The PC version is now available! Check it out here on!

This is the original PICO-8 edition of a larger upcoming game. It's pay-what-you-want - all money earned here will go towards the development of the full version.

The PC version adds a council of five races with varying technology and philosophical outlook, a replayable campaign mode, revamped procedurally-generated graphics, and many other features - while still keeping the swift gameplay of this preview. If you'd like to stay up-to-date with the progress, check out the Discord server or the Twitter feed.

How to play

There is an animated quickstart guide, but here is the shortest possible version:

Drag the map around using the right mouse button or the SDFE keys. Click to drop a wormhole that will become your starting point. Then click and drag to find some planets, which you can colonize with your chosen industry type. Drag from planet to planet to connect them with a slipway. Try to connect planets that make stuff with planets that need it. Buy structures by dragging them from the bottom-right corner. Research technologies from the top-left corner. Click the heart symbol to check your score.

Make the biggest, baddest, most prosperous empire possible!


The game design, coding and graphics are all by me - Jakub Wasilewski. All things audio by Gruber.

This game would not be possible without the help of my Patreon supporters, including these top-tier heroes: Tomasz Bylina, Adam Kwapiński, Thorsten Schleinzer, Marc Holmes, Grzegorz Dałek, Andreas Bretteville, Carlos Pardo. Thank you!

PlatformsWindows, macOS, Linux, HTML5
Rated 4.6 out of 5 stars
(306 total ratings)
AuthorJakub Wasilewski
Made withAseprite, PICO-8
Tags4X, Economy, Mouse only, PICO-8, Pixel Art, Sci-fi, Singleplayer, Space, Space Sim, Turn-based
Average sessionAbout a half-hour


Download NowName your own price

Click download now to get access to the following files:

PICO-8 Cartridge 49 kB
Downloadable version (Windows) 908 kB
if you pay $5 USD or more
Downloadable version (Linux) 510 kB
if you pay $5 USD or more
Downloadable version (OS X) 3 MB
if you pay $5 USD or more
PICO-8 Source Code (.p8) 112 kB
if you pay $5 USD or more

Development log


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This is such a great game. Would it be possible to sandbox play after the time runs out? I've gotten four star runs with unexplored planetoids, and it's a tiny bit unsatisfying for my completist soul.


The PICO-8 version of the game is not getting any new development, sorry.

You can take a look at its bigger brother, which includes many new ways to play (including an endless mode for when you want to colonize *everything*):


The other Slipways look cool, but I don't think that there are any other forain empires, foragin trade, or battle mechanics. I may be wrong (nad correct me if I am) but if I'm right that may be a cool update or mod.

the star is op


I got a 4 Star run on Forgiving, with 8 or 9 Rich planets, 15 or 16 Prosperous planets and 3 Green planets. My best run by far.

Jakub, are you no longer accepting patreon supporters? I assume with Slipways doing so well you have less time but I’d still love to support you and get access to past patreon-only goodness! :-)

Unfortunately, the Patreon creator page is no longer active. Slipways is indeed 99% of my creative output right now and it's treating me well financially, but the flipside is that I have much less time and energy left for other projects. This might change in the future once the project is complete (soon!). Thanks for your support either way!

Can I call this a 3X game? eXplore, eXpand, eXchange?


The official version is eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXhale ;)



Highest score is 9806 on Forgiving. Not great, but it's the products of a double-digit number of runs, which is a lot for a small free game on Itch. Love this game, I'm glad it got a AAA release

good game


i want a sandbox mode pls 

Amazing game! I know that full-fledged PC version is out (already on my wishlist), but I believe I found a small bug - when you connect an Ascension Gate with a star first and then connect the same Ascension Gate to a source of people, the people won't be converted into happiness. The "Wants More" of the Gate will only show the star resource.

Gates that first receive people and then star resource do not have this problem - their "Wants More" correctly shows both people and star resource.


That's just how energy works - and that's true even in the updated PC version. If you use it to replace a need, that needs gets replaced completely - only more energy will be accepted, not the original resource. So, not a bug - but maybe a little counterintuitive.

