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StarDrive 2: Range, Slavery and Diplomacy in New Dev Video

By on June 2nd, 2014 8:55 am

StarDrive 2 | Turn-based space 4X strategy game by Zero Sum Games and Iceberg Interactive

In the future, I imagine all people will respect one another and live in perfect harmony. While wonderful, this future would make for a rather uninteresting 4X game. Thankfully, developer Daniel DiCicco has a different view of the future, at least when it comes to the StarDrive 2 universe.

In his latest dev log video, Dan reveals several new features and modifications he’s made to the game, and one of the most notable is certainly the slavery system he is working on. Not only do you get to capture members of your rival’s populace, stealing them from their homes in the process, but you also get to put their special talents to work for you within the slave pits of your colonies as workers of your own.

Features highlighted in the video include changes to exploration, which now requires refueling stations and upgrades if you want to colonize and explore beyond your empire’s fuel range. Unlike the original StarDrive, you’ll no longer be able to scout out the entire map with your starting scouts from the get go. Leaders are also displayed in a bit more detail for the first time, and while it doesn’t appear they’ll be doing anything we haven’t seen done before, heroes who can provide stats bonuses to your colonies and fleets was a feature I missed having in StarDrive. Only a couple of traits are shown, but the game will hopefully contain a large variety of these upon release. I can envision “Slave Trader” and “Slave Master” as potential traits for admirals and governors alike, given the new Slavery system.

In addition to slavery, exploration, and leaders, a few other elements are shown as well. A new command point system which helps restrict fleet size has been implemented. Building fleets above your command limit will inflict increasing penalties, and raising your command points will require capturing more planets and building more starbases. Interestingly, defensive fleets will use less command points, which seems to give some advantage to those empires who may otherwise be outnumbered.

StarDrive2 Diplomacy - A new tolerance mechanism and a perceived value system

Diplomacy is the last, but certainly not least, system shown in the video, and the highlights include a new tolerance mechanism and a perceived value system. The tolerance system will help players make informed decisions regarding what options will be accepted, rather than playing guessing games with the AI. The perceived value system adjusts the value of trades and treaties dependent on a factions personality. For instance, a faction in love with money, such as the United Federation, will value deals involving credits higher than other races.

As of now, StarDrive 2 still seems to be on track for a September 2014 release.

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  1. Viktor Rexach says:

    I’ve been craving a “slavery system” for so long and none of the games I played had offered this. I will definitely watch out for this one.

    • SQW says:

      Sword of the Stars Prime with expansions.

      The Zhuul faction utilizes slaver ships to abduct populations from enemy worlds and use them as resources. Watching your slaver fleet suck up every living soul on a planet instead of bombing it to the stone age is awesome. =)

      • Zuul. :) And yes, slavery as a feature is a great addition, very different to other factions. Can “Kickstart” new colonies very nicely.

    • Happy Corner says:

      Distant Worlds offers the option to enslave conquered populations, as well. Or exterminate them outright, presumably with concentration camps… I haven’t seen that one since the original MOO2. And yes, taking either of these options will piss off the races involved. Extermination policies will also hurt your empire’s reputation as a whole (which all races care about).

      • ashbery76 says:

        Armada2526 also had population policies.

        • RandomBlue says:

          Armada2526 wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good either. I really disliked the non-customizable ships and how much you had to micro-manage populations during colonization. I also thought the research tree wasn’t very well thought out/balanced.

          The UI was fairly bad as were the graphics, but that didn’t stop me from sinking a decent amount of time into the game.

  2. RandomBlue says:

    LOL @ the owls with lawn mowers. :)

    This has a lot of the kind of stuff I wanted to see in SD1, plus it’s turn-based which I prefer greatly. I know a lot of SD1 owners are still pissed at how that went down, but I feel like I got my money’s worth from SD1. I played around 60-80 hours for $15 I believe. I also had more fun with this game than many other 4x’s I’ve bought:

    Legends of Pegasus
    Endless Space
    Star Ruler

    Off to the SD forums to find out how to get in on the beta for this one now that the dev has some real experience in his belt and is using a much better game engine with better tools for it’s core.

    • Mr Wave says:

      I never was able to get into any of those games. They all lacked major things for me to want to keep playing them.

      I also played Armada 2526 which i kept playing thinking there was some promise, but i never felt it. Played Distant Worlds and again I felt underwhelmed by its seemingly game-playing-itself feel. Played GC2 but it was lacking that realism I crave in such games, things like proper stellar masses and orbits being taken into account. I want to feel like I am in space. Not a sandbox of arbitrary rocks around a star. Which is why SOTS never boded well for me.

