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Contact Vector: A “Fight With What You Have” Space RTS

By on June 10th, 2014 9:41 am

Contact Vector | Real-time space strategy game currently on Kickstarter

Once upon a time there was a game called Homeworld, the revolutionary and eternal real-time space strategy game by Relic and Sierra Entertainment (now Gearbox’s). The special Homeworld. The perfect combination of narrative, freedom and decision-making set in space. Then came Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, perhaps equally revolutionary and good to a large degree (although tough as hell!) but targeted to a slightly different audience, one more avid for battle tactics and ship management than resource management.

After that, perhaps only Sins of a Solar Empire managed to leave a (very) strong impression on the space RTS genre, where the focus is more on space battles than base building.

All this to introduce you to Contact Vector, a space RTS currently on Kickstarter that will probably fit somewhere in between the three games mentioned above. Of course, I say “will” because Contact Vector is still in the prototyping phase, and its developers ask for support to build a space RTS “where how you use your units is more important than how fast you can produce them”.

The basic gameplay in Contact Vector is controlling groups of ships. It’s about how, where and when you choose to fight. You will be able to customize load outs for long and short range weapon systems to accommodate your tactics. The weapon ranges will overlap, but typically certain ranges will favor missiles or energy weapons. -Stephen Moorhouse (Contact Vector Kickstarter)

There’s a playable demo available for Windows and Mac.

I played the demo. Basically, you can assign movement orders and attack orders for now, choosing between missile and beam fire. You can also deploy different kinds of ships and see the battle unfold giving orders in between. All this in 3D, or at least with five different height levels. It’s basically a proof of concept demo. The visuals are stunning by the way. You really feel that you’re in space, giving orders to battleships and destroyers. You can see that real effort was made to make the spaceships look as beautiful as possible. And, being this a prototype still there’s high hope for a quality product in the end, at least from an aesthetics point of view. Also, nice music guys!

Promised features include single player gameplay with story elements played in random maps. Combat is the focus here but there’s also a strategic view planned of some sort, although I couldn’t gather much on that for now. But, base building and unit creation will be mostly nonexistent, if at all present.

“There will be no constructing or producing of units during a battle although it will be possible to rearm and deploy mobile defences during the battle if you can find a safe enough place to do so”.

Contact Vector | Real-time space strategy game currently on Kickstarter

Stephen also mentions that although battles are fought in real-time, you’ll be able to pause the game at regular intervals. Also planned is a supply system, ship customization, two types of weapons (missiles and energy), stealth, a decoy system, electronic countermeasures,  6 ship classes with different roles and fleet task groups.

Stephen asks for £85.000 with stretch goals for modding and different multiplayer modes, including a multiplayer campaign. The current plan is to release for Windows PC, Mac and Linux in June 2015.

In sum, I would say that if the gameplay proves to be at the same level of quality of the visuals I’ve seen here, than this could turn out to be a really interesting game. And it’s not like there’s many new space games focused on tactical combat around. If you’re into that, perhaps you should have a look at their Kickstarter page.

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  1. DavePC says:

    The visual looks really impressive and the concept sounds interesting. Space based RTS are too far apart and few. Here is hoping this will be the next great space based RTS game with deep tactical options

    • SQW says:

      Because the scale of space battles, it’s hard to justify band-boxing your units and Ctrl-A across the map without loosing what makes space battles so awesome. Imagine WWI and WWII naval battle but at a bigger scale. Now try to shoe horn something like Starcraft’s RTS mechanic into it and it just feels wrong. Personally, I never like the Sin series.

      My perfect space game would be the Jupiter incident crossed with Silent Hunter crossed with Tie-fighter’s you-are-just-one-man-in-a-bigger-battle setting.

  2. Nullus says:

    I can never have enough of space games. Over the last couple months, most amazing newcommers were new Elite (expected) and Starpoint Gemini 2 (definitely a surprise).
    Both games are unfinished, but sooo promising and eye candy.
    After them, I’ll keep an eye on Contact Vector as well…

  3. BTAxis says:

    This kickstarter has been really slow so far, and I fear they’re not going to get anywhere close to their target. That would be a shame, because this seems like a really interesting game.

  4. Mark says:

    Very interesting and refreshing to see a tactical combat game where you have to use your brain more than your reflexes. Done correctly this could be an amazing game. Thanks for the heads up Adam, I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

  5. Echo2361 says:

    They just earned themselves a backer! I certainly hope they end up reaching their goal. I started playing Nexus The Jupiter Incident again last week after several years of being away from that game and it still looks amazing and offers a kind of tactical space combat gameplay that I can’t find anywhere else. I’m hoping Contact Vector succeeds in providing me with a similar experience.

