You might have heard of StarMade. It is the latest of Minecraft tribute games, this time set in space. I spent the weekend tooling around with it, trying to find its secret sauce. I have to say I'm quite impressed: it's not quite the blocky Elite I'd hoped, because there are no missions and Newton is looking at the space physics and crying. But it does have a sense of space adventure, which is something I've been longing for lately. I can just hop in a lumpy ship and fly off to poke around the universe without worrying about fuel, food, or even finding my way home. What's out there? Pirates, planets, and plunder. The game's currently free, and Multiplay has given RPS a 64-player server. Who wants to play?
If you do, please do yourself a favour and play offline for a couple of hours to familiarise yourself with the controls. It's an odd game, and requires a bit of fiddling to get comfortable, and that's probably best done away from everyone. That way you can figure out how the shops work (those giant, needle structures floating in space), and how to place and destroy builds. The most basic thing I struggled with is the reversal of Minecraft's control scheme, but there's now an option to fix that. I've also turned off the sound.
You begin with a single cube, the ship core, and build out from that. In fact, the ship core is technically a ship. You can use it to fly around, but that's an absolute last-resort. Better to add some power and thrusters. Each system has its own quirks. Handily, they're explained in this "Basics" series from one of the game's designers. I'm going to make you watch it. If you're in-game and complaining about your power output, I'll know why.
You earn money by mining asteroids, planets, and abandoned space stations, and selling what you've gathered to the shops. Plexiglass, the material in space station windows, is the best resource to gather. Grab enough and you'll be rich. Your ship can be anything, and all you need is the raw materials. Don't worry about aerodynamics.
It's still clunky, and I struggled with basic building: you can fly around your ship placing blocks, but entering the ship and hitting Space shifts from direct control to build mode. Build mode allows you to connect computers to various parts, and also protects your ship so no-one can mess with it.
Right: sever talk.
We can't promise your ships will survive. The game is still in alpha, so there are crashes to contend with that will wipe some progress, and I might have to reset the world to to fix the server. I've currently set it to restart ever 12 hours. That is price to pay for adventuring on the final frontier. I'd really like you to not upload ships, but turning that off means you won't be able to save your builds for use elsewhere. So instead everyone has one catalog slot that you can use. Please don't abuse it.
I'm not keen on enforcing too many rules. This is a game where factions can fight, so be prepared for fights. But don't be a dick, eh? I'll step in if there's some horrendous hacking incident, or if there's racist, homophobic, or misogynist chat or ship shapes happening. There will be bans. If there's urgent, adminly duties required, ping me on Twitter. Try and get a screenshot. If I'm not off on an adventure elsewhere, I'll pop on. If this becomes a well-populated server, we can add a few player admins that the community will be responsible for selecting.
Please have fun! That's what it's there for.
Admin email: email@example.com
I'll pop in over the next few days, but let's plan on being on around Thursday (August 8th) evening UK time from about 7pm for a couple of hours. I want to see some amazing ships when I log-in.