The Space Game


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Rating: 4.7/5 (340 votes)
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PsychotronicThe Space GameThe latest game from David Scott of The Casual Collective has either the most generic title ever, or the most confident. You see, it's not just some space game, it's not one of those space games, no, it's The Space Game, the one and only; and yea, there has been no other space game before it and there shall be none after. Scott describes the game as a mashup of Vector TD 2 and Oxeye Studios' Harvest: Massive Encounter, and that's a fine summary. It combines the epic scale and frantic pace of Harvest with the depth and abstract style of Vector, and the result sets a new standard for browser-based real-time strategy games.

The Space Game is set in the vast reaches of Canada, oh wait I mean SPACE, where there await fields of mineral-rich asteroids, ripe for exploitation. You, playing the part of a heavily armed mining company, must set up shop in the midst of the 'roids and extract their mineralistic goodness. That's it. Game over.

HOLD ON THERE ARE SPACE PIRATES. Hundreds and hundreds of them, actually. It seems that the best asteroid belts lie within pirate territory, and they love nothing more than to crack open space miners' skulls and feast on their space brains. Expect them to send unbelievably huge swarms of space ships to accomplish that space goal, which results in some space gigantic and space exciting space battles. Space.

The Space GameSo, the basic flow of gameplay is to pop out mining orbs near the asteroids, harvest their minerals, and use those resources to build defenses against the pirates, which in turn allows you to stay alive to mine another day. In order to power your miners and your laser defense grid, you'll need to build Solar Stations, and connect them physically to your other structures by means of relays. All this feels very fluid and natural; building a structure, if you have enough minerals of course, is as simple as clicking once on its icon in the build menu (or pressing its numerical hotkey) and then clicking on the screen where you want it. Upgrading one is a mere matter of clicking on it, and then pressing the space bar or clicking the upgrade icon.

The Space Game comes with a decent selection of modes with multiple difficulty levels, including a Mining Mode, where you accumulate a proscribed number of minerals as fast as possible; and a Survival Mode, where you stay alive as long as you can. I advise playing the Training mode first, then making your way through the well-tuned and perfectly-paced story missions, which smooth out the learning curve by introducing the different enemy types one by one.

Analysis: The Space Game is a shining example of how to make complex gameplay accessible. Your onscreen indicators convey a huge amount of information without overwhelming you or obscuring the wide open, attractive play field. Mastering the keyboard hotkeys allows you to build at a blistering pace, but it's possible—even reasonable—to play the entire game using only the mouse. All of your available options are there to make your gaming experience easier and more pleasurable. The space pirates are your enemy, not the controls. There's even a colorblind mode, selectable through the in-game options menu. This is the slickest, most professional presentation I've seen from the Casual Collective, or nearly any other Flash developer for that matter.

If you enjoy The Space Game, be sure to play the follow-up, The Space Game: Missions.

The freedom of building in two dimensions gives you a lot of room to experiment and find your own strategy. In the end, it's essentially a numbers game, like any other tower defense title, but the sheer scope of the battles make it feel like quality space opera. Because you can see each new wave of pirates coming, it's always a mad scramble to get a new bank of lasers powered and assembled before they arrive. Constant tension plus simple controls plus nearly unlimited mathematical depth equals awesome strategy game.

It's a common problem with defense games, but The Space Game is so tightly focused, it can start to feel repetitive. If the game continues to develop, I'd like to see a story mode with, you know, an actual story, and a deeper variety of goals. However, this is an absolutely rock-solid foundation. If the game is successful, Scott plans to add multiplayer games, player-controlled ships, and a variety of other modes that should extend its life. And there's no reason why it shouldn't be successful. After all, it's The Space Game, the one and only.

Play The Space Game

Note: The Space Game is also available to play at the Casual Collective, where you get access to a couple of bonus modes, if you have a membership.

43 Comments

NeEdLeSs NoOdLeS Author Profile Page February 15, 2009 8:12 PM

That was fun. The minutes passed quickly; the sort of game that you could end up spending an hour on and never really notice.

