01893: Spacebase Adventures

So I've took the gamble some time back of signing up for the Steam Early Access period for Double Fine's Spacebase DF-9, their base simulation game that sort of plays out like the old Bullfrog games like Theme Park and Theme Hospital. But of course its set in space, and so it celebrates a lot of the tropes of different science fiction franchises.

I signed up around the time of Alpha 3 and now we're already in Alpha 6, potentially the last test version prior to the game's official release in October. And as you can see in the tiny graphic on the left side, their full development cycle has been pretty interesting as they've gone from version to version.

I really liked the game concept from the beginning, but admittedly I wasn't sure if I was comfortable with essentially buying the game during its Alpha development phase. And for the most part it wasn't being offered at a discount - when you get into an Early Access game, you're sort of going all in. And so I ended up skipping the first few Alpha releases while I considered my options.

But the game has been interesting to explore and each new Alpha release has added more and more features and quirks to the game. When I started playing Spacebase, there really wasn't much to talk about. You could pretty much put together a base with beds for people to sleep on and oxygen recyclers to give them air. But there wasn't much else to explore apart from trying to survive random raiders attaching their ships (which appeared as other bases) to your base and making a mess of things.

Later releases added the benefits of being able to research new technologies and grow actual food - replicator food isn't very satisfying after all! But there were still a number of AI quirks that typically killed my bases. The biggest issue was when technician AI just gets borked as the base gets bigger and bigger and they are no longer able to cope with size of the base and the complexity of its maintenance demands.

But Alpha 6, the latest release, is proving to be a very robust version of the game and clearly we are very near to full release of the game. Doctors are pretty essential now as they heal injuries and cure diseases. We can now lock up raiders in the brig and eventually convert them over to become citizens in the base. And a lot of the morale drivers and personality quirks are a lot more sensible now. And now I have to admit that I'm really glad that I signed up for Early Access and have been allowed the fun and interesting experience of seeing the game develop over time from a barely playable concept to a really robust near-final product.