I wish to command a starship or space station (in space).
August 8, 2019 3:53 PM   Subscribe

I wish to command a starship or space station (in space).

Greetings, Sapients! I'm looking for games with some sort of picky scope preferences.

On the starship front, I'm interested in something like FTL, but on more of a large freighter or battleship scale, i.e. having to deal with different personnel, having personalized layouts of equipment, then going out and doing interesting things. Something SimSpaceship-y with a good grasp of the internal workings of how the ship is managed and not just plugging things into slots like Eve. For example, I'm reading a science fiction book and was thinking of what a self contained ship or small fleet would need to travel without the requirement to resupply beyond energy. What I'm not interested in are the bridge simulators like Artemis, and don't really care at all if you can walk around in it like Icarus. Interstellar Rift seems like what I'm looking for if it were more developed and worked better in single player. I would much prefer games that offer limited/optional combat and not all combat.

For space stations, I all of the above, with the focus being on the station's internal workings and local system environs but not branching out too distantly. Startopia is a fun example, but a bit aged and limited. If you can harness asteroids and comets and nutty stuff like that a la Seveneves, even better!

Thank you!
posted by Evilspork to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
If/when Astrobase Command comes out of closed alpha, it sounds like it would be right up your alley.

You might want to check out Starbound--mainly a side-scrolling space exploration RPG/base builder, but it does scratch the FTL itch for me in terms of the space theme.
posted by Pfardentrott at 4:44 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I don't know if this quite meets your desired features, but I've been working on an open source (GPL) multiplayer starship simulator called Space Nerds in Space (source on github). The basic idea is you get a bunch of friends together in the same room with a bunch of computers and a projector, and you all pretend to be crewmembers with each computer acting as a different station (e.g. navigation, weapons, engineering, comms, etc.) It's similar in concept to and was inspired by Artemis Spaceship bridge simulator, which might also be something you would want to look into, although Space Nerds in Space is "properly" 3D and (imho) looks a lot better and has more depth in some ways, though does not have nearly as many mission scripts. Besides Artemis, there are others along the same lines, e.g. Empty Epsilon, and a few others. There's a discussion forum for this genre of game: bridgesim.net
posted by smcameron at 4:48 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Space Engineers? I haven't actually played it but I've been eyeing it for a while and seems like it has at least a good chunk of your requirements.

Tharsis another one to check out.

You should also look at Rim World if you haven't. It's my current addiction and it checks all your boxes except the whole not being in space thing.
posted by Medw at 4:54 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


came here to recommend tharsis as a possibility.
posted by zippy at 6:13 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


This probably doesn't tick all your boxes, but one of the X games might do it for you. X3: Terran Conflict is widely considered the best in the series, although X4: Foundations is the newest and has a few new interesting features. The basic format of all of these games is that you're playing space monopolist, trying to build out fleets to send on errands while constructing space stations that will fill out supply chains. You can pilot anything you have the money to afford (little fighters all the way up to huge cap ships with their own fighter wings), you direct freighters to supply your stations (or pilot them yourself!), tell your stations what to build and who to sell them to. The ships can all be customized to how you see fit.

There is combat in the game which is more or less not optional - you can always run from it or stick to safe systems, but the story missions are usually combat focused. However, the story is completely optional and you can treat it like a huge sandbox if you want.

A couple hundred hours in X3:TC is generally considered "a good start" so you can pump a lot of time in to these games if it's what you're after. The games are also incredibly janky and often leans too much into "spreadsheets in space" territory, so take that as you will.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:20 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


For example, I'm reading a science fiction book and was thinking of what a self contained ship or small fleet would need to travel without the requirement to resupply beyond energy.

This is a bit outside the parameters you give, but this part made me think of Starsector. It's a Escape Velocity/Starflight style of 2D top-down space sim, but one with a strong logistics system built in. You build up from one ship to a small fleet, and those ships need crew to operate them, the crew needs supplies, the ships need fuel, and costs in supplies and fuel must be weighed against the profits of missions or trade runs. You can have specialized ships in your fleets too, so imagine a noncombatant tanker and cargo ship escorted by a few missile corvettes and a small fighter carrier as your flagship. Each ship has various hardpoints for different sizes and types of weaponry, each with its own firing arc, and there's a robust tactical combat system where you have direct control over your flagship and can issue orders to the other ships and officers.

It's in "early access" but has been for years, and the dev has been steadily working on it. Last time I checked they were working on adding more 4X-style systems to the game, giving you the ability to establish space stations and attack trade convoys to influence the trade balance between the local systems. You can also ignore all that and blast off into the deep unknown outside the core systems of the sector, just make sure to bring plenty of fuel and supplies, it's mighty quiet out there.

