Space Time: Starpoint Gemini Demo

By John Walker on March 23rd, 2011 at 6:08 pm.

Colours added by NASA.

In some ways it’s a bit silly to wait over three months after your game’s come out to release a demo. In other ways, it’s quite effective. Legendary PC gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun mentions your game again, bringing its trillions of readers to your site. Then you become rich, build a rocket, and retire on the Sun. It’s the way of things. And so it is that Iceberg have released a demo for Little Green Men’s Starpoint Gemini, their space strategy roleplay them up from December last year. Jim took a look at it in January, and found it a tad slow, but certainly interesting. But maybe Jim was lying? You can now see for yourself by getting hold of the 755MB demo from here, or maybe here. I’ve put a video of it below, because I know you’re a visual thinker.

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29 Comments »

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  1. frenz0rz says:

    Ooh, im suprised I’ve not heard of this. Anyone know if its any good?

    Edit: Ah, missed the link to Jim’s article, I’ll have a read now.

  2. Serenegoose says:

    I -am- a visual thinker, how did you know? That’s very kind of you, anyway.

  3. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Well, this looks a tad too boring to be a game I would like to play.

  4. Moni says:

    Ooh, the slower-paced bits reminded me of Nexus: The Jupiter Incident for some reason. Although the battles in that tended to be quite slow paced as well, with just big juggernauts pummelling each other.

  5. FalseMyrmidon says:

    I saw the first screenshot and thought it looked like a top down 2D space trader. The video is kind of boring looking though :(.

  6. Urthman says:

    Watching the bits where you send a team into a derelict ship and watch a video feed of what happens to them makes me want an X-Com-in-space game.

    • arccos says:

      Mmmm… Space Hulk. There are some good free modern fan remakes of it, but nothing really cinematic. Still plenty good, though.

  7. Gyro says:

    Huh. This is kind of like a modern Escape Velocity.

    • FalseMyrmidon says:

      Is it? I’d be really happy if it was.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      EV: Nova still looks better than this does. Gameplay wise, I can’t tell, but I very much doubt I’d prefer this over any EV game.

  8. Zenicetus says:

    It continues to amaze me, how game developers can take a genre that should include a tremendous sensation of speed — I mean, how else you gonna GET ANYWHERE in space? — and manage to make it look like everything is moving at a snails pace. This is one of the worst examples I’ve seen recently, but it goes all the way back to Wing Commander.

    • Rond says:

      I mean, how else you gonna GET ANYWHERE in space?

      Jumpgates? Warpdrives? But I agree that space fighters ought to go whoosh! Except there’d be no whoosh in vacuum.

    • morbug says:

      Well, the ships you fly are Gunboats/Frigates/Destroyers/Cruisers etc, so they are supposed to be a bit slow. Some of the ships DO have fighters and they are tiny agressive hornet-like one-use weapons.

    • Antsy says:

      I’m happy for big things to be slow to accelerate and not manouver like a ping pong ball in a gale. A passing nod to physics isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

      Wing Commander would have been shit if the big ships were bouncing around like fighters.

    • Zenicetus says:

      @ Antsy: I agree that big ships should maneuver more slowly than fighters. The problem is the artificial speed caps used by almost all these games. In space, if you have an engine that can apply a continued thrust (i.e. doesn’t run out of fuel), then you should continue to accelerate. There are no speed limits for that type of engine, until you start to go relativistic. If you want to stop and turn around 180 degrees, then you have to decelerate first, by turning and pointing your engine the other way for a reverse burn.

      If a game is going to nod towards physics, then why go halfway? These ships all drive around like they have wheels on the ground, or they’re working with aerodynamic forces like WWII fighters. There have been damned few games that really take this seriously. Independence War came close, with some tricks to help the player deal with it. I really enjoyed that game. I want Orbiter with guns and missiles.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Yes, but speed is relative to other objects. Not just “in physics” but how you perceive things moving around. Speed relative to empty space is always motionless. This is why you need fancy nebulae & such in space flying games, just to see that you are moving.

      Certain Sci fi shows & movies manage to convey a sense of speed via camera tricks (or models/cameras that actually are moving relative to a background set), but those same tricks don’t work from the perspectives you might need in a game. Wing Commander and Elite are first-person so that already rules out camera tricks right there. It looks like this game uses a third-person camera that’s not based on any particular moving object in the scene, so your eyes may be fooled into thinking things are moving slower than they’re “supposed” to be.

      Perception of speed is relative to scale, so it really depends on how big the ships appear to be. If they appear smaller to you than the developers intend, that may be another reason why they seem slow.

