Star Control Reboot Is A Prequel, Includes Multiplayer

By Graham Smith on January 6th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

It's a lot like Mass Effect.

If you’re going to revive an old game series in spaceyear 2014, it may as well be a space game. That’s what everyone else is doing, including Brad Wardell’s Stardock with the Star Control series.

In an interview with Ars Technica, Wardell confirmed some of the details, including that the game is a prequel and that it’ll have multiplayer.

Star Control often gets grouped in with other space strategy games, but Star Control 2 – the most beloved entry in the series, and the one Wardell and his team are most inspired by – was more an adventure game. Stardock are best known for the Galactic Civilizations series of 4X games, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare with something slightly more Mass Effect-y.

Not that this means the new game won’t revive the original’s frantic, real-time “melee”-but-not-at-all-melee space battles. The new Star Control is powered by the Nitrous Engine, which looks like this:

Wardell predicts 2015 as the earliest possible release date, and at this early stage the interview exists solely to re-assure you that the game is being made by people deeply excited to work on the series. There have been Star Control games made without the involvement of the original creator’s already, and Wardell’s decision to make this new game a prequel seems at least partly inspired by his wariness over continuing a story he didn’t create.

Stardock assumed control of Star Control in July 2013 when they were the winning bidder in Atari’s chapter 11 bankruptcy auction. The original developersof the game, Toys for Bob, are now a subsidiary of Activision and responsible for development on the Skylanders series.

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53 Comments »

  1. Noviere says:

    Star Control 2 is one of my favourite games of all time — please do it justice, Stardock.

    • Stan Lee Cube Rick says:

      Star Control 2 is my favourite game of all time. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much but I am happy to see the IP being resurrected, and eager to see what comes of this project.

  2. KirbyEvan says:

    “There have been Star Control games made without the involvement of the original creator’s already”

    Please, I don’t think anyone remembers Star Control 3 as the highlight of the series.

    But at any rate, Star Control has an interesting universe, and that engine tech demo looked pretty awesome, so it has that going for it at least.

  3. Vinraith says:

    I sincerely wish this project were in different hands. 7 years ago I’d have been thrilled to see Stardock working on a Star Control game. Now? Not so much.

  4. Jools says:

    Stardock is the last company I want working on this. Even ignoring the whole debacle with Elemental, they are an absolutely terrible fit for something like Star Control. Galactic Civilizations II is a great 4X, but it’s completely soulless. Even with improvements, Elemental/Fallen Enchantress suffers from the exact same problem. Their games are mechanically sound, but have no character. Star Control (at least, the only game in the series anyone really gives a damn about) is all about character.

    • Reapy says:

      I was going to post exactly this, and you state it so well. The lack of soul is what they lack. It is an elusive thing to put in there too, I don’t think it is an easy thing to explain why the character designs, races, motivations, activites etc are bland feeling. I instantly had a response to say the age of wonders 3 footage, where as in galciv2 I was always perplexed why I was disinterested in races and the like.

      SC2′s strength was the personalty each race screamed at you, from their abilities to the animations and their backstory. MAYBE it might work out if they are able to exist off the template of what is already there and work in their mechanics, but wanting to write a whole new story leaves a lot of room for some crap fan fiction.

      • Skabooga says:

        I love Star Control II! And I feel much the same way the rest of you feel, one of the reasons I love it so much is for its fantastic ensemble cast of different aliens. If I had a list of my favorite fictional alien races, I wouldn’t be surprised if half of them came from Star Control II. The Spathi! The Zoq-Fot-Pik! The Umgah! Too many more to name.

        I kinda did hate the Utwig, though.

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          jrodman says:

          Are those the cosmic mopers?

          • Skabooga says:

            Yes, they were indeed the cosmic mopers. At least their Supox plant allies were cheerfully upbeat, which made that leg of the game bearable.

    • Baines says:

      It could be worse. Imagine if it was Gearbox.

