SPACEBEARS: Preorder StarDrive For Beta Access

By Cara Ellison on March 11th, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

OMG SPACEBEARS

If you don’t watch the trailer for 4X Action-Strategy game StarDrive and immediately go 1) “HOLY BALLS SPACEBEARS” 2) “JINKIES! That captain-type man smoking a pipe looks jolly good wot wot” or 3) “I really want to make my own little ship to laser people with” then you are probably not me. But don’t worry! I hear that if you do like the look of this space shenanigan you can preorder it on Steam now and get immediate access to the Beta along with a 15% discount on it at the same time. I can bearly contain myself. Have a look:

Time was when one wanted a – bear with me – real time strategic modular ship-building game, you would have to go with the real-time and not the modular ship-building, but now you can have both at once thrown in with SpaceOwls and Space….Wolves? According to Stardrive you can even go to galactic battle with a… lettuce? Some sort of Cabbage Man?

Direct arcade control of ships and custom fleet formations in battle, and the ability to incite rebellions and spy on your fellow Captain Birdseye with your Squidmonster race seem like other things that influence the Goings On. You can build your own flagship…ship… to get you invested in a fleet and the whole thing looks like a laser-toting frenzy when a battle is happening. According to the Steam info you can even beam down some ground troops for extended tactical tentacles.

RPS worder Adam Smith stated, “This trailer is really quite good.”

Beary nice. Horace the RPS bear is flipping out right now.

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99 Comments »

  1. Thurgret says:

    I picked it up. I spent a downright unhealthy portion of my weekend playing it.

    • BwenGun says:

      Yup, bought it yesterday afternoon and have spent 15 hours since then playing. At two o’clock this morning I kept on saying to myself “I’ll just wait ten more minutes so my Dreadnaught can finish production and I can free those poor enslaved Owlooks. And then enslave them all again!” Which is very much this games equivalent to “one turn more” syndrome.

      The game is fantastic as is, and goodness knows what will be achieved once the stability issues are smoothed over (it lags a bit on huge maps, though largely towards the end of a game when there are thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of ships flying about. But even that isn’t very bad) and things like the tech tree and events system gets fleshed out a bit.

      But for a one man, one artist, team what’s been produced is utterly fantastic.

    • Bootstraps says:

      Is the AI any good? Bad AI kills 4X games for me, regardless of pretty much anything else (I’m looking at you Endless Space!).

    • mrjackspade says:

      I gotta say…I play crazy amounts of space 4x games, and this is the best I’ve played since those golden oldies (MOO2, Space Empires IV, Stars!).

      If it’s close to anything, it’s a cross between MOO and Imperium Galactica, but with EV Nova gameplay chucked in and a hugely detailed ship design system.

      AI is already pretty capable, and the diplomatic system seems mature.

  2. SpiritBoy says:

    So… GalCiv 2?

    • Vinraith says:

      Gal Civ 2 most definitely was not real time, and absolutely did not have direct “arcade control” of the tactical battles. I’ve no idea if this stuff actually works well, mind you, but it’s a very different design than any current 4X game of which I’m aware.

  3. Blackseraph says:

    There also seems to be some ugly pink monkeys in there.

  4. fallingmagpie says:

    Needs a touch more wub-wub, but otherwise excellent.

    SPACE OWL FTW

  5. geldonyetich says:

    This game looks proper brilliant, if you pardon my American butchering of the British vernacular. There’s just something so extremely clean about its screenshots that I feel the people working on it really know what they’re doing, and the whole thing is going to come together with the craftsmanship of a Swiss watch maker’s masterpiece.

    That said, there’s a missing piece of the puzzle that bothers me. The combat looks like it’s a real time actiony affair. But the game is a 4X game – something that makes me a bit apprehensive after SOTS2, truth be told. So how does 4X game and real time action game fit together? Not the same way as SOTS1, from the looks of it.

    Can you control a single ship and fly around (like Starsector, formerly Starfarer, a game whose combat looks a lot like Stardrive’s trailer)? I kind of hope that’s the case. Or do you just give the orders and have the ships do their things in a fairly typical RTS fashion? Does combat and the 4X game proper take place in the same game mode, like Sins of a Solar Empire?

