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Star Lords: Alpha First Look Preview

By on August 14th, 2012 5:00 pm

Star Lords | System View

Neogen2 Creations announced Star Lords in the beginning of August 2012. Star Lords, not to confuse with Steve Barcia’s Master of Orion prototype with the same name, is (also) a turn-based space 4X game for the PC. Neogen2 set the release date for Q4 2012 and is accepting pre-orders with a discount on final build and early game access since announcement day.

Neogen2 Creations is an independent game development studio, founded in 2005 by Mike Domingues. They account for 10 games in their portfolio, two of which commercial products: a football game and an adventure platformer.

Neogen2 announced Star Lords as an “epic-sized complex and dense 4X strategy game for the PC”. The features list include your usual space 4X game suspects: several races to play with, diplomacy, espionage, space combat, a randomly generated universe, research and trade.

On top Neogen2 proposes pirates (which are like mini empires on their own), minor races, leaders, slot-based colony development and domestic policies. Hot-seat (already present), Lan and online multiplayer with matchmaking is also envisaged to be included later.

But, above all Neogen2 brings back a feature that many 4X gamers love and that has been long forgotten: turn-based tactical combat. That’s right, good old TBS space combat with all it’s goods and bads. Yes, combat plays similar to Master of Orion 2.

Out of the list, at the moment, are important features like ship design or race customization.

With the introduction done let’s move on now to the juicy part. How good does Star Lords looks and plays at the moment (alpha v1.2).

Simple is good, but clean and pretty is even better

The UI is very simple and easy to use for the most part. Generally it’s easy to grasp what things are for and what you can do. The most complex screen is the colony management screen. It shows the planet info, the current buildings and the construction queue, but, Neogen2 was careful enough and introduced plenty of tooltips in this particular screen so it’s not that hard to understand what all those numbers and planet characteristics mean, especially if you’re familiarized with other games of this genre.

Star Lords | Colony Management screen

But, while this is a quite simple and easy to navigate-through UI it is still half way there on becoming a fully usable UI, not unexpected for an alpha version of course. Let’s say that it’s not very good looking at the moment.

Excluding all the missing art assets from this assessment, and some other assets which seem very primitive still, again all normal and expected for an alpha build, the UI still needs a lot of polishing evidently. Text needs to be more readable, we need more tooltips and something has to be done about those color contrasts. Dark blue on-top of black never works. Gamma correction also needs to be tweaked. That or the UI objects (ships, planets, other star system objects, trade lanes) need to be made more visible. Everything is too dark at the moment. Some cut-scenes, as little as they may be, would also be a good plus (e.g. diplomacy screen, invasions, colonization, news, tech progression).

Zooming, moving around and rotating the camera work reasonably well but there’s some extra work to be done here too. For instance, zooming out should take you further out so that you can grasp your neighborhood more comfortably. Rotating the camera is a nice feature but the rotation angle isn’t kept and always returns to the same default camera angle. I would keep the angle and reset the camera with some hot key, or at least give that option, otherwise half the point is missed.

Star Lords | System view (rotated)

I’m convinced that these UI faults, many of which minor but still important to address, are already in the devs’ minds and the whole point of going through alpha and then beta is to not only test things but also to complete the art assets and polish the UI as much as possible, or at least that’s my expectation. You still have plenty of time guys, make it prettier and more user friendly.

So, UI in the works aside let’s focus now on Star Lord’s gameplay itself.

Good old turn-based combat is back, but will it work better this time?

The game feels strangely familiar, in a good sense. I’m convinced that any person who has played other space 4X games, particularly more old school ones like the Master of Orion series, Space Empires IV or Star Trek: Birth of the Federation will feel right at home. It’s not hard to understand why. Both Star Lords’ strategic and tactical layers unfold in turn-based fashion, something rarely seen these days where, if memory serves me right, you have to come back to Space Empires IV (2000) to see something similar.

