Mein Gott A Demo! Star Ruler Comes Through

By Alec Meer on July 5th, 2011 at 6:33 pm.

Newtonian physics - less fun than Newton-John's Physical

Hey, anyone remember demos? They were this crazy thing game-makers did when they wanted people to play their games but expensive pre-rendered trailers that said absolutely nothing about what a game was actually like hadn’t been invented yet! The crazy fools. What was the point in that?

Star Ruler is like the last half-decade didn’t happen: a thoroughly PC-only space 4x game, and it has a demo. An actual, honest-to-god demo! I haven’t played it yet, but I could hug it to death for that alone.

Visually, it looks a little on the Homeworld side of things, but being a 4X game the scope’s obviously much grander. And there’s procedural generation, baby. And Newtonian physics. Baby. We should probably have written more about this. Anyone else been playing? Here’s a trailer too:

The 124MB demo’s over here, and you can buy the game from various popular download services here. If you’re afraid of the internet and think that sinister men made entirely of balaclavas will steal your pockets were you to use your credit card on it, a retail release is due in September.

Oh, and if the name’s ringing a bell but you don’t know why, it’s because devs Blind Mind Studios were the lot who pulled their game (that’ll be this one, then) from Impulse in protest at its acquisition by Gamestop earlier this year.

__________________

« | »

, , , .

75 Comments »

  1. mwoody says:

    Hey, handy. Steam’s non-achievement ticket for today is to play a free demo, and the demo is indeed on Steam. It says it’s been there since Sep 21 of last year, though, so… hrm. Who knows.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      I was going to suggest posting that this demo was up on Gamershell earlier on, but I checked and saw it was on Steam last year, so didn’t bother.

      Can I have a go on the slide now?

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Yeah, how is this news RPS!!

    • Wisq says:

      Yeah, this article was confusing the heck out of me, because I knew I’d played Star Ruler at some point (and wasn’t hugely fond of it). If the demo was new, then did that mean I pirated it? Why isn’t it on my hard drive anywhere? Did I really hate it that much that I would just delete it all? Why wouldn’t I remember hating it that much? What have you done with my memory?! Etc.

    • Wulf says:

      I’m confused too because PC demos happen all the time, of indie titles and AAA titles. Granted, they don’t all appear on Steam, but that’s why you check sites like Gamer’s Hell and Fileplanet, too. In fact, I always see it as the exception to the rule when some publisher is so snotty that they consider themselves above demos, somehow, and it’s then that I view their product with distrust.

      But yeah, demos are definitely alive and well on the PC. And they need to be, really, considering that there’s really no other way to benchmark how well a game will run on one’s computer.

    • Schmitzkater says:

      Still, you could give the demo another try. If they kept the demo up-to-date with their regular game patches then it should be quite a bit different than half a year ago.

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      It is a very different beast from the demo launched in September of last year.
      About every week to two weeks since then (and since launch) we’ve put out a major patch to the game, adding content, updating the UI, and balancing the gameplay while adding in new, major, components. I think we’re at Patch 24 now and September was something like Patch 6.

      Give it another shot; I think you’ll agree that the game has been changed pretty drastically from the initial demo.

    • mwoody says:

      That makes sense, but my question is: is the demo on Steam updated? And if not, why not? Is that an issue with how Steam handles demos?

      I ask because, again, Steam is offering 1/3 of a DLC and an entry into a contest for playing a Steam demo, and this was the one I was considering.

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      It is in fact up to date at this time. The Demo does not come with a guarantee that it will always be up to date with the main version because we’d rather work on getting the game better than ensuring that the demo is always up-to-date. As for why it sometimes takes a while to deploy on Steam: We’re not entirely sure ourselves.

  2. N says:

    Man how do people find the time to master such stuff…

  3. larchy says:

    Right now this is £4.42 in the Steam sale – bargain!

  4. Hoaxfish says:

    So, what’s the difference between “procedural generation” and “randomly generated”

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      In common usage there is none.

      You knew that already, right?

