Human Orbit is a game that never took off like it had hoped. On this page, I’ve recovered most of the information from the original Human Orbit website for you to read again.
About Human Orbit
Human Orbit is a sci-fi social simulator set aboard a remote space station orbiting a distant planet. There are many mysteries surrounding the satellite’s purpose and the alien planet below, but the most powerful stories are those of the crew.
As a sentient AI, you take control of a simple droid able to explore the space station and access its communications network uninhibited. Gather information, discover emergent stories, and – if the fancy takes you – take control of the station and those aboard it.
Do you want to expand the research labs and study relics found on the planet’s surface? Hack into the Captain’s personal log? Or perhaps you’d rather help two contentious members of the community overcome their differences to be together?
The fate of the station and its crew is in your hands. At least, it would be if you had any.
What Can You Do in Human Orbit?
Here are some of the things you could do in the Human Orbit game:
Play as a Sentient AI
Hack a vast communications network to access everything from maintenance requests to the Captain’s log. Uncover the crew’s personalities, relationships and deepest, darkest secrets.
Lead a Pocket Society
Help, hinder or simply wreak havoc with the station’s hundred-strong crew. Identify prodigies, promote your favourites and reorder society the way you want it to be.
Discover a Universe of Opportunity
This world is your oyster. Upgrade the station, reconnoitre the alien planet below or re-spec your ship as a groundbreaking interstellar laboratory – the choice is yours.
Your Role in Human Orbit
Your role is meddling with the AI people however you like. You’re basically a floating camera with no arms or legs. In essence, Human Orbit is a giant sociology experiment. You control one hundred intelligent NPCs locked into a space station orbiting an alien planet.
Human Orbit FAQ
What on Earth is Human Orbit?
Human Orbit is a sci-fi social simulator set aboard a remote space station orbiting a distant planet. As a sentient AI, you take control of a simple droid able to explore the space station, access its communications network and subtly exert your influence over the crew.
Aren’t sentient AIs usually evil?
Sure, you can refuse to open the pod bay doors… but you can also be a benevolent meddler, bringing people together rather than tearing them apart with highly infectious alien viruses. It’s completely up to you.
How do I explore the space station?
By taking control of the numerous maintenance droids, you’ll be able to explore the 3D environments in first-person. As time goes on you’ll discover new areas and emergent stories that will supply the means to transform the the world around you.
What about the crew?
All the inhabitants are procedurally-generated with unique backgrounds, personalities and appearances. They’ll live their lives and interact with one another. One way to manipulate them is by accessing the station’s communications network and amending their messages for you own ends.
Can I open the airlock?
Yes, but why blast the cleaning lady into space when you can contaminate the station’s food with the potent hallucinogens you’ve tricked scientists into engineering in the chemical labs?
When will the game be released?
The team is hard at work crafting the world and refining the engine to make sure it doesn’t tear a hole in the space-time continuum. As such, the current estimated time of arrival is late 2015 for PC, Mac and Linux.
Who are Autelia LTD?
While we’re certainly not rocket scientists, we are a passionate team of designers and programmers brought together by the wonders of technology. Utilising our past experience at EA, Media Molecule and more, we hope to redefine how players interact with virtual worlds.
What Happened to Human Orbit?
I’m not sure what happened to the game. I can’t find it on Steam or any information about its development. It seems like the game flopped, didn’t get much interest, and the developers moved on.
Sad, as this game could’ve been pretty cool.
Old Human Orbit Blog Posts
Genesis Corporation: A Vital Force for Earth’s Progress
Genesis Corporation emerged in the latter half of the 21st century from the merger of a number of the world’s leading corporations. The organisations involved were primarily based in the United States of America and operated globally in a diverse range of broadly consumer-oriented markets such as consumer products, consumer devices, personal finance, insurance, retail, recruitment, and traditional news media.
In the early years of the partnership that preceded their formal merger, Genesis Corporation’s joint works and developments were hobbled through being stuck in the mire of a number of lengthy court-cases in relation to potential and perceived ‘anti-trust’ concerns.
It was only subsequent to their ground-breaking work in the field of asteroid mining, built upon the prior successes of comparatively primitive but globally celebrated projects such as the ESA’s Philae Lander, that these legal shackles fell away.
After having proven the feasibility of such projects, the immense potential value of large-scale asteroid mining was impossible to ignore and an international consensus formed that an exception in the competition laws ought to be made in respect of the massive capital investments needed to continue such daringly innovative projects.
It was at that time that the corporate union preceding Genesis Corporation formalised its merger. Due to preparatory work that had already been conducted by a leadership board comprised of individuals throughout the union, the process of seeking out and acting upon the newly created internal synergies was swift and thorough.
After significant streamlining of the workforce and a short rebranding process, Genesis Corporation brought its massive resources to bear upon the task of creating the first generation of production-model asteroid mining equipment.
