It’s rocket science: meet the cosmonauts and engineers making Space Pioneer

By Matt Martin
28 February 2014 14:06 GMT

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The makers of Space Pioneer have survived fire and collisions on the MIR space station. Now they want to bring that real-life drama to video games.


Space Pioneer

Space Pioneer is an RTS/god game hybrid, with players switching between a top down view of planetary colonisation, and third-person to control a single space ship.

As well as the single-player campaign and 4-player co-op, Space Pioneer will offer 128-player free roam play on dedicated servers.

All the planets and star systems will be based on scientific information gathered from NASA and the ESA’s databases.

If you’re going to make your dream game you may as well throw everything you have at it. The team behind Space Pioneer are doing just that – and then some – as they hope to create the ultimate game of space exploration, including planetary colonisation, intergalactic politics, warfare and flight simulation.

If that sounds ridiculously ambitious it’s because it is. But the team at Space Enigma Studios is no ordinary game developer looking towards the heavens. One of them, Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Lazutkin, has spent a total of 184 days, 22 hours and 7 seconds in space. He survived a fire onboard Russian space station MIR in 1997 and the collision with supply ship Progress the following year.

“I don’t want for people to experience the unfortunate things that I went through when I was in space,” he tells VG247, “but the player will certainly get to experience some interesting things whilst exploring our virtual universe.”

“I don’t want for people to experience the unfortunate things that I went through when I was in space” – Aleksandr Lazutkin, cosmonaut

Players “will be able to play through parallels of some of our experiences,” adds Lazutkin, who is acting as creative director on the project. “Space Pioneer approximates space exploration, but in a way that doesn’t impede or needlessly complicate gameplay.”

For Latzukin, Space Pioneer can be a game that fills a gap in education about – and awareness of – the study of space, and he’s clearly a man who feels passionate about the decrease in world government spending on Astronautics, despite his home country Russia bucking the trend in global space spending.

“Space Pioneer has the potential to help increase interest in real world space exploration,” he says. “As our governments are giving less and less money towards space exploration – in spite of the billions spent in Sochi – it is important for us to have an outlet to express our desire or spark our interest to venture into space.”


“Space simulators, if they are done in a way that is fun and inspiring, can increase public awareness on the state of space exploration and can help towards persuading officials and agencies to give more funding towards the future of astronautics.”

Latzukin is also joined on the team by fellow Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev who holds the record for the most amount of time spent in space (803 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes) and Sergei Avdeyev, a pilot who has spent over 42 hours walking in space.

During their time in space both men experienced time dilation, meaning they have aged less than an earthbound person by approximately 20 milliseconds. And it’s at that hint of time travel (it’s not really time travel) that reminds us Space Pioneer is science fiction, primarily being designed as a game, not an educational tool.

“A professional science fiction writer should be able to incorporate a space sim into his or her world with relative ease,” offers Anton Pervushin, author of more than 60 books. Pervushin’s involvement with Space Pioneer should ensure the game isn’t a dry space simulation. “It’s not at all difficult for me to strike a balance between science fact and science fiction, as I would say that I am competent in both fields,” he says matter-of-factly.

“Space Pioneer is making use of many scientific principles and theories that we haven’t yet used in real world space exploration” – Anton Pervushim, sci-fi author

He won’t be drawn too much on the narrative that will push players of Space Pioneer forward, apart from suggesting his role is to take existing theories and make them playable concepts within the game.

“Space Pioneer is making use of many scientific principles and theories that we haven’t yet used in real world space exploration. We’re even using one relatively prominent scientific theory that concerns how humanity actually comes into contact with alien civilizations,” he says, stopping short of revealing more.

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