Troubled Space: Contested Space Releases Demo

Are you suffering from space fatigue, internet? Have you had this year’s fill of laser beams tearing through hulls, venting oxygen and assorted organics into space? Are you somewhat tired of torpedoes, rockets and missiles? Perhaps that would explain the hardships facing Contested Space, the charmingly low-poly combat space sim Adam posted about a few weeks ago. Its aim is to start as a simple combat game with territorial mechanics, something akin to the very basics of Eve’s nullsec system, and then evolve into something systemy-er if its popularity is large enough.

To begin with it was after $26,000 and after a strong start looked sure to make it. It levelled off very quickly though, and now its future seems unsure, with a scant four days to go. Sole developer Matthew Haralovich has released a lot of content (including a demo) since our initial look, and you can check it all out below.

Mmm, pew and, indeed, pew. As well as the above trailer there’s been all sorts of custom ship designs from the community posted onto the Kickstarter updates page. There’s also your expected Greenlight page, boasting trailers and screenshots aplenty. Most importantly, however, is the prototype demo requiring both a connection when playing and a registered account due to connecting to the server to upload ship designs.

The ship designer is excellent, allowing everything from simple fighters to giant space stations to be created with ease. With enough skill (or a couple of algorithms) you’ll soon see fleets of pop-culture references coursing through the air. It’s simple to use, too, as seen in the trailer below. The mirror tool is simple but effective, letting even artistic dunces like me create something that doesn’t make the average humanoid want to vomit up his lungs. Most of all I think I love the strong colours, being the perfect ally to the blocky ships and giving each a distinctive style without, again, any artistic talent required.

Unfortunately, the game part isn’t nearly as impressive. It works as a concept and is fun for a few minutes, then the basic nature of it and dodgy stability let it down. Combined with the construction tools it wasn’t a mistake to release this early version in an attempt to garner more interest, but those who aren’t interested in the build-em-up side of things might be turned off. I’d recommend giving it a shot to see if overlooking it – perhaps in favour of the neigh-infinite number of spaceship Kickstarters in the past 12 months – was a mistake for you.


  1. Chuckleluck says:

    With the ship building part, doesn’t that just make it StarMade? There’s too much uncertainty here. Everyone’s promising a space game and the moon (no pun intended).

    • Zon says:

      Contested Space aims to live between building and open universe games. (Matthew Zvonimir Haralovich here.) I wanted to make a game where flying a ship is fun and intuitive, where everything is built by players, and where everything happens in one persistent universe. The prototype is a proof of concept with those goals in mind.

      I’ve been working on open universe mechanics now that flight and design have a good foundation. Warping from place to place has been working for a while, but it still needs some polish. That’s what we’ll be seeing next. Following warp I’ll be allowing players to place their own stations, and will start to work on the game’s economic foundation.

      Work on Contested Space will continue regardless of what happens with the Kickstarter campaign. However, things will progress much more quickly if the campaign succeeds. It’s going to be crazy, but we can still make it.

      • drakmaniso says:

        I’ve just tested the prototype, and though I like the concept and the art style, the ship control didn’t make it for me. It’s entirely built around mouse aiming, so it leads to the “turrets in space” kind of combat.

        Do you intend to add other flight models / control methods more appropriate for joystick users, or is it the end of it?

        Anyway, good luck for the final hours of the kickstarter!

        • Zon says:

          The game will have static forward mounted weapons eventually. You’ll also be able to switch to a first person camera. There will be some flexibility, but I couldn’t say if the flight stick experience will be great. It certainly won’t be as nice as something like Enemy Starfighter.

          Contested Space is designed around mouse and keyboard input. The smallest ships are 60 meters long. It’s more like you’re piloting a very fast boat as opposed to a fighter jet. Combat is more about positioning and dodging attacks than managing the ship’s exact flight mechanics. Players are more like capitans than pilots.

          • BSG11 says:

            Lowly backer here, flying more like a captain is what I’m looking for, so I’m happy to hear that.

            I played Starmade for a bit. How SM deals with ship creation is very different from how CS does it. If I want micromanage the build process down to harvesting all the right blocks, and then build the ship by hand, then sure, SM is your game. You are literally a dude in a space suit in SM, so your interaction with the game is at a pretty fundamental level/scale. But I think a lot of people don’t want that, especially if they’re looking to build large vessels. That’s why you have people importing designs into SM, because after a point the hands on building method of SM become a barrier that can only be crossed with time/obsession/dedication. And that’s not for everyone.

            In CS, best as I tell, you’re not really just intended to be one space guy. You’re more abstract, like a crew or company. Everything is at a more macro scale. Which is good, not everything needs to be like Minecraft in space.

            Matthew, if the current KS doesn’t meet its goal, what’s your next move?

          • steviebops says:

            Is that Unity based? I recognise the launcher window :)

            Best of luck with it, I hope to have something to show off too someday!

          • Zon says:

            Yeah, I made the game using Unity and a bunch of web development tools for the MMO/persistence stuff.

          • drakmaniso says:

            Thanks for your answer. I like the pilot/captain explanation! I’m definitely on the “pilot” side, though. Anyway, great work, I look forward to see how it turns out!

  2. HiFiHair says:

    I have such a fondness for those chunky polygonal explosion effects.

  3. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    It’s quite surprising how much fun block-based building becomes when you don’t have to run around and position an avatar to do so. The freedom to just BUILD is excellent. Sadly there does not appear to be an easy way to take screenshots, or I would have flooded Twitter with my creations.

    • Zon says:

      Press F12 and look in your documents folder. It’s another half implemented undocumented feature.

      As a bonus press the ` (or ~) key while flying a ship.

  4. Dominare says:

    Props to this guy for coming to answer questions about his game, I know firsthand any criticism of one’s pet project can be difficult to handle with as much grace.

  5. sabasNL says:

    Never thought I’d say this but… We now have TOO MANY spacegames….