Gratuitous Space Battles

Everybody knows bugs. There are funny ones and stupid ones. There are annoying ones and actually-damaging ones. But however they manifest themselves, bugs sit right between a game's maker and its player, a sudden manifestation of mistakes that have been made, a crack in the simulation, a bump right back down to Earth.

Star Citizen soars past $100m as alpha 2.0 launches

Star Citizen soars past $100m as alpha 2.0 launches

Prompts call for game-spending regulations from Big Pharma dev.

The unbelievable total keeps growing: Star Citizen has raised more than $100m via crowdfunding. More than 1 million people have spent money on it. The milestone is achieved as the Star Citizen alpha 2.0 build launches, which brings multi-crew ships, large world maps and first-person combat; it is, in the words of the official website "your first taste of Star Citizen's living, breathing world".

To play it you need to buy, or have bought, any Star Citizen "package", which start at $54. That bags you the Star Citizen and Squadron 42 games (Squadron 42 is the adjoining storied, single-player experience), a spaceship to fly in the game, some starting cash and some other bits and bobs. Sky is the limit with the packages, which scale up into thousands of dollars.

But there's concern from some corners as Star Citizen reaches yet another massive crowdfunding milestone. Cliff Harris - the man behind the Democracy, Big Pharma and Gratuitous Space Battles games - wrote a blog post at the weekend triggered by (but about much more than) Star Citizen's $100m accomplishment. The piece talks about needing regulations to protect people from being exploited. Again, he's not just talking about Star Citizen but about unchecked spending in games in general, particularly in free-to-play games that rely on it. More money is being spent on "psychological manipulation" than on making good games, he said, and people are susceptible to these irresistible marketing machines.

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Gratuitous Space Battles

Remember how, when introducing Fable II in interviews, Peter Molyneux teased out the concept of "no control over the dog" like a seedy magician producing a never-ending handkerchief? The world watched, partially in awe and partially because we had nothing better to do, as Molyneux spiralled this idea out into all of its repercussions.

Well, Gratuitous Space Battles is built on a similar bit of minimalist design. It's a space RTS, where mighty fleets meet in space like tidal waves crashing against one another; scores of tiny fighter craft dogfighting their way around enormous frigates and cruisers that fling torpedo barrages at one another between heavy burps of laser beam fire.

There's just one twist: You have no control over the ships. When a battle starts, you can't issue so much as an attack command. You can only sit back and watch all of these pretty vessels crumple and burst like overripe fruit until, eventually, one side is declared the victor.

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