Sinful: Legends of Pegasus Preview

By Alec Meer on September 5th, 2011 at 5:56 pm.

That world looks like it could be home

I saw an awful lot of games about killing men with guns at Gamescom, so escaping to Kalypso’s booth for a couple of hours to catch up on more measured fare was something of a relief. First up was Legends of Pegasus, described by new PC dev Novacore Studios as a “4X space sim, like Sins of a Solar Empire with a unique touch.” There’s also more than a little Homeworld in there, at least thematically – which means it’s also nodding to Battlestar Galactica. As the game kicks off, Earth is attacked by an alien race and nearly explodeydeaded, but a few human ships manage to flee through a wormhole first. You’re in charge, obviously, and will need to build up a new base, find out what happened to Earth and, in theory, nobble whoever was behind the assault.

That said, lead character Daniel will find himself jumping between the game’s three playable races, not just the humans. Novacore aren’t revealing the third bunch as yet, but the second in the roster are mechanical insect dudes the Xor. They’re really big on spikes. Also, they have a different economic system to the humans because “what would an mechanical insect race do with credits?” Well, probably the same thing we would: devise an arbitrary, abstracted system of wealth and ownership which results in humanity’s hardest workers being the least rewarded, and whereby society itself teeters precariously upon a laughably fragile construct built around only theoretical money that means fat, cruel dickheads with access to the most important spreadsheets can destabilise billions of people’s standard of living as a result of recklessness and greed. Anyway! The Xor don’t have that. Good for them.

Pegasus is going pretty heavy on the storyline, Novacore feeling that one place Sins faltered was in singleplayer entry-points, and that it was arguably tricky to get into if you weren’t a fairly experienced strategy-head. There are mysteries and twists, and they will be revealed, and in singleplayer features are unlocked bit-by-bit rather than bombarding your peanut brain with everything from the off. The game also aims to extend the player’s sense of attachment to their spaceploration with a modular building/upgrade system for its various ships. You’ll pick a base chassis – for instance, cruiser or freighter, then attack different modules to it, which in turn affects appearance as well as abilities.

So fill a ship’s mount points with science modules and civilian modules and you’ll have something peppered with the likes of geodomes and that, while nominally the same type of ship, looks profoundly different to a war cruiser bristling with laser and plasma guns, and which itself begins to resemble a weapon as a result. “We want the players to construct very individual ships, very specialised” Novacore’s Andre Overhagen tells me. “It’s not that in the late game you’re just building cruisers and blowing everything up. You’ll need smaller ships too because bigger ships can’t aim at smaller ships, the smaller ships are too fast and versatile.”

Planning and building is turn-based, but battles are real-time, and thus blessed with likes of flanking and special abilities like tractor beams. The game will jump “seamlessly” from mode to mode, and when you have a big ol’ fight near stuff you own, you’ll notice it’s got the same layout in real-time, 3D-o-vision as it did when you so diligently laid it all out.

It’s the construction and colonisation that looks most appealing to me. Once you’ve established your presence on planets, you can tailor, build and upgrade the bases there in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Civilization’s cities. Before that, though, you need to find a suitable home for this next arm of your galactic civilisation. Customise one of your ships with Colony modules, head out to one of the game’s many systems (connected via starlanes) and you can colonise a planet of your choice with a click’n'drag. There’s a whole layer of strategy just to this – find a blue, Earth-like planet and it’ll colonise that much quicker. Find a red one and you can still take it, but first it’ll need terraforming.

This plays out in speed-time – so you’ll see little seas form, grow into large oceans, green and blue creep across the surface, the atmosphere change colour and generally the once dead planet visibly become a life-supporting one. You don’t need a progress bar to tell you when it’s ready to send settlers in: it’ll be obvious. Unfortunately, setting up base on a virgin planet has its own, similarly visible effects – heavy industry will change the atmosphere for the worse. More positively, you’ll see oodles of tiny light points appear where cities form, visually celebrating the society that’s built there.

This philosophy of the game’s many elaborate elements having a sense of life extends to the combat – as well as dynamic music, which gets suitably excitable depending on the amount of action currently going on, in the real-time combat there’s a dynamic speech system too. Pilots will chatter snippets of dialogue randomly – and hopefully non-robotically – stitched together, so your ears as well as eyes will have a sense of how the battle’s going. Also, no more form responses to unit orders – instead of the olde world ‘YESSIR’ or ‘MOVING OUT’ or tedious repeat pun, you’ll get something like “Acknowledged, Daniels heading to Sector B.”

