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StarDrive Open Beta Preview

By on March 11th, 2013 11:34 am

StarDrive | Real-time space 4X strategy game | Open beta

Back in August of 2012, I wrote a preview of StarDrive, a (pausable) real-time 4X space strategy game for the PC being developed by Zero Sum Games. At that time, I was really impressed with the game’s vision and the passion of its developer. Quite a few months have passed since then, and I’ve been monitoring the game throughout its continued development. Since then, the gameplay has evolved numerous times, as many of the concepts and design elements have been implemented, tested, and then tweaked.

StarDrive has now entered open beta status on Steam, opening access up to anyone who purchases the game. I’ve now spent about 33 hours with StarDrive since the start of this year (and many more prior to),  and with open beta now upon us, it seems like an ideal time to provide you with a brief update to our original preview. In this preview, I’ll be focusing primarily on what items have changed or been added since my original preview, as the vast majority of the gameplay elements described in my original preview still hold true today.

New Game Setup Options

At the time of my last preview, StarDrive was missing a lot of the options we’ve come to expect out of our 4X games. The game setup screen, aside from the race design portion, was rather bare-bones. A galaxy size setting was present, but that was about it. Thankfully, this is not the case anymore. The game setup window now includes many of the options you’d expect to see in a 4X game, including setting the number of players, game difficulty, and game pacing.

Another new option that you can select during game setup is a game mode called Ascension. This mode is an alternative to the sandbox mode, selected prior to starting a game, and involves working your way towards a centrally located planet and defeating its guardians, the remnant, before any other races can. I can’t comment too much on this mode as I’ve not spent much time with it yet, but I will definitely be spending some time with it by the time our review of the finished game comes out. On a related note, the quick battle mode I mentioned in my initial preview is no longer present in the game as of this time.

Race design was already present and well defined, but has since been updated and improved upon even further. All 8 races are now present and accounted for. Each of these races has a unique racial portrait/diplomatic video, diplomatic dialog, personality, unique hull designs across all ship sizes and types, unique animated ground troops models, and preset trait choices that uniquely identify that race’s background and playstyle. You can still modify and tweak whichever of these 8 base races you choose to play as, including the capability to change your flag design, color, faction name, race name, and most importantly, trait selection. Using a positive/negative trait point system, you can design your empire with whichever strengths you choose as long as you offset these points with weaknesses to balance your points out.

Several of the original traits have been re-defined or re-imagined since the time of my original preview. One of the more recent additions is a trait called Pack Mentality. Pack Mentality is a trait which provides a bonus, or reduction, in damage based on how many friendly ships are nearby. This is a trait the Vulfen, a race of space wolves, have by default, though you can of course add it to any race you choose during game setup. This particular trait allows a race to consider using many smaller ships and carrier class ships, even when faced with the huge capital class ships of their enemies.

Research and the Research UI

The research UI has been rebuilt completely since the August preview. While a fair amount of the techs are still the same, or very similar, the way this information is displayed looks much better than it once did. As far as UI changes go, the biggest enhancement has been the addition of a queue that allows you to schedule your research choices in advance. This was one of the common features StarDrive lacked for awhile, but it is now present and works great for those who like to plan ahead.

StarDrive | Research

Research options have been expanded a bit and include a lot more choices then before. The trees have been reorganized and new techs have been added. Many of these new techs have opened up some new strategic choices in combat. For instance, one new item, warp inhibitors, allows you to prevent enemies from warping when near the ship. This can be used to prevent enemy escape or to blockade enemy ships. There are also new armor choices, new espionage and troop upgrades, starbases, planetary defense weapons and shields, and so on. All in all, StarDrive has tech choices that cover all areas of gameplay, but some of the trees have a lot of room for additions. There also are not currently race specific techs, although this has been discussed and could happen in the future.

As I just mentioned, in StarDrive, all of the races have access to the same tech choices. That said, there are differences in the hull designs you unlock that are dependent on your race, as each race has its own unique hulls. Since hull shape, available slots, and slot types can play a large role in how your ships end up being designed, these differences are more then just an art replacement.

StarDrive | Open beta - Ship design

While on the topic of research, I’d also like to mention that there are some hidden technologies, and even hidden technology paths/trees within the game. These techs, once unlocked, add an interesting twist and may provide the player with some significant advantages depending on certain situations. Not all of these are unlocked the same way, so it’s hard to tell if I’ve found them all yet or not.

The galaxy feels more alive

StarDrive has made great strides towards making its galaxy feel more alive. One of the primary ways I feel they’ve done this is by adding unique anomalies on certain planets. Often these anomalies are the remnants of an ancient shrine or an abandoned mine. These anomalies, once found, will need to be visited by some of your ground troop shuttles in order to discover what they contain. I’m not sure exactly how many different items they can contain, but I’ve been pleased to find numerous artifacts that can enhance your entire empire, as well as ancient warships and technology. Aside from these anomalies, there are quite a few other surprises present in the game that I’ll let you discover for yourself.

As it turns out, some of the best planets are going to require a fair bit of effort to colonize. These planets are often protected by a remnant race that is armed with formidable warships by early game standards. If you can avoid war long enough to spare a fleet to defeat these guardians, the planets tend to be some of the best available. However, often times I’ve found myself reluctant to do so when I know some of the AI are anxious to swoop in and attack at any time.

