Touch The Sky: Sid Meier’s Starships Release On March 12

In January, Firaxis announced Sid Meier’s Starships [official site], a new, small-scale space game that’s actually designed by the name in its title. Now we know that it’s coming next month on March 12th, which gosh, is only a couple of weeks away. If only all marketing campaigns were so brief.

The length of its info release cycle is not the only thing that’s small. Starships is only going to cost $15, which is likely a recognition of its compactness as an experience. Making tight-but-dense games has been Meier’s forte for a while now, making either mobile or console versions of his more famous franchises (some successful, some not) or working on games like the delightful Ace Patrol. Like that latter, Starships is coming both to Windows and tablets.

In other words, while this is hexes and Sid Meier, don’t expect Civilization. Starships is about “interstellar adventure, diplomacy and exploration,” and turn-based spaceship combat and ship design. Will it draw players in for “just one more turn”, or is that merely a cliché so often repeated that it’s become an easy, comforting thing to write? Who knows! Nicki Minaj’s Starships draw me in for just one more turn, but of what, I cannot say.

While you wait for the release to roll around, here’s lovely Sid and XCOM designer Jake Solomon sitting over the game, talking design philosophy. Which one would you rather have comfort you through a stressful situation? I vote Sid.

28 Comments

  1. MeatMan says:

    That’s a lot sooner, and cheaper, than I expected. From what I’ve seen of the game so far, through Firaxis’ own streams, I’ll likely pick it up. But not after I’m done with Cities: Skylines, assuming it’s not broken at release.

  2. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I’d love Solomon to give Pirates! his XCom treatment

    • Continuity says:

      What!? I don’t even… They’re completely different games, you couldn’t graft xcom mechanics into pirates without completely gutting it. Its a terrible idea.

      • Great Cthulhu says:

        An updated version would be most welcome though. The 2004 edition, while still fun, is definitely showing its age.

  3. Zenicetus says:

    That price sounds about right for what I’ve seen in the previews so far. It might be something I’d pick up for the iPad if the reviews are good.

    Also, they’re planning some kind of integration between this Starships thing and Beyond Earth, where the two games will pass information back and forth. I assume that means affecting the gameplay somehow, but I haven’t heard any details. It would take more than integration with a lightweight tablet game to get me interesting in taking another stab at BE anyway. What a disappointment.

    Anyway, here’s the brief notice about Starships/BE integration:
    link to civilization.com

    • keithzg says:

      As someone who traded Beyond Earth for Endless Legend, and has an Android tablet (although the article hear doesn’t mention it, the “and tablets” must be just iPads, considering the official site only mentions iOS—which itself is maddeningly inspecific, since that leaves it ambiguous as to whether owners of the iPhone 6+ will be able to run it) I’m glad I never got my hopes up, I guess.

    • Rindan says:

      I personally am not all that interested in any integration between the two games because presumably, that would mean I would have to play the horrible and disappointing mess that is Civilization: Beyond Earth.

      I think Beyond Earth was easily the worst full priced game I have bought in a long time. I gritted out a single game, enjoying little of that lifeless, soulless drek, and have not had even the slightest inclination of look back. Granted, part of my disgust was likely due to the fact that I was so pumped for Beyond Earth that I played 2 epic games of Alpha Centauri right before it came out. I thought I was pumping myself to play the old classic so I could appreciate what a little modern technology and improved UI design could do. It turns out I just reminded myself how much fucking SOUL Alpha Centauri had.

      In one game I played the Gaians and covered my continent with fungus and fought nasty war with the technologically superior but not as psy-battle awesome as me Morgani. I had to be defensive, but covering myself in fungus worked pretty good until I was able to muster up an attack and wipe them out. In the next game, I played the Morgani and fucking PILLAGED the planet. I dropped by eco score to -5, dropped bore holes everywhere, had my formers on full time fungus patrol, and in general had my way with Planet. In that game I got into a nasty four way with the Hive, the Believers, and the Gaians. I ended up using formers to build a god damn land bridge with formers to get at the Believers mid game with my technologically superior units being pumped out with my superior economy. Near the end I had a nasty war with the Hive that went planet buster on both sides and caused the sea levels to rise, putting a kink on my economy. I won in the end, but I literally ripped apart a content with planet busters getting at the Hive and the Gaians. The game ended with literally half of the world full of craters and no cities.

