Q: When did the game release?
A: Hardspace: Shipbreaker’s Early Access launched on June 16th 2021 and has been in Early Access for just under two years before fully releasing on May 24th 2022.
Q: Will Shipbreaker be released on consoles?
A: Yes it will! We are working to bring Hardspace: Shipbreaker to XBOX Series S/X and Playstation 5. We don’t currently have a Console launch date, but we’ll definitely keep you posted on social media!!
Q: Does Shipbreaker have a competitive game mode?
A: Yes! We have a feature we have called “R.A.C.E” which allows players to compete asynchronously on a global leaderboard for the highest score in dismantling a new ship ever week!
Q: Why is there no Co-op?
A: We dreamed about how awesome co-op would be really early in the project, however we tried to be fairly cautious from the start while talking about the possibility of adding co-op to the game.
Unfortunately, the complex physics and cutting simulation at the heart of our shipbreaking experience would require us to sync hundreds of physically simulated, free-floating objects and their associated collision meshes between clients. That’s a pretty hairy problem to solve, especially for a smaller team.
We tried flipping the problem on its head and briefly looked at various hacks and workarounds such as split-screen and/or remote-play, thinking that if everything is running locally on one machine, we could cloud-stream a video feed to the other machine. In practice, however, each of these solutions came with significant downsides that degraded the experience to a point we didn’t feel was acceptable. Ultimately, we made the decision to use the time of our tech folks elsewhere, such as the added launch feature of saving your salvage progress.
Q: Why is there no user-generated content, Workshop or modding?
A: Trust us, this is a feature we would have loved to include!
Unfortunately, behind the scenes, creating one of our ships is not as simple as assembling modular prefabs and calling it a day. The complex interplay of physics systems, elemental systems, and pressurization systems in Shipbreaker requires a huge amount of manual setup and adjustment, as well as optimization for performance and stability in a fully physically-simulated environment. You can watch this GDC Talk from our Tech Director if you’d like more details!
We also found ourselves using a mix of licensed third-party programs, and bespoke internal tools as we refined our processes for making ships throughout development. Packing everything necessary for modding together as a freely usable public toolset would add another layer of legal complexity.
That’s a lot of words to say this is something we thought was possible at the very early stages of development, but we realized it would be next to impossible to implement as time progressed. We didn’t manage expectations as well as we should have, and for that we apologize. What we’ve learned is that in the future we need to be more transparent about these issues and explain why certain things may not be possible. We’ll do better in the future.
This has been a learning experience for us though, and we’re taking the lessons learned into future projects. The goal moving forward is to do our best to plan for these features from the very beginning, to make sure technical limitations don’t stop us from creating features that we care about just as much as the community does.
Q: Why is there no VR?
A: Shipbreaker would likely make for a unique experience for the folks who can stomach the zero-g induced motion sickness of salvaging ships in full 3D in the depths of space!
Creating a high-quality experience in VR is very different than creating one for a standard display, however, and the added cost and time have to be weighed against the potential sales VR support may add. Shipbreaker is too physics and CPU-heavy to run well on the Quest 2, for instance (remember, VR games have to render twice; once for each eye), and tethered VR headsets or Quest 2 headsets connected to a PC make up a much smaller percentage of the market these days.
Unlike additions like adding co-op or modding, VR adds significant optimization and design challenges. The game needs to run twice as efficiently to render in 3D. How the Player interacts and moves around needs to be redesigned and re-implemented from the ground up. Just the amount of work a VR port would take balanced against the ability of that port to justify its own budget doesn’t add up. There might be a case for us to revisit this idea in the future as VR and the market around VR continues to evolve.
Also, we gotta be honest, we really do think this sounds cool as hell as well.
Q: Why is there a focus on the story?
Game development is a conversation between the developer and the community, the other side of that is that sometimes we value different things. Adjusting the game’s story in line with certain community feedback has to be balanced against staying true to the original vision and intent that got us excited about making this game in the first place. The themes in this story are quite dear to us, and we hope you enjoy the journey alongside the characters of Shipbreaker. If you’d rather ignore the story completely, there are options to do so!
Q: Why aren’t there more ships?
Each one of those beasts are real frickin’ hard to design, create, and add to the game without breaking any of the existing rules or content.
Every new environmental hazard or gameplay system added during Early Access created a variety of expected and unexpected interactions and edge cases as we tested them and listened to player feedback, and those situations often forced us to revisit previous ship designs to make sure everything was working as intended. There isn’t a way to drop a brand-new ship into Shipbreaker, after all. The systems work together so tightly that dropping each new model into the game almost meant taking a new pass across the entirety of Shipbreaker.
