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Video Game / Children of a Dead Earth

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The most accurate space warfare simulator ever made.

Children of a Dead Earth is the most realistic space warfare simulator you are likely to have ever laid eyes on.

The game's campaign features increasingly complex missions that allow you to come to grips with orbital mechanics, combat tactics and spacecraft engineering in an iterative process that allows you to experiment and innovate.

The story of the game is relatively straightforward: In the not so distant future, worldwide conflicts, weaponized climate change, and a total collapse of the planetary ecosystem has turned Earth into a Venus-like wasteland completely incapable of supporting life. As a result, the survivors leave the corpse of their planet and venture into space to rebuild, establishing colonies all across the solar system. However, not all is well as two factions rise to power: the Republic, and the United Sol Trade Alliance. Both vie for control of the Solar System, and as they expand, tensions begin to mount. Once again, the children of a dead earth prepare for war.

It can be bought on Steam here. There is also an official blog with more info about the science behind the game can be found here. The official forum is here

This game contains examples of the following:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • Some minor ones involved in craft construction. Components requiring/generating power will be considered connected as long as there is some physical connection between them even if there are no visible wires. Most noticeable are refueling modules, that allow the transfer of fuel without spacecraft docking with each other.
    • For obvious reasons, the real-time-with-pause mechanic.
    • Life Support is not a factor, on game scales, through the supplemental reading mentions that rockets carry provisions for a set period of time.
    • The effects of atmospheres are not yet modeled.
    • There is no accounting for how exactly munitions are moved from storage to a launcher that’s located very far away; a drone or missile launcher on one end of a craft can draw ammunition from the farthest opposite end of the craft without issue. This also looks to be the case for radiators and the modules they’re supposed to be cooling.
    • Material property doesn't change/transmute during the course of gameplay, so it can result in some material being ludicrously effective at some area than in real life. For example, Lithium-6 work extremely well as a radiation shield in-game, but in real life, it would capture a neutron and transmute into helium and tritium, which means the shield would ablate. This doesn't happen in-game.
    • Related to above point, the game doesn't account for material loss of strength and such due to temperature changes (although in many cases it seems that the developer intentionally uses the lower values just in case of these), and some properties are only theoretically achievable that wouldn't happen even in-game. For example, diamond in-game has melting point listed as 3823 K. However, diamond is only metastable and would normally revert back to graphite at the temperature around ~1500 K under normal pressure. The in-game melting temperature can only be achieved with very high pressure. This makes diamonds a lot more effective in extreme circumstances than in real life.
  • After-Action Report: Shows players how they did compare to other people who played the level according to such variables time to completion, deltaV expended, damage taken, and so on.
  • Apocalypse How: The Earth is rendered uninhabitable by a series of events such as weaponized climate change, giant rocks being smashed into the planet, and nuclear war. This leads to a collapse of the planet's ecosystem and environment turning the Earth into an uninhabitable planet forcing humans to evacuate and colonize the solar system before the planet ceases to be able to support them.
  • Attack Drone: Drones are absolutely lethal, and cheap to boot. They come in many flavors, such as Beam Spam and More Dakka. A number of ships are designed explicitly to drop drones. Drone have very little mass, allowing them to plot direct intercept courses almost like a missile without needing to wait for orbital synchronization.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Multi-gigawatt UV lasers are terrifying beasts, but they require so many radiators and power-plants that they are usually limited to use on space stations. Even with the addition of multiple frequency doublers note  and fan-made compact and efficient reactors it still leads to ships over a kilometer across, most of which is radiators.
    • It is also possible to build guns that fire nuclear shells, though it is difficult. Nuclear bombs are heavy and firing them from a gun, either conventional or coilgun, with a reasonable amount of velocity to be accurate is hard. Such a weapon will tend to be prohibitively heavy or expensive, or likely both.
  • The Battle Star: Some ships can carry both drones and mount weapons.
  • BFG: You can build one, if you want. Not that it'll be that effective due to low muzzle velocity unless you get your ship really close to the enemy...or using missiles as payload. In fact, one of the stock modules is a conventional gun with 1200mm bore size.
  • Colonized Solar System: Humanity settles various locations in the solar system such as the asteroid belt after they are forced to flee the changing Earth.
  • Construction Is Awesome: The game allows you to design, build, and fly your own spacecraft and space stations, including the individual modules they are made up of, each simulated with breathtaking detail.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Averted. The Solar System is modeled on a 1:1 scale, and getting places can take months to years.
  • Design-It-Yourself Equipment: The game comes with a usable selection of serviceable designs, but the dev's stated objective is to see what space warfare ends up looking like after the players have had a chance to design their own creation in search of the optimum designs and tactics.
  • Drone Deployer: There's a number of default ships that have minimal weaponry in favor of massed Attack Drone deployment tubes.
  • Easy Logistics: The game has mass and cost limits for creating custom fleets, but they're quite simplistic and you never have to worry about food, water, or oxygen supply.
