Captain Fwiffo Presents...

Paul Yan is an animator at Toys for Bob.  His YouTube profile contains a collection of animation tests and experiments, with a bunch of them starring the infamous Fwiffo.

This is another video where he shows Fwiffo zipping around the screen and then pulling a switch revealing the almighty Toys for Bob logo.  It is yet another very cool 14 second clip.

Thanks for sharing this, Paul.

Did you know about Groombridge?

From left to right: Paul Reiche and Fred Ford
Left to right: Paul Reiche and Fred Ford

"Here's a low-res and cryptic image of the two of us which we intended to put in Star Control II. We had this idea about presenting ourselves as egotistical space gods who would grant boons only to those who complimented us incessantly. That didn't work out for Star Control II, so instead we decided to apply the same notion to our employees."
- Paul Reiche III, Interview with

Groombridge is one of the ten rainbow worlds in Star Control II.   Each of these plants have plenty of valuable minerals and telling Melnorme Trademaster Greenish the location of these worlds earn credits that can be used to upgrade the Vindicator and the planet landers.  If a line was drawn between each rainbow world, it would form an arrow, with Groombridge at the point.  The arrow points to the direction the ancient Precursors migrated to.

Unfortunately, during the development of Star Control II, Accolade was desperate to get the game rushed out.  Paul and Fred ran out of time to place their godly roles into the game.  Luckily Paul still had some images of Groombridge laying around somewhere, released an animated imaged online and even mentioned it in an interview with GameSpot.

The idea was that when the player reaches this star system, they would be able to have interesting conversations with these gods, and by giving compliments, the player would receive hints and other sorts of information.  It was a really cool easter egg and it’s a shame that it never made it in the final version.  I only wish I could find out what kinds of things they would say.

And now you know! :D

More info: UQM Wiki

Squadron of Shame Ep. 6: Star Control II

Don’t be fooled by their name; they have nothing but good things to say about the masterpiece known as Star Control II.  The Squadron of Shame seeks to “rescue the unappreciated games that deserve to be saved.”  For their sixth episode, they have devoted over an hour to discussing Star Control II.  I split the audio so only the Star Control discussion is left.  Check it out:

Squadron of Shame - Star Control II (67.7 MB)

I like how they say “It’s what Star Trek should have been”.  The Star Trek did its best to stay true to the timeline established in the TV shows, but it never felt new or stood on its own.  To me, it felt like it was simply putting me in the captain’s shoes in games such as Star Trek Bridge Commander.  Star Control is a wacky colorful sci-fi adventure that involves diplomacy, adventure,  combat tactics, knowing when to retreat, meeting weird aliens, find out what happened to the other races and saving the universe.

There’s even an interesting rumor mentioned here.  The rumor is that Paul Reiche and Fred Ford were working on SC2 and the deadline was near and they took their work and disappeared for six months.  Accolade hired private detectives to find them and found them in Alaska.  The game changed dramatically with pages of dialog and the code size increased more than twice its original size.  I have no idea if that is true, but that is one really cool rumor.

One thing they discussed was the difficulty of the game and how important it is to remember facts and writing down things such as locations to progress through the game.  Although this isn’t a bad thing, it does present a steep learning curve for new players.  When I first played the game, I read a walkthrough to get through these barriers.

One of them also mentioned that if someone doesn’t like the long single-player campaign, he or she could just have fun with the super melee portion of the game and play against friends.  This is something I did once, although my friends had a hard time getting used to the different ships and gave up when they realized how many ships there were and how they’re all different.  In any case, it was just good fun.  When the netplay feature was implemented in UQM, I quickly realized that I have a lot more to learn until I can consider myself the “Melee Master”.

