Stellaris [official site], the terribly exciting sci-fi grand strategy game from Paradox, is almost ready for launch. The developers are huddled around screens in the control room monitoring fuel levels and vital signs. The mission commander counts backwards from ten. It's so close. The room bubbles with excitement as the Clausewitz engine ignites, sending shudders of energy through the facility. TEN. NINE. NINE. NINE. NINTH. MAY NINTH. MAY NINTH.
OK, so Stellaris isn't quite as close as I'd like it to be but bless Paradox for releasing a new trailer that explains precisely why I'm so excited about the game.
We're a long way from Jazz Boatman. This is about as serious a trailer as I can remember from Paradox. It's three minutes of sober explanations of game features, delivered as a miniature narrative about an epic journey. From one planet to a thousand stars, and from humble beginnings to galactic imperialism.
When Stellaris was first announced, I spoke to the game's creative director and almost immediately scurried back to my hotel room (the announcement was at Gamescom) to write down what I knew. I was as excited about the possibilities of this game as I've been about any over the last few years.
At that point, there was no way of knowing if Paradox would succeed in all of their grand ambitions - while it may look like a game you've seen before, Stellaris is going all in on the idea of creating a galaxy full of mystery. Random races, a complex and novel approach to tech, and various ways to disrupt the usual 4X flow, which sees every player moving toward total domination one way or another.
Everything I've seen of the game since, including a closer look at GDC a couple of months ago, suggests it'll be everything I hoped for back when that announcement was made. We'll find out soon enough.