    • angramainyu says:

      Mostly the same, although “procedural generation” means there is code at work to make the randomness make sense — so your minecraft world has nice layers and strata of rock and dirt with pretty hills on top. A purely random minecraft world would just fill in each cube, well, randomly.

    • Wisq says:

      Procedural generation = generated using algorithms, not by hand.

      Randomly generated = something is being randomised — either at a low level (like each block) or potentially at a much higher level (like you divide a level into chunks and then place certain ones according to a pattern).

      Procedural doesn’t necessarily mean random. Random doesn’t necessarily mean procedural.

      Consider a dungeon crawler. If you use algorithms to determine what the rooms and corridors will look like, that’s procedural. If you just pre-create a bunch of rooms and corridors by hand and slot them together randomly, that’s random, and not really what we’d call procedural.

      Conversely, consider a game like Minecraft or Dwarf Fortress, where you get a random & procedural world, but you can put in a random seed. If you put the same one in, you’ll always get the same world. If the game authors were to decide to lock down the random seed — say, to one that they know provides a really interesting world — that’s procedural, not random. It saves a lot on game file size (since they only have to distribute a number rather than a whole world file), but it’s not really random any more.

      Of course, you rarely see procedural stuff that doesn’t use randomness, because that would be a big waste of the procedural side. Unless their algorithms are really, really finicky and don’t produce very good worlds on average, and so they want to pick the best ones only.

    • Snuffy the Evil says:

      Or, to my understanding, that whatever is generated will be the same if given the same “seed” value.

      For example, look at Space Engine, that universe simulator that was posted here a while ago. None of the stars or planets are stored on the hard drive and their features are generated upon discovery. However, Planet X52B (or whatever) will look the same on my system as it does on yours.

      It’s random generation that, given the right parameters, generates an expected result. (I think!)

    • mwoody says:

      But ANY computer-generated environment will produce the same thing twice if given the same seed. It’s just a question of whether the devs give the player the ability to set the seed, or if they get it from something else (usually the system clock).

      In practice, I can’t think of any difference in usage between “procedural” vs. “random,” since all computer-based calculations are by their very nature deterministic.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      “Procedural” implies an algorithm which may or may not have any random component. See procedural animation.

    • Wisq says:

      But ANY computer-generated environment will produce the same thing twice if given the same seed. It’s just a question of whether the devs give the player the ability to set the seed, or if they get it from something else (usually the system clock).

      Yes, obviously, I know there’s always a seed. (I’m a programmer too.) But there’s nothing to stop a game designer from using the same seed for everyone because they want to create a specific world (that they probably stumbled on randomly), and just happened to have the ability to create that world from scratch on someone’s computer rather than send it to them. (It’s just rare, because who’s going to bother writing a procedural generator and then just ship a single game world using it?)

      Point being that although they tend to come together as a pair in games, they’re not actually the same thing.

      (Also, yeah, procedural animation etc.)

    • MadTinkerer says:

      “But there’s nothing to stop a game designer from using the same seed for everyone because they want to create a specific world (that they probably stumbled on randomly), and just happened to have the ability to create that world from scratch on someone’s computer rather than send it to them. (It’s just rare, because who’s going to bother writing a procedural generator and then just ship a single game world using it?)”

      This is actually used in Elite, FUEL, Oblivion, and a whole bunch of older games where it was impossible to fit a pre-designed world into the disk space available. Having the program generate the exact same world each time has a few advantages:

      1) If you’re trying to make a game that players can play “in the same world” on different machines and networking technology is in it’s infancy and/or doesn’t exist on the target machines. (obviously not nearly as much of a concern since the world wide web, wifi, etc. but this is a big reason why Elite did it that way)

      2) If you want to add in hand-crafted areas to your world.

      3) If you want there to be a guide to your game that can describe the specifics of the game world.

      4) Greatly simplifies testing & debugging.

      5) If you don’t want to tell people it’s procedurally generated. (Again, pretty much a non-issue in a post-Minecraft world, but no one knew what Proc Gen was when Elite came out. Plus, it’s just not a selling point for FUEL for some reason, and Oblivion is mostly hand-made: they just didn’t want to put down every tree manually.)

