Sword of the Stars: Swordier, Starrier Than Ever

In space, no-one can hear you. At all.

It’s quite the time for deep-space strategising. Between Sins of a Solar Empire and Gal Civ II, there’s a whole lot of universe to conquer. Hooray for conquering universes!

Less renowned is Sword of the Stars and its expansion, which was doing vaguely Sinsy stuff back in 2006. Folks on the dev team have previously worked on Homeworld games, amongst others, so there’s an interesting space-RTS pedigree. Now it’s back to make a second play for our hearts and hard drives.

It’s certainly got its fans, and I’ve heard generally positive things about it, though never reaching the frenzy surrounding Sins. Happily, a patched’n’expanded Collector’s Edition was released a few weeks back, complete with novelisations and soundtracks and all that sort of stuff for people who like that sort of stuff.

A demo’s just been released off the back of it, which should be grand for compare and contrast exercises. Interestingly, there’s also an enormous tutorial video to accompany it, which rather suggests the demo itself is a far cry from the usual starting level’n’that’s yer lot misfire.

The demo’s 340Mb and the tutorial video 220Mb, which has been enough to make my ISP inflict its ridiculous cap (if I have the temerity to download more than 300Mb between 4pm and 9pm, my connection slows to 256k. THIS IS NOT THE WORLD OF TOMORROW), so I’ll have to actually play the thing a bit later. As long as I’m not busy playing more Rock Band whoops did I just say that er I mean some really really hardcore hex-based World War II strategy game or something yes yes honest.

The demo’s here and the video’s here.


  1. Nick says:

    No link? Or am I blind?

    Ah well, google it is…/sigh :)

  2. Ryan says:

    I agree, where can I find this game. I have not played a good space RTS since StarCraft. Not sure if that even counts.

    lessons in brevity

  3. Lorc says:

    I’m not using a braille keyboard, but nevertheless I can’t find hide or hair of a demo link on their site.

  4. Alec Meer says:

    Sorry – fixed now.

  5. much2much says:

    “Vaguely Sinsy stuff.”
    Hasn’t Rupert Murdoch poached you yet?

  6. fluffy bunny says:

    This game is definitely worth a try. It’s a little different from the other competitors in the genre, but give it a chance. IMO it’s a bit of a hidden gem.

  7. Apexodic says:

    Don’t people get tired of typing (or pasting) their link over and over in near every single RPS topic? It’s just sad to attempt to use RPS’ exposure to your benefit like this… I can’t click anything on here without being greeted with that brevity thing nowadays. Oh well, if he keeps doing it then I guess it works…

  8. theleif says:

    I’ve been meaning to by it since the expansion came out. However, until I can get the original game and the expansion in one digital package, I’ll wait.

    Seems like a really nice game.

  9. Stromko says:

    My memory of Sword of the Stars is forever marred. After trying out the demo/beta for awhile and getting annoyed at having to micromanage every single f*cking ship at every single stop, I went to the beta boards to suggest that they should go ahead and get rid of mindless micromanagement.

    I saw someone else already made the same suggestion, and was flamed by the head dev for his gall. Well, wtf. I don’t have high hopes for Kerberos when they treat honest and earnest suggestions to make their games better, as attacks on their personal character.

  10. Al3xand3r says:

    I would imagine having some tactful ways to present your points works wonders with people, game developers or not. Really, if you can play strategy games, surely you can use strategy in real life even if you don’t actually have any respect for people… Diplomacy is a great skill wherever ir applies :)

  11. Paul says:

    @theleif: you can get the game + exp + update to bring yourself into line with the CE on plenty of download services including Stardock’s.

    @Stromko: a lot of the changes in the past almost 2 years since the original release have been driven by user and review comments. The demo is free and you can easily tell if the game works for you no matter what you think of the people who made it.

    -Paul a.k.a. the guy who made the tutorial vids

  12. Bob the Tomato says:

    “@Stromko: a lot of the changes in the past almost 2 years since the original release have been driven by user and review comments.”

    @Paul: Since I’m in the same position as Stromko (flamed by head developer once demo came out), I’m also going to have to vote, “My money is better spent elsewhere.”

    -Bob the Tomato a.k.a. the guy who’s refusing to purchase games from pricks.

  13. Paul says:

    No problem man. I’m not holding a gun to your head or anything. I just thought you might be interested to see if your suggestions were put into the game anyway.

  14. Chris says:

    Yea, sadly, I’m not likely to look into it again either. Criticism on the Kerberos forum in initial release was treated with such venom and antagonism by the board moderators, that I just can’t bring myself to look at the game again.

  15. Chris (a different one) says:

    While I kind of enjoy the legend of the tale, I feel obliged to try and put some perspective on the matter, particularly since Paul put a lot work into those tutorial videos, and they deserve some applause, not a handful of people rehashing the sad events of two years ago.

    Six guys spent two years independently producing a strat game that scope-wise ideally would have had 16 – the day of release, we made ourselves available on the board to discuss the game (something we’ve continued to do every day since then), something we specifically wanted to do, counter to the common gaming press model of no-devs, no answers.

    And yes, we stood up to the guy that came through the door within hours and started peeing on the furniture – it was regrettable, but if we were going to make ourselves accessible, we had to be firm – discussion was wide open, but “you guys suck and I can say that as much as I want” was out. Nobody can take that day in and day out. That’s why you don’t often get devs on messageboards. Nobody wants to put up with that kind of hassle.

    So, yes, we killed and ate the first self-important jerk to show up. It was self-defense, yer honor. And we’ve listened to everybody else since then – sometimes we explain why things are the way they are and we will be standing by our design choices. Often it has resulted in updates that not only contain bug fixes, but requested features, and extra content.

    I totally get it if a few people will avoid SotS because we wouldn’t, couldn’t eat every shovelful tossed at us – standing on the principle of gamers should be heard is one we understand, since it’s the same principle we based our decision to be available to hear from gamers in the first place, instead of standing apart and letting PR flaks handle things – but, if that’s the way things have to be, then, best of luck.

    As for buying it, if you’re curious, you don’t have to – the new demo allows up to 3 people in multiplayer, using 3 of the 5 races. It’s a big, healthful chunk of the full game. PLUS it has Paul’s vids, so the learning curve is that much milder. Thanks Paul – you did us a real solid, letting us build your tutorial vids into the game/demo.

    Apologies to Alex – I don’t normally soapbox (that’s what our board is for, after all – nyuk!), but I appreciate the nod and letting me chime in. Nice demo article btw – it got me thinking back to our first demo. We learned some hard lessons on that one.