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Ground Pounders: Hex TBS in the Sword of the Stars Universe

By on August 30th, 2013 12:19 pm

Sword of the Stars: Ground Pounders | Hex-based sci-fi strategy game by Kerberos Productions

The creators of the space 4X games Sword of the Stars I and II are now on Kickstarter for Ground Pounders, a hex-based sci-fi strategy game set in the Sword of the Stars universe.

Instead of telling people what they can expect from their latest game project, Kerberos preferred to show it in action, for which they’ve made an alpha demo available for download to anyone interested.

But, in short, they describe Ground Pounders as being a title inspired by classic strategy games like Panzer General. They also say that one of their major goals with this game is to allow it to be played in multiplayer across different platforms, meaning that you may be playing the game in a different platform than your multiplayer partner.

In the first release, the supported platforms will be the PC and Android. Linux, Mac and iOS releases should follow, but that will depend on certain stretch goals being achieved.

Sword of the Stars: Ground Pounders | Hex-based sci-fi strategy game by Kerberos Productions

Kerberos Productions’ Sword of the Stars: Ground Pounders proposal in a nutshell:

  • Hex-based turn-based strategy
  • Military sci-fi setting (in the Sword of the Stars’ universe – Hiver War era, 2408-2436)
  • Build airfields, fortified areas, and repair/destroy bridges
  • Command tanks, air craft and the infantry of three different factions
  • 3 single-player campaigns, dozens of scenarios, skirmish mode or head-to-head multiplayer (cross-platform support)
  • Platforms: PC and Android (Mac, Linux and iOS unlocked through stretch goals)
  • ETA: beta in October; release in the end of 2013 / early 2014
  • Goal: $42,000 (until September 28th, 2:35pm EDT)
  • Get game pledge: $20 ($15 early bird) for digital copy
  • Why Kickstarter: support team’s expenses through beta testing till game completion; plus gathering of feedback.

In the past, Kerberos Productions has teamed up with publisher Paradox Interactive for both their Sword of the Stars I and II titles. But now, the veteran game studio from Canada, lead by Martin Cirulis, turns to Kickstarter to help fund its latest game project. Actually, this is the studio’s second venture into crowdfunding, after The Pit, an RPG also set in the Sword of the Stars universe.

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  1. Kordanor says:

    I am not exactly a graphic whore, and I loved The Pit from them or Avernum from Spiderweb. Bt this game looks like it comes right from the early 90s. The graphics and interface look not only “retro” but pretty shabby like they had to do the whole thing in a 320*200 resolution which comes with several interface restrictions.
    Imho that is not what a modern retro game should look like. Especially when you compare it with Battle Worlds: Kronos

  2. Towerbooks3192 says:

    Those screenies remind me of Panzer general. Love to see them going towards TBS route and the best part is its hex. I am hoping they would release a big one though. I want to avoid playing ios like strategies.

  3. Mark says:

    I wasn’t even slightly impressed by “The Pit” but this game seems far more suited to my tastes. I love the detailed SOTS lore and the thought of using it as a basis for an in-depth ground based strategy game is very appealing.

    I cant help thinking how awesome this game would be as the ground combat module for SOTS II, even though I’m fully aware that such a hybrid game would likely take forever to play!

    Kerberos have generated an enormous amount of bad blood with the way they handled SOTS II and even though the ground pounders concept interests me, I’m going to have to see some EXTREMELY glowing reviews to eventually end up purchasing it. It does look promising though and I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one in the future.

  4. Vidal says:

    You may be certain that Kerberos will polish it up, the only problem is that it may take a long while, after all, SOTS II took about a full year to become playable… now it is a much better experience, but there is one thing that would really improve the gameplay… land battles and planetary invasions…

    Wait, is this new game an attempt to develop the planetary invasion engine they promised to deliver in a future SOTS II expansion?

    • RandomBlue says:

      SotS 2 is definitely better than release, but it still has AI that can’t fight it’s way out of a paper bag. Which for many of us means the game is still unplayable.

      • Vidal says:

        I totally agree with you. I meant playable in the basic form… that is: it doesn’t crash every 3 turns. It is still far from being the great game experience we were promised, which is truly a pity… the universe created by Arinn Dembo deserved much more. The way it is now it is still a weak strategy game, with a rather complex interface, poor controls and nice, not brilliant, space battles (I still think Nexus was way better, and it is a much older game).
        I believe land battles or at least planetary invasions would improve it since they might add some personality to the planets and a bit more challenge to the wars… though I’m not sure the current engine wouldn’t explode if they try to add anything else to it.

        • Vinco says:

          I’ll admit that SOTS2 is still not quite where anyone would like it to be, but that’s really not the best comparison for Ground Pounders. It’s better to look at the Pit, which was their first post-Paradox game.

          While the Pit may not be your cup of tea, it was released in good shape, with few major bugs. What bugs there were got squashed quickly, and it’s a solid game.

          And if you do want to look at SOTS2, look at it in context of other Paradox titles. How many bugfests have come from Paradox published games? Now, how many of those games have developers who continue working on it long after Paradox stopped paying for support? If you can name any beyond SOTS2, I’ll be impressed.

          So, in summary, I agree that SOTS2 isn’t where it should be. But Kerberos folks continue to pull overtime beyond the work that pays their bills to fix it. And the Pit was solid on release, and has been polished further since release. Ground Pounders is far more likely to follow the example of the Pit (a game of the correct scope for their team size and completely controlled by Kerberos) than SOTS2 (a published title that was a bit too ambitious).

          If you haven’t tried the alpha for GP, do so. See how solid it is. And tell me if you honestly expect the full game to be unstable when the alpha works so well.

  5. Gee says:

    Looks god-awful.

