Space exploration adventure RPG where you command a crew in a story driven sandbox universe. Work to destroy the sensor network and reach the heavily guarded planet before Shavala corporation goons hunt you down, or just go exploring.
User reviews:
Mixed (89 reviews) - 69% of the 89 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 11, 2016

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Early Access Game

Get instant access and start playing; get involved with this game as it develops.

Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“We're a 3 person dev team with no publisher working on this project full time. Without the support of our community through Kickstarter and early access this game wouldn't exist at all. That essentially means people are paying us for an unfinished game because they like us and they believe we will make the game they want to play. We also want to play that game so we're doing everything we can to prove them right.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“The planned final version of this game is pretty ambitious and we expect to go through many iterations before completing the single player story and having the game world in a state we consider to be complete. We also want to be able to evolve the game over time in response to feedback so we are expecting early access will last more than a year.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“Expect massive changes on a regular basis as we add features and new types of depth to the engine and the game world.

Our initial early access release represents multiple years of work put into getting the bare minimum framework of the engine and persistent world working as intended. During early access we plan to have many iterations where game-wide features are added, and then content using those features can be integrated into the game world. That means major updates will contain game-changing features and new content such as new zones, new factions, new story arcs, new world generations, new item types, new interface elements, and new game mechanics.

An example of something we plan to add in the future is the ability for EVA activities which will allow entering and exiting ships without using an airlock. It should drastically change how salvaging activities play out and will probably change how you interact with the entire game world.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“The game has an open persistent world with various space biomes for the player to explore. Each biome will have a different set of enemies and challenges in the form of enemy encounters, space-complexes to explore, and hidden treasures to unlock. The story driven elements are incomplete and more will be added with every patch, but for now the game is mostly a sandbox with some introductory story and setting lore.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“The game might be slightly cheaper during early access. However if you want the best value for your money you are probably already avoiding early access games and we respect that.

We're here because we need income to continue development and if money were no object we would probably hide in our developer caves until the game was finished. The core benefit of buying into early access is participating in the development process and being part of the community that shapes the Zero Falls story and universe. This is not a "get the game for less money because it sucks" sort of deal, it is a "I think these guys deserve to feed themselves while developing their game" sort of deal, and we appreciate your support.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We have open discussion on our forums and we respond very quickly to feedback and bug reports. I once found, fixed, and uploaded a patch for a bug before the end of a live streaming event where the bug was revealed. We have backers who are designing ships to be put into the single player campaign, and we have been discussing modding tools with the community from day 1. We also sometimes host community ship design tournaments in order to stir up conversations and feedback about balance and game mechanics.

The truth is we're making a big open sandbox game with enough space for a lot of unique game play ideas and elements, and we want to put in every type of kitchen sink. Our time is probably split evenly between 3 tasks:

1. core engine development
2. core story and content implementation
3. tweaks, edits, and additions in response to feedback”
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Recent updates View all (36)

April 26

0.6 update incoming

I usually name these updates both before and after making them. Before making them I have an idea of what I intend to make, and then afterwards they are nothing like what I intended so I need a new name. This one started off as update and will be released as Oops.

To say that we got carried away might cover it. I think it went down something like this:

  • intend to make a bit of content in the red zone
  • realize you need a quest that leads to the red zone content
  • hear some complaints about early game pacing
  • accidentally redesign entire early game
  • realize you still want to add stuff to the red zone
This patch adds more dialogue than had existed in the game prior to this patch. The bugs fixed in this patch make me a bit embarrassed to think that you have been playing on the previous patch.

Or summarized another way, this patch brings the red zone of the map into the shoddy, half-finished state that the orange zone was in before, while the orange zone is now feeling very polished and streamlined.

New 0.6 features
Crew visual improvements

Everything from the ability to see the armor you have equipped to new shader effects for taking shield hits and new health bars, the crew visuals are now up to date and not using placeholder art. We also made monster movement 20% less buggy and added new art for crystals and remapped the home station interior yet again...that sort of stuff. Also interior explosions.

Crew mechanical improvements

Having crew on your team should stop being a liability and start being something you actually want. Crew serve as extra lives now, allowing you to respawn by taking their place when you die, but they also have new abilities that will make you want to keep them alive. Crew will now actually follow you when you toggle following mode, which means you can take them on adventures, and they have learned new tricks from the gunnery screen as well. Their aim has been improved by better first order intercept math, and they can actually shoot down incoming missiles if you give them a point defense weapon. Oh, and the game now has more than one crew member, and crew sometimes comment on quest dialogues, you know...there's a lot of crew stuff in this update.

General cleanup of early game

This gets its own section because of the amount of work that went into things which are hard to summarize under a single note. I played the entire beginning of the game, fixed everything that bugged me, and repeated over and over again until I hated my life and never wanted to touch this project again. Nearly everything changed a little. New prices for shop items, new values for trade goods, new station types, new map generation layouts, new system for discovering trade routes, did I mention that exploration is a thing now because the map doesn't start as explored? I added repair stations that let you re-arm the missiles in your ship and I made the phase 1 end quest not suck and the list is actually pretty big you will see the full patch notes on release.

