Rule Stars: Star Ruler

By Jim Rossignol on August 16th, 2010 at 12:56 pm.


Many internet tipsters have been forwarding this particular title toward us over the weekend, and it’s looking intriguing. Star Ruler is a 4X space strategy that… well, some features: “choose however many systems you desire; you are limited only by the speed of your cpu… Full 3D too much to handle? Flatten maps for ease of interaction … Massive ship battles fought in real-time with particle effects and directional damage… Play with as many competitors as your server can manage, with drop-in-drop-out compatibility.” Sounds too good to be true, eh? Now go look at the video I posted below. Yeah, I’m going to be taking a look at this one. At £13 for the GamersGate pre-order, (also on D2D) and it being out on Saturday, it’s almost worth a punt in the dark. Much more on this soon.

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81 Comments »

  1. Javier-de-Ass says:

    soundtrack is nice, and a free (or pay whatever you want) download from here http://artembank.bandcamp.com/album/star-ruler

  2. Choca says:

    Must be quite boring to rule a star honestly. I mean it’s burning and stuff but you can’t exactly teach it any tricks (Do a supernova ! Yay !).

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Solar storms? Mysterious neutrino emissions? What’s not to like?

    • Gap Gen says:

      People use stars as rulers to measure the universe. And yeah, there are plenty of people who spend their careers teaching stars to go supernova.

    • BooleanBob says:

      I’m amazed that the universal law of inflated numerals hasn’t seen space strategy games being sold to us as 6 or 7x by now.

    • Robert says:

      eXplore,
      eXpand,
      eXploit,
      eXterminate,
      ——————
      eXcrete and
      eXtrapolate?

    • BooleanBob says:

      I gave it a bit of thought and now I think we need to hail Alpha Centauri as the world’s first 5X game, sporting as it did (rather good) eXposition.

    • Sarlix says:

      @Choca

      You can destroy stars by making them go super nova apparently:

      Q: “can I develop a superweapon that allows me to cause a star to go nova?”

      A: “Yes. In fact, normal weapons can do enough damage to cause a star to nova should your technology be high enough and you devote enough time to manufacture a ship blueprint which would allow you to cause enough damage that you get over the star’s damage-soak. Note: damaging the Quasar in the center of the galaxy will take significantly more firepower than a normal star to destroy. The Directed Spatial Fold Manipulator SuperWeapon comes with more than enough alpha to penetrate all the way to a star’s core, for instance.”

    • Gap Gen says:

      If your galaxy has a quasar in the middle then you’re basically fucked, but kudos for designing a game that lets you blow up accretion discs around super-massive black holes. Although converting a supermassive black hole entirely into energy would really mess up the galaxy as well.

  3. loGi says:

    Looks cluttered but trying to be optimistic. Love this genre of games.

    • Freud says:

      The interface looks like it is designed by someone clinically insane.

    • futage says:

      In such a good way, though.

    • geldonyetich says:

      I’m definitely reserving my judgment for the game for when I get a chance to play it. Just because they let you strap jet packs on planets and blow up stars doesn’t mean it’ll offer a play experience superior to a root canal.

  4. Otagan says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJJEMmzKzR4

    This video alone sold me on this game. Who hasn’t wanted their very own galaxyship?

  5. getter77 says:

    Already well and truly pre-ordered—-when was the last time an Indie outfit tried something crazy like this? A fair price for sheer madness I say.

  6. P7uen says:

    I was hoping for a game in which you measure the diameter of the sun :(

  7. konrad_ha says:

    Looks crazy deep and a lot like I always imagined giant space conflict. Will wait for more info, though.

  8. jRides says:

    This game has been totally catching my eye, I am sorely tempted the only thing that’s really holding me back is that its only available via Gamersgate (and D2D you say?), neither of which I have ever used before.

    Can anyone recommend one over the other – or is it 6-and-half-a-dozen which one i use? The only such accounts I have are Steam and GoG, if they are comparable. Mainly what I want to know is if there is a download limit or anything draconian with either those services that would be better avoided?

    • Goateh says:

      They both can contain 3rd party DRM that requires limited activations but neither will limit your downloads. Gamersgate have even gone as far as promising additional activations on request if you run out of 3rd party activations. They also offer a loyalty system where you get a portion of the money you spend as tokens that can be used to buy another game when you have enough (the example they use is something like 4/5 x £30 game gets you a free £10 game). It’s not a lot, but it’s better than nothing.

