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Stellar Indie Venture: Stars in Shadow

By on December 3rd, 2014 10:38 am

Stars in Shadow | A turn-based Space 4X Strategy Game by Sven Olsen and Jim Francis

The recent resurgence in 4X games have left one request out of many veterans of the genre: a 4X game that will have turn-based tactical combat that is similar to Master of Orion 2 (along with a similar ship customisation system). Among the many new indie titles, one stands to try to offer that very same request: enter Stars in Shadow, developed by the small indie team of Sven Olsen and Jim Francis (Arioch). You can go here if you wish to read more about them and their game.

Their website is still young (it still doesn’t have a forum up) but it is loaded with several screenshots, concept art, and a quick background of the setting and the races. The first thing many may notice is the stylized art, very reminiscent of animated series and certain video games of the 90’s. The game will feature rich 2D art, with the only 3D art being the rotating view of the planets. Here is their response on the matter:

Yup — it’s 2D through and through. The only exception is the planet art; and that’s a purely cosmetic feature. We wanted to show the planets rotating, with city lights switching on as regions cross the terminator — so while the art is all hand-drawn, planets are rendered in game as 3D objects.

The strategic map is also two dimensional. I think 3D star maps are very cool in theory, but, I’m still not convinced they’re cool enough to justify all the complications they add to a UI. -Sven Olsen

About the Game

Stars in Shadow will focus on delivering turn-based tactical combat as described in their developer blog. According to Sven, this decision is critical as it is important to keep focus in designing a game. The experience the developer wishes to give to the player needs to be decided. If a game gets bloated, or a feature needs to be trimmed-down, one must know what the end goal and main feature of their game should be.

The other objectives are to have the game playable in a single evening (I assume a single evening by the standard of a strategy gamer, I mean we don’t want the game to be too short either), and that the game is immersive enough to get lost in. The rich 2D art and distinct races is probably the product of the later, as for the former we will have to wait and see what the end result will be.

Stars in Shadow | Planetary View

The game offers 7 playable factions based off of 6 races (one race is the composition of two separate factions). The setting is set far into the future after a great war has literally pushed all surviving star-faring civilizations back to a pre-star-flight state. Three of the races will be such survivors, one composing the race that now spans two factions and Humanity. The last three races will be newcomers to the galactic stage.

As mentioned earlier, the game will be played entirely in 2D and though not many details are given to any specific mechanics: the game will have diplomacy, planetary management (though streamlined), customisation of ships with a wide and diverse selection of weapon systems, and turn-based space combat that seems reminiscent of Master of Orion 2. The other interesting thing to note is that the game will give certain unique techs to each race as a way to further differentiate them from each other but also as a means to have “cool toys” early on.

Many of these unique techs will seem similar to many of the end-game techs one would research in games such as Master of Orion. Here is more from the words of Sven:

Essentially, there’s one very large tech tree; but only parts of it are available when you start a new game. Which parts depend first and foremost on the race you choose; but game events, like colonizing and artifact world or defeating a pirate faction, may unlock additional branches. Diplomacy can also broaden what’s possible, as in some situations, other empires will be able to trade you techs that you wouldn’t be capable of researching yourself.

Stars in Shadow | Diplomacy Screen

As for those curious about terraforming, this is what he had to say about the matter:

Terraforming in SiS is modeled fairly simply. Given the right techs, you can change a planet’s type. We don’t attempt to realistically model the transition from one type to another — one turn your colony will be an arid, Mars-like world, and the next it will look and behave like earth. Not terribly realistic, I’ll admit :)

The details of the mechanic aren’t finalized, but, as it currently stands, your terraforming options are limited by both the size and temperature of the planet you’re on; though as you advance through the tech tree, more transformations become possible. Warm, large planets are generally the best candidates for a terraforming project, but in late-game you may learn to build things like solar shades or artificial suns; which make terraforming possible in situations where it normally wouldn’t be.

