I feel like the gameplay failings on SS13 are like the giant purple elephant in the room that nobody is noticing but me. Whenever an argument is made about game quality on BYOND, SS13 is inevitably drawn up as a high quality game. Its been driving me absolutely insane every time i play it because i keep expecting to uncover some form of coherent gameplay element that doesn't exist.
First of all, everybody on BYOND will go off and criticize any other shoddy game that has such unintuitive verb use abuse and clunky GUI. For instance, if you want to pick up a shirt, you click on it. It goes into your right hand and then you have to click it in your right hand, and click it onto your body. I spent the first 15 seconds trying to drag and drop expecting a game that is heralded as well programmed to have such simple features. It takes basically 3-4 attempts before a shirt will be equipped and thats just the tip of the frustration for any new player. Joining the game gives you a pretty good feel for what a letdown the game will be. You pick your name and if you feel like it you can even chose to give yourself a debilitating illness for some reason. No actual character stats or class or anything like that is assignable at creation. Only poor vision, epilepsy and such. Why? when i first played I thought itd be funny to give myself a few illnesses but all it did was confuse the heck out of me. I would pass out, be unable to talk and couldn't see anything. Attempt two would come a week later. I would walk around and try and catch a roleplay, those who play CowRP will tell you that you'll easily get swept up into some sort of story-tangent but in SS13 there isnt anything like that at all. Everybody is going off doing science experiments (a redeeming feature) however theres a huge lack of actual player interaction. The closest thing to player interaction is when i for no reason whatsoever found myself being cracked on the head by a guy wearing guard apparel and being welded into a locker. That really sucked, i had to come back a while later to bother giving the game another chance.
I'll evaluate the graphics quickly because its easy to. The graphics in SS13 are the worst graphics i have ever seen in a game that has more than 3 players on at at a time. I really thought the zeta rips would have been tacky enough, however SS13 is the epitome of lazy when it comes to graphics. The GUI is all grey gradients with terribly drawn symbols. There are no directions for the characters and the turfs are all solid colored shapes and really the ugliest imaginable on a game. Heres a tip guys, if a game gets even modestly popular, see if theres somebody who isnt ridiculously bad at drawing to do your graphics for you. I know that this game is full of people who think graphics dont matter, AT ALL, however it actually detracts from the enjoyment of the game when it gets this bad. It is simply laziness considering the street credit the game has, recruiting icon help would have been a breeze.
Now to code, since most people who play SS13 will almost certainly argue that code makes up for a game i think its important for me to address the fact that this game is incredibly lazily coded. There is nothing about this game that is impressive in terms of its code. You always find situations where somebody who was good at BYOND code would have made it more convenient or more effective, but no. Joining a game shouldn't be a matter of walking up to wall, getting a done verb, pressing it and getting a enter game verb. Thats garbage! for gods sake why isnt there any sign of game design in that at all? The code is poor but it works I guess, the problem then becomes the lack of game design. The game is supposed to be RP, however the game doesn't play like an RP game. There are hundreds of ways to grief somebody and the incentive to do it is there as there is no entertaining alternative to finding an excuse to putting somebody in a straight jacket, injecting somebody with plasma or putting them in a airlock chamber.
The game is by no means the worst, obviously there is some fun to it but the content and entertainment in the game is buried and hidden and it requires a huge time investment to really get into it, and even when you do you can expect the majority of players to just ruin it for you anyway because the game really lacks any sort of guidance to keep new players from doing anything more than bashing each other with crowbars.
Now, the game is original i suppose. I don't really see why people think it is so impressively original however. The game basically is sci-fi, your in a space station and while it hasn't been done much on BYOND, what makes it really original? Its just a generic space themed game with an absence of ingenuities in the game play department, so originality is more than a binary evaluation, its not a it isnt based on something or it is. This game doesn't really break any molds, it doesn't do anything that made me think, oh thats neat. And it wasn't even fun. I think SS13 is pretty much just a big chat room.
The initial spawn point, where you build your character.
Inside the space station!