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Walkabout: The Space Nomads Alpha

Jim and I have already declared our interest in Space Nomads, a sci-fi shooter that's a mixture of tower defense and co-op FPS. The simple notion of surviving a bug onslaught in the dead of night and rebuilding your base during the day is definitely something someone somewhere needs to do well. Just once. That's all we need. And yet I can't think of one game that does it. Not only is Space Nomads attempting it, but it's also doing it with an alpha that everyone can play right now. I've just had a shot at beating the bugs, and while I can see the potential in it, it definitely needs some work.

The good: the world is lovely. A painterly, contrasty desert that manages to be exotic and barren at the same time. There's a fair amount to create, too. You can create ground panels and build your defenses on top of them, piling up a neat little fort that you've made with gathered resources. I've always a been a fan of "survive the night" scenarios: it makes the world feel alive and vital, and there's an inherent drama in using the sun as a guide to the world's awfulness. It goes down then shit goes down. I'd imagine if you're out scavenging far away from base, you could easily be caught out there before the sun drops.

The iffy: oh boy someone needs to show the developers how to make guns. Play Red Orchestra, guys: your weapons feel and sound as dangerous as pillow, which makes the combat, a big focus of the game, fairly underwhelming. When the bugs come, they attack with all the skill and guile you'd expect from a sci-fi ground dwellers. Like the guns, they need some work. It is pre-alpha, and I can't imagine the developers playing this and not knowing that they need to beef up the action. Which leads to the obvious question of how they're going to afford it?

Ah! Here's the IndieGoGo page. And the pitch video. You don't even need to pitch in to grab the alpha, so if you're not doing that thing that everyone else is up to this weekend (including moi), it's waiting for you.

The video shows a lot of promise, though I think $60,000 is a big ask.

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