair bit. There’s very little ‘game’ here right now, but there is a very solid framework for it. Flight feels good, although perhaps a little ‘light’ for my tastes (a fraction more inertia would be fun). The graphics are good, terrain deformation works very well. Bot AI seems capable of following me accurately through a tunnel network that didn’t exist five seconds prior.

    There’s a lot of potential here. Just needs the actual minng and trading and factions worked in now. So, if you’re feeling bold and want to tool around in space, go for it. Just don’t expect anything as fleshed out as Minecraft at this point.

    • Spoon says:

      Thank you for the rundown, I may just have to purchase it.

    • Orvidos says:

      I caught wind of this a bit back from, oddly enough, one of the MineCraft post comments here on RPS. Had a look, thought me “Minecraft in space! Sort of!” and went off to look for the place to gives them the monies. Imagine that.

      I need to finish downloading Icewind Dale from GOG first though. >_>

    • protobob says:

      Press ‘k’ and it turns the dampeners off. You can go faster, also you retain your force vectors (like real space flight), so flying is much more complicated. Then you can press K again and it goes back to ‘normal’ (and also stops you if you are going very fast.)

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, I discovered that and mentioned it on both twitter and my blog. That said, I wish that the flight-assist was a little ‘looser’. Just let me drift a tiny bit more when I stop strafing or thrusting. It’s a small thing, but I think it would really improve the feeling of flying a spaceship, rather than just playing an FPS.

  12. bananaphone says:

    Alright, I’ll bite. I like pew-pew space games and I certainly don’t regret getting in early on Minecraft. Downloading now.

  13. Redeye says:

    Concept looks pretty solid and I am a fan of the space flying game. I recall Mount & Blade having a similar pricing scheme, the earlier in development you purchased the cheaper it was and that game turned out to be fantastic so my conclusion is this one will as well. Flawless logic, no?

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s a good way for small indie studios to fund further development, that’s for sure. That said, sometimes it can seemingly fizzle out into silence – I preordered Cortex Command ages back, and development of that has proceeded at a glacial pace. No updates in the past couple of months, either.

      It’s like the Diablo gambling vendor. You know you’re going to get *something*, and have a rough idea of what it’s going to be like, but none of the specifics will reveal themselves until you put that money down. Can save you a fair amount if you bet on the right horses, though.

    • Dominic White says:

      For instance, I support-preordered Overgrowth for something like £15 ages back. Then they announce they’ve signed a deal with the developers of Natural Selection 2, and my preorder magically expanded to include that, too.

  14. tomwaitsfornoman says:

    Clever RPS’ers always find a way to say what I’m thinking in a manner that makes me chuckle.

  15. malkav11 says:

    If they deliver on their promise, it sounds like it could be quite cool (although I will go nowhere near the planned MMO version). But I’m skeptical. Especially since they apparently want to also publish it on XBLA, which seems like a not very viable platform for something this ambitious.

  16. LionsPhil says:

    @Dominic: I miss when alpha and beta were meaningful terms. What the fuck is a “pre-alpha release”? It’s nothing! The very term is a contradiction!

    • tanith says:

      I assume that a pre-alpha is something along the lines of an “engine demo”.
      Not much gameplay, as opposed to an alpha, or a product nearing it’s finish, which would be a beta, just a showcase of what’s availalble and where the things are going.

      How is “pre-alpha release” a contradiction?

    • Tacroy says:

      If anyone actually cares for some software development pedantry, the way it’s supposed to work is as follows:

      Alpha software is junk. It’s like a chunk of raw iron you just pulled out of the forge, glowing red hot with change. The programmers are still pounding away at it, adding flanges and pointy bits and giving the thing its overall shape. They’re still tacking stuff on, tearing stuff off, and basically pounding at it like it insulted their mothers – the whole thing can be in a state of flux.

      Beta software is somewhat better. In theory, by the time a piece of software graduates from alpha to beta, it is “feature complete” which, in our analogy, means that all the pointy bits are more or less where they’re supposed to be and the flanges are flanging along happily. Theoretically, in a beta, no major features are added or removed; you should have realized that you were gonna need a sound engine, sonny boy. Minor adjustments are of course possible, and in this day and age people tend to ignore the “no new major features!” thing quite frequently which blurs the line quite a bit.

      The main difference between alpha and beta is this: if, overnight, magical computer pixies stopped by the office and fixed all the bugs in your beta product while making you a new pair of shoes, you would release that thing right there and then; besides the bugs, the product is largely the way you want it.

  17. Sardaukar says:

    Also neat: They’ve got Dan Wentz doing the music.

    Dan Wentz of Freespace, if that games music got your goat going.

    • getter77 says:

      IF Single player and such is still available/the system winds up pretty much the same as Minecraft’s—then I’m down. Otherwise…it kind of goes against their otherwise stated notion of no DRM.

      Plus I’ll wait for a better processing solution—a fine day indeed when Paypal isn’t the “go-to” default for such things.

    • Torgen says:

      oh my god. Indie UbiDRM.

    • neofit says:

      “oh my god. Indie UbiDRM.”
      Hehe. If Ubi couldn’t keep their servers up, what chance do these guys have? I’ll pass, it’s not like we don’t have a choice of what to play.

