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Star Legacy Went Vaporware

By on September 12th, 2012 1:29 pm

Abandoned Space Station -

Couple of years ago Shrapnel Games, publisher of the space 4X game Space Empires IV, announced that they were developing a brand new space 4X game called Star Legacy. The Star Legacy Development Group was born and a new feature-rich 4X game entitled as the “ultimate sci-fi 4X game” was promised for late 2011. I wrote about this announcement by then and included Star Legacy on the Games Under Development section.

Now, one of the Star Legacy Development group main developers has finally made a point of status on the game after consecutive requests made asking about game progress. Basically the game was cancelled, or close to that. “Unfortunately the game is pretty much, well, to be generous, on indefinite hold…” ~Ed Kolis (Star Legacy developer).

This is another example of how game development is not only about success cases like new Kickstarters emerging or indie developers making deals with publishers but also about difficulties, hardship and failure. And, sometimes, many perhaps, life just gets a hold of people and not everything that looked promising and fun in the beginning gets to see the daylight.

The devs mention a codebase which have grown too big and too complicated to handle for the little time they had available to work on the game. After a point they asked themselves if it would just “be best to start from scratch with a better design”. But, with time the devs went to do other things and interest in developing the game started to fade. To a point where everybody just given up.

They say to have still a version of the C# code available which they intend to release as open source after sorting out licensing details with Shrapnel. Maybe someone, or the devs themselves who knows, will still pick this up one day, or maybe not. But, as for now things look pretty grim and quite final for Star Legacy. Well, “when one dies another is born” they say. Better luck next time guys, I’m sure you got something positive out of this.

For people thinking in starting developing their own games this is a warning sign that developing a 4X game, or any other game, is very hard and requires a great deal of commitment, skill and time. And even when you meet all those requirements, things may not work exactly as you planned to. By no means feel discouraged, just feel warned of the task difficulty and seek to get as much support as you can. Try to get more hands to help you develop your dream game and use platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to help you get in your feet. We’ll be here to help you in any way we can.

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  1. Gary says:

    Seems to me this is more a case of “don’t try to program a game in your spare time.” They would have been better off trying to Kickstart it so they could spend all their time on the game… Show a video of what you already have, and tell the people the features you intend to include. I’d say the future of anyone picking up this game depends on how well “Star Lords” and “M.O.R.E.” do, and if there is anything different enough between “Star Legacy” and those games.

  2. Zeraan says:

    Adding my experience here: For those that don’t know, I’m developer of Beyond Beyaan. While I’m still working on the game, life has thrown me a couple of monkey wrenches, causing me to basically not have time or motivation to work on the game right now.

    My baby daughter is in NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) for over two months, and she MAYBE can come home next week, if she stops throwing up milk (reflux). This has been giving me stress, with the side effects of having almost no time to work on my game, and sapping my motivation. I’d rather be with my family, or with my wife to support her, than isolating myself from them to work on the game.

    The other thing is that some obstacles are not easy to overcome in developing a 4X game. I realized now that the hardest part is the User Interface. I’ve been gnawing away on how to do the planet management screen for the past month. Where do I place region display? What about the planet’s productions/consumption/population? Etc. That has been sapping my motivation as well. Often I would start up Visual Studio, ready to work, then look at the planet screen, and immediately my motivation disappeared. I feel that if I get this part over with, I can proceed with other parts. But right now, it’s an obstacle in my course.

    So yeah, there are external and internal factors affecting the development of a 4X game, and I can tell you that it is very hard to develop a 4X game unless you’re being paid to do, and it’s your job, and you can focus on it 8 hours a day. Even then, it’s still a challenge. However, most of the developers are hobbyists, like me, that have day jobs, families, or other things that take up their time.

    Maybe when I finally finish the blasted planet screen and it goes open source, other hobbyists in the same spot as me can contribute to it, and we can finally have a working and fun 4X game…

    • Adam Solo says:

      I’m really sad to hear that your daughter is in intensive care for more than 2 months now :( Fu** the game man! All that’s important now is your family as you say. And I say more, if you were not having a good time developing the game before and think you’ll not have again after your baby arrives home then by all means don’t get yourself more trouble, stress and demotivation. The game can and will wait.

      I really hope you get more hands to help you with your game venture in the future. Who knows, maybe one day, with all of what you’ve learned and with a new team of people you will be in a good position to run for a crowdsource funding program. If not, then that’s life, and there are other things much more important than games in life that’s for sure.

      All the best for on your daughter recovery. One of my closest friends also had his baby boy in intensive care since birth for about 1 month or more. Now, he’s healthy and gaining weight very rapidly. Everything will be fine, just hang in there and keep giving full support to your wife.