    Edit: I see the RPS article actually mentions, “Direct arcade control of ships,” so looks like I picked up the vibe correctly from the trailer. But I’m still confused as to how the rest of it fits together.

    • Gyro says:

      The whole thing takes place on the same map, like Sins. I like it much better than Sins, though, and I tried really hard to like Sins.

      It’s amazing, and what’s more amazing is that it’s really the work of one guy and an artist he contracted to. You should check his forums; he’s super communicative with the player base.

    • genosse says:

      I was sceptical at first, because I also like my 4x games to be more relaxing, turn based affairs. After playing the beta for some hours, though, all my doubts are gone. You can adjust the speed of the game and pause it at any moment with the spacebar, and after some time it feels so completly natural that you ask yourself if going completely turn based would have any benefits at all.

      So my recommendation, if you are on the fence because of the real-time aspect but generally enjoy (space) 4x games: get in on the beta and play a great game! It is much slower than Sins of a Solar Empire for example (a game I really wanted to like but never quite could), and the RTS elements take a backseat, with the management of your empire in focus.

      Edit: I just noticed that I forgot to answer your question, stupid me. You can take direct control of ships, but this feels more like a gimmick to me, because you will control pretty large fleets pretty fast, and direct movement feels more like a hindrance. It’s basically standard RTS controls all the way.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        FTL style Pausing? Great! That does effectively make it turn based (as I hear the strategy stuff, non battle stuff, is 5 second turns).

        • Thurgret says:

          Ticks, rather than turns, if that makes sense. Production, food, money, and research counters all get updated every five seconds.

      • rusty5pork says:

        I’ve used the direct control mechanic to great effect in large fleet battles, actually. Your fleet’s AI has a tendency to hit and run, and take as little damage as possible, even if no one’s targeting them at the moment. I try to take control of a short range, hard-hitting ship that’s not getting focused, and get in a good position to focus-fire down an important enemy target. That’s how I finally beat the corsair ship that was lancing the fuck out of everything I sent at him.

      • JiminyJickers says:

        That does sound good. I have high hopes for this game.

    • omicron1 says:

      I made a prototype of something like this once. It was basically Gratuitous Space Battles (build fleet, and basic strategy) with drop-in drop-out control of any ship on the field. It was a good bit of proper fun, too. Nothing like wasting a dozen bombers in a row because you got between two capital ships having a down-and-dirty slugfest with Freespace-style beam weapons, then hopping straight into one of those capital ships to take revenge.

      So I guess what I’m saying is, I have high hopes for this. Here’s hoping it lets its arcade side shine through once in a while.

      • KDR_11k says:

        The 4X element is what makes the difference here, just fleet vs fleet battles with direct control in the mix can be found in Starsector (formerly Starfarer, probably because Starfarer is hard to trademark) and SPAZ.

  6. kael13 says:

    BEARFACE!

    Also, I concur that we need an RPS bear mascot.

    • Blackcompany says:

      That came a, um, hair too late.

      • kael13 says:

        … Okay fine. We need a Horace plushie toy! I’d buy it. Give it an RPS t-shirt. Sold.

        • Vorphalack says:

          You don’t have room in your house to store an endless bear plushie.

          • Gotem says:

            no need for space, they start shipping it to the first suscriber, then that one starts ending it to the next one and so on…. until all the world is covered in an endless bear

          • MarkN says:

            He’d make the most thorough draught-excluder ever. :)

          • Koozer says:

            Wait…I’m sure this endless-plushie-consuming-the-world thing came up ages ago on another article. Either that or I am the chosen prophet of Horace.

    • Chris D says:

      Mascot!? You had best hope that when the day of reckoning comes Horace will take pity on you and merely crush you swiftly in his devouring jaws for your impertinece, rather than swallowing you whole and condemning you to an eternity floating down his lower intestine!

  7. Dog Pants says:

    All those bear puns are a sh ursine that someone will start a pun thread.