Have fun with both versions of the game! :)

Why is the cartridge download a png file?


That's how cartridges work on PICO-8! (the PNG contains all the data necessary to run the game, as well as the picture)

Holy crap. Now THAT'S clever. That's outstanding.

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Super-fun game! It's also extremely cool to see an open-source game achieve commercial success.

I learned of this game's existence through an announcement of the PC version on GOG's RSS feed. However, this page does not mention anywhere that the PC version will also be released on GOG; rather, it points exclusively to Steam. It might be helpful to include a link to the GOG page somewhere, since some people prefer GOG to Steam.


The game will be available on Steam, Epic, GOG and I'm a little behind on my announcements, what with all the open beta excitement, but I will be updating all of the information sprinkled in various places soon :)

wow this is incredibly short
barely enough time to expand further 
aside from that this is really good 

can i increase the year limit? beyond 3425


Not in this version. The upcoming PC version (coming June 3rd!) has an sandbox-like endless mode where you can play as long as you wish :)


Another absurd run. If I did the math correctly, I think my score was 36,846. Also, this was my first time where I managed to use void synthesizers to get one more Earth and get a bot-->food to prosperous to get a slight boost months before the end.

Best game ever, Jakub!


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I also have noticed that sometimes science needs less points to achieve, but did not understand what does it depend on. 


Techs have resource icons on the left - if you have a lab researching that resource, you get a discount.

I guess i found bug. Synthetizers sometimes don't work
see screenshot

Synthesizers can only supply a missing need (people don't want fake synthesized versions of the things they're already getting ;). So, doesn't look like a bug this time around, at least doesn't look so from the screenshot - but I understand it's a bit confusing since this is not explained ingame.

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Oh I see, thanks for explonation! 

Synthesizers are not broken, they always work. It's just that they cannot give something to a planet that already receives that material. For instance, if a Bot--> food world receives one bot, one organic, and exports three food, synthesizers won't work, because the resources it desires are already being provided, but it wants more.

Example of it working is a hive world that receives nothing. Plug in a synthesizer, and it receives food. If they worked the other way, they would be ridiculously overpowered, was a really balanced build.


Score is so large, it created an integer-overflow. Forgiving difficulty.

Well done :) PICO-8 integers top out at 32767, so without special tricks that's the highest score it'll display. Looks like yours was 33001.
Will be harder in the PC version, we'll top out at 2 billion there ;)


Love the game, man! Hope that didn't come off wrong, I wasn't complaining about the integer overflow. I cannot wait until I have a real PC to download steam and get the real version!

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O_o I don't believe. It would be nice to see video replay..


I didn't record it or anything, but I have a few tips and tricks if you'd like.

I always start in the center of the map, and look around for Remnant, a planet you can use bots --> food (Ocean, Earth), and another Earth (humans). I then look for a xeno planet to supply the bot planet with organics. From then on, the main strategy is not wasting a single month.

Where most of the points come from is what I like to call Forge Cycles. With these, you need to construct a trail of slipgates that connects two mineral planets (bot mining), four forge planets, (Replication is huge), one making tech and three making bots. Leave an open slipgate to split into two seperate labs to get a huge +10 science boost. Another option is also including an ice planet, not a gas giant. In that strategy, you'll have more happiness but only a +5 science boost. One forge cycle gives roughly a 200 economy boost, and you can usually find 2-3 forge cycle opportunities per map. Never waste a single mineral planet, nor a gas giant! (I'll explain in a second.)

A science boost trick is always using food/organics, besides science from forge cycles. In the years waiting for the technology and money you need for forge cycles, you find pairs of Earths + forests/ocean. If multiple appear close together, you cannot take two resources from the same planet, but with the building that makes organics into food, you can. If you take three of those from the same planet, you can lead them all into one lab.

