Lifeless Planet Really Isn’t Looking That Lifeless

The latest shots from Curiosity.

Last November we spotted an amazing-looking game being Kickstarted (before it was cool) called Lifeless Planet. Attempting to create a game with an Ico-vibe, the mysterious exploration of a planet managed to secure more than double its funding. And, predictable, hasn’t come out by the predicted release date on the project (now aiming for Winter). However, it’s going to be featured at the Kickstarter Arcade at this year’s PAX Prime, and there’s a new trailer now. Prepare for spooky and pretty.

This planet, supposedly barren and new, is being explored to see if it could support life. And then the remains of a Russian station are found.

There was also a trailer earlier this year that sneaked past us. It’s this one:

Lifeless Planet E3 2012 Trailer from David Board on Vimeo.


  1. Jabberwocky says:

    Nice looking game. It’s hard to believe the kickstarter was only asking $8.5k.
    Green footprints are scary.

    • kevmscotland says:

      Its amazing how much cheaper you can make your KickStarter when you take out that Ferrari you want to buy with it.

      Planetary Annihalation is a prime example of being greedy.

      900K required, with ‘stretch goals’ 200K apart.
      So 1.1 Mil for water planets
      1.3 Mil for Gas planets

      With a 3rd, 4th, and 5th stretch goal currently ‘locked’

      Seriously, Does the asrtist and programmer split 200K between them per planet?

      • grimpunch says:

        Sorry, Had to login to point out some heinous bullshit, $900,000 is not excessive for a major RTS title, and the stretch goals are based on adding new types of combat, naval, orbital. etc. so it’s more than making “one planet” it’s making a type of planet and introducing units, maps, sound effects, graphics for every part of the game to include new methods of combat.

        • subedii says:

          The aside from all new forms of combat to go in with each planet like you mentioned (complete with unit sets, animation, SFX etc.) you’ve also got a shedload more balancing to take care of afterwards. All this and you’re likely extending the length of the project, hence having to pay more people for longer.

        • dontnormally says:

          What’s bullshit is that they are essentially threatening to not include rich features if they don’t reach a certain amount of pre-orders.

          This is the company that is raking in the cash on SMNC.
          They don’t NEED 200k to make water planets.

          • Lev Astov says:

            Yes, that is quite odd, considering they even published SMNC themselves. Still, though, if $900k will help them set up everything they need to crank out PA in a year, I’m all for it. Some of these guys made my two all time favorite RTS games, after all.

      • Bobka says:

        It seems to me they have at least at least 11 team members, judging by the photo on the Kickstarter page. If we assume they take a year to finish the game, that would be around 82,000$ salary for each team member – nice indeed, but not Ferarri-level. But that’s not taking into account whatever licenses they might have to pay; marketing; music; voice acting; and of course the money spent on Kickstarter rewards. And taxes, of course. Take away all that, and they probably get more or less “average” salaries for game devs out of the Kickstarter, in addition to being able to put out the game.

        The only big question is whether or not they already have the money to deal with these resources through previous games, since they are an established studio. In and of itself, though, 900k doesn’t strike me as greedy for a team of 11+ people making a large-scale, multiplatform RTS.

        That said, I agree that a whole 200k per stretch goals seems a bit excessive if all we get is a new planet type and some new units (and the corresponding sounds). If, however, they are including whole new mechanics that need to be designed and tested, that’s another matter – and again, it’s not really 200k, since taxes, Kickstarter rewards, etc.

      • DJ Madeira says:

        The biggest bill for most companies is paying staff. I mean think about it, you’ve got maybe 3 artists at ~$50,000/year, 3 programmers, 1 lead developer, and then you’ve got to run an office, pay utilities, etc. and then taxes on top of that, and all of a sudden you’re looking at a $400,000/year budget. And obviously a lot of that they could be cutting out, like working from home etc. but once you start having a payroll costs go WAAAY up.

      • subedii says:

        The highest cost on any project is always the people. The industry average salary is around $80,000, these guys are probably being paid less. And with a team that I’d guess of around a dozen or so, that quickly adds up. Then you’ve got costs all the standard things, offices, equipment and the rest.

        Seriously, 900,000 is a conservative but reasonable estimate in order to make a project of that nature. I worry more about OTHER kickstarters that have ambitions shooting for the moon but say they can do it on 50,000K or something.

      • phlebas says:

        “The artist and programmer”. Heh.

        • pruchel says:

          Then again, it’s kind of expected, at least to me, that the dev actually uses their own cash for the project. That a kickstarter should cover all expenses, especially with a established studio, sounds very strange.
          Their return on investment comes when the game starts selling, like it would if they invested all the money themselves.

          If the goal is to provide them with every penny they need for development I think that is a shitty deal for those pledging. We’re micro investors, if we carry the whole shebang on our shoulders I’d expect to get paid when they release. As it stands the studio gets all the money for that, and that is their big reward, ours is the game and nothing else.
          I expect kickstarted projects to expend any and all means they themselves have first, and use kickstarter if additional funds are needed. Their own investment should preferably be more than the KS itself yields, of course depending on its popularity.

          If they expend 0$ in development AND get paid doing it AND get money for sales, that’s a bit over the top imho.

          • dontnormally says:

            This. This. This.
            Did you read this? Go back and read this.

          • njursten says:

            But what if they get the money from a publisher instead? You’d still have to buy the game. Instead of loaning money from a publisher they loan it from the players. We get the game cheaper, they get a loan with zero interest rate. Everyone wins! Unless they mess up the game, that is.

            Doesn’t really apply for the more costlier rewards though, but then spending $10k to attend a release party can’t really be seen as anything but giving extra money to show your support/make something you really want come true.

