Kerbal Space Program: Every Game is a Role Playing Game

Kerbal Space Program isn’t a new game, but as it has yet to relinquish its grip on my free time, I’ve been thinking a lot about why such a labor-intensive, story-free game can be so enthralling.

For the uninitiated, Kerbal is a game about the development of a space program for funny little green creatures called Kerbals. They live on Kerbin, the third planet around the star Kerbol, orbited by a grey, airless satellite called the Mün. The player designs and pilots ships to aid the Kerbals in their exploration of their solar system. The game offers a simple narrative by rewarding the player with money and access to new parts for various achievements, but it’s largely a sandbox game, where players set their own goals. Given the game’s high difficulty level and steep learning curve, Kerbals appear to have no concept of mortality, as they eagerly sign up for new missions despite the loss of dozens of their predecessors.

Munorbust.pngThe game was developed as a side-project by Squad, a Mexican software company, and quickly acquired cult status, not only among nerdy amateurs like Randall Munroe of xkcd, but—somewhat alarmingly—among actual NASA engineers and astrophysicists.

What strikes me as so remarkable about Kerbal’s popularity is the fact that little about it really seems like a game. There’s no plot bringing the players from one mission to the next, the kerbalnauts have no dialogue or individuality, and the basic gameplay is solving physics problems. There are no weird aliens to discover, like in No Man’s Sky, and no galactic space battles as in E.V.E. OnlineYou just… go to space. There’s nothing to win, nothing to conquer, no rewards. It’s a game where the joys are almost entirely in the journey, not the destination. Why does it work?

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Sexism in the Future and Female Representation in Dark Matter

Dark Matter CastBased on a comic book by the same name, the sci-fi show Dark Matter certainly captured my attention with its interesting premise and diverse cast. Six people wake up from stasis aboard a spaceship that looks as though it was sabotaged while they were asleep. Unfortunately, during the damage, something went wrong with their stasis pods and all of them lost their memories. Our ragtag crew soon discovers that they are all some of the most wanted criminals in the galaxy.

The show delves into a lot of different issues, some of which it unfortunately doesn’t have enough time to fully explore (but the groundwork to do so is definitely there for future seasons). Our characters spend the first, and so far only, season working through their identity issues and discovering that the people they were in the past don’t have to define who they are now. While I wouldn’t call Dark Matter a specifically feminist show, it does have some really good female representation and interesting commentary about sexism. There are so many different things to talk about that I wasn’t sure where to even begin when writing this, and even then, I couldn’t fit everything into just this one post. For now, I’m going to focus on two characters designated as Two and Android and talk about the other female characters in a future post.

Spoilers below.

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Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, Hope for the Future, and Character Designs

Star Ocean 5Well, guys, it’s finally happening. The fifth Star Ocean game is almost upon us, and I don’t know whether to be happy or horrified. I really want this game to do well, if only because I love the Star Ocean series—well, I love the third game, at least—and considering SO4’s less than stellar reception, I can only hope that Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness will be the improvement the franchise needs it to be. Unfortunately, there are some things about what I’ve seen of the game so far that have left a rancid taste in my mouth.

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Rin Plays: Destiny

Destiny BannerAfter what seems like a thousand years, Destiny, one of the games I was incredibly excited over when it was announced at E3 in 2013, has been released to the public. As someone who didn’t get into the beta (and additionally not having the specs to even play the beta), I’ve been waiting with bated breath to get my hands on it. And now that the moment has come and the initial excitement of playing a new game has passed, I think I feel safe enough giving my opinions on what I’ve played. No, I have not beaten the game yet—I am not one of those people that hit the level cap in the first couple of days. But this article isn’t really about the story anyway. Why? Because there’s not really a story worth caring about. Surprisingly, it’s not Destiny‘s fault either, but this still doesn’t stop the game from being somewhat disappointing in the larger scheme of things. Continue reading