      Oh, Direct2Drive also have a horrible website.

    • Archonsod says:

      It’s 5% back on the game price in blue coins, +250 for pre-ordering which gives you 81p. It’s not much, but then in their current sale Faces of War is only a quid.

      There’s not much else between them. GG uses a disposable download client that will remove itself once the download and installation is finished; D2D give you the option of plain old http or using the Fileplanet download client. Neither require a running client to play.

    • jRides says:

      Cheers guys, I took your advice and now have Star Ruler on a shiny new GG account. :)

    • Blather Blob says:

      @jRides: I prefer D2D over GG, but there isn’t too large of a difference. They both promise the ability to reset activations on DRM titles in their FAQs, they both have pretty ugly and unintuitive websites (but I think GG’s is a bit harder to navigate by a bit, especially the account creation process). They both have pretty flaky patching, with neither site doing a very good job of mentioning when they have updates available, and with both sometimes just silently updating the full game download instead. Which creates the dual problem of figuring out whether the full download is updated (and is the only update available), and having to redownload and reinstall the full game over again.

      Where D2D wins me over is the download process, with GG requiring you to use their flaky and slow custom downloader to not only download but also to install your game. Even on supposedly “DRM-Free” titles, GG still requires you to have an internet connection when reinstalling from a backup, because you’re supposed to use their downloader to start the installer and they encrypt your “DRM-Free” installation files to make sure of it. Also, if they’ve updated the title, the downloader will proceed to corrupt your backup instead of launching it or downloading a new copy.

      D2D on the other hand just provides simple HTTP downloads of .zip files. It’s not as slick as GOG, with their easy to use website and standardized installers (and of course GOG never has to worry about patches coming out for any of the games they sell), but D2D’s got nearly the same end result as GOG.

      That’s only on DRM-Free titles, mind. With GG listing Star Ruler as “DRM-Free”, I assume it will be DRM-Free on D2D also, but you never know. If it does end up DRMed on D2D, it would obviously make more sense to go with GG, even with their added layer of encrypting installer DRM.

  9. klumhru says:

    As one of a team attempting to do something similar (In Unity), I present massive respect to these guys.

    *RESPECT*

    I’ve been following this for a few months now, and no doubt will be picking it up to have a go.

    @Freud re: Interface.
    Designing the interface for a fully realized 3d world with massive amounts of stars/settlements/fleets/amoebas is a huge effort, and getting it right might well be impossible. There are just so many elements required. Again, this is from experience.

    @getter77
    There are a few besides us trying to do something similar to this. There are some very nice tools out there now (unity, torque to name a couple) that make it considerably easier than it used to be (we started out by making our own engine). Don’t get me wrong, the effort is still way beyond most other project types. Just the asset work is endless.
    On the upside, doing things in space frees you from some pipeline tasks, such as terrain and character animations.

    • getter77 says:

      Yep, a good era is coming. I also look forward to Star Legacy, for one example!

  10. ErikM says:

    Anything to keep my mind off Homeworld 3′s demise :(

  11. Firgof says:

    Howdy folks!
    I’m Firgof from Blind Mind Studios. As is usually tradition (or at least is starting to feel like tradition) if anyone has questions about the game or questions about us specifically (“studio” is a bit misleading; we’re just two guys :P) feel free to shoot from the hip, so to speak.

    • klumhru says:

      Respect :) And congrats on release!

    • Goateh says:

      Is a demo planned, or failing that are there any released straight gameplay videos? I know the video above has some gameplay but I’m mostly interested in seeing it played without cuts and swooping cameras to see the interface and such.

    • Goateh says:

      Also, galaxy sized spaceships? I’d love to see a screenshot of that in action.

    • konrad_ha says:

      Moar info please!

      The teaser-video looks very nice but I’d like to get an idea of how this game really plays. An uninterrupted, commented half-hour gameplay video introducing the interface and concepts would go a long way of getting me much more interested in this.

      Actually, I’m already pretty interested.

