NEO Scavenger Dev Is Making A Spaceship Crew Management Game

NEO Scavenger was one of our favourite games of 2014. Now its creator, Daniel Fedor, is working on his next game, and he says it’s a “mashup of Starflight, Prison Architect, and some Firefly.” That is, it’s about top-down ship and crew management in a hard sci-fi universe.

Fedor has been blogging about the project at his site. For example, in this post he writes about how he’s thinking of representing equipment in the game, using a nuclear reactor as an example.

First, it gives players a chance to tinker with ship designs in a more meaningful way. Instead of swapping “fusion reactor mk1” out and replacing it with “fusion reactor mk2,” they can fine-tune the performance of their ship to their own tastes. Games like EVE Online allow ship mods, but they’re limited to a few hardpoints and off-the-shelf systems. Gearheads like to get in there and mess with the guts.

Second, this makes failure more interesting. “How did your last character die?” “Well, the Lithium tank blew when we were en route to Jupiter, unloading gas all over the engine room. We were able to contain it by locking the room down, but the pressure drop caused radiation to start escaping the reactor. We either had to shut down the reactor and hope for a rescue, or limp with an unshielded reactor and hope we survived the rads…”

“We didn’t.”

Aside from your ship, the plan is also to simulate your crew, their needs and fears, and how they react in different situations in space. So far, Fedor has settled on a list of needs that includes security, friendship, sex, family, intimacy, privacy, achievement, and half a dozen others that might prompt your crew to behave in undesirable ways while on long voyages. “I’d like for each NPC to have different needs and preferences, so that managing a crew is also about finding the right mix of people and making sure they don’t kill each other,” Fedor writes in the comments.

It sounds as if every part of the game will be presented with a similar level of fidelity. In another post, Fedor outlines his thoughts on crew sleep patterns, and how he’s created a system to roughly mimic what melatonin does so he have crew dynamically sleep and produce effects like jet lag. In his words, “Neat!”.

There’s no release date for the game yet – there’s no name yet – but it sounds like a game I want to play. To close, here’s a GIF of its lighting model in action:

22 Comments

  1. almostDead says:

    I hope he either changes or hires someone to deal with the UI as this is a real weak point for his previous game for me.

    • TheChaya says:

      I could get by with a shoddy UI if the game delivers depth. It is a very important part of any game, but I’d make it low priority on a title like this.

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        Dorga says:

        Also neo’s ui was only terrifying on the surface, it was actually quite easy to use.

    • SuperCaffeineDude says:

      UI was clunky, late game it made things quite tedious, but I think it just comes with the territory with an inventory management game like NS, hopefully this sees some streamlining sounds great on paper. The look of the game has me excited but I’d love to know more about how the game will play (turnbased? one character?).

    • Kvart says:

      I have to agree with this. I know that the game can still have real depths and i’m sure I could have great experiences with it if I could ignore it, but I just couldn’t look at the UI in neo scavenger. For me there is definetly a minimum of acceptability when it comes to an interface I have to look at for a longer period of time. I know it can sound a bit vain, and maybe I have been spoiled by the minimalistic and light designs you see everywhere these days, but from a development perspective it should’nt cost much for a simple clear design. But I guess it’s a taste issue aswell.

  2. Frings says:

    “Aside from your ship, the plan is also to simulate your crew, their needs and fears, and how they react in different situations in space.”

    YES. This sounds like my dream space game, not what the “space game” genre tends to aim to deliver. I just want more of a “personal” experience, I think – caring about my crew and managing them ranks higher for me than anything else. Give me Firefly-esque crew dynamics and character/story-driven missions (even if randomized) and I’m sold.

    That being said, it’s hard finding games that focus on things like that rather than shooting things in space or just trading. I was recently interested in Cosmonautica because of the crew management aspect, but haven’t gotten around to trying it. Does anyone happen to have other recommendations?

    • crowleyhammer says:

      Have a look at the Mandate: link to mandategame.com

      It has some of what you are after regarding crew management although it may be a slightly bigger scale than what you are after.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      Give me Firefly-esque crew dynamics and character/story-driven missions (even if randomized) and I’m sold.

      I would love a spaceship RPG that expanded on FTL’s ship/crew combat and controls.

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Hooray, somebody working on an original idea that’s actually interesting. I just hope they don’t go the FTL route of taking a really good core mechanic and shoving nothing but random encounters at you.

    • CaidKean says:

      Heard of SPACE DEATH? It was covered once, long ago, here on RPS.

      link to spacedeath.net

      Similar concept.

      • glowingslab says:

        Thanks for the mention! One of the developers here. We’re hard at work on Space Death, and hoping to get a demo into player’s hands later this year.

        • Cvnk says:

          Looking forward to it. Your minimalist yet tantalizing updates have been part of my Feedly since I first read about you on RPS.

  4. kulik says:

    Hope it will have Atmos.

  5. rexx.sabotage says:

    Spoiler: Some Spacedudes are gonna die, horribly.

  6. Sin Vega says:

    One of my dream games that never seems to happen is all about managing people on a spaceship. There’s so much potential it puzzles me a little that nobody really touches it much.

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    heretic says:

    I realise it’s early in development but from the excerpts of the dev log it certainly sounds intruiguing, looking forward to this!

  8. jonfitt says:

    Well darn. This is almost exactly one of the two games I have had mulling around in my head for several years in a “one day I’ll make this” kind of way. I thought FTL had come along and done it, but in the end it wasn’t what I had in my mind. This sounds a lot more like it.

    Oh well, that’s what procrastination gets me.

    • finc says:

      Get in touch with the dev and offer your ideas! You never know…

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      Wisq says:

      Yup, same here. Was going to be more akin to Dwarf Fortress, probably including ASCII-esque (moddable) graphics (because I’m not a graphics person).

      But, I’m happier playing games than creating them (so far), so I’m happy enough with this outcome. And who knows, maybe I’ll still have enough unique ideas to be worth doing anyway.

  9. Tacroy says:

    Wait so is Neo Scavenger finished? Huh, I should go back to it – I remember there not being much of a conclusion.

  10. cloudnein says:

    Still waiting for a SS13 spiritual sequel.

  11. dcfedor says:

    Oh crap. You mean, now I have to actually finish this thing?