What is Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager (SPM)?
Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program (SPM) is a turn-based simulation game where you assume the role of Administrator of either NASA or the Soviet space agency in the mid 1950s, with the ultimate objective of beating the other faction in being the first one to put a man on the Moon… and returning him back safely to the Earth!
The game features lots of real and fictional programs to choose from and, as the Administrator, you will have to carefully manage the budget by opening programs, assigning funds to R&D in order to improve hardware’s reliability, recruiting and training personnel and conducting missions, which are displayed as animations that feature custom artwork.
Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager features both sandbox and campaign modes. In addition to NASA and the Soviet space agency, players will also be able to choose the Global Space Agency (GSA), a fictional space agency that features programs from all major space agencies in the world. The game modes featuring the GSA are ideal for those looking to have a big toolbox of options available in order to experiment and try different what-if scenarios, without the pressure of beating another opponent.
Aditionally, SPM will feature an asynchronous multiplayer mode that makes use of Slitherine’s PBEM system, which will allow you to test your skills against other players. You will also be able to hold several matches simultaneously and, due to its asynchronous nature, you won’t have to schedule the meeting time in advance, as the system will notify you via e-mail when you are able to make your next move.
You can find more information about the game in the product page. If you want to see the game in action, we suggest you take a look at the Learning by Gaming Youtube Channel which, at the moment of this writing, features nearly 90 videos on SPM!
This sounds great! When will the game be available?
The game is still in development. However, we’re currently running an Early Access Program (EAP), which allows players to buy it and download the game right away. Even though it’s yet not finished, it’s already in a playable state and it has lots of features and content in it, which guarantees you’ll have some serious fun with it!
The development team, with the help of some members of the community, is hard at work implementing the remaining features and content, and periodically releases new patches for early adopters to try out and provide feedback on.
Which platforms is it going to be released on?
SPM will be released on both desktop (PC/OSX) and mobile (iOS/Android) platforms. Notice that the Early Access Program we’re currently running is PC only.
Is there a game manual?
Due to the nature of the Early Access Program, the game mechanics and the UI are changing on a constant basis, so there’s no game manual available. That being said, once the rules begin to ‘crystallize’, we’ll start working on a game manual, which will be shipped with the released version of the game.
Early Access Program
What’s the Early Access Program (EAP)?
The EAP is a program that started at the end of October 2013 and allows you to buy the game and download it immediately. The game is already in a playable state and, even though it’s not finished yet, we get frequent posts at the forums and private messages from newcomers, who tell us that they find the game really interesting!
Why did you decide to run an EAP?
The main reason was so that we could get useful feedback regarding the game and, based on it, be able to shape the final product into the game players want to play. This caused a major change in the development roadmap, which was announced in mid-January.
When will the EAP end? When will the game be considered as ‘done’ or ‘released’?
The final release date is planned for the 31st of October!
What do I get if I buy any tier of the Early Access Program?
Buying the Early Access Program gives you immediate access to the digital version of the game. Aditionally, you’ll get all updates we’ll be releasing until the final game release and any subsequent patches we might release afterwards. Notice that buying the Early Access Program doesn’t give you access to extra episodes or sequels.
I recall reading somewhere online that the game is actually a trilogy? How does that fit in the Early Access Program?
Indeed, the long term plans are to release two more parts after the race to the Moon. Part 2 will focus on the development of space stations, while part 3 will focus on a manned mission to Mars and featuring the Aldrin Cycler. Parts 2 and 3 will be released separately and you will able to “plug” them into part 1. So expect the final version of SPM to be quite massive!
We have neither determined if we’re going to run a separate Early Access Program for each one of them nor whether parts 2 and 3 will be available as stand-alone products.
I have bought a tier of the Early Access Program that features a boxed copy of the game (i.e., Gemini or Apollo), when will my box be shipped?
The boxes will be shipped once we declare the game as ‘released’.
How often do you release new patches?
We release patches on a constant basis. For more information, see the changelog.
Why are some patches not available for download via the auto-updater tool?
Unfortunately building the patches so that they are available via the auto-updater tool is a very time-consuming process which can be only performed by the guys at Matrix Games/Slitherine and not by us, the developers. At the beginning of the EAP in late October, and until the end of December, we provided a new patch every Friday. This turned out to be quite stressful for the guys at Matrix Games/Slitherine, who had to fit our builds in their already busy schedule. That’s when we decided to switch to a hybrid approach and start providing some patches via the auto-updater tool and some others inside a stand-alone installer located at the Matrix Games’ FTP. This gives us (the developers) the flexibility we need in order to release patches whenever we want.
I understand that, but since not all patches are available via the auto-updater tool, how can I know whether I have the latest version installed on my machine or not?
Every time we upload a new version of SPM, we post an announcement at both the Slitherine and Matrix Games forums. We also tweet about it, so feel free to follow us if you want to be up to date on any news related to SPM.
Which features have already been implemented?
The sandbox modes for all three space agencies (i.e., NASA, the Soviet space agency and the GSA) are complete, as is the campaign mode for the GSA. The animations for nearly all missions are complete as well, although we’re now working on the animations for a few extra programs that will be released soon.
Which features are you currently working on now? Is there a roadmap?
We keep a section with the current development status at the top of the changelog. Aditionally, from time to time we also post announcements in the forums with screenshots of the features and content we’ve been working on. Notice that we usually prefer to upload patches rather than post development updates :)
There’s no formal roadmap, as the things we work on depend pretty much on the feedback we get from the forums. Some weeks we focus more on adding new content, some other weeks we give a strong focus to bug-fixing and in some other ones we polish existing stuff. Some weeks we do all three! And sometimes if might look from the outside we’re not doing any of those three, but that’s because we’re tackling a more complex feature, which requires to laid out a solid foundation first and that might take longer than a week to develop.
How can I provide feedback for the game?
By posting your suggestions in the forums. We’re constantly scanning both the Slitherine and the Matrix Games forums and, even though sometimes we cannot reply to all posts, we definitely take notes of everything posted here.
How can I report any bugs I find?
If you come across something that doesn’t look right, please open up a new thread so that we can investigate. If possible, try opening a new thread for each bug you come across, so that it becomes easy for us to track the issues. Aditionally, it helps us a lot if you can also attach a savefile of the game, so that we can reproduce the problem and fix it more quickly. Showstopper bugs usually get a very high priority, and sometimes we even issue a patch in the middle of the week if a bug is preventing someone from enjoying the game.
Does the Early Access Program actually impact the development of the game? Are you, the developers, actually taking notes of the suggestions made at the forums?
Yes we are :)
The original idea for the product was to develop a sandbox game featuring a fictional space agency named the ‘GSA’ (Global Space Agency), which would feature programs and hardware from every major space agency in the world. After the feedback we got during the first weeks of the EAP, we decided to evolve the product and include a race to the Moon campaign, which can be played as either the Soviets or the Americans. We also decided to include a multiplayer mode, powered by Slitherine’s PBEM system. Thus, the revised version of SPM can be enjoyed by both players that enjoy a competitive experience, via the ‘Race to the Moon’ campaigns, and those that enjoy having a big toolbox of options and trying out different strategies, via the GSA. On top of that, the multiplayer functionality will provide some very unique experiences!
Notice that we listen very carefully to all the comments posted in the forums and, whenever we can, we try to include new features and tweaks based on the feedback we get from the early adopters.