    • FakeAssName says:

      fuck!

      wrong comment.

  5. Antsy says:

    I bought this and Elemental: War of Magic in the same week :(

    • abremms says:

      same here, I was so dissapointed with Elemental I was thinking “man, why couldn’t it have been awesome like GalCiv2? hey look! Star Ruler looks kinda like GalCiv2!”.

      it took me a good long time to regain faith in new PC games.

      if Star ruler has improved though, maybe its worth another shot?

    • mwoody says:

      Hey, if you act now, you can get Elemental for a mere $69.96 at Amazon! That’s a full three cents off the list price for this REDACTED game.

    • jRides says:

      I did too, but that same weekend I also discovered Aurora (from the Star Ruler Forums) and have barely played anything else since. :)

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Hey, if you act now, you can get Elemental for a mere $69.96 at Amazon! That’s a full three cents off the list price for this REDACTED game.

      Sucker buy. For another $ 12, you can get the redacted game and Wardell’s execrable official game fiction for a net savings of…0 cents.

      In fairness, that’s the limited edition. The regular edition is only….still too much. (I say this as someone who is, against my better judgement, looking forward to Fallen Enchantress despite the name, but fun is fun).

      Last year was probably the biggest crisis I’ve ever had in all years of PC gaming. The triple combo of Elemental + Civ 5 + and even Disciples 3, within a few months of each other, left me reeling. Six months earlier, I would have laughed at the suggestion that at least *one* of those games representing notable turn based traditions, wouldn’t have occupied my time for months. And I too remember the Star Ruler demo as sort of a last ditch effort that was going to save me from my disillusionment. It was pushing all the right buttons…on paper (but as stated elsewhere, Im anxious to check it out again).

      I was forced to do…terrible things. I think I succumbed to reading. I’m not proud.

    • sebmojo says:

      In all fairness to the Stardockers, they’ve apparently done a lot to fix and improve it since launch… which wouldn’t mean that much, but they hired Derek “Fall from Heaven” Paxton to lead the improvements. Who knows his shit.

      Haven’t played it myself, but grumpy gaming gentlemen on Q23 have admitted that it’s not too far from a solid game now. So, worth another look (though poss not worth $69.96)

    • FakeAssName says:

      they fixed nothing.

      in fact it’s even drier and more unplayable, before they “fixed” it the game was broken and unbalanced but it had lots of personality; now it’s good and thoroughly, dead and Derick Paxton does not know shit because I blame him for really running the game into the gutter.

      before he came on board the gameplay was bad but the UI was smooth and flowing, after he came on board the flowing-ness went out the window and got replaced by a clunky, unresponsive, and constricting attempt to turn Elemental’s UI into something like he was used to in Civ … and it’s still got bad gameplay.

      also, I bought my collectors edition for way less than $69, what the hell are amazon thinking?

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Stardock *has* improved Elemental:WOM to what I would call, a “significant” degree. But given the state of that…game, I guess… the phrase “A drop in the bucket” springs to mind.

      I’ve actually checked back in to play the most recent build, billed as the first stage of that last major update before their real ambition (the standalone mulligan “Fallen Enchantress”) is due out, but there is still no substantial game there, in my opinion. It still has no hook whatsoever. It’s neither deep enough to be a good global 4x game, nor thoughtfully designed enough to be a good tactical game, and there are *still* significant technical issues a year later. It’s simply somewhat less crashy, and more polished in a number of minor, but ultimately unsubstantial regards.

      It remains a tech demo, of really unimpressive tech, and it’s a wonder why they sink any resources in in at all. Their obvious focus is to “do-over” the game with the more tightly focused Fallen Enchantress (gads, that name), and basically a few people are updating the original game in their spare time. At the rate they’re going, it might be a viable, cohesive game with some sort of focus, in about 5 years.

