hi, i’m jp, and i’d like to lead a team here at double fine to make a game called spacebase in which you’ll build a space station where aliens come to live and work. [ominous music playing] this is a plastic knights video. reviewing games that came out a "long" time ago. this video probably contains spoilers. you have been warned. i didnâ€™t grow up playing a lot of pc games. the games i did play on it were mainly rainbow six and age of empires. i had an atari when i was really young, there was the original nintendo in there,
and then i jumped to the nintendo 64. it was several years before i got the playstation, which i bought with my own money right at the end of the consoleâ€™s life cycle [sad music playing] i saved up again and got a playstation 2, and played tons of games. i never really sat down and played halo on the xbox until i got to college- "10 years ago" shut up talion. every time i think about youâ€¦. all i can see is 366 gigabytes of unedited footage. i got a 360 and stayed with that for the consoleâ€™s whole life-cycle.
i didnâ€™t mean for this to turn into a history lesson, the point is, i didnâ€™t start really playing pc games until 2013 when the xbone was announced. i remember watching the microsoft press conference- [speaking spanish] [subtitles below are exactly what is being said.] [trust me ;)] okâ€¦ itâ€™s time, to learn how to build myself a gaming computer. so what does any of that have to do with this review? i donâ€™t have the nostalgia or fondness for double fine productions that seems to be around for lots of other reviewers and pc game enthusiasts my age.
i didnâ€™t grow up thinking psychonauts was the best thing ever, but i trusted that there had to be some truth to the claims that double fine was great. so i put some money down for spacebase df-9 back when it was in early access. and iâ€™m just going to call it spacebase from now on. and wellâ€¦. i’ll be super fair: double fine is a bunch of gamers and creative developers that donâ€™t know how to business. and that incompetence has left a pretty bad taste in my wallet. spacebase began its life as a prototype made in under a couple of weeks. the prototype was released in double fineâ€™s amnesia fortnight 2012 bundle. if you paid more than a dollar for it, you could vote on 23
different concepts and double fine would develop the top five vote-getters. hack n slash received the most votes, with spacebase and white birch coming in 2nd and 3rd respectively. hack n slash would go on to get a full release. while white birch doesnâ€™t appear to exist outside of the bundle as of january 2016, but spacebase was released in alpha early access form in october of 2013. what you need to know about this period of time is that double fine didnâ€™t really market the game, fund it properly, or manage its team well. i wouldnâ€™tâ€™ be surprised at all if youâ€™d never heard of this game before. a lot of their resources at the time went into broken age, and spacebase got sporadic and somewhat underwhelming updates and added features. which isnâ€™t unusual for games in alpha, what was really unusual is that in october of 2014
double fine announced they would release this game pretty much as is with a few bug fixes and their current build later that month well, double fine has a wikipedia page so… citing sales numbers as the main reason for the abrupt release, the game only spent about 1 year in development, of the originally planned 5. over a year has passed since it came out in october of 2014, and its last update in november of that same year. all support from the developers has basically stopped and there arenâ€™t any plans for the future of this game from double fine. in fact, when they announced the release of the game, they basically stated that the fans would
have to fix it and add features themselves. so what is this game? spacebase is a space base building simulator. set in the distant future. you are jettisoned into a part of space to begin building your little space station in your part of the galaxy. all while fending off raiders, disease, boredom, hunger, depression, you know… like banished but not as good the game can be divided into the early, mid and late game.
early game, you need to build a handful of different rooms to ensure your colonists can breathe, eat food, and convert asteroids into matter. youâ€™ll have to assign your colonists jobs according to their preferences and abilities. you use matter to build things, and you need oxygen contraptions to be able to support a bigger population and so on. over time, the game will start throwing events at you and ask you to make decisions. should you let this outsider who looks kind of creepy join your station or tell them to leave? will you investigate the derelict freighter or just let it drift away? you decide!
but the answer is you always let people come over except for a few prompts that are obviously enemies and you never investigate derelicts because they usually have a disease or enemy on board that will royally fuck you oh and there are a limited number of prompts so you can figure out who is good and who is bad pretty quick through trial and error. the mid game is where it all comes together and for a brief period of time, itâ€™s kind of fun when everything is working properly. youâ€™ll be able to build all of the different areas available as long as youâ€™ve managed your resources and people properly. you know… kind of like uh- making a video game.
but even here, we begin to see the cracks in what makes this game bad: itâ€™s not player feedback this time guys. it’s not. i know thatâ€™s hard to believe but, itâ€™s actually bugs and an inconsistent application of in game rules. see, raiders just start attacking you all the time, seemingly regardless of whether you picked a safe area or not. you can capture enemies and send them to the brig, where they can cool down and become part of your crew. because thatâ€™s what you want after this dude massacred a few of our colonistsâ€¦. to make them part of the general population. seems- seems legit.
raiders always want to kill you too. they never show up and just take your matter or anything like that. it feels like that was supposed to be a feature at some point, but it didnâ€™t make the cut. late game is where this game falls apart entirely and begins the cycle within the player where you hate this game more and more the more you play it. you can build most of the areas you need in the mid game, but none of it seems to matter by the late game. thereâ€™s a certain point in playing, your mileage may vary but iâ€™m going to say roughly at the 90 minute mark or so where the game just gives up. certain people stop doing their jobs, depression sets in regardless of how many bars, how big your bar is, how many tvs or how much weightlifting equipment you have, and raiders try to attack you more often. even more often then they were at the beginning.
90 minutes isnâ€™t a very long time in a city building game. this also gives you a chance to see how much a lot of what youâ€™ve been doing doesnâ€™t matter. you can research different things to make your workers or soldiers more efficient, but diseases are really what you want to focus on. matter is limited by the map meaning if you did stay the course for a lot longer, youâ€™d eventually run out of building material anyway, even if people kept doing their jobs. then you remember how this game was released, and it gets really easy to hate this game. for all of the fixes and work that went into finishing the game in its last couple months of development, there are too many instances of broken ai, bad path finding, unbalanced gameplay, half done features, and repetitive decision making screens. many of your workers are going to suffocate to death for
crying out loud. not because of anything you did, but because they suck at monitoring their own oxygen levels. the premise of spacebase is great and is what made me want to get it in the first place. itâ€™s execution on the other hand was terrible. i only own two games in my steam library that i regret buying, and spacebase is the second one. his game highlights the major weaknesses and problems of the early access system: using early access to bankroll unfinished products is risky, mismanagement of development teams in conjunction with poor budgetary planning is terrible, marketing failures, a failure to scale production up or down properly according to available funds.
some or all of these things are inherent problems to video game creation, double fine just hit all of them in this instance. i’m not saying that double fine was malicious about this, but using indie developer tactics to fund a game that isnâ€™t being developed by an indie developer is somewhat problematic and adds insult to injury when it states that itâ€™s up to the public to create new content upon its release. double fine is obviously full of talented and passionate people who love video games. they just donâ€™t know how to budget and this isnâ€™t the first time they showed the world they didnâ€™t know how to budget; as opposed to their successful broken age title. iâ€™m not saying they are bad people or anything like that.
donâ€™t misunderstand. they just didn’t win this time. within a month of spacebaseâ€™s release, once the final patches were put in, most if not all of the development team was laid off, including the project lead; solidifying that this project is abandoned for the foreseeable future. putting all that aside, and just looking at the game as it turned out: this game is pretty shit. [squealing tires and crash sound]