Quests and dialogue

I made a lot of scripted events. I call them quests, but you should know they don't work like typical quests. These are self-contained logical events that trigger themselves based on conditions in the game in order to mess with the player in interesting ways. Many of the quests I created are simply a way for One to pop in and give you guidance and rewards for advancing the plot of the game, however some of them are surprises for you to find out in the world. Also I designed a system for log entries that allows the reading and storing of long-form text entries. You might find some story in the game in the form of a captain's log, and now you can keep that forever and read it when you like.

Bugs fixed

There were some big ones. Like, systemic bugs that made the entire play experience feel less smooth and prevented delivery of existing content. Did you know that sectors were never loading half of their content if an AI ship was the first to explore it? I learned that this patch and the result is that the game world now generates the way I had intended. For the first time, as a developer, I can fly a ship around in the game and what I see matches what I think I ought to see based on how it was programmed. To imagine that people have been enjoying the game before this was true gives me great hope for the future, and also a great desire to hide under my bed because nothing makes sense any more.

Targeting and threat toggling

You can target things now! yay! or maybe I should say you have to target things now. <sadface>. What matters is that the little target lead UI widget, as well as launching missiles now requires a target lock, and that requires having working sensors. There are also added benefits, such as now you can see exactly who your crew is shooting at from the other consoles, and you can even toggle their aggression on a faction by faction basis. Using the crew order button you can now flag an entire faction for Marv to shoot at, or unflag them if he is getting you in trouble at a trade port. If no factions are flagged your crew will just sit there looking for missiles to shoot down instead of fighting.

Red zone content

We added an entire zone effectively. It has space dungeons, a few quests, some new shops, and a lot of new tech that you can unlock. It also offers access to a few new ship hulls including an entire new size category of ships for you to play with. I had plans to make the entire red zone into a streamlined story driven experience but I can only write so much dialogue without releasing an update so that content will just have to come in the next few updates. To be clear the world content is in this update, the helpful dialogue and scripted harassment that tells you what to do isn't, so you will need to wander around and look under some rocks in order to find new stuff.

Release date:

I want to say this will release right before the weekend on May 5th, so that's what I'm going to say. Reality is it will release when it is done, and right now we are still debugging content in the red zone which should be finished before may 5th. So there it is: may 5th...probably.

There will likely be one or two more update going out to the internal tester branch between now and the 5th. Hopefully everything will go smooth and neither me nor Jan will decide to add one last thing at the last minute that will break everything.


5 comments Read more

February 13

Info on upcoming phase 3 patch

It feels like there are an endless number of little quality of life fixes I could be making to the early game, but I can't fix the first 2 stages of the game and never release the 3rd, which is why this patch is progressing on 2 fronts at the same time.

Initially I was working on content for phase 2 QOL, and I completed all the code on a new orange-zone scripted event as well as some dialogues for existing things that were poorly explained in the early game. Player mobility, lack of early game direction, difficulty of early upgrades were all going to be the goal of the patch. Then at some point in a moment of inspiration I changed the generation algorithm for the entire red zone and started writing quests to interact with the player in that zone. Now that the scope of the patch has grown so much, I can't release it until all the little pieces are in or it will just seem like a step backwards.

Crew gonna be cool

So lets talk about some of the improvements coming in the next mega-patch.

First of all, the quality of life stuff is pretty good this time. I went on a big push to make Marv less of a useless prick. The goal for crew has always been a very challenging one to design because I decided I wanted crew to have agency and to be "real" in the sense that ships are not the AI characters of the game, their crew is. The issue with that is that all of the activities I want the player to take are ship-related which means I needed an AI smart enough to be helpful without requiring the player to constantly micro-manage them.

In the beginning I erred on the side of crew independence, knowing that I didn't ultimately want a lot of crew micro-management and so opting to not include any significant way of controlling them. This saved me lots of time on designing interfaces that would have been thrown out, but it lead to crew being a burden. Crew would attack things you didn't want attacked, they would steal your ship, and when you went places they'd monopolize airlocks you needed with their stupid idle faces, all while being no good at repairing or shooting your guns for you. Most of this was the result of the player's crew using the exact same AI as all other crew.

So with the goal of making crew an actual asset to the player I worked on their AI a lot. They now respect the one command you do have (follow/hold) better by actually following on one setting and by not turning into a ship thief on the other. They also have a new context-sensitive command that they obey while you are flying your ship to tell them what factions they are and are not allowed to attack. In the past they held a grudge forever against any faction that had fired on your ship, to the extent that their aggro table caused memory leaks and huge save files at one point, now the player has control and their crew won't gun down civilians at every trade station unless you tell them to. Note that part of this AI update required a visual cue to the player of what your AI was actually targeting so part of this patch contents is a full ship targeting UI system designed from scratch that ties into sensor strength and other systems like missiles.

