Do you like Minecraft? Do you like Space? do you like sandbox, single/multiplayer shenanigans? Then stop reading right now and go buy Space Engineers! its still Early Access but its alpha/beta in the same way that Minecraft was still beta and still awesome fun....
If you need a little more convincing, let me just tell how i've been spending the past couple of days. There are a handful of starting scenarios and various difficulty levels but like that other game, mining is where its at. I had no clue what the best way to proceed was so i just started digging. Found some platinum and as I drilled, watched it float off into space. Spent about five mins chasing after tiny chunks of ore whilst my mate floats there laughing his ass off.
After conferring with him for a couple of mins (ie - shoot him with my space AK47 several times! yes, you have weapons.) we try a different approach and his floats behind and tries to play goal keeper as the rocks float away into the void... we had no gauge for how efficiently we were doing but we couldn't help but feel this wasnt the best way to do things. it seems asteroid mining is goddamn hard people!
We have a little yellow ship. On it it has a refinery and factory modules. So we're building up a tiny store of ore and then we can tell the fabber to make components from steel plates to computer processors and so on and so forth.
I need to back track a little at this point. We've been playing Space Engineers for several months but up until recently, its been mainly a 'creative' mode experience where you have access to infinite components in your inventory. its only recently that they introduced resource gather and production.
In some ways, its made the 'survival' mode an absolute pain in the ass to build ships now (note - you can start a creative mode game any time you want) but at the same time its sooooo much more enjoyable building a ship, girder by girder, using stuff you've laboriously collected.
So anyway, my mate is hauling ore back to the ship when he starts looking at the ship control panel and realises that there is some serious control options to the ship's anti gravity generator... it seems you can set the dimensions and strength of the field (which opens all sorts of possibilities in larger ships) but for our purposes it gave us a corker of an idea.
We parked our little runabout refinery above our mining 'area' and extended the field downward and lo and behold, all the beautiful ore just falls back to the asteroids surface, waiting to be picked up!
No longer are we collecting barely a third of what we're digging out!!!!! mining has become almost easy, if still somewhat tedious because we have yet to figure out a way of shifting ore in larger amounts that what we can carry in our personal inventories (ie not a lot)
But that's for the future.
For the first time in a loooong time, i'm actually completely immersed into a game so much that i'm actually feeling the role completely. that moment when we tweaked the gravity generator settings.... god it felt so geeky and so right, all at the same time.
So now, we have big plans for a refinery ship of much bigger proportions. We wanna take one of out creative mode designs and building it from scratch in survival mode. I don't think i can begin to express how much work this is going to take.
But we're going to love every second of it!
EDIT: before I sign off, 2 things.
1. There is an option for random cargo ships to wander by, ripe for the taking. We managed to to get our little runabout to match speed and get aboard one of these babies.. swear to god...total Firefly moment there, ladies and gents. We were total bad guys.
2. They just introduced today Natural Disasters. That's right, you can now have (for the moment) meteor showers! Better go the extra hog and put armor on your creations... space sucks!