Sid Meier Announces Sid Meier’s Starships

There’s few game designers whose names alone perk my interest, but Sid Meier is one of them. He’s the videogame industry’s avuncular Werther’s Original dispenser, popping sugary, plastic-wrapped hexes into the hands of young designers everywhere. I met him once and I can’t remember if he was sat in a rocking chair, but let’s assume that he was.

I am now rocking because Firaxis have announced Sid Meier’s Starships, a new game set after and within the same fiction as the recent Civilization: Beyond Earth. Speaking to Gamespot about the announcement, Meier explained that it would be st in space, would feature “dynamically generated tactical combat”, and that the focus would be “starship design” and “interstellar adventure, diplomacy and exploration.” There’s an animated trailer below.

Aside from being set within the same universe as Beyond Earth, the games will also enjoy “cross-connectivity” of some sort. It’s anyone’s guess what that means, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’d be something to do with those player-created ship designs.

Unlike Beyond Earth, Civilization proper or XCOM, it sounds like Starships was made more directly by Meier and a small team. That’s the structure Meier has been working within for some time, producing Ace Patrol and its sequel. Much like those games, Starships is coming to tablets as well as PC, which might say something about the scale (or budget) of the game, or it might mean nothing at all.

86 Comments

  1. Chris Cunningham says:

    Sid Meier’s Battlestar Galactica. I can’t stop salivating. Stupid saliva glands.

  2. Red3eard says:

    Did they ever plan to release any expansions for Beyond Earth?

    • airmikee says:

      If it moves anything like Civ5, we might see an announcement of an expansion next spring. Civ5 released September, 2010, but the first expansion wasn’t announced until February, 2012 and released in June. If Beyond Earth follows that same time frame, its expansion announcement should be March, 2016.

      • jbhelfrich says:

        They’re going to need something before that. BE felt like a mod of base CivV, without any of the complexity the expansions offered. If they want to save that property, there needs to be a really good expansion really quick.

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          They still put his name on it. If they’re going to cash in on his name then its only fair to judge him by the product regardless of whether or not he had anything to do with it.

        • Janichsan says:

          That’s pretty much verbatim what was said about Civ V back then.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            Its really not. No one felt like Civ V was a mod of Civ 4, the rest is perhaps accurate.

          • Hunchback says:

            Nobody said Civ5 was a mod for Civ4, everybody just said it sucked mighty donkey balls and was horribad. Then everyone kept playing Civ4 in their anger and disappointment. Then the expansions came, the game became great and most people moved to play it. Some remained, all grumpy and silly and they keep saying it’s horribad and play Civ4 instead.

            So yeah, Beyond Earth needs more content, more systems, more everything, and that will probably come later on, with some expansion.

            I totally disagree with such business model, i wish people would stop releasing half-assed games KNOWINGLY, only to “fix” them later on by selling expansions and DLCs for tons of cash MORE. It’s good that after 2-3 expansions and a ton of DLCs games get to a “finished” state, but it’s in no way “normal”, at least not to me.

  3. jonfitt says:

    I’m excited by the mention of close involvement Sid Meier. But the talk of a small team, and tablet play leads me to think this will be more along the lines of Ace Patrol. A mechanically neat game, but fairly shallow and not the grander strategy you might initially think of.

    • Lacero says:

      XCOM is on tablet / phone too.

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        You mean it was ported to tablets.
        Or Street Fighter 2 is a browser game?
        link to archive.org

        • FoSmash says:

          Terriffic link!
          SF2 is a broswer game, whoever heard of an arcade!

        • Lacero says:

          Sure, but it is almost identical to the original (bar some minor touch screen interface changes) and was a huge success for them.

          I don’t think there’s any reason to get concerned about them releasing on mobile platforms.

          • jonfitt says:

            I don’t think I’m concerned. I just think that most people still think Civ when they hear Sid Meier. But from what I’ve picked up I don’t think Sid has been tightly involved with a Civ game from Civ 3 onward. It has been Soren Johnson and then Jon Shafer as lead designer.

            So it’s potentially more useful to look at his recent work like Ace Patrol as the direction he has been going recently. Doesn’t that fit more into the theme of Starships rather than thinking he’s going the GalCiv route? Combine that with the fact that there hasn’t been a full Civ on tablets and I would not expect this to be a game of that kind of grand scope.