So, turn-based tactical combat is probably Star Lords’ strongest visiting card, as it’s something many space 4X gamers have been craving for a long time now. But, TBS combat is not without its share of problems or challenges, so it will be interesting to find out how Neogen2 creations has tackled (if they had or will) the old issues that plague this beloved tactical system. Issues like “who-goes-first-has-the-advantage” or the “high-number-of-ships-tedium” problem. At the moment ships can’t stack during combat, so, what happens when we’ll end up with massive fleets? Or will we not?

Star Lords | Turn-based tactical combat

Actually, after playing two games, one with the Humans for about 75 turns and another with the Rasmuth (the awkward militaristic research guys) for 205 turns, I never played battles with more than 5 to 7 ships. The reason why is that at the moment things take a long time to build and in my game I was constantly being rampaged with enemy spies sabotaging my buildings and stealing my money every two turns. I had 2 agents assigned with counter-intelligence if you’re wondering. So, it was hard to get an economy going. But getting back to TBS combat, the initiative seems to be always given to the attacker but weapons don’t have a very big range, and ships can’t move long distances either (at least with basic technology) so maybe the “who-goes-first” issue got mitigated to some extent.

It’s too soon to tell if Neogen2 has nailed the combat, on the long-term I mean (on bigger games), but it’s quite enjoyable already if you happen to like to go tactical in turns that is, if not you can always hit auto-resolve.

It’s playable, in fact it’s very playable

Star Lords offers colony development, which is quite deep actually, something not always seen in space 4X games. The Colony Management screen is quite rich in the information it provides and quite as easy to follow as there are plenty of tooltips for this one. There’s planet info, special planet traits, population info, happiness info, a building queue and slots available for construction. But, don’t expect to be trading deuterium or having to check stocks, everything in Star Lords is abstracted to you. There are no specific resources to look for or trade or special resources that you need to have to satisfy a particular technology or unit. Everything is abstracted around how rich your planets are from “Poor” to “Very Rich” (and possibly other classifications) at good old Master of Orion style.

Neogen2 announced deep diplomacy and intelligence/espionage systems as another of Star Lords’ flagship features, and from what I’ve seen so far I think they will deliver, in fact they already do deliver to a good extent. I didn’t play big and full games yet but it was sufficient enough to grasp a more complex than usual diplomacy and espionage layer. There are two entities you can interact with besides other full-fledged empires like yourself. These are: Pirates and Minor Races.

Minor races are … quite minor actually in what you can expect to do with them. In fact, as of now, they seem to be useful only for trade, although Neogen2 states in the manual that they are “useful as trading partners among other things”. What these other things may be I don’t know yet, at least there’s nothing you can do with them interactively via the diplomacy screen at the moment.

Pirates are between Minor Races and Empires but much closer to the latter. In fact in some ways they are even more interesting than empires since you can request “special” services from them, which includes attacking other empires or paying for information. But they’re pirates, and so they are not imperialistic or expansionists by nature and should not expand much, but who knows what they are up to. So, Pirate clans will tell you that the best thing you can do is to benefit from their protection from deep space’s many dangers. They will generously offer their services and do the dirty work for you, for a small fee of course. As far as I can remember this is the most complex pirate system I have seen so far in a space 4X game.

Star Lords | Pirates & Diplomacy screen

Dealing with the other empires felt right to me. When I closed free trade agreements with them they sent freighters to establish trade routes. When an empire went to war with another empire I was friends with it was fairly easy to forge an alliance with them, as they surely were happy to get more hands to join the fight. They don’t contact you for ridiculous offers and are not predictable on the way they may accept or not your deals. Sometimes a race demands more than another and it’s up to you to find out why.

I was quite happy with diplomacy overall. I didn’t use perhaps 25% of all the options available at the moment (although I tested a good bunch of them) but I liked what I’ve seen so far. My only observation is that the game must give more feedback on what some deals mean and shed more light on which deals are currently active and with whom we established them. Forging a trade agreement is nice, and a research pact sounds good, but what exactly are we getting here? The manual clarifies this to an extent but a couple tooltips wouldn’t hurt. At the moment, there’s no way to quickly check which agreements you have and what exactly you are getting. This needs to be addressed.