They even compared SC2 to Mass Effect and said that this game has a lot to learn from SC2.  Whenever a player lands on a planet in Mass Effect, the player has to move slowly on the planet, whether it be through driving or walking.  In SC2, the player can simply jump in and out of any planet.  They even stated that all the aliens are all humanoid-based in Mass Effect and in SC2, they each take on interesting and unusual forms such as caterpillars, plant life and spiders.  Each creature had its own set of voices, personalities and fonts.  Custom typography is a very tedious task and when used properly, it does a good job at emphasizing the characters and their mood.  They even went as far as saying that SC2 had better dialog than Mass Effect.

"I think in terms of making it relevant, the things I love about Star Control II, namely the dialog, the world, the sense of exploration.  All of that can be ported definitely to a new game and can be made relevant and interesting in an interesting way."
- Squadron of Shame, Episode 6

They mentioned porting The Ur-Quan Masters to a portable like the PSP, iPhone or DS and Xbox Live Arcade.  I remember a few years ago, someone started a thread on the official UQM forums about an UQM port.  Some Star Control fans have contacted Denny Atkin to the point where he had to mention that he’s powerless in this situation because:

"... I can only do things with your suggestions for the website. I can't help you with other suggestions, such as getting features added to your Xbox 360, raising your gamerscore, leaking top-secret release dates, or making this a better world by getting Star Control released for Xbox Live Arcade. Sorry!"
- Denny Atkin, Games Editor, This Week in Xbox

It doesn’t matter anyways.  Mr. Brian has been hard at work at his XNA version of SC2 which runs both on PC and Xbox 360.  It contains plenty of features such as 4-player melee and plans on implementing some online features.  It’s really cool and has great potential.  You should check out his blog if you haven’t seen it already.

A special thanks to the Squadron of Shame for taking the time to discuss Star Control and to Megagun for sending me a link to their podcast.

Another Star Control Dream

I just woke up a few minutes ago, and I had another short dream related to Star Control.  I was wandering around in an electronics store and I stumbled into the video game section of the store.  I don’t remember which store I was in.  I was walking around looking at games.

Anyways, I walked around, I saw a DVD case labelled “Star Control”.  I don’t remember if it was the first game, Star Control II, a sequel or some weird remake.  I immediately picked it up and I opened the case.  There was a disc labelled “Star Control” with a cool design on it. and a paper manual attached to the side.  There was a seperate piece of paper with a list of names and someone told me to get their autographs.

I closed the DVD case and I woke up.  It’s cool to have Star Control dreams.  It shows that I think about the games more than I thought, which is a good thing.  I’m not going crazy or anything like that.  It could be foreshadowing the day I do walk into the store to buy it.  I’d have to look this up in a dream dictionary for more details.

Freeloader Vol. 1: Star Control 2

Scott Sharkey is the senior editor of the Features section of After clicking around the website, I discovered that he started a weekly guide called Freeloader, a guide to free games.  Although there were only 20 issues written, the first issue covered Star Control 2.  Here are a few of the nice things Scott writes about SC2:

"It's one of those games you'll frequently find on an editor's TOP BESTEST GAMES EVER list..."
"The game combined equal parts real-time space combat, exploration, resource management and diplomacy with an epic plot in a formula that has since been imitated, but not yet surpassed, by games like Homeworld and Freelancer."
"...navigating conversation trees is actually made engaging and fun by giving the player real control over their actions, allowing them to befriend potential allies, placate enemies, or just go around insulting everyone until the whole universe hates their guts."
"...combining the best features of the 3DO version and the original PC release." (describing The Ur-Quan Masters re-release)

Scott Sharkey has also created the Star Control website, Ur-Quan 08, where he writes about the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za running for president.  I remember him sharing this on the UQM forums a few years ago, and we all loved it and people may not remember it now, but it’s still up and worth taking a look at.

The Ur-Quan running for president
The Ur-Quan running for president

Thanks Scott.  You can read the full article here.

Chris Remo Loves Star Control

I was reading some news on Gamasutra when I found a very interesting reference to Star Control in one of them:

"Today's news should increase the likelihood the Tulsa, Oklahoma‐based studio will live to celebrate its eighteenth birthday in its namesake year when, according to Toys for Bob's <em>Star Control</em> series, nearly a million will perish in an event known as the Small War."
‐ "Developer 2015 Gets Funding, Opens Casual Game Studio", Chris Remo

The Small War of 2015 was a year where about a dozen weapons of mass destruction were unleashed on Earth and the Androsynth were created.

