At first glance you might mistake Space Wars: Interstellar Empires for just another 4X space game. Or perhaps those flashy-looking graphics had you expecting a space-combat sim? Either way you’d be wrong. What you’re actually seeing is a series of old-school, turn-based battles which themselves are part of a larger ‘massively multiplayer’ war.
Creator Rob Simyar has a long history with tabletop gaming and it shows with Space Wars. For starters, the battles take place on traditional 2D hexagonal landscapes. And then there’s the extremely comprehensive ruleset that he’s spent years developing. As the pitch video for Space Wars makes clear, this is clearly aimed at the hardcore tactical gamers.
A Fleet of One
What’s interesting then is that rather than commanding an army of ships, you’ll just be in charge of one. There’s a much larger war to be fought as four distinct factions duke it out for dominion of the whole galaxy. While Rob is collaborating with a fairly small studio, Desert Owl Games, to develop Space Wars he’s aiming to have thousands of gamers populating those four factions. And in order to achieve this he’s taking the bold step of making it free to play.
Of course, if the game is going to be free then why spend money contributing towards the $40,000 Kickstarter goal? Well for one, the entry level pledge is only $5 and will reward backers with a beta key when Space Wars enters Early Access in January 2017. With the full game not due for release until late 2017 that’s a reasonable incentive.
However what’s possibly a bigger draw are the various higher level pledges. These include exclusive ships, skins and the naming rights for planets and regions of space. This might seem fairly innocuous, but given the fevered and ongoing enthusiasm backers have for Star Citizen, it could prove a very shrewd tactic.
But I can’t bring up Star Citizen without acknowledging the problems of that particular Kickstarter. Space Wars similarly risks becoming too ambitious and spiraling out of control. That’s unlikely to happen though. Not only does Space Wars seem a more focused affair, but it’s already well into development. In fact, two of the four races are already complete. The main aim of the Kickstarter campaign is to ensure sufficient resources are in place to implement the remaining races. And hopefully also add a single-player campaign.
With all the other MMOs out there though, there is a worry that Space Wars could struggle to attract enough players. In this regard the Kickstarter could be extremely useful in ensuring there’s a healthy community early on. And with almost 10% of the Kickstarter goal reached in the first day of the campaign, it’s off to a very good start.