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I like it. The power relay structure works really well. I like that the realy nodes are very cheap, allowing you to expand easily.

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Agreed. This is really good. I am getting sick of tower defense games, but this one really does a good job of proving that the pain of monotony has more to do with the quality of game and the amount of imagination put into it than the style.

I can't wait until more complex campaigns/plots come out for this.

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This game is awesome! It proves that not all TD games are the same. I agree that he balanced the costs very well. There many strategies available, so it's very fun, at least at first. I hope he continues to add more to it. Good job!

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I love it that it can pause or slow the game, and let me build things even when it is paused. A lot less chance of stress out, which leads to a true causal gameplay. Many similiar defence games force players to be quick and restrict players from planning things out slowly. As a slow person, I always have to give up those game, but not this one.

Wish other game developers would do the same in the future. The spirit of TD games should be to build strategically, not to be faster than the computer timeframe.

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Love this game! Definitely out of the "box" TD. It's a bit like a simplified version of Homeworld (which I love.) I do hope they add on or expand with a story line.

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Aerris Tels February 15, 2009 11:49 PM

This is pretty good. I've started to think however that David Scott's games will only be as good as the TD genre which is growing very tired.

I do applaud David for posting this one on CandyStand like Vector TD was. I much prefer the games on there due to their download speed and the lack of the awful advertising all over casual collective.

In summary, this is a good game but the genre no longer keeps my attention. A year ago, I would have played for hours and now I am bored after 30 minutes.

I'm interested in seeing if David is a game developer or a TD developer. This will be interesting to learn.

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After playing the space game for most of the morning I think it is more an RTS than a TD. Unlike a TD the 'creeps' have no exit, unlike most TDs they are attacking the 'towers' and unlike all TDs there is no mazing or pathing.

Wasn't it Scott who coded Buggle Stars? That did well and was a platformer.

Just my 2c

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The Harvest influence is inescapable, but it's still an awesome job.

I want this guy to make more games. Vector TD was awesome, and I can't stand most tower defence games.

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I like it! I played Harvest ME a bit, and it got repetitive and had one fatal flaw: Windows. This one, I can play any time anywhere.

Takes a lot of CPU, though. I've seen lots of recent games do this. (And yes, I fiddled with the settings.)

I'd still give it a 4.5 out of 5, if we were doing ratings. I bookmarked it, and it doesn't get better than that.

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Great find, Psychotronic! I liked this game - that is, up until level 3. Once, my base was destroyed with 13 seconds left on the clock. My biggest defeat was when a fleet of 8 motherships came at me in "No Hope" of Survival mode.

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Totally addictive. I just wanted to took a glance, and now it's more than two hours I'm playing it!! ;)

If only it had a little bit of commerce thrown in, it would be epic.

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I loved the game when it appeared on the casual collective. Yes Harvest Encounter influence is undeniable, but it is yet its own nice flash game. The normal campaign is a bit short for my taste, and the mechanics are so simple, levels dont allow much variety.

My tip for the last campaign mission

Keep your base quite small, and build 2 miners per comet. Gives you enough income as long the level lasts. Next to power concentrate only on pulsers. 1 HEL should be enough to kill the 5 motherships that come midmission. 1 Repeair station sufficides as well. With the rest of the money: buy pulsers, buy pulsers, buy pulsers. (they kill ringships also quite okay)

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I don't usually like games that involve too much strategy to play, like building an empire, then recruiting fighters to defend the city, and at the same time assuring that the citizens have enough supriments to stay alive. This kind of stuff gets me bored real quick.
Surprisingly enough, The Space Game went straight to my bookmarks! I can only say this is an outstanding game, after all, it is THE Space Game!

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Can anybody provide tips on mission six? I can't seem to avoid overloading my THELs and trial after trial ends in a wave of mutilation. A wave of mutilation. A wa-aa-aave...

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Never mind, I figured it out.