After doing some further reading, I realized that Chris Remo is a very busy person.  He helped in founding, worked as an editor-in-chief of ShackNews, editor-at-large of Gamesutra and co-hosts the Played Podcast.  I thought this was awesome and I contacted him regarding his feelings towards Star Control.  This is what he had to say:

"I played tons of Star Control and Star Control II back in the day, and I'd love to see Toys for Bob able to make a new entry in the series. I interviewed Paul a couple years ago when they were finishing up Downhill Jam, and we talked about how they wanted to do a sequel and how he has a number of ideas for it.

Anyway, I'm definitely a fan. I feel that with the success of Stardock's Galactic Civlizations series and the Ironclad‐developed, Stardock‐published Sins of a Solar Empire, it has been proven that there is a real market for games like Star Control‐‐obviously, it's not exactly the same thing, but generally the idea of a spacefaring large‐scale strategy game is something that has appeal. As you have noted on your blog, the Space stage in Spore is yet more evidence of that."
‐ Chris Remo

On May 20 2006, FileShack released a HD video interview between Chris and the god himself, Paul Reiche III.  After talking about Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam for five minutes, Chris asked him about Star Control before the interview was over:

Video link

After the interview, Paul granted Chris the ability to fly and to blow things up using his mind (just kidding).  Like I’ve said before, it’s great to know that there are people out there who are involved in the video game industry who are fans of Star Control and took some time to throw in a few Star Control references.  Many people believe that Star Control II is an obscure game that 99% of the world has never played, and with people mentioning Star Control in articles, it shows that the series is has more appeal than just a “cool DOS game”.

Thank you Chris for your response and supporting Star Control.  Chris has his own blog, called Remowned.

Duke Nukem Loves Star Control

I just got a message from someone very famous and powerful. ;) This person has shown his support for a new Star Control game.  His name is Duke Nukem:

CLICK HERE: Duke Nukem Loves Star Control (MP3)

"I love the smell of dead Ur-Quan in the morning. I love exploring hyperspace, controlling starships, blasting enemies and getting it on with that hot Syreen commander, Talana. Star Control 2 is the best science fiction game ever made! Activision better let Toys for Bob make a new one or else I will get medieval on their asses! You wouldn't like me when I'm angry, Activision! What the hell is Frungy anyway? Star Control rules!"
- Duke Nukem

This is no imitation!  This is the real thing made by the same person who did the Duke voiceovers for Duke Nukem 3D, the amazing Jon St. John.

He did a great job with this.  Although we only communicated through e-mails, he got the audio done in a timely and professional manner and I had the biggest smile on my face when I played that MP3 file for the first time.  It was awesome!

I'd like to thank Jon St. John along with everyone else at Jon St. John Productions for their work and allowing me to share this online.  It really means a lot to me and the rest of the Star Control community.

And yes, Star Control rules!

Star Control 1 - Mmrnmhrm Maneuvers

Moonsdad brings us another blast from the past with some Mmrnmhrm Transformer tactics in Star Control 1.  The background music is the song “There is no law” by Messiah.

In Star Control II, the Transformer was renamed to X-Form, presumably for legal reasons.  Anyone can make a patent for just about anything nowadays. :S

It’s a really cool ship.  The ability to switch between 2 different forms creates a unique set of strategy.  The X-Wing form has a powerful dual laser that concentrates fire at a single point, but the ship has slow speed and a fast turning radius.  The Y-Form fires 2 weak missiles that can turn towards the enemy if fired at the right angle, fast speed, but a slow turning radius.  Switching between forms also cost battery power, so a player must determine what time is right for both forms and whether or not to sacrifice the battery power to have a different set of strengths and weaknesses.

Thanks Moonsdad for the video.