      It’s obvious their hopes, and the majority of their re-development, have gone into FE. I can’t help but think the trickle of development they put into WOM wouldn’t be better spent putting a bit more polish into FE, as the stakes for that game are now pretty much the entire reputation of the company as a game developer. If you’re not going to seriously work on the game, and all your eggs are clearly in another basket, why bother? It smacks of ego, like someone can’t make an effective triage decision and let it go, because they just dont want to chalk that game up as a failure.

      I say this as someone who still has hopes for Fallen Enchantress, with the new blood they’ve injected into the development team. But continuing the trickle of development on E:WOM, seems cruel, like keeping a terminally wounded animal alive just so it can suffer.

  6. karry says:

    Wasnt this the hugely bugged game that was pulled by the devs to be retooled ? Or am i mistaking it for something else… ?

    • sinister agent says:

      As I recall, it was released unfinihsed, but the devs owned up and effectively made it a sort of open beta, and have been patching it since.

      I’m not fully informed on it, though. Last I played was a couple of months ago. It’s functional, and fun, and has lots of potential, but there are still some balancing issues being worked on.

    • Archonsod says:

      Nope, it was released as a “please buy now so we have enough money to finish it” thing. Kinda like the original Mount & Blade.

    • sinister agent says:

      Heh, funny, that was the parallel I almost drew, too. I wasn’t sure if it was just me being silly though.

  7. Dana says:

    This one is quite old. Whats all the fuss about ?

  8. mrjackspade says:

    Ah I’m a sucker for space 4x games so I got this the moment it was on sale. All I can say is…don’t bother.

    The 3D map is a hindrance. The ship design is a disaster and a mess – your ‘ship’ is a circle, and you literally drag components haphazardly onto it to make a soup of engines and gun parts and armour. UI is very outdated and chunky, and the tutorial is slightly better than useless.

    I’d get Distant Worlds instead. It’s like Space Empires IV but a lot more complex, with a really detailed economy simulator thrown in for good measure.

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      3D Map is a toggled setting in the galaxy creation settings. The blueprint is a topdown abstraction, not a replication, of your ship. If you’re throwing components haphazardly onto it, then you likely do not understand the combat system. It is directional and will impact subsystems as they are arranged on the blueprint (exceptions with Armor, Shields, the Hull, and Stealth systems and weapons that do other kinds of damage (Mind Sappers, Reverse Inductors, Boarding Parties, etc.)

      May we get feedback on why you find the interface outdated and chunky? Also, what would you have liked to have seen in the tutorial that we did not provide?

      (We will disagree on the relative complexity of both games as either game goes for a different angle for grand strategy so let us skip that entirely)

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      i think this comparison is a tad unfair. Distant worlds by comparison with star ruler is a simplistic game with lots of extra numbers thrown at you.

      Both in my view are good games but in very different ways. Star ruler is about simulating an Ian M Banks culture novel. You throw vast numbers of sophisticated ships in to a 3d newtonian physics universe and watch the flashes of anti matter as stars fall in your wake. The game is hard to learn. It is one of the most complex games out there in terms of strategy, this is both good and bad. In some ways it is similar to home worlds. The strong point of star ruler is the ship design strategies available. You can create more diverse and interesting ships than in any other 4x on the market. Its other main strength is visual, whilst the 3d is hardly reveloutionary compared with the rest of the 4x market its a jump forward.

      Distant worlds is closer to being a star trek or starwars type universe where ship systems and space flight mechanics are more mythical (al right some trekys might disagree with me here) but the politics and economics of the universe are more dynamic and realised. You can do things like blockade planets and send off exploration ships to search for alien artifacts and ruins. The diplomacy and economy is more complex in a similar vein to the Paradox interactive grand strategies. On the downside the battles in distant worlds are simply a matter who has most fire power/hp, like a hyper simplified Gratutious Space Battles.

      neither game has a great GUI, but distant worlds is easier to learn as the AI isnt that good and you can automate much of your empires activities, in star ruler you some what mercilessly have to do most things giving more control but more things to learn. Also the AI in star ruler is one of the hardest in strategy games. Star ruler is about half the price of distant worlds even when not on sale(matrix games never drop their damn prices), and does have multiplayer, distant worlds probably has a stronger in game narrative.

