Maia was the last game I got a chance to look at during my time at Minecon 2013; although this won’t be the last hands-on, I’m mixing things up. As I spoke with the game’s writer, Paul Dean, the loudspeakers continued to remind us that our time was limited. Finally, the lights were shut off and I had to grab my things and head home. While I got a lot of information about Maia I felt like there was still more to learn, so I’m happy to see the game is now out on Steam Early Access for all to try.
Maia, as described by Mr. Dean, is The Sims mixed with Dwarf Fortress…in space. My short time with the game seemed to back up this intriguing mixture. In essence, Maia is a space-colony management simulator. You arrive on a desolate and dangerous planet and need to create a sustainable colony in order to survive, and hopefully thrive. The surface of the planet is far too dangerous, so you will need to dig into the ground for resources and to create more livable space. What you find down there is anybody’s guess though.
While searching for resources and discovering “things” underground, you will need to keep your colonists both alive and happy. An example given to me was that if they are left in a dark place for too long they might become depressed, so keep the lights on for them. Maia is built on a completely custom engine, which would be an achievement for any indie title. But with one that is so ambitious it is truly remarkable. Much of the game is randomized and procedurally generated, including the weather effects. Seeing the sunrise over the horizon after a particularly troublesome nighttime storm was one of the many moments during my demo that made me wonder how this engine was created from scratch by the game’s creator, Simon Roth.
Currently the game features a sand-box mode only, but a single player campaign is planned for the final release, if not sooner. Emergent events will play a large part in the game, so you might have a few stories to share with your friends about things you discovered underground, storms that ravaged your colony, or a colonist who went a little crazy and ended your game.
Maia has already went through all the usual indie game channels. It blasted through it’s Kickstarter and Indiegogo goals and has been greenlit and released for Steam Early Access (25% off as of the time this was written). There is no word on when the game will be out of Alpha/Beta status and see a full release, but it looks like an ambitious title already.