You're the AI of a rickety colony ship, bound for the red planet. You have limited resources, a desperate crew, and an unknown fate awaiting you. Can you survive the journey across the Big Black?
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Release Date: Nov 14, 2016

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Early Access Game

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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?

“Destination Ares is core-feature-complete, and has enough opportunities for player experimentation to be a worthwhile game. Every aspect of development has seen at least some attention, and, as such, it's a full game in it's own right. However, it's lacking many critical components like varied event content, well-tuned balance, and polish.

Though it's been in full-time development for over two years, it's not done.

I'm a solo dev. Getting and acting on player feedback will be an important part of making Destination Ares the best it can be. I can't anticipate all the ways the game flounders or shines. It needs more hands pushing it to find all the sweet spots. I need to hear from the community: what do you love and what do you need worked on the most?

And that's not to mention: little bugs are everywhere, and major bugs still crop up occasionally.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“Likely 6 - 12 months.

Once content, features, and balance are in a good place, the game will transition to full release.”

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

“In addition to the game's overall polish (which should improve over time), there's a large list of features and content that will hopefully make it to the full release.

Particular items of interest I'd like to add, given the time:
  • New story arc(s)
  • New random events, both Standard and Helpful
  • Achievements, with Steam integration
  • Unlocks + meta game
  • Stats and Leaderboards
  • Steam trading cards
  • Workshop features (perhaps sharing ship designs?)
  • New ways to customize ships and crew (crew personalities, for example)
  • New ship systems
  • New system keywords and crew roles
  • And, additional 'subtle content', like module decals, crew chatter, animations, and hull extensions

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“The core features of the game are in place.

You can:
  • Challenge yourself with the journey to Ares
  • Experience one story arc with a couple paths and several endings
  • Build and customize your own ships from scratch, and then play them

The soundtrack is fully implemented, the art is fleshed out, the menus are mostly functional, the crew has all the basic behaviors, and the game is roughly balanced.

However, the game is buggy and lacks some content.

Currently, there is only a small pool of events, repetitive crew chatter, little-to-no Steamworks integration (cards, achievements, stats, etc.), missing sound effects, limited crew animations, and no unlocks / meta game.

Also, bugs are rampant, certain screens are terribly unoptimized, and menus (among other things) often lack polish.”

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

“There will likely be a significant price bump towards the end of Early Access, once critical issues are addressed.”

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

“The community's input will focus and direct development.

Destination Ares has had over two years of closed development. In that time, I've prioritized key features according to my own tastes. Going forward, outside input will be instrumental in making the game the best it can be.

The game's Steam forums will be a focal location for the feedback that directs development.”
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Recent updates View all (14)

June 30

June (+May) Update!!! v0.6.2

As I promised last month, I packed in all kinds of goodies this month. Version 0.6.2 is a huge Quality of Life update, and I think you'll love it.

I was sure to put some oft requested features in this build:

  1. Highlighting resources on the HUD shows which systems consume or produce that resource. Great for learning what does what and how to get that random resource.

  2. Controls for seeing underneath crew are available (hotkeys + HUD). You can toggle whether you want systems or crew on top, basically. Great for getting at that system under the corpses ;)

  3. Game speed controls (pause/ play/ fastfoward) are now available on the HUD.

- - - -
Patch Notes

  • Added strained animation when system is both strained and in overdrive
  • Added added injection effect to system tooltips when relevant
  • Added a Standard event: "Puketastic"
  • Added successful events as a reduction on event kindness
  • Added living crew as a reduction on event kindness
  • Now recolors system borders when you highlight resources. This should make it faster and easier to see what systems are involved with what resources
  • Added CRT effects to main menu and ship building
  • Added short animation to end of minigame
  • Added game speed controls to the HUD
  • Added controls for flipping between Crew or Systems on top
    One step closer to release.