Well, how do I know the AI has ill will towards me? Typically, the AI race in question will have already told me via a not so pleasant diplomatic meeting that my defenses are pathetic. In some cases, they may have even have declared outright war. In these situations, moving your fleet to take a great planet can present a risk, as an invasion force could be coming in just outside your sensor range. Once you meet the Opteris, a robotic insect like race that seems to hate everyone, you’ll probably hate how they ruin your plans as much as I do. You’ll also grow to appreciate the Pollops, a plant like race that almost always seems to desire peace. At times, they may be the only race not sending invasion fleets your way.

StarDrive | Open beta | Invasion fleets

A lot of other elements also make the galaxy feel alive. Watching transport ships fly back and forth amongst your empire, along with your troop shuttles and warships, and all the ships orbiting planets, add a nice touch of life to the vast openness of space. On the right side of the UI, you will often receive messages about empire wars, planet captures, and planets experiencing an axis shift that adjust their climate as well. The stats windows even display how much success specific ships have had out in the field of battle, so you can track how many ships a particular member of your armada has destroyed, for example.

Make no mistake though, there is certainly room for many more elements that could greatly enhance the game experience. Pirates are still very rough around the edges and are relatively imbalanced, minor factions (only one currently) seem to be very much a work in progress, space monsters don’t exist currently, and galaxy events consist primarily of planet axis tilts and hyperspace flux. On the promising side, we may see a news robot, mining, and maybe some of these other items before release.

Espionage Improved

As indicated in my original preview, Espionage was a bit of a mess initially. The system was somewhat unintuitive and didn’t work as well as originally intended. StarDrive’s espionage system has since been completely revamped, and it now allows you to hire agents that you will send out on missions against your opponents. These agents can train to gain levels, and these levels increase their chance at success when tackling more difficult missions. Aside from training, they can also sabotage, infiltrate, rob, and even incite rebellions at higher experience levels. On the other hand, any agents not assigned to tasks are automatically assigned to defensive duties, and this is an important consideration.

The AI is no stranger to espionage anymore, and you’ll need to have agents ready to thwart their efforts against you. If you’re lucky, you’ll find out who is up to no good within your empire. I tend to prioritize these races for invasion, as a way of saying thanks, of course. Overall, the new espionage system offers a nice alternative way to really mess with your opponents, even from afar, and even in times of peace.
StarDrive | Open beta - Counter espionage


Federations are a new feature that has just recently been implemented. The basic idea is that you can ask your allies to join a federation, which you will lead, essentially combining your forces. These types of arrangements take time however, and in addition to being more powerful than your ally, you will have to solve any outstanding issues they have and prove yourself as a worthy ally for a long period of time. Once formed, your former ally’s troops, planets, technologies, etc, all become yours to command for the remainder of the game. For example, when I asked my ally to join my federation, he informed me that I would have to eliminate another race he was at war with first. I was pretty motivated to do so, as I had already received word that two enemy races had joined together in their own federation. Eventually, I was able to merge him into my empire, but my opponent also formed a federation with not one, but two other races, and this set the stage for a rather intense showdown.

Other improvements and thoughts

StarDrive has been undergoing a lot of changes on a monthly and even weekly basis. I’ve tried to hit the highlights, but I’m also going to bullet point a few other changes worth noting.

  • Improved UI across the board – but I’d expect a lot more UI changes as more people test things out
  • Mods are fully supported and encouraged by the developer. Some are already in development
  • Stability is greatly improved
  • AI is much better at espionage, attacking, and defending than before. They will bomb and invade your planets given the chance
  • A few secrets and other events are already present and really enhance the 4X experience
  • Additional features are still planned prior to release

StarDrive | Open beta - Space combat

Final Preview Thoughts

StarDrive has come a long way and had undergone significant improvements. It is recognizable as the same game I played back in August of 2012, but at the same time feels completely new and different. A lot of the features or gaps that I once found have been filled and finished, and at this point the game offers an enjoyable experience. While there are of course bugs still present, with more and more being patched every week (even on weekends), they don’t tend to completely halt a sandbox game in their tracks like they used to. In a recent game, I was able to achieve victory over the course of quite a few hours/days and encountered only 1 crash. Your mileage may vary of course, but this is far less than I used to encounter. I will say that you should expect to encounter some bugs, but once reported, they don’t tend to stick around very long.

One note of caution for those considering the open beta. There is not currently an in-game tutorial that will walk you through how things work. While StarDrive does contain some in-game videos and written instructions, they are almost all a bit out of date. While I have been playing for quite some time now, and have become quite familiar with the ins and outs of the game, a new player is going to have quite a bit to learn on their own. There are quite a few videos from the closed beta period on Youtube with new videos now being recorded every day, as well as many helpful people on the StarDrive forums if you are in search of answers, but in some cases you will have to perform some trial and error. Once you can overcome some of the learning curve, things get a lot easier to understand and you’ll start getting more enjoyment out of the game.

In my last preview, I had some very optimistic thoughts about StarDrive. I am happy to report that I still do today. StarDrive may be entering its open beta stage, but it’s development is likely to continue for a long time to come. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, I’d highly recommend you bring them up on their forum as it will help make the game better for all of us. I look forward to seeing its progress and reviewing it when the initial version exits beta status. For now, I’m going to go back and defend my empire, which is currently under attack by two invasion fleets.

StarDrive is currently on open beta and is available for pre-order. If you’re interested in getting instance access, buy it at GamersGate with 17% off (you’ll receive a Steam key).

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  1. Loyal_Viggo says:

    Thanks for the updated-preview-article.

    I’ve only been playing since Friday last but am enjoying it greatly. I only have a few small gripes:
    1) not enough to research
    2) I’d like to be able to warn AI players away from my systems (like they do to you)
    3) I’d like to be able to set fleet waypoints, and for ships built to automatically join a set fleet (maybe you can and I missed it?)

