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Star Lords in Q4 2013 Published by Iceberg Interactive

By on August 12th, 2013 10:14 am

Star Lords | Turn-based space 4X game by Arkavi Studios and Iceberg Interactive

Star Lords is a turn-based space 4X strategy game being developed by Arkavi Studios (formerly known as Neogen2 Creations). No, it’s not related to Steve Barcia’s Master of Orion prototype with the same name :) But, after playing the alpha version for a while I did find that it does borrow many things from Master of Orion, and from other older 4X titles set in space, namely from the Space Empires and Galactic Civilizations series.

We’ve been covering this title since its announcement back in August 2012. And, we’ve included it on SpaceSector’s “Sci-Fi/Space Games You Can’t Miss in 2013” list, then with a tentative release date set for Q2 2013. My impression is that the idea here seems to be on providing a deeper political layer than usual, namely a more complex and deeper diplomacy and espionage system. At the time of my alpha first look impressions (alpha 1.2 – around one year ago), it was clear that the game was still far from finished, but it was already quite playable, even with its  raw and placeholder art, and unfinished UI .

With Horizon still in the oven (currently in an early access scheme on Steam), and after Armada 2526, Star Ruler, Endless Space and StarDrive, this is the sixth 4X game set in space in a row that Iceberg Interactive signs and publishes (or helps with distribution duties), which is a clear indication of how interested the Dutch publisher is on this type of games.

Iceberg intends to release the game both in retail and digital form in Q4 2013 for the PC. Check out our Star Lords alpha first look preview for more details on how the game looked about a year ago.

Star Lords | Diplomacy screenshot

Star Lords | Turn-based tactical combat screenshot

Star Lords | Galaxy view (rotated) with ships screenshot

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  1. Xyggy says:

    The TBS combat system is one of the shining spots of interest for me. It’s hard to believe more devs haven’t embraced this classic form of combat. Anytime these days that a strategy game advertises TBS I get interested. MOOx, MOM, CIVx, X-Com, Panzer General, SMAC, HOMM, all are among my favorites and, imo, are among the best strategy games every created. It’s no accident that TBS combat systems are at the core of these games. It’s time more modern strategy games start utilizing this system, imo.

    • Mark says:

      I totally agree.

    • trix62 says:

      Yeah I pretty much look to turn based first and foremost anymore.

    • El Speed says:

      Agreed. I always wanted a game like Shining Force but with ship upgrades instead of higher levels (well, combatant level, talent tree levels that enable said upgrades are another thing). Real Time Strategy really isn’t that fun or even involves strategy, just click and watch things overpower lesser things.

      A lot of space games have too much of a dead feel though, the alien picture icons from Galaxy Online One really added a lot of life to the game so you don’t even need much to inject desperately needed personality into these games. World building is very important, story wise and game mechanic (this is a space MMO after all) wise.

  2. Jay says:

    Looking awesome, by far my most awaited 4X game.

  3. Buxaroo says:

    Iceberg is on a roll :)

    Very much looking forward to this. I thought that the rest of this year was going to suck for gaming and that we would have to wait until next year to see any good games. But nope, Rome II, X Rebirth, and several others including this, are on the horizon. Gonna be a busy fall xD

  4. Kuschelwampe says:

    If only I could finally play this. Was one of the first to pre-order. But never had the chance to play, since it’s not working with my Vista64/ATI setup :-/

  5. Jeff P says:

    This is a pleasant surprise. Did Iceberg make a recent announcement? I’ve lurked on the Starlords forums for quite a while, and it has been dead. In fact, until today, the latest post was back in June, and it was asking why there hadn’t been any news concerning the game.

  6. Dennis P says:

    After Endless Space and Stardrive, I’ll contain my enthusiasm until I actually play the game. Been disappointed too many times already.

  7. Keith Turner says:

    Did not expect to see this game with a release date of this year. It would seem they have come a long way since the alpha preview. Good to see two games coming in the pipeline featuring turn based combat.

  8. Marc Davies says:

    Im not gunna say TBS is bad its really good and has its places but for me i feel you cant capture the grand sclae of an X4 with it. I like my battles to flow naturally if you want to stop time and think of tactics add a function that stop game time like Distant worlds and so on that way you get the thinking time of a TBS but the grand flow of RTS!

  9. A long time ago says:

    I’ve never posted on here before, but I’ve been lurking for a long long time, though not in a galaxy far far away…

    Anyway, I’m currently working on my own 4X game (have been for some time, but I won’t mention any more than that) and was wondering how many (if any) people have the same opinion as Marc Davies about TBS games – specifically if they prefer real-time, with the option to pause at any time (or when certain events occur etc.)

    Of course, while paused, you’d still be able to move around, issue orders, build things etc.

    I know I certainly prefer a mix of RTS/TBS myself, and that’s what I’ve been working on with my own game – but I’m wondering if I’m just a heretic like Marc ;)

    I’ve watched a few alpha movies of this game and I just thought the combat looked quite bland and micro-intensive, though being turn based does mean that you don’t have to worry about other things going on while you’re fighting those dastardly aliens.

