Kerbal Space Program:
And now, for something completely different. I’ve been rather serious on this blog recently, and haven’t mentioned games in a while. While this is a commercial game, it has some interesting aspects to it.
In their words:
“Kerbal Space Program is a multi-genre game where the players create their own space program. In KSP, you must build a space-worthy craft, capable of flying its crew out into space, without killing them. At your disposal is a collection of parts, which must be assembled to create a functional ship. Each part has its own function and will affect the way a ship flies (or doesn’t). So strap yourself in, and get ready to try some Rocket Science!”
Kerbal Space Program is being developed as an open sandbox project. For now, just starting out, it has a free version, and a low-cost version with free upgrades in perpetuity. If you wait to buy the low-cost version, the price is raised gradually over time until it reaches the full cost of the final commercial product. In the meantime, those who opt in early on are serving as both beta-testers and collaborators in the development process. I suspect this is not that unusual of a development process these days.
Another aspect of this game that caught my attention was the topic. Well, yes, I am a bit of a space nut, and I am enormously fond of anything astro, but that wasn’t quite what I meant. In the past couple years, I have had not one, but TWO close friends who have designed and constructed games that center around building space programs. One of these two games focused on building a replica of a rocket as a way to learn more about politics, negotiation and the history of the Russian-American space race. The other game focused on the social aspects of strong collaborations and team building as one part of developing awareness of roles for women in aerospace engineering, which was done by assembling a team of members who had the right skill mix to accomplish specific space building tasks and functional projects. One game was designed for Second Life, the other for Facebook. Neither of them are in a position for me to give you a link to show you the game. Kerbal is. And Kerbal has a very similar game concept to the others. I find that rather intriguing and ironic, in a way.
In their words:
The Vehicle Assembly Building and the Space Plane Hangar allows players to build spacecraft out of any imaginable combination of parts.
Fully-fledged, Physics-based Flight Simulation ensures everything will fly (and crash) as it should.
Take your Kerbal crew out of the ship and do Extra Vehicular Activities Fly out to Moons and other Planets
Procedural Terrain delivers detailed terrain at a vast scale. The Kerbal Planet is 600km in radius!
Mod-enabled, allows players to create new content and modify the game. Ship systems. Keep an eye out for engine temperatures and fuel levels, and try not to explode.
Build ships with multiple stages, and jettison parts away as they burn out. Full control over the staging sequence allows for complex ships and advanced functionality.”