Star Control

Direct Response to PDF Information - August 2016

Published on Friday, September 2, 2016 By cuorebrave In Founders Starbase

I wanted to make this post to respond directly to the PDF we were provided this month, and all its juicy little tidbits of information!

The Planet:

I don't really think this is that controversial of a subject, is it? Is there anyone here who would say, "No, I prefer a flat, top down rectangle plane exploration aspect like in 1992? Years ago, I remember talking to Brad and Vaelzad about Mario Galaxy. The planets perfectly capture the spirit of bite-sized trips down to a planet JUST like Star Control II!

I think the main differences that should be included/improved in Star Control: Origins ONLY should have to do with things that were roadblocked because of the level of tech at the time. The planet is a perfect example of this. They couldn't build all those thousands of planets in 3d, it was just impossible for 1992.  It wouldn't have been feasible back then. But things have advanced and procedural generation has become a real thing, so I think it's acceptable and feasible to make this change.

The only thing that I feel will be controversial or divisive about about the planetary exploration will be the art style. Obviously, it's not there yet graphics-wise. I want to see lush planets, teeming with life and details. It's a little reminiscent of the dreaded No Man's Sky right now, but less varied. I'm not sure that's a great look at this moment. Hopefully NMS backlash has subsided by the time this is released for public consumption. We don't want any similarities drawn between the two, or it will sink like a brick. 

Also, PLEASE play down the whole "procedural generation" thing - it's become a bit of a dirty word as of late, and honestly, I cringe at the thought of exploring yet another vapid, lifeless world built by a computer. It bored me to tears, and the main disappointment of NOT ONLY No Man's Sky, but also the likes of Starbound recently is the LACK of human touch on those worlds. They just *feel* soulless. Or to put more obviously - they feel like they were built by a computer. We must avoid this at all costs, Frogboy and Vaelzad. Please, you guys are the experts, but I can't take a million trips to the same nothing world again. I've been to 300 of them in NMS and it just makes me feel the cold fingers of an AI that has no clue what humans are like typed out that code.

Furthermore - If bland procedural generation for all planets IS in the cards, I'm begging you - please please please make sure there ARE special planets to find. Maybe a whole planet that is one lifeform with a giant mouth. Or a planet that has died completely. Or a planet covered by lovable looking, ferocious beasts. Or the ruins of a mysteriously vanished civ. Or even more generally, special formations on different planets! Trees that are enormous! Cliffs that are huge spikes. A completely flat, spherical planet with no features and you have to discover why. One overgrown with aggressive fungus that has taken over all life. A robotic world. A world with talking trees. I don't know, something to make it not feel lifeless and grindy- and some worlds at least, that ARE lovingly formed by human hands. Because like I mentioned before - I can't land on another 300 computer generated planets and not feel letdown.

And that brings me to a tie-in comment with the next section........

Space Exploration:

The ONLY thing I don't like about the look of the planets, is that you can see all the features from space. It breaks my suspension of disbelief when I saw the fly-around video or the screenshot in the PDF and you can make out the cliffs, trees, etc from space. I'm sorry, but planets just don't DO that. All planets are spherical from space, including the Grand Canyon. I don't care how big a tree is - you can't see it on the planet's horizon from space. And it stresses the fact that these are bite-sized planets instead of the real thing. Star Control didn't do that. Even though your lander can traverse each planet in 10 seconds in SCII, when you pull up to a new planet it doesn't FEEL like a tiny little guy. It feels like a huge planet that you're exploring. Seeing the features from space just lets you know up front that this is more like a tiny asteroid, instead of the real thing. I think that's a misstep. And actually one of the few praises I have about No Man's Sky! Watching a planet's features form in front of you as you're burning through the atmosphere, that moments ago just looked like a sphere is one of the BEST feelings that game has to offer. Watching them unfold is a joy that I think you guys can replicate! And then follow up with some kickass exploration on a small planet that DOESN'T take a million years to explore will just knock that feeling right out of the park!

The rest of Space Exploration, as brief a glimpse as we can see in the video and screenshots looks stellar so far. I want to see INERTIA, a lot. So that your ship feels like a huge, lumbering beast, a capital ship instead of a fighter wing. And it seems like the drift of the ship so far caters to that feeling. It was a good portion of the fun when you finally figured out how to set it up so you'd gun the thrusters, flip around and drift right into the planet you wanted! You felt like a cowboy roping a steer when you pulled it off. Frustrating as heck the first few go-rounds, but once you nailed it? You thought to yourself, "HUH! Maybe I COULD be the captain of a real ship!" love it!!

