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Development To Begin Soon On New Star Control Game 160

In 1990, a development studio called Toys for Bob created a game called Star Control, a fun little space combat game with a bit of strategy added in. In 1992, they released Star Control 2, a full-blown space adventure RPG, which became one of the seminal works of early PC gaming. (Later open-sourced and released for modern systems.) After that, creators Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III lost control of the franchise to Accolade, who botched Star Control 3 and eventually abandoned the series. Last July, Stardock, the studio behind Sins of a Solar Empire, acquired the rights, and they're now discussing their plans to resurrect the classic series. They'll be using Star Control 2 as a template and an inspiration for all aspects of the game, though they won't be using any of the IP from Star Control I & II. They've also contacted Ford and Reiche and will try to hold true to their creative intentions. (The two currently run an Activision game studio, so they won't be involved with the new game.) Production will begin this winter.
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Development To Begin Soon On New Star Control Game

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  • The fog of time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hubie ( 108345 ) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:29PM (#45857433)
    It adds credibility to include them, but I wonder if Ford and Reiche can remember what their creative intentions were after 20 years.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      It's easy enough to find out. Play Star Control 2, and Starflight, and do more of that. There are really no other comparable spacefaring adventure/RPGs in existance.

      • Agreed. This sub-genre is rather diminuitive and SC2 is, IMHO, the best iteration ever (I still play UrQuan masters semi-regularly). I think there are a few key design components that need to survive that are easy to pluck out by playing through. I hope they keep the openness of exploration, the simplicity (and necessity) of resource management, and the level of randomness that bantering about the universe can give you (will you meet the Shofixti early? Last? Before they are annihilated? etc).

        I do worr

        • Re:The fog of time (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:49PM (#45859671)

          I do worry that they'll have to dumb it down for a modern audience and that worries me. SC3 suffered from this a bit. For example, you really had to take notes to complete SC2 unless you'd played it a dozen times before -- someone would mention a planet and star system in the middle of the conversation and if you forgot it you may never be able to get back to it. I LOVED that aspect of old games, but with pop-up maps and waypoints listed in auto-populated journals, newer games put this aspect on auto pilot. That's fine for many games -- it puts you deeper into actual gameplay, but it's an aspect I would sorely miss in SC2 if it weren't there.

          I wouldn't. Automatically log every conversation and mark any coordinates mentioned, with a link back to the log. Why in blazes shouldn't the computer handle a simple and, frankly, tedious bookkeeping task? Removing manual copy-pasting of text is not "dumbing down" a game.

      • Personally I liked SC 1 over SC 2, but maybe that's just me but I'd say a giant 50 foot flaming HELL YEAH! to another Starflight! That was a damned deep game and I'd LOVE to see it done with today's graphics if and ONLY IF they kept the depth! Sadly too many games lose a lot of the depth in favor of bling, a good example being Deus Ex HR which I still enjoyed but no way did it have the level of depth that the original had.

        Now if we can only get somebody to buy the rights to the No One Lives forever franch

  • I am *expanding*! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:32PM (#45857479)

    It is so *squishy* to make me a *happy camper*. I cannot wait to *smell* it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't forget to *enjoy the sauce*!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Stormalong ( 36874 )

      You guys are so lame. Its just a video game.

      Why don't you go outside and play some Frungy?

  • I wish I could believe Stardock would do it some justice, but likely it will be a colossal cluster F like their attempt to redo Master of Magic as Elemental.

    I think I will just go back and play the original. Still amazing what Fred & Paul did given the constrains they had. The music was the best part of SC2.

    • On the plus side, Stardock is owned by Brad Wardell. So maybe we'll be able to sexually harass the various characters and oppress lesser races.

      • Well keep in mind in response to that incident, the woman ended up writing a letter of apology to Stardock and Wardell.

        Seems she may have departed on bad terms and they had evidence she destroyed company property in the process, and were willing to drop it till she filed her harassment suit. In response Stardock countered with the property destruction, and as part of the settlement both cases were dropped and she apologized for causing the trouble.

        One generally does not apologize for causing trouble if they

        • You do if the other party has a pile of cash and filed a lawsuit they can afford to drag on for years even if it's totally made up.

          • And that's why Stardock never should have settled. Not going to trial meant that the facts were never examined, and so there's a subset of people who will forever behave as if the allegations were, in fact, true.

