Sid Knows Best: Poppa Meier Builds Starships

Pew pew

Do you worry you’d call Sid Meier “dad”? A half-hour stream over the weekend with the Civfather showing off Sid Meier’s Starships (not anyone else’s) has been saved for posterity under the name ‘Sid Meier shows you how to build a Starship’ and I can’t help but imagine you, dear reader, sitting on his knee. “Can we put cannons there?” you ask. He smiles, a knowing twinkle in his eye, and adds some. He sneaks in a stealth system you didn’t ask for, knowing it’ll help turn this ship into a long-range sniper sort of thing, but you’re happy: you wanted lasers and Daddy Sid added some. This is getting awkward. I’m going to embed the video now. Let’s move on.

The stream last week saw Sid and Daddy Sid’s Friend set up and customise their fleet then launch into battle, planning attacks, ducking behind asteroids, and yes, zapping spaceships with those lasers you wanted. I’m sure he’s very proud of you.

This isn’t the first time Pop and the Firaxis gang have shown off Starships, mind, but it’s certainly a lot less echoey than the the footage from a panel we saw before.

Starships is due on Windows, Mac, and iTablets in spring.


  1. Atog says:

    From Pop to Pope.

  2. megazver says:

    It’s been mandatory to call him Grandpa Sid in the Russian game media for, like, twenty years now.

  3. AngoraFish says:

    He sneaks in a stealth system you didn’t ask for, knowing it’ll help turn this ship into a long-range sniper sort of thing, but you’re happy: you wanted lasers and Daddy Sid added some.

    Love it!

  4. jeeger says:

    “I am Bolo Santosee, leadah of de mighty Reepaahs”
    That accent is really strange, but I guessin the future, we’ll all have ambiguous accents… But the game really looks like a strange wargame spinoff from Civ from this video alone, and the iPad/mobile release has me worried. After the universally lukewarm reception of BE, I’m sitting this one out.

  5. JamesTheNumberless says:

    It’s all very obvious what’s going on here. Endless Legend has triumphed over Civ, planetside, and now Civ is going into space to try to cut off the invasion at its source… Watching this just makes me want to play more Endless Space :)

    • eggy toast says:

      Agreed, disappointed how much this looks like a “Sid’s Endless” without copying the pretty UI or meaningful faction differences :(

  6. eggy toast says:

    I get tagged as a Negative Nancy around here a lot, but I’m sincerely asking: are most people not bothered that these starships are just sea ships? Torpedos and cannon make no sense at all in deep space combat, “heavy” and so on? The tactical battle map on teeny tiny distances and 2d?

    I guess I just wish Sid was going to give us things that made sense as galactic travelers than just a Star Trec style Fireaxis Ace Combat reboot.

    • eggy toast says:

      Dumb (ie not self guiding) missile projectiles, on a space ship. It makes sense in a WWII combat game, but the people who built a ship that can travel to distant stars couldn’t have course correction in a traveling munition?

      • sanchez says:

        I’m with you, Eggy. I don’t see anything in this game that is interesting to me. Every concept I’ve seen has either been done before or just doesn’t make sense to me. The fact that Sid says lasers outrange kinetic projectiles in space indicates to me that for a bunch of people making a game set in space, nobody bothered to learn anything about physics.

        And yeah, I got burned on BE, so I’m gonna pass on this one until somebody I respect tells me it’s worth buying. I’m not holding out much hope for that, from what I’ve seen.

    • eggy toast says:

      Positioning, the direction a ship is “facing”, concepts like “behind” coming up again and again

      It might wind up being a fun combat game but it just seems like such a poor theme to go with the actual game itself

      • eggy toast says:

        Sorry for going on, it wasn’t a short video, and I don’t seem able to edit my comments.

        For background Civ 1 was my first game I ever sunk a lot of hours into, and I could probably find the Civ2 and 3 tech maps in my parents house some where. But I have felt like Sid (?) was barking up the wrong tree since CivV. The launch was horrible and I still played a lot of it, and uninstalled 4, and said we all just need to get on they’re all rough at launch. But the truth is even with all the expansions, it’s a game with serious mechanics flaws that go beyond balance and into the realm of inexplicable wrong moves being made (esp Enbarking). Things like eliminating all nuance from research were originally gameplay innovations when CivV launched, but it wound up making the game incredibly same-y. The Beyond Earth free weekend let me see that was more of the same, sadly.

        My comments to the video were negative because I would absolutely love for Sid to make a game about starships that act and are built as such, instead of just jets on black velvet.

        • Chris D says:

          I think sticking with two dimensions is the smart move. Yeah, actual interstellar combat isn’t likely to resemble Naval Warfare but it’s something we can understand conceptually and relate to emotionally, if only because we’ve seen Star Wars.

          Formulating a new model of space combat, turning it into an interesting game, teaching the player how to cope with something entirely new and representing it clearly on a two dimension screen seems a daunting proposition.

          I’m also not sure that representing three dimensions actually adds anything interesting to the gameplay. Is flanking someone by going over the top fundamentally any different to doing it by going around the side?

          I think if you want to make a realistic space game you’d first have to ask what realistic space flight might look like. Faster than light travel or some kind of hyperspace? You’re breaking the rules of known physics either way. And if we’re assuming technology to do that then isn’t assuming that weapon would look like conventional guns or missiles equally anachronistic as assuming spaceships handle like naval vessels?

