Space Station 13

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Space Station 13
Spacestation13 logo.png
Developer(s)Originally Exadv1, now community based
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows Edit this on Wikidata
Release16 February 2003[1]

Space Station 13 often shortened to SS13 is a top-down tile based action role-playing multiplayer video game running on the freeware BYOND game engine, originally released in 2003.[2]

The game is set on a futuristic space station; however, location can differ depending on the game server, including spacecraft and exoplanets.[3][4] The core game is defined by its emphasis on player roles: at the start of every round, players choose or are given various roles and attempt to either help or hinder others' progress.


Space Station 13's gameplay is based on the content and settings applied on the game server. Sessions are typically hosted off of user maintained and customized game servers which can alter or vary the gameplay experience.[5] Sessions are played in rounds, where players can create a customized character, begin playing with a randomly generated one, or use a previously existing character. Players can choose different jobs, such as janitor, engineer, or clown which dictate their role and responsibilities, Sessions are usually isolated from each other so players can choose to change their job, character, or playstyle.

A screenshot depicting the game's graphical user interface in 2020. Gameplay and appearance varies between servers.

The player can interact with nearly any object or being in the game world in a context-sensitive fashion. 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, depending on the server, the player can change their character's 'intent' between four different states (Help, Disarm, Grab, Harm) which will further influence actions taken. For example, using your character's hands on a fallen player with help intent would cause you to help them up from the ground, while using harm intent could punch or kick them.

The game fully simulates power, biology, atmosphere, chemistry, and other complex object and environmental interactions depending on game settings.

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).
  • Example of extensive player made modification to one of the stations in the game.
    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 genetic mutations, breeding slimes, 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 disposed items).
  • Service (keeping the station clean and providing food, drinks, and entertainment 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, all players spawn at the beginning of each round and perform their jobs, not accounting for human error and malicious intent. However, randomly selected players are chosen to spawn as 'antagonists' aboard the station. Antagonists can range from mostly normal characters with certain malicious intentions, rogue artificial intelligences, and a wide assortment of monsters and enemies, such as changelings, aliens, Lovecraftian horrors, 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 assigned jobs), many rounds escalate into chaos and disorder. While some communities have pre-set match timings, often rounds are concluded when the situation becomes critical and evacuation procedures are initiated.

There are several different servers to play on, each sporting their own set of rules and gameplay elements. Examples include Goonstation, originally created by users of Something Awful (who are collectively referred to as "goons"), CM-SS13 (with CM standing for Colonial Marines), a server inspired by the Alien franchise,[6] and /tg/station 13, originally created by members of 4chan's /tg/ or "traditional games" board.[7]


Due to each server's lack of an agreed canonical storyline, most if not all servers have individualized lores and backstories. Generally, Space Station 13 takes place several centuries in the future on a research station owned by the megacorporation known as Nanotrasen. The station exists to research the mineral 'plasma' (or 'phoron' on some servers), which is very valuable, possibly due to its extreme flammability. 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), and Changelings (an extraterrestrial species with the ability to take on the form of any organic life-form they've absorbed).


Space Station 13 was originally developed as an atmospherics simulator by Exadv1 in 2003.[8] Its closed source codebase was allegedly stolen and leaked onto the internet in 2006, giving rise to SS13's current popularity.[9] However, in a 2017 interview, Exadv1 claimed no theft actually took place, as he had voluntarily given the code to fellow programmers after ceasing work on the game due to personal circumstances.[10]

A large number of promising community efforts to remake SS13 have been started over the years due to longstanding frustration with SS13's closed-source engine and low quality of code. Most of these attempts have since been abandoned, and a community mythos has jokingly built up around "The Curse", a supposed force that is responsible for the failure of all attempts to remake the game.[11]

Regardless, multiple major SS13 remakes are currently in development: Space Station 14,[12][13] Unitystation,[14] RE:SS3D,[15] and SpessVR[16] (Spess[17]).


Space Station 13 garnered attention from various video game journalism websites over the years.[18][19]

The game served as a direct inspiration for the role-playing video game Barotrauma,[20] and was also mentioned by Eurogamer as an inspiration for the now-cancelled[21] game ION by DayZ creator Dean "Rocket" Hall.[22] He then later released Stationeers, which was also inspired by Space Station 13.[23]

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[24] and 2019.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Space Station 13 by Exadv1 at BYOND Games". Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  2. ^ "Space Station 13".
  3. ^ "SEV Torch - Baystation 12". Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  4. ^ "Guide to Exploration - Baystation 12". Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "CM Wiki". Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  7. ^ "The history of SS13 - /tg/station 13 Wiki". Retrieved 2020-12-15.
  8. ^ "Exadv1 - Creations". Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  9. ^ "The history of SS13 - /tg/station 13 Wiki". 2015-01-14. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  10. ^ BlackPantsLegion (2017-10-21), Space Station 13 Interview: Exadv1 (Yes, HIM)!, retrieved 2017-11-09
  11. ^ "The curse of Space Station 13". 29 November 2017. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  12. ^ Evac Shuttle: Space Station 13 Remake Open-Sourced by Alice O'Connor on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (January 20, 2015)
  13. ^ "About Space Station 14". Space Station 14. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Unitystation on Steam". Steam. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  15. ^ "About RE:SS3D". Re:SS3D. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Spess on Steam".
  17. ^ "Spess: a space exploration game".
  18. ^ "Space Station 13: a multiplayer space station simulator about monkeys, insane AI, cultists and paperwork". PCGamesN. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  19. ^ Smith, Quintin (2010-07-21). "Space Station 13: Galactic Bartender Ep. 1". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  20. ^ Regalis (March 15, 2019). "WELCOME TO EUROPA: THE HISTORY OF BAROTRAUMA". Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  21. ^ Purchese, Robert (2017-03-07). "Ion, the space survival game by Dean Hall and Improbable, is dead". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2017-03-07.
  22. ^ PULLAR-STRECKER, Tom. "Kiwi DayZ creator Dean Hall moves from zombies to space stations with Ion". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2015-06-22.
  23. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (2017-11-30). "The curse of Space Station 13". Eurogamer. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  24. ^ 36. Space Station 13 [(Official site) (2003) - Developer: Robust Games] on Rock, Paper, Shotgun (2016)
  25. ^ "Best Free PC Games for 2019". Rock Paper Shotgun. Archived from the original on 2020-02-09.

External links[edit]