3, 2, 1… Wait! Stars Beyond Reach Now Due March 2016

That nice lot at AI War developers Arcen Games have some interesting ideas about alien races crammed onto a sentient planet for their next sci-fi strategy game, Stars Beyond Reach [official site], but alas it’ll be a while before we get to see it.

Checking over what happened while I was away on holiday last week, squinting at events and muttering “Didn’t we already post about…?” and yes, yes I did already post about Stars Beyond Reach being delayed. Now it’s delayed once again – this time until March 2016. But, curiously, Arcen also say that they’ll halt work on SBR for a bit to release a real-time roguelikelike in January.

Arcen founder and lead designer Chris Park explains in a blog post:

“The short of it is this: this game is freaking huge, and it’s extremely novel. That costs a lot in time, money, and also creative energy. We’ve been running ourselves ragged over the last few months, and we came to a decision as a team to put the game temporarily on hold. We don’t have confidence that we could release this in 2015 in a state that we’d be proud of, and even if we did it would likely get smashed by the impressive roster of competing strategy titles that fill the remainder of this year.”

He expands on this in a forum post, saying:

“… beyond just the money and eggs-in-baskets bit, I am personally just plain burned out with the game right now. I need time to regroup and collect my thoughts and take things in a more timely manner. I need time to work on the game without feeling constantly under the gun, and I need to not be SO emotionally invested in it. After 14 months of just being on this game and nothing else, it starts to intertwine with my self image to a dangerous degree. I need time to separate myself from that.”

Sounds sensible, that.

So what’s the other game coming in the interim? It’s one Arcen have talked about before, under names like Airship Eternal and Life at the end of the Universe. Park says it’s now “a realtime roguelike with persistence” and that they’ve worked on it on-and-off for a while. Releasing a smaller game will hopefully put Arcen in a more stable financial position while they finish SBR, which should be better after they return to it refreshed. That sounds more sensible than the previous plan Park had mooted, to crash on through and try to push SBR in November. It’s a terrible thing, creative burnout.

And hey, here’s the final part of SBR’s related-ish animated series Tales of Woe:


  1. LionsPhil says:

    Disappointing, but as noted probably for the better.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Agreed. I’m really looking forward to this one – and this time because it sounds like a game I really want to play, rather than out of the usual curiosity toward Arcen’s mad science. I appreciate that kind of up-front honesty from a dev, though, and if it makes for a better game, who am I to complain.

      And hey, another roguelike-like-like in the interim. Won’t knock that.

  2. Velko says:

    Every time I see “rougelike” written somewhere I think of a Pol Pot simulator. I would not want to play that.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I really wanted to make an “Achievement Get” joke, but I can’t think of a way to do it without being completely distasteful. :(

      And yeah, I wince whenever someone writes “rougelike”.

  3. rustybroomhandle says:

    These days the word “roguelike” makes me want to bash my own head in with a brick* but in this case I’ll gladly pick up whatever it is they release. Arcen is hit & miss, but their output is always interesting, and I like to support that type of energy.

    * promise to put it on YouTube if I ever do

  4. RuySan says:

    Arcen games have always good ideas which are spoiled by other not so good ideas. It seems they throw everything they think of and hope it works. Maybe this time it will finally work.

    And i hope it looks slightly better than usual.

  5. Dances to Podcasts says:

    I like realtime roguelikes with persistence!

  6. mukuste says:

    Man, I’ve still to play AI War beyond the stage of utterly failing at the tutorial…

  7. EhexT says:

    Whatever that roguelike’s going to be, it’s guaranteed to be ugly as sin.

    Arcen doesn’t have a good track record in general – so far they’ve made one game that isn’t incredibly ugly – but their track record with real time games is worse than with turn based. And their rogue like track record isn’t good either, with Bionic Dues and Valley without Wind being the ugliest things they’ve ever made.

    The gameplay will probably be interesting mind you, but oh boy, it’ll ugly.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Disagree wholeheartedly (except about the interesting gameplay, mind you). Arcen’s games tend to have simplistic but functional visuals with occasional pleasant stylistic touches. There are some things that irk me, but nothing deal-breaking. It’s no secret that their budget doesn’t really allow for fancy-pants visuals but I find them quite pleasant.

      And The Last Federation is, weirdly, outright beautiful.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Disagree also with the track record though individual taste varies.
      AI war is counted as their big success.
      A valley without wind 1 is interesting, I played it a long time and every month the game played different due to patches, some dislike it though. Looked very ugly.
      AVWW2 was pretty good but shorter and yeah also ugly.
      The last federation, skyward collapse and shattered haven I couldn’t get into, bought regardless.
      Bionic dues was good they say and was counted as roguelike.

      Conclusion is it will be interesting but ugly with a say 60% chance of being good.

  8. Wetcoaster says:

    Having tried a number of Arcen games at this point, I find that they always have interesting ideas, but the presentation and interface… argh. I feel like I’m playing proof of concepts waiting for a bigger team to pick up the idea and adding the polish and usability (UI and animation especially) to turn their stuff into finished products