  6. vonPryz says:

    Yup, another a backer. As this one used ECM to slip under my radar, I found another a game called Shallow Space. It looked quite interesting. Mining and ship construction are mentioned, which frankly I could do without. Player’s battlegroup should consist of some 30 ships + fighters, so massive base building it shouldn’t be.

  7. Buxaroo says:

    My Money. It’s yours! Take it! Take it now!

  8. RedArgo says:

    The description reminds me of combat from the Honor Harrington books. I backed it a couple weeks ago, but it hasn’t moved much since then. Hopefully they find a way to get it made in any case.

  9. Scott Jones says:

    Glad you covered this game, it looks really good and they need all the help they can get over at kickstarter!

    • Happy Corner says:

      Six days left, and they’ve got 10,000 out of 85,000. They’re going to need more than help, they’ll need a miracle.

      But still, this isn’t their first attempt. If this fails after all, there’s little doubt they’ll keep looking for ways to make it happen.

  10. Jeff P says:

    Looks beautiful, but something bothers me about this game, and frankly all space-themed combat games: the combat is not reminiscent of either WWI or WWII combat (much less modern fleet combat), but rather battling American Civil War ironclads.

    Consider that in both world wars fleets engaged at the limits of visibility, and often over the horizon (i.e., they never physically saw one another) while we are expected to believe that space ships will shoot away at each other at point blank ranges much like the Merrimac and the Monitor. In the distant future, why wouldn’t such combat occur at very long distances? Smaller craft and missiles can fly from the capital ships to engage each other at tremendous ranges, while in space there is no atmosphere or gravity to dilute the power of laser beams or deflect ballistic weapons.

    I realize this seems like a picayune objection, but such illogical (if beautiful) combat mechanics may explain why games like Nexus: The Jupiter Incident and Contact Vector have such a difficult time gaining popular acceptance.

    • Happy Corner says:

      I don’t think that explanation is the reason.

      People will ignore all kinds of unrealism in the name of entertainment. In most RPGs, for instance, characters can survive direct hits from fireballs and lightning bolts and big fucking pieces of sharpened metal without even slowing down, but that never hurt the sales of the Final Fantasy series. Or if you prefer a 4X example, Master of Orion 2 – would the most developed planet in a galactic empire really have have ONE automated factory or missile base or whatever? The maps and fleets are ludicrously small for a “galaxy”, too! And yet “Why can’t someone just remake MOO2 with better AI/graphics?!” is a common wish to this day.

      There ARE people who will shun a game if it isn’t “realistic” enough, but the average gamer isn’t among them. There must be something else holding Contact Vector back.

    • Mark says:

      Unfortunately mainstream media seems to have adopted the particular idea of space combat that you mention and almost all game devs relentlessly follow it like lemmings going over a cliff.

      Some people think that “realistic” space combat would be boring but I would kill to play a hard-science simulation of tactical space warfare using our current “best-guess” as to what it would actually be like given a set level of tech.

      George Lucas has a lot more to answer for than just Jar-Jar.

      • SQW says:

        Kerbal space program is a shining example of how fun doesn’t all come from gun-ho military sims. I mean, if you offer the choice of going to space or shooting a gun, which would you choose?

        A hard science space game is as close 99.9999% percent of us will ever get to real space and devs need to capture that sense of wonder instead of just treating it as sci-fi setting for things with guns…IN SPACE!

      • csebal says:

        It would be boring. If you want to read up on how space combat would look like with a minor extrapolation of today’s technology or a realistic variation of the popular sci-fi weapons, you can read about it here:

        Stuff in real life is often not even close to how it is depicted in games.

        • Mark says:

          Yes that’s a really good site and I have looked at it often. I disagree that it would be boring though. I think that – done properly – a good hard-science tactical space game would end up looking and playing a bit like a modern naval warfare simulator such as Harpoon or Command – Modern air naval operations.

          A bit dry for some, but personally I love those sorts of deep complex simulation games, even if the graphics are non-existent. I have lost count of the number of hours I have spent playing Harpoon.

          Check this game out.

          Its an advanced board game of “realistic” space combat with great attention to the physics involved. I don’t know about you, but if it were adapted 100% to computer I would pay whatever they ask to play it. It wouldn’t even need good graphics although that would be icing on the cake.

    • Gray Carlyle says:

      Yeah, there is a game out for you where the combat is like that: FTL! ;)

      Besides, there is no horizon in space, so there isn´t the same sight factor we have in earth naval warfare.

  11. farcodev says:

    There is also Shallow Space ( their last news here: ) that I follow since some time and is more advanced than a kickstarter proto.

    • Mark says:

      The name is horrible but the game itself seems pretty good.

    • Noldor says:

      Yeah this game seems to be pretty impressive and far down it’s development.

      It is looking like a solid game though.

  12. ManicMechanic says:

    That’s like a third homeworld-like game that is in development, or pre-production phase. Makes me wonder why is there no Homeworld 3 on the list? :/

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