Orbital Margins (the game wot I'm making)

Yes, I am indeed developing a game, and I just published the first prototype on itch.io. You can read most of the relevant information about it there. It’s very early days, so the thing I’m looking for the most is feedback!

Kinda sorry for the self-plug, but I figured a couple people on here would actually like to know. Also, it’s still perfectly free at the moment. It’s really not in a stage yet where it’d be worth money.
Oh, and it’s essentially a dice roller, if you’re wondering what kind of experience you’re getting yourself into.

Feel free to leave any feedback on the itch forum, or here.


Changed to the general discussion topic.
So cool. Thanks for sharing!


I love the elevator pitch. You could make it a game like Reigns where you are given a 2 option choice every round with a simple graphic interface. In that game you balance 4 stats: religion, happiness of the people, national defense and the economy. Any of the stats getting too high or too low will result in you being overthrown.
You could do something similar, being the leader of an orbital station instead of a medieval king, where the choices would be more sci-fi and you would maybe balance food, oxygen, citizen happiness and the economy.

Here’s a video of the game being played for an example:


Not quite where I want to take this. Going for a more immersive / rpg approach, though it’s not that apparent from the current state of the game.
Still, the concept of having to balance things is something to keep in mind. There’s a bit of that already in there with stress/burnout vs. profit, but the two don’t quite interact as directly as I might like them…


Patch 0.4.1 just went up. It fixes the initialisation bug and also provides configuration to run the game in a window rather than in fullscreen if one so prefers.
I realised that I did versioning wrong on itch, so if you installed the game through the itch app, it will not update automatically. You’ll need to reinstall it. Since I think I’m doing it right now, I don’t expect this to be an issue for future patches.


I spent most of my alotted time this week planning how to proceed and defining further milestones, so I’m heavily brainstorming all kinds of things.
One of them is, as has been suggested in other places I’m looking for feedback, further job types. They have always been planned, and I have a couple ideas, but there might be a ton of fun stuff that just never entered my mind.

Currently I have the following job types in my backlog:

Redezvous with an object, attach to it, and bring it back somewhere. May be time critical in some instances, as the object is threatening to cross into orbits it shouldn’t, or might deorbit.

Deployment / Installation
Take an object out to designated orbital elements and leave it there. May also involve attaching it to something that’s already there.

Rendezvous with an object and perform maintenance like exchanging parts, or fix it outright because it doesn’t go “beep” anymore.
May be time critical in some instances.

Like a delivery, except to an unmanned object. I.e. there’ll be some transfer interface and protocols to follow, and if things don’t work, you likely have to get out there and make them work.

Like a delivery, but with people. Which means the payload is going to be some temporary habitat module, and the cargo needs to be entertained, may have weird requests, or may otherwise cause trouble.

Does anybody have further ideas for “mission profiles”? Please consider that the game is intended to be a) relatively hard science-fiction and b) non-violent. Which doesn’t mean that the player will never experience violence, but definitely means that anything that involves shooting things is off the table.
Also, there’s a bunch of stuff in the back of my mind for lunar missions, but it’s still going to be quite a stretch before the game leaves earth orbit, so while suggestions in that direction are not unwelcome, I won’t even be thinking about their implementation for a while.


After some more planning and time estimations, I guesstimate that it would take me about a year to turn the current prototype into something more engaging (far from finished, but something that could be considered an actual demo), and that’s too long a time to plan for one milestone. I need to split things up. Since essentially every aspect of the game is yelling “pick me! pick me! I’m first!” I’m having a hard time of doing that.

So I made a poll with some online poll creator thingy for people to tell me their opinion. If you’ve played the game, please quickly hop over there and click me your opinion, I would be much obliged:

Oh, also, there’s been another patch that adds a couple close buttons to things that people reported having issues to figure out how to close, and a few other fixes.


Would You rather us reply on itch.io or here?