      Both games generate strongly divided opinions on forums. My guess is many people find star ruler to hard to learn (the game gives you alot of choices quickly and there is little guidance on how to approach these choices). And distant worlds struggles for objectivity. IN distant worlds you have to set your own victory settings, for me this is a poor decision by the game designers. On top of having to decide your difficulty blind the automation isnt always that great it can quickly become a game about micromanaging alot of numbers.

    • mrjackspade says:

      Ah I see you’re the developer? Thanks for taking the time to respond. I’m glad to hear there’s a 3d toggle – I couldn’t get used to playing in 3D so I will definitely go and give the 2D map a try.
      Interface: Too much text, the text is too similar and too crowded. For example – you get a textual list of buildings on your planets where other games might offer you a grid with icons.
      Ship design: fine, but why just a circle? Games going back to even Stars! offered you a basic ship layout, where you could drag components onto sensible areas of a ship blueprint. Similarly SEV, while GalCiv takes it even further with full on 3D ship design. Especially on larger ships, it’s too hard to see and select overlapping component tiles on the ship and while it’s just a representation, it really ruins immersion for me.

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      I always have time to take complaints and suggestions; thanks for taking the time to provide them.

      I can agree on the overly text-heavy nature of the game: It’s due to that we don’t have an in-house 2D artist. We’d much prefer graphical representation but could not afford the means to acquire it early on and did not have the time or contacts after release to pursue it. :(

      On the layout: We were going to have a little ship layout schematic in the background, but needed the art to do it (again, the above). We also dislike the ‘enforced box’ approach of most grid-systems. That said: If you hold down Shift it will enforce grid placement for subsystems so you can still have organization. Overlapping subsystems can be an issue and we’re looking into it. :)

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      I dont find “not having any graphic artists” is a good reason. I know many graphic artists that would atleast try and make a deal. The only question is: does hiring one now make enough difference? I guess not.

      In case youre ever out of help, just let me know. Im in “the biz”. :D

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      If you know somebody willing to work on a contractual basis, please let me know. No way can we afford to actually bring somebody in to the devteam — unless they’re willing to accept ~$1000/mo w/no benefits, insurances, or etc.

      It would make a big difference; there’s a lot of assets that we want to put in but don’t have the experience or contacts to do it.

      My contact info:
      firgof@blind-mind.com
      Skype: firgof

  9. sinister agent says:

    I need to go back and play this more fully, but last I played, it still needs work to really come together properly. If the devs can keep up their progress it might turn out quite excellent.

  10. Om says:

    Civilisation I had “procedural generation”. Let’s not get too in love with our buzzwords

    • P7uen says:

      And even the 16th century had Newtonian physics before Einstein invented the Chronosphere.

  11. Abundant_Suede says:

    Is this the same demo I played forever ago, and found it to be a sort of digital chloroform? Or is this an updated version that shows some sort of significant progress by the developers? Otherwise I’m a bit confused as to how this rates the front page.

    I will say, though, that the music was lovely, and at some point it seemed like it definitely could be a sort of soothing, satisfying space 4x.

    Aside: Aren’t these the same guys that took the hardline stance and removed their game from Impulse after the Gamestop sale(out)? I’m rooting for them, in that case. If someone indicates the demo represents a significantly better game, I will happily check it out again.

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      The demo and game have been updated significantly if you last played it in September. We’re working on a version of the demo @ v1082 (which has yet to be released) as we speak.

      We are the same developer that you mention yes (it’s mentioned at the bottom of the article).

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Ah, I missed that bit after the trailer. Good on you there. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to one of your few digital outlets on principle. For that alone, you deserve my continued attention.

      I will definitely give it another look. While I couldnt summon much enthusiasm for the game my first time trying out the demo (and I am an avid space strategy/4x fan), I do remember finding it it notable for the overall ambiance and lovely music, and marking it for future consideration.

      I will give it another shot.