            Take a lesson from that, folks. You can't unring the bell, even if you do feel "vindicated", to use Wardell's word. If you're falsely accused, and you've got cause of counteraction, follow through and make sure your lawyers (metaphorically) nail her head to the wall, because even if you're "vindicat

            • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

              and so there's a subset of people who will forever behave as if the allegations were, in fact, true.

              Doesn't matter, even if they'd won in court there's a whole subset of people including angry feminists who would say that Stardock bought the judges/court/etc. Simply because, any type of accusation as seen by one of the parent posters is enough to automatically assume guilt. And really, anyone with a brain already knows that no matter what, win or not any type of "sexual harassment" label will stick...because "women are never wrong" on that issue. Which of course goes back to angry feminists.

              • Entirely true, but the rational are always in a better position when they can "dismiss with documentation." Plus, if you're going to lose anyway (which, like you said, they are) why not take the lying little shit down hard anyway? :)

            • Wardell had the made up lawsuit. He used his money to silence the marketing person's lawsuit.

    • Yeah, I got burned too. I even pre-purchased the collectors edition, dreaming of a competent turn-based fantasy strategy game. I played maybe an hour before I could take no more. What a waste.

      • You should try out fallen enchantress: legendary heroes. It is quite good and it is free for those of us that bought elemental.
        • Actually, I bought(I COULD'VE GOTTEN IT FREE?!?!?!?) that on steam, not realizing it was the element engine, and I thought it was better, but not great.

        • by Karna99 ( 784157 )
          To be honest I am so bitter about the whole Element thing that Stardock could cure cancer, AIDS, and world hunger and I would still not play that game.

          It was the whole Gamers’ Bill of Rights hypocrisy that burned me good. Previous to that point, I would buy most of their games and generally be ok with the value of the purchase.

          At the time Element was announced, I wanted to support Stardock and paid upfront (pre-order) based on the things Brad Wardell was saying. The Gamers’ Bill of Rights wa

          • What hypocrisy do you mean? I'm genuinely asking, since I never payed much attention to Stardock -- they talked a good game (no pun intended) about respecting their customers, but since all they seemed to make were RTS and sim games, I was never in their target market.

            • They created Impulse, then sold it to The Enemy of All PC Gaming, Gamestop. Then released all their future games on Steam, despite Steam being always online DRM which the Gamer's Bill of Rights was completely against.

    • No... The tongueings the best part.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      For the MoM fan who wasn't aware of Elemental, what are the problems with it?

  • Some musings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Akratist ( 1080775 ) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:34PM (#45857509)
    I wouldn't necessarily agree that SC 3 was "botched," although 2 was a better game. A real botch job was Master of Orion 3... That said, it should be interesting to see what Stardock does with this, given their track record with Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a Solar Empire. They need to resist temptation to make the game too "heavy," too -- no real need to turn it into a cartoonish version of SFB or something.
    • Agree. MOO3 was the first and last game I have ever pre-ordered. I was so excited that it was coming out. Then when I got it...

      I think it can be best described as they took a really fun game and turned it into a tedious simulation.

      • So true.

        MOO2 remains to this day my favorite game of all time, and MOO3 was such a letdown. I followed most of its development since the developers were extremely open during the entire process, but the fact that colonization, development of infrastructure, and most other detail-oriented actions were fully automated took the fun out of playing. As you said, it felt like watching a simulation that we were just there to observe, since we had very little actual ability to influence things. That feeling was onl

      • Similar for me, I traded in like 8 of my PC games for a pittance to be able to afford MOO3 when it was released. Some were at the time hard to find and became quite valuable in recent years, such as Total Annihilation.

        • Actually, TotalA is quite easy to get these days (if you don't mind a pure-digital version) as it is available on Good Old Games ( Along with, I should mention, the entire MoO series (I picked up the first two for a total of a few bucks during their last winter sale). DRM-free, patched and/or packaged (MoO runs in a pre-configured DOSBox) for modern systems, and dirt cheap with re-downloading allowed and patches provided where relevant.

    • by Desler ( 1608317 )

      Yeah me and a friend used to play SC 3 a ton and had plenty of fun with it. Didn't ever seem "botched" to us.

  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:49PM (#45857687)

    The closest I can think of is Civilization Revolutions. It's streamlined for console play, hardcore fans will probably call it kiddified, but I think that they really cut to the heart of the game without larding it up with too much cruft.