My winning strategy:

three power stations, fully upgraded, co-linked to three upgraded storage tanks. About 3 or 4 THELs on each tank, and 4 or so rocket launchers on the power stations. Upgrade all the THELs to 2, some to 3, and maybe some rocket launchers,but keep minerals around for bombing!

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This came is a great boilerplate for why RTS games (and TD games, I guess) fail by their very concept. Provided you can dump everything into acquiring resources, and accelerating resource rate, and then switch over to combat the moment the baddies show up, you're golden. That's all there is to it. Beautiful, fun game, otherwise.

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Yeah I would really love a walkthough of the last level; what to build when... I keep getting my butt handed to me.

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Some factors of weapons should have been adjusted. For example, for missile stations, the price tag, the upgrading costs, the low missile count and the crawling speed of the missiles, makes them useless. I won the last 5 battles without even one.

The recycle values should been balanced too. The 100% recycle rate of basic lasers and basic repair stations, basically eliminate the need for upgrading. You can just put dozens of them at a chocking point where the enemies are heading, and recycle them, 100%, afterward;then rebuild dozens facing the next wave. Rinse and repeat.

For a strategy game, these parameters are very important to prevent a "one-solution-fits-all" strategy. A nice game, but not a great strategy game. 3 stars out of 5.

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More challenging maps are needed.

How about a map with a chain of asteroids along the diagonal line?

How about a map with 4 clusters of asteroids at the corners?

How about a map in which the asteroids forms a portrait?

How about a map in which you have to seek out some stationary mother ships and actively attack them?

This game could have been much more interesting if the level designer had used more imagination. Come to think about it, I should have voted 2 stars out of 5.

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For mission 6, I just upgrade the solar station and build 7 missle launchers fully upgraded and on repair station and that's it, just sit back and watch the motherships become toast! if you want to slow their approach, just build some relays in their path and they will shoot those first while your rockets pick them off one by one.

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I can't help but sympathize with the pirates in this game. Think about it - why am I mining? To collect the resources necessary to build weapons. What am I protecting? My mining operation! At the end of most levels, I generally find myself with about as many minerals as I had when I began, often fewer. What glorious empire have I constructed? Something liable to be recycled into the scrap heap now that the asteroids are exhausted of minerals. Don't get me wrong - I find the game loads of fun. I just think that if someone moved into my neighborhood and exhausted all the local resources for the sake of building and defending their mining operation, I think I'd muscle up a posse and try to take them out as soon as possible. Who exactly are the pirates in this situation?

In short, perhaps an added challenge should be added to the game: try to reach a certain number of minerals - stockpiled, not mined and spent. These can then be exported (via a mobile unit?) to supply the starving planet, build orphanages, etc. This would add yet another dimension to the game: balancing the need to save up minerals with the need to spend minerals on weapons and mining.

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In short, perhaps an added challenge should be added to the game: try to reach a certain number of minerals - stockpiled, not mined and spent. These can then be exported (via a mobile unit?) to supply the starving planet, build orphanages, etc. This would add yet another dimension to the game: balancing the need to save up minerals with the need to spend minerals on weapons and mining. -Chris

You know, if they simply changed "mine 10000 minerals" to something like "collect 5000 minerals", it would automatically add a level of difficulty.

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THE space fighter February 22, 2009 12:01 PM

Global fighting strategy for last mission, hard and madness:

How to mine:
Focus on few asteroids. Use intervals between attacks to mine. Mine always with as many as possible per asteriod. Recycle your mining operation before ships fire. They will continue toward your center of defense. As soon as one side of the asteroid field is free of ships, expand your mining operation again.

How to defend:
Build a small ring of power stations with a radius not larger than one relay. Surround it tighly (keep the ring as small as possible) with lasers (recycleable with no cost), pulsers,... One repair station in the middle will do it. Build level 2 THELs only when needed against motherships. Use relays as an additional outer ring for decoys. Use missiles (again, level 1 recycleable with no cost) only against swarmers and mother ships once their little ones are destroyed. Keep upgrading, voilà!

