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Space Station 13: Galactic Bartender Ep. 1

I've started investigating Space Station 13, a sci-fi multiplayer sandbox with the same utterly batshit more-is-more design as Dwarf Fortress. It uses Byond, and with that installed you can get SS13 here. The comprehensive Something Awful goon wiki can be read here and there's a big map of the station here. The game lets you pick your job on the crew each game, but I've decided to shirk the responsibility of being captain, chief engineer, detective and so on to see what can be done as a humble barman. This, Episode 1, covers my first hour with the game on a sparsely populated server. This is the adventures of Galactic Bartender Gengy Patel.

Barman's log, stardate 40125.8. Dunno where to begin. I guess I should be in the bar right now instead of recording this, but the power's still down over there and I need to take a break. And find a gun. But let's start by takin' a break.

The crew here must have gone without a drink for some time, because there's a weird tension to this place. I noticed it after I'd stepped off the arrival shuttle and nabbed a coffee from the vending machine. It was so quiet. This place didn't feel like my new home. It felt like a hundred accidents waiting to happen, all of them stacked in a pyramid formation like fancy waterskiers. It made me nervous.

I figured I'd make my way to my bar and I found my first station resident on the way. He was some kind of security bigwig. He was also fast asleep and nothing could rouse him. Strange, yeah, but just really awkward. Was this guy my new boss? I picked up a label gun from a nearby side table, stamped "Hi! Cheers!" onto his desk and left.

And then I found that bar of mine.

"Is that a..." It was, no word of a lie, a monkey. In my bar. This wouldn't do. No way. Figuring out what it was doing there was going to have to take a backseat to health and safety. I began looking around for something to beat it up with. I mean, it wasn't doin' anyone any harm, but like I say, health and safety is dead important in a work environment. I'd just found a beer bottle when I started getting messages through the ol' radio earpiece.

"Is anybody there", said this voice. "I've had an accident."

"Hi!" I sent. "Me here. Gengy's the name. I'm new. How can I help you?"

"Can you get to Genetics?" said the guvnor. "An experiment went wrong. I'm kinda deaf and kinda blind."

I gave the monkey a look that said "Don't touch anything, or drink anything, or dirty the place up, because if you do I'll have to hurt you and it won't trouble me one bit melad because I've been doing this for a long time, 14 years in fact" and went off to look for Genetics.

I passed an even more odd fella on the way there. He was busying himself with all sorts of fuel tanks, gas canisters and other explosives in the middle of the corridor. Nothin' to do with me though. "Let sleeping space-dogs lie" and all that.

Turns out Genetics is in the far corner of the Medical section. I made it to the lobby when the blind Guvnor piped up again.

"Hang on," he says. "What's your job?" I told him I was a barman of 14 years experience and proud of it, and he only goes and tells me my clearance level isn't high enough and I'll have to break in. "You'll need a wrench, a screwdriver, a crowbar and a multitool," he says. And then he says "No, wait. You'll just need a crowbar and a welding tool."

I found the crowbar in an emergency toolbox just down the hall, and told the guvnor so. "But there's a bit of a problem," says I. "The lights over here are starting to go out. I think we're losing power. And all of the doors have stopped opening. I think I'm stuck."

As everybody knows, losing power in space is just no good. So I was in a bit of a pickl--

There! That's the same lad from before! What in the blazes is he up to? Is he off cutting the station's power lines? Fiddling with the power core? Doing whoopsies in the hydroponics? I'm not cut out for proper rogues. I haven't the foggiest how to defend meself. Best I just help get the Guvnor back on his feet and let him deal with any rogues.

So the Guvnor tells me I can open non-security doors with the crowbar, meaning if I want a welding tool I'm going to have to pry my way into that bit of the station where I saw that jumpsuit guy wandering about. Cor, give me strength.

So I find the welding tool in a store room and go running back to Medical, where the Guvnor sets me to work taking apart a wall. It sounds dead simple. I use the welding tool on the wall, then the crowbar on the melted wall, and then- wait. There's still a fat girder in the way. The Guvnor apologises and says I'll also need a wrench, so it's back to the storehouse I go, picking my way through the shadows and expecting to be beset by some grubby little rogue with a pair of pliers at any second. The Guvnor tells me to make sure I've turned off the welding torch, but I can't figure out how and leave it on the floor.

Finally I disassemble the girder only to find myself in a morgue with nothing but locked doors in every direction. The Guvnor tells me to burn through another wall, which is problematic as I never told him I couldn't figure out how to turn off the welding tool and it's now empty.

It's at about this point I hear a repeated smashing noise. I head back to the Medical foyer where I see a trail of smashed glass all the way to Genetics! Turns out while I was manually taking apart the wall, I could have just grab a bleedin' fire extinguisher and gone bashing through the windows in the foyer. I was livid.

So we finally reached Genetics, meself and this jumpsuit guy, and then he took off his jumpsuit and to tell you the truth at this point I was beyond caring why anybody was doing anything in particular.

"Great," came the voice of the Guvnor again over the radio. "That's me, that corpse over there. If you can get power to the cloning vats and find my record you can bring me back."

Well, that was about when I decided that this lot could fend for their bloody selves. Restore power to the cloning vats? Jog on.

And you know what the worst part is? Something tells me this all could have gone so much more wrong. All you'd need to do was double or triple the number of staff. Maybe I will go back to that bar. I need a drink.

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Quintin Smith avatar

Quintin Smith

Former Staff Writer

Quinns was one of the first writers to join Rock Paper Shotgun after its founding in 2007, and he stayed with the site until 2011 (though he carried on writing freelance articles well beyond that). These days, you can find him talking about tabletop board games over on Shut Up And Sit Down, or doing proper grown-up journalism with the folks at People Make Games.