StarDrive - Spacey Action/4X Game

I’ll fill in while Brian is still recovering from his space game burnout.

The games late game performance issues were the focus of Zeros development. He is now effectively utilizing multiple cores, but ever since he introduced that new feature he was busy hunting down the nightmares that come with parallelization. Recent builds tended to have “that one annoying crash bug”, but it seems he is very effectively ironing them out.

The game itself is totally satisfying. It has the best ship building component from all the competition, and directionality actually matters. Putting all guns on one side, and all armor on the other of you battleship actually makes sense, and if combat gets really tough, you get enough room to maneuver to take advantage of such adventurous designs.

There is one major balancing issue remaining, which is the late-game research frenzy where suddenly you get to research everything in a couple of minutes, essentially. But fixing this will be fairly simple.

According to the games’s forum, there isn’t enough technology in the game. Would you say that is true or false, YourConscience? Besides that, how is diplomacy? The AI?

The cheating AI made me feel burned on Endless Space, and I didn’t like the combat, either. So I guess I’m a little gunshy here, especially with all the amazing indie game competition popping up of late.

I actually wrote a preview on my site earlier this week of the latest beta, but was asked not to link to my site, so a google search should dig it up.

Overall, it’s a fun time. It still has some quirks with late-game speed, but I saw on their Facebook that they’re planning to patch it. Diplomacy is a hoot, as it’s more active and humorous than other games of this type. The AI seems fairly competent as well. The tech tree doesn’t vary much though, which is a shame. Overall, I like the game. It’s no Distant Worlds, but it’s in the same vein, with a little Escape Velocity thrown in for good measure.

The late game research thing sounds bizarre; I often played Sins with research set to slow to extend the mid tech game. How is the AI? Good? Competant? Horrendous?

Overall this sounds like another indy winner and myconscience is telling me to buy it when I get home tonight.

I am no destroyer of worlds, but I am feeling like Nostradamus. =)

The AI is okay. It is no genius, but it also doesn’t leave gaping holes in its defence for you to eat it up. The races AIs feel very different. One race (the wulfs) attack early, but peter out because of this, another race comes later with powerful beamships, which can only be countered with rocket ships.

The biggest problems in terms of AI is that it doesn’t adapt well (or at all) to your ship layouts. I build ships with loads of hangars, which launch fighters which unload loads of missiles. The AI doesn’t counter that with effective point defence or other strategies. This is somewhat mitigated though as the AI will use your own designs against you when you play another game as another race. So if you want to cheat, you delete all your designs before switching to a new game.

The technology does feel a bit too thin so far, but this is something that I think will be fixed at some point. It is also so noticeable because of the crazy late-game research speeds, which are not intended. It’s simply the math adding up in a way not foreseen by the author. I think he is aware of the problem.

I don’t think you were ever asked not to link to your site (at least by me)! In the course of a discussion, you are, of course, welcome to link to things you’ve written. My concern is starting a new thread with a link to promote articles as you post them. I’d like to avoid that precedent.

And to prove that it’s okay to link to Space Game Junkie, here is Brian’s latest – and Vicodin addled! – Stardrive write-up.


Oooohhhh, okay, totes misunderstood. Thanks man. :-)

I love it when everybody gets along. :-)

Anyway, I’m very excited for this game, but I have such a backlog that I still haven’t bought in. (Although reading about this game and watching beta videos with the awesome animated diplomacy screens left me pining for MOO2, so instead of working on my backlog I bought MOO2 on GOG, and now I’ve been bullying the Bulrathi while I steal tech from the Silicoids).

Like others above, one of my top concerns with these games is the AI. In this case, I’m worried about both the enemy AI and your own ‘automation’ AI.

I’ve seen various youtube videos that make the autobuild system sound pretty excellent (since it can automatically queue construction for colony ships, freighters, and I think it will even build combat ships to replenish fleet losses).

My hope was that the RTS components in StarDrive might make the game more overwhelming (in a good way), so that the player would be forced to rely on more (and hopefully smart) automation. And this, I hope, might reduce my ability to min-max my way through every turn and every battle. In most of my favorite 4x TBS games, I’m given control over every action in every battle, and this can seriously undermine a competent strategic AI because I can trounce them in tactical combat. (It’s true in Age of Wonders, MOO2, and especially in the RTS battles in SotS and Total War).

