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Stellar Indie Venture: Galactic Inheritors

By on May 29th, 2014 9:56 am

Galactic Inheritors | A Space 4X Strategy Game by Crispon Games

During the recent resurgence of the 4X genre is not uncommon for more indie developers to begin working on their own projects and bring their own take on the genre. The latest of these is Crispon Games, founded by Chris King a veteran of the Grand Strategy genre, with their announcement of Galactic Inheritors.

Chris King is a game designer, which up to recently, worked for Paradox Development Studio. He worked on many of their games, such as Victoria II and March of the Eagles. Fortunately for those that wish to know more about his background and why he created Crispon Games, or why he decided to make a space 4X strategy game, you are in luck as we’ve managed to ask him a few questions:

Crispon Games is a two man studio, myself and Pontus Åberg. Prior to this I worked for 7 years at Paradox Development Studio and although it was a fantastic place to work, I felt now was the time to go out and give working for myself a go. Pontus is another former Paradox Developer who moved on to work in commercial software development but decided now was a good time to return to game development. Having worked so many years on historical games I wanted to do something very different. Science Fiction was the genre we picked; the setting gives you a lot of freedom as you can pick and choose what to use. 4X was just a game idea Pontus and I talked about a lot at the pub, we finally reached the point where we felt we are going to go for this and make the game we always talked about. -Chris King (Crispon Games)

About Galactic Inheritors

Galactic Inheritors is a space 4X game; however, it will focus on the inevitable conflict that will lead to only one race being able to survive in the end. The bits of lore that have been revealed speak of the existence of the ancient mass driver weapons which may be the explanation for such events as the extinction of the dinosaurs here on Earth and the reason why most races seem to have the same level of technological development.

One theme that comes up often in the developer diaries is maintaining immersion, which seems to have a key role in many of the design decisions. I decided to ask what their inspiration was and how crucial was immersion to the development of the game:

Science fiction is one of my favourite genres, I couldn’t point to one author or book that really inspired me, but they all add up. The thing we really wanted to do was to try and create a universe. So I spent a fair amount of my time trawling through the internet to reading about current scientific knowledge and theories and the kinds of future idea scientists are researching. I did read Paul Krugman’s paper on the theory of interstellar trade but decided not to include a trade system in the game. I always felt that science was a vital component in a science fiction game, as it is so essential to game immersion. So exploration is a staple of these games, and we changed what exactly you found when you explored to add that little bit to the game experience.

Due to the back lore, this means the game will only have one road to victory: conquest. Crispon Games has considered having a possible technological victory based on unlocking the secrets of the ancient mass drivers, but there is no promise that this will be implemented.

Map View

The game’s focus seems to be the management of your empire from the perspective of the one in charge. The game will focus more on the high level decisions than on the micromanagement of one’s assets. Elements of gameplay that have been defined at this moment are:

  • Have your race explore new star systems to survey them for their colonisation potential and mapping out new jump routes.
  • The player will know the location of the other alien factions from the start and the overall worth of each system, though each system needs to be surveyed and explored to be utilized.
  • Colonise surveyed star systems, this process will be expensive and set your economy back a little.
  • Make decision on what major projects to build in your star systems. The game uses the whole star system as the basic economic unit (you colonise entire systems and build improvements for the entire system).
  • Research technology via a traditional tech tree model (one tech at a time), again the technologies you research are the major breakthroughs that will have impact on your empire as a whole.
  • Research new classes of ships and build them via military contractors. These companies will gain experience that will apply customisable improvements to future ships built; each company will earn experience separately.
  • Because of the jump drives and ‘star lane’ mechanics, this will give space a topography which will mean strategic chokepoints will be an important factor in planning defenses and attacks.
  • Combat will be abstracted and the battle for territory will be to the end. Conquered systems will be cleansed of their former inhabitants to make place for your own people to move in.

Chris King spoke a little about why he chose to have no tactical combat:

One of our earliest decisions was that there would be no tactical combat. We felt that to do it well would take so much time to do well that we wouldn’t have any time left to make the rest of the game. So combat is an abstract affair, were you’ll send your fleets into battle and then hope your commander on the scene will be able to lead them to victory.