      I will watch this one carefully, but I won’t be disappointed if its not to my liking. So far only Imperium Galactica 2, Birth of a Federation and Hegemonia Legions of Iron held any promise.

      • Erik says:

        “Played Distant Worlds and again I felt underwhelmed by its seemingly game-playing-itself feel.”

        Glad I’m not the only one who felt like “playing” MOO3 all over again.

      • Mark says:

        If you want realism, play Aurora! You may be sorry you asked for it though but you certainly cant beat the price. :)

    • Njordin says:

      look out for Star Ruler 2!

      also have a look @galactic armory. (download in official forums) its an “unofficial” expansion to Star Ruler 1 and made it for me not only playable but very enjoyable and fun. Try it out.

      • RandomBlue says:

        I’m looking forward to SR2 but found SR1, even with that mod, to be extremely bland and boring.

  3. SQW says:

    Looks good but since we do not judge a movie by teaser trailers and because we are all intelligent gamers, let’s hold off until the review this time round eh?

  4. Robert says:

    Glad to see this is coming up!

    Dan is an interesting character… lawyer turned 420 loving game developers in Portland, OR.

    Made a good game that never got some promised features… which resulted in a giant arglebarlge scream from about 1000 people who whittled down to become a tight knit community of 10 or 20 dedicated to some sort of reckoning for the guy as they’ve taken this rather personally.

    I really liked Stardrive. I bought it after everything was said and done just to support the development of SD2. It’s not without flaws… but it’s good despite them. I mean… it’s not like he released x:rebirth or something.

    • ManicMechanic says:

      Agree with you there, StarDrive may not be exquisite, but it did give me a lot of fun gameplay exp. For one guy to do this, it’s an amazing job, and if my 20 $ can help him out to make evena better game, then why not. Imagine, one guy to have made this game, what could he’ve done with 4-5 additional people? :)
      Gotta say, started watching the games Iceberg publishes, they’ve managed to build up at least 3 great teams and games – StarDrive, Endless Space and the new Starpoint. All three teams work great with their communities, and the games have that something I remember from the olden days, a smaller team enthusiasts – and you can see that in their games.

  5. Smoking Robot says:

    Forced Labor? Maybe he should call his game ‘Space Nazi’s’.

    • RandomBlue says:

      There are other 4x’s with slavery as well. This is typically used by evil races and of course enslaving other races doesn’t really endear you to them much and probably affects how all races view you to some degree. The race he was showing is an evil race, basically. The owls (Owlwoks) are controlled/enslaved by the Cordrazine, so it makes sense that they’d enslave other races they encounter if they’re attempting to conquer them.

      So yes, Space Nazis kind of, but that’s a pretty common trope for 4X games.

      edit: They’re Owlwoks

      • Zero says:

        Taking slaves will make “good” races fairly mad at you, and there are some races will essentially refuse to deal with you if you own slaves of their race.

    • Boris says:

      I’d buy a game called ‘Space Nazis’, it would be really superb!

      Much like Iron Sky I imagine, yet designing your own SN ships would be quality.

      And there would have to be English spoken with a German accent for immersion.

  6. t1it says:

    Pretty game. But is the mechanics deep enough for me to care? You see when you make a turn-based game, I’ll instantly compare it to the likes of GalCiv, MoO etc. It’s ok for a RT game to have shallow mechanics (they make up for it in immersion & realism IMO) but not a turn based game. Those are supposed to have deep management (and other aspects like better AI/diplomacy) and I can’t see anything such in that video. How’s this game going to compare to GalCiv 3?

    • Zero says:

      I think this game has more strategic depth than MOO2 and GalCiv both. I’m intimately familiar with both games and obviously there are a lot of influences from those games in this game. Basically there’s nothing you can do in those games that you can’t do in SD2, and there are plenty of things you can do in SD2 that you can’t do in either.

      • t1it says:

        I see. You did take the step in making SD2 more alike MoO2 so that makes me feel good:)

        • ashbery76 says:

          Moo2 had issues with micromanagement on large maps and lack of specialization in colony building which all ended up looking the same.Battles also got tedious in my view.

          Moo2 population management was great and added immersion early game but desperately need some automatization when you hit higher a colony count.

          The GC series I played them a fair bit but never found them either realistic or deep.

        • RandomBlue says:

          MOO2 did have colony specialization. Each colony had a specific rate of farming, production and research. If you weren’t specializing those colonies then that was how you chose to play the game. I always specialized mine. I’m talking beyond the population management.

          Those stats combined with the planet size determined what I would build and in what order. The planet location would also play into that as well. I think the main thing you couldn’t do was build multiples of the same building types. It wasn’t as customizable as the GC series in that regard.

