Stardock owns Star Control and is planning an "XCOM-like" reboot

  • Juice * will be flowing!



Any chance these sweet little projects will make it to consoles, or are we thinking PC only?


Origins will make it to consoles. I don’t know about Ghosts.


Ars Technica talks to Brad about Star Control: Origins! It’s a great article.


By the way, I love the way you guys are adapting the GalCiv ship builder to work with this game by making the pieces kind of cartoony and cute.


Agreed, it is a great piece of tech and this is an excellent way to get more use out of it.


Loving the interaction screens/ship designer. Will reserve judgment on other factors for now, as i know, super duper alpha-y, but man, everything feels very fast. That may be my tragically woeful reflexes talking, though. . .


I immediately asked if Stardock plans on charging for the user-created content in a marketplace, Bethesda Creation Club-style. I got an unequivocal no. “I really don’t want to get in the business of trying to capitalize off of other people’s creations,” he said.



So a few questions for @Brad_Wardell, @Island_Dog, and any other assorted Stardockites from my reading.

The beta will include a ship-creator tool and playable super melee, 1v1 PvP mode. The beta coincides with the 25th anniversary of Star Control II.

Will there be any significant risk of major spoilers from Super Melee? I’m thinking back to, gosh, the manual for the Genesis adaptation of Star Control 1, where lots of backstory about the alien races was featured in the manual. If there’s, say, a StarConpedia linked to the Super Melee! module, do I risk reading things like “The Quiffit-Tongull have only recently escaped enslavement at the hands of the dreadful Razack of Andor IV, allowing them to resume their proud tradition of building Feathership Cruisers” when playing it? I know, I know, small potatoes, but since so much of the joy of the StarCon series for me is the sense of exploration, discovery, and mystery-solving, it matters!

From what I’ve seen and heard about Star Control: Origins, it’s cut from exactly the same cloth as Star Control II. It doesn’t dabble in 4X strategy like Star Control 3 did. In fact, Wardell said that Stardock borrowed absolutely nothing from that forsaken sequel, in terms of either story or gameplay.

Modern players might find Star Control II’s hard time limit frustrating, for example. “There’s no game clock here,” he clarified. He admitted this might be a controversial change from Star Control II; the enemy won’t wipe everything out if you take too long. The story and the gameplay dynamics revolve around you, but the systems and the universe don’t.

Depending on the exact plot, consider me just a little disappointed by these elements. Well, okay, step back: no “hard stop deadline” is probably okay by me because I like to take my time and mosey and explore. But I am a little sad to hear that galaxy itself is only dynamic based on player action and that there’s no sort of broader strategic metagame. Even StarCon 1 featured that in its tactical map mode, and, despite the deficiencies @Desslock described above in SC3’s strategic metagame, I think it’s still an interesting concept.

I’m sure we’ll be assembling a fleet of some sort in SC:O, but I really hope there’s some sort of base-building or other meta-component to reflect our progress through the plot. . . and I’d love it if there was at least the feeling of a mounting, ever-present threat. . . if that’s what the game’s story calls for!

Stardock originally planned a “Dota-style super melee” mode for the game’s launch, but Wardell said, “We’ve decided to put that off.” Stardock tried this for a while, but decided it didn’t work as well as one would hope, so they’re focusing initially on one-on-one for the beta and the launch. Later on, he hopes to add a mode called the Arena that is up to three players versus three players, where you’re trying to destroy the other side’s mothership in a map with additional gameplay dynamics.

I am going to put aside my abject hatred for the MOBA model real quick to say that I do think is cool. . . and that I am really glad that it’s not consuming more resources before the launch of the game proper :)

One last, general sort of thought is regarding the planned scope of the main game in the prime Origins universe. With so much time and thought being poured into moddability, DLC universes, etc., and my own experience with the sometimes fairly content-light Sorcerer King, I guess I feel a little (perhaps unjustifiably) worried that SC:O’s prime story, which is really what I’m buying into, far and away, might be a little light or simplistic. The idea that there’s something like a 90:10 ratio of procedural:handmade content feeds into that fear a little, too.