    Other than that, this beta is in better shape than many final releases will ever be.

    Looking forward to final version and then the inevitable total conversions (Read: Warhammer 40k, Star Trek, Button Moon etc… (ok kidding about Button Moon))

    • Zaknafein says:

      The game is totally awesome :) Has that great MoO2 feel. Already a must have for 4x fans IMO :)

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        Yeah I hear you, many MOO2 references in this, from classifying planets in terms of rich, ultra-rich etc, to the race creation and then ship design.

        Probably more I just can’t remember now I’m at work.

        I kept having MOO2 flashbacks…

    • Tim says:

      Go to the fleet menu on the mini-map, there any fleets that you have keybound can requisition new forces they have lost from WHEN you keybound it (no having to memorize fleet composition) and you can ADD ships to the fleet from this menu and set up their formation and AI response.

      All of this will automate the construction of the new fleet assets and they will automatically fly to your fleets present location.

    • Paul Fowler says:

      Out of curiosity how many research technologies are there? Is it very far short of MoO2?

      • Rain says:

        Around 2 dozens or so, not really too much to choose from, and those techs are a bit “simple” and too straight forward if you know what I mean.

      • Keith Turner says:

        Roughly 85 not counting any hidden technologies. There are some techs that don’t provide a new item/building of some sort and instead provide a flat bonus to something like spy rolls or FTL speed, but for the most part these provide physical items like new weapons, hulls, or economic buildings. Unlike MoO 2, there aren’t any infinite techs to research that will keep increasing things by x% or miniaturizing weapons currently. When you finish researching everything, you’re done with research basically. I’m not sure what, if any, changes are planned prior to release in this area. There will be/are mods that will change things up though.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:


      30 hours in and I’m now experiencing my first fatal errors… repeatable too.

      Unfortunately, the game ‘bug report’ section has reached it’s capacity for uploaded images!?! so I can’t even post it there for Zero…

      I’m going to have to wait another month for the bugs to get ironed out.

      Great game though.

      • Keith Turner says:

        Not a bad idea. At the pace patches are being produced, I’d expect your bug should be fixed pretty quickly. I can’t even imagine what the game will look like in a month’s time if this pace continues. Daniel has added a beta opt-in to the beta now for the truly brave. It may fix your error, or introduce new ones. I haven’t tried it myself, but I know he has made significant performance enhancements in that version (1.06j now, I think). I’m curious to see what, if any, new features we will see by release once all these bugs and crashed get worked out.

        • Loyal_Viggo says:

          Keith, thanks for your reply, I appreciate it.

          I have full faith in Daniel, he’s doing a truly superb job and I wish him all the best.

          This game right now is fantastic, once finally finished it will be something to rival MOO2.

  2. DevildogFF says:

    Repeating what I said in the other story, sorry for spamming, this just seems like a better place for my comment:

    I’ve long been a vocal fan of Stardrive, to the point that I sound like a fanboy. Truth is, it’s hard not to be.

    The game is in great shape. Is it perfect? No, but the rough edges are smooth enough that it’s all fixable and Zero is hands down one of the most responsive developers I’ve ever seen. It’s hard NOT to like him.

    I’ve watched it grow over the past year from little more than a proof of concept to a full-fledged real-time 4X game that has the potential to win a lot of people over.

    It needs a good tutorial. It needs some UI love. It needs its core gameplay to be finished (the pirate encounter, the Revoranii, etc.), but I have a gut feeling that it will all come together to present as one of the best 4X games to date. Truth is, everyone should buy a copy. If only to support a great example of what one man can do with an indomitable spirit and with a fraction of the resources these BIG companies have.

    TL;DR: I’d much rather spend $25 on Zero’s game than waste it on $60 train-wreck city simulations that require me to be online…*cough cough*

    This game is worth the money and then some. Get hyped.

    • mrseanpaul81 says:

      I already spend that $60 bucks and got discouraged. I have yet to play that city simulation crap!. (I knew I should have waited for the reviews).

      I shall support Zero… Looking forward to the final release!

      • Ermdog says:

        I dunno, I bought Simcity and I love it. Yeah I was mad that they had server issues and wasn’t able to fully enjoy it the first few days, but things have smoothed out now and I’m able to play.

        I think its funny how everyone over reacts when a server based game has trouble on launch. Almost everyone has some problems on launch with online games. I went into it expecting they would have issues, but I’m not going to bash the game because I couldn’t play right away. I’m not saying its acceptable, but the actual game is great. The only reason why ppl say it sucks is because they had server issues, not because the game is bad. Everyone is impatient and wants everything now, and are quick to jump to conclusions. Maxis/Ea knows it messed up, and they have made up for it by giving everyone a free game. So stop complaining and before calling it crap, play it

      • Varquynne says:

        Yeah. They had pretty bad server issues. I was expecting that. Barring that, the game is really fun, though. Amazing depth of simulation. I consider it money well spent.

    • monsterfurby says:

      I bought SimCity for $30… you just need to find the right store.

      Allowed be to buy SC AND StarDrive for the price others pay for only SC. Price awareness is a great thing this day and age.

  3. Jeff P says:

    Great preview!

    That being said, the $64,000 question (old TV series reference) is: buy the game now or wait until it is more fully developed?

    I’ve been following this game on its site and lurking on the game forum, and am concerned that it may not be solid enough for those of us who don’t want to be paying beta-testers. I’d rather play a game than play with it. Is SD ready for prime time now or does it require more work to be truly enjoyable?

    Nothing kills a gaming experience faster than an unstable, buggy product. It would be a real shame to develop a distaste for SD so soon because the game is not mature.

