PAX Indie Space Game Showcase Part 1

Text and post design by Merritt Adkins and Mike Maddox

So Much Space!

When Fists of Heaven launched in 2013 the space game genre wasn’t that popular (sadface): there was no playable build of Star Citizen, Homeworld: Remastered consisted of an announcement and six screenshots, and Strike Suit Zero was holding us over. However, that it no longer the case as space games have made a big comeback in the AAA scene and the indie scene – especially in the indie scene.  We (Mike and Merritt) braved the crowd of ~55,000 at PAXEast 2016 to interview all the space game devs at both the IndieMegaBooth and those with their own booth to bring you the scoop on under development, early access, and recently released indie space games!  We have the details on each and every one that was at PAX.  Do we have skillz or what?  Well, we guess you didn’t come here for a skillz showcase (that’s why you watch our stream, right? ^ ^) you came here for the coverage, so here we go! (background from Quasar)

Part 1: Games Under Development

We’re breaking our PAXEast 2016 feature into three parts: games that are under development, games that are in early access, and games that have been released.  This is part one!

As always, we have a ton of respect for indie game devs and all that they do.  You guys are what’s driving the space game genre, and we can’t say enough how awesome you all are.

Deliver Us The Moon

Merritt: Set in time when Earth’s resources are severely depleted, countries have banded together to create the Worldwide Space Agency (WSA) to conduct research on the moon and hopefully find solutions to Earth’s resource issues. However, countries rarely get along, and grievances begin preventing the saving of the human race. You decide to go rogue and fly a secret one-man mission to the moon to save humanity. Will you prevail or fail? The fate of humanity rests on your shoulders.

Delivers Us The Moon is developed by KeokeN Interactive based in the Netherlands and is what we’re describing as an astronaut simulation – to me it feels a bit like “Myst in Space”, but in 3D / Virtual Reality.  I love puzzle games with RPG elements, and even more so if they’re in space, so I’m really looking forward to Deliver Us The Moon!

Mike: I had a great time talking to the studio’s founder, Koen and Jenny (whom I mistakenly tweeted as ‘Conrad and Julie’ – it was noisy!) multiple times over the PAX three day event.  They were very enthusiastic, even going so far as to rock blue flight suits – style points!  Deliver us The Moon is a VR space adventure, combining an astronaut sim with RPG elements.  There’s not a ton of details to share yet as it’s still under development, but we’re looking forward to more.

Single Player – VR Ready – Release Date: TBA 2016

Deliver Us The Moon Screenshot - Astronaut and Rover
Koeken interactive - deliver us the moon

An astronaut simulation that’s a bit like “Myst in Space” with puzzle & RPG elements, designed for VR

Go Go Electric Samurai

Merritt:  I realized that I have no idea what this game is about while I was playing it, but the visuals are really cool, I love the art style, and the controls are very responsive.  Move fast and stay alive is all I figured out in this crazy dog-fighting shooter (and did I mention it has some really unique and awesome visuals?): you’ll need FPS-style  reflexes to stay in the game!  Oh, and the game is GoGo Electric Samurai developed by Michael Todd Games.

As I mentioned, Electric Samurai has a very different look (single color backgrounds and ships) with some boxy, 2D sprite effects. However, once you’ve jumped into the pilot’s seat you’ll be having a blast with it’s crazy graphic style!

Mike: Electric Samurai visuals are like Tron meets space sim – on a 2D plane.  No, it’s not a twin stick: your ship banks and turns like it would in a space sim, but there is no  Y dimension (or is it no Z dimension…hmm).  When the trailer says “a completely new electronic experience” it’s correct, at least as far as the visuals are concerned: shading and transparencies are where it’s at with Electric Samurai!

We found out about Electric Samurai when we saw the trailer playing on  a screen outside a panel and both of us said “we have to find that game!”.  After a half hour and asking two enforcers for directions, we finally found the booth; where I got to speak with Michael Todd, the lead (and only, as far as I’m aware) developer on Go Go Electric Samurai.  He was awesome, but seems to be keeping the details of the gameplay a secret for now.  I can’t wait to play it though because it looks so damn pretty, and, of course, we love live streaming multiplayer games.

8 Person Multiplayer – Release Date: TBA

Intern Astronaut

Merritt: Talk about on the job training! You’ll be put right into the astronaut’s chair with Intern Astronaut, this VR game by Broken Door Studios that has you racing the clock to keep you and your ship from destruction. Intern Astronaut is a virtual reality game for the GearVR and Oculus Rift where you must follow instructions on which buttons to push, pull, turn, switch and crank, and all the while you’re seeing sparks fly as you work hard to stay spaceworthy. I found the game play to be very easy to grasp, simply look around! It was lots of fun and I wish I hadn’t sucked so much or I could have played longer.  Intern Astronaut seems like a great game for people of all ages.

Mike: Wow I wish I could write press copy that well, Merritt! 😉  Intern Astronaut was my first experience with the GearVR, which surprisingly provided an identical experience to the Rift – but I’m digressing.  Intern Astronaut is definitely not a relaxing game, because you’re watching everything fall apart around you while you’re desperately trying to match the symbols in your instructions from Mission Control (hmph, I’m still peeved that it’s not in Houston anymore…more digression) with the oodles of knobs, buttons, switches and levers which are your control mechanisms.  The game makes great use of VR for both immersion and because you can look everywhere – which only increases the immersion (read: stress) because you’re trying to find the right control!  Argh!  Now I know why they don’t send interns to space!  This is a game to keep your eye on if you want a very immersive, VR astronaut sim experience that won’t require you to spend another $2500 on PC hardware.