  8. Pobblepop says:

    I’ve been playing a considerable amount of Drox Operative which is a jolly good game, does anyone know how this compares as the space scenes look mighty similar?

  9. Shookster says:

    The only important question is, will I want to play this more than GalCiv2? Because I’ll be honest, I still lose weekends to that game.

  10. Revolving Ocelot says:

    I dunno. If you took a Panderen into one of those The Burning Crusade areas, wouldn’t that be a space bear as well?

  11. Teovald says:

    For those wondering, no Linux or MacOsX versions because XNA.

    • Tim says:

      I wonder if it would be feasible to port it to MonoGame at some point in the future

      • Teovald says:

        I hope so.
        It is up to the dev to decide what is best for his game, but considering the sales of some indie studios on macosx & linux, I think it is a mistake to build a game only for windows..
        Space bears and a very polished trailer are enough to make me want to support the dev & preorder his game, but I try to focus on supporting multi OSes games : these games will remain playable without having to mount a virtual machine or other magickery in the years to come. I don’t use my windows partition for anything else (doc editing, web, dev, multimedia) than for the games that are only on that platform.
        No space bear preorder for me then… if the game is very good, I will buy it anyway after its launch.

  12. Malfeas says:

    Got this and was very pleasantly surprised.

  13. Arcanon says:

    The combat system reminds me of Escape Velocity Nova…..for that fact alone, it’s on my wish list xD

  14. guygodbois00 says:

    Well, I’m obviously not you Miss Ellison, but I choose option 1) “HOLY BALLS SPACEBEARS”. That first picture is simply stunning.

  15. X_kot says:

    Something tells me that Cara may have played an em-bear-assing amount of Persona 4 at some point in her life…

  16. Sidewinder says:

    So, Bulrathi, then? Do we need to get Cara a copy of Master of Orion?

    • strangeloup says:

      I think they are actually called that, if you poke around the screenshots on Steam.

      It made me wonder — having not played Master of Onion in a looooong time — whether Wing Commander’s Kilrathi have a semanticaly similar name by coincidence or design.

      • Sidewinder says:

        I… I had never noticed that linguistic similarity. In twenty years, I had never thought of that.

        I’m going to go hang my head in shame now.

  17. Daerth says:

    It’s a (bear) trap!

  18. Jake says:

    That shocked looking baby owl with the ipad and the wires in his head is amazing! I want one.

    We thought we were alone… we were wrong! Octo-Cabbages! Baby Owls! Assorted Space Menagerie! All sorts of crazy critters were out there after all!

    Gosh I hope that’s how things go in the future.

  19. Stan Lee Cube Rick says:

    I misread the title of this article as SPACEBEARDS. Which I hope are also in the game.

  20. RabidOyster says:

    Every Spacebear needs a good spacesword.

  21. J Arcane says:

    Huh. What a coincidence, I just published a roleplaying game with SPACEBEARS in it: http://www.bedroomwallpress.com/p/hulks-and-horrors.html

  22. Jarl Hamburger says:

    I actually hope they end up making soft toys out of some of the characters in the game. Wouldn’t mind having a spacebear sitting on my computer desk.

  23. Eddy9000 says:

    I felt a bit mislead by the title, alas it would seem that a game about large hairy gay astronauts is still yet to be made.

  24. TheThinkTanker says:

    Wait, is this single player only, or is there multiplayer as well? I think I missed something.

  25. kshade says:

    I looked at the price, then at the lack of Linux support due to using (the now discontinued) XNA, then back at the price and decided to wait :/

    • Triplanetary says:

      I don’t pretend to understand the needs of indie devs, nor do I dare imagine I could do better than them, but I feel like I’ve seen enough to say this: indie devs, please avoid all Microsoft middleware that isn’t called DirectX.

  26. Nokterian says:

    Reading from the comments,game is pretty fun and addicting. Gonna buy it asap :)

  27. Lemming says:

    SOLD. Because of actual Space Wolves.