Aspiration for the Game and the Role of Media in your Empire

Media will play an important role in your civilization. This will affect things like how wary another race is to your preparations for war to influencing your people to prepare for the brutality of war. This aspect is one of the key features they are hoping to bring to the genre with Galactic Inheritors:

The one we really wanted was that you would see war coming. The use of media to drive not just your population but the AI’s as well to war creates a narrative around war. Keeping an eye on what the AI is up to can warn if you someone is thinking of attacking you and also create strategic opportunities if you see war brewing between two other races.

Since the game will have limited diplomacy (go to war, peace treaty), media will also play an important role on influencing other races. When I asked if we will be able to collaborate with another race to prevent a third one from achieving victory, he answered:

We don’t have temporary accommodations as such, but you can signal to your neighbour that you won’t be attacking them soon through your media. The AI can then use this information to focus its fleets on frontiers that are more threatened.

You can read many of his developer diaries about the design choices and why they took them for the game on their game forums. His recent diary on the role of media can be found here.

Scenery

Final Words

Clearly the game is still in early development and in a pre-alpha phase. However, the developer diaries seem to be coming at a regular pace for those who want to know more and understand the game’s design choices better. You can follow the game at their official website, and SpaceSector will endeavour to keep you informed about any new development on this title.

Edward Varfalvy has been gaming since the early days of the Atari 2600. He started playing strategy games on his NES with Romance of Three Kingdoms, but soon graduated to playing on the PC with titles such as Civilization and Master of Orion. He loves sci-fi and fantasy, as well as historical strategy games, be it turn-based or an RTS. His true love is the 4X genre. Interested in covering these titles he hopes to bring reviews, previews, and news updates for the site. See all Edward’s posts here.

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45 Comments


  1. Devildogff says:

    I hate to sound like a pessimist here, but this doesn’t sound very good. The idea that you can see all the planets takes away the exploration excitement, the non-tactical battles take away the extermination excitement and honestly it all sounds bland. I expected better from ex-Paradoxians.

    I’ll pass.

    • Alien JD says:

      It sounds like they are moving a grand strategy game into space but taking away the freedom to set your own goals and play however you want. Without trading and exploration and diplomacy the only thing left would be combat…which they aren’t implementing.

      It doesn’t look like there is very much to do in this game. From the info so far it looks like a casual mobile game. Once they have some game play footage and/or a demo available I’ll check it out.

  2. Dawnstar says:

    There used to be such games in the past. I have to say, eventhough it might sound old fashioned, it could be very enjoyable. Its all about of atmosphere and how original and unique experience its going to be. I look forward to it!!!

    It just has to be easy modability and lots of different technologies to be researched.

  3. Laird says:

    I’m always hungry for new 4X games and will keep an eye on this one. Gotta admit, it doesn’t sound very appealing, alas.

  4. SQW says:

    I don’t think this should even be rated news worthy. It’s so early in pre-alpha it could end up being a fantasy 4x by the time it’s done….IF it’s done. Also, game mechanics he described are about mainstream/generic has it gets.

    I do like the no ‘tactical combat’ part. It’s ballsy, and most probably stems from lack of coding resources than anything else, but I applaud any attempt to move away from the existing formula set in the era of Space Empire.

    • Adam Solo says:

      “Stellar Indie Venture” is a special rubric we use to let the audience know about game projects that are still very early in development, so that interested people may start interacting with the devs early on by helping with feedback, services or just by spreading the word.

      It’s just one more way to help the indies gain more visibility :)

    • SQW says:

      Thanks for the clarification. SIV tag has been so rare since 2012 that I completely forgot about it.

      Also, out of curiosity, I had a look at all the past SIVs.

      2013: World’s Collide
      2012: Star Czar, Red Shift, Galaxial, Deep Space Settlement, Predestination

      Did any of these games make it to release version?

      • Adam Solo says:

        Predestination should release soon. Deep Space Settlement, Galaxial and World’s Collide are under development. Red Shift was cancelled. Star Czar was put on hold the last time I checked.