Single Player – VR – Release Date: TBA

Intern Astronaut Screenshot 2
Intern Astronaut PAX East 2016

Quasar by OSnap! Games

Merritt: Multiplayer games always bring out the worst in me because I always want to win, and I get stompy when I lose! In Quasar you get to fly around shooting friends, blowing up bases and just being obnoxious to each other.  We came back to the booth twice to try out the different ship types (light, medium, heavy) and experiment with different loadouts. It took me some time to get used to the twin-stick controls, but once I got them down I started to pick on Mike. However, the devs totally kicked our booties (give me some cheat codes already!). :\

Mike: Quasar is awesome – almost as awesome as the co-founders of OSnap! games, Ryan Luck and Franklin Barrientos.  I had a great time talking with Ryan at length Quasar, about the indie game scene and the possibility of space games in eSports.  Ryan and Franklin are positioning Quasar to be 100% skill based and primed for eSports.  With three different multiplayer game types and their own servers, Quasar looks super polished already, but more is still to come.  Merritt and I played about half a dozen multiplayer matches which consist of 4 to 10 players on two teams. Matches take about 10-20 minutes and they’re perfect for a relatively casual gamer like myself or hardcore competitive gamers.  Another cool thing about Quasar: you never play the same map twice, because each map is procedurally generated.  I think this is a really interesting aspect, especially for the eSports implications.  We’ll be covering lots more of Quasar in the very near future, and go chip in on their kickstarter!

Merritt Playing Quasar
Kickstarter Logo

Multiplayer – Release Date: TBA 2016

The inspiration for Starfighter came from Wing Commander & X-Wing; the dev team includes former X-Wing guys

Impeller Studios

Jack and the rest of the Starfighter team were nice enough to spend plenty of time with us, giving us the details on their vision of what a space combat sim should be, and even shared some upcoming game music and a teaser video after finding out how much we enjoy the music and art that accompanies space games.  We appreciate it, guys!

Starfighter, Inc

MerrittRealism is key in Starfighter, a great space shooter with a large focus on combat, ship customization and a realistic experience. Much inspiration for Starfighter is from Wing Commander and X-Wing, so you know you’ll be in a fire-fight in space! Why are you fighting in space? Resources are a competition and you’ve got to survive, even if it means taking others out. Jumping into a game I was happy to find the controls rather intuitive and found the immersion to be spot on. There isn’t background music in space, just space chatter and listening to purr of your ship engine. I also thought the look of space was very realistic as well. Developed by Impeller Studios and is projected to be in early access around the middle of the year.

Mike: Star Citizen’s crowdfunding success has proven to developers that there’s a market for realistic space flight sims.  Starfighter aims to take the realism a step further by implementing automatic docking (their reasoning: “we have cars that can park themselves, in a future with spaceships it doesn’t make sense that you’d risk your incredibly expensive spaceship by manual docking”, and I agree), no sound or music (although it is artificially generated in your cockpit for awareness, but it’s possible for that system to be damaged or destroyed during combat), destructible systems and ships, and true Newtonian physics!  Starfighter is aiming to be the most realistic multiplayer space combat sim there is with easy-to-use multiplayer, and it looks like they’re off to a good start.  Both Merritt and I also really enjoyed the music, and we’ll be contacting the composer as part of our Starfighter coverage in the near future.  

Multiplayer – VR – Release Date: TBA

The Long Journey Home

Merritt: You’ve just made a jump to the other side of the galaxy which happens to be the bad side and your jump drive has malfunctioned. Now, the only way to get back home is through some bad parts of the universe in The Long Journey Home. I love these types of games, where talking/interacting with characters drives the storyline. From talking with the developer, Andreas, it was easy to tell he loves Farscape and Firefly (who doesn’t?) both of which influenced the design of The Long Journey Home. The Long Journey Home is developed by Daedalic Entertainment Studio West, which is located in Germany (interesting how so many space games are located in Europe). Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on this game.

Mike: I absolutely loved talking to Andreas, the creative and game director behind The Long Journey Home, who was super enthusiastic and even scheduled time specifically for us with the help of Sandra, the PR manager.  He was rocking a patch with ‘IASA’ on it, and before I could ask if it was a Farscape reference, he asked me if I’d heard of the ship Moya.  Thus, the bromance begun…or at least a one sided mancrush.  Andreas walked us through every aspect of this single player, procedural, story-driven game (man, these indie titles keep blurring genres, and I love it!) – each playthrough is ~4-8 hours worth of story, but you’ll have virtually endless and unique replayability due to the procedural generation of the galaxy plus the differences in storyline and crewmembers.  There’s also an intricate faction system, and every decision you make will dictate how the story plays out.  If you like single player games where your decisions matter, this one’s for you.  More coverage coming soon!

RPG – Adventure – Release Date: TBA 2016

He asked me if I’d heard of the ship Moya.  Thus, the bromance begun…or at least a one sided mancrush

Check back soon for part 2: early access games!

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Hello there! I'm Merritt and I love to play games! I don't only play space games but I sure have an obsession for Star Citizen. When I'm not playing, streaming or writing about games I am working my 'day job' as a marine biologist. Watch me stream live on Wens & Sun @ 8c :)

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