  • Increased animation speed for engines and waste cannons while the injector's effect is active
  • Changed a bunch of events that required engines to also allow waste cannons
  • Changed Gyms into [Passive] systems, seeing as there's no reason to turn them off (for all the cruel AIs out there: you can still use ignore alerts if you want your crew to neither use nor repair gyms)
  • Changed Toilets into [Passive] systems, for the same reason as Gyms
  • Increased effect of lost progress on event kindness
  • Increased effect of broken systems on event kindness
  • Changed Use alerts so they can turn on systems (fewer clicks ftw)
  • Overdrive now automatically turns off when system turns off
  • Rephrased a sentence in the Tutorial (This will probably be moot after I replace the tutorial)
  • Changed menu button colors (because I felt like it)
  • Reduced volume of Generator audio
  • Flipped direction of time loss penalty animation in minigame

  • Fixed overdriven systems being enabled and repaired on load
  • Fixed negative momentum ending the game
  • Fixed minor typo in opening story
  • Fixed a Story event that was mislabelled as "Unknown"
  • Fixed event kindness so it increases as you have fewer resources compared to storage capacity
  • Fixed VFX from upgrading to Unity 5.6.1p1
  • Fixed Overdrive commands so they always turn on systems, if not already on
  • Fixed mouse pings on main menu
  • Fixed an outline-related crash
  • Fixed a crash from invalid crew heal attempts (and a few other potential causes)
  • Fixed bug that gave out free Fireball achievement on some failed runs (oops)
  • Fixed bug that delayed some system audios
  • Fixed rare bug that prevented the minigame from ending
- - - -

One step closer to release.

I never did finish those tools I was working on at the end of last month. Soooooon

I'm setting an ambitious schedule for myself (see the last announcement). Let me know what to prioritize on my list.

Up next:
I plan to improve the controls and revamp the tutorial. Then on to more content! (And, of course, lots of little polish here and there)



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June 27

The End is in Sight

Destination Ares has been in Early Access for 7 months, after an initial closed development period of 27 months. Today, I’m announcing that there’s a light at the end of that (long, arduous) tunnel.

Since we (yes, you and I, unknown reader) started this journey through Early Access, Destination Ares has changed dramatically. Let’s highlight some additions we've had since November '16:

  • The full soundtrack from R Kim Shultz (17 tracks!)
  • A revamped minigame
  • 5 new ship systems
  • Steam Achievements
  • The Folivora alternate default ship
  • Half a dozen new events
  • And countless quality of life improvements, effects, sounds, particles, and upgrades
The game has come pretty far. And yet there is so much left to do! I believe the most important items will be coming together in the next couple of months.

I’ll be real with you, reader. Early Access hasn’t been everything I hoped. There are so many things it could have provided: community, feedback, a little extra cash flow, and visibility. It has been a great opportunity to bring players into the development process, and it has almost entirely missed the mark on all of this.

It’s probably my fault for working only full-time on it. I need another few hands, I think. At least somewhere to put all these hats.

Now, look here. I’m a stubborn bastard who puts too much emphasis on his word. This means I’m all the more determined to deliver this game, nearly three years after the project began, and despite the missteps in publicity and development.

So, I’ll put it out in the world: my goal is to reach full release in early Fall.
It’s ambitious, but, hey, I wouldn’t be doing a solo dev project if I weren’t an ambitious kind of guy. If I miss the Fall window, we’ll be stuck waiting until Spring! (that’d be awful)

To that end, I implore players of Destination Ares to help me sort what needs the most attention and what would be really awesome to have as we make our way to a version 1.0

A few specific items already on my priority hit list (and not yet in the next release):
  • Revamped tutorial
  • Improved controls
  • Metagame progression
  • Steam Cards
  • Ditching the useless “Interpersonal” skill for: “Command”
  • Of course more content is always on my list. More events, more chatter, more everything.
I’ve also got a HUGE wishlist from which I’ll be throwing as many things on as I can.

