Gratuitous Space Battles No Longer Fully Gratuitous

The point of Gratuitous Space Battles was that it was a fleet manager, not an RTS. So while you watched the space battles play out, you didn’t actually influence them – you were the admiral who had designed the ships and decided upon the tactics. And that made the actual battles gratuitous in terms of the gameplay. That, however, is no longer necessarily true. Cliff from Positech has sent word that he’s continued fiddling with the game, and has released a free patch to allow players to get involved with the battle-action. Cliff says: “It’s only an ‘optional’ feature, and only works in single-player offline games, but from patch 1.60 (which is now live, steam copies will be updated soon), the player can select ships and issue movement and fire orders mid battle, and even edit the ‘standing’ orders for ships in the middle of an engagement.” There’s a video, which explains it in a bit more detail, below.


  1. Alexandros says:

    Yay, great work cliffski! I always thought that I would have to wait for a GSB sequel in order to be able to directly control the ships, the fact that it’s available now with a patch is absolutely brilliant.

  2. Hunchback says:

    This looks like a fun game, wonder how did it pass under my radar…

  3. MD says:

    I always thought they were ‘gratuitous’ in the sense that they had no narrative justification. I haven’t played the game though. Is there a backstory?

  4. Carra says:

    I like the concept but I never really got into this game. It all felt a bit too passive. This patch might mix it up a bit.

  5. bob. says:

    I want more updates for Gratuitous TANK Battles! Am I the only one who likes that one a lot more?

    • Uglycat says:

      Yes :P

      I really liked GSB, but GTB was an instant-regret purchase after I had spent 5 minutes in game.

  6. drewski says:

    One of my friends was into this for a while. I didn’t, and don’t, get it.

  7. mckertis says:

    If he ever makes component placing actually matter – maybe i’ll play it.

  8. Cytrom says:

    Not as epic as i expected it to be…

    Can someone recommend me a high quality / big budget space game (shooter, rts or sim all apply) from recent years (2008 and up if possible)?

    • twig_reads says:

      Maybe FTL: Faster Than Light suits you?

    • Zanchito says:

      I enjoy X3 quite a bit. Many mods too.

    • Tiax says:

      Nexus : The Jupiter Incident

      Nuff’ said…

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Yep. That was brilliant. I’d hope a new version would add something more, but it nailed most of the feel and setup. For example you just had to worry about “get closer/get away” from enemies, even though it was full 3d, you just played it simple.

    • kael13 says:

      There’s X4 coming out… Sometime in the future. I could never get into X3, hoping the sequel is a bit more accessible.

    • Bishop says:

      I couldn’t get into X3 or most of the other space games, but Escape Velocity Nova was brilliant. A lot of attention to a big branching story.

      • dontnormally says:

        You HAVE to play Escape Velocity: Override. The story is 10x better than EV:Nova.

        EV:Override was the 2nd game in the series but it is also available for free as a plug-in for EV:Nova.

        [edit]: link: link to

    • theleif says:

      Sins of a Solar Empire:Rebellion?

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Endless Space?
      Legends of Pegasus?
      Sins of a Solar Empire (Trinity and/or Rebellion)?
      Star Ruler?
      I’d add Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition and Sword of the Stars Complete Collection to that list too but you’ve probably got those already and they’re just about pre-2008 (if not, where have you been hiding).

    • MaXimillion says:


    • Filden says:

      Well, which…big budget or high quality? One doesn’t necessarily mean the other.

      If you want a high quality game, you could check out Starfarer. It’s on course to have pretty much everything I want in a Star Control-esque Roleplaying Space Sim. Pre-ordering gets you access to the alpha build, which is already a pretty solid combat game, and will only get better as more economic, roleplaying, and campaign elements are added in.

      • figvam says:

        I can also add that Starfarer is high-quality despite being low-budget, even in current alpha stage.

  9. The Infamous Woodchuck says:

    Its great that cliffski implements some sort of a control for the ships ingame, that’ll certainly space things up. About time too, the lack of control for the ships is pushing the community on the verge of going supernovae..

    • psaldorn says:

      Your pun seems to be floating in a vacuum.. perhaps you should find somewhere with more atmosphere next time you feel the need to decompress.

    • Fumarole says:

      Nice! You get a star for the day.

  10. TechnicalBen says:

    Cool! I might get back into this. Today the Ciffsky Marmite has landed on “love”. :D

    I’ve just had flash backs to Star Trek Fleet Command (loved that game) and I recon this could beat it now!

  11. Ateius says:

    Nice little update. I haven’t played GSB in ages, but now that I can direct swooping frigate flanking maneuvers, I’ll have to give it another go.

  12. Grantfred says:

    I’m not sure we’re talking about the same game….. The one I have is locked on expert and no tactics. Just put the ships in and watch them explode. And by watch them explode, I meant watch your ships explode. Instantly.