    Beloved game sequels usually fall into two categories:
    1) True fans who love the game and want to make their mark but end up cluttering the clean and elegant design of the original with entirely too much crap that bogs things down. See Master of Orion 2 to Master of Orion 1, later Civilization games on PC, etc.
    2) Franchises purchased for IP name recognition but fundamentally different games are built, equivalent to when studios buy a stand-alone script and beat on it until it can become yet another sequel. Max Payne 3 was an entirely different game that they then stuck the Max logo on, sharing none of the original's atmosphere, play mechanics, or fun.

    I can at least respect the true fans even if their efforts turn out like caked shit on the hairy ass of gamedom. I heard the new X-Com kind of straddled the line by being made by true fans who also tried to shift the genre and failed.

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      I don't know in what world you live in but most people agree that Civilization IV is the best Civ around, with some going as far as saying that V is even better with the expansions. Beloved game sequels fall into all sorts of categories, it's the fans which fall in a select few, one of which is the nostalgia-goggled fan who'll never ever accept that a sequel or reboot can actually be better than the original. The new XCOM is also a game that most people will say keeps the spirit of the original while managi
    • MOO2 was a far better game then MOO1. The big issues with it was that late-game tech made the galaxy distances meaningless, late-game battles were tedious, and the AI was rudimentary and easy to trick/defeat. Combat, however, was far more balanced in MOO2 over MOO1 and you didn't have to build stacks of 65k ships in order to win.

      CIV4 was mostly an improvement over CIV3, but CIV5 goofed it up because the developers threw out all of the lessons of Civ3 and Civ4. Hexes were a great idea. Limiting the st
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      X-Com succeeded brilliantly.

    • Space Empires IV is better than these IMHO
    • but I think that they really cut to the heart of the game without larding it up with too much cruft.

      If you've ever read "The Princess Bride" you'll recognize the following reference. I call Civ: Rev, the "Good Parts" version of Civilization. All the fun without the tedium.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:52PM (#45857729) Homepage Journal

    I have the Amiga game in a desk drawer, which I tried playing a couple times, but found it far more time consuming than I was willing to commit to. No idea how involved it is, but it did look like a serious time sink, after reading the manual and wondered how such a game would fare. Perhaps I should dig it out and have another look at it.

    I was more interested in a freebie little c compiled game called Conquest, which had something like 20 stars, each with between 0 and 2 possible planets, which could be played in about an hour per session. Variations on that game included one where AI included certain personalities - Dwarf, which tended to colonize slowly but built heavy defences, something else which was aggressive as heck, but didn't defend itself much at all and at least one other which tended to throw a lot of resources at developing highest tech weaponry and starcraft.

    I'm more of a casual gamer now and tend toward games I can play in less than 2 hours, but have had a soft spot for the old Trade and Conquest type games (such as Elite) since I played something on a mainframe in college.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      I played a game called Conquest on a DEC Vax running VMS, but it was written in fortran. I believe you can still find the code for it and someone might even be running a server for it out there on the Internet. It didn't have an AI but resembled a terminal-graphics version of xtrek. You'd fly around, blow up opponent team ships, bomb and colonize their planets.

      Now Xtrek was really where it was at for all that. There was definitely something to be said for 20-30 players wrestling for control of the univers

      • by hubie ( 108345 )
        I played that on a VAX back in 1984. It was fun, but I never played it enough to build up a strong enough ship. Those sysadmin bastards (who were usually CS majors sitting at the terminal for their work/study job) would love to swoop in and pick off the newbies.
  • The very fact that Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III 'lost control' over their creation shows that copyright/trademark law is bullshit. There's no rational reason to prevent them from continuing their own game. It's preposterous that some other guys will only 'ask for input' from them. It's also nonsensical that a game not made by them can be called Star Control 3. It only leads to consumer confusion.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Didn't they hand over the IP to Crystal Dynamics who in turn got bought up by Interplay?

