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Space Is Infinite, Time Is Brief: Kinetic Void

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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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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