There is also the work that has to go into keeping the game running smoothly, which is a huge undertaking in a game with this much of a focus on physics and having so many pieces of each ship floating around at any given time once salvage has begun. Making sure the game runs smoothly on a variety of systems required a huge amount of collaboration between many different disciplines at Blackbird, and it’s something we became much better at through the course of the game’s development cycle.
We also have to make sure the game is always being optimized as we add new features and content. Optimization isn’t just happening to get the game to run better overall, it’s also a process that’s constantly being improved to make sure performance stays the same when new content is added. It’s crucial work, but often invisible to the end player.
Q: Will there be more new ships and/or tools in the future?
A: We would love to continue expanding the ship roster and tool selection in the game, however now that we have reached the end of Early Access, the team’s focus has turned to bringing Shipbreaker to Xbox Series X / S and Playstation 5.
Q: Will you be making a DLC?
A: There are no current plans for DLC, but anything is possible if Shipbreaker becomes popular enough!
Q: Will you make more games from the Hardspace universe?
A: We would love to! It will all depend on the public interest! So if you love Hardsapce and want to see more Hardspace games be sure to share it with your friends!
Q: Will there be any more updates after launch?
A: There will be ongoing bug-fixes, quality-of-life improvements, and tuning while we work on porting and optimizing the game for Xbox Series X / S and Playstation 5.
Q: Can I send the dev team feedback? And if so where?
A: We love hearing from our player, and the best place to send us feedback is on our official Shipbreaker Discord or on our other social media channels!
Q: How big is the Hardspace: Shipbreaker dev team?
A: We've fluctuated between 20 to 30 developers. Although for the first couple of years the team was less than 10 people!
Q: What is the gameplay loop?
A: In a nutshell:
- Salvage ships to earn credits and increase your Rank at LYNX Corp.
- New Ranks unlock new tools and upgrades
- Complete work orders to gain LYNX tokens to purchase upgraded gear
- Use your new tools to tackle continuously larger, more difficult and more dangerous ships.
Q: How much debt do I owe Lynx at the start of the story campaign?
A: 1,252,594,441.92 Credits.
Q: Do credits made from salvaging ships go straight to paying off debt or do you have an option to pay debt or buy upgrades?
A: Currently credits go directly to paying off your debt. Certain supplies can be purchased at the Kiosk in your bay that will add to your debt. Lynx Tokens are used to purchase upgrades.
Q: Does each ship have a time limit?
A: You have the option! If you wish to play with no time limit, pick the “Open Shift” career mode. In Open Shift you can play at your own pace and you can also disable oxygen drain if you want to.
If you like the challenge of having a timer, pick the “Standard” career mode or next higher difficulty options. With Standard or higher, the moment you enter the bay, the clock starts ticking and the full shift is 15 minutes long. However you can take as many shifts as you need to complete a ship. Just remember LYNX will charge you a bay rental fee for each shift you take so efficiency pays.
Q: Is it possible to deconstruct an ENTIRE ship?
A: It is! Every single part of every ship is a dynamic physics object -- which means that no part of the ship is "baked" into the world just for decoration. Sometimes you need to seek out weak points to sever the denser structure to pull the ship apart, but you can certainly "clean your plate" as we like to say.
Q: Are there player customization options?
A: When you begin a campaign, you can choose your character voice, and later on you’ll be able to unlock stickers that you get through achievements and can apply onto your own tools. Beyond the character, you can also customize your HAB space, by displaying posters on the walls that you may have collected during your shift.
Q: How long is the campaign?
A: The campaign is designed to take approximately 20-30 hours for the average player. However the length will vary based on your skill as a salvager and how efficiently to chop up ships.
Q: The cutter seems to cut simultaneously with 2 lasers that move to opposite directions. How does this version of the cutter work?
A: The cutting tool (actually called the Splitsaw!) is a rail-guided handheld laser-cutting tool. Lining up your cut for the perfect split involves wrestling with zero-gravity drift, explosions, decompressions, and a variety of other hazards. You'll have full freedom to bisect objects into two pieces from any angle you wish -- and some objects may even have other surprising reactions to being cut!
Technical addendum: Our physics simulation relies on all individual objects to be convex, (or a collection of convex pieces). By allowing our cuts to be planar in shape, we can always guarantee that no matter the angle a convex object is cut, the newly created object(s) will also be convex. It's part of what allows us to have thousands of dynamic physics objects at once!
Q: Is there a definitive goal in the game aside from just salvaging because you want to?
A: At a high level the goal for the Player is to pay off their debt to LYNX so they can break free of their contractual obligation and forge their own way out in the Solar System. However, there is a full story in the campaign for you to experience and we don’t want to spoil it, so you’ll have to play it and find out for yourself!