Simon Roth's space colony sim Maia is just about ready to launch off into the void beyond early access. After a long and eventful six years of solo development, the game is just about ready to be labelled 'complete'. As of the latest update, the current early access version is effectively the finished game, complete with a tutorial, mission-based campaign and a procedurally generated sandbox mode. The game officially launches on November 23rd - this Friday - and you can check out the latest stuff added (including fire-fighting robots) in the dev-blog video below.
While it has an interface similar to Dungeon Keeper, you're sadly not free to pick up your space-colonists by the scruff of the neck and drop wherever you want them. Fortunately, you can directly possess any robotic unit around the map and handle things in first-person if needs be. Robots can do repair, fire-fighting or security duties if the local fauna causes a ruckus. They're a lovely, prehistoric-looking bunch of critters too, begging to be caught, studied and poked at, as science is the main focus of the game. Establishing research outposts in the hostile outdoors is a challenge.
There's a little bit of Dwarf Fortress spirit to all of it. Your colonists are more complex creatures than their dull expressions would imply. They'll comment on your actions via email, and you need to tend to their needs. They need regulated air to breathe, a comfortable indoors temperature so they don't combust, freeze or pass out. Remember to feed them too. Even when they're not dying, they're a picky bunch. Half the challenge is in nudging your colonists into being useful - in the egalitarian space-future, the administrator can shut off the oxygen, but he can't give orders.
Even though the game is leaving early access, developer Simon Roth says that there's still updates to come, and there'll be no paid DLC, so if you put money down on the game early it may grow for a while yet. Its slightly clunky UI reflects that it was developed by a single person, but I'll still take its Bullfrog-styled interface over the web of keyboard inputs that Dwarf Fortress has forced me to learn. I'm just happy to see another massive passion project finished and released - I can barely focus on anything for a week, let alone six years. More power to anyone with that dedication.
Maia is still in early access and effectively finished, but will officially launch this Friday, November 23rd. You can find it here on Steam and costs £18/€20/$25.
Disclosure: Paul Dean, who has written on RPS, wrote for Maia too.