    • Sarlix says:

      @Firgof I was just about to suggest someone give you a shout as I have seen you on 3 or 4 forums now, doing the rounds so to speak. I think having a Dev taking questions directly from potential customers is fantastic. Not only does it show your shrewed business sense, but also your commitment to your game and consumer base. I have tried to help out by putting the word out so to speak…I wish you much success with Star Ruler….You have my purchase :-)

    • DrazharLn says:

      Colour me intrigued, but if you do a video like konrad suggested and I will watch and probably pre-order.

      I’m particularly interested in interface design, degree of micromanagement and the degree of freedom I get in how I play the game, what viable routes there are through the technology web and all that jazz.

      But, yeah. What you’ve got looks impressive, I look forward to hearing more.

  12. Antlia says:

    If it has Star Rulers does it feature Star Pens so you can draw a straight starline?

    • Armyofnone says:

      That’s surpisingly hard to do, given how spaceships actually move about.

  13. Wednesday says:

    Nice trailer, rubbish name.

    Really rubbish name actually. Is that the absolute best they could come up with. Doesn’t bode well for the in game lore. Not that it should matter too much.

  14. Jacques says:

    Impressive for any dev, but much more so for just two guys. I’ll definitely be looking at this one.

    Though I would suggest if you make more trailers for this, that you cut back to the sun less, it serves well as an intro/ title piece, and the zoom out from the end of the scale video would make a great outro

  15. Quercus says:

    Have you guys played Sins of a Solar Empire? It looks a lot better than this game.
    I didn’t really see anything that exciting in the teaser, except for the fact that most of the “in-game” gameplay they wanted to show us was a close up of a star?

    • Seras says:

      ya, didn’t see that much actual game play going on

      there’s not really enough content to comment on the game itself, which points to the trailer itself failing at it’s task.

  16. Sarlix says:

    For more info see this http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?t=125522 It’s 9 pages of Q&A with Firgof, and people saying, “You can do what with WHAT?” :-)

    • TychoCelchuuu says:

      Hehe, came here to link exactly that. Pretty remarkable stuff.

    • Goateh says:

      Engines on planets! Shooting stars to blow them up! Why is none of this on the game’s site.

    • D says:

      When something sounds too good to be true… wait for reviews.

    • Sarlix says:

      @D I know I did think the same. But sod it, I’ve spent 12 quid more foolishly – Worst case scenario the games crap and I’ve given 12 pounds to 2 guys trying to make an original PC title. I feel better about that than giving double the amount to a faceless money machine.

    • D says:

      Yes for sure, 12 pounds well spent, good on you. I’m gonna wait not for sake of the money so much, but because very high expectations often ruin a potentially good game. Comes from previous experiences of being crushed by hype trains, and it’s always surprising to me just how excited people allow themselves to get – especially when there’s hardly any evidence. But if they really pull off what they’re saying, and make it a fun game at the same time, they’ll get my money for sure. Hell, if they pull off what they’re saying, I’ll buy 2 copies *promised*

  17. Lukeyb says:

    I’m sure this game boasts, or it used to at least, the ability to make ships the size of galaxies which in turn spew out solar system sized baby ships.

    Is that gone? I hope not because that shits genius.

    • Wednesday says:

      Wouldn’t you have to hollow out, like, a gerbillion planets for all the metal?

  18. CJ says:

    Is the combat in true 3d (a la Homeworld)? I know it says it’s in 3d and you can flatten it, but is that the system map or the tactical combat? Sins looks 3d, but it’s only that the display can be panned and rotated in 3d, the combat in that game is strictly 2d.

    If the combat is true 3d, and the ship design is as flexible as it claims, then my copy of STARS! might finally get retired.

    • DrazharLn says:

      Technically incorrect.

      You can move your ships in the third dimension in Sins, look in the keybindings (unbound by default). It’s occasionally useful for a) bypassing stationary defences and b) confusing the hell out of the many, many experienced players who don’t know you can do this.

      I’m not sure that detailed tactical battles would necessarily be a good thing in this game. Surely you want your players to focus on the strategic side of the game?

  19. jonfitt says:

    From the PA forum Q&A:

    quote:
    lack of Steam support makes me sad.

    Us too. We’re on our second request to Steam to get the game on the service. Last time we requested to get the game on the service they told us there were too many titles similar to ours up there after a couple months of back and forth.

