Dean Hall's ambitious "hardcore" spaceship construction and management sim Stationeers is out now on Steam Early Access.
Stationeers was first announced back in March and draws inspiration from cult classic spaceship management game Space Station 13. It's being created by Hall's RocketWerkz studio (which just announced open-world "neo-noir" game Living Dark), and has been in development for over a year now. If you're interested in its journey so far, Hall and co. have been charting Stationeers progress through many, many hours of informative dev streams.
Despite its cartoon-y looks, Stationeers is focussed on delivering a sophisticated simulation experience, requiring the management and maintenance of complex atmospheric, electrical, manufacturing, medical, agriculture, and gravitational systems. "This is not a casual game," says RocketWerkz, "Stationeers is designed for hardcore players who want a game that is systems oriented. Full utilization and optimization of these complex systems will only come from great knowledge and practice."
Stationeers certainly sounds ambitious, and its early access feature list includes atmospheric effects such as temperature, pressure, combustion, gas mixtures, water, and fire; there are exotic planets and asteroid belts with deformable terrain to explore and mine; buildable factories that consist of computers, machines, and conveyor belts; medical systems to ensure your crew is in good health; a food and farming system with livestock and plants; there's even the choice between solo play and collaborative multiplayer.
"The game has been a very long time coming, developed after attempts at other games of a roughly similar nature", explains Stationeers' Steam page, presumably referring to Hall's cancelled Ion project. "Basically - we're not in a rush! We have prepared a detailed roadmap of what we have planned so far but after feedback (and a dose of reality!) from our community we will announce a second phase roadmap." To that end, RocketWerkz anticipates that Stationeers will be in Early Access "for at least a year".
"We've had a great deal of fun at the studio in the development of Stationeers," says Hall, "It's fully playable, and quite well optimized, for you in singleplayer or with a small group of friends in multiplayer. We consider what has been done so far as an entirely complete game loop and experience, and our work from here is about giving the game more depth."
As Eurogamer's Wesley Yin-Poole recently reported, history is littered with the corpses of games that tried to capture the magic of Space Station 13, a 15-year-old community-created open source project that's still in development today, only to succumb to its "curse".
Notably, Ion, Hall's first attempt at a Space Station 13-style game, was similarly unsuccessful. Stationeers, however, has intentionally been designed on a much more manageable, less massively-multiplayer scale. It certainly looks promising, as Eurogamer discovered earlier in the year, so here's hoping that development continues smoothly.
Stationeers is available now on Steam Early Access at slightly discounted launch price of £17.09, down from its usual £18.99.