It’s a lovely idea, and I hope it works out in practice – the cynic in me worries it’s going to sound staccato, like a train announcer. “The… starship currently arriving at…Orbital Station… 8 is the… Plasma… Warship…from…Orion’s…Nipple…28.” Hopefully not though: “we want the player to feel it’s really his fleet, his people in danger, not just some icons,” says Overhagen.

All the right ideas here, I think, though the early build I saw still has a ton to add before release in the first half of 2012. Also promised is “a strong multiplayer focus” for at least eight players, and hopefully sixteen depending on technical issues. There’s two-man co-op too, with both of you building up on civ in tandem, plus an alternative, Supreme Commander-evoking multiplayer option called Emperor Mode in which you have an avatar – which’ll grant enormo-boosts to anything you place it near, but means an instant game-over if it perishes.

Oh yes: and if you want to play it entirely as a turn-based game, you can auto-resolve battles. This pleases me, as I hate to be distracted from an elaborate construction project by an entirely different discipline. I’m a builder, not a fighter.

Update: here’s Gametrailers’ recording of another LOP briefing at Gamescom:

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58 Comments »

  1. Dana says:

    4x in Space ?
    Day one purchase by default.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Daiv says:

    The third race will be the XOR’s logical nemesis, the NXOR, the Not-Exclusive-Or.

  3. Seboss says:

    Sounds a lot like Sword of the Stars as well, which next installment is due for October :)

    • Vinraith says:

      I thought it was still slated for September 20? Regardless, SotS2 is a day one purchase. This… I’ll wait and see about. Comparing yourself to Sins of a Solar Empire is not how you get on my good side.

    • westyfield says:

      Ah Vinraith, you are a one for the jokes. Sins was excellent.

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      Durkonkell says:

      Sins was impressive, technically competent with lots of strategic options and satisfying combat and I don’t think I’ve played it since the first month or so after I bought it (which was back when it first released). Something about it totally failed to engage with me, and the only thing which has really stayed with me is “NOTHING OF VALUE HAS BEEN FOUND!!”.

      Sword of the Stars on the other hand absolutely engaged with me in a way that GalCiv and Sins didn’t. If it had a single-player story campaign along the lines of Imperium Galactica II with proper unique random events (as opposed to Sword’s “Asteroid storm! You now have to watch your planet being bombarded because unless you have your entire battlefleet parked here you don’t have enough active defences to stop them all”) it would have slotted neatly into my personal “perfect space 4x” hardpoint.

      It actually did have its share of flaws, but I still return to it from time to time. It might not be perfect but for me it is the best space 4x strategy game right now.

      Damn it. I’ll be playing that tomorrow now. And I haven’t even finished DX:HR yet…

      EDIT: Ack, wrote more than anticipated. Also: Will be keeping eye on this despite impending SOTS2.

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      Wisq says:

      ^ Yeah, similar feelings here. Sins looked great, but I’m not big on RTSes and so it fell flat for me.

      Sword of the Stars, on the other hand… I liked it and I didn’t like it. I liked that it tried to pull a lot of aspects from Master of Orion, I didn’t like that it did them kinda badly.

      Like the research tree, for example. Random techs are a nice way to keep games interesting. Random tech trees, not so much. MOO had it right, with the tech ladder — even if you don’t get what you want, you’re advancing the state of that particular field of science, putting yourself one step closer to every other tech available in that category. But trees just lend themselves to frustration when you run down a particular path to try to find something, only to discover you can’t have it and you’ve just wasted a ton of research.

      Also, the real-time combat, while nifty and all, tended to be long and drawn out, and the auto-resolve didn’t do nearly as good a job as I could. Really bogged down the late game. And the command point limits, while needed for that style of combat, got to be really annoying.

      I played the hell out of SotS for a few weeks, but the sequel’s going to need to work to catch my attention a second time I think.

  4. wodin says:

    Be great if you could watch battles in games that have auto resolve,,,,especially if the Ai takes into account crew experience and type of captain at the helm etc etc…Give me a game like that I’d ve happy…as realtime always put me off….

  5. Zenicetus says:

    Sounds interesting and I’ll keep an eye out for it. Can’t have enough good 4X space games. Please don’t let the third race be humanoid cats or evil reptiles. We need more imaginative alien designs in these types of games. Mechanical insectoids is already sounding like a potential cliché’. I’ll bet their big racial attribute is faster population growth than humans, amirite?

