Starfighter Inc, Hardcore Space Sim Launches on Kickstarter

“Counter-Strike meets World of Warships in space!” promises the Kickstarter for an intriguing new space sim by the veteran developers at Impeller Studios. They previously attempted a fundraising effort for the game and barely missed their goal. This time they are asking for less money and showing a lot more content.

Although set in the future, the game adheres to a strict formula of what is realistically, scientifically feasible. They even brought on an engineer to make sure they stick to the realm of possibility. “We’re not making shit up. We’re doing our homework. We’re studying the engineering. We’ve hired an engineer to design our spacecraft and weapon systems. He knows the math. It checks out. Everything in the game is something that could actually exist,” says David Wessman, Lead Designer, in the Kickstarter video. That means there will be no cloaking devices, no shields, and no faster-than-light travel.

Click to enlarge.

That also means a flight model without the simulated gravity you see in most space sims. While ships are equipped with an AI assist that will counter unrecoverable spins, it is possible that AI can be destroyed in battle. The AI “can also counteract drift as well, which makes the ships easier to fly, but it does consume much more propellant in this mode,” Jack Mamais, Game Director of Starfighter Inc told me in an email. In this game, your skill with your flight stick (or appropriate control system; they have said that it will support controllers, but they are not optimal) will matter.

The damage model is component-based, which presents an array of different situations for a player. If your sensor cluster is destroyed then you are flying by visuals. If your maneuvering thrusters go out, you’re going to struggle to control the ship for the rest of the match. The developers emphasize that this is a skill-based PvP game, and pilot skill and strategy will be the determining factor in battles.

A look at the complexity of the component system.

“The truth is we all actually wanted to play a REAL space simulator so we set out to make it something based on how ships in space would really work and we feel we have succeeded, the game is lots of fun and gets more interesting each time we play it,” said Mamais.

The player will have a choice of three ships in a match, and, like Counter-Strike, you will be able to customize your gear after rounds. The developers compare the customization to World of Warships.

The three ships available at launch will be:

  • Shrike – Think F-16 fighter jet. A fast and maneuverable single-pilot ship.
  • Pegasus – The Pegasus is a large ship with heavy armor and “can be configured for assault transport, combat search and rescue, drone operation, heavy strike, missile defense, or tanker roles.” In addition to the pilot, the Pegasus can hold up to two players as turret gunners.
  • Hyperion – A heavy fighter which, like the other ships, can be configured to emphasize multiple roles. The Hyperion has room for its pilot as well as a weapons officer.
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At launch Starfighter Inc will feature full VR support on the Oculus Rift, Vive, and OSVR.

In addition to Counter-Strike type matches, the game will feature a narrative that changes over time, including comic book artwork that may be influenced by battles. You take on the role of a mercenary working for a corporation. Depending on the money raised for the project, it’s possible that players will be able to form their own corporations or even destroy them.

The game is being made by Impeller Studios, a venture of remotely coordinated industry veterans. Jack Mamais, the Game Director, has worked in gaming for more than 23 years and has worked on Crysis, Far Cry, and MechWarrior 2. David Wessman, Lead Designer, brings his experience from working on classics such as X-Wing, TIE Fighter, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, Saint’s Row and more.

While $150,000 isn’t nearly enough to fund a game like this, the developers are putting up their own money to fund the rest of the project and hope Kickstarter will allow them to do more with the game before release. They hope to have an alpha out this year and they are targeting April, 2018 for a full release. It will be a free-to-play game where you can purchase cosmetic customizations, such as Team Fortress 2.

As a space sim fan I’m very much looking forward to keeping tabs on the project as it progresses, and will keep you informed!

You can check out their Kickstarter here.
Impeller Studios website.