  5. BlueInstinct says:

    sounds interresting, from the mechanics decribed, dominions came to mind (abstracted combat, lack of diplo, simple management), so this one would need some very sphisticated tech and weapon choices to be really good, but it has the potential, il keep an eye on it

  6. Sam says:

    Nothing original or interesting here.
    Move along.

  7. Kordanor says:

    Have to agree previous comments. Doesn’t sound interesting at all to me.
    Imho the part which is most fun about Space 4X games is exploration, finding great new planets, settle on them and try to survive, either by Military or Diplomacy.

    This game sounds like a generic game skeleton, which intends to have a space-skin dragged over it.

    So what I don’t like:
    -”it will focus on the inevitable conflict that will lead to only one race being able to survive in the end”
    -”but decided not to include a trade system in the game” (however a science brokering is horrible as well)
    -”The player will know the location of the other alien factions from the start ”
    -”and the overall worth of each system”
    -”he game uses the whole star system as the basic economic unit (you colonise entire systems and build improvements for the entire system).”
    -”and the battle for territory will be to the end. Conquered systems will be cleansed of their former inhabitants to make place for your own people to move in.”

  8. Gunnergoz says:

    Sort of underwhelming if all I have to go on is this article. It might be worth $5 to mess around with the way it is described, but I would not invest more than that in such a bare-bones game.

  9. Marc says:

    you can tell they have no experience in this genre

  10. ashbery76 says:

    I am not sure who the devs are targeting with this article.I see nothing here.

  11. Happy Corner says:

    I can see the disappointment in the other comments… this definitely could use some more angles to draw interest. It has star lanes, too, which are definitely not the most popular approach for space 4X.

    I also thought it was odd how “mass drivers” are being presented as some ancient precursor super-weapon, when in real life they’re much closer to a near-future technology. It makes me worry that maybe they’re not thinking this out enough.

    On the other hand, the media part sounded interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen media being a factor in a 4X (space or otherwise) before. Most of the time in these games, the “media” is just some building you construct for a bonus and then forget about. It might be interesting to have a media arm for your empire that you have to manage in a more active way!

    The bit about the military contractors was intriguing, too – and dare I say, more realistic, at least for a human civilization. In real life, nations have many different companies that build stuff for their military. Having choices for contractors when you’re building ships, and having them level up separately, is a touch I haven’t seen in another game, either.

    I’ll be watching this one, but I just hope they throw in some other meat to make the rest of the game worthwhile.

  12. Ermdog says:

    Thanks Edward for the insight on the devs and the info, an interesting read. A lot of things they said concern me, and I’m sure others as well. No trade, one victory condition, no tactical combat, minimal diplomacy, and star lanes. Not all of these can be negative if done right, but a lot are big deals to 4x gamers.

    It’s a little unfair to judge these right now, since we don’t know how everything is going to play out, but I have to agree with the other posters. It feels like they are giving this a shot with no experience in space 4x at all.

    The Media part of the game does sound pretty cool, but i’m curious to see if their strong points will make us forget all the so called “negatives”.

  13. lammaer says:

    I have soo strange feelings – I read about new exciting upcoming 4x games on weekly basis, but somehow I can’t play them, because they never get ready.

    So on paper we are full of strategy games, but actually we are starving….

  14. Rip the Jacker! says:

    No tactical combat? Star lanes? Yet another example of slack and idle developers, who want a quick return on their minimal investment in time and effort. They probably don’t even have customizable races.

    So frequently do these types diverge from the pinnacle of the 4x genre that is MOO2, with the result being a piece of something unmentionable; I just don’t understand why if developers could create MOO2 in 1996, how come no one seems to be able to surpass that feat almost 18 years later?

    I would also like to say that I really appreciate the time Edward (the original poster) took to write this article; similarly, I’d like to thank Adam for this site, since if we didn’t have it, we’d end up wasting our money (yeah, right!) on something that the cat dragged in.

    Keep the reviews coming!

    • Gary says:

      Actually, Space Empires IV is a really good Space 4X game. I spent many, many hours with that game. Others really enjoy GalCiv 2. So there have been good Space 4X games since MOO2.