      At least if Stardock fails, the game will just be a soon forgotten chapter in history. Gearbox’s history is currently too infamous to forget all but the most bland mediocrity, for better or worse.

      • mouton says:

        It’s fascinating how Gearbox catapulted themselves to such bad reputation so quickly.

        • Apologised says:

          Well, when you put the effort in you get results. I mean, few companies would have the brass balls to embezzle from Sega and 20th Century Fox, funneling money away from Aliens and directly into Borderlands 2 whilst secretly outsourcing all of the development to some no-name company that’s probably just 3 guys in their dads shed. The sheer audacity of them to keep their publishers and the press in the dark by actually going the length of designing a completely different MUCH BETTER game engine to run a dummy demo of the game to fool everyone into thinking that things were going well is just staggering.

          Gearbox put ALL of the work into basically defrauding the entire industry, and I think we all recognise that.

          • Hallgrim says:

            … I guess I missed a few things when I took a hiatus from gaming last year.

    • Laurentius says:

      There is truth in this, while i enjoyed FallenEnchantress:Legendary Heroes because it’s pretty good game it reall lacks soul, i mean this is a 4X game that mechanically forces you to treat your cities as nothing more as numbers on the spreadsheet of income/resources/soldiers.

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      slerbal says:

      “soulless” is the best word to describe their games. I really wanted to like all the variants of Elemental but there is an absence of heart, something that I always felt about GalCiv 2 even though in the abstract it should have sung to me. It is very difficult to pin down, but “soulless” is a good a word as any. In the case of the Elemental games it could just be as simple as the lacklustre, murky and uninspiring art, but even when you mentally take that out the core game just misses that vital spark that makes some games great and others… meh.

      That is not to say they are bad games, it is just that they are never more than the sum of their parts :(

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        I’ve never found Galciv 2 to be ‘soulless’ and I’m surprised to suddenly discover that so many people apparently do. I thought it had a great deal of character and style, but I went into it without having played any of the ‘oldies’ of the genre.
        I can somewhat agree with FE:LH in terms of mechanics, but I really liked the style and felt they’d actually put a fair bit of effort into making their world at least -seem- like it had soul… I wonder what I’m missing here.

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      jrodman says:

      Have they shown any adeptness with humor? If not.. well.. I don’t think they can do star control much justice.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Well, there was the Snathi minor race in GalCiv2, who were evil sentient squirrels. That was cute, but overall not a lot of humor in the series that I can remember.

        The problem with GalCiv being “soulless” is that Wardell wrote the backstory and designed the alien races, and he’s just a terrible writer. GalCiv2 was a popular game due to the decent 4X mechanics and AI programming (the only thing he’s good at). It sure wasn’t due to the quality of the writing and alien designs..

        A new Star Control has a chance of being decent if Wardell stays hands-off with the story and writing, and lets someone competent do it. Otherwise it will be Elemental all over again.

  5. Rob Maguire says:

    I’m glad to hear it’s being done by a developer who loved the originals. Wasn’t the backstory to one of the expansions to GalCiv 2 pretty much Star Control 2′s Doctrinal War with the serial numbers (barely) filed off?

    • vecordae says:

      This exactly. The notion that the new Star Control is a prequel because Wardell ” seems at least partly inspired by his wariness over continuing a story he didn’t create.” doesn’t seem to jive with the fact that he was perfectly comfortable stealing large elements from the same story several years ago.

  6. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Brad Wardell’s Stardock

    Ugh. No thanks. He’s a repugnant human being, and his company last produced the turd that was Elemental.

    I’d much rather see a small indie team make a spiritual successor to SC2. The Star Control IP has a few good alien races like the Spathi, but it’s thoroughly cloneable.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Actually his company last produced the flawed diamond that was Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes?
      I think…?

      • The Random One says:

        I believe those two games were made by the same company.

        • riadsala says:

          And the expansions to Elemental have only served to make the game more of a disappointment. For all that they’ve tried, Paxton’s Civ4 mod is far more interesting and engrossing. Elemental: Fallen Enchantress – Legendary Heroes is, as the name suggests, a soulless mash-up of assorted mechanics that don’t really fit that well together.

