DevLog Watch: Space Death, Curious Expedition, Firewatch

Patch notes

DevLog Watch v0.0.09
– Fixed recurring bank holiday Monday freeze bug.
– Added games from places other than the TIGSource forum.
– Added game from the TIGSource forum.
– Double-checked games for juvenile hate speech.
– Temporarily cut ‘archive’ section.
– BUG: Intro text gimmicks still need work.

Spaceships! Procedural butterflies! And have you heard about the Firewatch sasquatch?

Space Death

“We’re running a 4th order Runge Kutta simulation for our orbital mechanics.”

*gasp* You monsters!

Space Death is, according to its little blurb, a “game of starship design and the many ways to accidentally kill your crew.” It’s your job to manage both the people and systems aboard your spaceship.

I like the texture of certain sentences, and development logs provide frequent opportunities for rolling words around your mouth like salted toffees. Runge Kutta simulations aren’t designed to discern whether or not you’re a robot, but “are an important family of implicit and explicit iterative methods, which are used in temporal discretization for the approximation of solutions of ordinary differential equations.” Thanks, Wikipedia.

Basically, while other space games worry about aliens or trade, Space Death is more concerned with the innate dangers of space travel: re-entry sequences, rapid decompression, Sandra Bullock’s butterfingers. It’s a little bit Kerbal, a little bit FTL, but it looks more likely to dynamically create Apollo 13 than any other space game I know of.

Which doesn’t mean it’s not science-fiction, or that there won’t be other ships out there in the void.

Encounters with other ships and stations in Space Death range from friendly exchanges and crew hiring through to more challenging moral dilemmas. Often this can result in ship to ship combat, and as all ship are assemblies of two metre square blocks, weapons and lasers will smash through the ships leaving a trail of secondary effects such as fuel leaks…

Its devlog is already 12 pages long and already fascinating: whether for concept art; wise explanations; or pre-vis intro cutscenes.

Time to die. (In space).

The Curious Expedition

Curious Expedition is a roguelike about late 19th century expeditions into uncharted territory. It stars famous figures like Tesla, Darwin, Crowley, and dinosaurs. It also, as of a recent devlog update, includes procedurally generated butterflies.

Darwin would approve.

The butterflies exist so that taxonomy can be part of the game in some capacity, which is just a wonderful thing to be able to write about any videogame.

But the same post also provides a tantalising, too-small glimpse at how they’re keeping the game focused:

After participating in the Ludum Dare game jam we decided to take a step back and strip out everything out that was not directly related to what we considered to be part of the core.

After finding a version that worked how we wanted, we started adding back the features of the “full” version, always in context to the core. This helped a lot, the process is ongoing and we feel that we currently have the best version of the game since we started working on it.


Thus far I’ve mainly used this column to highlight games that haven’t been mentioned elsewhere on RPS, but need it be that way? Firewatch is a first-person game being made by Campo Santo, an indie development team formed by errybody from errything. That pedigree meant that we noticed the game when it was announced.

Just because they’re not total rookies, that doesn’t mean the Firewatch devlog is any less interesting. There’s a recent post about code that I don’t fully understand but enjoyed reading anyway, but really I’m in it for this:

There are a bunch more of these first-person animation tests in this post, and golly I hope there’s more to come. In the meantime I’ll settle for the range of other content on the blog, whether concept art from Olly Moss, information (and GIFs) on surface rendering, or a recipe for blueberry pie.

In short

  • Folk Tale is in early Early Access, but the devlog for the Settlers-alike is detailed and fun reading.
  • I won’t post all of these, but the latest Citybound video update has more on road layouts.
  • Ultima Ratio Regum, the 4X roguelike inspired by Borges, continues development. The latest update details city districts and procedurally generated shop signs.


  1. Luke says:

    Intro text gimmicks are definitely a feature and not a bug, at this point.

  2. Gap Gen says:

    Leapfrog integrator, mothercuddlers. Runge-Kutta gonna get cut. And rung, I dunno. Whatever, it’s not explicitly energy-conserving.

  3. Geebs says:

    Sticking together a few handmade parts isn’t really all that procedural.

    Does the Apollo-13ness of Space Death include catching space-STDs from space-Kevin Bacon?

    • Harlander says:

      Sticking together a few handmade parts isn’t really all that procedural.

      Sure it is. Procedural generation doesn’t have to build things ex nihilo in every case, it’s enough to be distinct from making each unique thingy by hand.

      Anyhow, proceduralness of butterfly generation aside, I’ve been pretty keen on Curious Expedition for a while, even though I’d forgotten what it was called >.>

    • glowingslab says:

      Hi, glowingslab here – one of the developers of Space Death. As another commenter says, the ships aren’t procedural themselves but hopefully interesting situations will develop from the interaction of the crew and the ship. The crew are given roles but will carry out their functions autonomously, similar to good ol’ Dwarf Fortress. That’s the plan anyway!

      • Cvnk says:

        Your project is very similar to one I’ve long wished I could bring to fruition. I refered to it as a “capital ship simulator” and a lot of what I see on your blog reminds me of many of the features I imagined for such a game (lots of cool UI for running a starship, focus on management and tactics, complex systems, etc.). Here’s hoping you pull it off because I’d love to play that game some day.

        • glowingslab says:

          Thanks a lot, it’s heartening to hear that. Space Death is the game I always wanted someone to make too! I would describe it as having elements of Kerbal SP and Dwarf Fortress, with a little bit of Silent Hunter and Missile Command.

  4. Dozer says:

    Runge Kutta! Memories of modelling/simulation from my doomed mechanical engineering degree. That was one of the most interesting parts of it for me.

  5. jonahcutter says:

    Kerbal + FTL sounds excellent.

    One of my favorite experiences in gaming was when a plan didn’t pan out in Kerbal. My second attempt at a Mun trip (we won’t talk about the first) was successful, but I ran out of fuel on the way home. So I sent out an unmanned probe to rescue my Kerbal (and his precious science).

    I plotted an intercept and got the probe within four kilometers and on a similar trajectory, but was dangerously low on fuel. So I had old Bill abandon ship and traverse the 4k of open space to the probe, not even knowing if the game would let me do this. Having to match velocity between my exposed, little space-walking Kerbal and the distant probe was intense. It was an incredibly fun experience and immensely satisfying when I pulled it off.

    Games can be truly magical in their own unique way, in those type of improvisational, emergent moments.

    Now throw in some FTL-type ship emergencies and alien hi-jinks along with the Kerbal-style reality-based, space travel and I might well fall in love.

  6. The Random One says:

    How is Ultima Ratio Regum inspired by Borges again?

  7. DanMan says:

    Firecrotch? Did someone say firecrotch? Anyone?

  8. Oozo says:

    As good an opportunity as any to mention that The Campo Santo Quaterly, Vol. 2, was just released.
    It’s again written by Duncan “Ombudsman” Fyfe, one of the most entertaining and gifted writers dealing with this medium. Even though he’s not actually dealing with videogames all that much, but you can learn about a guy who was struck more by lightning than any other living person, and what graphic designer Olly Moss would be like as a D&D character.

    YMMV, but I really heart the fact that the basically just pay a good writer to shoot the shit — enough to be interested in the game, to be honest.