        • ashbery76 says:

          You still ended up building every building type on every planet anyway even it was used for farming.

        • RandomBlue says:

          You may have, but I didn’t. Those buildings cost money to maintain and a lot of them don’t make sense to build on specialized planets given the maintenance cost and the other things you could be building instead, such as just dumping the extra production into money or research.

        • t1it says:

          I found GC planet customization and economy sliders just about right. Meaningful choices, not too little to do, not too much for the AI to handle (SE5…) and not too “realistic” (SotS2) that end up being quite shallow. I don’t find too many 4x games get this aspect right for my taste. That’s pretty much why I like GC. It had many other sub par features (the research tree, no tac battles etc) but that’s forgiven due to it’s planet management in addition to a quite good diplomacy and AI.

  7. ashbery76 says:

    This is looking the best of the upcoming 4X games so far.People wanted a Moo2 and this looks like the closest so far.

    Of course time tell the end result.

    • Smoking Robot says:

      It is a beautiful looking game. I love the interface… very ‘Ascendancy’.

      And the lack of tiny font and tiny icons… thank God. It’s about someone made a 4X that you can actually understand without getting out a magnifying glass.

      • Thrangar says:

        That’s what I thought
        and yes that what I also was pleased about(old Man Old eyes)

        Have to admit I will be watching this one

  8. RandomBlue says:

    Zero, will SD2 have multiplayer at launch?

    • Zero says:

      No MP on launch. That said, MP in Unity is a real breeze and once I’m happy with the SP launch, we’ll talk about expansion plans. I learned my lesson on trying to fit too much into launch. I just need / want to nail this single player launch.

  9. Jeff P says:

    I like the option to press the space bar and allow the game to continue processing turns. Real-time games can get out of hand too easily, and depend on a quick “pause” finger to prevent disaster. Turn based games can get monotonous particularly in the early phases when there is little to do. The SD2 system seems a great compromise. The graphics also seem to be coming along nicely.

  10. whocares says:

    I’ll buy it on Steam as soon as the early release gets its 75% discount, promised!

  11. Bob says:

    This developer did not finish the first game. I for one do not trust him.

    • DennisP says:

      Amen to that.

    • Jeff P says:

      I never buy games on release for two reasons: I’m cheap, and I want the initial customers to wring out the bugs so I don’t have to suffer with them! I know SD had more than its share of problems (I’m still hesitant to buy it) and we’ll see how SD2 turns out.

  12. salvo says:

    great interface, zero, should you go early access, I’m willing to support you

    • Zero says:

      Thanks man, but we’re just going to sit on this until it’s really nice and polished up. I’m tired of EA games as well.

      • RandomBlue says:

        Most of us are. Plus, from your end, you don’t have to worry about early access people going into rages and stalking you and your company to post about how you screwed them wherever either are mentioned, because you left out feature XYZ from release.

        • Happy Corner says:

          Unfortunately, Zero already has the people “going into rages because he screwed them and left out XYZ feature”, as you can see on this very page.

          On the upside, though, it’s nice to see that it’s not just us players who are sick of Early Access. Also, the recent interview he did with the Endless Space guy suggests that Zero learned a lot from his experience making StarDrive 1.

          Who knows? However I might feel about SD1, I can be fair about SD2. If Space Sector and other trusted reviewers give a positive report for the new game, I’ll give it a chance.

        • SQW says:

          Will Zero bite the bullet and have a no EA policy on SD2 and succeed (or fail) on merit alone?

          EA is basically selling on promises and you can’t blame people for being ticked off by the guy who broke his word last time selling the same promise again.

  13. blueInstinct says:

    Looks sooo good!
    anyone saying the dev has betrayed us and so on…

    u guys have a rather narrow minded few on things…
    look what other companys do…, compared to that, SD1 is perfectly fine and the reason to move along to a better engine makes perfect sense.

    SD2 looks to be a fantastic game and the dev deserves to get payed for his hard labor.

    • DOMDOM2 says:

      Exactly. This isn’t an EA dev studio. This is a 1-man show. He made mistakes and admitted it. Was I disappointed in the final Stardrive experience? Yes, but I still don’t regret buying it or the 120 hours I got out of it.

  14. Mark says:

    Looking forward to this one, I liked the ship design system in the first one. Thank god there are no fricking star-lanes! I hate those bloody things and any dev who avoids using them is ok in my book.

    Going turn-based for the strategic layer was a great move but I’m wishing that combat was also turn based. RT combat is such a mess, you always end up missing something or losing efficiency simply because you cant see or do everything simultaneously, even if its pausable.