I have tried three times. The first time I got stuck not knowing how to load the dice into tasks ( I am unsure if I didn’t read the tutorial or if it didn’t trigger). So, I started over, the second time went well as far as the game side, but on my side, I went bankrupt. I guess that iteration is begging at reprise or whatever orbital I was at. That was all the first version you released, this last time I improved. I made a profit with my first job. I am trying to pay better attention to your instructions.

Can I pick up more than one customer payload per stop?

The X-boxes are nice. I like the taxi idea, there could be a risk vs reward to take passengers. Oh, the date format threw me for a second. the day/month/year thing, just not a custom to it.

I am getting expanse and firefly vibes. Also reminds me of Sids Miers pirates, and Taipan!. also buzz aldrin space race, for some reason.

Anywho, I’ll try more later. Thank you for sharing your game.


Really anywhere is fine. Feedback has been so absent, I’m practically eager for people to at least show up and tell me I suck… I wish I could give you two likes! :laughing:
That being said, somebody posting on the itch forum might have an ice-breaker effect over there. Or maybe just nobody’s watching. But it’s still early days.

Yeah, I’m hearing that for the second time, which is odd. If you start a new game, the welcome screen should show up, and if you don’t click to skip the tutorial at any point, it should take you right through everything. If somebody with a non-working tutorial could tell me when exactly and under what circumstances it disappeared, that might help. I have never been able to reproduce it.

Well, that’s at least one thing working as intended… Well ok, this came out wrong. It’s a bit awkward. The game is supposed to be relatively brutal, a goal I haven’t quite reached yet I feel, so it’s good news to hear that at least somebody went bankrupt. On the other hand, I feel sorry for your loss of time… :grimacing:

No, that’s currently not possible. It’s kind of more realistic this way, but I will support it at some point in the future, simply to allow for more complex planning decisions.

Hmmm, now this is a tricky one. There’s a self-baked localisation framework in there, because obviously I need to keep the door open for other languages, even though right now there’s only english. I’ve basically made the date format dependent on the language, because that seemed the most reasonable way to go. But maybe I should enable a free configuration? I’ll have to think about that. It’s certainly not on top of the priority list right now, though.

Thank you for playing it! :grinning:


Too bad you didn’t make it for the Waking Titan season 2 game jam


I’m really not one for game jams. I move slow, methodically and cleanly. Hacking together ugly code in as short a time as possible just isn’t something I enjoy…


Patch 0.4.3 introduces the first, tiniest glimpse of world dynamics. The system now has the ability to generate toRoll modifiers and weigh the probability of appearance of complications for yellow or red results, both based on the current context. Right now this is only used in departure, docking, cargo delivery and pickup, where the current traffic activity and the overall side of the station make things more difficult or easy, and certain outcomes less likely to appear (for example, collisions during docking are significantly less likely when there’s not much traffic).

I’ve also posted the first of what I intend to become a monthly devlog, in case anybody wants to keep track with development and get the one or other insight into the feebles and foibles of a part-time gamedev ( I guess that’s what I am now?):


I am trying to find time to jump into this but have a major home situation, namely, no heat just as winter is setting in…so my time has been absorbed in repairs and estimates and a tooth that had to have a crown in the middle of all of it…but I plan on giving my 2 cents asap


Yeah, that is a major situation… Reminds of the times I had to go get wood from the black market in the middle of winter because somebody was helping themselves from my stack while I was living in Bosnia.


Well I have a stack of wood but my allergies rebel when I use any of it. I feel for so many this winter.



I’ve made multiple attempts to download your game, but the process repeatedly terminates with the message “Download failed - source file could not be read”. :frowning_face:


Huh, that’s very weird. Prompted by your post I’ve tried both the windows and the linux download, and they both worked. Maybe itch was having a really bad time… ?

In any case, thanks for trying! Maybe it works better tomorrow… hopefully.


I just got to play for some time. Left you some feedback as a reply on your last devlog post.