      (The Star Trek movies and Babylon 5 innovated the visual effect of actually seeing characters on a ship through a window at the scale they are supposed to be. Once you see that the Enterprise or Bab5 is precisely so many hundreds of windows-with-little-people-in-them high and wide you get a better feel for exactly how quickly things around the Enterprise and Bab5 are traveling.)

  9. morbug says:

    It’s a pretty good game. Quite difficult in the beginning but it rapidly becomes easier. It’s quite fun buying new ships and equipment but as I’m nearing the end of the game right now I find that I’ve more or less maxed out my ship.

    You’ve got a lot of configurations to make with up to 12 weapons, 4 shields, 8 standard equipment slots (for powerplants and such) and 5 “additional” equipment slots (cloaking devices, weapon upgrades etc) and quite a few abilities and perks for the character. Oh, and you can hire up to five crew that affects the ship and your abilities. The battles are pretty tactical and require you to take into consideration firing arcs, shield strengths and allows you to target enemy sub systems.

    The game tends to send you across the galaxy (well, the solar system) in several missions which can be a bit tiring. I’ve made sure to max out the Power to engines- ability & have done everything I can to make the ships faster. Otherwise it can be a chore trying to fly the larger ships (Dreadnoughts especially).

    The voice acting is pretty bad and you often have to listen to/read lots of text, but the story is decent enough (if a bit confusing).

    In summary: I like it. It’s fun to tinker with the ships and equipment, and some of the missions are pretty fun, but it IS a bit slow.

  10. v_ware says:

    The music reminds me of Simcity 4.

    Aaah good times.

  11. Xtinction says:

    If you want to compare it to anything, compare it to freelancer. It is very similar in many respects.
    Main problem I have with the game is the speed of the ships.There is no cruising speed at all. Now that I bought the largest vessel in the game I cant be bothered flying to places, it takes too damn long…

    • Wang Tang says:

      Ah, Freelancer! Now I’m gonna play it again next week, thanks for reminding me!

  12. rapchee says:

    i thought ‘visual thinking’ means imagining, picturing things …

  13. Hoaxfish says:

    What’s with the big shiney silver and red ball, on balls? The trailer makes me want one of those.

  14. roethle says:

    Combat looks a lot like Star Trek online.

  15. geldonyetich says:

    Well, I’m excited. Starpoint Gemini has been on my wish list for quite some time, but I was hesistant to spring for the full $30 US on it. If, upon playing the demo, I still decide I don’t want to go through with it, I will at least be able to say I have played it firsthand.

    [Edit:] Well, this is strange, apparently they omitted the tutorial mission. Rather odd thing to do in a reasonably sophisticated game. Did they think perhaps not knowing how to play the game would improve the odds of sale?

  16. Hrofty says:

    Is it me, or this video looks totally like one old EVE trailer?

  17. thebigJ_A says:

    This reminds me, I’m in the middle of a game of X3: Terran Conflict. I got distracted, and really ought to go back. Actually, come to think of it, I was trying to figure out setting up complexes. It was a bit intimidating… hmm.

    To go back and suss it out, or not. I can’t decide.

    • Zenicetus says:

      If you need help with complexes, there are guides and FAQs stickied on the Egosoft user forums, and lots of info on it in the forum threads.

      I never got far enough into X3 and the last expansion to get good at setting up efficient factories, before bailing out of the game. There are some things about that series that are impressive, like the ship graphics and economic simulation. Also plenty of frustrations (for me, anyway) with the combat and small area maps. Just not my cup of space tea, I guess. Anyway, check out the forums if you want to get back to running a commercial empire.

  18. Red_Avatar says:

    The screenshot reminds me a bit of Star Control 2 – oh god, what i wouldn’t give for a proper modern Star Control 2.

  19. rayne117 says:

    Some not too smart gangsters decide to rob a bank. After several days of planning they agree on the best plan. The next day they get to work and are able to get into the bank relatively easy thanks to their planning. Once inside the main vault they discover one wall is full of safety deposit boxes and start to work on them immediately. They drill and pry open the first box only to find a small container of vanilla pudding inside.

    The Head Gangster says, “Okay, well, at least we can eat it.” So they eat the pudding. They drill and pry open up the second safety deposit box and there sits another pudding. They decide to devour it too.

    Determined to find the goods, the process continues for the rest of the night until all the safety deposit boxes have been opened. They didn’t find any money or jewelry in any of the boxes. Disappointed the head gangster said, “Well, at least they left something for us to eat.”

    The next day, while listening to the news they hear: “Yesterday the largest SPERM bank in the USA was robbed by an unknown group of people…..”