      IP law is BS but then again handing over your creation to somebody else, probably not the best

      • 'handing over your creation' is only made possible by the law in the first place.
      • No, they sold the trademark and licensed the right to distribute the binaries, but P&F retained all ownership of the IP, art, stories, code, etc. That's why [] exists.
    • I mean the younger people here might not have heard of this one but John Fogerty effectively got sued in the 80's because he sounded too much like himself. (No, I'm not making that up.)
      • Fogerty v Fantasy [] did become significant in that it went to the Supreme Court. Being the prevailing party, Fogerty sought to have attorney's fees which the district court denied. The district court said that Fogerty as the defendant had to prove bad faith or frivolousness in order to get attorney's fees. The appeals courts agreed. SCOTUS reversed the lower courts noting it was a double standard in that if Fogerty was the prevailing plaintiff, he would have gotten attorney's fees. SCOTUS ruled that dist
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The very fact that Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III 'lost control' over their creation shows that copyright/trademark law is bullshit. There's no rational reason to prevent them from continuing their own game. It's preposterous that some other guys will only 'ask for input' from them. It's also nonsensical that a game not made by them can be called Star Control 3. It only leads to consumer confusion.

      LOL. Meanwhile, back in the real world, game developers need to eat. It's perfectly reasonable to sell off your rights if you need the money and preventing that abridges the freedom of contract the libertarian contingent here is so fond of.

    • by Rakishi ( 759894 )

      Yeah, I'd sure hate to be able to make money from my creations. What an awful system. How dare someone even think of giving me money for my hard earned work.

      • How making money requires allowing other people to limit sequels and what not that you do?
        • by Rakishi ( 759894 )

          How making money requires allowing other people to limit sequels and what not that you do?

          That's up to me to choose based on how much money they offer me, now isn't it? Why should I not be allowed to sell my right to make sequels and what I can do with my creations?

          • Because it doesn't make sense? In practice it only leads to cases like Star Control 3. What's the advantage of allowing large corporations to make such cash-ins employing unrelated dev teams? It only leads to consumer confusion. If there's no advantage for society at large it shouldn't be allowed.
  • Development To Begin Soon On New Star Control Game

    Really? We're getting announcements before games are even started development now? Seems a little early to get everyone all excited about a product that hasn't even started development yet. Let m know when the product has a solid release date.

  • I might be the minority, but I loved SC1...not so much SC2. The advantage of SC1 was that you could whoop on your friends for hours in 2D combat...or play a QUICK strategy game. By the time SC2 rolled around I was in high school...and just didn't want to invest in an RPG slog to build up my fleet.

    Personally, I'm hoping they make the core like a space battle version of Super Smash Brothers with a little solo-play piece grafted on to allow you to unlock more ships. I'm also hoping that some kind of "can pl

    • While overall I liked SC2 better than SC1, I too missed the strategy game aspect of SC1, for much the same reason -- it was a quick strategy game instead of a long RPG-like adventure. SC2's humor was spot-on, so that was a huge bonus.

      I remember not having a code-wheel to use to start up SC1, but my college roommates and I knew that "PARTY" was one of the answers to the startup challenge screen, so whenever we'd want to play it was "cd \games\starcon", "starcon", followed by repetitions of "party", "party",

    • I'm with you, bub!

  • the first two Skylanders games so I hope they made some bucks from that. Very clever idea with Skylanders- the character's levels are stored in the character, which also makes them cross platform.

    • what? You mean if a person levels their thingy on the PS3 and then takes their Flaming Dragon of Cuteness to someone who has the Wii version and puts it on their portal thingy, the Skylander still has it's levels?

      That's nice, didn't know that. I figured the stats were stored on the regular game save and that the toy was just there to unlock the creature in the game.

  • The terrible 'sense of humor' they brought to GalCiv2's tech descriptions made it impossible for me to take that game seriously. I think they underestimated the importance of tech descriptions in, say, Civ IV.

    Then again, I doubt they had dedicated writers at that point, or focused on that aspect at all...but that was a mistake. They had damn well better get it right for a Star Control game.

    Holding out hope.

    • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

      (Specifically, Alpha Centauri's tech descriptions absolutely sold its setting.)

      • Same, for such games you do need to keep things like the descriptions rather serious, if the rest of the game is.

        It's jarring when the game and campaign is designed as some space opera, but the tech tree is like something from KSP. The audio clips from AC were just golden and were great for making it seems like you were part of a functional world; like in real life, faction leaders will make PR comments about new technology or repeat famous quotes.

    • From what I've seen of Civ IV's tech descriptions, they came off as rather pompous. All rambling about the destiny of the human race and by Leonard Nimoy. Ack!

      There's something to be said for just getting gunpowder and curb-stomping the AI instead of meditating on Hinduism.

  • Star Flight 1 & 2 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LongearedBat ( 1665481 ) on Friday January 03, 2014 @02:02PM (#45858489)

    I would really like to see Starflight [] (and Starflight 2 []) resurrected as well.