          • eggy toast says:

            Well first of all, now maybe things may be able to go faster than light, so we might not even need to cheat.

            Flanking doesn’t need to be different from “above” or “below” but if the whole point of the game is space ships fighting each other in space, it would be nice if the asteroids weren’t fixed points. Ships moving in space don’t change bearing the way ocean ships do, and seeing (detecting) a ship that’s nearly in firing range would look nothing like two manned vessels swirling around one another.

            I guess I’m mostly complaining that in 2015 our picture of how things work in space is based on media works created by people who had no idea how space actually worked, 40-50 years ago. That and that grandpa Sid won’t admit this is just a gussied up Ace Combat.

        • Kempston Wiggler says:

          I blame Lucas. oh, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the first culprit but he’s copping the blame anyway Because Reasons. Ever since he turned reference shots of WWII fighter dogfights into Tie-on-Falcon battles in Star Wars, that’s the space-combat paradigm the world has been stuck with, and Star Citizen aims to revive for yet another go. Modern fighters jets rarely ever get to even see their opponents in the skies and yet all games must have swirling dogfights BECAUSE DRAMA!!!! Space games are the same: Freespace 2, for all it’s a fun blast, commits exactly the same crime and yet legions of us still pine openly for another installment. Who can blame Sid for giving the players what he thinks they want?

          • eggy toast says:

            I think it’s a bit silly to pretend Sid’s hands are tied and he couldn’t innovate and push boundaries if he wanted to do that, but really we agree.

      • Gula25 says:

        Sid…. poor poor Sid.

        (I cringe each time I hear him use the term “civilization” as the blanket, race, faction, etc.. place holder)

        I too grew up as a wee 10 year old kid learning about history and science while trying my best to conquer the world in Civilization. An amazing game (and series), the likes of which cannot ever in my eyes be replaced or usurped.

        Sid will always be a legend, but he is well past his prime.

        Sid is a 60 year old man now, and frankly hasn’t really added much in the way of new, innovative, or interesting to the world of strategy gaming in quite some time. His core ideas which were at the time (mid 80s into mid 90s) genius and transcendent have been slowly regurgitated by himself and others so many times that its laughable. He could take large expansive topics, break them down into what made them fun and compelling and then re engineer the whole thing into a consistent and well rounded package.

        Truthfully, I think game design, development, and packaging have all longed surpassed Sid’s approach. In many cases because of the work he did to precede those who are building the games now. He is basically an over-the-hill athlete who can still capitalize on his earlier successes, and has no reason or want not to.

        The real sadness was the pile of dog crap called Beyond Earth. Two young ‘game designers’ who were influenced by Civ and Sid, and that’s what they come up with. I was hoping his tutelage would have done more to spur on his successors, but I think that too is a ship which may have already sailed.

        RIP The Sid/Civ we will always remember/know/love.

    • buzzmong says:

      “Real” combat in space probably wouldn’t make a great game. Space is big, spaceships go fast and spaceships have mass.

      If ships for some reason in all the vastness decided to fight, they’d do it head on, charging at each other at 1000’s of KM per second, and only be in weapons range (assuming things like rail guns, missiles etc, and a range where you can’t dodge said items) for a split second.

      In light of that, WWII in space is fine.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Exactly. WWII in space is FUN, I want to play fun games.

      • eggy toast says:

        If you can’t make it fun, Ok it’s not dogfighting, but if you can’t make realistic ship to ship combat even interesting, then just abstract it like Endless Space and let me get on with my life. WWII in space isn’t “fun” its asinine, we already have WWII and we don’t need to muck space all up to have it

  7. DrManhatten says:

    Still not convinced by this one, the ship customization is one of the lamest ship customization system I’ve ever seen in any kind of space 4x/rts game. Considering that this is the main thing in the game this is pretty bad!

  8. Jason Moyer says:

    Looks like Ace Patrol in space. Nothing wrong with that.

  9. eggy toast says:

    Just because I haven’t replied to this article enough, Predestination is a space 4X that landed in Early Access after kickstarter and features spherical planets that are explored and exploited on a continental scale. I’ve only fiddled with it for a few minutes (Darkest Dungeon you see) and its in a true alpha state, but I am very excited because so far what I’ve seen captures the “think about actually being a space faring people looking at an unknown rock” angle I was mentioning earlier. Don’t know much about combat yet.

  10. Apologised says:

    I think a lot of problems here could be fixed by a more robust branching tech tree that allows players to customise their fleets further.

    Like an upgrade to the shields that fills in the rear weakness, but decreases speed more than usual, but if picked excludes the player from say, picking a shield that actualy functions as an engine, but is a little weaker than normal.

    You could throw in various effects, torpedoes that can be guided, or home in on the nearest ship, that can drop minefields etc. Lasers that can shoot through asteroids, but have a shorter range. Cannons with splash damage (it’s a pro AND a con!) Bombers, Interceptors, shields that do nothing at first, but stop more and more damage as they adapt to the enemy (either over time or over damage) regenerating armour or stealth armour, Tactical Blink Drives or Stargates? Hypertorpedoes or Long Range Fighters? AI controlled battleriders or AI controlled factories DANGER: MAY GO FULL SKYNET. PLAYERS OF SWORD OF THE STARS WILL KNOW WHAT I MEAN

    All of this could easily be incorporated enabling players and enemy AI’s to end up with wildly divergent fleet capabilities that add flavour to the race and dealing with them.

    The big question is, will this game be moddable enough to allow it?