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Space Station 13: first impressions of a free game you should ALL check out

Helm Lardar

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I've recently been playing Space Station 13, and I thought I'd post my first impressions. Space Station 13 is a (free) multiplayer online role playing game in which you work with lots of other people to run a Space Station, protecting it from disasters (not very successfully) and making interesting things happen.

 

It's a bit different from a lot of games. Graphics isn't the focus (as with many good games) and it's presented in a simplistic RPG-maker style. The platform, BYOND, is fairly unheard of, and not that great, but the only possible way to play it. Role playing, as I mentioned earlier, is not optional: it's enforced. Multiplayer means just that: people have to, and are expected, to work together. And the amount of different jobs in the station is fairly staggering: here, have a look at a list. The first 3 of those blocks of jobs are absolutely essential: you'll need at least one of each, and with a few (like security) several. Many of them work best in pairs, and some are distinctly harder than others. You are encouraged to start in the 4th block of non essential civilians before trying other jobs, so that you can be competent when you take up a proper job: because in most jobs, you are expected to be just that. All in all, this gives a very different feel to the game than most: you genuinely take up the role you're given and grasp it with both horns, because to do anything else is to not only let yourself down but to let your fellow space explorers down too.

 

 

I should mention that lots of different things can happen: electrical storms, xenomorphs, traitors, revolutionaries, changelings, etc etc, often together.

 

I've tried 3 seperate careers so far on different shifts (which can last from 30 minutes to 3 hours and end with somebody sending for the emergency shuttle and not recalling it in time). Here are my impressions of each:

 

Cargo Technician is as lowly a job as you can realistically get. You're part of a big team that takes in orders from a console (or from people at the desk), hauls crates from the warehouse to a shuttle that docks periodically, and takes items from the shuttle to the warehouse, before loading them onto robots that take them to different departments (robotics might be sent a shipment of metal and glass, for example). You also need to check that shipments are accurate: if they aren't, you can send them back for a refund and points (which are also gained by shipping plasma away) These points are used to order more stuff. You report to the quartermaster, and you tend to work closely with the mining department. It's a fun job initially, and easy to pick up, but it gets a bit slow after a while as fewer people have the time to make orders and the ship becomes increasingly self sufficient. A great way to start work, but a bit stale after a while.

 

Chemist is similairly easy, but nonetheless fun. You're given a chemical dispenser and chemicals packager and work in a small office, making things people might need. Periodically, different staff come by the desk and ask for various solutions which are important in their work. Medicine are frequently requesting complicated stuff, but you'll also get lots of technicians requiring acid, and stuff in between. It's good fun, and initially extremely busy, but if you can't keep up it's easy for people to stop bothering you and for things to become very quiet indeed (or for them to demand entrance to the office and just start making the chems themselves). Overall, it's a step up and it's slightly more fun than cargo tech: you get a deal of entertainment from being at the entrance to the med bay, and people will occasionally ask for medical help and so on.

 

Roboticist is, I've found, a great deal more fun! You do lots of things in this role: maintain cyborgs, create cyborgs, build mechs, and build bots. Several people always queue up to have their brain removed and put in a man-machine interface, so that they can then be placed into a robot body (which you also queue up to be made). This job revolves between surgery for cyborgs, surgery on humans, building big mechs, and complaining to research and development that they haven't got you your circuit boards yet. I found myself striving to create a ripley (a big mining mech) but always hampered by this problem, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually. The constant brain removal was a little grimdark, but very fun.

 

Overall, the game is excellent and able to be played by players of almost any skill. It increases in fun as things get more challenging, and there's a lot going for a game in which role playing is enforced and jobs are genuinely specialised. For my taste, most rounds end too early to have as much fun as I'd like and to get as far as possible with the station, so I think banning the escape shuttle (if such a thing were possible) might make it much more entertaining. However, with what it is Space Station 13 makes for a fantastic game: one you should all check out!



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You piqued my curiosity! It seems like it's all super complex though, or does it just sound like that? (not necessarily complex to play, just complex in how it all works together)

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