Are the stars made of gold?

by Neco | Aug 16, 2015 | Starship Corporation | Alpha Version: 0.1.9

Note: This article is over 12 months old, covering a game that was in development and the game may or may not have changed since this article was published.

Shaping up relatively slowly, the Starship Corporation is a game of great potential. Even though it is a solo-project still in alpha phase, the game is diverse and multifaceted. If you like strategy games with some serious micromanagement and extensive building phase, start your own corporation and go for the stars.

So far, only two modules of the game are developed but they are lots of fun. They are the most basic ones: ship design and flying the vessel once ready. The future includes building an entire fleet, trading, and more dangerous missions, but even those two modes of play are quite captivating and challenging.

I spent endless hours scratching my head how to build the perfect ship with the budget I had. Not perfect aesthetically – far off, my engineering skills are firmly grounded – but functionally. Any space craft, however small and basic it may be, is never really that small and certainly there is no room for simplicity.

Each centimeter matters.

Each centimeter matters.

With room being the key word here, it is not an easy task to accommodate all the modules a ship needs to traverse the stars. Engines, generators, bridge, water tank, air tank, landing gear, crew quarters, cooling system, hatches, and many other necessary elements must be placed around the decks for the ship to function. All these modules need to be connected to the power grid and some of them need proper cooling to not burst into flames. On top of that, proper connectivity between various rooms has to be established for the crew to move around freely.

Once the extensive tutorial is over, one can start off designing ships on contractual basis. Every contractor requires ship specifically designed with certain attributes. Some of them are fairly straightforward, but meeting all +20 is not that easy. Placing all parts necessary for the ship to function is an arduous task, which requires a lot of planning and concentration, but the interface and building process help a lot. The more I played the more familiar I became with the components themselves and with the layout of the hulls I was using, making the whole process much more seamless and enjoyable.

When the ship design is ready – make sure there is a good connection between the decks – the first journey through the galaxy can commence. All you need to do is hire crew members and maintain the ship operational for 10 minutes. Simple enough, right?

Well, you might think that the technology available to construct a mighty cargo or battleship, which can cruise among thousand suns, comes with the necessary quality assurance but this is not exactly the case in Starship Corporation. During flights one has to micromanage the crew with great precision and insightful rotation. Especially if the crew is the bare minimum.

Managing the pilots is relatively simple because they have mostly two locations to control. Technicians, on the other hand, are maintain the entire ship alive. Practically every single module which has been meticulously placed in the design phase of the game needs regular maintenance by a technician. Luckily, the game allows you to slow things down and issue the right commands. Still, lifting off with more technicians than the prescribed in the contract definitely helps. After a few flights the rotation becomes somewhat more intuitive but at first take as many technicians as possible.

Breaching the terms of the contract brings along penalties but remaining without power in the middle of nowhere or combusting spontaneously because no one checked the cooling system on time is infinitely worse.

Moderate crew, infinite management.

Moderate crew, infinite management.

The micromanagement aspect of Starship Corporation resembles to a certain extend the experience one can have in Sims. The crew has relatively few needs (still, they need to be met for them to function efficiently), but they must be moved around on time to fulfill their duties through the flight. Even though at first the pace of the game doesn’t strike as particularly quick, practically every click counts when the crew is limited.

As the missions grow in difficulty so do design and management. Bigger ships have more modules and elements, more complex power and cooling systems, and it takes much longer to reach from one point to another. The latter is particularly tricky when things start breaking down.

Later in the game the factor of interstellar combat comes into play, making each mission and each design a fine balance between efficiency, sturdiness, and challenging juggling with resources.

All in all, Starship Corporation has grown in complexity over the last year. It seems to be going in the right direction, even though not overly quickly. Given that there in only one man behind it, it has reached remarkably far. There are three aspects of the game, which are planned but not yet released. Should they come to be, Starship Corporation is bound to become a mesmerizing experience, which combines real-time strategy with certain turn-based elements.

Designing a space craft can take place at virtually any moment of the game and one can spend as much time as needed to produce the ultimate ship. Flying it, on the other hand, and leading the crew to victory in unexpected battles is the definition of pace and requires quick decisions.

This combination is great and it gives the game great potential. I am looking forward to the next modes, because they promise even greater variety and possibilities to develop my corporation. Tech tree, shipyard, numerous business ventures, and a great wide galaxy to explore – it feels great to be a Starship entrepreneur!

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