  28. Arkh says:

    They seem to have drawn a lot of inspiration from Distant Worlds. Not a bad thing if they do it right, especially if they managed to put a good galaxy economy system in place. I also like the changes it adds to the genre, like controlling your ships and the federation thing (although something similar existed in Seven Kingdom 2: The Fryhtan Wars. Every game should look on that game for diplomacy and espionage depth).

    Anyone knows if a non steam version is also coming out?

    EDIT:
    Also, do they have planet destroyers? Every space game needs that.

    • Lokik says:

      Plant destroyers? But I like the Pollops. :(

    • frightlever says:

      It looks superficially like Distant Worlds and you can automate a certain amount of things but Distant Worlds has a considerably steeper learning curve. I really didn’t enjoy Distant Worlds much – particularly as it cost me the guts of a hundred quid to buy it and the two expansions. It just never clicked with me.

      • Elethio says:

        OK when comparing with DW, yes it has a lot of similarities, 4X and real time but the differences are where it counts,

        Not 2D visuals but 2.75D (sounds dumb but looks great)
        Not an overly complicated economy
        Not too much automation, just enough for those who want it.
        Doesn’t take itself too seriously
        Really Really good ship design
        And lots of fun combat

        • Arkh says:

          I actually love DW economy and migration system. I love to do what I want with other races, even if I usually merge them in the empire. Being “bad” should give more benefits.
          And no, DW economy system is easy as fuck. You swim in dosh in no time. I hope they correct that in Shadows.
          And I never played the game, but according to
          http://www.spacesector.com/blog/2013/03/stardrive-open-beta-preview/
          it draws a lot of inspiration from DW. That is not a bad thing, and I like the way they are doing ships. I’d love to have a fusion of these two games, all features together to create the most awesome space game out there. And with GalCiv 2 AI too, of course.

          But I agree with our fellow chap, the worst thing in DW is the price.

    • Elethio says:

      Possibly Desura

  29. Shadowcat says:

    > Horace the RPS bear is flipping out right now.

    How can an endless bear do a flip? What does that even look like? (other than The End Times).

  30. frightlever says:

    “Direct arcade control of ships”

    You can directly control one ship with WASD controls or RTS style controls for many ships. For me the flagship control is a bit of a gimmick. No harm it being there but I never used it.

    Despite being real time pausible it reminds me most of Star Empires 4 as far as the diplomacy and ship design go. The combat just looks great and appears to be fully modelled, so you can protect critical components with armor, power supplies have a limited range to to power all components you either use liberal amounts of nuclear reactors or run power conduits through the ship (little tip here – try to run these power conduits under the consoles where you seat the crew so the explosions will let them know if a fuse needs changing) and many of your weapons will have an arc of attack.

    The diplomacy is weak and there’s a fairly limited selection of race types, though they cover all the usual suspects. In two games the other races universally ended up quite angry at me no matter how I treated them.

    I’m loving the combat and the ship design. The main star map interface is great. It’d be nice if escape wasn’t your primary way of getting off a screen, ie if I’m in the research screen I don’t want to escape and then select my empire screen, I want to just hit the empire screen button and go there.

    I haven’t played much Endless Space since Beta so I have to go back and try that again, particularly with the free DLC but I think I prefer Stardrive so far.

  31. The First Door says:

    I’m really tempted by this game as I do love a good Space 4X… plus, you know, Spacebears, Spacewolfbats and Spaceowls.

    Still though, I’m so embarrassingly bad at Endless Space I’m not sure I’ll be able to play this game much without feeling shamed again.

  32. spongthe1st says:

    Reminds me of Imperium Galactica 2, only better. Spacebears are awesome.

    Also, if you look at the screenshots on Steam, one of the dialogue options with the Owls is ‘You guys are so cute and fuzzy!’

    Amazing.

  33. tstapp1026 says:

    skinning a spacebear should aggro every spacebears

  34. tstapp1026 says:

    Now I’m left in wonderment. How does one now answer the age old question: Does a bear sh*t in the woods?

  35. SighmanSays says:

    “Know then that it is the year 10191. In this time, the most precious substance in the universe is the Honey. The honey extends life. The honey expands consciousness. The honey is vital to space travel.”

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