Can anyone with beta experience comment on this? Can the AI put you on the backfoot and then, because there are multiple fronts and (potentially) multiple AI attackers, can you find yourself focused on one battle and unaware/unable to micromanage a second battle? In some games this would be annoying, but if I can force myself to accept that kind of lossy control, and if your fleet AI isn’t frustratingly stupid, it sounds like it could be kind of liberating. I can do my best to plan my expansion, research new tech, design strong ships/fleets, but then, when the fur starts to fly, I may want to leave my administrator desk in the hands of a lieutenant while I focus on commanding my flagship in glorious battle.

Does this work as I envision? Does the AI ever manage to actually take worlds from you?

I’ve been holding off playing this until release, MrPinguin, but I’ve been following progress on the forums and from what I’ve read it definitely sounds like the AI is competent enough to seize planets from you and the like. Hopefully someone here can give some first-hand experiences, though.

I’ve been holding off playing this until release, MrPinguin, but I’ve been following progress on the forums and from what I’ve read it definitely sounds like the AI is competent enough to seize planets from you and the like. The AI received a fair bit of attention in the month heading up to release (as well as a lot of focus on multithreading and late-game performance). Hopefully someone here can give some first-hand experiences, though.

I’ve only dabbled with the beta, but the AI can indeed kick your butt if you’re being stupid.

I have such fond, fond memories of Master of Orion that I can’t help but give this one a try. So I’m in and looking forward to clashing with samurai bears and cyber decked owls tonight.

Ai kicked my butt. I hoped to get my usual basics down, but oh no. Held optris off with basic fighters and inf until they arrived with frigates and bombed and invaded me out of the game. So many troops, it was slaughter …love it

That sounds awesome. :-)
I’ve trained myself to hold off on buying brand-new games (and doubly so for pre-order beta testing), but if the initial reviews come back strong on this I’ll have to support it. If I buy it at $30, it will probably be the most expensive single game I’ve purchased in years, but I feel so much better supporting indie devs like this, especially when it seems like a labor of love.

I heard somewhere–I think it was TotalBiscuit’s ‘WTF is…’ video–that this guy was a lawyer or something respectable and then he quit his job to work on this crazy space 4x instead. A story like that is worth so much more (to me) than the millions of dollars of marketing hype that comes from the big publishers.

Dude, a successful lawyer quitting his job to make a videogame is no big deal. Same with the doctors who formed Bioware. Or the former Microsoft bigwig who decided to start Valve. I’ll be impressed when you’re earning minimum wage and you quit your job to make a videogame. :)

Keep the impressions coming in this thread. I have serious reservations about this game (disclaimer: I haven’t played it!), but I’d love to hear from you guys that I’m wrong.


What are your reservations?

Well I have no idea how successful he was as a lawyer… Regardless, quitting one’s profession to start a business sounds risky, especially when that business is building a big ambitious game as a one-man team (and it’s not like programming a complex game with fancy AI and a sophisticated/innovative UI is in every lawyer’s wheelhouse). I agree with your sentiment–it’s nice for such people that they have the means to quit their job and pursue a dream–but that’s clearly not the point I was making. ;-)

The point is that he seems to be pursuing a dream, and not just the dream of a kid who loves video games, but the dream of a ‘grown up’ who has invested much of himself in other pursuits and is now turning to this other art. I’m sorry if that doesn’t do it for you, but that makes the project much more compelling to me than something contracted through a big publisher. :-)

disclaimer, the below statement has nothing to do with Stardrive AI as I have yet to dig in:

I would argue that programming a complex game with a fancy AI is not in ANYONE’S wheelhouse simply because, no matter how much I wished it was otherwise, AI doesn’t sell games. Other than the usual box cover PR statements about AI that we have all seen and all tune out, AI often feels like a last minute, “because we have to” non feature. So we end up with game after game of cool features, innovative design, and spectacular presentation-- and no way to really play the dangs thing once the initial learning curve has passed. Sure there are exceptions and most of those exceptions are player made mods, but overall I would not hold someone’s previous profession as any real pedigree or hint of a priori knowledge towards the cubic zirconia fleece of challenging AI.

While I completely agree with your assessment of the state of AI in general, I have to disagree with your statement that AI cannot drive sales. For a few specific genres (strategy, tactics, sim, rpg, etc) with a focus on on singleplayer, AI could drive sales if the marketing made a conscious effort to disclose that the game featured above-average AI. And by conscious effort, I mean more than just flashy pictures and reviewer quotes. Interviews, video diaries, reddit IAMA, etc.

At least, I hope that’s the case, because I really want to make some AI-heavy games in the future.