            Just a thought.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Not sure if that’s a counter argument or supporting evidence?

        • welverin says:

          Counter argument, even if you don’t think much of XCOM it is a larger and more complex game than Ace Patrol. Thus the fact it is on iOS is evidence you can’t assume this is a smaller game simply because of this.

  4. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    “For many centuries…peace ruled our planet.” Clearly Brasilia got wiped out by a siege worm early on in this universe, as otherwise they’d have been regularly starting arbitrary wars with everybody.

    • Xocrates says:

      Curiously, I had wars with ARC often, but don’t recall ever having a war with Brasilia.

      • mashkeyboardgetusername says:

        Huh. Basically every game I play Brasilia starts wars everywhere, even with people they’re great friends with. ARC just moan at me if I’m not Harmony but don’t start fights. I thought the personalities were preset given how they always seem to behave the same ways, but maybe they’re not.

        • Xocrates says:

          I think the Civ approach is everyone has preset base stats, but some random deviation is added every game. I would not be surprised if the deviation has been increased in BE due to the smaller number of civs.

        • jonfitt says:

          Civ AI tends to have a propensity for war coded into certain AI types. But it’s hard to tell which ones exactly because things like proximity, relative military, relative score, and culture differences can trip any Civ into trying to kill you even when you used to be besties. The warlike ones just seem to have a really low bar.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Are they led by Ghandi then?

    • Wetcoaster says:

      From the narration, it sounds like that either the narrator’s group escaped from the planet of Civ:BE themselves, or that the colony ships from old Earth ended up on different planets. Perhaps you’re very close then – Brasilia might have just ended up on another planet… and are probably the cause of the other faction’s distress signal

  5. Rindan says:

    Beyond Earth was such an soulless waste of a game that I struggle to find enthusiasm for returning to that universe. Slap on top of that the fact that this game is going to be so light weight that a tablet can run it, and I’m pretty much out. There are too many promising games to waste a drop of bandwidth for this one.

    If by some miracle this game is worth looking at, I’m sure someone will let me know when it is released. For now, I would be far more interested in efforts to give Beyond Earth a soul, to say nothing of unfucking its fucked game play. Uhg, just thinking about what a horrible disappointment Beyond Earth was… Uhg. It was almost at a Sim City level of disappointment.

    • LexW1 says:

      My feelings precisely. Civ:BE should have been at least as good as Civ V. In actuality it was dull and pointless in the extreme, distinctly inferior to Civ V in playability, let alone to games like SMAC or Civ VI. Soul-less is quite correct. The universe it was set in was generally dull, too.

      So the connect to BE worries me, frankly.

      I’ll certainly be awaiting reviews on this one. Could be good, but I doubt it, after BE, which it seems like they may have abandoned.

      • Xocrates says:

        Everyone HATED Civ V before Brave New World. I honestly do not get how it’s now being brought up as this great standard BE has to live to.

        • jalf says:

          1. not everyone hated it. Quite a lot of people did, sure, but far from everyone.
          2. it is being held as the *lowest* bar that BE should be able to exceed. He’s not saying “civ5 was the best game ever, but that it is the bare *minimum* for a Firaxis game. That comes across more as saying “Civ5 was passable at best”, than anything else.
          3. Civ5 is pretty good fun with the expansions. Personally I think it’s more relevant what the game turned into over time than what it was on release day.

          • Xocrates says:

            Perhaps, but to me, someone who greatly enjoys BE and finds is far more interesting than Civ V was after the first expansion – though certainly not without its flaws – it still baffles me the kind of reaction BE gets.

            I suspect it’s kind of like Spore really. Not at all a bad game, but expectations were so ridiculously inflated that the internet compensated on the opposite direction once it came out.

          • jalf says:

            Eh, I’d have said it’s like Spore in that Spore was *also* utterly soulless and a huge missed opportunity.

