Light Of Altair Demo

By Jim Rossignol on May 11th, 2009 at 10:06 pm.


A fairly large chunk of space colonisation gaming came crashing down on demo sites over the weekend, and I’ve been having a bit of a play. It’s called Light Of Altair, which I believe is a reference to a star, rather than an assassin. In it you colonise planets with a caricatured building interface, setting up life support, industrial systems for trade, and so on. You start in our solar system and, via the gift of narrative, head outwards. It’s functionally pretty, but the overall design of it is bugging me somewhat. I had to kill the music after about thirty seconds, and the fact that I can’t click to deselect my current build object I find oddly like having something stuck to my hand. Get off! I don’t know that kind of user-interface synesthesia/transference is called, it probably doesn’t have a name, but it’s not the first time I’ve experienced it. Anyway, I seem to have got stuck on the second level of the demo, and I’ve no idea why, which can’t be a good sign. Hmm. You can download it here, it’s 98mb.

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65 Comments »

  1. Professor says:

    Whatever happened to the peggle measurement system? I liked those..

  2. Vaur says:

    I also got stuck on the second level; I think it was because I hadn’t researched something at the science centre.

  3. Wulf says:

    A second call for the return of the Peggle measuring system, for I believe the unworthiness of this game should be challenged against Peggles, or perhaps these days it would be more apt to weight it against plants and zombies. I know not.

    Either way, it would’ve added some supplementary levity to an article about an apparently depressingly mediocre game.

  4. Schaulustiger says:

    This is obviously RPS’ mediocre first attempt at gaming development: The link for the game’s name is pointing directly to the RPS homepage!

  5. jonfitt says:

    You had me at space colonisation.

  6. Youatemycheeto says:

    @jonfitt

    “You had me at space colonisation.”

    Seconded.

  7. Rosti says:

    Hmmm, tasty recursive linking indeed.

    Also, world building you say? TO THE DOWNLOADATORIUM.

  8. SaintXi says:

    2nd level woes… I would really like to hear more about this so I can add some help to a walkthrough. Let me know where you are up to and what objectives are stuck in the top right, thanks :)
    http://www.saintxi.com/?q=contact

  9. codekitchen says:

    Wow wow wow. I haven’t downloaded it yet but is it the same music as in the trailer on their site? Because, damn. Shut that off.

    On the other hand, the mix of colonization and combat look interesting from the video: http://www.saintxi.com/?q=node/24

  10. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    Screenshot is brilliant. Trying this thing out.

  11. Serondal says:

    How does this compare to say Sword of the Stars or Spore’s space phase or maybe say Galatic Civ 2 ?

  12. Generico says:

    The game has a nice art style, but honestly, if you want a good space colonization game I’d say just stick with Gal Civ 2. It’s has greater depth, and doesn’t have bad house techno.

  13. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I was able to finish the second mission. Mostly by taking it one objective at a time. Also, industrial centres cost a huge amount of power.. the biospheres are much less costly. I think the latter are more cost-efficient when taking into account the amount of spots you have to waste on solar panels in the case of the former. Also, your starport-zone is the gate to happiness.

    Dunno. Nice enough of a game, I guess, but not really my thing, although it’s not too fiddly yet (looking at the first two missions). ..to clarify: I don’t really like to manage needs.. like in Cesar or SimCity games (or the Sims, for that matter). I end up doing things I think should improve things but in the end I always fail at these.

    Games with a happiness bar or approval rating generally don’t make for a good gaming experience in my personal case. ;)

  14. geldonyetich says:

    I passed the second level, but didn’t bother to try the third because I wasn’t too impressed with the mechanic I was seeing. Choices are very limited and placement doesn’t matter much.

    I get the feeling they were trying to make Civilization with a rotating planet, but their deviations from the formula made the game worse instead of novel.

  15. Tony says:

    Is it real time or turn based? Is the combat real time or turn based? Its not clear even on the developers web site. I’m hoping its turn based for both, theres not enough TBS games.

  16. zhuqian says:

    Our selection ofwow gold bean bags, bean bag chairs wow goldand home

  17. SaintXi says:

    There is no Techno in the game any more (The music from the 2nd half of the gameplay video has been cut).

    The game time keeps progressing as you play, but very slowly. Then you can use 10x and 50x speeds to advance the game – so it feels turnbased, while keeping some momentum while you are building.

    Missions 1-3 are essentially tutorials – that is why we included part of a late game mission to provide a challenge and a taste of the main game. New gameplay elements are added throughout the game – level 2 is a much simplified glance at the whole game :)

  18. Bremze says:

    Hmm wow gold bean bags? Sounds nice!