          • Lemming says:

            “…ours is the game and nothing else.”

            You’ve missed the point of pledging to KS. You pledge because you want the game to exist. Whether you also get the game is entirely up to the relevant tier reward that may or may not be there at the whim of the project starter.

            If you’re dicing up what you get out of it beyond that, then you may as well not bother using the site because you’re going to be ever frustrated.

        • Chakawi says:

          Wow… some people are not all that smart…

          • pruchel says:

            No indeed, there exists those with limited mental capacity. Your insights are much appreciated!

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        “Its amazing how much cheaper you can make your KickStarter when you take out that Ferrari you want to buy with it.”

        Not sure if you are being facetious, but that’s a really daft thing to say. $8500 is a really small amount of money to make a game with and I think the Kickstarters leaning towards higher figures are probably more realistic.

  2. Kapouille says:

    Hold on, where did they get their wood to build electric masts and log cabins?

    • derps says:

      Magic. Derr.

    • John Walker says:

      I think that might be the plot. Also, there’s water in a screenshot, so trees are possible.

    • Ravenholme says:

      Carbon feedstocks used to give the appearance of wood for familiarities sake.

      Calling it now that it’s actually some future-past Earth or something.

      • Belua says:

        Yeah, I get some serious “Planet of the Apes” vibes from this.

        But it looks awesome, and I’m very intrigued. If the story is well told, it doesn’t matter to me if a similar one already exists.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Another question being: why use wooden poles to transport electricity? That’s a rather vulnerable and low-tech way of going about things.

      • Mr. Mister says:

        Vulnerable to what? Windstorms? I recall that Mars air pressure is like 0,005 times Earth’s.

        • Ravenholme says:

          The Lifeless Planet is not Mars, if you watch the E3 trailer that becomes really obvious.

          And air pressure or not, Mars has some hellacious windstorms, so yes, they would be really vulnerable on Mars.

      • noodlecake says:

        Artistic license: It looks good.

  3. Mr. Mister says:

    First thing I’m gonna do is try to change the texture of the flag on his equipement.

  4. Jimmy says:

    “Lifeless Planet?”
    “Lifeless Planet. Or is it?”
    “Unlifeless Planet”

  5. frightlever says:

    Similar vibe to Waking Mars on iOS.

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  7. Film11 says:

    I thought this was a new version of COLOBOT at first, going by the screenshot. That was a good game.

    Someone should make that!

    • frightlever says:

      I just googled Colobot. Damn, that looks interesting.

      link to

      link to

      Love the idea of a game that teaches kids to program while they play.

      And then I checked the price which appears to be 75 swiss francs, or approx fifty quid. Now I’m backing away from the game… slowly… avoiding eye contact…

      • Film11 says:

        Holy bananas, I don’t remember it costing that much when I bought it. For a game more than a decade old they’re pushing it a bit. I suppose it’s use is mainly educational though, so there you go. Apparently there’s a new version called Ceebot as well, although there seems to be multiple versions of that with no explanation as to what the differences are. Oh well.

    • Pemptus says:

      I now have to play Colobot again. It was amazing, if a little wonky in later levels, with too much going on.

  8. Ross Angus says:

    Oh my god, this looks great. I feel really stupid for not kickstartering it.

    • rsanchez1 says:

      When I saw the preview screenshots showing you as an astronaut on a Martian-looking world, I just had to kickstart it. I’ll be getting it as soon as it comes out, and judging by the screenshots and other goodies the developer has let us try, I’d say it was $25 very well spent.

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    Ooh! Some squee.

  10. Henke says:

    PLOT SPOILERS (that I just made up and are probably not correct at all)

    The lifeless planet is earth and at the end of the game the protagonist takes of his helmet and it’s an alien underneath.

    Called it.

    • Bioluminescence says:

      Well, if we’re playing that game – he never survived the crash. That’s my theory and I expect no less than 2.41 internets as my reward if I am correct.

    • pierrot says:

      But his spacesuit has an American flag, so unless aliens build spacesuits out of Nasa’s space detritus, he’s probably a human

    • BestFriends4Ever says:

      He takes off the helmet and HE IS THE LIFELESS PLANET!!

  11. TechnicalBen says:

    “It was earth all along!”

    I’m calling it now. ;)

  12. beema says:

    Looks very interesting, but the whole Russian thing sort of makes me reflexively roll my eyes. Why do game devs have such a fixation on Russians as being mysterious, villainous, or creepy? Also calling it “lifeless planet” and then showing some humanoid alien chick speaking Russian kind of… I dunno… kills the mood? It went from haunting to somewhat comical from that alone.

    ps: tee-hee penis-shaped rock at 26 second

    • rsanchez1 says:

      Maybe because the Soviet space program at the height of the Cold War was wrapped in mystery, and led people to come up with all sorts of wild ideas that the Soviets might be doing in space.

  13. Urthman says:

    That trailer has way too many spoilers. I’d have bought an “explore lifeless planet” game and would have loved to be surprised by the remains of the Russian Colony or whatever.

    • pierrot says:

      I agree, but revealing as much as they have manages expectations to an extent – people expecting a Journey-esque exploration now know it features humanoids speaking Russian and ordinary-looking buildings

    • rsanchez1 says:

      Well, you really run the risk of encountering spoilers when you view gameplay screenshots and videos.

  14. rsanchez1 says:

    I helped fund it!

  15. Lemming says:

    I like the idea of this more than the look. The space-suited man just looks a little goofy for my tastes, and unless there is an explanation for him wearing it even when he can see people without them and has some infinite supply of air, I’m not going to hold my breath (getit?)

  16. frank3n says:

    Spacesuit running sim – cool.