    I hope each playable race has a completely unique tech tree, or at least strongly differentiated with a few similar elements. That was the big strength of GalCiv 2 with the final expansion, and with just three playable races it should be easier to balance.

  6. Rich says:

    I’m making a note of the word “explodeydeaded”. I like it and want to use it more in conversation.

    Edit – On topic:
    “It’s the construction and colonisation that looks most appealing to me. Once you’ve established your presence on planets, you can tailor, build and upgrade the bases there in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Civilization’s cities.”
    Ah, hah. Sounds like it’s going to be somewhere between SotS and GalCiv. Of this I approve.

  7. Jimbo says:

    Well all of that sounds just swell.

  8. Prime says:

    Wow. This just went from “carbon copy 4X clone yaawwwwn” to something that might actually push the genre forwards in some interesting and exciting directions, if result matches promise. Nice work.

    • Reivles says:

      My big hope is that the ship customisation is done by class, not ship.

      Else you risk an excessively micro-heavy game where every single ship has to be assembled by hand… which is no fun at all.

  9. Nallen says:

    Third race will be space elves.

  10. MiniMatt says:

    Cutting commentary on global financial systems :o) Bravo :o)

  11. Dougal McFrugal says:

    devise an arbitrary, abstract system of wealth and ownership which results in humanity’s hardest workers being the least rewarded, and whereby society itself teeters precariously upon a laughably fragile construct built around only theoretical money that means fat, cruel dickheads with access to the most important spreadsheets can destabilise billions of people’s standard of living as a result of recklessness and greed.

    Fo Shizzle ma nizzle, fo SHIZZLE

  12. Simas says:

    As the game kicks off, Earth is attacked by an alien race and nearly explodeydeaded, but a few human ships manage to flee through a wormhole first.
    .. Pegasus is going pretty heavy on the storyline

    Why do they bother with story at all? You are about to create a new game without any lore/legacy and that’s the best/original story they can think of?

    • DrazharLn says:

      It does sound dull, doesn’t it? Maybe they’ve put some clever spin on that commonest of first encounter scenarios, though.

      Perhaps the aliens were peaceful to start with, or maybe they wear hats?

  13. Heliocentric says:

    I posted a big whiney post about drip feeding complexity and how I often burn out repeating early game. This game does sound good, but I really will need a demo, I scarcely trust any reviewers to reflect my views on strategy games. If I can’t play the multiplayer for a week without saying “x does this but better” its a waste of money buying it. The game needs to be full of meaningful choice but not micro to really make me love it.

  14. pizzapicante27 says:

    Sounds more like Sword of the Stars than Sins, which can only be a good thing.

  15. kert says:

    Great. Now when is the next real spacesim coming out ?

    FreeSpace 3 ? Elite IV ? Wing Commander gabillion ? X-Wing ? Tie Fighter ? Privateer ? Tachyon the Far Fringe with Bruce Campbell ? Hey, even another installment of softcore Freelancer would do.

    • frenz0rz says:

      The world needs more games like Tachyon: The Fringe.

      Perhaps a sequel to Starlancer starring James Purefoy as a happy-go-lucky Alliance pilot?

      Damn, now I want that.

    • wodin says:

      Just dow load Freespace 2 SCP if you have Freespace 2 you can get FSport wich is freespace upgraded to the latest graphics, make sure you download the nightly builds…loads of campaigns, graphics are amazing…Star Wars modgame in the works thats looking amazing….aswell as a Battlestar Galactica mod.

      http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php

      http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?topic=76044.0

    • kert says:

      I do have FS2, i have actually bought it twice as one of my original discs got damaged. I have hacked around with FS2 source plenty myself as well.

      But. The indie, upgrade and total conversion projects never have cut it for me. They are usually interesting to just load up and look at for maybe 10 minutes, but they are not games that one would actually want to spend time playing.

      I only ever have time these days to do either of those : play very casual episodic games, often on a console or smartphone, which are either cheap or free. Or full production titles, for which i plan a specific time for playing, pay a decent amount of money for and expect full production values out of. The indie and conversion projects don’t fit either category.

      I much rather load up the original FS2 itself in nostalgia moment or two. In fact, i keep around such old classics like Master of Orion 1/2 etc in the corner of the laptop, to sometimes play on a plane or in an airport.

    • Zenicetus says:

      @ kert:
      I noticed I-War 2 (Independence War series) wasn’t on your list. If you haven’t played it, I recommend giving it a shot. I think it was the best attempt so far at a cockpit-level space sim. It wasn’t afraid to let some Newtonian mechanics into the flight model. The star systems, for once, felt appropriately huge in size because you could move so fast. It’s a very linear campaign without free-form exploration, but I still enjoyed it.

