Deeper Direction for Shallow Space RTS

By Alex Connolly 20 Jun 2016 0

Shallow Space has been bobbing around on Steam Early Access for a while now, but not in the form the finished game will take.

After launching in limited, albeit gorgeous form in October of last year, developer Special Circumstances decided to rejig a large part of the greater game. The original concept of Shallow Space was something of a Homeworld successor, with twists of Nexus: The Jupiter Incident and touches of Sins of a Solar Empire. Heck, even the wonky Star Wolves series. Early Access builds offered a confident taste of these inspirations, the combination of which was an atmospheric 3D RTS with languid pace, emphasising electronics and scanning to get a leg up in the void. 

Sumptuous as it was, Shallow Space in its then-state wasn't terribly unique. As always with Early Access, it's hard to tell what the finished product will be once all the modules are in place, and while Special Circumstances had deftly created glimpses of a loving homage to older space strategies, it was still merely a loving homage to older space strategies. On impetus provided by an initial wave of feedback and bolstered by ideas they then felt confident in implementing, the Open World Overhaul announcements were made - at the time of writing, 1, 2, 3 and 4.


Within a month or so, Special Circumstances are hoping to deploy a beta of the new-look Shallow Space. From information gleaned on the official site, there's all sorts of impressive goodness like zones and sectors, NPC traders and traffic, Egosoft-esque manufacturing hubs and resource fields, as well as good ol' fashioned starship warfare.

Much the same as Eve Online each ship will have a cargo bay and the player can shuffle items between ships (and static cargo containers) to get those resources to where they need to be. It’s important to remember that we are moving away from the standard RTS-fare of player units being disposable entities that you build, CTRL-A, send in. You’ll go through great lengths to acquire the blueprints, materials and crew for these ships and when you loose one, it will hurt.

But we’ll soften that blow of loss by introducing easing mechanics. For example, when ships are destroyed they will leave behind persistent floating wreckages that can be recycled to reclaim X% of the materials. The crew, well some will die (poor souls,) others will make it to lifepods that you’ll have to recover to be able to staff replacement ships. So what we’re trying to do here is create a situation whereby loosing a ship is actually fun as you hastily tractor in your lifepods and what’s left of their cargo and your trashed fleet limps away to get repaired or hide.

Promising a resource game as fun and complex as its military play set, I'm cautiously sold. Though the devblog does speak cheekily of X3 and its low-level resource traipse, I'm hoping they do allow for a comparable level of granularity. After all, ship configuration appears appropriately crunchy and all this talk of crew management and blueprints sounds inviting. While Special Circumstances aren't aiming for an X-level of virtual market economy, if the galaxy can depict industrial busyness, it'll be all the better for it. As excited for ore haulers and trading outposts as I am destroyers and gun scaffolds. 

I'll leave you with a fresh offering of footage and the promise of an Access Granted article once the new build goes live.

Tags: Real-time



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