Starship Corporation Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Imagine a business of some sort. Any kind – doesn’t matter what it is. You did? Great. Chances are, there exists a simulator game out there that deals with the business you’ve imagined. Trucks, busses, trains, game development, zoos, theme parks… and these are just off the top of my head. It’s perhaps a bit of an oddity, then, to see that there are fairly few space-based sim games. Starship Corporation comes to rescue, though, as an Early Access title where players get to control every single aspect of their interstellar company. That is – they will, once the game is done and good to ship.

The full version of the game is planned to feature an (over)abundance of thingamajigs to toy around with. From building your own fleets, completing special assignments and even military conquest – solo and online. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? The catch, however, lies in the fact that the current Early Access iteration of the game doesn’t really instill all that much confidence. Whether the project stands the test of time remains to be seen. For now let’s focus on what’s there to focus on.

Some dynamic situations may or may not occur.

Starship Corporation is currently in alpha – early alpha at that, with nary but a sandbox mode to show for its effort. It’s a classical setup, in essence, as you get to choose your starting wealth, your win condition and the general difficulty of the given playthrough. As it currently stands, your endeavours are limited to the Solar System only, with the only available option for setting up headquarters being displayed from the get-go.

As soon as you click your way through the rudimentary game settings, you’ll be greeted by an absolute abundance of micromanagment features; bits and bobs that are bound to be confusing and unclear at first. The thing you’ll want to do first, though, is to select a contract of some sort – a vague sense of direction to follow as you take baby steps through what is one of the more intimidating interfaces you’ll have the chance of seeing in video games. There’s a wide variety of jobs to take up already implemented, but the vast majority may well be written in Japanese for all a newbie will be concerned. Thankfully, each of these contracts includes a list of all the technologies you need to research to make the jobs at hand even possible.

Upon checking those requirements, you should take a step back from the contract list, take a deep breath and check the available techs for research. Again, there’s an awful lot of them and getting around will be quite a tenure – something that becomes easier as you spend more time with the game’s UI, but not quite as easy and intuitive as it should be. Now, generally speaking, you’re likely to lose money before earning any, as in the couple of weeks it will take to get a hold of some basic tech you won’t have any earnings. As soon as you get through that drought, you have to get a contract of some sort – something you can easily and relatively quickly accomplish.

That’s when the game’s second implemented featurette comes in – the ship designer.

It took me longer than I care to admit to figure out each element on this screen.

Likely the coolest element of Starship Corporation, the ship designer has you manually setting up your desired craft in excruciating detail. I’m not even joking; not only will you have to set the basic room layout of your ship by hand, but you’ll also have to manage oxygen and water levels, cooling and, of course, electricity. Thankfully, the helping hand comes in the form of a detailed, if cumbersome tutorial that is supplemented by a checklist of tasks you’ll have to accomplish with your craft layout. Once you’re comfortable with your design, you’ll have to run it through a simulator that will let you know of all the potential kinks and faults you can choose to fix… or perhaps go the shady road and let your employers deal with those problems themselves as they pop up. It’s all up to you, of course.

As a part of the ship designer, there’s a crew managment option where simulated real-time missions can be ran so as to check the design’s hardware implementation and maintenance, but this is undercooked to say the least. Don’t get me wrong – Starship Corporation is currently in a fairly early stage of development and half-baked features are to be expected, but that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to criticism. Really, the only features even worth taking a gander at are the managment and ship designer, both of which have a fair few flaws, but show lots of promise for the average enterprising sim-lover.

While I can’t say I’ve had an awful lot of fun playing Starship Corporation, I have to admit that there’s a certain level of flair present in this game. The developers clearly have a solid idea in mind with this title, even if the execution is faulty as it currently stands. That’s what early alphas are for, though, right? The best part of it all is definitely the craft creator, which even though lacks the visual oomph of some of its lightweight competitors, offers an immense amount of depth and, dare I say, realism?

Starship Corporation may well be a diamond in the rough – it’s honestly too early to tell, but here’s hoping the developers have a clear vision of what they want the game to be; what their exact goals are and how they want to accomplish them.