Espionage, or let’s call it Intelligence, is also quite developed in this alpha build. It’s nothing too flashy or very attractive at the moment but it’s intuitive and simple to use. And it’s complex too, as the devs promised it would be. You can undertake many types of intelligence actions from several types of sabotage missions, assassination, funds stealing or information gathering. Agents have several characteristics which make them more suitable for certain types of actions, you have to take that into account when sending them on missions. You can recruit up to the agent cap, which increases with tech development. If you like to have many espionage/intelligence options then you will be happy, but again, don’t expect anything too flashy, for now.

Star Lords | Espionage screen

Research is probably the game’s feature that needs more work still. I’m not saying the research system isn’t good. It’s just that at the moment it looks rather too simple and it’s not very appealing. Also, it appears as though there aren’t many techs available for research, possibly they will add more till final release but I wasn’t very excited overall with how research works at the moment. Not with the techs’ descriptions nor with the tech tree’s organization or lack of. It feels a bit messy at the moment, at least not organized in what we generally perceive as a tech tree. But, tech development is there, research labs are there, you can assign agents to sabotage your rival’s research progress and you can make research pacts. Seems like a solid base, but a lot of work is still needed here.

Star Lords | Research screen

SL offers two layers of characters: Generals and Ministers. Generals are independent entities that can travel on their own or on fleets for a morale boost (that supposedly increases hit-chance and damage). They are expected to level up although at the moment I didn’t experience that, even after many battles with generals I didn’t see a level up. Have a look there guys. The other characters in the game are the Ministers, which provide production bonuses to the planet where they’re stationed at. Characters/leaders is always a welcome feature in a space 4X game. They help by providing more depth, to combat and economy development in this case, but also help on immersion if done right especially because they level up and you can feel how their progression is important and meaningful to your cause.

In the notorious features absence list, at the moment, is race customization, but above all ship design.

The ability to customize an empire’s characteristics is a very strong asset to provide to players in space 4X games, because it allows them to create a space faring race which they can relate to much more than with preset races for whatever reasons or likings one may have. It’s something Sid Meier doesn’t have to worry about. His job is much easier when he develops Civ games. In Civ the factions are real-Earth nations and ancient civilizations so it’s much easier for Sid to offer that immersion to players. Setting the name, flag, color, description or even a background story are easy things to do but above all it’s important to give players the ability to choose their race’s traits, if a game has that kind of support I mean, which I think is the case in Star Lords, so, I think it’s possible. This is a downside for now.

But, more important still is the absence of ship design, although the devs don’t exclude it entirely for later developments if there’s enough interest from the community: “If lots of people want [ship design] and it works well within the game then we will surely consider putting it in” ~Neogen2.

Ship design is not a 4X core feature but it is an important one, especially in space 4X games because it allows players to get creative and build their own ships, again so that they can relate more with the game. It’s my impression that the majority of people can live without ship design and still enjoy a great space 4X game experience. Though, however, it’s fairly obvious that a game that offers a strong ship design concept is always superior than the same game which doesn’t. It’s always a cost/benefit question, and it’s on the hands of the devs to decide if they can make it to ship design or not by December. In my honest opinion I don’t think they can pull it off without compromising the release date.

Some scattered observations and suggestions

The game offers domestic policies that you can change to tailor your favorite government style (or one you find more useful at a particular moment).

We get a good exploration feeling in the first 30 or so turns, when we explore the surrounding systems, but that feeling quickly fades away and you need to unlock a tech to give you more range to resume your exploration. I think scouts should reveal more from planets than just how rich or nice they are. I think some characteristics could be explored further while in-orbit. This would increase the exploration’s depth as you could choose from only to survey the system to know part of the story of go from planet to planet to know a bit more. But, there’s a cool feature thought out for the future (not currently in the alpha but referenced in the manual): space debris, which can be explored with a scout ship for valuable materials, artifacts or technologies.

Star Lords | System view (rotated)

You cannot hurry production at the moment, I thought that could be dependent on some tech unlock but after checking the dev’s forums apparently it was a design decision. Time will tell if it was a right one but usually it is better to let people hurry their production.

The mini-map is quite useful and you can actually navigate on it and even zoom in or out (just the mini-map itself). But, it’s quite hard to see ships in there. Actually it’s quite hard to spot ships anywhere in the game as there’s not a ship list feature implemented, so you may end up hunting for your ships.

