Spice Pirates

Spice Pirates is a game of space exploration and piracy.

Play it now on screentop.gg!

You’re a former fighter or freighter pilot, your contract is up, and you’re free to trade goods and are also available for hire by the Earth government, or any or all of the 3 big corporations handing out contracts for exploring and exploiting the nearby galaxy.  But, be careful who you work for and what you do for them, as the corporations are always warring with each other and success with one can make you a mark with another.  Oh, and any time you’re carrying goods or important people, you’re a mark for the many pirates around the galaxy as well.  As you push deeper into space, you’ll bump up against aliens and mysteries of the unknown.

The title “Spice Pirates” is a play off of “Space Pirates” but also the 1984 movie Ice Pirates, and also a nod to “spice” which is an illegal, highly profitable drug in the universe of Star Wars and has some similarities, but is even more important, in the world of Dune.

Spice Pirates is intended to be a sandbox style of game with the pirating spirit of Merchants & Marauders but also a strong element of exploration not observed in many current sandbox games.  The goal of the game is gain the most prestige for your pilot.  You will do this by completing missions, exploring space and winning fights against other ships.  Build up your ship, hire a crew, and develop your skills to help you take on greater risks and earn greater rewards.  Discover ancient alien technologies that give you the advantage.  Will you search to unravel the mysteries of space and time, even if they take you away from your life of trading and piracy?

  • I first laid out my thoughts for such a game in this blog post.
  • Then I further laid out the vision of space exploration, a key element of the game, in this post.

Sound fun?  Hit us up to demo it on screentop.

As this game has been in development for many years, there is no timeline for its completion or launch.  As I write this in March of 2021, we have other plans for Geektopia Games in 2021 and possibly for all of 2022, but that’s no reason to stop designing games :).  I’m still looking for the fun heart of the game — what’s the thing you do in this game that’s really fun?  Is it the space exploration?  The combat?  Working with aliens?  I don’t think we know yet, but when we find it, we need to elevate and feature it, even if that means paring back on other elements of the game.

As of right now the game includes the following elements:

  • Deep, dynamic space exploration:
    • All depictions of star systems are based on the latest science.  Look below and get a fairly accurate picture of the closes star systems to our own (though they are not laid out with any true geography in mind — Struve I and Luyten I might be in the same direction for all I know, but here they are in opposite directions).
    • There are 91 tiles in the base game and I am planning to add another 240 in an expansion.  I might “borrow” 30 tiles — the next ring around the current 91 — from the expansion and add them to the base game.  But, 91 tiles is already a lot and I don’t want to push the players too far apart.  The 19 tiles depicted below are referred to as “settled space” and they are the same every game.  Beyond settled space is Deep Space, which will have a unique arrangement of tiles every game.
    • Further, the tiles themselves have randomly selected ownership — some might be part of Atarax Corporation, others Columbia Corporation, others still will be settled by the mysterious Hexapod or Blob species.

  • Dynamic space:  Using the system from Firefly the Game, you draw a space card for every space you move.  This deck of 105 cards reveals threats, opportunities, and sometimes galaxy-wide events.
  • Highly customizable ship-building system:  Your ship is essentially a “shell” that you can fill up with guns, armor, cargo holds and more.

  • Unique combat system:  Battle it out with your opponent on a mini hex map.  If you can’t outgun them, try to out-maneuver them!  Ships can even be built for grappling and boarding instead of straight fighting.

  • Alien races, ancient mysteries and more.

What would you want to see from a game like this?  Let us know in the comments.

2 comments

  1. Phil says:

    Just found this page. I’ve been working on a game that looks almost the exact same! I have my prototype of 91 hexes, and a separate mini hex map (although I use mine for a different purpose that you do). I’ll give your game a whirl. If it scratches the itch that made me start designing mine, I’ll just stick with yours 🙂

    • roman says:

      Hey Phil! Thanks for your interest. Yes, I am working on it. You can see the prototype on screentop.gg. Still has a long way to go, so if you’ve got the ideas, go for it and maybe we’ll publish yours! Or, maybe we can collaborate because there’s so much that needs to be done. The map wasn’t that hard and the ships are looking interesting. Now it’s about giving the different sectors of the galaxy their own unique feel, and about adding some mysteries to be solved as you explore deep space.

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