The Ur-Quan Masters 2 Video

Here’s a video recorded by Jordan Myronuk showing off what have so far during development. It also shows off how this will be making the transition to the third dimension with ship combat and space travel.

I like the way the planets are shown with the moon orbit paths shown with lines just like in UQM. It makes it easier to find a moon in 3D space without forcing the player to reorient themselves every time.

The 3D planets look very nice as well. The clouds moving around the planets gives the impression of layers for the planet rather than a static texture or animation loop.

A Star Control game is no easy task. In fact, when TFB was working on SC2, Accolade wanted them to finish the game before they completed everything. This would result in things such as the removal of the Groombridge encounter and the infamous planet lander bug.

Anyways, the video is a good teaser of what’s to come. Making the transition to the third dimension is always tricky. I can’t wait to see more.

What do you think about the transition from 2D to 3D, whether it is Star Control or another game?

Links
UQM Forums – Another Attempt at a Sequel
YouTube – Eventuality – Game Development Progress

Stardock’s Star Control Will Have Alternate Timeline

(tech demo does not represent final product)

In an interview with Arc Technica’s Lee Hutchinson, Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has stated the following:

Wardell’s Star Control would take place 43 years before the events of Star Control 2 and would function as a prequel. “We plan to start the game around 2112 with aliens first contacting the Earthlings and the formation of Star Control,” he explained. From there, the game will proceed in the same open-ended adventure fashion as Star Control 2—Wardell told Ars that the player would captain the Earthling flagship, which can be fortified with upgrades as it explores the galaxy.

“This has been a much discussed topic internally,” he replied. “Since Paul and Fred can’t officially be involved, we decided we would create a new continuity that splits off from the Ur-Quan continuity starting 250,000 years prior where something happened to the Precursors.”

Splitting off an alternate timeline, says Wardell, gives series creators Ford and Reiche the ability to continue the “main” Star Control plot if they choose to do so at some point. “Morally, we just didn’t feel it would be right to try to impose our vision onto Paul and Fred’s sci-fi universe,” explained Wardell.

We asked for more details on that team of fanatics, and Wardell didn’t disappoint: “The game itself is being developed by veteran developers from Firaxis, Big Huge Games, and Stardock, whose engineering and art talent are amazing, but also know what a Star Control game should be like,” he said.

Maybe this could be a sign that a new dev team composed people from other places will be created similar to the formations of Sledgehammer Games for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and 343 Industries for Halo: Reach.

“We intend to make Super Melee a pretty big part of the game from a multiplayer point of view,” Wardell confirmed. “It’ll be an expansion on what was in Star Control 2, except we would like to support more sophisticated battle arenas and up to 8 players. We picture there being a lot of different modes for Super Melee, ranging from classic to Dota-style super melee.”

As with all good things, Star Control will come only to those who wait. “We don’t expect to even consider what a release date is until next year (2015) at which point we’ll have a good idea of how far along we are,” he said. However, unlike Star Control 2’s dual platform release, the new title will be available on a multitude of systems. “We do expect the new one to be home on the PC but also be available on Mac, PS4, Xbox One, Steambox, and any other platform that Nitrous supports.”

Comparing this to the Star Trek reboot

When 2009 Star Trek (directed by JJ Abrams) was released, it received very positive reviews and was very profitable. It reached levels of success that surpassed the previous films. I did enjoy the movie and it really showed how special effects have evolved over time. It also took place in an alternate timeline, giving Abrams and the writers room to change things around without having to “retcon” anything.

Budgeting have always been an issue for Star Trek and it’s great to see that Star Trek is growing into a successful movie franchise just like Star Wars, which JJ Abrams will also be directing in the future.

Some decisions had to be made by the producers in order to gain this success, mainly a plot that revolves saving a planet and lots of action. It’s very hard to make a big-budget sci-fi movie that doesn’t revolve around saving the world or the universe. There is much more action to maintain a fast pace.

Did you know that Gene Roddenberry was not directly involved in the development of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan? Due to the mixed reception of The Motion Picture, his role was changed to Executive Consultant, and a new script and director was chosen for the sequel.

The reason why I mentioned Star Trek is because the target audiences are different and the competition is much greater. There are a certain set of expectations one can make about big-budget sci-fi and can not be easily applied to games. They were aware of the previous Star Trek movies and what can be done to make it more successful.

