A Look Inside The Objects In Space Cockpit

Objects In Space [official site] is the upcoming space trading game from Metrocide developers Flat Earth Games. They’ve just revealed the game’s first footage trailer that labels it a “stealth space trading game where you’ll navigate your ship as though it were a submarine, instead of fly it like it were a plane.” In practice, this means far less outlandish physics in the skies and more considered, meticulous strategy in the engine room.

What’s more, Flat Earth reckon you can build your own ship consoles to work with the game, if that’s what you’re into.

Here, fasten your goggles on this:

Lots of intriguing information to wrap your noggin around there, furnished with a retro-inspired, sort-of-like Papers, Please aesthetic. Speaking to the make-your-own-equipment idea, developer Flat Earth Games said this on their blog:

“You’ll be able to build your own ship consoles and have them interface directly with the game! To prove it, we build a few of our own and have them on the show floor at PAX [Australia]. Using a virtual serial port, you can have Objects in Space trigger buttons, LEDs or switches, allowing you to literally build your very own ship from scratch. If you’re in Melbourne, come check it out for yourself at the PAX show floor!”

They also posted an image of their DIY setup:

Cool, eh? There’s more on how all that was put together here. If any of our Melbourne-based (Melbournian? Melbournite? Melbournatron?) friends manage along to PAX Australia, I’d love to hear how this looks/works in person.

Objects in Space is due out for Windows, Mac and Linux in 2016.


  1. Ansob says:

    This looks fantastic. There’s a real dearth of more sim-y space games in all this current space sim revival stuff.

    • 0positivo says:

      And I have to say, I’m all for it. Can never get enough space sim-y games

    • dogoncrook says:

      Rogue system is worth a look if Sims are more your thing. Has dcs vibe and is trying to stick to reality as much as possible. It’s still very early in development, but taking a tour of a system is doable, and I haven’t tried it but there is a combat mission. For such an early alpha it’s pretty bug free.

      Definitely do some research before you buy though. The dev is very upfront about the project, but what it will ultimately be is uncertain at this point in terms of scope.

  2. neotribe says:

    Hoo, boy. This could be amazing.

    • neotribe says:

      Also, upon brief consideration, I hope there’s support for running the in-ship displays in full screen, as well as support for auxillary displays on phones and tablets (VNC?) and not just switches and blinkenlights via serial dongles. It’d be nice to do away with the interface shown and be able to assign the actual ship displays to actual devices. Your desk IS your bridge.

  3. Phydaux says:

    I’ve always felt like a space sim should be more hide and seek than dog fights. With the majority of the your time spend evading situations than causing them. Looking forward to this one.

    (BTW the 2nd link in the opening sentence is broken)

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      I’d like a Silent Hunter in Space please.
      The Cold Space War is about to turn into a Warm war, Space Vietnam World War 2 after the Martian Union station IPBM’s on The Moon. Earth’s only last hope is the Space Sub Wolves to atom torpedo Marsxist shipping and break the Space Blockade.

      (Not a space sub, but: link to youtube.com)

  4. LogicalDash says:

    “virtual serial port” — so, MIDI, I guess? Mixing boards already look like something you’d find in a spaceship, so it fits.

    • LogicalDash says:

      We need a mode that pipes each monitor visible in-game into one video output from the computer. If you’re a weirdo with four real screens plugged in, your desk should just BE your cockpit.

    • neotribe says:

      Also, virtual serial port might just mean serial-over-usb?

      • JiminyJickers says:

        USB is serial, as in Universal Serial Bus. The term virtual serial is definitely confusing.

        • neotribe says:

          Yeah, yeah, but c’mon. In shorthand serial means RS-232 (COM ports) and USB is USB. As I think about it, ‘virtual serial port’ might also mean COM redirection over the network. I think I’ve heard it used that way in the Linux context w/r/t serial port servers.

  5. 0positivo says:

    Dare I say how much more atmospheric this little gem looks compared to about 80% of the space games out there?

  6. Christo4 says:

    If only you could fly a death star and press a red button to blow up a planet.
    Then find out that it was actually the self destruct button and it got stuck so you can’t cancel it.

  7. LegendaryTeeth says:

    Could be pretty awesome making your own cockpit controls with something like this: link to palettegear.com

    • neotribe says:

      Woah, those controls look cool. There’s also still X-Keys (I think?), plus the PCI-board based solutions that sim-pit builders have been using forever. And, these days, Arduino and the like.