    What are the opinions of those who’ve tried it?

    • Keith Turner says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I understand where you are coming from. Testing beta products can be a frustrating endeavor. In fact, it can burn you out to the point that you don’t even desire to play the game when it is finally released. I’ve been down that road before, and to prevent that, I tend to take long breaks in between play sessions of beta games. On the other hand, when I do play, I try to diligent about reporting bugs, and I have reported quite a lot in months past.

      My response to your question would be that the game is very playable and enjoyable today, but it is still a beta. There are some crash issues being reported, and a lot of UI and ease of use type requests coming in right now. The game is going to be prone to receiving 1 to 3 patches per week due to the rapid pace that Daniel has been working to patch out issues while still adding features. This can potentially cause issues if you are playing a game and then receive a patch or two throughout the process. If you want to just enjoy the game without any worry, and have something else to play now instead, that is certainly a sensible choice.

      The positive takeaway from all of this is that Daniel IS working hard on the game, and released a patch on a Sunday evening for his game that just went into beta on Friday. I have no doubts regarding his enthusiasm and dedication to this project. On more than one occasion, he has openly asked “What do you guys want to see?”. While he can’t deliver on every promise, I’ve seen him deliver on a lot of them. He’s not having to fund a whole team either, so the risk of him overextending and disappearing like Legends of Pegasus is extremely minimal in my opinion.

      In short, the game is fun to play, but a beta is a beta.

      • Jeff P says:

        Thanks for the quick response, and your honesty. I think I’ll hold off for now and wait for a more finished version. I have other games to play and I can pick it up later after all you beta testers have polished it nicely!

  4. cem şancı says:

    I experienced many game crash problem. Actually, I couldnt play the game more than 10 minute on my brand new game laptop.

    If they cant fix the game and relase it early, it could be easly another disaster like legend of pegasus.

    • Keith Turner says:

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad experience thus far. Have you reached out to Daniel/Zero on his forums or via PM to try and resolve it? I’ve seen some people experiencing crashes, and I know he has been trying his best to figure out the cause. In some cases, I believe audio drivers were to blame.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “If they cant fix the game and relase it early, it could be easly another disaster like legend of pegasus.” There are a couple of major differences here. One is that Legends of Pegasus was a released product, never offered a beta period, and did not have responsive developers from what I’d seen on their forums post-release. Two is that Legends of Pegasus had critical bugs even in the main campaign, and these were causing everyone to have issues. I do apologize that you have experienced crashes, but it is a bit early to compare this beta product to LoP, isn’t it?

      Steam will also offer a refund to anyone purchasing the beta as far as I know. Since this a pre-order product, I believe it is within their policy to do so. If you don’t want to work through the issue, you can probably get your money back and repurchase at a later date when things are fixed, if you are so inclined.

      • cem şancı says:

        Thanks Keith.

        Actually, I dont want to take my money back. I’m, probably, one of the oldest gamers in the universe, since Sinclair computer and one of the supporters of the gaming industry, (also an old worker in gaming industry), I just want to see good games like Star Drive reach to high sales volumes.

        Anyway,I’m stil hoping all the crash issues will be corrected at the final edition. I see that Zero trying to patch every problem. The game is already looks like a finished product, so I belive most of the players will not experience problem with the final version.

        And, your preview is perfect. Congrats.

      • ScottF says:

        No Crashes here. Running continuously for more than 30 hours now.

    • Njordin says:

      This is totally user-system dependent. i had never a single crash on my system, playing this game for months. ( maybe a lot of luck ) but a good friend never had one too, but my ex-gf has a lot of them ( on her laptop )

    • zigzag says:

      I haven’t experienced any crashes either, but then I’ve never had any problems with XNA.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      No crashes for me either, in about 22hours of gameplay all the same late-stage game…

      LOVE this game, can’t wait to free the Oliwoks (or however you spell it)

  5. Jake says:

    Wow, I am excited to play this game. Sounds like this game may finally cause me to stop coming back to GalCiv2.

    To any devs that read this, please focus on the AI. I realize that the desire to cram in as many features as possible, multiple tech trees, etc., to convince people to buy the game has a certain appeal, but if the features are not implemented well by the AI they are pointless (I am looking at you Civ 5).

    Good AI doesn’t shine through immediately but if GalCiv2 proved anything it is that a reputation of advanced AI will sell many more copies of the game in the long run.

    Looking fantastic though, looking forward to playing it.

    • Keith Turner says:

      AI is getting better all the time, but it’s not as devious as I’d like to see just yet. Then again, I prefer single player games and like my AI to be as cunning and manipulative as possible.

      • Jake says:

        Good to hear.

        BTW, thanks for the great preview of the game. It was very easy to read and left me with no questions that you could have answered.

  6. Lens Flares Suck says:

    Wake me up when there’s a demo. I have bought my last ‘no-demo’ game.

    • Keith Turner says:

      That’s a fair request and one I can’t fault you for. I’ve been burned a few times in recent years on unfinished projects. StarDrive may have a demo by release, but I don’t think they will be focusing on creating one until all or atleast most other issues are resolved.

      The game is fun, but it is a beta, and if you aren’t sure about it, there is no harm at all in waiting.

    • Njordin says:

      this game is totally a “have fun or get your money back” predestinated game. thats an objective opinion, subjective is how much fun >you<´ll have…

  7. Mark says:

    Does Stardrive use starlanes on the strategic map?? Or is it free movement. Anyone know?

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      It’s ‘free movement’, and also your ships don’t appear to have a defined range? I was using basic scouts to explore the entire galaxy with no refueling etc.