      If there are any developers out there still working on this kind of thing, it needs to be more than just yet another Wing Commander clone of “WWII fighters in space!” The two I-War games at least tried to do something a little different.

    • wodin says:

      @Kert….the two Blue Planet SCP’s campaigns are superb and the latest graphics are amazing…Freespace and Freespace 2 are totally updated due to the source code being developed by hardcore modders…are you sure you downloaded the SCP files and and mediavps? Blue Planet campaigns are just as good as the original freespace games…I’m nto talking about standalone games here I’m talking about SCP improved Freespace campaigns…FSport looks superb…all new animation cutscenes…graphics are stunning…

      You couldn’t have played the BlurePlanet ones if you think there all cheap cos it’s free…it’s as polished if not more so than the original ones.

      The SCP has come on in leaps and bounds and is being improved constantly.

      You can play the original campaign for both 1 and 2 with all new mind blowing graphics….you don’t know what your missing.

      Two other superb freespace SCP campaigns are Derelict and Dirge….all the scp is is people working with the original source code and improving the graphics and effects and making amazing new campaigns. You need Freespace 2 to play them though.

      http://www.moddb.com/mods/blue-planet-war-in-heaven

      Here are some quotes from July 2011 issue of pc gamer

      Quote
      …I took advantage of one of PC Gaming’s most impressive modding communities…

      Quote
      …(after installing with the FSO installer) you not only get the simulation’s latest gameplay enhancements, you get a space shooter that looks surprisingly comfortable on modern PCs.

      Quote
      Distorted and stretched 1024×768 screens with blocky-looking 3D models and streaky exhaust trails gave way to detailed, 16:9 space environments with high-poly spacecraft and spectacular special effects.

      Quote
      …the quality of the new visual enhancements offered by the mod completely floored me.

      Quote
      Inventive pre- and -post-Great War scenarios…will keep you going for weeks or months…rival the original release for gameplay depth and entertainment value (the gorgeous Blue Planet mod had me completely hooked from its scene-setting opening mission).

    • cw8 says:

      Have you tried the X series? The latest game being X3: Terran Conflict? It’s pretty much a flying space sim, which is also a trading, building, combat sim with a main story, you can do whatever you want, and fly anything from capital ships to transports to fighters.

    • wodin says:

      X series is to focused on trade and economics for me….if you could have just been a fighter pilot or do a little trade to get better fighters I’d have got into it more.

    • cw8 says:

      @Wodin:

      You can practically much do nothing but fight and cap ships. Though you still probably need to trade or do BBS missions to get that starting cash to buy a better ship than what you have at the start. After which you can just do the main storyline, capture ships and sell them and then buy even more ships. It’ll be tricky to have enough money to buy capital ships without trading or building factories.

    • mejoff says:

      @Zenicetus

      I second the Iwar 2 love.

      Also, Starshatter…

    • aldo_14 says:

      @wodin
      I gave up a good 6 years of my life modding FS2, but if you don’t like (or get bored of) the core mission based gameplay then there’s not much the SCP can do – because it would require fundamentally altering, and ultimately bastardizing, the game.

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      Wisq says:

      I also quite liked Evochron Mercenary, though it’s open world and you do run out of things to do eventually. But it does multiplayer and your char is persistent across MP games.

    • kert says:

      No need to sell me I-War or FS2 mods: i know about them, tried, and came away with “meh” a long time ago.
      X-series is taking one aspect of spaceflight to the extreme : boredom. For me, the ultimate end goal of a game is not trying to simulate the entire universe at low resolution. It’s supposed to be fun. Being open ended, beautiful to look at and all that are worthless qualities if the game is not fun.

      Thats a pitfall that many game designs, including indie ones fall into, trying to cram the game full of too many checkboxes while losing sight of the end goal, being fun. In context of space sims, who cares if you can land on planets, got newtonian physics, have fully dynamic economy, storyline so non-linear that linear isn’t even the appropriate word, customizable ships and vast universe.
      If your game is not fun, its not a game but a glorified tech demo.

      end rant.