  15. BlueTemplar says:

    I couldn’t help but notice how similar many of the features are to MoO2. It’s probably a good thing, considering how good MoO2 is… but I cannot shake the feeling that this is reaching the point of ripping MoO2 off… (though it’s not like there’s a MoO4 being made right now)

    The diplomatic system looks like to be the most advanced I’ve ever seen. This is quite promising! (But will the AI be up to the task?)

    • Keith Turner says:

      I’d say an upgraded and enhanced MoO2 is a game fans have been waiting a long time for. One of the chief complaints about MoO2 was how the tactical combat could get tedious later in the game. StarDrive 2’s real-time combat should eliminate this issue.

      Most games are a riff on an existing game, and I don’t think StarDrive 2 is really any different in that regard. It is easy (and often wise) to borrow mechanisms from prior games, but it is much harder to combine these ideas with your own and avoid ruining what made the original games great in the process.

      I agree that it is very important that the AI be able to intelligently participate in every aspect of the game. I’ve been disappointed with several recent strategy game releases due to poor AI performance.

    • Mark says:

      If he’s ripping off MOO2 then I cant see that as being anything other than a *huge* selling point. Please, please rip off MOO2! It’s about time somebody did.

  16. Buxaroo says:

    I bought SD1 and I liked it, but in all honesty, I prefer my space 4x games to be turned based. SoaSE is probably the only real time 4x I like, but that game is more about large fleet combat than anything (EVE Online for the single players).

    After seeing the video, I am 99% convinced this is gonna be right up my alley. Clean GUI, wonderful over all design, the feel of it (as someone said above, Ascendency feel is a big +).

    The tolerance addition really looks to be a good thing indeed. All in all, I am glad Zero went with turn-based, to me it’s the right direction where it should be. And the ability to keep the spacebar pressed to keep going through turns is a great idea, I wished some games I had played had this ability.

    As far as early access, I can understand why he wants to stay clear of that, but for this game, especially from what I have seen, I would gladly throw money at this game if given the option for early access/beta.

  17. Todd says:

    I fully agree with you Buxaroo. I didn’t play SD1 all that much, but since SD2 is turned based, I’m 100% on board. I love the UI and clean look, plus the large font Zero is using is fantastic. The game just looks like something you can pick up and play. I’ve watched the latest video several times now and would also be in the early release camp saying, “here’s my money”.

  18. JD says:

    So I see folks say ‘Here’s my money’!

    Based on what?

    I haven’t seen a single millisecond of gameplay. Just some tidbits of copied mechanics from a game I played way back when.

    The only thing I see is shiny graphics. SHOW me the GAME. Show me an hour’s worth of someone actually playing the game. Or a youtube Lets Player with a good rep. Like how the folks from Endless Legend did it. THEN I WILL KNOW what this second attempt is about. And only then can I begin to make assumptions whether or not this is worth buying. THAT is how you market games in 21st century.

    PS. I understand these tidbits are not representative of the whole product.

    • Buxaroo says:

      Did you watch the video at all? I saw lots of gameplay. What do you constitute as gameplay? Are you just talking about combat? Your acting like all he did was show screenshots and used a pointer or something…

      • Keith Turner says:

        Actually, combat has been show as well in the first dev log video.

        The primary reason we aren’t seeing an hour worth of footage right now is because the game is not ready for that. It’s still very much in active development. I don’t know that there is even an AI to speak of as of yet. That said, my major concern is that the game will be ready by September, but time will tell.

        It’s important to note that these videos aren’t marketing videos designed to sell the game. StarDrive 2 is not looking for early access funding and plans to have a closed beta. There’s no reason to sell anyone on anything yet since there is nothing to buy.

        • Buxaroo says:

          Indeed. But considering I am an avid space gamer, from seeing the footage shown, I am quite impressed with how the game is looking so far. I am in several, several early access games, some that are far off from release, and half of them are no where near as finished looking as the above footage.

          Unlike other devs, Zero seems to have learned from mistakes and development decisions, and ST2 looks like it’s going to be a true sequel to a previous game. It looks like he’s taken the best parts of the previous game, and added new stuff that will only add to the game. Turn based, IMHO, was the best decision yet.

          So, after seeing the footage so far, I can make a “educated” decision that this game is what I am looking for. Things can only get better from this point forward from my perspective. This game, and Beyond Earth, are so far shaping up to be the games that I will most likely be getting when they are released this Fall/Winter (4x that is).

        • SQW says:

          Without knowing how the AI works, how could anyone possible know whether a single player 4X game is good or not?

