If there is one game type that I love, it’s a free-roaming space sim. Games like Elite or Freelancer come to mind, where the player has the freedom to explore a universe unbounded, to etch out a living through trading, piracy, transportation, and even mining asteroid fields.
As much as I enjoy playing the miner route in these games, the experiences is hardly ever more than a 3D Asteroids clone, where you continually shoot spinning rocks into smaller and smaller chunks. I always wanted a game with a more detailed mining simulation; similar to the suddenly popular games Infiniminer or Minecraft.
Seems like Miner Wars is gonna be my kind of game.
Inspired by games like 1991’s Tunneler, where players dug tunnels to infiltrate their enemies base, and Descent, where they flew spaceships through cramped tunnels, Miner Wars allows players to dig their way through massive asteroids in an effort to uncover precious ores and investigate alien artifacts.
Don’t be afraid you’ll roam the stars alone though, Miner Wars is an MMO. Players will be able to join guilds and work together. Will your team mine ore from the kilometer-wide asteroids? or perhaps you will lie in ambush and snatch the ore out of the hands of another hard-working miner. You are free to make your living as you please, and there is a main plot to entertain you along the way, which will evolve with future game updates.
I talked briefly with Marek Rosa, Miner Wars Game Director, about this interesting project. “The player has several factions to choose from, and this choice determines who is his friend or enemy,” explains Rosa. “This faction’s bases also act as respawn locations for the player, and he can return to these bases to upgrade his ship with new weapons, engines, shields, etc.” I was told that currently there are ten ship-types for the player to choose from, varying in things like size, cargo capacity, armaments and power.
The factions also provide NPCs for the players to interact with, and Rosa gave a few examples of missions the player might receive, “It may be rescue, fighting, exploration, mining and harvesting ore, patrolling space, stealth missions or something else entirely.” Fighting will no doubt occur between players, and faction control of various sections of asteroid field will likely be one of the driving forces in the evolution of the game’s universe. “If you dig a tunnel, and the leave and go across the universe, another player can still come across your tunnel,” said Rosa. Every interaction you have with the physical world of the game will leave a permanent effect.
Although Miner Wars has an infinite world, with asteroid fields scattered forever in every direction, players don’t need to worry about flying for hours just to complete a mission. Rosa explained that players can travel instantaneously between various ‘transportation ships,’ which will be spread throughout the game’s universe. That’s not to say that players can’t strike out on their own though, and explore the places between these transport hubs. In fact, it’s this kind of exploration that will allow the player to discover alien artifacts among the asteroids, which can be collected and sold for a high profit.
The current distribution plan for Miner Wars is a release for PC in August, with updates and expansions of the game’s story and world expected to come every few months. Shortly after the PC release, it’s planned that Miner Wars will be coming to XBLA, and there are even whisperings of a 2D version headed to handheld devices like iPhone…