I know that Stardock’s not a AAA house, and it’s unrealistic to imagine a $80m blockbuster with 32 fully voiced, animated alien species with 50,000 lines of recorded dialogue spanning a 60-hour main story with 60 more hours of sidequests all stuffed to the gills with custom content and 2 hours of Blizzard-quality prerendered cutscene porn to gawk at. But especially because any enterprise reliant on fans for content creation and even on the DLC future of a product depends so heavily on the success of the main product, I don’t want to just assume I can turn to those avenues when the main game “runs out.” I want a ton of Star Control: Origins proper, man!

So, to turn two rambling, theory-heavy paragraphs into a question, what does the main SCO universe campaign look like in terms of time investment, breadth, depth, etc.?


I got this directly from Wrad Bardell:

“The galaxy is divided up into an 8x8 grid of sectors. Some sectors are known as ‘light’ sectors, the others are ‘dark’. One ship can occupy a sector at a time. If a ship moves into a sector containing an enemy ship, then there’s a super-melee fight and the victor gets the sector. The object is to destroy the enemy command vessels. I got this idea from this really old, obscure game that a guy named Paul Reiche did back in the 1960s or whatever.”




And with player crafting we get Mail Order Monsters, too. Reiches for everyone!!


I think the use of procedural generation is going to help with this, to be honest. Especially given that, as you say, Stardock isn’t pouring $80+ million into the project.

The problem with procedural generation is that too often game developers leave it at that. They create a big map/planet/galaxy, but they fail to fill it with any interesting stuff. In my opinion, procedural generation of content is a godsend, but it is best used when creating a foundation that hand-built content is then layered on top of.

So for instance, if this is like Star Control 2 and there’s a lot of planets/moons that are just used as places to mine resources, I’d rather they be created procedurally instead of human designers having to spend a bunch of time making moon after moon after moon. Instead, I would rather those people use their human creativity to build on top of that and make very interesting worlds for us to explore for the important parts of the game.

I think procedural generation of content has gotten a really bad rap lately, for good reason, but IMO it’s due to poor execution.


Star Control: Origins pre-orders begin today! You will get a limited time pre-order discount price and access to the Super Melee beta coming soon.

More info:


There’s nothing wrong with procedural generation, quite the opposite, but it needs to stat with a good model followed by lots of testing and fine tuning to consistently generate interesting content.


Founder keys are being sent out now, got mine. Won’t have time to try Super Melee until next week.


How long does the pre order discount last?



For a limited time, pre-order Star Control: Origins for a lower price (already listed above). During development, this price will increase as new features are added.

That’s from the Steam store page, but the prices don’t appear to actually be discounted. It shows 24.99


That’s the discounted price right now. Price will go up as we progress towards release.

You can also save an extra 10% by ordering direct. :)


I suspect that in my rambling diatribe, I probably worded this part more harshly than I intended.

I want the campaign universe to feel vast and mysterious and inexplicable and full of interesting, fun content, because that’s the feeling I associate with Star Control 2 and 3. Maybe it’s rose-tinted nostalgia, but it’s how those games exist in my mind.

What I don’t want is a prime universe stuffed with “content” that’s just the end result of a programmatic function that exists at a vast and unassailable scale meant solely to make the universe “feel” big and expansive without actually providing very much actual content to dig into. Advertising “Now with 65,535 planets to explore!” when 65,520 of them are procedurally generated resource-stops sprinkled randomly through a galaxy that takes two hours to sail across is, I think, pretty disingenuous.

It’s a great tool that can be used poorly or well, but my sincerest and deepest hope here is that we get a big, fun, goofy, deep campaign that doesn’t just feel like 8 hours of content padded by 32 hours of tooling around bland, uninteresting pit-stops.

I’m not even “accusing” SD of trying to do that, more than just making uninformed conversation at this point :)