Children of a Dead Earth

So, the other day I was reading the Tough Scifi blog, a blog dedicated to Realistic Space Combat (a subject longtime readers will know I’m fascinated by) and there was a reference to a new game called Children of a Dead Earth, which I clicked on out of curiosity. What I got surprised the heck out of me.

For years, I’ve searched for a game simulating realistic space warfare using actual physics, weapons and tactics that make sense based on what we know of how the universe and space combat could actually work. (No shields, no FTL, no space dogfighting, etc.) Mostly I wanted a game to simulate the actual physics involved, just to see how the whole thing would play out.

Well, Children of a Dead Earth IS that game.

The title comes from the idea that in this setting (which is our own solar system in the future) the Earth has been rendered lifeless, but not before Elon Musk and friends managed to get us out to Mars and colonize space. So it’s a conflict simulator between system powers, and there is a single player campaign all about this very topic. (Although primarily the game is meant to be a “Sandbox” game where players set up scenarios themselves, build their own ships and weapons, and blow the crap out their enemies.)

Now, one of the things about realistic physics is that it involves a lot of math and advanced concepts, which is why this is a very niche product. However, the game has done a great job of making it all very playable, reducing the math to mostly visual sliders and readouts and keeping the game fun instead of tedious. In fact, they’ve made it so playable it might just reach a wider audience than you’d expect, which manged to get it a Very Positive overall rating with 79 reviews on STEAM, which is where you can buy it. You can watch a playthrough here to decide if this is something you’d be interested in:

I have to say, they managed to make it as visually appealing as they could while staying realistic as well. The ships aren’t ships as in the Starship Enterprise, but structures with a cone of armored plate around them. Lasers are invisible, but railguns and coilguns are quite visually impressive and just plain cool to watch in action. And I find the strategic elements that physics brings interesting as well, since it’s primarily orbital combat and you have limited fuel for maneuvering. (Basically, if you don’t think ahead, you’re in deep trouble.)

This game really ups the Space Combat genre in a new way, and provides Scifi authors with a new tool to see how the battles that they’ve got in their books would actually play out. In fact, it shows just how complicated and interesting space combat really can be, which can add whole new layers to tales of future conflicts.

Rob

TorchShips – Real 3-D Space Combat by johncarlgillespie — Kickstarter

As anyone who knows me, or reads this blog knows, I’ve got this thing about Space Combat (as in, I’m fascinated by it) and have often wondered what a realistic space combat simulator would look like. Well, today I got a message from John Gillespie, who has a kickstarter project to create exactly that!

The Game

This isn’t your grandpa’s space fighter. You’re not looking out a grimy cockpit window using a joystick to kill an enemy a kilometer away who flies like they’re an airplane in an atmosphere.

You are the captain of a TorchShip – powered by a Gaseous core fission / nuclear thermal reaction drive and armed with nuclear missiles, laser cannons, and a kinetic lance. You will maneuver in 3-D space in a crowded gravity well and engage hostiles at ranges of up to 20,000 kilometers.

  • 3-D combat & UI – space is not flat, and neither is TorchShips.
  • Newtonian physics – your ship maneuvers in 3-D space using a reaction drive.
  • Damage & Systems control – detailed damage model and systems control – you’ll have to manage heat build up, fuel, and reaction mass levels.
  • Weapons include your own reaction drive, kinetic lance, missiles/mines, and laser cannons.
  • Procedurally generated single and multi-player campaigns against human and non-human opponents.
  • Fast set up skirmish modes.
  • Crew development
  • Customize your ship, name and weapon/system load-out.
  • FTL is used to link scenarios and battles. (yes… we know Faster Than Light travel is handwavium – but it allows us to add many more masspoint systems and environments to the combat scenarios without bogging down in multi-year transit times…)
  • A rich background with hundreds of human cultures and dozens of alien races.

via TorchShips – Real 3-D Space Combat by johncarlgillespie — Kickstarter.