February 27, 2014 8:45 PM | Lena LeRay
Germany-based developer Chasing Carrots is working on their second game, Cosmonautica. In it, players must not only hop from planet to planet, buying low and selling high, but also manage the layout of their ships and the happiness of their crew members.
Although Chasing Carrots says the game is still in pre-alpha and some features definitely aren't yet implemented, the game already shows a lot of potential and polish. In Cosmonautica's current state, the only game mode is a randomly generated sandbox galaxy mode, in which the player starts off with a small ship, no crew members, and just enough money to get started. Some tutorial text gives the player enough information to get started, as well as a goal: science. The player must trade and upgrade and collect new crew members and trade and upgrade some more until their vessel is producing a significant amount of research.
The starter ship comes with a cockpit and an engine, and the player can add other rooms such as crew quarters, bathrooms, cargo space, and a medical facility, to name a few. The ship has a number of compartments that the rooms can go in, and the player can lay the rooms out within those compartments however they wish. Deck-to-deck transporter locations are fixed, but there are no limits about what kind of room can be built on a transporter. The player can design the ship how every they choose, but failure to balance function with crew comfort can be disastrous, as crew members' happiness is one of the focuses of gameplay.
Crew members can be hired at any space station, though who is available is random. Each crew member starts with one or more skills and can be hired for an up front fee and retained for a daily fee. Someone with piloting skill is an absolute must, and other skills include cleaning, repair, and shooting. Cleaning is necessary to prevent disease from ravaging the crew, repair is exactly what it sounds like, and shooting is used for battles in between planets. The crew members have other traits such as religion, too, though, and their happiness can be dependent upon the presence of certain types of facilities. How well they get along with each other and how comfortable the environment is affects morale. Each crew member's task priorities can be individually managed to fine-tune how well the ship runs.
Once the player has outfitted the ship, hired a pilot, and taken on optional missions and/or purchased some goods to trade at the starting space station, it's time to hop to another planet and see if you can make a quick buck. The developers have mainly focused on the space trading aspects of the game thus far, so that's pretty much all there is to see just yet. I say that's all, Cosmonautica is already fun to play. Chasing Carrots plans to implement other features, too, though, such as pre-built scenarios, ground missions, and space battles in the design of your ship's interior is supposed to affect how well it can fight.
Cosmonautica is slated for a Windows release as a digital download sometime in Q2 of this year. Chasing Carrots has plans to release it on XBLA, PSN, iOS, and Androids, as well, though there is no estimated release date for those platforms at this time. They're looking for feedback on Steam Greenlight Concepts right now, with a full Greenlight campaign planned for the near future.