The Philae Lander - “Globally celebrated, though relatively primitive”The Philae Lander on comet 67-P – “Globally celebrated, though relatively primitive [compared to Genesis Corporation’s production grade mining equipment]”
At the same time, and according to the design of their initial union, Genesis Corporation utilised the incredible breadth of its portfolio to launch a new kind of service, catering specifically – but not exclusively – to the needs of the new off-world workforce.
Genesis Corporation launched its historic Lifestyle Provision service, which provided accommodation, entertainment, food and drink, fiscal management, and communications services to its subscribers as part of a single package.
The Lifestyle provision service was such a success that a large proportion of Genesis Corporation’s on-world staff made use of it, finding that it offered a much better quality of life than they could achieve through subscription to multiple individual services or through dealing with Genesis Corporation’s competitors.
Reacting to this enthusiasm, Genesis Corporation rolled out a premium version of its service to all of its employees as an alternative to traditional forms of remuneration. Today, Genesis Corporation’s Lifestyle provision service still stands out as a premium option among the similar services that were later launched by its competitors.
Genesis Corporation’s latest venture, the highest-risk of all those that it has undertaken within the 22nd century, is the launch of a space program exploring the furthest frontiers of known space.
The centerpiece of this project is the Genesis Orbital – the first of what must soon become a new generation of orbital research platforms.
The Genesis Orbital is a technological marvel – the first truly residential space station, whose crew members may live happy, productive lives in conditions hardly removed from those that one might experience on-world. Stationed in orbit around the only planet known to mankind to ever have harboured advanced forms of life, its residents pursue the kind of groundbreaking research and development projects that have made Genesis Corporation the vital force for Earth’s progress that it has been since its inception.
This is the final post in a six part series that has been talking about the Personality System used in Human Orbit. It began with the introductory post, Let’s Get Personal, and since then has gone over the first four of the Big Five sets of traits: Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness and Neuroticism.
In this final blog post, I’ll be talking about Openness and the six traits that fit into that set: Imagination, Artistic Interest, Emotionality, Adventurousness, Intellect and Liberalism.
The Openness traits correspond to the way that an NPC relates to the world around them, to new experiences and to social structures. An NPC who has strongly expressed Openness will tend to examine the world around them with an eye for why it is the way that it is and why it ought to be that way. An NPC who has weakly expressed Openness will be happy to accept the world for what it is and they will generally have a positive relationship with whatever social structure is in place.
Specifically, it is the NPCs who have strongly expressed Openness on the station who will be most likely to instigate change, and it is those NPCs with weakly expressed Openness who will be most likely to resist it. When you, as the player, want to bring about change on the station, you will find that you have the most leverage over NPCs who are very open.
In Human Orbit, Imagination is a trait that boosts an NPC’s enjoyment when they experience new or uncommon events. An NPC with a strong Imagination will readily see the potential in newly proposed ideas. An NPC with a high Imagination may sometimes have reduced work performance due to excessive daydreaming.
- Artistic Interest:
Artistic Interest is a trait that determines how much an NPC desires exposure to cultural events or objects. An NPC with high Artistic Interest will be very interested in music, reading and the visual arts. This will for the most part determine the types of hobbies that they have, how often they indulge in them and how much enjoyment they derive from them.
NPCs with high Artistic Interest will also tend to petition for significant artistic figures from the visual and performing arts to visit the station – when you have lots of crew members of this sort on your station, their collective action will increase the frequency of such events.
Emotionality in Human Orbit does not relate to how strongly NPCs feel emotion. That is governed by various other traits, such as Depression and Anxiety (from the Neuroticism set) and Cheerfulness (from the Extroversion set). Emotionality controls the amount that an NPC will express their emotion to others – an NPC with low Emotionality will bottle up their feelings and will not initiate discussion about it; when they are angry, they will keep that to themselves and not speak up immediately.
An NPC with higher Emotionality will be quite open about their feelings and will discuss and display it to others freely; they will have a smile on their face when they are happy; when they are distressed, they will not hide that from others.
Intellect corresponds to how much an NPC enjoys dealing with complex, difficult mental challenges. An NPC with a high Intellect will perform well when working in one of the labs on the station and will find their work there fulfilling.
NPCs with high Intellect are willing to challenge concepts for the sheer sake of the challenge and may irritate others with their apparent contrariness. It’s worth noting that an NPC with low Intellect is not necessarily stupid, only that their kind of intelligence is not oriented around the formal, logical intelligence useful for research. An NPC with low Intellect may make an appropriate nurse, doctor, security officer or captain.
NPCs that have strongly expressed Adventurousness will be receptive to change. NPCs who are very adventurous will feel stifled if their life or work is very routine. When under pressure, an adventurous NPC may be useful to the player as a way to introduce chaos to the station because they would sooner live in a risky, chaotic environment than a stable, routine one.
