It's well known that RTS suffer from being less accessible than other genres, but I think the reasoning for why is oversimplified and under-analyzed. Most people attribute the accessibility woes of RTS to their steep learning curve, but that's only part of it. If the steep learning curve is such a hurdle, then why are MOBA's like Dota or League of Legends so immensely popular? I don't think you can argue that StarCraft or Company of Heroes have a steeper learning curve than Dota, which is as hardcore as you can get. A more accurate diagnostic might be that RTS have issues with player retention, it's difficult to get new players hooked on an RTS. Today I'll be exploring what it is that makes RTS suffer from player retention and mention examples from RTS that have attempted tackled these problems.
Stardock Game News
For most people, Star Control: Origins will be the first Star Control game they've ever heard of. But long ago, back in the DOS days, there was a trilogy of Star Control games.
The first Star Control game was essentially a Space Wars style game with a strategy layer. There wasn't really any "lore" with it. The second one, my favorite, was Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters. This game was filled with an epic lore that dated back over a quarter million years. The third one, Star Control III: The Kesari Quadrant, took its own direction, which many fans have since come to not care for.
When we began working on Star Control: Origins we had the challenge of deciding what was and wasn't canon in the Star Control universe. Ultimately, what we decided was to make Star Control a multiverse. Thus, Star Control II took place in what we call the Ur-Quan universe. Star Control III takes place in the Kessari universe, and Origins takes place in the Origins universe.
Early concept of the Xraki
Fleet Battles just received another massive update and we can't wait to see you online to try it out. We've added some new alien ships, devastating new weapons, new maps, a new feature called "scavenging," and more. In addition to Fleet Battles Beta 3, we have also released alien content packs containing music and concept art as part of Star Control: Origins. Learn more here.
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Star Control: Origins is a space action adventure game. You are the Captain of a ship with a mission to protect Earth and explore the galaxy.
From a technical perspective, Star Control is a story engine. We don't generate new quests. Instead, we are looking to populate a deep and rich world with hand-crafted Sci-Fi stories. But we won't be doing it alone. Much of our effort has been to create consumer (i.e. user friendly) apps like Adventure Studio, the City Crafter, and the Ship Designer, so that people can create compelling stories to share.
Of course, our job is to tell the first story: Star Control: Origins itself, starting in 2088. Over the past four years, we've written a lot of stories. And while the main mission might "only" take 20 hours to complete, that is not the end of the story. It's a big galaxy out there. And mind you, this is just our universe. People will be able to travel to completely different universes as well with their own stories and characters. But it is also our hope that fans will want to help flesh out this universe with us over the coming years.
To understand how big our playing field is, let's talk about our setting: Orion's Spur.
The Star Control universe is rich with interesting characters and species. From the cowardly Spathi to the horrifying Kohr-Ah, players will be frequently caught off guard by the juxtaposition of so many different experiences.
In Star Control: Origins, the ever-so-needy Tywom are introduced. They will be your best friends whether you like it or not.
Stardock is best known for its strategy games. Well, technically, we're best known for our software and technology, but we've always loved making strategy games.
Star Control is not a strategy game. It is a role-playing game. And the best RPGs have excellent writing.
At the very start, we knew that we would need to work with talented writers. In 2013, we hired Chris Bucholz to lead the writing effort for Star Control. His How-To guides on Cracked and his ability to write both serious and comedic stories was compelling. No one has spent more time on Star Control: Origins than he has.
Star Control: Origins lets you do a lot of dumb things. Starting off in command of humanity's latest and greatest spaceship, your orders are to travel to Neptune's moon of Triton. On the way there, you're free to fly into the sun and melt your entire crew or explore the planet Venus and watch your planetary lander immediately get obliterated.
This game doesn't hold your hand in the way most RPGs do, where you're forced sit through a tedious tutorial and it takes a long time to encounter a possible failure state. Most RPGs only have failure states in the context of combat, where multiple choices tend to only affect combat and narrative outcomes, rather than wider gameplay and progression consequences.
In Star Control: Origins, you can attack a new alien on sight and ruin the potential to have an alliance with them, or you can strip an ally of too many of their ships, so they get annoyed and no longer help you when it counts. When writing dialog for even minor alien races, we try to distance ourselves from the RPG tropes such as "if someone offers me something, I should take it because it will end up paying off later on!" Maybe it will, and maybe it won't. Space is big, and there's a lot of junk out there.
Space is big. We know that. But how interesting is it? That remains to be seen.
Let's take a look at the orbital bodies in our own solar system.
Basically a hot rock.
A poisonous, toxic hell.
A really cold desert.
Big ball of gas.
Another big ball of gas with cool rings.
Ice gas ball.
Ice gas ball.
What about the moons?
During my time working on Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, I have made many new maps and reworked countless of the existing ones. There are recurring characteristics for the changes I make to maps, and criteria that I base most of my maps on, so I thought it would be interesting to articulate what it is that governs my map making and rework process.