    We figured there must have been some miscommunication but we don’t know as they never e-mailed us back. We’re not too hopeful that it’ll get up on there any time soon, they did not download any of the review builds we sent them from what our systems tell us.

    Jim, can you call Gabe on the big red phone and set them straight? I haven’t seen anything quite like this before.

  20. CogDissident says:

    If by “nothing quite like this” you mean “exactly the same run around they gave the Arcen Games folks over their game AI War”. Steam tries to only stock popular games, and avoid the little indy developers until they can prove that their games sell well.

    • jonfitt says:

      That’s what makes zero sense to me.

      Valve should check a game to make sure it is up to a minimum standard of build quality and professionalism (wouldn’t want a store full of Soldners), and maybe they wouldn’t give it front page pimping until it proves its worth, but why on earth would you not stock it because it’s not considered popular?

      Are they running out of virtual shelf space? Are they only so many “NEXT” buttons to go around before they run out of pages?

      Surely the glory of an online store selling digital copies is you can sell every game ever made and not care about how many copies it shifts as you only pay out per copy sold?

      Oh well, having said that, out of Valve and me: one of us built the premier online game store which has saved PC gaming IMHO, and the other has not.

    • Vinraith says:

      This is another reason you don’t want Steam to be your only option for digital distribution, by the way, they’re the damn App store for PC.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Steam is clearly worth trying to crack for indies, but the really important thing – as Cliffski points out again and again – is to sell from your own site so that all the money goes into the indie coffers, not the distributor’s corporate black hole.

    • jonfitt says:

      I definitely think it is good to buy directly from the Indies so that they make more money, but the service is often not quite as good. By that I mean what you get for your money, not their friendly attitude :)

      For example: As far as I have seen Steam offers downloads of your games as many times as you need. In that way my Steam account is all I need to provide the archive of all my games there.

      When I recently bought Machinarium I was emailed a download link good for 14 days. If I want to play by the rules and not rely on pirate sites, I am now burdened with either finding online storage for it, making my own physical media to store it.

    • Al3xand3r says:

      Or contact the creator to send you a new download link.

    • Jimbo says:

      I’d take ~50-70% (??) of Steam sales over 100% of Jimbo.com sales any day of the week.

  21. Mr Labbes says:

    This is what I got from the linked forum thread:

    You are telling me

    That I could make a ship

    the size of a GALAXY

    and that INSIDE that ship

    there are OTHER ships

    who have OTHER ships INSIDE them

    and all of those ships

    are just one HUGE GUN

    that fires SHIPS

    that are actually MISSILES

    is this what you are saying?

    >> Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

    —>SOLD

  22. Al3xand3r says:

    Valve are indies themselves though, they just hit it big, thanks to their hard work and business sense. They’re not a public company like EA or anything. I do fear what’s gonna happen once the founders retire or are otherwise out of the picture however, but hopefully the successors will continue the same path.

    As for not stocking this game, we don’t know both sides of the story so let’s not make assumptions. They have plenty small indie games that likely don’t sell much at all on Steam, like Blueberry Garden. Perhaps the creators didn’t pimp it in the right way, I mean, there are a few 4X games on it when with the “no similar games” reasoning they would have only one, Space Empires V or whatever, and no more.

    • Al3xand3r says:

      Reply fail…

    • Al3xand3r says:

      Also, you can try Stardock’s Impulse. Sure, it’s not as big as Steam but some prefer it since it doesn’t tie your games to an application yet you can still have the benefits of infinite redownloads, auto updates, or whatever people like from Steam. No, not Steamworks achivements and other useless crap, yet.

  23. Delusibeta says:

    Spotted on linked Penny Arcade thread.

    [url]http://www.cubeupload.com/files/dbe613screenshot0001.png[/url]

    60,000 systems running in the beta version, about 200,000 planets on the map. Obviously, it’ll run like jam on that scale (he’s using a bog standard Core 2 Duo laptop, and he’s getting about 5 seconds per frame), but it’s nice to know that the options are there for the people who have supercomputers. 20,000 planets should be quite possible.

  24. Mavvvy says:

    I wants it ,so I boughts it.