      Another good feature is you can create ‘Star Lanes’ between owned planets, and all your ships in that lane gain increases to their speed.

      • Mark says:

        Hmm, not sure about the no defined range thing, I think that having a range and improving it with technology would be better.

        On the other hand, “no starlanes” is awesome :)

        • DevildogFF says:

          There are some serious talks to limit range to provide more strategic decisions and to limit expansion a bit.

          Plus, it just doesn’t make sense for your ships to be able to go ANYWHERE…

          Zero has been very responsive, so most likely this will be addressed before final release.

  8. JohnR says:

    Thanks for the head’s up Keith. Stardrive does sound like it’s shaping up nicely. Interesting though how the ‘Ascension’ mode sounds a little like ‘Rise of the Shakturi’ from Distant Worlds, and come to think of it SINS: Rebellion has something similar as well.

    I had planned on signing up for the Steam beta, but I’ve been so engrossed lately with the amazingly rich and deep ‘The Secret World’ MMO that I think I’m going to hold off on Stardrive until official release. Have you tried TSW? It’s definitely a thinking person’s MMO, and kind of X-Files meets HP Lovecraft meets City of Heroes.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Unfortunately, I spent far too many hours in WoW and Warhammer Online playing with friends, and it was only after I stopped playing that I realized how many great games I had missed in the meantime. I’ve since decided to go on permanent hiatus from MMOs, at least for a long while.

      I am going to dive deeper into the Ascension mode next time I fire StarDrive up. I’m quite curious about it myself. I’ll definitely have more info about it by the time the release review comes around. I am curious to see if is truly a different play experience, or if it still feels very much like the sandbox game.

      • JohnR says:

        Funny you should say that about MMO’s. Since I started playing Secret World I’ve not touched a single player game, as TSW is quite absorbing. I would add though that of the MMO’s I’ve played (TSW, SW:TOR, and STO), Secret World is the best by far.

        Yes, Shakturi works surprisingly well within the Distant Worlds sandbox, and hopefully Ascension in StarDrive will be no different. In any event I look forward to reading your further comments on Stardrive.

  9. DevildogFF says:


    • Keith Turner says:

      Very generous of you DevildogFF. Especially considering this is the second time you are giving a copy away. Good luck to whomever decides to enter!

      • DevildogFF says:

        I’m very fortunate in life and I just like to pay it forward. I’d buy 20 copies if the fiancee would let me, haha!

        Seriously, though, I just feel like I’ve been given a lot of opportunities that most people don’t get. Why not give the gift of game to help even things out? :)

  10. Evrett says:

    I dont think anyone is going to feel burned for buying this game feels a light on content but def channels moo2 and for me has been stable and very playable and entertaining. I’ve said I’d pay $200 for an updated moo2 clone and this is it for 1/10th the price. Stardrive is going to be a great game once it gets balanced and whatnot.

  11. Thrangar says:

    Great Info! will definitely be purchasing when it goes final

    • JohnR says:

      Very wise Thranger for not succumbing to the pre-release hype machine. Stardrive is looking good, but I can wait the five or so weeks for official release and 3-4 reviews, including one from our beloved Spacesector, before purchasing. And anyway, I bought Fallen Enchantress while it was still in beta and was pretty well tired of it by official release. I definitely won’t make that mistake again.

  12. Dave S says:

    Bought the game steam at the weekend. Its definitely getting there. No crashes at all.

    I’ve gotta say the air is a bit too aggressive, even on easy. I’ve always got #8 for fleet size. I just cant seem to research enough tech and get enough money to support a powerful fleet. I feel like I have to rush out and Colonise terrain planets asap. Maybe should slow the ai planet rush a bit…

    • Keith Turner says:

      Hi Dave S, let me see if I can offer a few words of advice.

      First thing, don’t worry about the military strength ranking. You can be #8 out of #8 and all it will take is a couple of decent technologically advanced ships to move you up to #4 or higher. I was once #4 or #5 and attacked the Vulfar (who were #1 in military strength) homeworld with 2 well armored and shielded ships. I destroyed their entire armada of fighters. I believe military strength is being calculated by just adding all your ship strengths together and comparing to others. Since fighters tend to have almost no room for decent defenses, these numbers can be a bit misleading, especially early on.

      The AI will colonize a lot of poor planets just to spread out. These planets are slow to develop and take a long time to be useful (if they even ever do). Focus on grabbing decent planets that average around a 2.0 if you add fertility and richness output together (ex 1.2 fert, 0.8 richness). Some of these can be grabbed easily with no remnant defenders. Keep an eye on the max population as well, as a low population planet isn’t terribly useful either. Don’t worry about having less planets than other races early on, just worry about taking the good ones.

      Grab anomalies as soon as you see them. They can provide much needed permanent bonuses or early defensive ships.

      Train a lot of troops early on to grab those anomalies and to counter any enemy landing parties. They won’t typically brings bombs early on, so their ships can be ignored.

      Try to get a trade agreement going with another race. Don’t be afraid to trade techs with them either. They will typically trade 1 for 1 in my experience if they like you (ex. 1 tech worth 50 research for 1 tech worth 50 research).

      Final tip: be careful with your ship designs. On the smaller ships, options are really limited, but on frigates and larger, try to keep your power sources centered and protected. If a reactor is blown up, your whole ship is very likely to go with it.

      For more tips, you could try and search the StarDrive forum or watch some of the videos on Youtube. Soon enough you’ll be flying past the easy mode AI and looking for bigger challenges. It does take some getting used to though. Best of luck to you!

