This is my second space-set Kickstarter of the day, so apologies for that if you prefer orcs and elves to crumbling moons and sleek starfighters. Contested Space is a game of intergalactic conflict, in which every ship has been customised by the human at its helm. The campaign stands out in the crowd-funding crowd due to the seemingly sensible iterative approach to design - the first task is to build a game in which players can construct vessels and engage in combat, conquering territory for their alliance. If players linger and subscribe (at $5 a month, 1,026 would be needed to cover costs) the game will expand, allowing for the development of economies and social structures. For now, combat and construction are the important elements though, and you can see them below.
The persistent universe is central to Contested Space's aims. With the initial release, planned before the end of this year, players will join one of three alliances and engage in laser-duels for supremacy.
At first Contested Space will be about territory control. Players will pick from one of three predefined alliances. These alliances will compete to control locations in orbit where stations can be built. Players that defend or capture territory will be rewarded with credits that can be used to build space stations or buy better ships.
The game will launch with three different ship sizes along with a suite of weapons and abilities to go along with them. Players will have a skill progression that will grant them modest bonuses as they gain experience.
With the basics working - and keep in mind that 'the basics' are a complex space combat simulation containing hundreds of players - Contested Space will be free to grow. The world will become increasingly detailed, with new ways to express dominance and interact within and between alliances.
There's a pleasing parallel. The initial launch may well represent the conflicts of early pioneers, fighting for resources and land. As new features arrive, societies will develop and find new and interesting ways to trouble their own members, and those who oppose them. Give it a few years and Contested Space might well have politicians, sending new players into unwinnable wars, making shady deals behind the scenes.
For now, it's the pew-pew and the lock-on of a deadly missile barrage that will provide the intrigue.
Contested Space gives players direct control of their ship. Every shot and missile is physically simulated and must be carefully aimed. Ships range from lumbering battleships a kilometer long to nimble frigates only 60 meters long.
I'm a nimble frigate man myself.
Twenty six days to go and $26,000 is the target. At the time of writing, around $7,500 has already been pledged.