Black Market

By: Lorne Whiting

On: October 4th, 2010

Black Market, a space trading game (a la Elite or something), was recently launched in open beta form. The game is beautiful. I mean, like, all the beauty of some colorful sea-floor dwelling creature that rolls to move, with the insurmountable class of Christopher Whitman’s mother. It’s worth checking out just to look at the awesome space-ports in the background as you peddle your petty narcotics and undying pirate brains in jars.

The gameplay (as implied by the title) is pretty basic, buy here sell there kind of deal. Combat is really streamlined and most of it is automated, though you get to hit a button every 10 seconds (give or take depending on equipment). It’s all polished and as addicting as other games in the marketeering genre, but I know some people do not like games where progress comes in the form of shinier and bigger spaceships with more pow-pow to the weapons. Luckily for these people, the games also got a pretty strongly present story, but I scooted out of it to party and make lots and lots of money as soon as I got access to the whole solar system so I can’t really comment on how full of intrigue it is.

  • Lorne Whiting

    More pow-pow! More Mellowup Stimu-po! I demand it! >:(

  • Michael Reitzenstein

    Oops, we're half way through updating the site! It'll be as good as new in a few hours.

  • chrisz

    Played this when it was posted to the feedback forum (although I forgot to leave my feedback). Pretty good especially since the genre is under-represented. It was too easy to diverge from what the tutorial stages of the game wanted you to do though so it was easy to get lost gameplay-wise.

  • Gnome

    Sounds really interesting. Should give it a go very soon.

  • Dodger

    Wow, very impressive to say the least! I didn't realize this was a browser game (I don't think it was mentioned), but I'm impressed. It reminds me a little of the old (classic) BBS game, Trade Wars (or Trade Wars 2002). Though this is much prettier and shinier, and the sound is pretty awesome as well. Great atmosphere for a browser game as well. The other cool thing is it's fairly easy to get into and accomplish little things (unlike Trade Wars). The only problem I noticed, as Chrisz mentioned, is that it is too easy to diverge from the tutorial stages. I suppose this isn't a problem if you've already played the game and want to start a new game all over again, but when it's your first time playing it can leave things a little confusing if you do not follow through with the tutorial. It's not all that difficult, but until those tutorial levels are finished some aspects might be a little confusing, especially to newcomers.

    All in all though, this is an extremely sharp game – especially for a browser based game! I can see this game sucking a lot of hours of gameplay away for it's simple gameplay and addictive nature.

  • Paul Villapiano

    A tutorial that doesn't hold your hand? Interesting.

  • Dodger

    Yes, I love tutorials that don't hold your hand, the only problem with this one is it kinda overlaps the gameplay – which isn't such a bad thing since you can come back to the tutorial stuff later if you want. You can skip the intro, and skip through the Tutorial stuff if you want, but if you're brand new to the game you'll want to learn the basics, and if you're brand new to this type of game then I recommend following the tutorial. It's not that long, but it does require a little bit of reading. Once you're done though, you'll probably find yourself wanting to explore and make yourself lots of money. It becomes addictive very quickly – if you can get into this style of game.

    Aside from that the gameplay is fairly simple in that it obviously doesn't require a lot of memorized controls or anything like that and the pace of it is perfect since this isn't a game based on reflexes or how fast you respond. You can walk away, grab a coffee or snack, and come back to what you were doing. There are plenty of choices to make along the way as well and the story isn't half bad either. I haven't been very far in it but there certainly is a nice mix of everything this type of game needs.

    Let's just say I'm glad this game was posted on the front page cuz I hadn't heard about it and it's probably my favorite new browser game (and I've barely begun to get into it!).

  • Ryan Szrama

    Nice find – gonna have to give this some play time. : D

  • fnugget

    Amazing for a browser game. However, the game seems fairly linear. And easy. I would have thought that following the mission directions and picking up cheap goods to sell along the way to destinations would have barely gotten me through. With even just convenient trades only, I managed to out power almost every opponent. While I did upgrade only whenever I found things getting difficult, saving money to get more bang for my buck, I expected to have to do some ingenious trading in order to make enough money.
    I'll give this another go, trying to disagree and fight with every mission choice I encounter.

  • Farmergnome

    Thanks for feedback dude ill check into the diffuculty.

  • Ollio

    Holy crap! This is amazing! Maybe the most epic browser/flash game I ever came across. The atmosphere is indeed impressive! It reminded me of mid-90ies sci-fi submarine sim Archimedean Dynasty (Schleichfahrt, if you're German!). Which is a VERY good thing. Not so much the gameplay, of course, but the cities/planets you visit, the characters you meet, the perfect dose of self-irony…

    This almost looks too polished for some hobby project… where's the catch?

  • Dodger

    Hopefully there isn't a catch because I'm loving this game.