A few questions to help me sort my thoughts before release:
  1. What stats and info do you want in the side bar when building ships? There’s a lot of simulation under the hood; what’s worth knowing about?
  2. How can I better teach the minigame? Some players understand that the pips are how many mines are nearby, some never figure it out (yes, despite the explanation scrolling underneath)
  3. What events are awesome and what events are awful? Before release, I’m sure to do a bunch of writing and that’s a great chance to do some tweaks
  4. What still confuses you about the game? Is there anything so obscure as to be unreasonably difficult?
  5. What bugs are still aggravating you to this day?
  6. How’s the performance on your computer?
  7. Am I the only person who thinks the difficulty is too easy and I should add a hard mode? (the answer to this one is yes; I’ve only seen one other person beat it legitimately, ever)
  8. Any cool ideas for more achievements and/or in-game unlocks?

Thanks for everything; see you around, folks.


(from my blog:

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About This Game

A colony spaceship has been thrown together with old, worn parts. The crew boots up the ship's artificial intelligence as they start the arduous journey to the red planet.

You've awoken, AI. Can you survive the journey ahead?

Destination Ares is an unforgiving resource-management sim, wrapped in a pensive story. As the ship's AI, it's your job to keep the crew alive, against all odds and obstacles (including themselves).

After all,
  • Everything breaks eventually
  • The crew members have minds of their own
  • And you're in a race against dwindling resources

Discover hidden story arcs, ponder the meaning of your existence, and panic as another system breaks down. All this while you laugh at (and cry over) a crew that is woefully incompetent.

Unique Gameplay

At your disposal, you have direct control over all of the ship's systems. Turn them on, turn them off, or throw them into overdrive. You can also set alarms on everything and everyone, just to make sure the crew pays extra attention.

Every resource is critical to your success. Even waste is important in the recycling loop.

Eventually, you'll run out of everything. What are you willing to give up first?

Events regularly pop up to throw a wrench in your plans. Sometimes it's random drama amongst the crew, sometimes it's another key step in your journey, and, if you're lucky, sometimes it's a nice chance to catch your breath. Each event poses a challenge to be overcome. Will you trust in luck? Or will you do your best to solve the problem yourself?

There's a catch:

The crew members are independent beings. You can't directly control them. They're also fickle, needy, and liable to mess everything up. Despite all that, only they can do any real work onboard. You'll have to rely on them, so treat them well.

Features and Themes

Engaging Mechanics
  • Deeply involved resource management. Recycle resources through a meticulously fleshed-out loop that has several outputs and few inputs.
  • Travel determined by speed, heading, and acceleration based on real physics.
  • Unforgiving permadeath, plus a memorial to past attempts!
  • Heavy customization: create your own crew, build your own ship, plan your own system layouts, and allocate your own starting resources.

Careful Design
  • Crew behavior (NPC AI) that makes you want to give up on humanity.
  • Branching story arcs with secret possibilities. Multiple outcomes and endings every step of the way.
  • Self-balancing difficulty: events will change in frequency based on performance. For example, helpful events come along more often for players falling behind. Take that, RNG.

Stylistic Art
  • Retro pixel graphics with a unique twist and copious modern effects, taking full advantage of today's advanced tech.
  • Judiciously desaturated color scheme. (Candy colors are for candy games)

Great Themes
  • Dark humor.
  • Nonviolent gameplay.
  • Struggles come from within. No aliens, no competitors. It's just you and your crew in desolate space.
  • Lose capability over time. You're no farmboy-turned-hero; play smarter, because you certainly won't get stronger.

Natural Accessibility
  • Light, adaptable controls. Play with only a mouse, or take advantage of the many hotkeys. Your call.
  • Simple interfaces for a complicated simulation. Plenty of tooltips to peek under the hood, if that's your style.
  • Short game sessions; each run takes less than an hour (sometimes much less).
  • Inherently red-green colorblind ready.

Built with Dedication
  • Lovingly handcrafted by one developer over years of blood, sweat, and tears.
  • Intended as a living title; expect updates throughout early access and maybe beyond.

Amazing Music
  • All original tracks by R Kim Shultz, a composer plucked straight from the film industry.

System Requirements

    • OS: XP SP2+, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, +
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Storage: 300 MB available space

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