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I really want to play this city builder that gives you 30 minutes to escape the Earth

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I think of city builders as peaceful longform games—I could spend hours, even weeks, crafting my perfect little clockwork society, drawing roads and watching houses and shops pop up as it grows. They can be soothing, but there's also commitment there. Building a city is a slow process. That's why I'm so taken with the idea of indie city builder T-Minus 30, which completely upends the premise: You have 30 minutes to build a city and harvest enough resources to send your population into space before the dying Earth snuffs out whoever's left.

The time limit is novel for a city builder, but I think what T-Minus 30 does that's really clever is change why you're building. You're leaving the city behind after half an hour. It doesn't matter what it looks like; the endgame here isn't constructing a perfect work of art to zoom out and admire. All that matters is how many rocket launches your city can support before time's up.

If your city turns out to be ugly or inefficient, great! That's room for improvement the next time. You only spent half an hour on it, anyway. There's practically no sunk cost to get hung up on.

Unlike, say, Cities Skylines, there's a bit of a resource gathering element at play here, according to the Steam page: "You have 30 minutes to scavenge a post-apocalyptic environment to build infrastructure, grow crops, generate power, and assemble rockets to save as many people as you can." That includes harvesting materials from abandoned cities and junkyards, and I think the 2D art has just enough detail to convey some personality without bogging down a fast-paced game.

Last year the same developers put out 20 Minute Metropolis, which really looks like a rough draft for a much more fleshed-out idea in T-Minus 30. We should know more in a few months: T-Minus 30 is set to be out this fall. 

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter (opens in new tab) and Tested (opens in new tab) before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.


When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).