  13. lammaer says:

    Do we have an info when the game planned to be released?

    (I’m a QA tester in my IRL job, so I’m among the people who don’t want to test a game at home :) )

  14. Miguel Sanchez Velasco says:

    Strangely my Beta copy runs perfectly. I´ve bad experiences with another games with crashes above.
    Only I´m going to give some recommendations:
    1.- A player´´s guide now!! I don´t know how transport ground troops between planets e.g
    2.- a soundtrack… some games look better because their soundtracks are thrilling, ammazing, epic…
    3.- Have you thought a Android,iOS version? it´s the future.
    Of course, despite it , yhe game is one of the best I´ve player ever.
    PD: pardon for my rough english ;)

    • Keith Turner says:

      Hi Miguel!

      I’d recommend you check out some of the Let’s Play videos on Youtube and also look at the StarDrive forums and wiki page. I can answer your troop question though: To transport ground troops between planets, you need to first train some troops from within the colony overview screen. Once you’ve got some on your colony grid, right click them and they will launch out into space. From there, just click on their ships and then right click on the planet you want to send them to. They’ll head over and then land on that other planet.

      Soundtrack hmm? Well, this isn’t a complete soundtrack, but interestingly enough the sound and music artist working on StarDrive just recently posted some free downloads.

      I certainly hope Android and IOS are not the future of gaming. They make great distractions when you are unable to access a proper computer, but I would never want to use them as my primary gaming device. I’m a PC gamer through and through. I think after 27 years or so of computer based gaming (dating back to the Commodore 128), I am a PC gamer through and through, so perhaps I’m just close minded. ;)

  15. Miguel Sanchez Velasco says:

    I greet your words a lot!!
    But I´m a old board and pc wargamer and space wargame player too- more or less 30 years- but I only suggest a new scenario. Of course you ´re right but… the times changes and laptop, tablet and PC could be linked in these games in a close future but I don´t know now.
    And else,
    Are you going to develop expansions, add-ons or similar? This game is simple but deep and could develop a lot of possibilities, isn´t it?
    Anyway Congartulations again for a good idea building an excellent game.
    Some times the easy is better than the difficult, or I´m going having some simptoms of dementia:):);)

    • Keith Turner says:

      I understand what you mean. There is a big push towards integration of platforms and even social media integration, but I’m a bit stubborn when it comes to these sort of changes.

      While I’m certainly not the developer of StarDrive, I think I can answer a few of your questions. Everything I’ve read indicates that Daniel (aka Zero) on the forums is planning to support StarDrive well beyond release. You should register over on the StarDrive forums and let Daniel know you appreciate his hard work and efforts!

      Good luck with the game!

  16. Keith Turner says:

    StarDrive is still in the top 10 seller on Steam at the moment. All the interest in StarDrive has taken the forums/website down for the moment. In the meantime, it offers a good reason to go check out the StarDrive wiki page if you haven’t yet.

  17. Kordanor says:

    Still waiting for something concrete on multiplayer. Their homepage is currently out of order due to high bandwith as it seems, but as far as I see it, they probably won’t have multiplayer at release, though it was initially planned.
    Now I am wondering if they want to include it later on or just dropped it.
    For me a multiplayer option in the future would make me buy the game at release even I can only play alone there – because there is a chance to use the “learned stuff” competitively (against friends).
    Would be very interesting to see how a real time 4X game tackles the problems other turn based games have.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Great question re: multiplayer

      I can’t guarantee multiplayer since I’m not the developer, but the official word has been that multiplayer will be added post-release. The primary goal right now is to continue to shape up the core gameplay first. I too am curious how it would work. I assume pausing would be completely out in the case of multiplayer, which would mean you’d have to be pretty proficient in playing the game beforehand.

  18. ScottF says:

    I read the posts yesterday and couldn’t wait to get home to purchase/download the open beta. Having beta tested many games (open and closed beta) I love the opportunity to make my observations and maybe even have one of my comments add color/flavor to the project.

    Of all the betas in which I have participated, this beta seems to be one of the most stable. I spent 6 hours with it last night and did not have any crash or hickup. I let it run overnight to test stability, and the game was still going strong this morning. I have let it wun all day, while at work, and I am expecting that it will still be on when I get in several hours from now.

    As far as the game being playable as a beta, I say absolutely “YES!”

    The game is enjoyable now even though it is still missing some obvious space 4X standard features.

    The game is very reminiscent of MOO2, and the ship design component reminds me of Amarillo Design Bureau’s “Star Fleet Battles” pen/paper gaming system.

    I haven’t played long enough to explore the tech trees completely, so what I say next may be completely off base. Does the system have a ship boarding/capture technology? If not, it is one that should be implemented.

    I also didn’t notice a ship/crew experience component.

    Those 2 things are really minor when you look at the work that has been done. The graohics are ample, gameplay is solid and fun, and the game itself is stable. What else could you ask for in a final product (see sword of the stars 2– see as in read about it, don’t waste your money on SOTS2).

    • Keith Turner says:

      Yes to both of your questions, actually. You can load special assault shuttle bays (once researched) and launch special troop shuttles that are capable of boarding actions. I haven’t done a lot of this myself, but I know that several components increase boarding defense as well, like on-board marine barracks.

      Ships can gain experience after achieving a certain number of kills. I’m not sure how exactly these are gained, but I have had some ships maxed at 5 stars and quite a few below that. Each star represents a level, and each level grants you a 5% bonus to repair speed, turn speed, and weapon damage. So essentially, up to 25% bonuses to these stats. Troops, on the other hand, gain a 10% boost to damage (vs soft and hard targets). They may also gain a defensive/health bonus, but that’s harder to confirm. No tooltip to check regarding troop experience at the moment.