    • unacom says:

      And its laughably cheap too!

  8. Viroso says:

    Thank you.

  9. kuangmk11 says:

    And linux! I hate rebooting to play games.

  10. Ufofighter says:

    The nerd inside me makes me say “there’s no stealth in space!”. That said… my god that looks wonderful.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Romulan cloaking technology begs to differ.


    • Zenicetus says:

      There is stealth in space, and you don’t even need cloaking technology. You just have to be far enough away that lightspeed delay = indeterminate position.

      In the initial search phase of a space combat encounter, two ships might be much further away from each other than the distance from the Earth to the Moon, and that’s already something like a 1.28 second time delay in the sensor picture. If you’re 18 million km away from an enemy ship, then you have a full minute of time to maneuver away from where the enemy thinks you are (if I did the math right). Even further away at interplanetary travel distances, the “stealth field” gets even larger. Of course you have to be moving really fast to take advantage of it, but that would be essential for a combat ship anyway.

      Combat tactics using lightspeed delay have been written about for years in sci fi literature. Alastair Reynolds uses it in a few of his novels and short stories. I’ve always thought that would be a great tactic to have in a space combat game, but I’ve never seen anyone use it.

      • mike2R says:

        You could also have more traditional stealth technology – spacecraft designed to absorb EM radiation so that they don’t reflect active radar type sensors (or starlight).

        And the craft’s own emissions could be minimised – using engines that have little or any EM signature, and capturing generated heat in internal heat sinks, before radiating it away in a controlled fashion away from potential observers, are ideas I’ve come across in sci-fi novels.

        • Shadow says:

          Heat signature is definitely what’d give spaceships away, and the thing is you don’t usually know -where- there might be observers (ships all over the place in this case), heatsinks have limited capacity and you can’t be storing heat indefinitely.

          So besides the existence of stealth in well-travelled star systems, there’s the absolute inexistence of orbital dynamics. Kerbal Space Program ruined that for me: a ship can’t just move with total freedom, with a complete disregard of the gravitational pull celestial bodies exert. Not without unfeasibly high fuel stores.

          But all that said, I appreciate the originality of this concept and would be willing to suspend disbelief.

        • K_Sezegedin says:

          I bet you’d be so concerned with getting rid of heat that there’d be little attention paid to trying to hide it from an observer.

          I mean, cooling in space is hard, a high powered craft would probably have huge radiators.

          Maybe space combat would focus on knocking those off.

    • K_Sezegedin says:

      What does the nerd in you think about that tiny nebula?

  11. jonahcutter says:

    Looks fantastic. I love simmy space.

    They should do a crossover with Deadnauts for away party control.

    • pauleyc says:

      Personally I would suggest Star Crawlers as the away team combo game. Anyway, this game reminds me very much of Omnitrends’ Rules of Engagement (specifically 2, which was possible to pair with Breach 2).

  12. tr76 says:

    Was I the only one who read that title as ‘A Look inside the Objects in ‘Space Cockpit’

  13. Ufofighter says:

    But that’s not stealth, you would be aware of the other ship’s presence as soon as your ship’s sensors could notice the radiation emissions of the other ship, even the sun’s rays hitting the hull would be easily noticeable over the empty space background, and every maneuver to change course would increase the emissions. After that it’s just a matter of firepower and speed ¿Can the attacker close the gap (and the sensor’s delay) before the other reaches a safe place?

    Didn’t know about Alastair Reynolds (added to my list now) but the Lost Fleet Saga features relativistic tactics too in a (more or less) realistic way.

    • Risingson says:

      Alastair Reynolds, like most scifi, is a bunch of great ideas wrapped with so so narration. Worth a read though.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Yeah, Reynolds is not very good at characterization and dialogue, but it’s enough to move the plot forward. His ideas are great, and as a former research astronomer with the ESA his stories are usually well-grounded in physics and plausible future tech. In most of his stories the spaceships work within lightspeed limits, which is refreshing.

        @ Ufofighter:
        It may not be how stealth is usually thought of, but it does have some interesting effects on tactics. No tight beam energy weapons unless you’re close enough for a reliable sensor picture. Combat would probably be mostly fast seeker missiles, and even that gets less effective if the ships are getting closer to lightspeed (the missiles can’t move any faster either). Throwing your trash overboard at a pursuing ship becomes a weapon. :)

        It’s interesting that this Objects in Space game looks like it’s using missiles and not energy weapons, which sort of fits that theme, even if they’re not using relativistic tactics.