At the moment there must still be some errors regarding how industry works because I’m having Poor worlds producing things faster with no factories than Rich worlds with factories, and their populations are about the same. Actually the manual is intriguing here. The devs say: “An empire’s industry output is divided by the number of planets that empire possesses so if you have a planet with low resources, the ones with more resources will have to make up for that one.”. Does that mean planets share resources somehow and that rich planets help poor planets? There’s nothing in-game at the moment that supports this but I did find it odd seeing poor planets producing things faster than rich ones…

There are a couple of outstanding music scores but overall music and sound effects are not remarkable at the moment, as not unexpected in these type of games. Race interactions sounds are nice though.

The alpha build (1.2) is quite stable, only had a couple of crashes. One when starting the game after setup and another when leaving a planet after ground combat. Yes, there’s ground combat. You send your armies in and they measure forces with the invading planet’s garrison in a progression kind of graphic. Similar to Master of Orion ground combat but much more rough and simple, as you can see below.

Star Lords | Ground Invasion

Albeit the game features’ include distinct races: “8 major races each with their own ship designs, technologies, unique traits and unique abilities” I didn’t find races to be different at all, except on their traits. As I said earlier I played with Humans and Rasmuth and they shared the same ship designs and techs, not completely sure on unique abilities, if that’s the faction traits then alright. But it’s just an alpha, gosh I tend to forget it :)

There are random events. Usually negative.

There’s a tourism concept. While it looks rather simple I think it’s quite elegant. There are planet traits that boost tourism and apparently you will have more or less according to your reputation or if you are at war. Tourism can also be improved with new techs.

It’s not clear how population affects colony production, if it affects it at all.

We can’t rename planets at the moment but I’m sure that’s something the devs can easily tweak.

The alt-tab transition needs to be much faster guys. At the moment it takes ages to go from Windows to the game.

Bottom line

There’s a lot going on in Star Lords already for an alpha build. This is not a dead game or game prototype or anything like that. It is already a very playable alpha with lots of rough edges still for sure but with many features that are quite mature already, which allow you to enjoy the game to a good extent. With a fine art assets layer added on top, extensive UI polishing and lots of balancing testing I’m positive that Star Lords can turn into a great space 4X game.

My impression is that Star Lords ties in many good things from previous space 4X games, especially from older games like Master of Orion, Space Empires IV or Galactic Civilizations 2. You can definitely spot some Master of Orion references (e.g. tactical TBS combat, abstract gameplay, planetary classification). And that is a good thing.

The devs’ promise to offer a living universe and deep economical and political layers seem to be holding to expectations. There is a lot of depth in the game alright and there are many things going on. The game doesn’t feel dead that’s for sure, far from it.

The game reached alpha but I think it’s still a bit far from finished. What I mean is that although it’s playable the devs must not feel like they can relax already. There’s a lot of UI polishing to be done, art assets to include and further testing is required. In fact I would recommend the devs to reconsider the Q4 2012 release date and take into account as much feedback as they can from the community. They are your customers, treat them like gods and you’ll get an incredible return. If ship design is put in than for sure Q4 2012 will not be enough time. Get it right fellows, take your time and give us the best space 4X game you can.

I highly recommend Star Lords for old-school space 4X game veterans but it is also a very promising title for all space 4X gamers in general. If it will be a great game for everybody it is still uncertain.

Screenshots

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54 Comments


  1. Kyle "Lordxorn" Rees says:

    I am impressed by what I can see in the game. However, there seems to be a bug for 64bit systems where you cannot build anything. So I am patiently waiting for a patch on that, otherwise I will shelve it for now. Looking promising though.

    • Adam Solo says:

      But I have a 64bit Windows and I could build stuff. Were you trying alpha 1.0 from Aug 3? The devs released a 1.1 and 1.2 version since then. I used 1.2 for the preview. Maybe that solved it?

    • Jay says:

      According toi the forums, the issue is with vista 64 bits and ATI cards.