  25. Fearghaill says:

    That thread is amazing. The quote that sold me on the game was:

    “Most games in my experience tend to last between 30 minutes and 6-8 hours in the default 150 system galaxy with 3 AI opponents. I have no idea how long the typical Multiplayer match might be. Probably at about Hour 4 people will start blowing up planets and at Hour 5 Stars will start getting destroyed leading to a “Heat Death” race I suppose.”

  26. Pirate0r says:

    @Firgof

    I’ll tell you what, I’ve already pre-ordered (I first saw the game the other day on Kotaku) but I’d be willing to buy a second copy if you can get it onto Steam.

    Yes I’m that lazy and Steam is just so convenient (especially with the near parity of the Canadian and US dollar) .

  27. Muzman says:

    Dear lord, its Celestia as an RTS. Seems a little too good to be true, frankly, but won’t have to wait long to find out.

  28. Nesetalis says:

    you know whats holding back good space games? 32bit archetecture D: to have any real detail you need to do funky nested chunks of space..you realize how few numbers you get in 32bits? even 64bits isnt enough for a good solar system without nesting. and even then, solar systems are nested in a galaxy.. possibly in a star cluster.

    • Sarlix says:

      I have no idea what you just said but I think I agree. Clearly nesting is the way forwards!

    • Tei says:

      Elite has like 256x256x8 planets in a 8 bits computer with 65KB. I can’t think on something less demanding than a space simulator. Hell.. if the computer don’t have hardware acceleration, you can always render the stars as dots.

    • Tei says:

      *64 KB…

  29. Sarlix says:

    I don’t know if anyone will see this now – But Blind Mind has just announced Star Ruler will be available to purchase through Impulse. Something a lot of people had been hoping for :-)

  30. Gargantou says:

    Disregard what Goateh said, not all GamersGate games comes with an “Activation” protection scheme, I’ve bought over 15 games on GamersGate, the majority of which have no DRM that limits you from installing the game X amount of times etc.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Gargantou: Goateh must not have looked at this game’s page, where it’s clearly labelled as DRM Free, but his description of GG and D2D was more general. It does seem like if anywhere is going to have online activation it’s Gamersgate, even when other services don’t. Even with “DRM Free” titles from GG you’ll still have to deal with their downloader, and checking with their servers for permission every time you reinstall, but at least without the activation it is possible to bypass their downloader if you want to make your purchase truly DRM free.

      GG’s use of online activation might be because while other DD services run their own download servers, and can control who downloads a game, GG puts everything on a public web server which anyone can download from. So unfortunately it’s possible and fairly simple to steal any DRM-Free game off their servers without paying for it, just by bypassing their downloader. Which is probably why they stick Securom onto more of their games than the other DD services.

  31. Gargantou says:

    Blather, I’ve spoken to people who used to run Gamer’s Gate a few times, Gamer’s Gate has no choice of in-game DRM, the publisher of the titles do, I’d just like to add that.

    Gamer’s Gate doesn’t choose to add Securom to games on their sight, the publisher of the game who decided to use Gamer’s Gate for distribution does.

    I’m not sure if you expressed yourself badly but you made it sound like it’s Gamer’s Gate choice, it is not.

    Gamer’s Gate was originally owned by the same people who own Paradox from what I recall, but I think it was sold off and is independent now, functioning only as a distributor of games rather than publisher.

    If a game on Gamer’s Gate says DRM free, it is, aside from the downloader as you mentioned.

    Anyway, I suck at writing posts that make sense, I guess in the end all I wanted to point out is that Gamer’s Gate do not choose whether or not to include DRMs in games on their site since they are not a game publisher, only distributor, it is up to the publisher(and sometimes the developer is also the publisher) if it wishes to have a DRM in its game, GG has no say except as to whether or not distribute the actual game.

    I hope my post makes some sense and not just crazy ramblings.

    //Regards

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Gargantou: Interesting to hear that it is initiated by the publisher. I always assumed that GG warned the publisher that their system was insecure and that extra DRM was advisable, but I suppose it’s possible that the publishers do actually all review the technical details of the various digital distribution systems and all independently arrive at the decision that the GG edition will require additional DRM above those of other DD services.