    Love the reviews/articles on Space Sector by the way – keep up the good work Adam (and Co) !!

    • Mark says:

      Sorry but I couldn’t possibly agree less with his view. The problem with RTS, even pause-able RTS is that you have to un-pause it some time or nothing will ever happen. And when you do, interesting things, possibly REALLY interesting things will be happening elsewhere in the galaxy that you will never know about because you will be watching and controlling the one situation you are currently involved in. This is the case with Distant Worlds and greatly contributes to the “frantic, hectic” feeling the the game generates. I often miss out on seeing some really epic battles, simply because I cant be everywhere at once.

      The bigger and more epic the galaxy, the worse the problem becomes. I end up seeing only a tiny microcosm of the entire picture.

      On the other hand with TBS (say the type used with MOO II) I get to see and participate in every single battle that involves my forces. I have as much time to think tactically as I wish and can get maximum enjoyment and potential out of every battle, or simply choose to automate it if I don’t wish to participate.

      There is nothing sadder than a fantastic battle that you completely missed seeing because you were busy elsewhere stopping some pathetic pirate raid.

      • Xyggy says:

        Pretty much this ^^^. As my original post stated, there’s a reason so many of what are considered the best strategy games of yesterday revolve around TBS. In a 4x game, there is always so much going on that it would be impossible to see it all if combat were real-time. I’m not saying there aren’t great RTS,s out there, but I will say as far as 4x strategy goes, TBS really puts the strategy in the gaming, much like the oldest TBS game, chess. That’s my perspective, anyway.

      • Adam Solo says:

        Distant Worlds plays very differently from Master of Orion. So, I don’t think it makes sense to judge it from the point of view of Master of Orion’s lenses, or vice versa. It’s also not like you can only like one play-style: MoO or DW. It’s not like you can’t love both. I do.

        Distant Worlds vanilla (the original version) was pretty much “frantic, hectic” as you describe, because the game didn’t offer enough to keep things under your control, and the UI was very incomplete still. Actually, the experience was mediocre at best, in my opinion. As you can read in my original review.

        But, with the expansions, the game got better and better. There was a huge jump with the first expansion and then a definite one with the second one (Legends). Shadows (the third expansion) wrapped it up and introduced a few more interesting things on top. In my opinion, after Legends, Distant Worlds become the best space 4X game you can play at the moment.

        It’s real-time pausable but you can control the speed and pause / un-pause easily. Also, when you do something, like opening a screen, the game stops, and you can take your time there while nothing happens in the background.

        I would say that Distant Worlds gives you more a feeling from the inside out, a more realistic approach sort of speak. It has a much more simulation aspect to it. Master of Orion is much more abstract, much more strategy pure no doubt, at least in the traditional chess-based strategy we’re so used to.

        There’s a place for every 4X style in my opinion. Full TBS, TBS/RTS and full RTS. I happen to love 4X games in each categories. I love Master of Orion as I love Armada 2526 Supernova, as I love Distant Worlds (after Legends). My only grip with Distant Worlds is that it’s an expensive game. It’s worth it, but it may be too much to ask for many people, unfortunately.

        • Mark says:

          Actually I love DW too, but it irritates the hell out of me when I have to take care of some trivial – yet important – problem (like stopping a pirate raid) and while I’m doing that, I completely miss out on seeing one or more great battles occurring simultaneously.

          In a 1500 star DW map, mid game, you quite often get 2 or 3 new combat messages per second!! thrown at you and it is simply *impossible* to observe or manage them all at once no matter how much you pause or how slowly you run the game.

          And this is simply because of the RTS design, nothing else. In a TBS, you wouldn’t have to select what to watch, you could watch anything and everything that involved your forces and never feel rushed or hectic in the slightest.

          I think that DW is one of the best recently released 4x games, but IMO it would be even better if it gave the option to shift to TBS combat whenever a battle took place.

          In other words, good as DW is, it still has flaws and one of its greatest is its insistence on RTS at all times. Thank God its pause-able or the game would be nothing more than a practically unplayable, but intricate space simulator.

        • Adam Solo says:

          The 1500 (or 1400) stars setup you mention is the biggest setup available (the Huge setting). The game is very customization-rich, so, it’s not hard to find a setup you’re more comfortable with. I usually go with 1000 stars and feel quite comfortable playing. If the messages are too many I disable some of the least important ones in late game.

          But it’s pausable isn’t it Mark? And, we both seem to love it, don’t we? :) I think that’s what matters.

          The TBS vs RTS discussion has been discussed to death in many places, including in the forums. I guess it’s just a matter of taste in the end.

        • Mark says:

          @ Adam,

          Oh I agree, there are ways and means of minimizing DW’s flaws, and I use many of the ones you mentioned (and even less stars) to make the game very enjoyable indeed.

          But its still a flaw, a problem with the basic game design that has to be minimized in order to avoid frustration. Why shouldn’t I be able to use 1500 stars and not be frustrated because I cant watch 60+ combats per minute? Because of the RTS, nothing else really.