  6. hakkarin says:

    I would never give the people that made Swords of the Stars 2 my money.

    • Mark says:

      That’s a completely understandable attitude. I’d only give them mine if this game turns out to be absolutely amazing.

  7. ashbery76 says:

    The alpha demo played real good and the A.I seemed sharp.I love the lore too so I am backing it.

  8. Fimbul says:

    looks like another quick and cheap to make game to stay alive as a company after the SotS2 debacel. the pit was ok, but this looks too poor.

    • Vinco says:

      So a studio that had a horrible experience with a publisher which ruined its reputation is doing a series of smaller, independent crowd funded projects to survive and rebuild their reputation… And this seems like a bad thing somehow?

      Personally, I hate seeing studios go under, and love the variety of games that are coming out of the indie scene. I hope Kerberos’s strategy works, and that they can keep making interesting games.

      • Fimbul says:

        is it really the publishers fault? hard to say, for me it looked quite the way they are not able to do it better. even after over a year of patches is it still a below medicore game experience. mostely because they made it just to slow and complicated and don’t call back of this stupid fleet management and mission based system. i really love the final SotS1 the more i’m disapointed with SotS2.

        i don’t say it’s a bad thing either, i own the pit, but for my taste is this one really too poor looking. i would like they stay alive as a studio and will someday fix the mess of SotS2. but i will skip ground pounders certainly

  9. Alex says:

    I recently played through Panzer General again. If they can recreate such an atmosphere, Graphics won´t matter in my opinion.

  10. Vissavald says:

    Kerberos guys seem to be on the right path. The graphics style of The Pit is retro-ish but very comfortable and recognizable. They continue to hold on it and I think it’s good. Hex-grid TBS games is a quite tilled field today and they’ll need to put some fresh water in it to make their game viable. I hope they’ll cope with this mission.

  11. lammaer says:

    “Platforms: PC and Android”

    That was enough to me to make a decision. No thx.

  12. SpacedC0wb0y says:

    I am baffled on why they would not rename their studio and drop the SotS naming.

    • TauridBorn says:

      Because they’re not just trying to rebuild THEIR reputation but Sword of the Stars’ reputation.

  13. Ermdog says:

    Reminds me of Panzer General. Was a great game and this looks like a more updated version of it. I hope they have a lot of good ideas while keeping it simple as well. I will wait for a review until I give them any money

  14. Alien JD says:

    This is risky to admit, but I like Sword of the Stars 2. After End of Flesh was released I thought it was a good game. I had a lot of fun with it. The UI is still a bit of a problem but the AI didn’t seem any worse than any of the other games I’ve played (Except maybe Armada 2526 Supernova–the AI in that game was pretty strong). It is a much better game than Endless Space or Stardrive.

    Sure the release was bad but Kerberos worked hard to fix the problems and as an apology they gave a lot of extra content to people who bought the game.

    I’ll back this. I love hex based war games.

  15. RandomBlue says:

    Sad to see them fall from SotS1 awesomeness to basically a mobile game developer.

    • Vinco says:

      I’m sure they’d love to get back to the AAA world. However, I don’t think they’re interested in getting stabbed in the back by publishers again (SOTS 1 had a number of issues with publisher support). If they thought that a crowdfunding campaign could actually support a SOTS 3 type game currently, I’m sure they’d go for it, assuming their contract with Paradox allowed it.

      As it is, they’re trying to work their way back up to the AAA levels, but without the publisher. Takes time, though.

    • SQW says:

      And herein lies a lesson to all developers – release a crappy game (SOTS II) on top of goodwill generated from a previous, decent game (SOTS I) and you risk any chance of future crowd-funding opportunity for a third installment.

      • RandomBlue says:

        It wasn’t just the release of a crappy game, but the way they handled it and responded (poorly) to their customers.

        • Alien JD says:

          I was one of those customers. The head of the studio admitted the problems and apologized and promised to fix the game. And he gave me a free expansion and a bunch of free DLC as a way of saying sorry. That seemed like a pretty good way to handle to me.

        • Mark says:

          I have to give them an A for effort, the way they have hung in there and continued to improve the game is very commendable and goes a long way towards compensating for the massive lies they told upon its initial release. Accidental Beta version indeed!

          Unfortunately the game is still a bit of a mess and most of the remaining issues – and they are pretty serious – are WAD which means they will never be fixed. Bad design apparently isn’t considered to be a bug when you have blinkers on and a few rabid fan-boys praising your every move.

          SOTS II was *almost* an excellent game with a great deal of potential, but almost aint good enough and potential is nothing unless it is eventually realized.

  16. SQW says:

    I don’t mind 2D graphics (quite enjoyed The Pit actually) but this game is just aesthetically awful. There are Japanese turn-based war games from SNES era that had more charms in their presentation, UI and colour scheme.

  17. Razzafazza says:

    This. Panzer Corps is also “only 2D” but it still looks sharp and great.

    I d be all over ground pounders if it only had a graphical style like panzer corps – but goddamnit if this isnt one hell of an ugly game.

  18. The Dude says:

    After trying the demo, I think the art is really ok. Gameplay is more than ok if you like this kind of hex based war game. What drives me crazy though, is the UI! Cumbersome, sometimes unresponsive, and ONLY uses the left mouse button. This is coming from someone that kind of liked the generally unloved SotS 1 and 2 UIs, and have no problem playing Aurora and Dwarf Fortress. Hopefully the UI thing is a question of polish, the game is in alpha after all.

  19. An update on this…

    Kickstarter campaign didn’t come through, but there was still enough interest for Kerberos to move to IndieGoGo and lower their financial goal.

    The campaign is now deep into tenth update, half the time is gone but 3/4 of the funds are raised. Everybody is welcome to visit and participate.

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