    I know, when I first read about it I wasn't expecting a browser game either, but holy shit am I impressed with it. The atmosphere is what really gets me. I kinda wish this was a fully downloadable game that I could play on my laptop when I don't have internet access available to me and I want something to play. It's damn good free fun. The first time I tried it out I was really impressed with all of the little graphical details as well, which complimented the atmosphere and the mechanics of this space trading marketing game very well, but when I played it for my second and third time I noticed even more details, tiny details, that I missed the first time around. Little things like the people walking around at the space ports and whatnot. Then there's the ambient sound. It's simple and effective much like the old Privateer music was. I love the feeling of it because it feels like the game is alive but it also gives a feeling of loneliness (just like all good Space games should!).

    I still say it's a lot like Trade Wars but I believe it's more like a cross between Trade Wars and Smugglers 2 or 3, only with better graphics.

    I wonder if it would be possible to turn this into an MMO browser game? That would be extremely awesome. Still, I'll take this over other browser games in a heartbeat, and I'll even pass up a good share of my downloadable games now because I find these games very addictive (still love and play EV Nova and Privateer: Ascii Sector!!).

  • fnugget

    I did run away at the times when the game tells you to run. Started a new game and ignored missions to go level up. Obtain supership and do missions. Trying to give the worst responses does not get me killed, because the voices in my head manage to dictate how I act. Rampage through universe with supership anyway.
    Maybe if the bulk of the experience was gained through the story? But that would force players to follow it to advance quickly.

  • TinmanD

    Awesome game!

  • Michael Reitzenstein

    Thanks very much! I'm glad you like it. After slaving away after months it's a great feeling to have a good reception.

    We are going to implement multiplayer at some point, where you can see your friends fly around, and trade with them. I don't think we'll go full EVE style though.

    We will do a downloadable version at some point I'm sure! But it's probably a year or more away. We plan to flesh the game out a lot more over the coming months.

  • Michael Reitzenstein

    We are selling access to the later levels of the game, so it's not completely free. However, everything that's accessible now will likely be in the free version – we want to give away a decent amount, and put even more in the paid version.

  • Nicholas Bieber

    Mother Fuckers. I just finished the first campaign over the last few hours, and missed a splendid day outside doing nothing. Time stealing cunts! This game is awesome.

  • Farmergnome

    Glad you like man, stick around we should have act 2 up tonight for ya…

  • Pvt. Grichmann

    Haven't finished it yet, but from what I've seen so far, it's a bit on the easy side – even with the weapons skill being the lowest one I have (1 under my level or so) and nothing-special weaponry, I can still beat most pirates I meet and run away from the rest.

    Balance-wise, I feel interceptors aren't very useful, compared to missiles and particle weapons. Is it just the lower-level models I'm using, or is the system really skewed?

    Liking the story and setting so far. Really consistent.

  • AmnEn

    It's a really beautiful little game. I thouroughly enjoyed it and wouldn't mind paying for it if it offers reasonable payment options. There's something I didn't find particularly enjoyable – a lost battle. It's such a major setback that I often stopped playing for a while.
    My problem here is that it's a rather lengthy process to restock on equipment since ports usually only sell one item of a type. So I'd often bump from station to station, browsing for acceptable equipment. I usually died a couple of more times during that since I was almost unarmed and flying a supbar ship. In the end I bought stuff while browsing in the escape pod, instead of getting a ship back up and running. And only when I had enough prebought decent stuff to immediately deck out the ship, I'd buy one. Still, that occasionally took me more than 30 minutes just to get back into the game.

  • Biggles

    This is excellent. Loads of polish. Love the writing. Would play more but gotta work :(

  • Quazi

    At first i didn't know what to expect but then i was thoroughly surprised. the backgrounds are gorgeous for one, and what i seem to enjoy the most is reading about the planets, the back-story of the game and technology really shines, i especially love how almost every city seems to have its own bag of problems. flying around picking stuff up got tedious after a while but the graphics and other strong points made it bearable. The battle system could use some work though, i'd like to see more detail like having a HUD for specific weapons and having to actually aim them using on-ship targeting systems. the pirates could use a lot more writing and back story, its kind of lame to always hear the same thing, and that thing being so little. Also is there a way to trade with “green” ships? i never found out if or how i could just casually trade with them as i passed.

    All in all though, its looking very good so far, and if this is only a beta, boy am i looking forward to the finished product.

    something cool to add would be the actual planetary orbits in the map screen, and have some trading asteroids or very eccentrically orbiting planets only pass by occasionally as they sweep into the main solar system or around it.

    Maybe even have trading numbers affected by where the planets are in their orbits!

  • Jay Sherby

    This is one of my favorite genres. And this game is one of the best I've played from the genre. And it's a browser game! Can you believe that? This game easily beats DarkStar One and even manages to replicate and, at times, exceed Freelancer. It plays and feels like a updated version of that venerable old Palm OS classic Space Trader.

  • Dodger

    “We are going to implement multiplayer at some point, where you can see your friends fly around, and trade with them. I don't think we'll go full EVE style though.”

    Awesome! The only thing left after that is the option to attack your friends (evil grin), you're playing the part of a trader/smuggler/pirate after all. :)

  • Chris

    Holy cliff hanger, batman!

  • Lauro

    I’m sad this doesn’t exist anymore :(