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Sizing Up ScrumbleShip; A Cooperative Ship Experience with Voxels

Typically I either do previews or interviews for DIYGamer due to the fact that most developers aren’t physically within my reach. Therefor I’m forced to do interviews over email/IM and then preview the game later, separately. Today, I’m trying something a little different because, well, Dirk (the creator of ScrumbleShip) happens to live in Portland. Huzzah!

Late last week, I met up with Dirk to discuss everything about ScrumbleShip, a game that I reported on a little while ago.

In its most basic form ScrumbleShip is a space-based voxel game. However, what the game is actually planned to be is so much more than simply “Minecraft in space.” In fact, it’s something I’ve been excited about ever since I read about the original plan for Star Trek Online by Perpetual Entertainment way back in 2006-2007.

Some of the various consoles you can "man."

When I reported on ScrumbleShip last month I said that the game had a focus on ship combat, which remains true. Ship combat in ScrumbleShip will be very important. But it’s far from the most exciting part about the game.

When discussing the game with Dirk he clued me in on the ultimate plan for the game and what could possibly be the best rendition of the Star Trek experience a video game has ever given.

What do I mean by Star Trek experience? If you’re unfamiliar with the series (really?) essentially it’s about a crew. Each member of the crew has their own job and their own terminal with which to operate and command through missions. So there’s a helmsman (navigation), weapons (tactical), engineering (repair), and the captain of course. ScrumbleShip is taking this idea of crewman terminals and applying it to your custom made terminals.

Essentially the plan, according to Dirk, is that the game will play as a sort of cooperative ship management game where you construct your ship, apply the correct terminals and then you and a group of friends manage your ship via those consoles. Each person has their job.

How this ultimately works out in practice I’m not quite sure, but the idea is very promising. Most co-op games aren’t really cooperative rather it’s played by a series of individuals doing their own thing. Gear of War co-op, for example, is really just a bunch of friends running through a level killing things. No real cooperation is needed.

When damaged, your ship will be physically torn apart.

Oh and if you thought that this meant that the competitive side of the game was out… absolutely not. According to Dirk the game will still very much be focused around ship combat, the other side of which is also a ship powered by multiple people.

Oh and the cherry on top? Each ship will be populated by AI “red shirts” (Star Trek reference) for any consoles that need filling should you not have enough human players. Amazing!

Inside the organic mothership. Join the hivemind.

There’s a lot still planned for the game beyond what I’ve written here which makes it so exciting. Organic ships, for example, are planned to be a big part of the game. Think Zerg or Tyrranids. Bones, flesh, carapace-based ships with organic based weaponry like acid shooters. Instead of “consoles” players will manage various organs.

There’s also a plan for some procedurally generated planets but those are a bit further down the line. The idea is to generate a planet like object that would eventually have an atmosphere and life. Ambitious, absolutely, so who knows if it will actually come to pass.

ScrumbleShip is currently in pre-alpha, but you can download a demo (on Windows or Linux!) to sort out the mechanics of the game right now, although don’t expect everything that I’ve written about here to be included.

We’ll be following ScrumbleShip’s progress as development continues. In the mean time, feel free to check out the game via the link below.