Some likely minor issues I ran into:

  • It appears to be possible to somehow lose the die dragged to the slot, although I have failed to reproduce the bug the few times it happened. Reloading as soon as it happened, or at least prior to finishing a step, appears to fix it again.
  • I ran into an issue twice, where the accepted job, was impossible to ‘remass’, due to the 36 t being insufficient. No shortage on funds.

I also wonder if it is intended to be able to hunt jobs at pretty much any moment? I feel I was able to exploit this to rid of remaining bad dice (and rest if need be). Even though spending dice costs, it’s often still worth it over the otherwise likely bad results :crazy_face:


Hi Jedidia, thanks for sharing! I’m also still interested in testing it and giving feedback. It’s not a genre that I normally play though, so you’ll get that (probably confused) point of view. :slight_smile:

I’m not a game dev, I’ve just done enough beginner tutorials of various frameworks to come to the conclusion that game dev is not a “I’ll quickly write this over the weekend” kind of thing. Around 2008, I used to maintain the web page of a game dev forum and found the conversations and creative solutions fascinating. (All the little simplifications that are “IRL wrong” but look normal in game…) :smirk: So I’m looking forward to your dev blog!

I think you are touching the sad issue that the audience judges “a book by its cover.” At the same time, chess, checkers, and card games etc. etc. don’t look fancy, but have stayed for centuries, because they had good gameplay! I think I would be the kind of dev whose game just does user input and output on the terminal, and then I call it done, I mean, the rest is just some pictures I slap in front of it, sounds easy, I’ll do that later… Right? :joy:

Some people are the opposite and start with the “Shiny!” and say, the rest is just some calculations we stick behind it, sounds easy, I’ll do that later… So what I’m getting at is, what is your experience, is there any chance you can get together with some artist who does the design part and just “slaps it on”?

That reminds me I talked to a guy at a gamer meeting who told everyone he had “made an MMORPG”. I showed interest and paused–If he does not follow up this line with “… and you can play it online here” or “… I am working for studio X”, I don’t believe it. He was unfortunately very bad at drawing in the audience. We listened to him because we were fellow gamers in a pub, but he really needs to practice a 10-sec elevator pitch, nobody else would do him that favour. He kept saying he had “a pitch” and showed us two written pages on his tablet. I see! He meant he had a high-level concept for an MMORPG! He thought it was super convincing and wanted someone else (not us – a studio) to pick it up and do the work. I wonder what became of him.


Indeed it is. I have the issue in my backlog for quite some time, but only managed to reliably reproduce it two days ago. It happens if you drag a die out of a slot and then drop it in the same slot again without releasing it. Will get fixed with the next update, though currently I’m not quite sure when that’s going to be. December for sure, but which one is hard to tell right now, due to the usual disruptive effects that decembers tend to have on any schedule…

That is actually intended. If you roll a weak hit, it’s possible that you find a job that you can’t complete. The required DV should be marked in red in the job overview. he reason why they’re none the less acceptable is that one can (mostly) complete them with a pit-stop in-between. Usually this makes no sense, but in certain cases where the delivery time is very long, the early delivery bonus can make it worth it. Not sure if that’s going to stick around in this form…

It is, yes. What you describe is also intended, as the incurred stress for failures is some punishment. It might be too little, though. There certainly are rather gaping balancing issues right now. I remember having had a higher stress penalty during job hunting in the beginning, and was afraid it might be too punishing.
Job hunting in general doesn’t quite work the way I want it right now. It’s too easy to get rid of bad jobs and focus only on the good ones. The intention is to have to contend with a bad job every once in a while, but as long as there is no mortgage yet it’s kind of pointless, because the trade-off between “money I spend while idling” vs. “money I lose because of a bad job” isn’t there yet…

In any case, thanks a whole lot for your review. I guess I should set the scene up a bit better in the welcome message, that might help get the player grounded.
I already scratched the tutorial a bit since the initial release, but I’m aware it’s rather long, especially for a prototype where the investment in the tutorial won’t really be rewarded. What do you think could be left out of the tutorial?

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