January 27, 2014 4:44 AM | Lena LeRay
Really Big Spiders came into being as a web development studio in 2005. Now this two-person team is working on putting together Tales From The Strange Universe, an MMO space strategy game that feels like a cross between Master of Orion and the now defunct browser game Archmage.
Tales From The Strange Universe is a 4X space strategy game in which players must gather resources and develop their planets so they can wage war on their foes. None of the foes are NPCs, however. The galaxy is populated only by human players. The game plays out in real time, with resources gathered automatically every hour. Building and upgrading, traveling to other solar systems, research, everything takes a certain amount of time to pull off, and the ability to queue actions means that players can set up a day's worth of actions, go to work, and come home to see how things are doing. Players who want to check on things over the course of the day can easily do so, however, since the game is browser-based and works as well on smartphones as on a computer.
Players start out hidden from view. They can't interact with other players, but other players can't find them, either. This gives everyone a chance to start building their resources up before having to worry too much about attack and defense. Once a player's home solar system becomes visible to the rest of the galaxy, the surrounding solar systems are those of players who started the game at about the same time, which means that the player's potential first targets should be on more or less equal footing. After that, it's all about building an empire and accumulating victory points, which are gained faster the more planets and buildings a player has. If a player's empire is destroyed, they get to keep all their research and restart in a brand new solar system.
At the current stage of beta, a galaxy is open for about a week, at the end of which players are ranked based on how many victory points they have. By the time the game goes live, galaxies will be open for 3-6 weeks at a time. Joining a galaxy will cost purchasable tokens at a rate of 1 token per week the galaxy lasts. Tokens will have a base price of $1.90, with discounts for buying in bulk and some sort of demo available for people who want to try the game before investing money into it. Although players must buy into each galaxy they want to play, within a galaxy everyone is on an equal footing with no pay-to-win mechanics.
Really Big Spiders is running a Kickstarter that ends in a few days to help fund Tales From The Strange Universe's development. They're committed to finishing development whether or not the Kickstarter succeeds, but raising the money will give them the ability to focus on the game without distractions and release it this summer. All of the Kickstarter tier rewards include tokens at a better rate than the default will be later, and some of the tiers give you beta access to see what they've got already. The work they've done so far is solid, and once a community gets built up behind this game it should have longevity for years to come.