This is the first full release of Orbsphere: Prelude. How to play? Simply extract and run 'orbsphere.exe'. More details on modding will appear later...
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Orbsphere: Prelude is a free predecessor to a game in progress, 'Orbsphere'. Orbsphere: Prelude may feel like it lacks the gravitas of a full game, coming solely with a limited tutorial and a single race, but as the game was developed primarily to demonstrate a game style, it is being released by the author for free, to lets others enjoy the style if they wish.
Orbsphere: Prelude is not your average strategy game, nor it is your average simulation game. In many ways, it sits closer to tactical gameplay because of your constant, but finite, resources.
This game differs from others in that its purpose is to run as a sandbox. This came about primarily as a result of testing a gameplay style which grew on me so much that adding campaign goals seemed pointless. In fact, even in later development of its spiritual sequel, I still wonder why people need campaigns -- perhaps Minecraft got to me.
The aim of Orbsphere: Prelude is to score as many points as possible. The primary catch being that when you start the game, you will go into a negative score, and must reclaim it. The score algorithm is fairly trivial:
Beyond these seemingly trivial score modifiers, you have control of two elements: buildings, and research. While population happiness and other things were originally in early alpha designs, they were removed due to complaints (it's too hard to keep people, and the planet, happy -- something we know only too well). Research and spawning additional population takes time. Buildings, on the other hand, are instant build, and instant destroy.
Your resources will be modified when you build, or when you research. Research modifications only occur when research is in effect -- when it finishes, you get the resources back. When buildings are destroyed, the same thing applies.
This fluid resource management is based on a relatively simple 'supply' vs 'demand' system, where supply is generated from the production buildings, and demand is calculated against every building's need.
The best way to get into the game is just to try it. Try certain buildings if you're stuck (the basic house, the basic red synthesiser, and the basic red power plant), and you'll be up and running in no time.