The Space Game marries the resource extraction component of an RTS with a tower defense game. No surprise here; The Casual Collective is Paul Preece and David Scott. Preece created Desktop Tower Defense, though this is Scott's game.
The Space Game begins with two inaccuracies: It is created by The Casual Collective, and it is not a casual game; and the developers bill it as an RTS, which it is not. It is, however, a good game.
Now, for some reason, the term "casual game" has become one with unremittingly positive connotations (and been the fount of many a business plan, some of them actually funded); everyone in the universe today, seemingly, wants to claim that they produce "casual games." Thus, say, Kongregate, whose most popular games are often shooters and sidescrollers, claims to be "casual;" the Wii, manufactured by the very company that created gaming's hardcore, is supposedly fostering the growth of "casual" games; the success of Geometry Wars on XBLA is pointed to as an example of how casual games are successful on consoles as well, despite the fact that the shmup is an extraordinarily geeky hardcore genre; etc., etc., etc.
To me, a casual game is a 60-minute limited demo, marketted to middle-aged women, and falls into one of three genres: match-three, hidden object, or time management. I'm willing to expand the definition when another genre that sells mainly to middle-aged women succeeds. Okay, no, I won't be that anal about it, but let's face it: The Space Game involves shooting. It's fundamentally about combat. Casual? I think not.
The RTS, too, is a well-defined genre: it involves resource extraction, a tech tree, and large-scale battles between forces directly controlled by opposing players. The Space Game is real time, in that it is not turn-based; and it is a strategy game; but it is not an RTS.
What it is, is a game that marries the resource extraction component of an RTS with a tower defense game. No surprise here; The Casual Collective is Paul Preece and David Scott. Preece created Desktop Tower Defense, though this is Scott's game.
In each mission, there's some arrangement of asteroids. You build solar power stations to generate energy, then miners to extract minerals from the asteroids. Miners have to be powered, which means they must be within a certain range of the solar power stations (though you can build energy relays to extend their range); power links are shown as blue lines on the screen. In addition, you can build two types of laser defenses, and missile defenses. Indeed, you need to, because space pirates will attack you (in TD-like waves).
Naturally, all installations can be upgraded, and there's a wide variety of pirate types, including boss-like entities, which require different defensive strategies to defeat.
For a Flash game, The Space Game is remarkably deep, and extremely well polished; among other things, the tutorial is excellent (though since this is a far more complex game than most that appear on free Flash sites, may deter some users). And the asteroid mining motif lends itself to a degree of graphics minimalism, keeping the .swf fairly small and the game peppy even on slower machines. It is a nice piece of work.