    The various aliens and the story provided perspectives of human issues/problems with humorous ways. But they were fun! And they were inspirations for the Star Control games.

    Please, pretty please, perhaps after they've revamped Star Control, could they revamp Starflight? Pleeease!

    • by Sowelu ( 713889 )

      Yes! Those were my favorite games growing up (aside from Zork). I'd love that.

      Just...just as long as they make flux nexuses less of an exercise in confused terror.

    • by pthisis ( 27352 )

      I wouldn't even say they were "inspirations". Star Control 2 was a spirtual successor to Starflight, except for some cool arcade combat added in--aside from that, the game is mechanically pretty similar with the same kind of intergalactic maps, system maps, planet exploration, etc.

      They're close enough that I'd almost say SC2 is a rip-off of Starflight, except that Paul Reiche was one of the lead designers on both and I'm not sure you can rip off yourself. But it's a much closer relationship than just "ins

    • Ah, how many untold lost hours I spent on those two games. I filled notebooks with information about areas to avoid, resources, et c. I was a little more fond of the first than the second, but both were great.

      Alas, though, I don't have the time to spend on these any more. I wonder how many people of an age to remember the games still enjoy gaming? I've bought Humble Bundles three times, intending to have a little fun, but still haven't even bother to install anything I bought. These days, I might spen

  • I'm sorry, but I've NEVER found a "resurrected" game that was any fun to play, no matter how much fun the first versions were Way Back When. DOOM was great .. but I wouldn't play it now, no matter HOW much it was updated, ported, massaged to take advantage of the new hardware and memory and speeds and video available. I don't see much better coming out of this endeavor (especially since I never heard of Star Control).

    • I'm sorry, but I've NEVER found a "resurrected" game that was any fun to play, no matter how much fun the first versions were Way Back When.

      Not even the new XCOM? (the turn based one, Enemy Unknown, not the shooter one)

      (especially since I never heard of Star Control).

      What? I'm a console gamer and even I have heard of Star Control, course there was the 3D0 port of SCII that Ur-Quan Masters is based on.

    • DOOM was great .. but I wouldn't play it now, no matter HOW much it was updated, ported, massaged to take advantage of the new hardware and memory and speeds

      What if it got a scripting language which allowed mods to do all kinds of cool stuff like class based FPS with RTS components [] against hordes of enemies, with base upgrading and defensive purchasing, deployable turrets and ammo-dispensers. Or a Combat + Mech variant. [] Tons of mods that keep the classic look of the game, but focus on gameplay, with new weapons and smarter enemies, etc. Doom is an engine with a few official map-packs for it. The gameplay is so varied now saying that you won't play Doom nowa

  • by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:44PM (#45859637) Homepage

    They'll be using Star Control 2 as a template and an inspiration for all aspects of the game, though they won't be using any of the IP from Star Control I & II.

    Sorry, it just won't be Star Control without the Arilou, Yehat and Pkunk. No original IP means it's just not going to be Star Control. Just a totally new game hijacking the original name.

    • by Kelbear ( 870538 )

      Part of what made Star Control 2 so special was the sense of discovery. I loved what was in SC2, but I don't want them to slavishly recreate the game (I can replay Ur-quan masters when I want that.)

      I wouldn't mind if none of the old races made an appearance so long as they swing for the fences on making creative new races.

  • they won't be using any of the IP from Star Control I & II

    Then it's going to suck. *frumple*

  • From the Ars Technica article it looks like they are targeting PCs, Macs and console platforms for the new release of Star Control. To me it seems like mobile platforms would also be well suited for this game, as it shouldn't need the latest and greatest graphics capabilities. When SC2 was released, it could actually run on an underpowered 286, even though 486s were popular at the time. At the time that seemed to help its popularity, as pretty much anyone with a PC could play it.

  • If you didn't like the game, you clearly don't have a sense of humor. Here, watch these Monty Python vids and then come back and play the game again. It really will help.

  • by Urkki ( 668283 )

    While SC2 played back at its own era was one of the best games ever (I think I shed tears when that red glow got removed from around the Earth), by today's standard it's just too tedious. I tried playing UQM a while back and, well... Tedious, almost boring. It's a game from a more civilized era, let it stay there. A modern remake is just going to rape the memory, insult old fans and still leave new players wondering what's so great about it.

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