Spore - VUX City

ZarlaSheenaza has been playing Spore for a while, and made a bunch of interesting creatures.  One of these creatures is the VUX, one of the members of the Hierarchy Battle Thralls.  The VUX are well known for their hatred of earthlings (e.g. us) for their sheer ugliness.

She did a good job at making the transition from 2D pixelated images to 3D Spore creatures.  The way the VUX walk reminds me of the way dinosaurs walked in Jurassic Park.  I think it’s funny how the VUX are wearing pirate hats in the video.

Zarla also has a DeviantArt page, which has some Star Control drawings which are worth having a look at.

Thanks ZarlaSheenaza.

P.S. I know I shared a bunch of Spore related stuff lately, and I have many other things that I can blog about, which will start showing up soon once I get the time, so Star Controller won’t turn into an exclusive Spore fansite.  It’s cool that people are taking the Star Control aliens and placing them into the game, and the way the move around can be funny sometimes.

Star Control Influences in Spore?

I’ve been reading a bunch of articles about Spore and I noticed that there are a bunch that mention Star Control because of its space stage.  The space stage involves creating a ship, exploring various regions of the galaxy, forming alliances and making new enemies.

Some loyal fans have taken the time to create alien races from Star Control, make them in the Spore Creature Creator and upload a video of it on YouTube.

Here are some quotes I found while reading about Spore:

"Its main phase, the space age, is just a modern (and to a large extent, mediocre) version of old classics like Starflight, Star Control 2 or Alien Legacy."

"Spore's fifth phase borrows heavily from games like Star Control 2 ‐‐ which is still better in various aspects like diplomacy, fitting out your spaceship and a good mix of story line and free exploration. We suggest you look out for the still maintained open source version, 'The Ur‐Quan Masters'."
‐ Jörg Langer, "Spore reviewed",
"Starting as a cell, we watched as a meteor crashed into our randomly generated land and we emerged.  We were cute, a little blue with a beak and some little tentacles.  The perspective is top down and, in our mind, we reminisced about Star Control before moving on."
‐ Scoop, "Live from E3",
"It has the 'just‐one‐more' aspect more fiercely than any other game I've played. More than Star Control, more than Sim City, and even more than Civilization."
‐ Lawrence Sonntag, "Review ‐ Spore (PC ‐ Windows)",
"After the strangely hurried pace of the first four stages, the Space stage (see 1990's Star Control) brings Spore to a screeching halt..."
‐ Gary Hodges, "Alas, Spore Isn’t the Leap You’ve Been Led to Believe",
"Try the classic exploration and action game called Star Control II. The open‐source tribute, The Ur‐Quan Masters, is the full game."
‐ Darren Gladstone, "Casual Friday: Why Spore Won't Work",

"The chief failing of Spore is that it's trying to be five games, each one a shallow and cutdown equivalent of another game..."
‐ Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, "Zero Punctuation: Spore",

What all these quotes have in common is that the space stage reminded them of Star Control II, and it does not make Spore any better than it.  Spore is a good simulation game and Star Control II still stands on its own as an amazing action adventure game.  This is an example that no game has been made that can replace the Star Control universe established by Toys for Bob.

It’s interesting that Star Control is being mentioned in Spore reviews.  There are more people who know about Star Control than I thought.  These people may not be hardcore Star Control fans, and yet they reviewed Spore and found a way to compare it to Star Control II.  All this time, I thought the only references to Star Control were in the Star Control races that people made with the Creature Creator and I was surprised when I found multiple reviews comparing Spore to Star Control.  I honestly did not see it coming.  I’m not bashing Spore in any way.  With all the hype, Will Wright interviews, DRM controversy, release dates being pushed, Spore was the game that made some people think about Star Control in the year 2008.  I take this as a sign that Star Control still maintains the strong cult-following that it’s been known for since the first game and that the people supporting TFB’s desire to make a new Star Control game feels a bit larger now. Thanks to everyone above who took the time to mention Star Control in their articles.