When you are approaching the end and you have used all of the mineral planets, begin turning every gas giant and, if there is one extra mineral planet, that too, into stars. Run each star into two ascension gates. Maybe you won't get all of them before time runs out, but grab as many as you can.

Lastly, the science you want is Space folding, bot mining (I forgot the name), slipgates, replication, autoassemblers, Infraspace/Starbirth (get both, order doesn't matter, though,) time compression, and then go from there, trying to get ascension gates at some point.

Sorry for the long post, but I hope this helps! 

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I start the same, but try to get many population and then convert in to ascension gates. And i was wondered to see that you have only 1040.

Your "forge cycle" is very interesting have to try it.

Big thank for your tips.

I guess i have to waste some weeks to fulfil this strategy. lol

p.s. I think it would not work in tough mode

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practice :)

minimal population


synthetizers bug ruined my record

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Another great run! Real score was 33,631, if I did the math right. At this point for me, it is definitely RNG on the planets, and yet I still play. I love the game, Jakub!

It's scandalous! Try to break my record on "tough" :)

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my best for now if somebody cares ))


I got a higher score than usual using a slightly tweaked version of your strategy.

Instead of connecting a hive, hive/ocean, remnant, and xeno together as you described, I find it way easier to connect a hive, ocean/hive, and remnant together. 

I don't know if I'm dumb or what, but every time I try the four planet way, I always mess up with how to connect the planets


Looks like that's the best result ever in forgiving mode

Still can't believe that I was able to do it

Time to tackle the harder modes, maybe? :)

Deleted 1 year ago

Kinda wish there was an option for no timer 


This game is so good! This pico8 version is pretty neat, and the Steam demo was awesome. Really looking forward to play it on Q2! <3


Brilliant game. Really like. This is my best result in a week of playing. If it hadn't been for a miss click, it would have been a world record, but no. Aizakle is the best when looking at the comments below.

Can we delete trade routs and converters?

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I guess no. Look at my result at "tough" who can do better?)


Hi Jakub, looks great for one man project! I love space thematic. Going to check your Steam page.


I loved taking over the universe. Looking forward to the full game!

you should consider higher resolution - the screen is fustratingly small :)
Love the idea thou


It's a Pico-8 game. This is its only resolution. That said, the dev is making a higher resolution version. Check it out!

this happenned while playing in browser...

btw the game is neat, I love it, I hope I could buy it and play it in an app...

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It's a great game, I wish there is no time limit though. Another is that some of the UI. I wish I can hover on some icon to recall what those resource icons again. Also, I wish that the industry of each planet, at least, for a hefty price.

I wish I can explore more of the tech, but the 25 years makes it impossible for me.

Another is the option to zoom in and out just to plan easier.

Looking to see more updates ^^

time limit makes game challenging try to get best in limited time and you'll get the idea


Is there a wiki for this game? I want to learn some new strategies.


No wiki yet, but we do have a Discord with some people capable of 18000+ scores on the highest difficulty and probably willing to talk strategy :)


I'd really like a sandbox mode that has no time limit. Love this game, but I wish I could experience more of the game than just 25 days


The new PC/Mac version should have this as an option :)

After doing more research, I feel stupid for asking about this. But I now have a new inquiry. As much as I think the new look for the game is cool, I really think of the concept of this game as more chill and retro. If I may ask, do you think there could be a way to revert the new version back to the simple pixelated graphics? Not to offend you in any way but I really prefer them.

The new version is still going to be plenty chill, though definitely less retro :)
I'm afraid there is no option of making the new version use pixel art graphics, even though I understand some might prefer it. It'd require making two versions of everything in the game, essentially - which probably wouldn't be a good investment of the development effort as opposed to actually finishing the game :)


Again, not to push you in any way, but what if it had a similar skinning system to osu! or Minecraft, where image assets can be changed or swapped out in the games files (they tend to be in their own separate selectable folders but thats basically it) ? Maybe this could cause interesting skins based on playstyle or color.


Fellow osu players are every where



Underrated Game for relaxation

The splore version does not seem to work in pico-8 0.2.1b. Crashes with a runtime error.