      I have high hopes for M.O.R.E. and Predestination. We’ll see…

      • Alien JD says:

        I loved Space Empires IV and SEV with the balance mod is really good too.

        Armada 2526 Supernova is really good especially if you are a fan of the total war series.

    • Mezmorki says:

      If you have an iOS device, Starbase Orion is worth a serious look. It has almost all of the main elements of Master of Orion in place, an almost cloned economic system, etc. There are differences in research and the amount of ship customization you can do – and the tactical battles are all resolved in one turn to make the game (awesomely) playable in multiplayer.

      Armada 2526 (with Supernova) felt more like MoO2 to me than many of the other 4x offerings in the past decades. It had some hard and interesting choices to make throughout the game, deep but not needlessly complex mechanics, and a clean presentation. Great game on the PC.

      • Adam Solo says:

        Agree on Armada 2526 Supernova (Armada 2526 Gold Edition). Great game. Definitely the one that felt more like MoO2 to me as well. The downsides were probably the combat and the lack of ship design. But overall, a great space 4X experience, no doubt.

      • Agreed, Armada 2526 (w/ Supernova) is a gem. Visually it is definitely rough but it has that special feel. I find it hard to define it but a good 4X game should feel like your choices are meaningful throughout the whole game. Which is strange because as Adam said, no ship customisation and though it has tactical combat it is most certainly very rough. Concept wise I loved the idea of the planetary warfare happening at the same time and plays a role in an attack. It is just that the combat module is very ‘primitive’.

        It did several things interestingly, and honestly I do not mind the lack of ship customisation and the “one planet” per system approach (actually the game takes the route that you primarily colonise the best planet and the rest of the system is pretty much just extra raw resources). It works because the choices you have and the ability to influence your assets are great. Give it a better combat engine and the game would be almost perfect.

        As for Starbase Orion, yeah, as far as iPad games go it is definitely a good 4X title. It has its limits but it is on a mobile. The funny thing is, I think it does 4X better than some PC releases I’ve seen.

    • Sam says:

      you are correct. Moo2 is the best so far.

      • ashbery76 says:

        Armada 2526 Supernova’s a massively underrated game.The awfully bland visuals mixed with the terrible tactical combat camera really damage a great design with lots of strategic choices and even racial victory conditions which adds great replayability.

  15. Royston62 says:

    Are these devs starting a new genre here? If there is no exploration then it can only be a 3X game, right? After playing computer games for 35 years (I started on a Tandy TRS80 in 1979) I think it’s good to see someone trying a different approach to the conquering of space and I look forward to further reviews in the future. Many thanks for all the effort that you guys put into keeping us informed.

  16. Chris says:

    Doesn’t this sound a lot like Endless space? Only even more abstracted?

  17. t1it says:

    I knew nothing of this game before reading this.
    I know nothing of this game after reading this.

    Well possibly I kinda “know” it’s going to be some shallow ipad arcade game pretending to be a 4x.
    I usually don’t judge indie games before I’ve played them but this one looks like it won’t even leave a grain of sand in the history of 4x games.

  18. UncaJoe says:

    Royston62 is right about this being a 3x game, or at least that’s what it looks like at the moment. Also sounds a bit like MOO3. Yuk! I’ll wait and see, but my guess now is that it’s not one I’ll buy. (Ah, Royston62, how well I remember the TRash80. I’ve been playing computer game ‘way too long.)

  19. I’d love to hear the developers tell about where their game will stand out. Creating a mediocre game on all accounts is a waste of time. Where will this game be better than most? So far this is not evident.

  20. Mark says:

    An 18 year old game like Moo II had more features, was deeper and most importantly was more fun and immersive than *any* recent 4x game.

    Since then 4x space games have gone backwards, lost depth, lost options, lost immersion, lost interesting features, incorporated horrifically bad, brain-dead design decisions and become dumbed down to the point that they are dull as hell. If there were a prize for sticking to that trend in its purest form then this game would be sure to win it easily.

    There are a lot of 4x games coming out at the moment. Can someone please make a good one?

