Star Control: September 2016 update

Article posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016


One year ago I wrote the September 2015 update. You can read that here.

A lot has happened in the past year.  So let's get right to it!

Greetings!

With Offworld Trading Company now released as well as Ashes of the Singularity released, the Star Control team has gotten reinforcements.  The team is now a who's-who of some of the most experienced game developers in the industry.  

Broadly speaking, the Star Control team is made up of the leads of Civilization IV, Civilization V, Galactic Civilizations and numerous other classics.  Never before have I worked with a team with this much experience.  So many people love Star Control and want to bring it back.

Challenge #1: The technical challenge

Star Control is an immensely difficult technical challenge to do today.  You really wouldn't think that given that 24 years ago, Star Control 2 was done as a DOS game. How hard could it be?

The challenge is that Star Control is really five games.  Let's walk through that:

Game #1: A planet exploration game.  You could make an entire game around Star Control's planet exploration concept.

Game #2: A galaxy exploration game.  Space is big.  In fact, some say the universe has hundreds, perhaps even thousands of stars. In Star Control's case, the galaxy has over ten-thousand planets out there.

Game #3: An adventure game.  This is the meat of the game. Going on quests, getting an interesting story to drive you to new objectives is what, ultimately, ties the game together. Without the alien adventure game, Star Control would just be some game where you explore a big galaxy full of planets to land on to get resources to upgrade your ship to get to the next planet. And who would want that? ...

Game #4: The combat game.  Super Melee.  This is where you battle with other ships that have unique weapons and defenses. It's an action game. 

Game #5: It's an RPG.  You are the captain. You have a ship. The ship is, ultimately, your character. Your allies are your party.  You level up, get equipment to upgrade your ship so it's better and more interesting.

It's a big project and one we're happy to tackle. But it won't be easy.

Challenge #2: The budget

The new Star Control game is the biggest game we've ever made.  Its budget is bigger than the combined budgets of all the games we've released in the past few years.  Stardock is the oldest independent game studio left in the industry and this game is a huge challenge for us budget-wise.  When people get excited about this game or that game, it's easy to forget that most of those games are from publicly traded companies or are funded by a publicly traded company.  The new Star Control is not.  It's directly funded by the individual sales of our games by you guys.

Challenge #3: The Setting

Star Control takes place in 2085.  The humans are about to discover that the galaxy has been busy for a long long time.

Challenge #4: Hardware requirements

Star Control uses the Nitrous engine.  For those of you not familiar with it, it's a next-generation 3D engine that can handle CGI like visuals in real-time.  However, that comes at a price: Hardware.  We are working hard to make sure Star Control will run on almost any system that supports DirectX 11, DirectX 12, or Vulkan.  

Founders and setting up canon

A year ago, we let in a tiny tiny number of people into the Founders program.  

We needed the thoughts and feedback of some die hard fans of the classic Star Control series that featured the Ur-Quan story line.  It is not commonly known but the full name of Star Control 1 back in 1991 was Star Control: Famous Battles of the Ur-Quan conflict Volume IV.  

Star Control 1 and 2 deal with the Ur-Quan conflict.

And there's also...Star Control 3.

We've now had almost a year of listening to their thoughts and their ideas on all this.  The biggest challenge we had was determining what is and isn't canon and how to have new adventures without overwriting what came before.  

Most people who get into the new Star Control will never have played or even heard of the classic series from the early 1990s.  But for those, like me, who have, it has a very special place in our hearts.  So the challenge has been, how do you support both groups? 

So to that end, we have concluded (this is only of interest to super fans of the original)

There is a single Star Control multiverse.  Star Control 1 and 2, the Ur-Quan conflict epic, takes place on the universe we designate as Earth-UrQuan.  Star Control 3, however, takes place on Earth-Crux.  Earth-Crux is similar to Earth-UrQuan but is not the same universe.  Thus, if Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, who today work for Activision working on Skylanders are able to return to their Ur-Quan stories, we presume they'd continue from the events in Earth-UrQuan (or whatever designation they'd prefer).

The new Star Control prequel also takes place in its own universe.  That doesn't mean it's a universe without the Spathi and Ur-Quan and so forth.  But if you run into them, it won't be until at least 2122 (after this prequel takes place and only if Paul and Fred are involved in that story).

For all players, the new Star Control prequel is a clean slate. 

For people who aren't familiar with all this lore, we still sell Star Control 1/2/3 from the 90s so you can get into that lore.

Founders: Phase 2

This Fall we anticipate starting up Founders phase 2.  This will be a much larger group that will continue to help provided feedback and ideas and this Winter begin testing out builds of the game with a select few being given the multiplayer Melee build to help us with multiplayer testing.

 More to come this Fall.

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