            But hey, different strokes for different people. And if these flaws didn’t bother you in Spore then I guess it makes sense that they wouldn’t bother you in BE either. :)

        • LexW1 says:

          Untrue. I didn’t hate Civ V, I thought it was decent but could use improvement. I actually know a lot of people IRL who play it and that feeling was pretty common. It wasn’t as good as Civ 4 + Beyond the Sword, but it was solid and had nice new features.

          As noted, I’m saying “solid” is the baseline, and I didn’t find BE to even approach that. It felt like a rather sparse and undeveloped mod, stripped-down to the absolute bare essentials, and as generic and characterless as I’ve ever seen in terms of setting/background. It’s like Civ V minus fun and character.

    • XhomeB says:

      My sentiments exactly.
      ‘Set in the same universe as Beyond Earth” sounds like a perfect recipe for scaring every single potential customer away. Soulless, plasticky, boring.

      • ThornEel says:

        In fact, this trailer and the voice were so bland that I started to have planet-wide orbital extermination desires – to stop the horrible, horrible pain; both mine and the one of whoever is stuck there.
        And I usually disapprove of exterminations.

    • DeVadder says:

      I do not get the “tablet” complains.
      Civ V runs perfectly on a tablet and has well thought-out controls for it (which they did not bother to implement in BE, by the way) and is not exactly shallow or light-weight. Not every tablet is an iPad or Nexus 7, you know?

      Sure, you need a Windows or Linux tablet (i play it on a Surface Pro 1) but there really is no reason why another game should work any less on Android or iOs. The problem with the awkward controls of most games on Android and iOs seems to be too high inclusiveness where developers are afraid to require or use proper multi-touch to not force out users of older devices.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        I don’t think they were referring to the controls. When someone refers to a “tablet” game they refer more to the mobile ecosystem than the form factor. A game designed for a tablet is by and large also designed for a smartphone. Win8 tablets are a desktop ecosystem on a tablet form factor.

        If you can install it from Steam/Origin/a .exe file /etc. its not a “tablet” game. If you have to go through an app store it is a “tablet” game.

        • Lanfranc says:

          I have many games for my ipad that would never work on (and clearly weren’t intended for) a smartphone.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            How so? Other than physical screen size (which is blurred between the iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Mini) there is no difference in software or hardware.

    • 2lab says:

      I’m quite impressed at what the Civ:BE team managed to do. Think about it, they came to age in the era of Banks, Reynolds, Gibbson, Stevenson and Stearling. To come up with something so totaly bland was a work of genius, to create such boredom, to make us give so few fucks….I’m at a loss for words. These people are clearly wasted on games, they could have a wonderfull future at Syfy.

    • Chuckleluck says:

      I don’t see why people say the leaders are so bland. The only thing that kept Civ V’s characters from being just as bland was the fact that they’re modeled after real people.

      • jalf says:

        And that is a very significant difference.
        You knew who they were, what they stood for, because they were based on historical people.

        In SMAC you knew who the leaders were and what they stood for because each faction was organized around, and named after, a specific ideology or philosophy (and because the game was full of flavor text and fluff to reinforce the theme).

        BE does neither of those. The leaders are bland because they don’t stand for anything. They are mostly based on countries that no longer exist and have no relevance in the game. Really, what does South America want on an alien planet, and how is it different from what Africa wants there?

        I know who Napoleon is and what he stands for. I can make pretty good guesses at what factions like The Gaians or The Believers stand for.

        None of the factions in BE tell me anything about themselves, except that “these guys are from Africa, and those guys are from North America”.

        • kalzekdor says:

          In SMAC you knew who the leaders were and what they stood for because each faction was organized around, and named after, a specific ideology or philosophy (and because the game was full of flavor text and fluff to reinforce the theme).

          Y’know, one of my earliest memories of a Civ game (not sure which one), was Ghandi being a dick and declaring war on me.

          • TheMightyEthan says:

            Civ II. There was a glitch (that was later promoted to “feature” because it was funny), where because Ghandi’s aggressiveness was set so low to begin with, if you got certain conditions that would lower enemy aggressiveness it would actually make his negative, but since a negative value wasn’t a valid option it would actually roll around to the top end of the scale and give him maximum aggressiveness.

