We had a chance to speak briefly with Cameron Tofer of Hermitworks on their upcoming iPhone trading game Space Trader. We previously previewed the game in March.
The game offers you the chance to seek out power and riches as you become increasingly proficient as an interstellar trader of highly sought after merchandise. Assume the role of a Space Trader trying to make a profit buying and selling commodities, everything from medical supplies to food and precious metals. The goal is to make as much money possible within the time limit. Visit various locations in search of the best deal and be sure to look for side quests to help you achieve the highest score.
The game resembles a much enhanced version of Dope Wars where you buy and sell items from individuals between locations in an effort to make a profit.
The values of these commodities can change from place to place and over time based on market events.
The goal of the game is to make as much money within a given amount of time ("180 days"). Traveling to the different planets (there are 3 in the initial version) can take anywhere from 8 to 25 days, so you need to plan ahead to maximize your profits. Tofer reports that an average gaming session may take about 30 minutes to complete, but could take up to 2 hours if you explore all the contacts and opportunities. The game's iPhone claim-to-fame, however, is that it may become the first official App Store game based on the Quake 3 engine.
At each location, you explore each station through a 1st person perspective interface. Quite telling is that the fact that both Hermitworks and Ngmoco independently settled on very similar control schemes for their 1st person games. Left side is a virtual control pad that controls movement, while the right side controls the view. We picked up the game and found the controls easy to use and quite natural. There is no combat, however, in this version, so your interactions are primarily walking and talking to people.
Space Trader has been submitted to the App Store for approval and is expected to be sold at an introductory price of $0.99. Tofer also let us know they had a lot of updates planned over time to further improve the iPhone experience.
Space Trader on the PC is a larger multi-player game, and the company expressed interest in this possibility for the iPhone version. Other planned enhancements include a combat system that will be used in solving specific missions as well as an extensive achievement system to enhance replayability.