The game doesn't model the interior of your ships or your crew beyond an abstracted number and the handful of officers you can recruit to command other ships in your fleet, and as fun as the weapon hardpoints are customizing your ships is never going to be anything beyond dragging and dropping, so I'm not sure if this will really scratch your itch.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:56 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


You should also look at Rim World if you haven't.

I went right back to beating my head against Rimworld after posting! And this looks interesting.
posted by Evilspork at 7:32 PM on August 8


Some good recommendations already, but Oxygen Not Included might also be worth looking at.
posted by Inkslinger at 10:32 PM on August 8


It is a long shot, doesn't meet many of your requirements, but is free: The Ur-Quan Masters, an open source / abandonware port of Star Control 2. It has elements of what you are looking for, given the constraints of early '90s PCs, and a fun storyline.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:51 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


* Spacebase DF-9 was supposed to be it. It was never finished, but you can buy it if you really want to. There are still some dedicated people trying to fix it with unofficial patches, but YMMV.

* Only adjacent to your requirements, but one that I see mentioned occasionally (full disclosure: haven't played since it isn't really my thing): Space Station 13. I believe it's more focused on role playing, but some of the Command roles may be up your alley?

* Kerbal Space Program is most excellent at what it does. Fairly realistic (yet simplified) physics, but the main idea is to build a rocket and launch it. Career and Science modes work you through progressively more difficult missions (think: starting by trying to just get to orbit and working up to rendezvous missions and hunting down asteroids and capturing them to mine and generate fuel from), or you can play around in the Sandbox mode without worrying about tech trees and cash flow. One major missing piece from your requirements though - no life support means it is definitely more focused on the technology/science of space flight vs. managing life. You have to manage fuel and power, but food/water/oxygen aren't included and your Kerbals will live indefinitely. If planning, constructing, and piloting spacecraft while learning orbital mechanics sounds fun, you'll like it.

Some random search results that aren't entirely 4X games and may fit the bill, but I've never played:
* Interstellaria - Take on the role of captain managing your crew and fleet across the galaxy. Every star and planet holds untold riches and dangers. Each encounter will require skills in trading, diplomacy, and combat. Allocate power to engines, charge all weapons, and take on the worst the galaxy has to handle.
* The Spatials - It's the year 5781 -- and you have been chosen to build and lead a space station in a wild corner of the galaxy! Attract visitors and explore hundreds of planets to fund your station.
* Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander - Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander is a retro space strategy RPG with base building, deep tactical combat, crew management and emergent storytelling.
* PULSAR: Lost Colony - Team up to operate an advanced starship and explore a randomized galaxy falling into chaos. Each player (up to five) takes on a unique role and must work together in order to find the Lost Colony.
* Space Haven - Embark on a space voyage with your ragtag crew of civilians in search of a new home. Build spaceships tile by tile, create optimal gas conditions, manage the needs and moods of their crew, encounter other space-faring groups, and explore the universe in this spaceship colony sim
* Meeple Station - Meeple Station is an isometric pixel-art space station building and management sim that takes inspiration from games in the vein of Dwarf Fortress and Rimworld.
* Destination Ares - You're the AI of a rickety colony ship, bound for the red planet. You have limited resources, a desperate crew, and an unknown fate awaiting you. Can you survive the journey across the Big Black?
* Starship Theory - Starship Theory is a ship building survival game. Mine and trade to gather resources. Plan and construct new upgrades. Train and manage crew. Fight to survive.
* Redshirt - Redshirt is the comedy sci-fi sim about social networking aboard a space station, starring the station's most ambitious low-ranking peon: you! Navigate the professional and interpersonal politics of the ubiquitous "Spacebook" to curry favor among friends and colleagues.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 11:59 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


You won't necessarily draw the captain's role if you play Space Station 13 but you get a very immersive game with lots of interesting detail - never the same game twice.
posted by Jane the Brown at 2:58 PM on August 9


Browsing upcoming releases and found another:

* Ostranauts - A noir spaceship-life sim, set in a solar system cut-off from a ravaged Earth. Design your one-of-a-kind spaceship. Hire crew with physical and emotional needs. Enjoy detailed ship control panels and interiors. Then manage your dysfunctional crew and ship as you fend off bankruptcy...or worse.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 5:46 AM on August 17


What a timely announcement! Remake of Startopia is happening.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 11:01 AM on August 19


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