0.2.1b had a bug that causes this - I reported it and it's already fixed in PICO-8 0.2.1c, though I'm not sure if this version is out yet.


My first 3 stars! (On forgiving). This is my fave go-to both to relax and refocus.

Why ESDF instead of WASD?

Limitation of PICO-8 (ESDF are the 'player 2' keys).

Interesting, thanks for the insight


Just wanted to echo the other comments that this game is AWESOME! What a great coffee break game.

That said, this really needs an open-ended mode where it doesn't end after a set time! Maybe it's as simple as changing a few lines of code in the PICO-8 source code? (which lines?)

If you'd like to hack the PICO-8 source code (and have access to the .p8), just search for "self.game_end=", though the game is really not designed for infinite play.

The new version will have a longer campaign and probably some kind of infinite mode as well.

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Thanks for responding! What's the license for the .p8 files that's included here? GPLv3?

I'd totally back a new version if it's got a more open-ended mode!

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An option to zoom in and out, at least at the end of the game, so you can take a step back and look at your production loops would be nice.

Nevermind I just remembered this is pico-8 and there's limited pixels

Well, there is always the new thing: :) No problems with pixels there ;)

Oh the twitter is getting updates now!

Looks very cool! I love the pixel graphics, cannot wait to give it a try.


The culmination of my ~2 years of playing.  

Perfect 5-stars! Can you share some of your strategies? I've never been able to go about 8000 points.


I like to start games with a hiveworld Earth-like and breeding on an Ocean/Jungle in my first probe.  Using a food processor, I can get both planets content within the first year.  

My tech path tends to be Space Folding and Geneseeds for tier 1, Xenofoods and Trading Hubs for tier 2, then Starbirth, Infraspace, and whatever I need at the moment for tier 3.  

Geneseeds and Xenofoods are both organics techs, so an organics laboratory will reduce the cost of both Geneseeds and Xenofoods by 1.  This way you can rush Xenofoods and use the extra food to colonize Iceballs and Barren planets.  

Trading Hubs, Infraspace, and Superhuman AI are all tech techs, so a tech laboratory will reduce the cost of all by 1.  Getting Superhuman AI's tech boost early helps a lot, letting you go for an early Time Compression and stock up tech for Ascension, which is where you can really maximize your score.  

Thanks a lot! Your advices helped me a lot, but 9000+ planet score is smth unbelievable for me. For example, that's my best run

I think the problem could be in my extensive use of starbirth, that consume a lot of time. And, I also surprised, that you have found infraspace usable (isn't it consume 2 much time?) and don't use void syntethizers (why?). 


Void Synthesizers have a couple of key flaws.  They can't produce goods, which are critical for elevating colonies from [content] to [prosperous].  They're also extremely endgame, and cannot be used to push planets from [prosperous] to [rich].  

On the other hand, Starbirth can be used to push planets from [prosperous] to [rich].  

Similarly, infraspace can also be used to move the necessary extra resources to propel planets from [prosperous] to [rich].  

Respect ))

Feels good. Great game, mate.

Omg you did better on "tough". Genius game

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I've only discovered this game for like a week, but I'm seriously hooked!

Only complaints that I have is that the icons for the planet types in the research menu tooltips are hard to tell what planet type they are. It's also generally more difficult to distinguish xeno planets from jungle planets. Maybe make the xeno planets purple to help distinguish them from jungle planets and earth-like planets?

Also, it'd be great if you had some kind of guide or wiki to keep track of what structures we can build on what types of planets, and also distinguishing which structures can be built on which planets with which upgrade.

And like other people have said, an endless mode, or maybe a sandbox mode, would be amazing for this game!

Another thing, although this is less about general game design, it makes me kinda sad that you're moving this project to 3D. You have all this beautiful pixel art and animation, so going to 3D feels like putting it to waste. But I'm not discouraging you from going to 3D if you think it makes the game better. I understand it's your game, and you're free to make it however it pleases you.

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