  19. Ginger Yellow says:

    Finished the second level, and I’m in two minds. It’s the sort of game I normally love, but I wasn’t really feeling it for some reason. Maybe the interconnection of the economy isn’t apparent enough. For instance, do industrial centers need to be in the same location as the mines, or can they be centralised in a big power colony? And the whole exporting food mechanic seemed a bit weird – it didn’t seem to matter how much excess food I had in one place – it had to be in lots of places to count.

  20. SaintXi says:

    The ‘Food Trading’ objective on Mars is just a tutorial task to show how food from minor colonies can be sent to the capital to make a massive colony. Normally it does not matter where the food is. Similarly ore and industry can be placed anywhere on the planet and they will share resources (while making their local colony unhappy).

    Once you get use to the economy, the game moves on to large scale tactics and colony building becomes instinctive.

  21. demonarm says:

    Super Mario Galaxy SimCity Mashup!

  22. Leperous says:

    I didn’t think it was too bad at all. It has a bit of a learning curve, and it took me a while to figure out exactly how to build and send a fleet out to Ceres but I got there in the end.

    Nice thing about this is that it seems to work perfectly in Linux on Wine. You guys should consider advertising that a bit more :p

  23. Ginger Yellow says:

    SaintXi, can I recommend making that clearer in the tutorial? Particularly the difference between exporting from the starport and transporting between colonies. Another minor point – the tutorial tells you to build landing pads, but they’re built automatically as far as I can see.

  24. SaintXi says:

    Great to hear Linux Wine works :) Will add that to our page.

    You colonise other planets by building a shipyard then mousewheel to zoom out to the system view – click on the 3D planet or the planet list to bottom left to select a planet to move to, zoom in, choose ColonyHQ and click on the planet’s surface to build – yowch – not so simple the first time you do it! Will add to our FAQ, thanks.

    ***SPOILER***
    Later in the game – when you are under heavy attack your landing pads can get destroyed by orbital bombardment, so you need to know how to rebuild them. Your colonies are isolated (in food and ore terms) without one.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Vandelay says:

    When is someone going to make a sequel to Birth of the Federation? I loved that game when I was younger, even if it did start becoming unbearably sluggish after 100 turns.

    Was unsure from the rather mediocre sounding article and many people’s comments whether to bother trying this one out, but at 98MB I might as well give it a try.

  26. Ginger Yellow says:

    Fair enough, but like I say, these things need to be made clearer. I spent a couple of minutes trying to work out why it wouldn’t let me build landing pads despite telling I had to.

  27. PC Monster says:

    I’m not convinced anything can knock GalCiv 2 off the space-conlonizing top-spot but I sense this may be aimed at a slightly less hardcore (and we’re talking gaming here, not musically!) demographic, if the slightly-cartoony Mario-Galaxy/Spore style micro-planets are anything to go by.

    I might be tempted into a download-and-trial in the next week or so if the films I’ve rented fail to amuse.

    I’d also like to say that, juding by the videos on the site, the techno is awful and should be dropped ASAP. I’ve been engrossed in Haegemonia recently and that grand, sweeping orchestral score far better suits being in space than 99% of the moronic, simplistic beat-driven pap you find in ‘club-land’.

    Lastly, I just want to give props to the developers for popping up on thread and interacting with us RPS-haunters. That kind of open responsiveness always goes down well with potential customers. :)

  28. D says:

    Congratulations on making a working game :) You asked for feedback on the first few levels so I’ll gladly give what I can.

    Firstly it was not obvious that some things needed to be researched before you could build them. I think it was only mentioned the first time you had to research something. Also it was mildly unclear that there was a research button on the overlay – I was clicking the actual structure (which also works). These were minor things for me. The quip Jim had with the building icon sticking to the cursor did not bother me at all.

    On the second level I’m still unsure how to designate a “primary colony.” This may not be what I should do.. But I want a secondary mining colony to expand to tier two (for that +1 range), when I build hydroponics domes they send their surpluss to the primary (which then grows fatter and fatter for no clear benefit to me). I had to build 1 hydroponics, wait for my population to go up, then build another and again, and so on. I’ll illustrate this point with a screenshot from the Venus level: http://img222.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=34503_ScreenShot464_122_132lo.jpg

    On the third level, I didn’t have a build bar on my screen at the beginning. I had to go to Mars to fetch it, and even then, it would dissapear after I scrolled to Venus – I had to fast click the colony hq to a random location.