      • Kyle "Lordxorn" Rees says:

        I have Windows 7 64-bit, and yes I had the latest 1.2 and now 1.21 patches and the game got worse. The back screen is whited out, and stuff builds sometimes. Something is conflicting bad, and I have the latest Nvidia drivers, and system updates.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Let the devs know about this. As of now people were reporting only Win 64bits+ATI issues but not Win64+nVidia. Perhaps it’s some .Net framework issue. Only the devs will know.

  2. Thorsz says:

    Also 64 bit with ATI cards will not run at all. The Devs are promising a fix.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I’ve got 64bit with Nvidia, everything plays ok. I disabled v-sync because it made mouse lag a bit but kept post-processing. Running on 1280×1024.

      • Copin says:

        Adam, please tell me the 1280×1024 is on a laptop. Just thinking about a desktop with that resolution hurts my brain. Good preview though!

        • Adam Solo says:

          I’m on a laptop but I use a different LCD as display. Much more comfortable this way.

          I’m thinking in upgrading to a wider display. Can you recommend me a good size and optimal resolution? 1280×1024 is pretty standard these days but I don’t want to buy a bigger display and end up playing sub-optimal resolutions there because of lack of support. Wiki says 1366×768 16:9. Could that be it?

      • Copin says:

        Yeah, you’d get a much crisper picture, but it really depends on your laptop’s video card and what it supports. It may very well be your laptop can only support 1280×1024, so upgrading would be just a waste of money. I have an M14x for when I travel and it is 1366×768 and it looks real nice. All three of my desktop monitors are 1920×1080 though.

        • Adam Solo says:

          The laptop supports up to 1920×1080 (it’s in fact the recommended resolution). It’s my LCD display that only supports up to 1280×1024. Guess the best is to get a 1920×1080 desktop monitor then. How about the size? What do you recommend?

      • Copin says:

        Depends on what you can afford! I have a 27 inch with 2 24 inchers on either side. You can get some really nice 24 inch ones for an affordable price nowadays(150-200).

  3. Ermdog says:

    Good first Impressions Adam. The game sounds promising and I will pre-order the game. I wanted to get your feedback first and make sure it wasn’t a complete disaster. I hope the Devs read this article and improve on everything you mentioned, because if they listen, I have no question it will be a great game.

  4. Thorsz says:

    Devs said it is a problem with ATI cards and running 64 bit. It looks like a promising game, but I have been unable to get it started. There are others with the same issue. It just hangs in the task manager.

  5. Viktor says:

    So now it looks like everything has faded and blurred in the background to allow some Star Lords vs. Stardrive action! 1, 2, 3 Fight!!

    • Adam Solo says:

      If both their games turn out great both will win the fight. Moreover the styles and features are not a perfect match. One is real-time the other turn-based, so right there they are not competing directly.

      • Keith Turner says:

        Very true. Based on the description, images, and video I’ve seen of Star Lords, both games play a bit differently. I can’t wait to get my hands on the upcoming Stardrive build so I can fill you all in.

    • RandomBlue says:

      I’m more of a turn-based fan than real-time so Star Lords scores some points on that alone. I’m in the Alpha for both of them and they’re both looking like pretty nice games. The developers for Star Lords have been responsive and listen to fans as well. They’ve already decided in the last week to add ship customization/designing to the game, something they weren’t planning on having at all, due to fan feedback.

  6. Ashbery76 says:

    Looks a very safe design and also very bland visually.Calling is a possible great 4X looks a brave prediction in my view.

    • Adam Solo says:

      No eye candy no, the juice is on the gameplay. However, with a substantial visual enhancement and some gameplay aspects improved this could turn out just fine.

      It will basically depend on what the devs’ expectations are, what they hope to achieve and the amount of effort they plan and are willing to put in the game till official release. They are only half way there, perhaps the first half was the hardest. With the right amount of support, both financial and through feedback, and luck of course, I think they have a good shot to make something great.

      It’s a lot of “if’s” I know but that’s how things are in real life, and luck always plays a big factor in everything although hard-work and love for what you do counts even more. And I think a lot of love was surely put into this game.