          • Laurentius says:

            Actually no, FallenEnchantress-Legendary Heros is really good 4X game, far better then i.e. Disharmony. Graphics is nice, battles are fun, the only aspects that is lacking is empire building which mechanicaly sound is pretty soulless, so player clings to heros adventures, while city building and management is kind of spreedsheet mastery.

          • Yglorba says:

            But it is an empire building game! Saying that the empire building is soulless (which I agree on, of course) is saying that the entire game is soulless. If I want a wandering hero game, I’ll play King’s Bounty.

          • Laurentius says:

            Not the same for someone like me who still plays Master of Magic regularly, and thus finds Fall from Heaven really missing combat, and combat in FE:LH is very much too my liking, graphics is nice, it’s simple and quick but stasfying. Ultimately i played more FE:LH this year then even CIV5 with Brave New World Expansion which is pretty telling.

          • mouton says:

            @Yglorba

            Empires require flavour too. Alpha Centauri was an empire building game but it has plenty of character – that is what made people overlook its multiple flaws.

          • Tssha says:

            @mouton

            Yeah, I wish I could look past its flaws now, but I keep going back to it and the flaws keep bouncing me out. It’s one of my favourite games and I can’t play it now.

            That game was lightning in a bottle, but now we have better mechanics and have fixed many of the errors and bad design decisions of the past and now we can’t go back. We just can’t put up with it now.

            I miss SMAC.

    • Lanfranc says:

      “He’s a repugnant human being…”

      Why? Does he eat kittens for breakfast?

      • dE says:

        There was that sexual harassment lawsuit. It was dropped along with a counter-lawsuit but the reputation still lingers on, in part because it was a massive public shitflinging contest.
        If you want to dip in, there are entire forums made for the purpose of flinging shit at either side of the conflict, just google for Bradwell and Lawsuit.

      • Sharlie Shaplin says:

        Worse, he disappointed gamers, BURN HIM!

  7. ilves says:

    Looooove love love love Starcontrol 2. Please don’t suck.

    At least be good enough to warrant a true sequel/SC3 then hire the original two guys to make it

  8. The Random One says:

    So is this Earth year 2014 or space year 2014, RPS? Make up your minds!

  9. DatonKallandor says:

    The engine video makes it look like they don’t want to do Star Control. They clearly want to do a real time Legend of Galactic Heroes game.

    • Darloth says:

      Pretty sure that the trailer isn’t actually from Stardock? I could be wrong, but it sounds as if it’s from the engine developers, which Google tells me are a company called Oxide (thus the name of the engine).

      I for one however would LOVE to see a LotGH game with those sorts of graphics!

      • dE says:

        The video actually says that as one of the earliest things. This isn’t in game graphics for the game, it’s the salespitch, from another company, for the engine they’ve licensed to make the game.

  10. Yglorba says:

    I’m kind of divided about this, because (even after they made a version that didn’t totally suck) I didn’t really like Stardock’s take on Master of Magic, another classic. They seem to have this fixation on really simple number-based effects and on this incredibly boring three-color combat / industry / tech divide — which might not directly factor into this game (hopefully!), but shows how, as a general rule, their offerings lack the quirkiness and surprising depth that made many old games so fun.

    Someone above described the empire building in Fallen Enchantress as soulless, and I think that that’s a pretty good summary. No matter how much they retool the idea, their basic fixation on that deathly uninteresting three-color-strategy and unbelievably boring “+1 hammers” style effects instantly kills any hint of fun.

    • mouton says:

      Sounds like my experience with Endless Space.

      Though I often think, were the old 4X games really better or are we doomed to discount every new game with nostalgia? I wonder.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Rather than wondering, just go back and play them again. I still regularly play Master of Magic, for example, and I still find it does a lot of things that I can’t find elsewhere. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.