      In Beyond Earth, I was the green team. I think I went the green affinity rout, which means my units looked slightly more organicish as they murdered the planet life and replaced it with farms. I went up against the blue team. I think they took the yellow affinity. That means that they had slightly spikier looking units with which they used to also murder the planet life. We both got some wonders with that added + something or another. I vaguely recall winning with my green team against the evil forces of the blue team. Woo-fuckin’ho.

      Pro tip: Want to scrap some shred of joy out of Beyond Earth, don’t play Alpha Centauri.

  4. Strangerator says:

    This looks a lot like a remake of the original Master of Orion (with a lot more to do). If the ship on ship combat is good, this is going to be a nice cost-effect diversion.

    • keithzg says:

      I sincerely doubt there’ll be nearly as much to do as in Master of Orion, or at least as in MOOII.

  5. Veles says:

    Woo! That is a refreshingly quick turnaround.

    Love it!

  6. DrManhatten says:

    And no one cares because

    a) It looks shit (in terms of gameplay)
    b) It’s a tablet game converted to PC
    c) Everyone get burnt by CivBE

    • airmikee says:

      You mean “no one cares” aside from the 5 comments made before yours expressing fondness for the game or its designers?

    • SAM-site says:

      I may be in the minority, but CivBE did exactly what I suspected it would – it’s a pleasantly diverting game in the mold of Alpha Centauri. No, it’s not as good as Civ, but then few things are.

  7. EhexT says:

    “Starships is only going to cost $15, which is likely a recognition of its compactness as an experience.”

    Ha. It’s going to cost 15$ because that’s the most they can get away with for a mobile game on PC without completely ruining their reputation.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Isn’t charging as much as you can without ruining your reputation a key part of running a business? You make it sound so sordid and evil when it’s basically how everything is done.

      They’re not exactly selling poisoned milk to school children.

    • JimboDeany says:

      You had me at “Ace Patrol in space…”

  8. Shadow says:

    Indeed, this confirms my deductions:

    This is little more than Ace Patrol IN SPACE. Good stuff, but not a concerted effort by Firaxis to produce a full-fledged 4X space strategy game.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      I haven’t been following this game that closely, but I don’t remember them ever claiming it was going to be a full-fledged sci-fi 4x game.

      Firaxis shouldn’t have to overcome people’s unfounded expectations.

      • Zenicetus says:

        So, does that mean that past history suddenly doesn’t matter? Here’s the most recent game they did, and notice the actual title of the game and the trademarks:

        Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™

        I bought that game, partly based on the reputation of the Civ series and on the name “Side Meier” buried within those trademark signs. It was a stinker. I felt disappointed and a little ripped off, and yes… shame on me for buying it without waiting for reviews. But now that’s history. And the history matters, going forward.

    • Continuity says:

      It sounds to me like its not 4x at all, so not sure where you got that idea from,

    • Jason Lefkowitz says:

      You say “Ace Patrol in space” like that would be a bad thing! Ace Patrol was, well, pretty ace. A solid, inexpensive lightweight strategy game. If Meier wants to keep riffing on that theme for a while, I’m happy to see him doing it.

      • eggy toast says:

        Its not “a game like Ace Patrol, but in space,” it’s very much “Ace Patrol with a bunch of SPACE stickers on things”

  9. Jac says:

    Windows or tablets ye say? When is it coming to Windows tablets?

    • Apologised says:

      Well, I’d assume it would work with Windows 8 right from gate.

      • Jac says:

        Yeah – I just wish more games had touchscreen control for Windows, especially ones that are also released for tablets.

        Civ 5 is actually one of the only games I can think of with touch screen control so hopefully they implement it for this as well.

  10. Vegard Pompey says:

    So it’s a lightweight game, why all the complaining? If the gameplay is solid, what does it matter? Does everything Firaxis makes have to be a big-budget full-studio project?

    I’ll probably pick this up if the RPS review is positive. It does appeal to the Legend of Galactic Heroes fan in me.

  11. Christo4 says:

    I’d rather play Space Ranger 2 (Rise of the Dominators or Reboot, HD has a ton of bugs in comparison).

  12. ajbrigden says:

    That’s my birthday! I’m excited now.