      I’d expect to see improvements in both of those areas though. I know it has been brought up and boarding/invasion with troops is likely to see some further refinements. Its somewhat hard to keep up right now, as patches are flying out the door at the pace of almost once a day since release.

      EDIT: Almost forgot, there is also a weapon built specifically to kill enemy marines with before boarding. Again, I tend to just blow their ships up, but there is something to be said for stealing their ships and turning them against them.

  19. Quirken says:

    This looks promising, but the UI is a bit too barebones for my liking. In particular, it looks like there’s not a good way to visualize fleets/find ships unless you’re very zoomed in. (Sins, for instance, has sprites to represent ships when they’d just be motes of dust, and if you are at a level where only planets can be seen, planets have some UI elements to select ships).

    I hope this kind of thing improves as the game approaches launch!

    • Njordin says:

      it´s not the dev´s list afaik

      • Quirken says:

        it should be. watching the game makes me feel like i’m floating in space without any reference points. the UI is acceptable at close zoom or far zoom-out, but mid-range is next to useless.

        • Keith Turner says:

          One feature that was added relatively recently, though prior to the open beta, was the ability to hold down the alt key (left alt at least works) to be able to see your ship symbols displayed and color coded at any zoom level. If you haven’t tried this yet, give it a shot and see if it helps any. It is useful during big battles and such.

          I do think the UI is going to get some TLC before the official launch though, to be sure.

        • Njordin says:

          sorry, i wanted to say: it´s on the dev´s list afaik :D
          UI is constantly improved, patch by patch. bad typo, sry.

  20. ChaseBears says:

    I just bought StarDrive a couple days ago after following it since the Kickstarter. I’m very impressed with it so far, and the AI seems reasonably competent. My major quibble so far is with ship speed and the subspace projector system. There doesn’t really seem to be a point to subspace projectors because the stated power recharge system doesn’t make a difference. Also, a lot of the default designs are very suboptimal in terms of engines. The thing is that ‘optimal’ results in extremely fast ships and I’m not actually a fan of how they play out. I get the feeling that the Warp engines were added in recently and they break it a bit.

    Personally, I would get rid of warp engines, increase the warp factor on standard engines a bit, and make subspace projectors greatly increase warp speed.

  21. Bill says:

    Thanks for the updated review Keith. I’m enjoying myself very much with SD. Needs allot of fleshing out, but it’s going to be very nice when complete.

    It’s already more playable and enjoyable than some other releases “I shall not name” in the past 24 months.

  22. Serge says:

    The game looks (especially ship design) very similar to old 4X space RTS “Remember tomorrow”. I liked “Remember tomorrow” a lot, hopefully this iteration will be no worse.

  23. JINGLES says:

    I bought it yesterday, so far I really like it. It seems very similar to Imperium Galactica 2, of course it needs work in places, it would be nice to see a bit more depth on a planetary level also the ground combat is a little cheesy. Overall this is the most promising 4x game Ive played in years, and in its current state I would rank it above Sins. I [cant wait to see how it improves over time time to get back to the game…

    • Bill says:

      I think Sins and StarDrive are two completely different animals.

      You can rate which one you prefer of course, or on performance, polish, innovation, value or otherwise but ranking one above the other for any other reason would never tell someone anything about how each fair against similar titles they would be in direct competition with.

      SINS is an RTS with some 4X.

      StarDrive is a 4X with some RTS.

      • JINGLES says:

        You think we have enough space strategy games around nowadays to start sub classifying them, then go ahead but I dont.

        They are both 4x space strategy games.

        If anything anyone new to the genre of space strategy would be more confused by the whole “SINS is a RTS with some 4X” etc

        Sins is marketed as a 4x
        Stardrive is marketed as a 4x
        I rank Stardrive above Sins, is that so hard to understand

        I think you are a troll.

        • Bill says:

          Someone with a view different than your own instantly becomes a troll? That seems a bit to easy.

          Indeed, Sins is not marketed as a 4X game. Not now, or ever. You will find no official marketing material that claims it is.

          You will find reviews that mention it as such. They also would be wrong.

          Don’t smash your keyboard junior. It’s just a game.

        • Mark says:

          @ Bill

          “You will find no official marketing material that claims it is.”

          Well except for this…..

        • Bill says:

          @ Mark

          I’m aware of the page and was so before I posted what I did. :)

          That page claims it’s an RTS with 4X element. RTS4X fits that. Their press releases even say it, “A real-time-strategy game with the depth of a 4X”. RTS4X could be used here as well.

          Bottom line, Sins is a strategy game first with some 4X lovely baked in. I think that, as does Ironclad. That was my only point and still stands true.

        • JINGLES says:

          Whats this then
          They print it on the rear of the box “4x” (SEE LINK BELOW)

          Also dont call me junior thats an assumption, its also a bit cheap im aged 30 so even if I am younger than you, what does that have to do with our disagreement? They have always marketed it as a 4x

        • Adam Solo says:

          Having fun with the “is-Sins-a-4X-or-not” thing boys? It’s a 4X alright, although lighter in some aspects. In the beginning it was highly debatable if Sins was 4X because diplomacy was fairly light. But, now, it has all the ingredients, and it checks out in my book.

          However, and with that said, I perfectly understand folks who are more strict on the definition and don’t see it as a 4X. That’s ok, just calm down. No need to get angry and accuse others of being trolls, which I don’t think was the case here.

        • JINGLES says:

          I know you would like to keep these forums as friendly as possible but, its not like we are swearing, this is just a disagreement.