      • Rindan says:

        I didn’t say the leaders were bland (though they wre). I said the entire game was bland. I also found Civ 5 to be pretty soulless too, if it is any consolation. You used to be able to build an ugly fascist state, sprawling Soviet like communist empire, or war like theocracy. Now, civilization options are just small bland little incremental steps that are essentially unchangeable. Civilization has in fact gotten more and more bland. Civ 5 at least had good mechanics though and, if you tried hard enough, you could envision your own story.

        The fact that they managed to take a fantastic concept THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN DONE, and make their most soulless game yet defies all sense. The fact that they trashed all that was mechanically good with Civ 5 in the process was just insult to injury.

        If they had just made a few interesting wonder videos and hired a voice actor or two, they could have at least given the impression that their soulless game play was telling a story. Bonus points if they had made different affinities actually diverge. Civ 5 with SMAC face paint was the low bar. They didn’t even come close to achieving that.

    • Janichsan says:

      Slap on top of that the fact that this game is going to be so light weight that a tablet can run it,…

      Are XCOM or Baldur’s Gate lightweight games? Both run feature complete on tablets.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        XCOM – Yes.
        Baldurs Gate – Runs on a tablet, was not designed for tablets.

      • 8080 says:

        The vast, vast majority of tablet games are incredibly shallow. And while obviously not all are, it’s reasonable to be concerned about the game going that way.

  6. BTAxis says:

    I dare to hope this will be good.

  7. Lanfranc says:

    Am… am I the only one who thinks that trailer is the most uninspiring in the history of ever? It is literally telling everything instead of showing it.

    I don’t know what’s happened to Firaxis lately. Everything they do feels so soulless. :(

    • LexW1 says:

      They seem to have been getting more soul-less with every release since Civ V. Don’t get me wrong, I like Civ V, and I liked X-Com, but both were dramatically less soulful, less emotionally engaging, less interested in telling a story, less interested in atmosphere, and more interested in mechanics than their predecessors. Civ:BE really showed how empty and hollow they’d become, especially compared to stuff like Endless Legend (Amplitude seem to be moving in the opposite direction, given Endless Space was pretty soul-less, but Dungeon of the Endless and Endless Legend are rocking and actually have personalities!).

      • XhomeB says:

        The more people find out about Endless Legend, the better. I wish it had gotten at least half the (totally undeserved) attention, marketing push and fanfare Beyond Earth did before release.

        Never understood why none ever complained about the totally soulless nature of “XCOM” before. I mean, just look at its AWFUL (!!!) art direction for example, it’s as if someone combined Power Rangers with Mass Effect and called it a day. Totally devoid of any atmosphere whatsoever. And it’s not like the gameplay was that much better, I never could shake the feeling I’m playing a top-down Gears of War. Bleh.

        • Premium User Badge

          teije says:

          Endless Legend is pretty great. I love how each faction plays out completely differently. It’s a real pleasure to play a game in that genre with real, meaningful differences in gameplay between various factions, beyond one special unit, a bonus or two and a leader animation.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          People did complain about the soullessness of XCOM but people ignored it claiming we were comparing it to X-COM while wearing rose tinted glasses.

          • jalf says:

            No, people ignored it because they didn’t find it soulless.

            A lot of people thought it was simply a really really good game.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Meh I liked XCOM, but I agree the art direction was atrocious. Particularly the weapons and the aliens.

        • melnificent says:

          I loved XCom, used to play multiplayer against my friend all the time on the PS3. Poor guy could only win about 1 in 20.

          The single player was enjoyable, but did feel a little flat in comparison. The budget stuff never made sense to me, as surely the countries that supported Xcom against the aliens would be dropping as much money as they could on the project. Building things should have been a manpower issue, not budget.

    • DeVadder says:

      Really? I thought that was one of the best trailers in a while. It gave me goose-bumbs. ^^

    • vecordae says:

      It was short, sure, but the trailer did make me smile. It sets up an interesting scenario with a great deal of potential.

      I know I am in the minority, but Beyond Earth really did appeal to me. Humanity seems to be so utterly alone in the universe. The more we learn about our world and the places beyond it, the more precarious our situation appears to be. BE captures some of that and the trailer expands on it. The knowledge that there is other humanity out there, somewhere, is a powerful enough motivator to compel a civilization to send an armed relief fleet into an unknown danger. Hits some philosophical strings on the ukulele of my heart, that does.