          Both Warlock and Endless space are great looking game with nice mechanics if you just look at the individual pieces of the game. Of course, we all know the whole is rarely more than the sum of its parts.

          As the marketing part, I work in that industry and I’ll tell you this is 100% pure unapologetic marketing. It’s not a funding drive but it’s definitely hyping the game by showing features that people would go wow over while keeping the messy part (AI anyone?) hidden.

        • JD says:

          Keith said: “It’s important to note that these videos aren’t marketing videos designed to sell the game.”

          These tidbits of footage are very much for creating hype, which is to intice you to buy the game, ergo these clips are indeed marketing to generate sales. Surely you cannot be this naive.

          I have worked in marketing for over 8 years. I know all the tricks of the trade. It’s also the reason why I am not susceptible to it.

          So folks who are saying: ‘wow, this game is great, I really like it’ Thats just silly, how can make that judgement based on 120 seconds of no game footage. A clip explaining a command point mechanic is not footage of a game. It’s footage of a small element in a game, big difference.

        • Keith Turner says:

          Oh I agree that it is a marketing video designed to sell hype. My point was that the videos offer incomplete information because the game is incomplete. As such they are “best of” highlight reels right now.

          You’ll get no argument from me that it is far too soon to make an informed purchase decision. I always encourage people to seek out multiple reviews and research what they are buying prior to spending their time or money on a product. This is exactly what I do not just with gaming products, but with every purchase I make from appliances down to toys for my children.

        • JD says:

          Oke fair enough, I can go with the ‘best of’ or highlights explanation here. Which by the way is actually a very apt explanation. One can see this as highlights that will go into the game. Thats a good way of looking at it differently.

  19. Wiliam says:

    Ok, so the races in this game are smart enough to invent stardrive and colonize other worlds but can’t make the various parts fit the designs of their ships. IE: Shields and Reactors that are 3 squares wide, yet the available spaces are set on even number spacing. It ruins the symmetry of player designs. Good enough for government work, I guess. I hope the developers add an option for players to design their own ships, or at least make it so the designs fit the modules, or the modules fit the designs. A few more ship layouts per design level would help. It should also be possible to evenly distribute armor and shielding while providing adequate power to the various weapons stations onboard ship. The power conduits, while a nice idea, simply take up far more room then they should. They really should flow along the “lines” in between the squares, not take up a whole square themselves.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Watch carefully the dev video logs : I’ve seen a ship design with central space 3 squares wide. I’m sure modders will add more ship layouts too.

  20. BlueTemplar says:

    After finally watching all the 3 Dev Video Logs, I have to say I’m VERY excited for this game. It just seems to have all the features I want in a 4X game. I could see it becoming my new “best game ever” (after, chronologically, Alpha Centauri, Space Empires 5 and Sword of the Stars 1).

  21. Mark says:

    These small glimpses of the game are enough to generate interest and focus my attention on reading further information. But I wont be buying anything until…..

    1) A final release of the game is available.

    2) Said release has had MULTIPLE glowing reviews including one from spacesector.

    Those who say “here’s my money” on the basis of a video or two are the ones directly responsible for the sorry state of the gaming industry today because the devs know that they can happily lower their standards to rock bottom and still get your money.

  22. Jar-Tur says:

    Well, I can hardly distinguish all these new space strategies one from another… StarDrive 2, M.O.R.E, Predestination, Lords of the Black Sun, Endless Space, Star Ruler… Why are they so identical in visual style and GUI layout? They ALL look very bleak and dull. I understand that space is not the very flowering place, but nontheless… These sqared menues, identical fonts, black-white gamma… These guys really lack the artistic feeling.
    And the race names? Oh, Holy Gods of the Starless Abyss, where did they find all of these “oligophrenians”, “libidosaurians” and “trinitrosuchians”?

    • RandomBlue says:

      Sorry, but you’re either trolling or blind. They’re all pretty different from each other and have very distinct visual and GUI styles.

      There is some very low level base similarities simply due to them being the same genre, beyond that I can’t see how you think they look so similar.

      The only two in your list that look somewhat similar to me are Lords of the Black Sun and Star Ruler. The gameplay is very different but the UI and visual style have a decent amount in common.

      • Jar-Tur says:

        And now compare all of the above with MoO2 (and even MoO3), Reach for the Stars 2000, Armada 2526, Sword of the Stars, Galactic Civilizations 1-2, Distant Worlds, Space Empires 4-5… These are games that are COZY and pleasant to play.
        I want to say, all of the new guys may be good programmers but it’s not enough. Some quantity of fantasy and inspiration is needed. And inspiration is a rare thing among programmers, you know… :) Hemispheres of brain and such.

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