    • RandomBlue says:

      It’s also still in very early Alpha. A lot of visual appeal can be added between now and release. Personally as long as it’s not retro-style 16bit graphics or horrendously ugly I don’t care how the game looks outside of combat as long as there are plenty of random events, things to discover and interesting empire building.

  7. Keith Turner says:

    Great preview of Star Lords. I hope Neogen2 is paying very close attention to the potential problem areas you’ve pointed out.

    I’m surprised to hear that combat consists of a simple attacker goes first method. A lot of turn based combat games use a more initiative or speed based system so that faster more agile units get to move faster or more often. Just as it does in fantasy strategy games, I think an initiative type system would add a lot of value to to sleeker ships and would likely offer the player more strategic options beyond simply building the biggest ships they can field.

    Also along the lines of combat, I am somewhat concerned about what appears to be relatively simple mechanics. It looks like attack basically consists of a weapon type (beam, missile, etc.) and a number. Defensive consists of armor. There are a ton of different mechanics and systems they could put in place to make this more exciting. A look at some turn based fantasy tactical games would again do them some good here. Turn-based is great, I’m a big fan, but not if there is no tactical depth. I don’t think December would give them enough time to make these kinds of changes though.

    My other concerns would be the tech tree and ship design. I could live without ship design if each race is provided pre-designed ships that feel and fight differently though.

    Overall, they are doing a lot of things really well from the sounds of it. Diplomacy, Espionage, Pirates, Government Policy, all of these things sound pretty exciting. It also sounds like AI is pretty decent at playing the game even in this early stage. I just hope Neogen2 can hold out a bit longer and really polish this game up. I’m not sure how soon we’ll see a nice turn based 4x space game again with this much promise, so I really hope they give it all they have.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Thanks Keith. Yes, there’s work ahead for Neogen2, as expected, but there’s a very solid base there too.

      About the combat initiative, as I said it seems to be always given to the attacker but it’s too soon to tell because we were basically fighting (me and the AI) with the same kind of space ships, so, there were no different skills yet to make the difference (e.g. different movement points) to judge this better.

      Yes, fantasy games like Heroes of Might & Magic showed the way, but even there it felt too uneven sometimes. Still in the HoMM realm. If you had a good pack of Phoenixes you would always attack first and since you had also a great attack level it was sayonara for anyone you decided to attack (anyone). I’m not saying it can’t be done I just think it’s very hard to balance this kind of stuff.

      The AI is pretty decent yes, I forgot to mention that. Gosh there’s always something missing :) I felt good challenge and didn’t witnessed anything too weird like suicide stuff or annoying either. I should say something about this in the preview.

  8. Jeff P says:

    Given recent history, it is refreshing for a publisher to give potential purchasers “a look under the hood” this early in development. Endless Space did the same, and although many weren’t completely on-board with the results, no one came away feeling cheated. I certainly wish this was the industry standard.

    • Adam Solo says:

      There would be a lot to talk about regarding the release subject. Less and less demos are being offered these days, pre-orders are opening months before release, the download era is gaining ground on physical media every day.

      Today is very easy to buy games, in fact perhaps too easy sometimes. This is great for everybody in theory, gamers buy comfortably, producers reach more people. But, there are pitfalls and we are all still adapting to this new paradigm. Well, more on this for another time I guess.

  9. Soki says:

    I’ve also played the alpha and like it. While ship customization is interesting, I hope it will not take a lot of development time out of the rest of the game. Stuff like race customization seems more important to me since it does not drive the game towards war. With the rich diplomacy options, I hope it will always be an option to be (mostly) peaceful.

  10. Harry says:

    Terraforming?
    I loved to transform bad planets to gaia like planets in MoO2..

    • Adam Solo says:

      Good point. Didn’t see anything regarding terraforming until now. But, it could be in. Perhaps at later tech stages. Don’t know yet. But it surely would be cool if terraforming is in. With the base they have it surely wouldn’t be too hard to inject that. A special type of building, some tech and money, a few changes in the code, testing (ok that’s a lot already) I think it would be quite easy to squeeze that in. Hope they think the same.