    Finally, I found that I didn’t really know too much about Industrial Centres, so I checked the encyclopedia and it only lists its stats. It would be nice to have more basic information in there, like do multiples of it stack and is it planet wide effect? (I’m writing this despite later finding out that its simply an Ore -> Goods converter center, which I found out during the harder demo mission.)

  29. SaintXi says:

    Thanks for the feedback!
    Your primary colony defaults to being the highest population colony – but as soon as you build a Starport that colony becomes the primary.
    The food trade is to your advantage, one big colony will bring in much more Colony Tax than 2 small colonies. As the game plays out some colonies will be more industrial without room to grow enough food to upgrade (the food trade in your image is automatic to the primary and prevents the colony growing). This is normal and won’t hurt the overall planet’s economy. If you really need the extra range, try destroying your mines and a couple of solar panels to give room for hydroponics until the colony grows.
    The build bar only appears when you are zoomed in close to a planet, perhaps you were in the mid-zoom orbital range which is used for fleet management?
    We are updating the help file and will add more info to the buildings suggested!
    (Also – the Techno has been cut from the game)

  30. shiggz says:

    You also had me at space colonization with light combat.
    -it seemed like i could make more money just doing food and basic power since the population would grow, then i could from factories and ore mining.
    -said factories didn’t make much sense the +10 to ore/mining if i have 2 mining machines does that become +20, or +12 never could tell how things affected each other.
    -planets need some sort of base defenses that can be built.
    -The music is very euro-techno-ish kept feeling like i was in a german dance club.
    -I got stuck for like 20 minutes on the asteroid belt colonization mission i kept looking around but didn’t see it. Eventually i accidentally moused over it and it highlighted.
    -The round planets especially the smaller ones are obnoxious to get around. I would prefer a swappable round/flat building surface.
    -the bonus mission that gets unlocked tells me that the faults i have listed only get worse as your number of tiny planets scale upwards.
    -of course keeping people happy often meant destroying food so that some people would abandon the city, thus leaving less people to inhabit the rec room modules.

    I liked the game don’t think i would buy it, but am still hopeful for a resurgence in the space genre.

  31. Serondal says:

    This actually sounds very interesting. I will have to get the demo a try if I ever get a chance to do anything. This doesn’t sound like it is in the same exact genre as Gal Civ 2 so I don’t think it can be compared, reminds me more of outpost and those kinds of games though I haven’t seen it so I can’t be sure ;) I think it is cool that someone from the game is actually in here commenting it up.

  32. Bossman says:

    I like it. The first missions are simple and easy but the extra mission in the demo is already much harder and more complex. Enemies keep attacking you all the time and you don’t have a lot of money to upgrade your colonies.

  33. SaintXi says:

    If you are getting on well with the demo, here’s some good news for the full game:
    25% Discount on Light of Altair Pre-Orders at Direct2Drive

  34. D says:

    @SaintXi: Build-bar bug: Yes, it doesn’t appear to be reproducible when I try again – or maybe I was just wrong the first time :)

    Actually I’m replying about the second thing. This really warms me to the game.

    The food trade is to your advantage, one big colony will bring in much more Colony Tax than 2 small colonies. As the game plays out some colonies will be more industrial without room to grow enough food to upgrade (the food trade in your image is automatic to the primary and prevents the colony growing). This is normal and won’t hurt the overall planet’s economy. If you really need the extra range, try destroying your mines and a couple of solar panels to give room for hydroponics until the colony grows.

    There are several reasons why I like this:
    1) The knowledge that I’m playing well even if some colonies are unhappy (not tier 2 and cannot build colony quarters), lessens stress on my experience.
    2) The knowledge that, if I want (I just tested this), I can always force a tier 2 upgrade if I just buy more hydroponic domes. Secondary colonies seem to need around six or something, its not a diminishing return kindof thing as I thought before.
    3) Less seriously, it just suits me that the game is designed in mind of having miner colonists suffer more. That’s the kindof future I can foresee. I do wish I had a riot force to beat on them when they revolt :)

    So this has effectively changed my opinion on the game, and it’s now a clear sale for me.

  35. D says:

    Also I have two new mentions I might aswell get out of the way.

    After playing the hard mission a bit more, I’m liking the fleet interface more than when I first started. The combat is completely non-interactive which I like, but I would like a strategic element in some sort of intel probe method of gathering intelligence on the enemy fleets. As it is, I suppose the best way is building a fleet of one fighter and sending it in, hoping to be able to discern enemy strength visually? I’d prefer an intel report message over that.