    • Mr. Snipes says:

      Agreed. I played the hell out of the Descent games back in the day, so this game looks quite interesting. It’s also kind of neat that they got the same guy that did Descent 2’s music to do their music as well. However I am strongly against the “always connected” type of DRM that the big companies like UBIsoft have chosen to adopt. The day that an indie game choses to adopt this is a sad day indeed, and they make it very clear on the site and on the forums that it is essentially the same animal. You have to be connected 100% of the time because some of the code is on their server. If you happen to lose the connection, there goes your game. I’ll add my voice to the crowd in saying that I think minecraft has dealt with the problem very well. If you have a registered account with a paid copy of minecraft, then you can log in and update your game, but after logging in once you can play offline if you’d like. There’s also always steam. Thankfully miner wars is still only in alpha, and so there is plenty of time for improvement. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one, but unless they change their stance and adopt a much more sensible method of anti-piracy, then I’ll sadly have to pass.

  18. ToadMan667 says:

    “You will need to be connected to internet (our server) during whole gameplay. Miner War’s client on your computer will not only check if it’s connected, but it will let server do some calculations and logic.”

    • MrBRAD! says:

      ahaha these developers a pure gomedy coldmine.

    • Dominic White says:

      My god, it’s almost as if they don’t want the entire internet downloading their game which isn’t even near complete yet.

      I would be pretty surprised if you couldn’t play the singleplayer stuff offline once it launches.

  19. The Hon. Reverend Fred Gherkin says:

    I’m not buying into this. They’ve been trying to hawk this game on /v/ for ages. The team present themselves as if the main priority is revenue. Cashola. Dosh. Ez mon-e. Hence the whole selling the (admittedly cool) soundtrack, selling MERCHANDISE, selling preorders, asking for donations in the realms of hundreds of Euros or pounds just to get your mug featured ingame all while the game is in a pre-Alpha state. I’m all for supporting independent development, and by gum said devs deserve some reparation for their respective efforts but the Miner Wars team are going about it all wrong.

    Focus on making a stable, polished, fun game. Don’t focus on some wide-eyed notion of riches and fame. Even if the intentions are noble, many people are just going to see it as a hit-and-run attempt to grab your money and then abandon the project.

    • MrBRAD! says:

      The arrogant bastards have a reference link system too that gives you rewards. They have given themselves some amazingly horrible PR from all of this and I for one won’t be getting it now.

      BTW, the referrer system is quite dumb and a proxy fools it. You’ll need a few thousand though :/
      …not that I am implying you sidestep their arrogant system to reap the rewards.

  20. Darghan says:

    Hey guys,

    I am one of the game devs and have been lurking the forums recently to find that there is an interest on this site. First of all I would like to thank all the positive remarks about the game and I would like to assure you that were working on improving the game with frequent updates. Mount and Blade is one of the games we have taken as a reference project yes. The main reason why we would like to do this is because as many indie studios we lack the funding and contrary to other indie studios (that have their game ready in 1 year) were making a much more technologically advanced title. So we need the funding to go forward with the development. As always there will be tons of people moaning about pre-sales and vapourware and all that kind of crap. I would like to point strongly here that making this engine took us already good 2,5 years. It is our passion and we take care of our community the best way we can . We answer most of the posts and we listen to what the fans want in their game. Heck many of the fans received a free copy just by giving us a good gameplay idea. No were not vapourware, no were not going to walk away with peoples money and the frequent updates that will be making will be the ultimate proof. There are two main reasons why we are being criticised first of all its the refferal system. Well to be perfectly honest its a double edged sword. It has gotten us a decent attention and many people dont mind it. Youd be surprised that many of our fans are not hardcore by any means. They are just a regular bunch. So while we might piss some of the more HC crowd were getting some other ones too. There is no other decent way for an indie studio to get much attention. Yes some were lucky (Minecraft) but most of the projects just come, go and die a silent death. We went out fighting with every weapon we have at our disposal. Its not easy to make a game. Especially when you are spending 2,5 years of your life living with no money. None of the people that have engaged in an adventure like this would ever understand how hard it is.
    The second thing were being critised for is sort of a DRM. There is a good explanation for that. Again were not a big studio and our title will become an MMO. Were already implementing the network code now to save time in the development process. We have also adopted this strategy because it will allow us to make a more quality a smooth multiplayer gameplay. Because this game IS about multiplayer period. If we would have the resources to make two seperate titles and work on the Network code after we would have done it believe me. Were not a bunch of morons thinking that this is a good way to attract customer base. We dont even think that its the best piracy protection out there. In all honesty games get copied and if we get succesful so will we. Even with having some of the logic on our servers.
    I hope this clears some things up. I wish to once again thank for all the positive feedback and please stay tuned guys. We absolutely value your support in this.

  21. Xen says:

    you guys kick ass

    i bought it

    keep on truckin

  22. Ardack says:

    Played it a little last night. I like what I see so far. The “DRM” isn’t really any worse than Blizzard (WoW, SC2), and everyone loves them. It’s a multiplayer game, so yes, you need to log in.

    Anyway what I really wanted to say was that back when I tried out EvE I only quit because combat was stupid. I wanted to fly my spacecraft during a fight. I’m hoping Miner Wars turns out something like EvE but with much much better combat.