        • Bill says:

          @ Adam I certainly did not intended to start a post war. I simply posted my view on the games. JINGLES took offence to that. I probably should have let it be at that point. I apologize.

          I certainly don’t want to dirty up this fine place where fans and consumers of these games can meet and enjoy them. There may have been things said that weren’t necessary, but I would agree that it was meant as a well-intentioned debate, on both sides.

          Regardless of what side I or anyone else falls on, both a fine titles not to be missed out on.

  24. Timmaigh! says:

    Ralyeh Devoted…do i see a Cthulhu reference? :-P

  25. Hamil says:

    Great game,

    but some people have to pay twice to get the game as it seems. I have been funding this game in alphastage on Desura and now all the good people who funded the game and enabled the building of the beta by giving their money, are screwed over and wont be given any access to the beta. Officialy the developer doesnt have the possibilty to give the desura accounts steamkeys.

    But im just feeling screwed and im not alone…

    • Ace of the Stars says:

      That shows a huge lack of consideration for the people who started the support for this game, sad news indeed.

      That makes me feel a bit (well a lot) hesitant to buy the beta, I will wait for further developments and see what´s the developer´s response.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Desura owners should have access to the beta still. 1.03b is the current Desura version. I assume you are able to at least update to that version? Your post made it sound like you were being denied any beta access?

      It sounds like Steam keys for Desura early adopters will be looked into, but not until the official release. Until then, I assume he will be updating Desura with the new beta builds as quick as he can. Unfortunately, Desura is not very quick about actually offering the patches to customers when compared to Steam.

      • Hamil says:

        The updates on Desura are quite unfrequent, but not because of Desura beeing slower, but because of the lack of time on the developers side. And i havent seen any official announcement, that the Desura backers will really get a steam version. So far no problem, but whats with the multiplayer? Normaly games rely upon steam for multiplayer…
        So many questions unanswered.

    • Kyle Rees says:

      Yes you are not alone. I too got Stardrive on Desura, and still no mention from Stardrive dev about steam keys for us. All other games I alpha funded eventually offered steam keys like Towns, Project Zomboid.

      The beta version is up to 1.06, and Desura is still 1.03, how hard is it to publish the updates to Desura?

      What if someone purchases Stardrive on Desura right now, they would be getting basically abandoned software.

      • Quirken says:

        I can’t speak about Desura, but often times, developers are unable to work out a deal with Steam regarding transfering non-steam licenses into steam.

        For example, I bought a copy of The Secret World at launch. A few months later, it launched on Steam. Despite being a well funded game (i.e. non-indie), the devs said they couldn’t provide us with steam keys.

    • drillerman says:

      If you bought the game on Desura originally you can PM the Dev via Desura and he will give you a steam beta key. This info is on the Stardrive forum.

      • Hamil says:

        And i tried that. But the dev is quite busy and wont answer PM, Email or smokesign…

        We just have to wait and thats really the thing that makes us Desurians feel like customers of lesser class.

        • Bill says:

          Zero said just yesterday on the SD forums that Desuria has always had the latest patch. However, unlike Steam, they have to manually approve it and move it into the trunk.

          So I think it’s Desuria who’s holding you down and not Zero Sum Games. You might consider emailing Desuria and asking them politely to get their butts into gear. :)

        • Keith Turner says:

          One of the most frustrating things about the early days of the closed/limited beta was the artificial delay Desura introduced into the update process. Daniel/Zero would often finish an update, push it to Desura, and have another update ready a couple of days later. Unfortunately, testers had not even received the prior update from Desura yet. It was frustrating for him and the testers involved. As Bill mentioned, this seems to still be the case with Desura. This may work for some games, but doesn’t work well for a game that is patched at the rate that StarDrive is.

          This is what I was alluding to earlier when I mentioned that Desura was slow in offering patches to customers. Steam’s process seems almost instant in comparison.

        • Hamil says:

          Didnt know that. Desura has been updated to 1.06. Wil write an email to Desura and ask for quicker updates…

  26. tim says:

    On friday i bought this game, and it was love at first sight, although actually love at third sight :)

    I found it to be very challenging in my first 2 tries, not knowing what everything was and did, the shipyard also looked daunting, but i’m getting the hang of it.

    Now in my 3rd game i had a decent solar system next to my starter system with 2 rich planets, i’m researching the right techs as suggested on the forums, and i’m having fun with those little ships shooting at each other, in a way it’s also a very cute game :) samurai bears ;)

    Definitely a game i’ll be playing for a long time, with the right mods it could be one of the best in the genre, might mod it myself even …

  27. Towerbooks3192 says:

    I must say that its love at first sight. I get that MoO 2 and Distant worlds feeling with this game. I didn’t play the game for many hours due to my studies but I guess I could insert an hour or two with this game in between my studies. I mean the last thing I would want to do after balancing accounts and reading torts is to play distant worlds and think a lot. I will wait for this game to mature a bit and hopefully we get more techs.

    I wish it would hit the sweet spot of complexity and simplicity like MoO 2, simple enough to jump in and out while deep enough to make you think of your actions.

  28. Ace of the Stars says:

    Sorry to ask if it has already been said before, but where will this game be available? Steam, GOG, online store? I’m not talking about the Beta mind you, I’m interested in this game but no way will I pay 25 bucks for a Beta right now. Wish I could though… Just gonna wait for a U.S. sale, it´s cheaper here on the EU. :)

    • Scrove says:

      You can get it on steam, which is where I bought it and beta test it right now. Still needs some work (even if release is 3 days away) but the game is really looking good!

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