    • Flatley says:

      First of all, mitigation of reflected EM signals is the entire principle of modern “stealth” technology. If we can design a stealthy aircraft, it is obvious that we can design a stealthy spacecraft: No pesky wings or control surfaces to worry about.

      As far as maneuvering goes, there are two choices: Either maneuver the craft to shield thermal emissions from any perceived threat (yes, you can adjust your attitude without thrusters) or use a non-emitting source such as a cold gas monopropellant. (The first choice is probably better).

      Finally, and most obviously, any fight in space is most likely going to be a fight near a planet or moon, which will give each side a large amount of time to maneuver while masked by the planet.

      In sum, it’s much easier to be stealthy in space than in either the air or the water.

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        I’m not sure fighting near a planet or a moon makes sense in space – if you’re defending letting the attacker get that close with that level of tech lets them inflict huge damage on your planet. And if you’re not defending the planet there’s no reason for either side to spend all the energy going there when you can just head direct to whatever they are defending. But then I’m not sure defending a planet would even be possible, you know where its going to be so strap some engines and guidance on some comets and asteroids and it’d be pretty hard to stop.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Interplanetary wars would be over pretty quickly without space-UN regulations in a FTL capable universe. Even a smallish 1000kg mass near c is 10 Gigaton TNT equivalent to anything unfortunate enough to suddenly stop it.
          Although while flinging that, interplanetary and interstellar space isn’t entirely empty and contains a lot of pesky micrometeoroids, cosmic dust and radiation, stray particles etc.

      • Ufofighter says:

        This is a topic largely discussed by Sci-Fi fans so I will link this in case anyone is interested, just a warning, the text is a bit condescending:

        link to projectrho.com

        But the short answer is: if you respect the laws of physics it seems to me that is completely impossible because 100% efficient processes don’t exist, so you will always generate heat, easily noticeable againt the deep space background. High absorptance materials generate infrared emissions when they absorb radiations (actually they reflect some and generate some while absorbing), a theoretical heat sink with 99.9% efficiency still can’t hide the 0.1%, radar-absorving materials are just able to reduce the returning “echo”, etc.

        Also your late statement is wrong in my opinion (not a defense specialist here, just an engineer), is easier to hide something in a thick and turbulent enviroment, nuclear submarines just have to hide their noise, water helps with everything else; meanwhile planes have to hide their heat, radar firm and stay out of sigh, by having good desing and using the terrain. Space doesn’t help with anything except if you are behind some big cosmic body, asumming there’s only one sensor in the system.

        That said, I love the “submarine in space” concept and I will buy the game as soon as it’s launched.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      Big assumptions about your detection ability there – we still haven’t reliably mapped all the near earth objects and we’ve been working on that for years with earth based sensors – in space you have to fit that sensor on a ship then go looking. So granted you’ll probably spot something near and bright pretty quickly, but while things further away will be obvious if you know where to look just sucking in enough data and sorting through it becomes an issue. Sub combat is probably a reasonable approach – sneak in quietly and hope you don’t get seen before you launch your attack then try and get out again.

      • Ufofighter says:

        About this, a signal detected outside our solar system.

        link to nrao.edu

        “Voyager’s main transmitter shines at a feeble 22 watts, which is comparable to a car-mounted police radio or — in visible light — a refrigerator light bulb. Though incredibly weak by the standards of modern wireless communications, Voyager’s signal is astoundingly bright when compared to most natural objects studied by radio telescopes.”

        • Ufofighter says:

          No edit function:(
          Well at least is slightly related

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          Yes, but we know where it is and have a whopping great radar antenna pointed at it. Just putting a receiver like that on a spaceship would be a huge job and then its highly directional, if you’re looking for something in a space battle you need an omni-directional receiver and then you have to process all the data it generates, neither of which is trivial and it gets exponentially harder the further out you need to look.

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            Thinking about it a bit more – excluding various magic techs you’d probably want to sneak in-system in something big and quite, maybe dressed up as a comet or asteroid and hide out in a belt or ring system, then launch smart drones along potential intercept paths (possibly they communicate to triangulate targets/possibly that would gives them away so they stay silent) once they spot a target they launch volley of guided missiles, rinse and repeat until you think you got everyone.

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            Also on detection, there could be earth sized planets out in the Oort cloud we still haven’t spotted. I expect knowing where to look will be the real question.