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I find interesting the no cost of recycling basic units. It is kind of you are not destroying them, only retiring them for a future use at another place. But if you upgrade a unit, you have to add components that cannot be moved, so recycling has a cost.

My strategy for hard/insane.

Speed is the key. You must ansorb material as fast as you can, that means many miners/asteroid. Since upgraded miners have a recycling cost of -50 minerals, a balance must be reached to avoid losing too much. About 1 minute to dry an asteroid has given me good results. That means 5 miners for a 1000 tons ast, only 2 for a 400 tons one.

You must reach a production speed over 5000 tons/minute before the first wave! The waves always have the same order: fighters, missile ships, exploders... you only need basic lasers for these ones. Lots of them, but you can build them with that production speed once you know the incoming direction. Build a barrier in that direction, just outside of the asteroid belt, so you can continue expanding the mining operations at the same time. Drying asteroids in one minute means you have to constantly recycling old empty ones and starting new ones.

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Ring ships are tougher, but a good wall of laser towers should stop them. why not building pulsed lasers? because you lose when recycling, the power is much lower for just a little more range and health.

You must reach a production speed over 8000-10000 tons/minute before the swarmers arrive! For these pests the lasers are not enough and you must build and upgrade one or several missile turrets. Scrap the laser towers if you need more minerals, but keep a good node network to keep the swarmers busy while the missiles decimate them. Keep those missile towers for future use. Upgrade to max, since later waves are stronger. Build more solar stations and several energy stores. When I ended the madness level I had 9 solar stations and 4 energy stores.

Then, the motherships... you need THELs for them. Wait until you know were are they coming from. A trick: when you receive the warning, zoom out to the maximum, even when they are not visible on the small map, you can move to the sides and up/down and find them. Build THELS behind the laser walls, upgrade to the max and finish them easily. Keep them for future waves. Like missile turrets, unless you have a mineral shortage crisis it is not worth recycling them.

After several waves more, after the second motherships arrive, you should have a laser perimeter surrounding most of the asteroid beld, most of the asteroids will be empty. In the mining modes you should be finishing. In the survival mode, when all the asteroids are empty, bunkerize! recycle all the perimeter and build a lot of solar stations, some energy stores and THELs and repair stations. And resist.

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Miner 49er February 27, 2009 4:53 PM

Once you use the tactics described by the previous comments you'll actually win dominantly. You have to get the mining rate up to at least 3,000 to 5,000 and keep it there. I used the low level lasers and miners, and only built THEL's for motherships. All the other stuff helps too, keep using those relays to set up a perimeter, keep mining continuously, use relays as possible decoys, and you'll see that it's not nearly as hard as when you first played the level. The mining rate is by far the most important thing as the attacks get worse and worse and you'll need to build defenses.

At the end every asteroid will be dry, and you'll have this relay network that covers the whole asteroid belt. I had 9 power stations, 3 storages, 3 fully upgraded missiles, 2 upgraded repair stations all in the center inch or two of the screen which never got touched the entire level because the outside perimeter of dozens and dozens of low level lasers and 2 second level THEL's was never breached. The miners were in between the laser perimeter and the center power. At the end as there are a ton of connections everywhere.

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This was much easier once I got some basic strategies in place

First - never upgrade any of you miners. The lost when you recycle is simply not worth it. Instead build LOTS of the basic miner, as many as you can fit around an asteroid.

Second - Don't upgrade lasers EVER. The damage is significantly lower than the basic laser and the range is only slightly greater. It is far more effective to concentrate lots of lasers. You can build something like 20 basics for the cost of one fully upgraded THEL. In the early stages regularly dismantle and rebuild lasers to block the direction of attack. Any space minerals beyond this go to expanding mining.

Third - power conduit nodes can only have 6 links to other units (miners, other nodes, power supplies). Solar plants can have as many connections as you can fit. It is possible to build 20 or so miners off one power supply which is both better use of space AND minerals. Use this same trick to fit more defensive laser closer together.