      • Chuckleluck says:

        I found the premise of Beyond Earth to be riveting. Humanity sends a select few off to a distant planet, with no communication and no idea whether they were successful for generations. Then (if you go with the Purity or Supremacy victories) Earth receives a message out of the blue, and the remaining Earthlings are either saved or slaughtered.

        • Joshua Northey says:

          Really there was a lot to like about BE. It was just not polished nearly enough and they criminally skimped on flavor. It had so little zest, and the balance was all wrong.

      • Lanfranc says:

        I don’t mind it being short, but “a narrator explaining what happened plus a few impersonal animations” is on the pretty low end of the Made-an-Effort-spectrum.

        Although I’ll admit that C:BE never made me care in the slightest about the people who are presumably sending this mission out in the first place, so there’s that.

      • Jeroen D Stout says:

        Then you may want to play Alpha Centauri. Your mileage may vary, but all that is good about BE to me felt like being inherited from SMAC.

        (Apart from the interface.)

  8. DanMan says:

    2015 – The year of The Space. I’m calling it now.

  9. Cryptoshrimp says:

    So how about they fix Beyond Earth first, before focusing on a new IP? :|

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Because likely it is not the same people, and because they are a company looking to make money not looking to make you happy.

  10. TehK says:

    “interstellar adventure, diplomacy and exploration”

    If this isn’t Pirates! in space, I’ll be ever so sad.

  11. almostDead says:

    This.

    This isn’t a new XCOM.

    I don’t understand.

    *ahem*

    And you can fuck right off with anything associated with BE.

  12. Commander Gun says:

    I am a bit surprised (or actually not) that video game developpers think we have no memory. Beyond Earth was an insult, a slap to the face, and i remember who’s name was on that game quite well :)
    This game needs to be a freaking miracle to impress me and make me want to buy it.

    Then again, as cool as that might have sounded, it IS Sid Meier, who’s games i played for probably more thousands of hours than i dare to admit…

    • Chuckleluck says:

      As I understand it, despite bearing ol’ Sid’s name, he has had very little to do with the Civilization series for a while now. He mostly works on smaller games, like Ace Patrol and now this.

      • Premium User Badge

        teije says:

        Yes, he’s like the elder statesman there and according to Firaxis themselves, wasn’t involved much in Civ:BE.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, the name holds no real currency any more, because they wave it around as a marketing tool.

        SMAC was Brian Reynolds.
        Civ IV was Soren Johnson.

        Obviously these things are team efforts, but they’re not even naming the right frontman. I like Sid, but his name being on something doesn’t have much meaning.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Similar to Ubisoft owning the name Tom Clancy…

  13. DrManhatten says:

    Sorry but I won’t get hyped again after the really lacklustre Civ Beyond Earth I am very careful doesn’t matter if it contains Sid in it or not

  14. Rymdkejsaren says:

    My faith in Firaxis is pretty low, Civ V was bland on release and it’s STILL a nightmare to run a multiplayer game. They do not seem to be interested in communicating with their community except by the means of flashy buy-our-awesome-game-because-it’s-Sid-Meier-videos.

    Enter, Amplitude who makes similar games but to my taste, better looking and with better mechanics. And they engage the community, post surveys and listen to feedback. In that light, I am pretty sure it is going to be a while before Firaxis gets my monetary support again.

  15. Geebs says:

    I love seeing content warnings for “mild language”.

  16. Jeroen D Stout says:

    For many centuries our people prospered, peace rules our planet, and our understanding of the world around us grew… unlike our sense of architecture, which forever remained in a sort of 2000’s white curvy-shape state.

  17. Britzy says:

    Praying for Sid Meier’s Pirates, just in space…

  18. peterako1989 says:

    So far it seems to be a 4X strategy game like galciv, however I can’t help, but ask, why call it starships? I mean the title implies that the focus is shifted towards ships and not empire building.

  19. Doganpc says:

    Here’s hoping that this turns out to be something like a space version of Sid Meier’s Pirates!
    Cause I liked that one.

  20. alms says:

    Ace Patrol in Space, K.