(Standard caveat: this is a game in development, and they’re still deciding on what it’ll actually include, so take anything I say here with a grain of salt. If you want to see what it’s actually like right now, go over and join the beta — they’re eager for more players. The beta is currently available on PC; it’s not quite ready for download to your phone.)
Galaxylife will exist on a single server (a “galaxy”), and everyone starts with your own planet. You play a single character drawn from seven playable races — three humanoid, four not so much, and two more coming soon. It’s what Greenhalgh calls a social massive online game. Combat is definitely included, but it’s not the principle method of advancement or accomplishment; your Status measures what you’ve accomplished in the game. Play your cards right and you can become Galactic President. (“But not for too long; plenty of other players will want to be president, too.”)
Planets are one of the most interesting aspects of Galaxylife. I mentioned you start with a planet; what I should add is that you get to design your planet. All planets are within the life zone — it can’t be a gas giant or as small as Pluto — but you can specify plenty of other factors, and there are a few random factors thrown in that you can’t control. No two planets will be alike, and that’s before they start changing and evolving. Each planet will develop a life of its own.
Travel from planet to planet is via light-tube (which is basically instantaneous) or by way of taxi or your own personal cruiser. Ship travel generally won’t take much longer than a light-tube jump, but it allows for events to occur along the way. You can’t visit another player’s planet without his permission, but plenty of planets will feature tourist attractions, mine-able resources, and other inducements. The more players who visit your planet, the more Status you gain. (Sorta like “Sims in Space”.) However, if you want to keep your planet’s resources to yourself, you can simply ban other players from visiting. Economic development earns Status, too.
You can actually create more than one planet, and you can share your planet(s) with your clan/society/guild (they’re still working out which label they want to use).
There are other things to work out, as well. They currently plan on having characters age and die (!), but they’re building in offspring and an inheritance system. They want you to partner with another player to create a child (with the child gaining genetic traits from both parents), but they haven’t settled on who controls the new character. (As you can tell, this system is still in early development; it’s unlikely to be part of the initial launch.)
In addition to lots and lots of planets, there is a single space station at the galactic hub, where everyone can meet and mingle for trade and other business. There will be a few quests, related to discovering the galaxy’s long history.
There are three states for a player character: Peaceful, Aggressor and Outlaw. No one can attack a Peaceful player. Aggressors have certain PvP options, and Outlaws live a no-holds-barred existence, but with a price on their heads. And remember, when you die, you stay dead. If someone collects a bounty on your Outlaw character, that character is out of the game. You can change from Peaceful to Aggressor and from Aggressor to Outlaw, but you can’t change back (so that you don’t make a quick fortune pillaging other players, then retire to a peaceful life of contemplating daisies, free from retribution).
If you’re an Aggressor, your planet can be attacked at any time, even when you’re asleep. It’ll have some automatic defenses (although you might have to build them yourself), but I predict that there will be player-mercenary companies for hire to defend planets at any hour of the day.
The economic model is one that is becoming familiar. The download and gameplay are both free, but there will be virtual goods for sale online — ingame services, entertainment, tools (to develop and work your planet), and so forth. These will be micro-transactions, probably a dime or quarter a pop. Ingame advertising is likely; they’re even open to allowing realworld companies to run an account — Planet Nike, anyone? Wonder what it’d feature?
While you can play Galaxylife on a cell phone, most gameplay will be through a computer. Mobile play (for the most part) will probably be maintenance and management, not creation and aggression. For example, the phone version won’t even include planet design — designing a planet is too great of an enterprise (in terms of both time and bandwidth) to be feasible on a phone.
Every upcoming game wants to be new and different. Galaxylife certainly achieves that status. It’ll be interesting to see how well it accomplishes the connection between computer and mobile gameplay, and how many players sign up for the ride.
I like to analyze and optimize while playing games, so I much prefer games that require thought rather than action.
Evie is twelve years old and is an avid reader, especially of fantasy. Favorite authors include J.K. Rowling (of course), Brian Jacques, Cornelia Funke and Tamora Pierce. These reviews are her first published writing.
Will is nine years old and loves to investigate, especially dinosaurs and astronomy. These reviews are also his first published writing.
Jesse is seven years old and has just started reading chapter books. He likes Hank the Cowdog and cartoon books, especially Calvin & Hobbes, Baby Blues and Donald Duck.
If you're interested in the (roughly) thousand-year-old triceratops stone in our pic, check out the Dino Art. Some of the accompanying text can be a bit strident, but it's still a puzzle why Central and South American Indians knew pretty precisely what dinosaurs looked like over a thousand years ago.