      Unfortunately, it’s the result that matters, not how it is arrived at or who makes the decision. And the simple fact is that many games have DRM on GG, but not on competing services, and the opposite is very rare. Though not so for Star Ruler, where if the other services are DRM Free like GG, they haven’t remembered to mention it!

      But I’ve always found it annoying the way GG try to use their downloader to control your game after you’ve downloaded it, even the “DRM Free” ones. What particularly galls me is that the manner they attempt to exert the control, “encrypting” the installer and requiring you to authenticate online every time you wish to run it, is just enough to stop the average user from enjoying the advantages of a “DRM Free” title, but wouldn’t stop a first-year CS major for more than 5 minutes. And then combined with the hosting method they use, it sets them up as the ideal distribution system for pirates to just link to the games on their servers rather than actually have to pirate them. It’s likely to cause problems for them down the line, and they’re likely to blame it on the very concept of “DRM Free” rather than their poor implementation.

      Still, in the rare cases that they have an outstanding price or are the only service offering a particular title as “DRM Free”, it’s worth working around the downloader’s attempt at control. Like I said, it’s technically very simple to do.

  32. Your Marketing Agent says:

    if the Developers are still reading this thread i want you to know that i was going to buy your product but im not going to because of the way you are punishing the customer with the DRM and limited installs the customer does NOT want the drama of begging for extra keys so they can reinstall something they have paid for its stupid it serves NO purpose at all, there is already a cracked non DRM version of your game available. what possible benefit are you giving yourselves by using DRM in your product you should just host it yourselves and integrate a shopping service into your website. i dont care about your piracy is wrong arguments, the fact is if you make a good product but punish people for buying it you deserve to lose money until you change your business practices.

  33. Firgof says:

    The game has no DRM and never has had any DRM. There were serials at one time a while back that were used to -track beta testing applications-, not unlock the game. I repeat: There is no DRM whatsoever.

    The game is constructed as such that you could throw the game’s folder onto your thumbdrive, toss it onto your laptop, and it’s running.

    I am not sure where you got the idea that the game has any DRM as we have stated numerous times and in numerous places that we both disagree with the prospects and “benefits” of DRM and do not have either the time nor the money to waste on anti-piracy pipe dreams such as locked installers, locked executables, etc. when they’re liable to be cracked on day-0 etc.

  34. Gargantou says:

    @Blather Blob

    Feel free to give me examples of these “many games” that have DRMs on Gamer’s Gate but not on other services.

    Keep in mind Steam can easily be considered a DRM in itself.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Gargantou: Missed this, sorry. No, I didn’t mean games that were available on Steam protected only with the Steam DRM, I’m aware it’s impossible to have truly DRM free games on Steam, considering the need to use the client to install (though the same can be said of Impulse and, indeed, GamersGate’s downloaders). There are a few games on Steam which, once downloaded via Steam, will run without further Steam use (e.g. the .exe does not require Steam to be running), but those are few and far between and not really what I meant.

      There are some games that truly are Securom-free elsewhere, obviously all the games that used to be on GOG (before its demise), like Beyond Good & Evil, Prince of Persia The Sands of Time, King’s Bounty, Total Annihilation, etc. which all have Securom or Tages on Gamersgate. I’m not sure, but google searches suggest the DRM is also missing from Direct2Drive and Impulse copies on these games, leaving Gamersgate pretty much alone in using it. Broken Sword Director’s Cut has Securom on Gamersgate but is DRM free elsewhere, including DotEmu and Impulse.

      However, it appears that I’ve gotten an incorrect impression of just how many of their games are protected by Securom. They appear to have a bug in their website which defaults to listing a game’s DRM as being Securom for the first few weeks of release, giving the impression that they encode everything with Securom, even tiny indie games like Bob Came In Pieces or Star Ruler, which are of course listed as “DRM Free” elsewhere. However, as a game grows older they seem to go back and update the DRM listing on these games. I assume it’s just a mislisting and they don’t use Securom for the first few weeks of release.

      So thanks for getting me to go back and discover that all these games that were once listed as Securom now say “DRM Free”. Considering GamersGate’s stupid download encryption wrapper isn’t too hard to work around (like 4 lines of simple C code) to make an installer truly DRM free, I’ll certainly be considering them a viable alternative in the future, at least once they get around to updating a game’s listing to show if it really is DRM Free.