Evac Shuttle: Space Station 13 Remake Open-Sourced

Shiny new medistuff.

Space Station 13 sits high on my list of Favourite Games I’ve Never Actually Played. When chums started talking about their space station adventures – mixing toxic drinks in the bar, turning people into clowns as a space-wizard, amputating crewmates’ bottoms to turn into autonomous cyborgs – I assumed they were talking about a pen & paper RPG. Nope. It’s a mystifyingly complex multiplayer sandbox, somewhat hindered by being built in a hacky way. I had hoped to jump onboard with its upcoming standalone remake, but development slowed over the years. With life imposing, the remakers have open-sourced their work so others can take over.

Space Station 13 is a strange and wonderful round-based game where each player is assigned a job from a list including security, quartermaster, captain, janitor, engineer, botanist, bartender, geneticist, and loads more, along with a few related-ish goals. That sounds quite orderly, but it supports terrible chaos with complex interactions between umpteen tools, items, and abilties. A round might see bar snacks made of deep-fried body parts and ID cards, someone rewriting the AI player’s governing laws of robotics in odd ways, swarms of space bees, a curious chemist blowing up half the station, and a hunt for a Thing-like changeling devouring people.

Quinns played it as a bartender a few years back – do have a read.

I’ve always been put off by tales of its learning curve and wonkiness, though. Space Station 13 is sorta hacked into an engine never meant to support anything like it, Byond, and suffers because of that. For several years, a team have been remaking it as a standalone game, hoping to make it more stable and versatile, but development slowed.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to dedicate enough time to work on this project full time,” the developers explained yesterday, as families, babies, jobs, and all that jazz happened. “We made a promise to open source the project if we ever decided to stop development. While this was a heated internal debate, the decision was ultimately to call it and go ahead.”

The source code is over here, if you want to tinker, and I’d be surprised if fans haven’t already grouped to pick up development. I do hope some will, anyway.

If you want to play ye olde Space Station 13, install Byond, find a server, read that variant’s wiki, and be prepared for confusion.

(While loads of variants exist on different servers, here I’ve mostly referred to Goonstation. Cared for by Something Awful Goons, it’s sort of the progenitor of most variants, and the one I know best because of this Let’s Play series.)

15 Comments

Top comments

  1. mlaskus says:

    I haven't played a lot of SS13 but of the few rounds that I've played, a bunch became some of my most cherished memories in gaming.

    My favourite was my first and only round when I got randomly picked as the bad guy, with the secret mission to assasinate the captain and to escape alive. I messed up, got locked up in jail and subsequently rescued by another traitor who taught me the basics of survival.
    I then proceeded to cause chaos, causing a game long manhunt by pretty much everyone on the station. Through sheer luck and superior weaponry I survived dozens of battles with security, constantly on the run through the maintance tunnels oif the station.
    All the time, the other traitor, could lesiurely gain access to the bridge, kill the captain and sabotage the station enough to doom it, no one else even realized there were two of us.
    When the station was falling apart and the rescue shuttle got scheduled, I got access to one of the research labs, where a lone scientist was working on something. One murder and body disposal later, I've had a new identity the security forces had no idea was compromised. I got rid of my weapons and other contraband too and proceeded to the shuttle.
    In front of it, I found the other traitor and revealed myself to him by quietly whispering. He was sure I died or got captured somewhere. We've had a good laugh about that and entered the shuttle together when it arrived.
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    Harlander says:

    I’m hopeful for at least one of the various SS13 remakes to be met with success. It’s such a great idea and makes a fun game, but, my god, that interface.. so… so terrible.

    • Catweasel says:

      Even worse than the interface, the all invasive lag that every server has. It drives me insane how clunky it makes everything. (although that can be part of the fun sometimes)

  2. Stuart Walton says:

    Last time I fired up SS13 I didn’t even play. It’s equally fun just to watch the chaos.

  3. mlaskus says:

    I haven’t played a lot of SS13 but of the few rounds that I’ve played, a bunch became some of my most cherished memories in gaming.

    My favourite was my first and only round when I got randomly picked as the bad guy, with the secret mission to assasinate the captain and to escape alive. I messed up, got locked up in jail and subsequently rescued by another traitor who taught me the basics of survival.
    I then proceeded to cause chaos, causing a game long manhunt by pretty much everyone on the station. Through sheer luck and superior weaponry I survived dozens of battles with security, constantly on the run through the maintance tunnels oif the station.
    All the time, the other traitor, could lesiurely gain access to the bridge, kill the captain and sabotage the station enough to doom it, no one else even realized there were two of us.
    When the station was falling apart and the rescue shuttle got scheduled, I got access to one of the research labs, where a lone scientist was working on something. One murder and body disposal later, I’ve had a new identity the security forces had no idea was compromised. I got rid of my weapons and other contraband too and proceeded to the shuttle.
    In front of it, I found the other traitor and revealed myself to him by quietly whispering. He was sure I died or got captured somewhere. We’ve had a good laugh about that and entered the shuttle together when it arrived.