  • Earth That Was: World War III led to a runaway greenhouse effect and other large scale environmental devastation that turned Earth into Venus 2.0. It was too hostile to inhabit, even with sealed environments.
  • Energy Weapon: While lasers are viable combat weapons, they are completely invisible save for a slight flash if viewed along their line of fire and seeing glowy bits vaporize off the enemy spacecraft.
  • Game Mod: Adding custom materials is very easy. All you need is a text editor and knowledge of the material's properties. Players have added in materials ranging from alternative propellants, alloys, ceramics, and even materials like graphene. Players have even created a model for the fusion engine.
  • Gameplay Automation: Ships will dodge weapons fire and aim their own weapons automatically, and intercepts, fly-by's and rendezvous are done automatically once a player gets the orbital trajectories into a configuration that allows them to happen.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Neither the Republic nor the United Sol Trade Alliance are portrayed as all that good nor evil. Both are quite capable and guilty of morally reprehensible acts for the sake of victory. However, near the end of the campaign as the Republic has gained the upper hand in the war, they become rather bloodthirsty, rejecting the USTA's bids for surrender as they don't want to just beat the USTA, they want want to utterly humiliate and terrorize them.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: "Internal Game Clock" variety. Time normally passes in real time but as some missions could take a very, very long time in real-time, there are options for time acceleration.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Played with. Conventional chemically driven kinetics require only a fraction of the energy input and heat dissipation equipment needed for lasers, which makes them far more economical. Lasers however still have their uses.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: This will definitely happen if you have a low end computer, or if you have a 500 missile fleet bearing down on the enemy.
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
    • The game deliberately does this allowing players to create fleets of missiles and giving players control of how many missiles they can launch from one to all in the ships onboard magazines. This is encouraged as too small a fleet of missiles will simply be swatted by an enemies lasers and gun based weapons. Enemies will also launch a decent sized barrage of missiles at players to try and gain a hit.
    • The "Silo Ship" is a warship focused on large missile barrages of nuclear armed missiles.
  • More Dakka: It is possible to make chemical propellant guns, railguns, or coilguns with reload times measured in a few dozen milliseconds, and then put several dozen of those on your ship. If you do this, however, especially on a low-end computer, prepare for the game to turn into a slideshow.
  • Mundane Dogmatic: There are no aliens and all technology present is equivalent to modern-day or near-future/in-development rocket tech.
  • Point Defenseless: Played with. Kinetic weapons, are usually quite useless against enemy missile waves, and generally also cannot target drones before they unleash their deadly payload. This is due to the long travel time of bullets and the guns not cycling between targets. However powerful enough laser weapons can effectively destroy even large missile swarms. Of course, some missiles can have extremely good anti-laser armor and kinetic guns with high enough velocity and high accuracy can do very well as point defense guns.
  • Power Gives You Wings: A rare instance of this trope being Truth in Television: massive glowing radiator wings are necessary to cool off the enormous heat loads produced by high powered spacecraft nuclear reactors.
  • Recursive Ammo: It is possible to make a drone, which launches drones, which launch drones, which launch missiles.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Commander of the RFP space force is a daughter of the current president.
  • Shown Their Work: The infolink cites numerous scientific journals and other publications, and the game forms the most realistic depiction of space travel and combat yet; even superseding Kerbal Space Program courtesy of its more robust and realistic n-body simulation.
  • Simulation Game: Full n-body simulation for orbital mechanics allow you to do everything from gravitational slingshots to orbiting a Lagrange point. Module design is incredibly granular and simulates every detail that cannot be ignored.
  • Slow Laser: Ironically, the kinetic weapons are a much more conventional example , creating multicolored 'beams' due to their high fire rates and the use of pyrotechnic tracers.
  • Space Friction: Averted. Spacecraft obey Newtonian physics and will slow down only under power.
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted. You can't hear any shots being fired in space, but you can hear impacts on the hulls of your own ships.
  • Space Station: Used mainly as propellant depots and objectives orbiting a given body. They can also sport one of the most powerful laser weapons in the game.
  • Spaceship Slingshot Stunt: The game lets you pull off realistic gravity assists, both to gain a lot of speed or to shed it, depending on which side of the gravity well you try to sling around.
  • Stealth in Space: Averted. As the developer puts it on his blog, making a spaceship stealthy is possible, but in no way feasible if you want it to actually do anything strategically useful.
  • Subsystem Damage: Each individual spacecraft module has its own parameters, which vary depending on the type of system: radiators have 7 parameters, while nuclear fission reactors have a whooping 23. You can also order your ships to focus fire on particular systems such as radiators and rocket engines to render enemy ships immobile or non-threatening.
  • Wham Shot: In the first level. You are ordered to enter the orbit of a large Venus-like planet that looks anything but habitable. Your computer identifies the planet as Earth.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: In Sandbox mode, there are no objectives and no limits on money or mass. You can try out any combination of spacecraft against any other in orbit over any body on the solar system you want.