  12. Fiatil says:

    I was also sort of confused about a post about a year old demo, but oh well! This game is fantastic, I just recently picked it up because of the steam sale. I’ve heard the release was rough, but take a look at the patch notes and you’ll be sort of amazed; the devs look like they’ve overhauled the game 10 times or so by now, and I haven’t had any bugs or playability issues yet. The new AI they put in a few patches ago is brutal even without cheating on, which makes me ecstatic after playing with Elemental and Civ 4′s amazingly incompetent AI. It seems to be what I hoped Sins of a Solar Empire would be, it’s a much deeper real time 4X. The tech tree is fantastic, and the multiplayer is surprisingly easy to play because of the real timeness of it all.

    I’ve heard complaints about the ship design (it’s just a circle!), but the ship design in this game is great if you care more about ship effectiveness than making it pretty. You can’t design the body from the ground up like in Gal Civ, but what you are allowed to tweak with the subsystems makes it a much more meaty designer all around.Tweaking weapon size, weapon modifiers, crew, control, life support, power, shields, armor, engines; all that fun stuff is in there. It makes the competitors “slap on missiles 4 and anti-ballistic shields 4 go!” ship design system look fairly lame in comparison. Ship damage is also directional and where you place your systems matters; place your anti-matter generator on your broadside without protection and watch all of your ships instantly explode.

    Toss in the ability to scale up any blueprint you want and you get the ability to make super mega capital ships and deathstars (the default capital ship design blueprint is around scale 12, progressing your economy and tech will let you build 1000+ scale ships), which is just great. Oh also blowing up suns, putting thrusters on planets, creating ringworlds, and the game is on sale for $7

  13. huw says:

    In response to some of the above posts, Blind Mind Studios admitted when they released the game that it was kind of a work in progress and purchases would directly support continued development. LOTS of work is going into it all the time. I can attest to that since I was a day-one buyer and I keep checking in on it.
    Incidentally, this is only the second game I’ve ever played that had a built-in IRC client, and the other players are very welcoming and willing to help you learn the daunting game. The devs hang around in there too and generally respond to any feedback or questions you have.

  14. Fumarole says:

    Thanks Alec, now I have that damn song stuck in my head.

  15. Arona Daal says:

    I want another game where i can hunt my Psilon enemy and crush him and enjoy his lamentation,over being deported to a High-G Gulag World.
    And i want to populate his empty homeplanet with the cold,unfeeling,whirring minds of a Billion Robot Scientists.

    Can i do this in Star Ruler?

  16. Stuart Walton says:

    Bought this the other day on Steam as I was looking for a cheap 4X experience. I got it on a gamble because Cheap Game + Steam sale = Low Risk. From the few hours of play I had, I discovered that I had gotten into something a bit deeper than I had bargained for.

    It’s stupendously and stupidly deep, to the point that it might be to it’s detriment. At least for one, like myself, who isn’t a fan of juggling many balls at once. There is just far too much to micro-manage. You need to be expanding, tweaking the research path, designing ships, building ships, configuring fleets, setting up trade agreements, babysitting skirmishes, evaluating planets and systems, tweaking the industries in those systems and planets, sending out scouts, paying attention to what those scouts find and reacting to all that. It’s just too much for someone to step into. The default game speed is just too fast to do all that. Heck, even quarter speed is too fast and pausing always seems wrong.

    I can see eventually that one could formulate their own research paths, have prepared ship schematics and have plans for certain situations. Such an achievement requires trial and error, with a lot of the latter. What I’d like to see is some optional buddy AIs that help with some of these tasks. A bit like the council members in Sim City 2000, except the shouty traffic man gets to suggest where to deploy your fleets. Fail to build enough space frigates and expect to get the odd “YOU WILL REGRET THIS!”. They can draw up plans and suggest things to do and you can just click a button to authorize it leaving you to fiddle with the bits you enjoy or just don’t trust the AI to cope with. The planetary Governor AI in the game are a great stepping off point for this.

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      Suggestion noted. We’ve actually toyed with that in the past but had to abandon it due to some last-minute file changes with it that caused it to break the game from a patch; we haven’t gotten back to it since.

      At the very least in the next patch we’ll have a Research governor that, though not really intelligent, will at least ensure that you have a balanced set of technologies.