They are willing to be intentionally disruptive in order to break down routine – an NPC with strongly expressed Adventurousness but weakly expressed Sympathy (a trait from the Agreeableness set) may be willing to hurt others if they think that it will make their life a little more exciting.
Liberalism in Human Orbit is not a political position, though it is correlated with certain ways of thinking about the world. An NPC with a high value in Liberalism has little respect for social institutions and will be willing and even eager to challenge authority when the opportunity presents itself.
This is especially the case if an NPC with a high value in Liberalism also has a low value in Cooperativeness (a trait from the Agreeableness) set. In Human Orbit, NPCs with high values in Liberalism are likely to be interested in transhumanism and are likely to see their position on the station as merely a means to a goal of their own design.
This is the fifth part in a six part series of posts that talk about the Personality System used in Human Orbit. In the first post, Let’s Get Personal, I introduced the Personality System. Since then, I’ve covered Extroversion, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness.
Today, I’ll be covering Neuroticism, which leaves only Openness to be covered in a future post. So, let’s get right into it. Neuroticism in Human Orbit is a set of traits that primarily affects the way that NPCs feel about themselves (Depression, Self-consciousness) and respond to external stimuli (Anxiety, Anger, Depression, Immoderation).
The Neuroticism set contains traits that, by and large, make life more difficult for NPCs that have high values in them. As I have indicated in previous articles, Human Orbit’s Personality System is based upon a personality model that is typically used for profiling real people – so it is important to note here, especially with this set, that the way that Human Orbit uses the Big Five system prioritises the properties of the system that are most useful for creating interesting gameplay scenarios. Our interpretations don’t necessarily correspond directly to how the traits are used in reality.
The Neuroticism Traits
In Human Orbit, Anxiety tends to amplify the emotional reactions that NPCs have to events. An NPC who has a high value for Anxiety will have a strong internal response when another NPC suggests something negative about them.
I find it useful to think of Anxiety in Human Orbit as a panic response – an NPC with high Anxiety and high Depression is likely to react to external stimuli with a strong melancholic response.
An NPC with high Anxiety, high Anger and low Cautiousness (a trait from the Conscientiousness set) may be more likely to respond to negative external stimuli with violence. Anxiety also acts as a kind of ‘background radiation’ to an NPC’s general mood – an NPC with high Anxiety may experience (briefly) lower lows than an NPC with low Anxiety.
Anger: Anger is another trait that controls how NPCs respond to external stimuli. An NPC with high Anger is likely to feel resentment against others who slight them; they will harbour grudges more easily, more fervently and for longer periods. In extreme cases, and where they have low values in traits from the Agreeableness set, an NPC with a high value for Anger may respond with physical violence when provoked.
Depression is the counterpart to Cheerfulness (a trait from the Extroversion set). In addition to generally modulating an NPC’s mood, a high value in Depression will cause NPCs to feel negative feelings more often, more strongly and for longer.
An NPC with a high level of Depression is more easily discouraged than an NPC with a lower value, and they will often find it difficult to muster the energy to work towards their goals. Lacking the energy to work towards their goals, for some NPCs, may further contribute to a low mood.
It is important with depressive NPCs to ensure that they have good support structures in place – a good way to achieve this as the player is to ensure that they are in contact with NPCs that have high Agreeableness.
Self-conscious NPCs in Human Orbit will be very concerned about what other NPCs think about them and will frequently attempt to please others in a similar way to NPCs with a high value in Cooperativeness (a trait from the Agreeableness set).
They will feel it strongly when other NPCs express a disliking of them; conversely, they will feel very positive feelings when another NPC expresses a liking for them. Self-conscious NPCs will tend to feel uncomfortable when they are with groups of strangers and may seek to escape to places and people with whom they feel more secure.
NPCs with a strong expression in Immoderation will find it hard to resist temptations of all kinds. They may overindulge in simple ways such as finding it more difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and this might cause them to be late to work. They may also have a tendency to stay up way too late, indulging in their pastimes or hanging with their friends when they really need to get up the next morning.
Another way that their Immoderation might show through is that they might find it hard to resist sending messages that are really a bad idea to send. In this respect, they are quite similar to NPCs with weakly expressed Cautiousness, and may irritate others through their apparent rashness.
Vulnerability is similar to Anxiety in a lot of ways. It affects the way that NPCs respond to external stimuli – but it does not engage the fight-or-flight impulse in the same way as Anxiety does. NPCs who are highly vulnerable will respond negatively to pressure or difficult situations.
If there is a lot of pressure on at work or they are feeling social anxiety, then a highly vulnerable NPC will have their mood dampened more strongly than an NPC who has a lower value for Vulnerability.
This is the fourth part in a six part series of posts that talk about the Personality System used in Human Orbit. In the first post, Let’s Get Personal, I introduced the Personality System.