Fourth - When you need to kill swarmers or motherships missiles are the most effective. To make best use of mineral resources build lots of them (10 to 20) but don't upgrade. You can then strip them back down to rebuild your basic lasers. Remember basic lasers can't hit motherships so scrap loads of them to build missiles and take the motherships and swarmers down FAST.

I replayed the last mission using these tactics and by the end had mined every rock and only lost two basic lasers in the whole mission.

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Jomay's tip for mission 6 works best, rockets use less power than THELs didnt even need repairs. also helps to pause to allow for updates

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After playing dozens of Survivor Mode games I finally found the perfect strategy. I managed 37 minutes in Survivor mode on middle difficulty.

- Never upgrade your miners, just build more of them.
- Never upgrade your Basic Lasers, build lots of them. They do more damage than Pulsers.
- Never upgrade your Basic Missiles, just build more of them.
- Mine as quick as you can.
- Build a network of energy relais around the whole asteroid field.
- Build Lasers and Missiles when you need them and then dispose of them. If they are not upgraded you get all the ressources back.
- Upgrade your Solar Stations only once, and build more of them, it's cheaper that way.

After you've mined everything recycle your weapons and network and build a new base, like in this screenshot:
http://images.jayisgames.com/hs_pam_thespacegame_newbase.jpg

Have fun!

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I finally got past level 3! Thanks to everybody who gave strategies. But now, I'm stuck on level 6. How am I supposed to destroy 25 motherships? Five or six is hard, let alone 25.

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Never mind, I figured it out. My strategy:

I upgraded my solar station once. Then I built eight or nine missiles, upgraded all of them once, then four or five of them twice. The motherships didn't get close enough to fire their attack fighters.

Now I'm stuck on level 9.

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In the history of computer and video games, there have been three things that, through sheer frustration and annoyance, accelerate my use of profanity to Guy-Ritchie-meets-Quentin-Tarantino levels:

1. Blue shells in Mario Kart.

2. The Memory Tree level in Breath of Fire 2.

3. And now, the Ring Ships in The Space Game.

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Mr. nobody May 12, 2009 9:01 AM

A Quick and simple way to pass LVL 8 and 9 is to mine like crazy (no upgrades on the mines) and then concentrate on building missile launchers(do not upgrade). Add 4 to 5 THELs fully upgraded when you get to 10 missile launchers and 4 solar stations. I have found that this combination can withstand many fleets of motherships.

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I can't beat the level with the mother ship fleet, any useful suggestions?

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Me, this is how you beat level 6.

Upgrade you power station once. Build a ring of 9 missile launchers around it. Upgrade all of them to level 2 and four or five of them to level 3.

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Passerby June 19, 2009 2:51 PM

"but it's possible-even reasonable-to play the entire game using only the mouse."

I beat it doing this... all nine, fully updated levels...

I also discovered right after winning, about the hotkeys...

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I need help with the last mission BAD!!!!!!!!!!!

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I think they should add a multiplayer mode where you can send ships to the other persons base and you also have to defend your own base at the same time.

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free.runn3r` July 22, 2009 10:00 PM

I can't beat the sub sections after level 8 with the gigantic ship! I can't beat the one after that either! HELPPP!!!

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I loved Harvest, and this game is excellent. I am a bit disappointed in how underpowered and expensive the THEL is, but I would love to see more features, missions and multiplayer added to this game. I played it for over 2 hours straight before stopping, because it became boring how the enemies got stronger and you got fewer and fewer resources to harvest.
4/5

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anyone ever got reasoably more than 40 minutes in survival mode? just to see if im missing something ;)

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Player Prime June 23, 2011 2:43 AM

This is an awesome game, but I would love a mode to just build a large base with out having to worry about defending it. I want to be able to organize things better without the constant siege by pirates, and then I want to test it. Maybe in The Space Game 2? Overall, very fun and challenging at the same time.

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