          • Ufofighter says:

            If the only problem is obtaining and processing data then there’s no problem, we already know how to do that, just look at the digital-cameras or the thermographic ones, I spent half of my annual income to buy one ten years ago, now you can own a much better for less than 1000€ and I’m talking about “civilian” tech. Now developing a hundred meters ship with power plants able to move thousand of tons of high tech equipment at relativistic speeds without emitting the radiation of a low energy lamp in any spectre, that’s something.

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            You’re going to need a bit more than a handheld camera. Think of it this way, we’ve currently devoted a bunch of ground based (meaning they can be big and energy intensive) receivers on earth to trying to track the near earth objects that might hit us, and we know we still haven’t got anywhere near close to finding them all after several -years- of looking. The physics also mean that if you want to have good resolution the equipment will be large. All of which means you ship has to get bigger if you want to find anything. And the processing is important because the longer it takes the more out of date your targeting information is, and that quickly becomes a problem at ranges where the information is already getting old when you detect it. I don’t think its so much a question of being stealthy in the radar absorbing camouflage sense but rather avoiding being looked at too closely.

            All this applies to in system ranges of course if you’re looking at relativistic speeds I’m not sure combat is even really feasible (Reynolds’ chase and pursuit in Redemption Ark perhaps) – and our current understanding of physics gets tossed out the window then anyway (pushing a ship of any size to relativistic speeds requires a ridiculous amount of energy).

          • froz says:

            I’ll just put it here:

            link to projectrho.com

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            Seen it before, still think they’re overestimating detection capabilities – its the gap between theoretically possible and realistic.

  14. Ufofighter says:

    ^^ This was a reply to Zenicetus, sorry.

  15. GWOP says:


  16. WeeMadAndo says:

    I played it at PAX on Friday. The few minutes that the scenario allowed showed some of the mechanics. Running the reactor (“noisy”) vs running off batteries (“quiet”). Deciding how long you want to wait for a firing solution to be developed, which doesn’t take *that* long, but if you’re trying to intercept an inbound missile it might be better to try and get off a few low percentage shots, rather than risk waiting for a higher percentage one. Nebulas, and asteroid fields have pros, and cons for operating within them. In the scenario played, it seems that being in a nebula masks your emissions more than it blocks incoming, making it a good ambush location.

    The way the pseudo Newtonian physics work, combined with the limitations on the autopilot means that manual control in combat is a big advantage. But of course, that then means you have to constantly be flicking between consoles.

    I’m not sure how much more depth they’ll add to the combat layer, which at the moment is fairly simple (countermeasures, decoys etc could be good), but it plays very nicely. It really did feel like you were managing some crazy future retro ship.

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    phuzz says:

    It reminds me a lot of the control panels some people have been creating to play Kerbal Space Program, there’s loads of them.

  18. ADinVA says:

    Definitely Melbournian, although I’d be willing to go with Melbournatron. Make it so. RPS can do that, right?

  19. Catweasel says:

    I need it.

  20. wombat191 says:

    looks interesting and ill probably pick it up

    it would be nice if developers would drop the retro 1986 font and ui for a change. it just makes it harder to see and make out

  21. Chris says:

    Harpon in space? Take my money already!

  22. Maxheadroom says:

    It looks like something Microprose would have put out in 1985 in a box with a 3 inch thick manual.

    I’m not taking the piss, I really miss those days..

  23. Lieutenant Thrawn says:

    Looks really nice, reminds me of an updated Privateer a bit. Which isn’t a bad thing! Also, it seems some of you raw recruits have forgotten that all spacecraft have the potential of “cloaking technology” in space. I don’t think you would find it particularly easy to locate a relatively small matte black painted ship with all its electrical systems switched off until you were very, very close to it. No cloaking device required. With this in mind, the potential of “Silent Hunter in Space” should hopefully be taken up by more developers, but the progress is painfully slow, isn’t it? I mean, games other than Elite Dangerous, that is.

  24. froz says:

    Umm, nebula inside a planetary system? And blind spot at the back? and apparently everything is 2D… And some call that a sim…

    • mukuste says:

      To quote a bit from the official homepage:

      The engines. The computers. Every module that would make the ship work. We knew it needed to be complicated – not just ‘redirect power to weapons’, but a system which would fully simulate virtual reactors (nuclear, of course), batteries, VASIMR ion drives, RCS suites for rotational movement and even sensor systems (three kinds – active/passive radar, magnetic and gravitic).

      Most definitely a sim, though not in the way you mean it.