Extroversion and Agreeableness have already been covered. In this post, I will be talking about Conscientiousness, which will leave only Neuroticism and Openness remaining to be covered in the next two posts.
So, as a general summary, Conscientiousness in Human Orbit mostly affects how much control NPCs have over themselves. It affects the way that they relate to their work and their life ambitions (Orderliness, Dutifulness, Achievement-striving, Self-discipline), it affects their level of satisfaction with themselves (Self-efficacy) and it affects their likelihood of making rash decisions that may hinder their own ambitions (Cautiousness).
The Conscientiousness Traits
Self-efficacy is an NPC’s tendency to believe in themselves and their capability to achieve their aims. When determining an NPC’s ambitions, this trait will be taken into account in order to determine just how lofty their ambitions will be.
A high value in Self-efficacy will cause an NPC to have a great deal of belief in themselves and they will be more easily able to shrug it off when other NPCs suggest that they aren’t capable of what they claim. A low value in Self-efficacy indicates an NPC who does not have a great deal of belief in themselves – they will set the bar low for their ambitions and they are likely to struggle with their self-esteem.
A low value in Self-efficacy can be very bad for an NPC’s emotional well-being when it is combined with high values in traits from the Neuroticism set.
Orderliness is a fairly simple trait that relates to how ordered or chaotic an NPC prefers things to be. Very orderly NPCs prefer strict routines and schedules to live by; they will cope well with deadlines and are unlikely to miss them or be late. An NPC who has a low value in orderliness is the opposite – they are happier living a more chaotic lifestyle; they are more flexible and will not feel particularly stressed when things do not go according to plan (often, they never had a plan to begin with).
An NPC for whom Orderliness is strongly expressed will probably feel frustration or even anger when another NPC cancels an appointment, a planned meeting or a date.
Dutifulness can manifest a number of ways. The important thing to remember about Dutifulness is that it only affects people with regard to their actual priorities.
An NPC who is very dutiful and also very Friendly (a trait from the Extroversion set) will be very sure to keep promises that they have made to their personal acquaintances.
An NPC who is very dutiful and also Achievement-striving will be very sure to keep their appointments regarding work and public life. Note as well that someone who is very Dutiful but not very orderly may fail to keep their promises due to their disorderliness – for such a person, they will feel a very strong sting for having failed to keep their obligations.
Achievement-striving is a trait that controls an NPC’s relationship with their work – normally, in Human Orbit, this means work in the conventional sense: their career.
NPCs that are highly Achievement-striving will work hard to achieve their aims and, if the trait is expressed very strongly, that may sometimes impede their capability to keep up with their other obligations and needs. An NPC that is both highly Achievement-striving and also highly extroverted will have difficulty balancing their work life with their social life and may experience some stress as a result.
This is an important trait and pairs well with Achievement-striving. An NPC who is highly Achievement-striving but who does not have a high value in Self-discipline will be very oriented around their career goals, but will not always find the energy to cope with tasks that they dislike. They might be prone to procrastination and this will show up in their level of productivity.
Cautiousness is a trait that controls how NPCs make decisions. An NPC who is very cautious will not make decisions quickly and will tend to deliberate over opportunities until they are sure that they are worth taking a risk on; sometimes this will mean that they miss out on opportunities altogether or annoy others with their apparent hesitance.
A cautious NPC will be unlikely to express themselves openly to their superiors or to other NPCs that they think are popular. An NPC who is not cautious at all will often make rash decisions that they regret; they may sometimes overstep their mark and risk offending others.
Conscientious NPCs are basically the workhorses of Human Orbit. When you’re lucky enough or have been clever enough to have put a conscientious NPC as a department head, you can count on their department of the station to tick over like a well-oiled clock (with maybe some bits of grit in it).
At the same time, it’s important to try to balance out NPCs with certain profiles into areas that they won’t conflict with one another – a department packed with Achievement-striving NPCs is likely to become a minefield as everyone tries to get themselves promoted ahead of the others. The friction that this creates in a department may not make up for the generally good work ethic that conscientious NPCs bring to the table.
Here, I have been talking about making sure that conscientious NPCs are employed in the right areas on the station, but I want to be clear that I do not mean that the player has direct control over any single NPCs place of employment. In order to manoeuvre an NPC into the desired place of employment, you will need to be clever and use a combination of methods to get them there.
To have someone promoted, you will need to make sure that they are productive and meeting their goals. This will typically mean making sure that they are happy in their life and themselves. You will also need to free up the slot that you want them to be moved into – there are various ways of doing that (and some ways are very direct).
Finally, you will need to make sure that their achievements are recognised by the powers that be – it will be hard to have an NPC promoted if they are unpopular with the upper management.
Next time, I’ll be talking about Neuroticism and the role that it plays in Human Orbit.