Simple features such as the vending machines increase immersion and give you something to do if you need to wait.
Welcome to SS13Welcome to the world of Space Station 13. After years of idle development, the game is finally underway towards a golden era.
Space Station 13 once started out as a small test suite created by Exadv1 where he was experimenting with an atmospherics system on BYOND. Over time project "cellautomata" turned into the Space Station 13 as we know it.
I finally found out where the disposal units lead!
I finally found out where the disposal units lead!
Complex systems such as this were added to the game, leading to a "space station simulator" that allows you to experience what it's like to live on a space station. Unfortunately the creation of a realistically portrayed game like this has spawned the unrealistic habit of grief, where players ruin the game for each other and perform all sorts of weird actions that don't even relate to their job at all.
The game is very popular, ranging from 30 to 70 players on busy days.
The Game(play)The game is set in rounds and various game modes ensure that every round will be very different from any other, though they usually end in chaos due to the sheer amount of players stacked onto a single server (see also: cabin fever). At the end of each round a shuttle arrives to take away the survivors, and there are various medals to be earned during the course of the game.
When you join the game you're assigned to a job which has specific duties you should perform, but you're left in charge of your own destiny. The beauty about SS13 is that you can make your own choices and do whatever you want. The downside is that a lot of people make choices that involve your character getting hurt in some way. However it's pretty much guaranteed that every round will be unique, even if it's just unique ways of dying.
Having fun dressed up as a wizard in the cargo hold.
The controls of the game are easy enough to learn, though this is probably biased since I've played the game longer that I'd care to count. Luckily for newcomers there is a wiki available that explains a lot about the game. One of the aspects that make the game even more fun is to be able to find all sorts of new things and discover how they work.
There are at least two servers online to allow for a reasonable distribution of players. Newcomers might be better off joining a server with only a handful of players though, since it's much easier to learn about the various features without being disturbed too much.
The game has a lot of features (mess with the atmospheric system, create your own robots, role-play as a sentient computer, be the station chef and prepare food, run around as a clown amusing others, mop the floor and laugh at the unfortunate souls that slip on them, and a lot more) that make for a truly unique experience every time you join a round.
For gameplay I'm giving a score of 7 out of 10. The new development team has really done a lot of work on the game, and it's improved drastically to the point where you can barely recognise it's the same game if you look at an older version. The sheer amount of features ensures you'll never be bored, and although things like griefers can ruin your mood it's something which can be avoided most of the time.
You quickly forget you're in a BYOND game when dynamic area lighting becomes second nature.
The graphics used to look bland and people were quickly put off by them. The pixel artists that have joined development have done a great amount of work remaking the artwork, and this shows from the second you connect to the game. The graphics look amazing, and although the player icon still only faces south, it doesn't seem to affect the game at all.
Unfortunately, the interface leaves much to be desired. Because the game is so old, browser screens are still used for most of the objects you'll use in the game. Some of these windows tend to refresh every second, which can get annoying for some windows. Luckily, it doesn't distract too much from the game and you'll be paying more attention to what happens near you than to care about an ugly computer printout anyway.
SoundsSS13 uses a lot of sounds, and I mean a lot. Any other BYOND game would be blown right out of the water.
There's background noises and ambiance depending on which area you're in, random announcements and noises are played to increase immersion and full use is made of the 3D sounds that were available since BYOND 3.5 to produce a variety of sounds depending on actions taken by you or others.
From knocking someone over the head with a toolbox to opening doors and putting an item in your backpack, there are sounds for nearly every possible action which says a lot given the freedom available. Eating and drinking has multiple sound effects so you don't get bored listening to those and there's even a clown job who has special shoes that make weird noises whenever he or she walks about the station.
Presentation ScoreOverall the presentation is top notch, but needs improvement. I'm giving this a rating of 5.5 out of 10, putting it to a close 6. The only thing that would put anyone off from playing this game is the lack of a good-looking window and the blackness they have to endure as they're being strangled to death by a security officer.
Ordering items from the supply station.
OriginalityThis is truly an original game. The story is original, the artwork is original and although there were some problems with the source-code being leaked this ultimately resolved itself. Even the sounds appear to be original though verifying this would be difficult.
Every so often a bunch of new features are added and even with the new development team it continues to remain original and to the point.
However for all their originality the storyline doesn't add up (a company filled with wizards? tourists aboard a multi-billion dollar space station?) and although this doesn't affect the game by much I think I should cut off a point from originality.
That leaves us with a score of 7 out of 10.
Overall ScoreFor this review (at least) I'm adhering that the overall score = the general impression of the game, which is actually what the review tools say I should think on it.
We come to two fatal flaws: the community and the administration.
The CommunityThere are two sides to the community: those that favor role-playing, and those that favor action.
Those that favor role-playing can be very strict if they're administrating since you need to play by their rule book, which can get pretty one-sided.
Those that favor action can be difficult to deal with, as they're a more aggressive species. You don't know if they're going to club you over the head and throw you out of an airlock or work together with you.
As it stands the people in charge are considered a mix of the two bent slightly towards the action-oriented game-play. They allow role-playing and introduce features to make it popular, but they'll also allow people acting on their own and not conforming to what an ordinary person would do on a space station (such as stealing the captain's hat, for example, which would be looked down upon by role-players).
The AdministrationThe administration of the game is another interesting aspect.
There are a few main servers which you can join. However the role-player groups (and on occasion also the purely action-oriented groups) tend to stay out of these servers and form their own groups. They host their own servers and have their own administration.
Exadv1 appears to be in charge, as he controls the hub entry. However he allows other servers to coexist which allows every group to do what they like to do: role-players can run their own servers with role-play oriented features and action-oriented players can have servers of their own. You aren't forced to adhere to one specific administration.
The administration is divided yet manageable. If you don't like the way things are run, you can hop onto another server and do things another way, even if that means losing some functionality and graphics over it.
The Overall ScoreAs I said, the overall score will be my general impression of the game. I'm giving it a score of 4 out of 10. The administration and community has merit if it shapes up, and for now you'll be able to freely play, but this can change at any time due to the unstable nature of the community.
Overall the game is interesting to check out and play, but you shouldn't get too involved or you might get caught in all the drama surrounding it.
Overall score: 4 out of 10.
In space, no-one can hear you scream. Especially if someone is about to change your molecular structure.