Approaching Infinity - touching affinity

By popular request (well, we are at least two people willing to discuss the game!), here is a thread for Approaching Infinity, a space-themed roguelike by Bob Saunders, available for half a million doublons from Shrapnel Games.

Approaching Infinity is a game whose original goal is to create an ever-playable experience, by generating zones, enemies and weapons that follows the author’s algorithms. “Hey, that sounds like Oblivion’s infamous scaleable difficulty”, might some say, “that’s not sexy at all!”
Incidentally, the author has captured what are, to me, the sparkles of a procedurally generated Starflight. The player transports herself from space pocket to space pocket, exploring what is inside them and discovering new things along the way.
She will sojourn in space aboard a ship which she can upgrade, while it is as a party she will trek the planets and interiors of ships themselves. The mechanics are very simple : standard bump close combat, rudimentary ranged one, elementary inventory management, some basic trading, a captain and some officers for hire that gain levels and skills, simple diplomacy and quests with some storylines; the exception being a quite extensive but optional crafting system. There are a couple of persistence mechanics: unlockable ships under certain conditions (à la FTL), and money that can be saved for later runs - this money helps but doesn’t ruin the balance, thanks to the aforementioned scaling systems. Turning off permadeath is also an option, although I have never done that.

The progression is arguably always the same (which sounds strange for something procedurally generated, I know) but I have been playing the game for more than a year, and although I always stumble and fail pretty quickly, I just never get tired of the experience. It is thanks, in part, to evocative minimalist graphics by David Gervais and a really awesome soundtrack from Nathan Becker, but there is also something magical in Approaching Infinity. I know it sounds stupid trying to share somewhat of a mystical connection to a game, but this is what happens to me with this one. It is a world of space fantasy of which I have been enjoying every second spent inside. Is it because it echoes memories of older games? I cannot tell.

Anyway, I can only recommend to give the demo (Windows or Mac) a try: if you find it to your taste, I can’t advise you enough to make the jump past the irrationality of buying something priced and heavily DRMed by Shrapnel*. It might be worth it.

IBOLogy has since published on its own on Steam a weird little toy named XenoBloom, and The Curse of Yendor, a lighter but very enjoyable game, is due out soon. They don’t have the scope of Approaching Infinity, though.

######*And to add insult to injury, they think we are dumb enough to not get it is only because of greed they ask us to buy the same game multiple times for different platforms… sigh

Needless to say, Bob is not planning to go with Shrapnel for future games.

How so?

You need to initally enter a serial number, at which point the application phones home, to activate itself (indefinitely) on a single computer. Limited number of activations to boot, after which you need to contact Shrapnel support in case it wasn’t clear they wanted you to feel like their b#&$ ;)
The game got lots of bad feedback early on because of this policy from the publisher, it seems. Which is sad, because it is a great game.

Demo is interesting. Is the game $39.95 and shitty DRM interesting? The jury is out.

Wow. I had no idea it was that bad. I assumed it was like Matrix, in which you get a CD-key that doesn’t need phoning home to unlock.

The price kept me away from the game for a long time, but that kind of DRM kind of settles it. I suppose I’ll wait for the next game by Bob Saunders…

I don’t know about the next game. I played the demo and I want to play this one. i might have gotten over the price but that DRM is pretty much a killer on it’s own. Coupled with the price it just killed it for me.

But what about the game? Shouldn’t we be judging that? Yeah sure, but not if it’s that much a hassle to get to.I really wish the designer could find another outlet for it. I looked at this longingly a while ago and I don’t see anything new to change my mind.

Tom Mc

Love this game.

DRM aside let’s talk about the game ;)

Recent threads have gotten me really wanting to re-experience Starflight type gameplay. Do those of you that have it always play with permadeath on? Would it mess up the experience too much if it was off you think? Is there some story arc in there?

Starflight vibe gives me heart all a jitter :)

It’s definitely got Starflight in its DNA, but I’d not call it a Starflight clone like Star Control 2, for example.

If you kids don’t stop fighting I’ll turn this thread right around!

Fine, I’ll go, then!

You’re grounded, young man!

Sorry to ask again, but how dependent is the game on the rouge-like permadeath aspect? I found in Sunless Sea and FTL it just too frustrating so I turned it off or modded it out.

For the DRM - that phone home is just to activate right? I mean, after that it doesn’t do that at all and I can play when disconnected from the Internet? As long as it doesn’t’ install some awful 3rd party software that might slow my computer down I don’t mind the annoyance.

When you restart, Im’ guessing the exploration is super fun? I mean, exploration is the root of what I love about so many games. Even Civ and MOO. I’m more in love with the explorative part of the game than anything else I think. Does that mean (if there’s lots of un variation) I might be in a bit of heaven with Infinity? The price for the game is a bit much for me to swing right now with GI surgery coming up, but at the same time it might be one of those things that helps me get through the pain.

OH one more question. Pixel graphics often work terrible on my monitor. It’s big and has a high resolution. Two things that works against pixel games having my face just 2 feet from the screen. This looks like it might not be a problem as it’s not a typical super pixellated thing, but I can’t be sure. What do you think?

Do you two owners who obviously love the game have any special memories from a particular playthru? Or would that spoil some of the game?

It’s still a roguelike at its core, so you’ll still have a great time exploring until you eventually do die and start over. It’s fun every run though.