Conclusion

It’s very clear that Brad Wardell wants to create a new Star Control game that appeals to fans and is approved by Paul and Fred. Due to TFB’s contract with Activision, they cannot be directly involved in the development of this game. Activision loves Skylanders way too much. Stardock is known for their stance against DRM and their publishing of niche games/utilities made of smaller budgets compared to larger studios and making a profit (e.g. Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod). It’s very early in development and no concept art of this Star Control has been released yet. However, I feel that this new team Stardock is putting together may be able to pull it off. They’ve got a lot of things to cover to match the unique touches of SC2 such as the music, alien artwork, witty dialog, fonts and unique ship design. Strangely enough, SC2 was never 100% polished and Paul and Fred worked overtime to get it done and left things out such as Groombridge and the infamous “planet lander bug”.

Only time can tell when we will get more details about what kind of game this is going to be. Brad has also stated that this will not be a 4X style game (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) like SOASE.

What do you think about this Star Control and its alternate timeline?

Links
Ars Technica – Stardock CEO reveals details about new Star Control title in development
Polygon – New Star Control to include series creators’ input, alternate timeline
Nitrous-Engine Techdemo
LittleTinyFrogs – Brad Wardell’s post about Star Control

Tiny Trek

“…I have dreamed of designing this kind of game since picking up that boxed copy of Starflight back in 86, and loading the two 5 1/4 floppies into my Tandy machine. If I can share that same feeling of wonder and excitement I experienced with that game to the current generation of gamers, Then Tiny Trek will be worth the effort.”
– Chris Carson, Gamesare, Tiny Trek Kickstarter Page


Like Interstellaria, it resembles a very retro game. However, this one appears even more antiquated, sporting an interlaced effect from the old CRT monitor days.  Featuring procedural generation, Tiny Trek offers a different adventure every time a new game is started; a hostile race in one playthrough may be friendly in the next.  It also features 2D sidescrolling platform action for planet exploration.  Each planet will be unique and changes each time.

As the name would imply, Tiny Trek has been inspired by Star Trek with its brightly-colored shirts, teleportation sequences and the layout of the ship’s bridge with the viewscreen.

Tiny Trek also features something that is familiar to any Star Control fan: 2D space space navigation and combat sequences.  However, it is possible to fight more than one ship at once.

With over a year of game development and the Kickstarter page being created, they have surpassed their $4,000 goal, raising over $5,000 with 23 days remaining as of this post.  The more people back this project, the more they can achieve for Tiny Trek.  If they reach their next objective at $6,000, they will include tools to edit “ships and races, more color options, and the ability to edit your home world”.

Gamesare is composed of Chris Carson and Sam Dillard.  They are no stranger to bite-sized games.  They have made numerous 2D games, some of which are freeware.

It’s awesome to see Tiny Trek has reached its funding goal.  With just under a month left, I hope they continue to get support so this game can give players a chance to play deep space games that have a combination of being unique, easy to learn, entertaining and most of all, clever.

What do you think about Tiny Trek?

Link
Tiny Trek Kickstarter page
Gamesare website
Clickteam website

Star Command for Android Debuts on Humble Mobile Bundle 2!

Star Command Satellite Image

Star Command Satellite Image

Introduction

The latest Humble Bundle has been revealed: Humble Mobile Bundle 2, a collection for games for Android.  The following is included with this bundle:

  • Star Command† – Android debut
  • Time Surfer† – Android debut
  • Punch Quest†
  • Bloons TD 5†
  • Ravensword: Shadowlands*
  • Carmageddon*

* Only available if bundle is purchased for more than average price.
† Soundtrack available.

Star Command

I’ve always been fascinated with Star Command since it’s debut on Kickstarter.  They have successfully received funding for iOS, Android and Windows development.  It’s a quirky retro-looking turned-based sci-fi adventure RPG reminiscent of X-COM.  Unfortunately, my beloved Android phone died, so I cannot play this game yet.  I may get an Android device in the future or wait for the Windows version.

Pay what you want. DRM free. Awesome games. Helps Charity.

If you’ve got an Android device, definitely check this out.  While the game is very different from Star Control, it has very appealing features such as ship customization, traveling through space, exploration, quirky humor and turn-based combat like X-COM.  Millions of dollars have been raised from these bundles and it’s dirt-cheap.  This entire bundle can be purchased for the price of a single game.  This bundle expires October 19.

What do you think about humble bundles and mobile games?

Links
Humble Bundle website
New Years Thoughts (2012)

Doki-Doki Universe

Introduction

Back in June, HumaNature Studios (pronounced as Human Nature Studios despite the missing N) announced a new title: Doki-Doki Universe. It is very similar to Deko-Deko Mail except that this will also be available on PS4, PS3, PS Vita, iOS and Android. From what I’ve read, the term “Doki-Doki” is a Japanese expression used to describe a heartwarming feeling.