  4. Zanchito says:

    I’ve tried SS13 a couple of times and bounced off really hard. The interface is terrible, there’s no clue as to how to get anything done, and it’s even more infuriating because I can clearly see a stellar multiplayer experience beyond it. Looking forward to someone doing something with the open sourced code.

    • Sebbatt says:

      Just keep trying, the first time i played it i had absolutely no idea of what i was doing, but eventually you get the hang of everything. also there’s a couple of good guides for new players on some of the wikis.

  5. amcathlan says:

    Oh yeah, this game’s a hoot. First time playing, walk out of the arrivals shuttle looking for someone to ask what a maintenance engineer was supposed to do. Surprisingly there are only two clowns looking out the window in the whole section I’m in. Approach them. One goes “honk honk”. I start typing. Before I’m done, the other one’s wacked me over the head with an empty oxygen cannister. And then they go to town on me, chasing me up and down the hallways, trying to brain me with said-cannister and some kind of food utensil. They manage to do just that, and as my character is lying on floor, fading in and out of consciousness (the game has a very cool consciousness system btw), they start dragging me all over the place, painting the hallways in my blood. *fade to black*. Though not permanently. Small glimpses reveal me lying on the floor somewhere completely different. Then some guy in a rad suit is dragging me somewhere. Hear bits of conversation “….not worth it..” “..don’t know. but the clown’s dead”. Next glimpse, I’m in some kind of bacta-tank-ish-thing, three people standing around in some kind of medical facility. I’m trying to communicate, but when I type “What the hell is up with those murdering clowns?” my character (in his semi-destroyed state) instead says something like “mmmruuuughh…hoshe. CLOWWNSS..Ghargh..mmUURDER”. Then I wake up (back to full function) in a bed with some lab technician standing near. I ask him what’s going on. He says they cloned me. Then I asked him a noobish question, to which he sniffs indignantly and walks out the room. leaving me with a bare ass in a gown and no ID card to open the door with. I’m trapped in there for a good while, forgotten, untill an alarm goes off, emergency lighting comes on and a voice announces that we should “Report to evactuation area”. I can’t, but a friendly little robot lets me out (under control of the AI, which is a player, not an AI). I proceed to get lost in a maintenance corridor, but I do find a window that lets me see the evacuation shuttle and the people gathered there. Then they leave, the station blows up and I join the dust of space. Was great!
    I highly recommend SS:13, but do read up on it, or you wont be able to take a leak in it without breaking the oxygen system for the entire station or something

  6. LogicalDash says:

    Just FYI, the sprites they were using for the remake, some of which are in the image for this article, have NOT been open sourced. The code repository only includes placeholder sprites.

  7. Somerled says:

    I played on Baystation 12 servers, which were (are?) known for being strict RP. That means the geneticist gets on right away with developing super powers in random crew members. The chemist slips hallucinogens into medication. The janitor slicks up high traffic areas. Security laces up its jack boots tight. And of course, monkey burgers in the bar.

    They were also all about developing new systems on the station. So we had a very complex (and laggy) atmosphere system, which made any minor hull breach a catastrophe. We had an engine with a complicated startup sequence, which meant playing more than a few rounds with backup power only due to the gaping hole in engineering. Injuries could be healed with surgery, which meant lots and lots of amputations and brain transplants.

    My only good story though is leading a successful revolution after finding out 30 minutes in that I’m the last rebel left (from a rightfully impatient admin). After quickly learning the ropes and getting a few people on my side, I’m caught and put in jail. I wail over the intercom for a long time until I’m finally sprung out by my comrades. We’re immediately corned by the fuzz only to knock them all out through sheer luck, including one of our targets. I proceed to bash his head in with the butt of my laser pistol, to everyone’s shock. Then I stalk the ship goading our last target over the intercom, who died a similarly gruesome death. I never played a traitor or revolutionary again.

  8. Tom De Roeck says:

    There are some RPS games going on. I believe the Planetside2 Giraffes are starting to schedule some games, and Im sure you could find some more in our Pen & Paper social clubs forum?

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

  9. Goonsy says:

    I have played two games ever. One game I tried to buy something from a vending machine. The vending machine fell on me causing both of my arms to fall off. While I was unconscious, I was fitted with robot arms, and assigned to be a security officer. I was robocop and I was so happy. Then I died from a depressurized room.

  10. supernorn says:

    Thanks for the write up, Alice!

    We’re going to be continuing to keep people up to date via our @spacestation13 twitter and of course the spacestation13.com website. We’re already seeing a lot of collaboration between the different branches, which is promising!

  11. Fritzy says:

    Looks like the active repo is actually here: link to github.com