        I also bought Alpha Centauri in the GOG sale and finally got around to giving it a proper try – having barely played it back when it was new – and it’s a great game even for someone who doesn’t have that much decried ‘nostalgia’ to spur them on.

        I don’t much like the recent trend of hating on every modern game for not being its predecessors, but on the other end of the spectrum, I don’t think it’s right that people write off those old games as only having nostalgia value.
        Not that I was accusing you of either – got a bit carried away. Oh my.

        • mouton says:

          Yeah, I know, it’s a tricky balance – even trickier because it can be quite personal.

      • Darloth says:

        I have gone back and played them fairly often, and no, they really were better in this specific respect (quirkiness/character/uniqueness).

        Playing Master of Orion 2 again, for example, you rapidly come to a point where you’re stacking really quite odd modifiers onto your ships based on your research path (or you picked Creative at which point your ships are like psychadelic borg cubes full of magitech) each of which interact in different and interesting ways.

        -This- race has learned to make ships that turn for free and can teleport, wheras THIS race has cloaky ships that fire two massive volleys of missiles and then hide under cloak for a turn or two while they slowly reload.

        Lately, that hasn’t happened very much.

        It’s similar with Master of Magic or some other titles of that age. One interesting datapoint might be that all these old games are typically FAR less balanced. In MoO2 for example, the Creative trait is (assuming you survive to the midgame) essentially a Win button – but it can be very fun to play with. Likewise in Master of Magic, there are some combinations of stuff that are just amazing together, and it wasn’t worried about nearly as much as it is now. Maybe that has something to do with it.

        For similar experiences nowadays, Dominions 4 (arguably more of a wargame than a 4X, but a contender) or perhaps Eador are both similar in feel, at least in my opinion. Sword of the Stars 1 was also an excellent example, though it’s getting on a bit.

        • mouton says:

          You are right, I did forget a lot of what MOO2 had. Many modern clones of old games tend to be quite lackluster in comparison. They try to emulate but lack their own charge of creativity. The fact that they tend to be desperate indies quickly running out of time and money seldom helps.

  11. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I like Space

  12. goto_dengo says:

    Here’s the thing–Stardock acquired the rights to the name “Star Control”, original IP from Star Control 3, and nothing else.

    All the SC and SC2 IP rights remain in the hands of Paul and Fred. So no music, races, histories, character design, ship design, etc. can be carried over. So regardless of Stardock’s execution, the game will be Star Control in name only.

    Not much to get excited about here.

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      jrodman says:

      I wonder what Fred & Paul think of the effort.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Thanks, that’s excellent news. It means Stardock won’t be able to advertise their game with anything people remember from the first two games, well not unless sites like RPS do it for them.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^.

        ..and the rest has been deleted.. it’s pointless me making a post about how inaccurate in general these article writers are and how misleading, for their readers, this is.

        In general I find I get the most lies and mistakes from article writers and not this big companies themselves… ordinarily I would use the word author or journalist.. but that doesn’t apply to these hacks in general.. they may as well be writing a shopping list for all the verisimilitude they require for their scribbles.

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    Wisq says:

    […] the game is being made by people deeply excited to work on the series.

    I’m much more interested in whether they’re actually capable of delivering. You could take a random sampling of the biggest Star Control 2 fans from around the world, and I would bet dollars to doughnuts they wouldn’t be able to design and develop a worthy sequel (prequel, whatever).

    Love for a series may or may not be a prerequisite for success, but it’s definitely not a predictor of it. But then, I understand that I’m in the minority with really disliking the new XCOM ’round these parts, so ah well.

  14. Crabtipus says:

    After Elemental I’ll never trust them with a classic series again, much less Star freakin’ Control

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      jrodman says:

      Your comment caused me to try to figure out what classic game series Elemental is based on. I couldn’t find it. Do you mean Master of Magic, more or less?

  15. DrManhatten says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

    Why Stardock why? Why did you not hire the original Toys for Bob team! This is going to suck! We all know it!