  17. Jae Armstrong says:

    Wait a second, I know that guitar riff

    (Also: bought with the force of ten hundred thousand furious suns. That trailer was glorious.)

  18. Iskariot says:

    I would like to know about the ship design. Is it comparable to the Homeworld series?
    And what about the battles? Are they as involving and beautiful as those in the Homeworld games?

    This is were Sins of a Solar Empire failed miserably. So disappointing. Fugly ship design, awful battles. I tried several times to get into this game. But I failed again and again.

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      you dont design ships in the homeworlds games.

      in terms of battles, they are both 3d. The key difference is in homeworlds you dont have Newtonian physics which in simple terms means when you tell a ship to stop it does it almost immediately. In star ruler the ship has to flip over and face backwards in order to decelerate. In a battle this means in home worlds ships head to wards each other then start firing and stop, or slowly orbit each other firing barrages. In star ruler the ships head towards each other, usually rather fast since they cruised from another system and are still either accelerating or decelerating and fire as they pass each other. When they have slowed down enough they then turn to make another pass. It looks more like they are jousting than firing sitting barrages.

      Ship design in star ruler is rather complex. You get a circle which you can then drop components into and change their relative size (components like engines, power generators weapons control systems etc). the game has more components than most other games. Their position in the circle determines how they are damaged when the ship is hit. So for example when ships declerate as they close to a target or enter a system they flip over so their engine is facing forwards to create back thrust. This means that if they are shot at they are likley to be hit in the engine. So when you design the ship you could put all your armour near the back of the circle to make the ship really tough whilst decelerating towards targets. Its quite complex but has interesting results

    • Koozer says:

      He means the art design, not designing your own.

      I’m sorry to inform you it’s closer to Sins than Homeworld – it’s more about the results than watching the actual battle really.

  19. geldonyetich says:

    If the demo was out at release day (about a year ago) [edit: apparently it was] it’d be a potentially bad move since release-state Star Ruler was released in a playable (if only just) state. Several months in, if they were being good little developers and polishing it all this time, the demo emerges as a good idea because it gives people who heard about it at release a chance to see it in an improved state.

    From what I’ve heard about it, it conveys a certain novel experience by overreaching in stuff like completely open-ended ship design (which will ultimately be impossible balance), realistically modeled universe (which introduces a slew of technical difficulties for the developers) that is huge (probably too huge), ect.

    I’ve always looked at Star Ruler as belonging in a vein of games like Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, Elite 2: Frontiers, and Battlecruiser series due to one core similarity: It’s a buggy pile that has an awkward interface and maybe even a tendency to crash randomly (unconfirmed for me) but some players will nonetheless humor the nasty problems and love the game solely because they like the idea of what the developers are trying to do with it and have some faith that the most painful issues will be patched out in time.

    If this is the case, Star Ruler probably isn’t for you if you’re not adequately nerdy enough to find working to play a game to be appealing. That is to say, if you want all the games you play to be delivered by under-reaching enough that slick balance, rock-solid stability, and extremely polished interface is easily possible. Something that clashes heavily with the idea of being an innovator through necessity of leaning on the tried-and-true.

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      It would be greatly appreciated if said encountered crashes and bugs were reported on our forums instead of being a constant thorn in your side that you feel you “have to live with”.
      The demo was released in September of last year but has been patched along with the main version at infrequent intervals. We’re not snake-oil salesmen: We want people to be able to play the game and decide for themselves if they’d like to purchase it; even if that means somewhat lessened sales. We are doing our best to not pitfall into deceptive advertising and quick-change artistry despite our financial and technical limitations as a studio.
      Our ship design isn’t impossible to balance because it’s not entirely open-ended: It has restrictors such as internal space limitations, what your economy can deal with, requirements for subsystems and so on and so forth. Completely open-ended ship design would be impossible to balance due to its very nature, yes.
      The galaxy size and system complexity is entirely in the hands of the players. We even have an enable-able and configurable ship cap and ship min/max scale. In fact, much of the core game can be rapidly configured right from the new game menu (“fast modding” I suppose).
      Please do not humor our nasty problems and awkward interface: Help us improve/fix them. That’s what our forums and our in-game IRC and me going around gathering reports from people who don’t post on our forums is for — your (and the game’s) benefit. :)

    • geldonyetich says:

      This is an excellent attitude for a developer to have. Bravo to you, sir.