    • farcodev says:

      I following your game dev since a while and it’s hard if all the load of work you did would be let down.

      But the life of your daughter is a priority above that anyway and you can postpone a dev project, not a human being.

      For my part, FARC is my only own familly so I continue to building it until completion, even beyond of it.

      I hope all the best for your daughter and your familly! Keep it up! :)

    • Hypnotron says:

      Hope your daughter gets well and can come home very soon.

      RE: gui design. I loath gui design. For me I’ve found there’s no use in trying to design the gui correctly on the first, second or even third tries. For me the ONLY thing that seems to work is iteration over many many months or even years. About 6 months ago I overhauled the main interface AGAIN and now it finally feels like a keeper. The reason I believe it’s the last overhaul is because it’s the first time during all the time developing this sim that it a) looks good b) is intuitive c) allows me to add new features easily.

      It finally looks clean and sensible and this just lends itself to clean and sensible implementation of new things. As a side note, what allowed the GUI to evolve to the current design was completely letting go of a past GUI design which was not a good fit but yet somehow I had convinced myself long ago that it was the “cool” way to go. I was mentally locked into a GUI that was ultimately holding me back and making it more difficult to add features I needed.

      Best of luck to you and your family.

  3. Nuna says:

    Adam, thank you for this website and your great articles.

  4. Stian says:

    Best of wishes to your daughter..Take care of your loved ones.All other things can wait :)

  5. csebal says:

    “For people thinking in starting developing their own games this is a warning sign that developing a 4X game, or any other game, is very hard and requires a great deal of commitment, skill and time.”

    You make it sound like if there would be big ugly man eating monsters or huge insects waiting to eat those who dare attempt making games. Well, the bugs might be real, but the big man eating monsters are surely not. :)

    Yes.. it takes lots of time, even more effort and also some skill (though the only real skill you would need to start is the ability to learn, the rest would come with time). More importantly however, it takes determination.. the will to keep going even when the odds are seemingly stacked against you, to keep going even when you yourself start to doubt that there will ever be light at the end of the tunnel.

    We all have great ideas (or ideas that we think are great:P), but only very few have the will to see them through to fruition, and some who do will the realize that their idea was not that great after all, but this is all just part of how things work.

    Also this is no reason not to try it. After all, how can you be certain of how far those stars really are, if you never even try to reach for them?

    • Adam Solo says:

      I may have put it a bit too blunt yes, but, isn’t that what I’ve said? :) Commitment, skill and time. You said: Determination, some skill and lots of time.

      And, I didn’t said only the hard part, I also said for people not to be afraid to try, and made a few suggestions:

      “By no means feel discouraged, just feel warned of the task difficulty and seek to get as much support as you can. Try to get more hands to help you develop your dream game and use platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to help you get in your feet. We’ll be here to help you in any way we can.”.

      Sometimes what I feel is the greatest obstacle is the size of the team behind indie game development. Usually it’s only one person. I know what’s involved in having teams of more than 1 person but I think indie devs need more hands to make it work. Having an artist on-board is very important, a friend or two to give you feedback is key.

      • csebal says:

        Fair enough, I was a little sleepy and focused on the first part of that paragraph a little too much :)

        Oh well… not the first, not the last of my mistakes in that department.

        I agree with you on the team size issue, having someone else there helps a lot in not only getting better feedback and/or quality, but also in keeping the project alive. It is very easy to lose motivation or lose focus if you are working alone on something.

        • Adam Solo says:

          No problem :) I suspected that you only read part of it ;) I do recognize that my tone on the article was probably a bit too eery, and that’s what probably triggered your comment.

  6. Martok says:

    Star Legacy’s demise is unfortunate news, but not surprising. I’ve been periodically checking their forums for the last two years, and there’s been very little activity there for months now, including almost nothing from the devs. As the saying goes, the writing was on the wall…

  7. Ashbery76 says:

    You need a full time development team working in the same building.Having a mod style team rarely works.

  8. t1it says:

    It’s always impressive to think of games like the Space empire series, DW, StarDrive and other 4xgames only had/has (pretty much) a single developer…it’s baffling how complex these games are (both design- and coding wise) and it’s amazing how much time and hardship that ONE man has to go through day in- day out for years. Really, programming is not easy but these single 4x game developers in particular really deserve some awe.

  9. Mike says:

    Ah! What a shame, I’ve noticed Ed Kolis’ name in different community boards for a long time, I think SE4 and “Stars!” ones. Best of luck to him in any future endeavor, ’cause if he’s a fan of those games I’m sure I’d enjoy whatever he cooks up.

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