Space Station 13

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Space Station 13
Space station 13 logo.png
Developer(s)Originally developed by Exadv1, now multiple
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows Edit this on Wikidata
Release16 February 2003
Genre(s)Roleplaying, Sandbox

Space Station 13 (or SS13) is a top-down role-playing multiplayer video game on the BYOND game engine, originally released in 2003. The game, like most BYOND games, is tile based and is played from a 2D angle.[1]

Set on a futuristic space station, players choose to play from a selection of different jobs available on the crew roster; the outcome of which is determined by the interactions players have with the environment around them.


Space Station 13 takes place on fictional space stations. At the beginning of each round, players are given time to either create a customized character using a character sheet or they may begin playing with a completely randomly generated character. Players can choose different jobs, such as janitor or engineer, which dictate their role on the space station. The game is akin to a roleplaying sandbox game, with events in each round largely being player-dictated and most of the time lacking a real objective or goal.

The player can examine and use almost any object or being on the station, and is almost always context-sensitive. Different results will occur depending on many variables in any given interaction (e.g. Using a crowbar on another player would attack them but using it on a floorboard would pry it up). Additionally, the player can change their 'intent' between four different states (Help, Disarm, Grab, Harm) which will further influence actions taken. For example, using an empty hand on another player with help intent would cause you to hug them, but would cause you to punch them on Harm intent.

The game engine fully simulates power, biology, atmosphere, chemistry, and other complex object and environmental interactions beyond the vast majority of video games, which, to many people, compensates for its lack of visual quality and speed.

While different servers may have their unique station constructs, generally there are eight departments aboard the station. Supply and Service are also often grouped in the Civilian category.

  • Command (taking leadership roles aboard the station).
  • Security (enforcing the law, keeping peace and responding to emergencies aboard the station).
  • Engineering (generating power and keeping utilities maintained aboard the station, such as keeping doors functional and ensuring Oxygen is present around the station).
  • Science (researching technologies and developing 'Synthetics' aboard the station).
  • Medical (keeping the crew healthy, performing most surgeries, researching diseases and creating clones for deceased players aboard the station).
  • Supply (mining for minerals on a nearby planet, and taking charge of the cargo, such as purchasing goods for crew-members and sorting through all disposed items).
  • Service (keeping the station clean and providing food and drinks for the crew.).
  • Synthetics/Silicons (consisting of the station's A.I and cyborgs, who are often bound by the Three Laws of Robotics, which restrict AI from committing illegal acts, such as assaulting a crew member, unless someone changes said laws).

Optimally everybody will spawn into the station at the beginning of each round and perform their jobs. However, randomly selected players are chosen to spawn as an 'antagonist' aboard the station. Antagonists can range from a character with secret objectives, genocidal AIs, and a wide assortment of monsters and enemies, such as changelings, aliens, Lovecraftian horrors and their cults, assassins and death squads armed with nuclear weapons. It can be difficult for normal crew members to identify antagonists, and even harder to determine their objectives.

Due to the presence of antagonists (and, sometimes, due to players failing at their jobs), most rounds will end with the station left in chaos, and most others with it completely destroyed. While some servers may have an end game, often the rounds will end when an emergency shuttle is called to pick up the crew at the station.


Due to each server's lack of an agreed canonical storyline, most if not all servers have individualized lores and backstories. Generally though, Space Station 13 takes place in the 26th century on a research station owned by the megacorporation known as Nanotrasen. The station exists to research the recently discovered mineral 'plasma' (or 'phoron' on some servers), whose uses and properties Nanotrasen lacks knowledge of. Nanotrasen's influence and power have effectively made them a government entity, but is often left ambiguous as to whether they are good, evil or a neutral party (depending on the server).

Due to Nanotrasen's immense stature and massive monopoly on plasma, it is targeted by an array of third-party aggressors. This includes, but is not limited to: the Syndicate (a coalition of smaller companies and planetary governments), the Space Wizard Federation (a federal group of thaumaturgical aggressors), Changelings (an extraterrestrial species with the ability to take on the form of any organic life-form they've 'absorbed') etc.


Space Station 13 was kept in a closed source and originally developed as an atmospherics simulator in 2003 by Exadv1.[2] Allegedly the source code was stolen in 2006 and leaked onto the internet, which gave rise to the current popularity of SS13.[3] However, during an interview in 2017 with SS13 YouTuber Mr. Tex of the BlackPantsLegion, Exadv1 explained that due to life circumstances he was unable to continue programming the game, and had in fact given the code to fellow programmers in order to take the programming of Space Station 13 further in his absence.[4]

Since then, the player count has grown. Due to the nature of BYOND, each server has a version of the Space Station 13 code, which is often modified by those running the server, meaning that each server is a unique iteration of the game with different features and content. In the past, a Mars base server has existed based on the original Space Station 13 code, with a sea lab server in development, now known as Europa station.[5]

In 2015 an unfinished Space Station 13 remake was made open-source on GitHub.[6]


Space Station 13 garnered attention from various video game journalism websites over the years.[7][8][9][10] The game has experienced an increasing player count as of recent, reaching more than 1500 players on at a single time by May 2019.[11] Its popularity has gained it communities from websites such as 4chan, Reddit,[12] the Facepunch Studios forums and Something Awful. The game was also mentioned by Eurogamer as an inspiration for the now-cancelled[13] game ION by DayZ creator Dean "Rocket" Hall.[14] Rock, Paper, Shotgun named Space Station 13 on place 37 of its list of "The 50 Best Free games on PC" (of all time) in 2016.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Space Station 13 by Exadv1 at BYOND Games". Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  2. ^ "Exadv1 - Creations". Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  3. ^ "The history of SS13 - /tg/station 13 Wiki". 2015-01-14. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  4. ^ BlackPantsLegion (2017-10-21), Space Station 13 Interview: Exadv1 (Yes, HIM)!, retrieved 2017-11-09
  5. ^ "Space Station 13: Mars Outpost 42 (SS13 on Mars!)". Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  6. ^ Evac Shuttle: Space Station 13 Remake Open-Sourced by Alice O'Connor on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (January 20, 2015)
  7. ^ "Space Station 13: a multiplayer space station simulator about monkeys, insane AI, cultists and paperwork". PCGamesN. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  8. ^ Smith, Quintin (2010-07-21). "Space Station 13: Galactic Bartender Ep. 1". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  9. ^ "Space Station 13 (Game)". Giant Bomb. 2015-05-22. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  10. ^ "Space Station 13 | Rock, Paper, Shotgun - PC Game Reviews, Previews, Subjectivity". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  11. ^ "BYOND Games - Make & Play Online Multiplayer Games". Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  12. ^ "Space Station 13". Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  13. ^ Purchese, Robert (2017-03-07). "Ion, the space survival game by Dean Hall and Improbable, is dead". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2017-03-07.
  14. ^ PULLAR-STRECKER, Tom. "Kiwi DayZ creator Dean Hall moves from zombies to space stations with Ion". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2015-06-22.
  15. ^ 36. Space Station 13 [Official site) (2003) - Developer: Robust Games on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (2016)

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