      Summary, there is a lot of room on the market for space sims that don’t try to be all things for everybody. ( and that doesn’t mean being arcade )

    • cw8 says:

      @Kert

      Funny though, I’ve played X-Wing, TIE Fighter and X-Wing Alliance to the death and still found X series as one of the best games I’ve ever played. Found the freedom, trading, and buying new ships incredibly satisfying, didn’t have the same feeling for a long while since the old Koei game Uncharted Waters. Combat and cutscenes aren’t as awesome as the old Star Wars games though.

  16. Casimir Effect says:

    Something like Sins of a Solar Empire but with a proper singleplayer campaign? Music to my goddamn ears!
    Not a big fan of the modular ship building though. It was always one of those things that appealed until you end up having to dick around with it, inevitably producing ships which are inadequate until you hit the right formula. Or at least that’s the problem I always had back in the day with Warzone 2100 and the Earth 21xx games. It’s an extra complication that just isn’t necessary. To me, at least. Maybe other 4x players love the crap out of it and are cursing me with all the vitriolic hatred they can muster right now.

  17. frenz0rz says:

    Sounds like a comfortable mix of Haegemonia, Imperium Galactica, SoaSE, and GalCiv.

    In other words, GIVE IT TO ME NOW PLEASE.

  18. Levanon says:

    This actually sounds like everything I want from a 4x. The only thing that ends up boring me with just about every 4x is that the endgame generally devolves into a numbers game with no emotional connection. This may be just what the doctor ordered.

  19. jRides says:

    Spacesector have the video from Gamescon up here. Says nothing that Alec doesnt already mention above but its nice to see.

  20. Undermind_Mike says:

    I see a lot of people quoting comparisons/influences.

    But diagonal coloured tiles on an overlay of the planet?

    Oh my god, the glorious childhood memories <3

    http://magisterrex.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/blogascendancyplanet.png

    God damn I LOVED this game as a kid.

    • Undermind_Mike says:

      Holy moly, you can get it on iOS!?! That much nostalgia for £3 is a bargain – better have the original sound and music though.

  21. One Million Monkeys says:

    You’ll pick a base chassis – for instance, cruiser or freighter, then attack different modules to it, which in turn affects appearance as well as abilities.

    Sounds like an interesting new mechanic, that you need to attack your chassis with modules, to build a new ship ;-)

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      P7uen says:

      I attacked my new Ikea shelving unit with screwdrivers to make an Ikea shelving unit.

      Hopefully the same principles can apply to shipbuilding with the minimum of issues.

  22. malkav11 says:

    But…Sins of a Solar Empire was neither a 4X nor a space sim.

    Fortunately, it sounds like it’s actually going to be much more like Sword of the Stars.

    • Reefpirate says:

      But… Which of the 4 X’s did Sins not cover??

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s not a matter of not covering them, it’s a matter of having only a tiny fraction of the depth of proper 4X games. It’s an RTS with a larger research tree and a much slower pace than usual, that’s all. (And apparently a more complex diplomacy model than usual, if you get the appropriate expansion, but I didn’t click with Sins at all and never bothered with the expansions.)

  23. Renfield says:

    Call me negative, but I don’t know that I want a substantial story in my 4X, in the high-drama sense. There’s much to be said for the genre’s emergent narrative appeal.

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      P7uen says:

      The weird thing is that I am always wary of games without a campaign, yet I invariably play the first few and then head off to skirmish mode.

      It’s an awful lot of work for developers to have to do just because I feel good having the menu option there.

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      It's not me it's you says:

      Funny – I tend to have the exact opposite reaction to most 4X games. I love the genre and have played most of it but after a little while spent in the clinical environments of skirmish I tend to miss any sort of emotional attachment that a story could potentially provide. I’d love to see some space opera taken on in the form of a 4X game, it could well make for an amazing combination.

  24. dadioflex says:

    If there’s one thing you can say about capitalism it’s that the hardest workers are NEVER the least rewarded. Under a system dominated by slavery, certainly, under communism possibly, but absolutely not under capitalism.

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      It's not me it's you says:

      Interesting.. How many middle class (or higher) people do you know with more than one full time job?

      Now, how many people around or below the poverty line in that predicament?

    • mejoff says:

      @It’s not me it’s you

      You’re forgetting that we are in the capitalist version of reality where everybody gets what they deserve, the poor are only poor because they are lazy, and everyone who is rich has worked much harder than poor people to get there, Ayn Rand was a great author, the USSR was an example of how Communism is meant to work, rather than a fascist reigime with a red flag draped hastily over it, Liberals are destroying the world by not hating women, ethnics and gays enough, and God will save us from global warming even though it doesn’t exist.

  25. adonf says:

    I hope the third race is called the Nand.