    • ashbery76 says:

      No game will match the obvious nostalgia you have.Just play MOO2 for ever and be happy.

    • Mark says:

      Even the trolls seem to have lost their edge, or maybe its just this one.

      • ashbery76 says:

        No trolling just advice.

        I liked Moo2 too but it had a very abstract economy,light diplomacy,Civ2 colony management,silly bears in spacesuits and was micromanagement hell late game.

        It was not close to a perfect game.

        • Mark says:

          If you’ll notice, I (or anyone else in this thread) didn’t say that it was a perfect game, just that no 4x since then has been able to match it.

          I would be more than happy if another game were to come along and knock MOO II off its throne but it seems that no dev is up to the task. Distant Worlds came close IMO but its insistence on RT at all costs is too much of a negative.

        • ashbery76 says:

          Well that is your opinion only.My opinion is DWU while not perfect is a better experience now.

          Moo2 was not even the best sci fi 4x in that decade in my opinion.AlphaCentuari takes that crown.

        • Mark says:

          SMAC was indeed awesome and if forced to compare the two I would have to agree that it was better than MOO II. SMAC is yet another old game that no current dev has even come close to eclipsing.

          However one thing SMAC is NOT is a space 4x. If you refer to my OP, you’ll see that I specifically mentioned current *space* 4x games as being inferior to MOO II, not all 4x.

          I would agree that DW is probably the best of the recent space 4x games – which unfortunately isn’t saying much. I like the dev too, he really seems to listen to his customers which is very rare. DW has come a very long way since its beginning but even after all that work its still no match for MOO II (and yes I know that’s only my opinion, what else would it be?).

  21. JD says:

    Too Chris King the developer, keep it up. You guys are doing something different, and that is exactly what the 4x community needs. Don’t let these nay sayers put you down, all they want is the yet yet another MoO2 clone.

    I for one am looking for new expierences, and your game is just that. So keep it up. Most gamers seem to forget that some of the most abstracted strategy games are the best ones.

    Many folks seems to forget how flawed and tedious the tactical battles in MoO2 were.

    • Mark says:

      “Most gamers seem to forget that some of the most abstracted strategy games are the best ones.”

      While that’s true (chess comes to mind), most gamers seem to want a certain level of immersion with Space 4x strategy games and the more abstract you make them the harder it is to achieve any immersion.

      When I play chess the last thing I feel like is a commander on a battlefield.

      • JD says:

        I think that is exactly the problem, a good game is not about immersion. But about fun (mechanics). Chess is not about being a commander. Chess is about winning from your opponnent in the least amount of moves possible.

        I mean when playing civ, do players really feel they are running a country. Seriously! I do not, I just like playing the game because well the fun mechanics.

        However I understand what you mean and where you’re coming from. But give these folks a chance, so the game does not have tactical battles, well neither does the Europa Universalis series, and that is a very successful strategy game series. Although not my cup of thee, as I find it to be a information overload game. But many folks love it.

        • Mark says:

          Its an interesting point. But when I’m playing Civ, I do feel like I’m running a country. That’s what I want from the game, that’s why I signed up, to be immersed in a particular genre and throw myself into it. I do everything possible to ignore the unrealities, the abstract concessions and imagine that I am really in the role that the game is about. Obviously its easier with some games than others.

          So I’d disagree with you there, although I can enjoy games like chess for the pure strategy, when it comes to space or land 4x I most certainly *do* want immersion, the more the better. Dry, abstract strategy simply wont cut it. I guess everyone is different in that respect.

        • JD says:

          Actually based on your explanation I will take back a little what I said about playing Civ.

          I think for me it’s that I favor good mechanics over immersion and therefore I can forgive the lack of immersion. I think a game with very good immersion but crap mechanics will be a worse game then a game with little immersion but very good mechanics.

  22. meprun says:

    Since Orion 2. ive seen one game coming close to it. That is distant worlds. But it is to strategic. What i like to see in a 4x game is great universe filled with event and some extraordinary monsters and a good or deep tactical interface. the strategic part is of lesser importance. Why do al the games focus on the strategy?

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