  11. Ray says:

    Well, it looks very similar to many others out there. We will have to wait and see when it is closer to finished as to whether it is worth picking up.
    I am not happy about the font type chosen. I sort of clashes with my idea of a good easily readable font type. As well, I know it is early days yet, but the shot of the planets looks very empty and doesn’t convey to me space and its surroundings, more of a matt 2D playing field cluttered with simplistic looking orbs…. just saying.

  12. Jay says:

    It’s actually quite different from most 4X games. Nevermind the combat, the devs said on the forums that the combat is the most unfinished part of the game.
    This one has the potential to be one of the best 4x games ever, mark my words.

  13. John says:

    will this game run on my new Imac i love turn base games and if not could you recommened some that do even old or new games that alow the same or close to the same option as eplorations and development of planets

    • Soki says:

      I asked in the forums if there was any chance of a linux version and they said it is very unlileky since they use some windows spacific tech since you are ok with older games you could use a virtualized windows or maybe there is a mac version of dosbox isn’t it nice to ignore all the silly punctuation characters it makes it so much easier to read really

  14. Hanseshadow says:

    My studio announced work on Star Lords July 2012. However, we had to drop the name because Atari owns the trademark. Even though I wrote a pen and paper game in 1985 named “Star Lords”, the name is trademarked. We’ve since switched from “Star Lords” to “Star Lord”. However, we may switch to “Star Lordz”. :)

    Also, Marvel is coming out with a movie that will include a character named “Star-Lord”. UGH!

    • Adam Solo says:

      Are you sure about that? The only Star Lord I see trademarked is the word “STAR-LORD”by Marvel Comics. There seems not to be anything on “Star Lords”, at least here.

      • Hanseshadow says:

        Yeah. I did further research on the Tess and didn’t see it registered. “Star-Lord” is a Marvel trademark. I don’t remember where I saw that the current company “Atari” owns the rights to Star Lords, either. It could be the rights were sold or even reverted back to the original producer of the game, since Atari has been sold and picked apart before.

        Nevertheless, we’re looking at changing the name of our game. I have a great attachment to it, since I’ve written two games in the 80’s and early 90’s based on the name “Star Lords”. However, it looks like these guys have put a lot more work into their game than my studio has put into ours (they’re much further along than we are).

    • farcodev says:

      Yeah Star Lords is an Atari game for their old 8 bits Atari 400/800/XL released in… 1984…

      Stupid trademark… is there a corp. that trademarked the stupidity yet ?

    • Star Lords lead designer here. We did some research on the name before settling for Star Lords and like you and Adam said, it seems the name isn’t trademarked (only star-lord is) so hopefully we won’t have to change it.
      Also sorry to hear about your game, I understand it must be a pretty tough situation, I surely wouldn’t like to be on your shoes. After two years of work into this game we also gained a pretty strong attachment to the name so I imagine how you feel given you made a pen and paper game so many years ago. From our part you won’t have any legal troubles if you decide to keep the name though I understand why you would want to change it.

  15. Jalida says:

    Not all that impressed to be honest. Especially less impressed after playing the alpha and then learning that the full game will be arriving 4th quarter of this year. That is very little time for what I consider to be a lot of missing features in the game which makes me believe that they won’t be included.

    I don’t honestly see this doing anything special that other games aren’t currently doing or have done before it. However, I agree, it’s got a long long way to making the UI fully usable, and full of information as well as give it some kind of look all their own. As it is now, it’s very generic looking, to be honest, probably something that I would come up with and I’m by no means somebody that should be designing UI’s for games.

    Never the less, I’ll continue to watch this game since I’ve already given them my $20, which honestly I feel I way overpayed for what this is, they’ll have to work very hard to impress me with the final product.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I agree with you that the devs should reconsider the Q4 2012 mark. Not that they are not going in the right direction or anything like that. I think they are. But, they should take the advantage of what they have already and perfect it with time, listen to the community carefully and not risk delivering an half-baked experience, which would be a shame after so much has been done for sure.

      The UI is rough around the edges still yes. It’s functional but with a lot to be done with respect to usability, especially on what concerns the appealing and “satisfying to use” aspects.