Next, so that you would actually want AI manning your guns, I sat down and solved a popular request: point defense logic. Your AI crew will now attempt to shoot down incoming missiles if they have a console connected to point defense weapons such as flak or hail turrets.

Add in some bug fixes to AI like an issue where they repaired stupid and you can begin to see how a scripted event that adds a new form of warp drive enhancement module and a new crew member can expand into endless quality of life improvements and side projects preventing me from ever progressing the game's story. At some point I just said to hell with this and started making phase 3 content. To be clear, I have added the second segment to the player mobility enhancements I had planned. That content is finished, but I don't want to release it because I am now absorbed by charging full speed ahead towards phase 3 story content. I started breaking things in the code and making a mess of everything with new content.

Phase 3 story content

We're directing the player to pack their bags and head towards the red zones on the map. I have plans for how the player is going to make friends, be blown up by enemies, and unlock a whole lot of cool new stuff. Specifically, phase 3 introduces a new size category of ships and unlocks all the coolest parts of the tier 2 tech spectrum. In this case by "unlocks" I mean "introduces" because you'll still need to go exploring to find things.

Unlock progression in phase 3 is about introducing slightly larger ships while drastically increasing the spectrum of viable ship customization. We are introducing and working to better flesh out the system of activated modules so that your bridge has a role and your design has more effect on how your ship fights. We are also introducing new weapon systems that have been in the code but which weren't attainable in single player such as missiles and beams. I mentioned adding crew members that don't suck, the plan is for them to have interesting auras so you might actually pick one over another and we are also working on other unlockables like our first secret event that will allow you to unlock a sort of "hero" ship with a back-story and special abilities.

The story of phase 3 is also going to require me to write a whole bunch of dialogue and prepare some new character portraits. Dammit.

Current status

So I always do one of these paragraphs where, after telling you what's in progress, I tell you how far we are along developing them. Ohh, lets make a list, since I didn't have a list in this blog yet.

Done-(needs testing)
  • Dialogue for explaining warp gates
  • A fancy multi-part event that unlocks yet another solution to moving about the world faster
  • A quest that continues the structured gameplay a little farther after the tutorial and leaves new players feeling less confused about what to do
  • A fancy new system for ship targeting
  • Many AI improvements
  • Many small improvements to the core simulation
  • Fixed some irritating bugs (sorry no more bringing the gate with you when teleporting)
  • Many new modules and nano auras and some small changes to a few mastery talents
  • Prefabs, maps, ship art, station art, and loot tables for the new zone
  • Overhaul of how ship hulls are unlocked and carried between saves
  • Made asteroid collisions a little less dangerous
  • re-added shards from ship damage
In progress
  • Story scripts for the new content
  • Event scripts for the new content
  • Dialogues for the new content
  • Art assets for some new characters
  • A few prefabs
  • Minor facelift to some game map zones
  • An absurd amount of testing and debugging

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About This Game

Our goal was to make a game simulating space combat between large capital ships at extreme detail on the scale of individual crew members. We've spent multiple years building a custom in-house engine capable highly detailed ship interior simulations while still supporting real time combat between large numbers of ships in an open persistent world.

The result is a massive open world where any ship, station, asteroid, artifact, or wreckage can be entered by the player and controlled in real-time. Space battles are epic and immersive because there are no hit points, instead you have to try and survive as pieces of your ship are physically destroyed and ships can be cut in half or filled full of holes. Play as a renegade shooting up neutral supply convoys and scooping the cargo that falls out, or disable and board enemy ships to take back to your hideout. Research technology and upgrade designs to make your favorite ship into the ultimate war machine. The universe is full of loot and enemies and things to explore, and your character will have all the tools needed to design the ultimate ship and put together the ultimate crew.

We also look at progression from the perspective of RPG mechanics. Even though the game is a deep and detailed simulation, we want gameplay to have progression, customization, and specialization much like a character based roleplaying game. Instead of unlocking talent points you will find crew members that add unique utility to your ship as a whole, or you might find module blueprints that allow you to customize portions of your ship's design to suit your play style.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows Vista or later 64 bit os
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.60GHz
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 / AMD Radeon HD 7850
    • DirectX: Version 10
    • Storage: 700 MB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX compatible on-board
    • Additional Notes: makes extensive use of multi-threading and 64 bit features
    • OS: Microsoft Windows 7 x64
    • Processor: AMD Phenom II x6 or Intel i7
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 / AMD Radeon HD 7850
    • DirectX: Version 10
    • Storage: 1 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX compatible on-board
    • Additional Notes: makes extensive use of multi-threading and 64 bit features
Customer reviews Learn More
Mixed (89 reviews)
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