Planetary Exploration:

I already spoke on this a bit, but there's a second section for it in the PDF, and that's what I'm commenting on. So let's start with the interface. I'd like to see less floating text and bars, and more slick presentation. Maybe the physical computer terminal its shown on. Maybe just a sleeker, more modern interface. I feel like the look is a little outdated. 

The big question I have would be: You're going to get to scan for nutrients and minerals, right?! I don't see any of those popping up on the planetary scans! I'd be devastated if that's left out of the final build. I don't want to just see a percentage of minerals on the planet... I want to see WHERE they are! Surely tech has advanced enough that your ship can pick up mineral blips on a full scan of the planet, right?? I think that would be a major misstep. How would we even know where to TARGET a landing, right?

Speaking of where to land.......

I take back what I said earlier about the landing min-game! I saw the video and said to myself, WHOA! That actually looks pretty cool! I like the way the lander pivots from side to side as you adjust the landing, it looks almost 3D! Excellent work on that little guy. I second Hunam_ in that it looks a little simplistic, compared to the incredible detail in the next shot from the PDF of the Tywom....... which actually leads me to the next section! Nice segue!

Alien Quests:

Wow, I didn't think the Tywom could be so visually appealing. But their sloppy ship and the Tywom modeled in much greater detail and the lighting and the ship parts really all come together to make a compelling package, visually. I hope the pieces that make up the ship behind him are all animated. I hope they beep and boop and the door opens and shuts and he takes a sip of his drink and when finished, tosses it over his shoulder into that yellow hazmat garbage can behind him! You guys just won me over on the Tywom. And that's a direct response to Vaelzad telling me the Tywom is upset with me for criticizing him earlier on in development!! I hope he likes me better now, Vaelzad!!

Hahahah, I don't know if it was intended, but Brad's line that reads:

"Without the quests, there's no direction. And without direction, all Star Control would be a game about flying a ship around a huge procedurally generated galaxy to land on planets to gather resources to upgrade your ship to continue exploring. And nobody would want to play a game like that..........."

It may just be me, but I'm PRETTY SURE that's a direct shot at No Man's Sky. The answer is CORRECT, Brad. That game would suck if that's all you do. Praise goes to Stardock for being on the right track about that!!!!! hahahah!!

I have one last suggestion, and it's a very important one., VERY IMPORTANT:


Super Melee:

I'm on board with the multiple gravity wells and fighting in the system as a whole. There's really only three things that need to be nailed to make Super Melee work.

1) The feel of the ship's steering and thrust (inertia, etc)

2) Unique and balanced weapons for each ship. No simple color changes of the same pewpewpew blasters please, they must be TRULY UNIQUE!

3) The feel of the impact when you get hit. This is a hard one, and a game like Skyrim is NOT a good example. You can slash those enemies and it feels like nothing. Shadow of Mordor or Battlefield 1 more recently, they friggin NAIL it when you get hammered. I want to feel it in my bones when my ship is slammed by a nuke.

Make those three things work together, and you've got a fun game  

Ship Design:

I'm not at all disappointed about not being able to customize the shape of your ship. Please don't waste limited budget on that nonsense. I don't even care if it's ever in the game really. The Precursor ship was such an iconic part of SCII, and the new ship you guys came up with, the rotating gravity circular deck and all, as well as the different customized LOOKS of the ship are really an amazing creation as well. Y'all should be congratulated. I never want to actually change the form of it. It's perfect as is. 

Lastly, I know I've said this before - but the MOST FUN part of the game is starting at the bottom, with a scrappy little barely-working ship, and then building it into a massive destroyer SOMEDAY. Not right away, please! Let us savor each upgrade we get! It makes it all the more sweeter when it does come!

Lastly, The Summer is coming to an end:

I'm fine with the $39.99 members getting the Beta, but I still want to make sure us $99ers get some cool perks and exclusive info! But if they get to play Super Melee, bring it on! I'll roast em and toast em. 

And to be honest, about your last point @Frogboy........... I don't think too many people will even remember the Urquan. Certainly not the new generation. I can't even get my 20-something friends to PLAY SCII, let alone develop a strong bond with the Urquan. Besides, it's tough to bond with the Urquan! They don't play nice with others!