    Second thing, I just had a battle where my big frigate ship with forward pointing laser beams (and no missiles left) was beaten by the last of many tiny corvette/fighter ship, because my ship had a too slow turn rate. It was getting circle strafed from full health for 30 seconds, until it retreated automatically. Ofcourse I will just return for more, but I thought it should have been a won battle.

    And thanks for engaging with your target audience!

  36. Heliocentric says:

    On rps I said a while ago i was sick of all space games revolving around space combat.

    I’m not saying you developed this game in response but the end effect is the same. I’m going to play the demo first but if what i’ve read is anything to go buy consider yourselves $11-d2d’s cut richer.

  37. SaintXi says:

    D – Its great to hear new battle tales :) I’m the art and tech coder on the game, while my partner did the combat design – So I have been fortunate to come up against the many subtleties and complexities of the fighting as an innocent – Many times you will fail and fail again against an apparently smaller fleet, only to rethink your fleets, swap ship classes, weapon types, and defensive components and eventually hit upon a winning strategy to blow them into space dust.
    ***SPOILER***
    In the extra mission you are up against two very different fleets, and need to experiment a lot with your own fleets to beat them. Be careful with ‘scouting’ attacks – you don’t always want to start a war too soon.

  38. Tony says:

    D said “Second thing, I just had a battle where my big frigate ship with forward pointing laser beams (and no missiles left) was beaten by the last of many tiny corvette/fighter ship, because my ship had a too slow turn rate.”

    That sounds awesome. I like it that its not just “biggest fleet wins”.

  39. Malibu Stacey says:

    Downloading the demo now and from the comments this sounds exactly like my cup of tea (you had me at space colonisation).
    Just get it on Steam for a similar price as it is on D2D and a paying customer is me.

  40. SaintXi says:

    Easier said than done Malibu… if you are on a Steam forum please bug them to return my emails ;)
    Since we are DRM-Free the actual download you will get is identical whichever site you buy from :)

  41. Torgen says:

    Just a quick question: Are the colonies capped at Tier 2 for the first three levels? (I didn’t play the bonus in order not to spoil the game.) I tried everything I could think of, and couldn’t get a Tier 3 colony.

  42. bansama says:

    There is no Techno in the game any more (The music from the 2nd half of the gameplay video has been cut).

    Just looking for some clairification here… The music in the demo, has that all been cut from the game? As personally, I rather enjoy the music present in the first two missions. And if it has been cut, will there be a new demo with music that reflects what will actually be found in game?

    I don’t want to go basing a purchase off of a demo that isn’t actually depicting the true atmosphere of the finished product.

  43. SaintXi says:

    Torgen: Yes, you need better technology to allow Tier 3 Colonies (And Cities + MegaCities!).

  44. SaintXi says:

    bansama: The music in the demo is the same as in the final game. Our original gameplay trailer had some Techno with a fast drum beat in the second half of the video, that has been changed for the more atmospheric combat music (That is in the demo). There are a few more tracks in the final game too – but of a similar genre to the rest of the game.

  45. bansama says:

    In that case, you’ll most likey be getting a pre-order from me once I’m paid. I’ve been enjoying the demo and love the music =).

    Are there any plans for the game to be sold through other DD services like Impulse? (I’d suggest Steam, but know they are simply useless at showing interest in most indie game, so I won’t bother holding my breath for them).

    If not, then D2D it is, although I’ve never used them for preorders before and have no idea how they handle them =/.

  46. SaintXi says:

    We are currently on sale with…
    D2D, Archive Games (Both available with 25% off pre-order)
    and will launch on…
    Impulse, GamersGate

  47. bansama says:

    Cool. In that case, I’ll skip the preorder and pick it up from either GamersGate or Impluse, whichever releases it first =) And hopefully, you’ll net a little more from the sale than you would have from the discounted preorder price.

  48. SaintXi says:

    The full game is now live on http://www.saintxi.com through BMTMicro
    And the race is on for the US timezones to wake up on the morning of the 4th for all the other leading gaming distributors!

  49. bansama says:

    Picked it up from GamersGate early yesterday (way before it arrived on Steam U_U). I don’t care about the achievements, but are the tools advertised in the blurb for the Steam version available in the Gamersgate version?

  50. Malibu Stacey says:

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/34500/ currently available at 20% discount £9.59 (normal price is £11.99, if you want US or Euro prices, click the link yourself as I don’t know how to conjure the Steam store into showing me them). Discount only lasts for a week & it launched on the 4th.
    A paying customer is me!

    Sorry if I seem a bit of a luddite when it comes to online distribution, I know what I likes and I likes what I know.