    • Every time the subject is brought up we always say the Q4 date is an estimation, not a fixed release date. We poured so many effort and money into this we won’t release it earlier just for the sake of it.
      Whether or not we release Star Lords by the end of the year doesn’t depend on how many features are missing or not, it depends how balanced, how fun, how stable and how polished the game is. Including a new feature could take a day of work, making sure the game is fun could take years.

      Saying you don’t see the game doing anything special when, like you said, there are missing features and, again, when it’s just a alpha is a bit premature I think.

      We are currently redesigning the whole UI visually, and we are also very much aware it still needs some work as far as functionality is concerned. One of the reasons why we decided to run pre orders and release the alpha was precisely to make sure we get the UI right as soon as possible.

      By the way when you pay the 20$ you aren’t buying the alpha, you are pre-ordering a full game plus getting early access to every development build. Personally I never saw any 4x game being released at less than 20$ at release, someone correct me if I’m wrong.
      Also, I take that last sentence a challenge. Challenge accepted :)

      Star Lords lead designer

      • Wodzu says:

        This game looks really promising.

        Is it possible to play an Alpha without paying in advance?

        For me the graphics is ok, I do not need any fireworks but ship desing is a must. Ship look does not play a big difference for me – I would be happy with few predefinied ship models per ship class per race. But I want to put all that missiles or beams in my way:)

    • Jay says:

      Couldn’t disagree more when you say you don’t see Star Lords doing anything special.
      The way diplomacy, espionage, colony and empire management works is unlike anything I’ve seen in a 4x game. Rough around the edge ? Yes, but it’s a alpha. The game is pretty fun already, has a huge potential, and the devs are always listening to feedback. That’s the recipe for a great 4x game.

  16. Adam Solo says:

    The Star Lords devs have announced that they WILL include ship customization in the game.

    “Also after a week of internal discussion, we can now announce we are working on the ship customization module so yes, there will be ship customization in the game”~Neogen2 Creations

    Thanks to RandomBlue for the tip ;)

  17. GuyIsGuy says:

    So I’m a bit late with this comment, but I think the answer to the “who fires first, wins” issue can be found in another turn-based strategy game which is also played on a hex field: Aerotech. In aerotech, movement turns are handled with initiative, but firing is simultaneous. Both parties declare their shots, and if anything dies, it still gets a chance to fire.

    A similar model could be used here. Both parties choose the targets for their individual ships/weapons, and then you move onto resolution, where you are shown exactly what happens. OR EVEN BETTER, both parties choose where they want their ships to move, and what they want their ships to fire at. Animated turn resolution with post-battle pop-up showing you the results of fire.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Yes, yes that is a way to go: “initiative, but firing is simultaneous”. You shoot but you always get your share back in return. MoO2 didn’t have this, and that was the problem.

      In fact it’s even something easy to do right? And you see this in other games like Civ5 for example. In Civ5 when you attack you also lose HP, a corresponding share depending on your modifiers (attack, defense) and why not also speed or movement points. After all a more maneuverable ship should be able to strike more shots or deal more damage than a less maneuverable one, in a general sense I mean.

      Probably not all of you enjoy it but I like Civ5’s one-unit-per-tile (1UPT) turn-based system. You can’t stack units, they are in a sense quite valuable. When you attack you get your share back from your opponent’s unit defense level. Probably something similar could be done in space TBS combat no? Replacing swords by corvettes and knights by battleships.

      Haa, but after re-reading your comment I guess you propose a “all-decisions-made-upfront” system and then see a cinematic resolution showing you the results. If that’s the case I would prefer to have more control and be able to change tactics during combat and not having to set everything upfront.

  18. Ashbery76 says:

    Turn based combat with too many units ruins pacing.MOO2 with all its nostalgia got tedious in large games.I think the game needs fleets caps in tactical combat and an economy making small ship numbers sizes for norm for balance.

  19. Elerium-115 says:

    If this games lacks of ship customization its a fail.

  20. Elerium-115 says:

    some word about heros and ship crew experience like MoO2?

    • Xerberus says:

      i just read through the homepage and forum of star lords … and yes, there are generals and ministers who act like heroes and can level up. they can also die of old age, sickness or be assasinated. so i think this part will be fleched out too.


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