  20. iWHUT says:

    I haven personally spoken with one of the guys on the art team for this, and yes. It is homeworld was a source of inspiration in creating these pretty awesome models. ^^

  21. FakeAssName says:

    I always find it funny that when an actual developer shows up and starts commenting, the trolls take off their hats and stand their meekly shifting their feet while their tone shifts from “warggggg! you are shit!!!!!!!” to “well, sir, it was an issue, where in I was put at a disadvantage, due to …”

    and not just here, it happens pretty much anywhere …. unless it’s Derek Smart we are talking about.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      You don’t think someone bravely showing up to cordially address concerns about the game, deserves more respect than the usual comments we hurl out into the faceless vacuum? Man’s got his hustle on, and is clearly working for his game. Hard not to respect that.

      I was clear I didn’t enjoy the demo my first time through it, even though it had its charms. But Im not going to kick some guy in the teeth if he opts for direct communication and puts a face on the discussion, in order to maintain some sort of imagined “cred”.

      Actually, there are some developers I would do precisely that to, but this guy hasn’t come close to earning that.

    • mrjackspade says:

      Why are people trolls for criticising a game, and why are they funny for justifying it afterwards?

  22. geldonyetich says:

    Having played the demo a bit now, I was actually reasonably impressed with the general slickness of the thing.

    Your empire can practically manage itself through a series of ship AI settings and planetary governor settings (which can be disabled). Using the default settings, I was able to simply build scouts and colony ships, and my starting system pretty much colonized itself. Right click on a distant start and select auto-colonize, and off they go.

    The ship design system is somewhat reminiscent to me of Space Empires IV and V except actually a bit souped up in terms of implementing locational damage and resizing components. You’ll have some pretty advanced considerations there such as how much speed, fuel, control, armor, hull type (thin hulls with many components versus thicker hulls with less components), ect.

    You can even opt to change the scale of the ship, which is interesting. For example, by default you will be able to build carriers and fighters that will dock in those carriers. By upping the scale on each, you could make your carriers into significantly larger ships that contain significantly larger fighters. (That’s no moon!) Of course, upping the scale ups the resource cost.

    I don’t yet know how satisfying of a game it is in the long run, as I’m not sure how well the AI performs and such, but I will say that Star Ruler is certainly a remarkable program to see in motion.

  23. innociv says:

    This sounded interesting when described to me, but then watching the battles left so much to be inspired.

  24. banski83 says:

    Ooh, I’m seeing people refer to the Homeworld art design, and Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels here, and it’s tempting me…

    It’s just daunting to watch how complicated the game seems to be.

    Is there a decent tutorial in the game? Or at the least some sort of Wiki on how to play?

  25. Koozer says:

    After playing the demo tutorial, there is one overarching thought in my mind: this UI malarky is all very well, but I have literally no idea what a good ship design would be to fight these 20 crusiers assaulting my homeworld. Do I want bombers like Homeworld? Do I need dreadnoughts? An interactive tutorial with the basics of actual gameplay would be nice.

    Also, lovely.

  26. KillerB says:

    I i liked the Homeworld series, ill give this a go! Also I didnt realise that sinister men made entirely of balaclavas will steal your pockets were you to use your credit card existed on the internet……thanks for letting me know….. turning off computer now…….scared…….

  27. Ralphomon says:

    Newtonian mechanics? Well I’m sorry, but if they can’t even provide Einsteinian mechanics, I ain’t interested

    • Firgof Umbra says:

      Red/blue shifting would make as little sense as I’m sure the time-traveling mechanics in Achron do to most people. :p

      Besides, there isn’t a computer in the world I’d wager that could pull off a full simulation of space travel for as many complex objects as we’ve got.