What does this have to do with Star Control?

The CEO of HumaNature is Greg Johnson, creator of Starflight and ToeJam & Earl. He is a longtime friend of Paul Reiche and Fred Ford. Greg also provided some of the voices in Star Control II such as the Utwig. Paul received a special thanks in the credits of ToeJam & Earl. The cartoon style was developed by I-Wei Huang, who is also one of the character designer/artists at Toys for Bob and contributed a lot to Skylanders.

What kind of game is this?

There is a plot. The player controls a robot who is rendered obsolete and wants to survive. The player travels to different planets and meets different kinds of characters. The player is asked various question that are used to determine their personality towards the path of self-discovery. Like Deko-Deko Mail, the player can send messages to other people and include images. There will be a free version and a paid version.

Conclusion

A long time ago, I noticed that Deko-Deko Mail suddenly disappeared. I am glad that Greg and his studio have announced an extension of the original product and created a multi-platform game that includes a light-hearted adventure game with its own quirky art and humor. I’m definitely going to check this out in the future.

What do you think of Doki-Doki Universe?

Links
HumaNature Studios website
PlayStation.Blog – Doki-Doki Universe Coming to PS4, PS3 and PS Vita

BLOW IT UP!

More posts coming soon… The Kickstarter phenomenon continues to grow and there is so much to talk about, so much to keep track of. News related to “video game politics” is starting to come in at a slow and steady rate and I should have something new stuff coming up.

And a belated congratulations to TFB for the continued success of Skylanders, now a billion-dollar franchise.

Stay tuned.

Mike Matei from Cinemassacre Reviews Pandemonium!

“Overall, the level design is where the game shines. The game designers [Toys for Bob] did an amazing job putting a new spin on stages that could have been easily been ‘run of the mill’. To put it simply, this game is just fun. I did get frustrated here amd there, but that’s how you know, because it’s providing you with a real challenge. If you’re a fan of platform games, then give Pandemonium a chance for its inspired level design.”
– Mike Matei

Check out this review of Pandemonium, a game created by Toys for Bob while working for Crystal Dynamics. Other TFB created for Crystal Dynamics include The Horde and of course, Star Control II.

Mike Matei is a producer at Cinemassacre, the studio that brought us the Angry Video Game Nerd, starring Mike’s longtime friend, James Rolfe. Mike is a big part in setting up each episode and is responsible for the title cards of each episode; some of his art has been auctioned on eBay. He has also appeared in the show as various characters such as The Joker in the Batman review. In addition, he also creates videos about video game tips, glitches and reviews of obscure video games.

What do you think of this review?

Links
Pandemonium! PS1 Review by Mike Matei
Cinemassacre Website
Mike Matei’s Twitter

TFB’s Next Project Still Unknown

While the announcement of a new Skylanders game (Swap Force) is no surprise, the fact that Toys for Bob is not working on this one is:

“Vicarious Visions, which has worked on parts of Skylanders since the beginning, is making the Wii U, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Skylanders: Swap Force. The Beenox studio is making a Wii version, while n-Space is making a 3DS version.

Toys for Bob is not developing this one, but they are providing input,‘ [Chris] Wilson said.”
– Dean Takahashi, “Skylanders: Swap Force is Activision’s next big bet on hybrid toy-games (preview)”, VentureBeat.com & Chris Wilson, Activision producer

Skylanders: Swap Force introduces players to another twist to the toy collection extravaganza:

  • There will be 8 new toys that can be separated into two parts, which can be mixed and matched with other parts.
  • A new portal will be required for these toys. They will not be compatible with the older portal.
  • Players can jump in Swap Force.

I really thought Paul’s sarcastic comment about emerging patterns and logic was hinting at a Skylanders game. I guess I was wrong. I guess projects have changed quickly since November 2012 and we can go back to the classic “TFB Guessing Game”. However, it is possible that Vicarious Visions, Beenox and n-Space are working on Swap Force while TFB starts on the next iteration of the Skylanders series for next year. The Call of Duty games are developed this way. Dev duties shift between Infinity Ward and Treyarch (including other studios) in order to work on fewer and larger games that can be released on an annual basis.

What do you think about Swap Force and TFB not developing this one?

Links
YouTube: Fatboy Slim – Weapon of Choice
Skylanders: Swap Force website
Toys For Bob Wins 2012 BAFTA Award
The Guardian – Skylanders Swap Force: ‘We knew we had a magical idea on our hands’
VentureBeat- Skylanders: Swap Force is Activision’s next big bet on hybrid toy-games (preview)