The original Captain Forever, a browser-based game about blowing up hostile spaceships and nicking their parts to build your own, is a little bit special to me. Years back, it was my go to game in a school that had locked down access to most school-distraction providing websites - but I'd probably have played it for months on end even if the rest of the internet was open to me. Trying to destroy ships while also minimising damage to them was a blast, and improvising new designs from the resulting debris blended creativity with resourcefulness in a way that was deeply satisfying.
All of that made the upcoming launch of Captain Forever Trilogy excellent news to wake up to on a bleary Friday. It's a revamped version of the original game, its sequel (not Captain Forever: Remix) and its clone-creating spin off, with some fancy new wing modules and the minimalist story fleshed out and re-rewritten by Cassandra Khaw.
Cassandra Khaw's written for Sunless Skies, Failbetter's sequel to Sunless Sea. You might also have seen her words in creepy paper assemblages such as Hammers on Bone or A Song For Quiet. I expect Captain Forever is about to get about 150% more sinister.
In Captain Forever, you start out with a handful of parts and a couple of minutes to throw a basic ship design together. Then you fly off into the galaxy, encountering increasingly deadlier ships as you work your way up through tiers of weapons, hulls and boosters. Everything you can get your hands on is important, though the only thing that truly matters is your cockpit module - lose that, and you have to start over. Look, you can still play it for free.
Solo dev 'Farbs' has shifted everything over to a new renderer, allowing for "glorious full screen, high framerate, GPU accelerated glory". That's a lot of glorious glory, but Farb deserves to be indulged. In that spirit, here's some info on the new wing modules from his blog:
"While working on something totally unrelated I saw how much wing shapes opened up spaceship design, and I thought damn, I wish I’d known that when I built Captain Forever. Then I remembered that I’m still building Captain Forever, in so much as I’m rebuilding it anyway. So I added space wings! Of course, space wings make no sense and decorative modules would starkly oppose the CF design, so… they’re shields. Which totally works. Think of them as ablative shielding for re-entry, serving double duty as laser fire absorbers. They’re lightweight and can take a lot of damage, but you can’t anchor other modules to them so they don’t replace girders. I think they’re pretty neat!"
Farbs also mentions that he's redesigned some of the other modules, and that "7 years on CF is finally starting to look like it did in my head back when I started building it."
Those wings will be in the Captain Successor and Captain Imposter parts of Captain Forever Trilogy, but not the revamped version of Captain Forever that's in Captain Forever Trilogy. That version of Captain Forever has still been souped up, but serves as a vanilla counterpoint to the more varied modules floating around Captain Successor. Simple, right?
For some reason Captain: Remix never grabbed me, and I only found out CS and CI existed today. I've no doubt nostalgia is heavily contributing to my excitement about playing an improved version of Captain Forever when Trilogy comes out on May 22nd, but I'm also certain that the game will be fun independently of that nostalgia boost. I remember getting up to tricks like manoeuvring so that two enemy ships would tear each other apart, or wedging my tiny ship in a much more powerful one and whittling it down while it helplessly spun around.
I'm looking forward to getting stuck in again.
Disclosure: Cassandra Khaw used to write our Bargain Bucket column.