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Fleet Battles And Friendly AI: Shallow Space

Certainly makes me shallow a har har (it's a pretty video game)

Luigi had his fun; this is the year of space. Unlike Luigi, space is infinite and not a plumber. Space is strong, like ox, only much bigger and filled with giant bits of metal throwing lasers at one another. Shallow Space is an RTS focused on fleet command and larger battles, with creator James Martin citing Homeworld and Nexus: The Jupiter Incident as influences. It’s very much there, looking familiar in UI and control mechanisms, as well as the bulky ships and piercing beams. But where it varies – procedural generation throughout the campaign, for example – is what’s caught my eye.

There’s a backstory, written by John Harper (who’s also doing one of the new Elite books), of a far-flung humanity on the other side of the galaxy once Earth was used up. The player belongs to the new government which is contending with mega-corporations and pirates for peace on and arounds its eight colonies. Boo. Just once I’d like to be the evil banker.

Anyway, that all means you’re moving about the nearby space sectors of the eight colonies as problems pop up. These will take the form of both random encounters and storyline missions, sometimes several at once as you coordinate different battle groups. Just the lightest touch of grand strategy in my Homeworld? Don’t mind if I do, sir. Everything in-mission will be randomly generated too: where ships start, objective locations and the like. All sound a bit complex? James is programming a quite hefty AI to take some of the strain off players who don’t feel like micromanaging it all. He’s detailed it in a number of posts recently.

The game’s up on Greenlight if you’d like to see more, though has already run the gauntlet so there’s no voting to do. The full run-down of the project’s plans is in the announcement post from last month and the latest update is over here. I’m looking forward to seeing more, particularly how much prettier it manages to get and what the consequences of all this procedural generation are.

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Ben Barrett


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