          For an RTS game that is done right, see “Starships Unlimited” (SU). The dev of this game managed to implement a form of RTS/TBS with almost *none* of the flaws I previously mentioned by using a form of auto-pausing whenever anything interesting happens. So it *is* possible to have a mostly RTS game and not miss out on important or interesting events, just not in DW.

          DW is a fantastic game, and in many ways far, far superior to SU, but not when it comes to the type of RTS used, SU has it beaten there, its simply a better basic design.

        • Adam Solo says:


          In my opinion, each game is designed in a specific way to fully potentiate the vision of each particular designer. That’s what makes games unique and interesting. DW is about building a space empire in a “real” living galaxy with an epic scale. At least that’s how I feel about it and what I think the designer was after with DW. And, it worked in my opinion.

          So, I really don’t see the point of crossing games and respective designs and saying that the design of said game A with its own particular focus would be better suited for game B with a different approach, and be pretty sure about it. It’s too unpredictable to know what would happen if you make radical changes to the design.

    • salvo says:

      Well, generally I vastly prefer TB to RT, in fact I avoid RT whenever possible, the only exception being hybrid games such as the total war series and Sword of the stars, and grand strategy like the EU series. But this general preference for TB doesn’t mean I wouldn’t play any RT 4x space game, Distant Worlds and to a degree Stardrive are certainly good games. It depends on how RT is implemented as long it doesn’t force me to a click fest.

    • fred says:

      i like it like space empires V is doing it. turn based and fighting real time so to speak.
      the horrible there is the turn time and the bad 3d grafic. i would prefer bewtter grafics (i mean like SE4) but the fighting grafics from SEV.
      anyway, i also think about making an own space game. kind of minecraft in space…. just wait 20 years then it is out. :-)

  10. Thrangar says:

    On the other hand with TBS (say the type used with MOO II) I get to see and participate in every single battle that involves my forces. I have as much time to think tactically as I wish and can get maximum enjoyment and potential out of every battle, or simply choose to automate it if I don’t wish to participate.

    This is how I feel also

    And for the game SL been waiting for this one as well

  11. Jeff P says:

    For me, the problem of an RTS 4X game is that it is hard to suspend disbelief and experience the storyline. Consider: on a grand strategy/civilization level, the most significant time units are months, years, decades. However, battles occur in a tactical setting where the most significant time units are seconds, minutes, hours. With an RTS 4X, both grand strategy and tactical combat occur simultaneously. So either your civilization is building and developing at warp speed, or your battles are creaking along at a glacial pace. The result is that I don’t play RTS 4X games as a simulacrum of a space empire, but rather as a tactical game, losing much of the flavor of the 4X’s in the process.

    I much prefer the SotS formula: grand strategy turn based, so that you can plan and ponder your moves, while tactical combat takes place in real time, providing an exciting battle experience.

    • Mark says:

      I hadn’t really considered that argument and I agree that it *is* another significant problem for RTS only 4x games.

      IMO anything that hurts immersion or makes suspension of disbelief more difficult is to be avoided in a good game design.

    • Zeraan says:

      If I remember correctly, Imperium Galactica is pausable real-time, and whenever a combat occurs, it pauses the game and resolves the battle. This makes sense because well, battles take up very short time compared to the overall grand scheme.

      C’mon, IG series, get your butt to so I can play you guys again! :(

      • JD says:

        Battles in Imperium Galactica are indeed pausable but are not resolved automatically you always have to go in manually. Actually there might be a setting in the game, unsure now.

        You can play the game in DosBox Brent. Check out this handy youtube video on how to setup IG1 in DosBox:
        Startup Difficulties – 02 – Imperium Galactica

        And this is a link to a 55 parts long let’s play of Imperium Galactica:

        Lastly, love what your doing with Beyond Beyaan. It’s is really coming together now.

  12. Gibrocker says:

    I don’t really get the fascination with TBS in space that use generic world after generic world in a tank rush in space tactic in order to win the game. The infrastructures are also quite dispassionate spreadsheets in space that do not invoke any love or attachment to any said colony at any game moment. I tried to like Endless Space, Stardrive, GalCiv2. Hell I don’t even like Civ5 and prefer Civ4 anyday. But there is something so mindnumbingly unnecessary about amassing star after star when all you are doing is a rehash of what you did 5 minutes ago to another system. The stars or the planets have no significant bearing on the gameplay, its all just about accumulation of mass and influence. But no real compelling enough relationship with resources and some supply network of stars that rely on each other to accomplish new accolades.

    If they only did an Anno in space that didn’t just hinge on war in order to be successful, then we might be onto something. Oh and I don’t think MOO2 was the be all and end all of space strategy games. I know I blasphemed, but even Civ1 was improved upon since then. Publishers are just to lazy and lacking creativity or drive to make something more revolutionary. Give us a game that marries Anno with Sins and Civ or Total War in space and we might just see something worthwhile.

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