The 13th Station | Teen Ink

The 13th Station

May 16, 2019
By Anonymous

You hear a honk in the distance. You continue your sprint from the source, but, alas, you slip on a mutated banana the botanists dropped. Seconds pass as you hope to recover, but it’s too late; the clown rounds the corner you just left. As you lay prone, it righteously honks you to death in the name of the Honkmother. You’ve died for the first time on Space Station 13.

Space Station 13, also known as SS13, is a multiplayer, role-playing game that takes place on a corporate space station. Players are randomly assigned roles to fulfill, ranging from the lowly janitor all the way to the captain of the ship, striving to fulfill the needs of the station. However, random players are chosen to be antagonists, working to kill the crew, steal items, or cause general mayhem on the station. Due to the lax minimum requirements of each job, most players are free to devote each round to all of their passing whims, ensuring no rounds are exactly the same.

SS13 is a niche game, only having between 500 and 1600 concurrent players at any given time. This is due to the main flaws of the game: its controls and graphics. SS13 doesn’t have an in-game tutorial; each server provides a link to its tutorial page, explaining how the game is played. Servers generally also provide an online page about SS13 game mechanics, as well as the specifics of their own server’s changes to the source code. However, knowing how to play the game doesn’t make it any easier to actually play.

The game has standard WASD movement, but uses it own unique, if sometimes annoying macros for interacting with the game. But if you can get past these stumbling blocks, muscle memory will kick in, making your experience much smoother and more engaging. The next flaw holding SS13 back in popularity is the graphics. It came out in 2003, where 8-bit graphics were acceptable as passing, if not good, graphics. In all the years of its existence, its sprites have been upgraded over the years, but it remains in 8-bit. This flaw becomes less jarring as you become more focused on the gameplay.

Once you get past its flaws, you can see the shining gem SS13 is. It has dynamic atmospherics, robust chemical making and interactions, a completely destructible station, most rounds are completely player-driven, and more! Each round is as unique as the players contributing to it, giving the game strong replay value. Even if you get bored of playing one job, there are dozens more to learn and master. The game sounds are community-made, and it’s up to each server to contribute its own sounds and music. The story of the game is relatively unknown and unimportant, and takes a back seat during gameplay on most servers; however, on high roleplay servers the opposite is true, with the story of the station and shift being on the forefront while game mechanics stick to the back burners.

SS13 servers can be categorized by how emphasis they put on roleplaying: low, medium, or high roleplay. Low roleplay servers have the least amount of player roleplay, high roleplay servers have the most amount of roleplaying, and medium roleplay servers have a mix between the two. A high roleplay server may have a long and detailed character creation process, while a lower roleplay server will let you enter the current round as an assistant after a character is generated for you. In high roleplay servers, roleplaying as your character is strictly enforced and rounds are more focused on the developing relationships between characters and crew. In lower roleplay servers, rounds focus more on what gimmicks other people are doing, and not the blossoming interpersonal relationships between the clown and mime. In my experience, most servers tend to be medium to low roleplay.

Space Station 13 is a unique experience of a game. It fills a niche of a multiplayer rpg with lots of content. The sounds and music are community-made varying the level quality between each audio asset. Overall I’d say SS13 is an 8.5/10 game, losing points because its convoluted code makes it hard to continue to develop new content. However, it is still a great game and experience, especially when a lot of people are each trying to do a funny gimmick. Everyone should put on their budget-insulated gloves, and try a round of the best rpg they’ve never heard of.

The author's comments:

It's a fun, obscure game. I can't click any od the tags underneath this box, but it's role-playing/fantasy.

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