Inspiration and Motivation for the Game

Reading the background and their first developer diary, one can get the feel Sven is a veteran of the genre, and not just that of the 4X genre. He seems knowledgeable about grand strategy games of yore such as Romance of Three Kingdoms, and lists Star Control 2 as one of his all-time classics, and has played a healthy mix of other types of games. Sven states that both Master of Orion 2 and Sword of the Star have significant influence on the making of Stars in Shadow.

Stars in Shadow | Ship Builder

We leave you with a long excerpt from one of his answers where he responds to our questions about what games influenced Stars in Shadow and what were some of the innovations the devs are thinking to bring to the genre:

My goal as a designer is essentially to do with MOO2 what Valve did with Quake. To take a set of classic mechanics and refine and elaborate on them to the point that the gameplay experience becomes something quite different. I’m not the only designer with such high aspirations, of course. We’re in the midst of a real renaissance of 4X titles; and most of us are trying, in one way or another, to “remake MOO”.

I think Sword of the Stars needs to be given a lot of credit for this burst of new titles. I’d daydream about making a MOO-like game since childhood — most of us did, I think. But when SOTS launched on Steam, Kerberos proved not only that there was still a place for 4X games in the modern era, but also that were significant ways we could really improve on the old classics.

One of the big things I always regretted about MOO2 was that so many of the really interesting, game changing techs where stuck up at the very top of the tech tree. Inevitably, by the time you got to use Star Gates or cloaking devices, the game was essentially over. Give a carefully chosen selection of game-changing techs to specific races in the early game, however, and you can make the distinctions between the different races a lot more interesting. A hugely successful example of this in SOTS is the Hiver’s design. Give the Klackons Stargates at the start of the game, and you get some really extraordinary implications, both in terms of world building and gameplay.

I’ll go into more detail on the Stars in Shadow tech tree in just a moment, but, SOTS has certainly been a major source of inspiration there.

I’m trying to resist what I see as a troubling trend towards ever longer game times — ideally, I’d like to be able to play a complete Stars in Shadow game over the course of an evening, rather than a weekend. Epic games like Civ have their place, of course, but I think the flavor of escape that strategy games provide can be achieved without 10 hour plus playtimes.

I’m a huge fan of the Heroes of Might and Magic series — and one of the core things I’m hoping to achieve with Stars in Shadow is to make a 4X game with a flow that’s closer to Heroes of Might and Magic or Age of Wonders. That means emphasizing tactical combat; simplifying the strategic game, and increasing the number of smaller battles that come up in the course of exploring new systems. And drawing on ideas from HoMM, I think, is a big part of the puzzle of how to get a 4X style game with shorter playtimes. -Sven

Stars in Shadow | Turn-based Tactical Space Combat

Closing Thoughts

Overall, Stars in Shadow looks interesting. As the screenshots have shown, the game does seem to wish to recreate the type of tactical battles we had in Master of Orion 2 and offer a visually rich setting. The developer does seem knowledgeable to the strategy genre as a whole and not just the 4X genre. Also, a defined focus is something many game critics have mentioned was lacking in many of the new titles who seem to get bogged-down with random features that just don’t add up nicely, so having a developer team say they will keep a strong focus is refreshing.

We will have to wait and see how all of this pans out to be like once executed; however, from what has been glimpsed so far this may be something many strategy game fans might have been looking for. The only concern I have is that the games don’t end up too short, though I understand the motivation to have more manageable lengths of gameplay. The rest does seem promising. We hope Stars in Shadow will come together nicely, and SpaceSector will keep you informed about the progress.

You may go to their official website to read more; also you can also send them an email and sign-up for their closed beta-test that may start in a few weeks. The game is estimated for a Q2-Q3 2015 release, and may see a future Kickstarter if needed.

All screenshots used in this article are courtesy of the Official Website.

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  1. Zero says:

    The art style seems really fun. Definitely looks like these guys know what they’re doing. Color me interested.

    • Moon Master says:

      Except the race portraits. Ever since SOTS1 I really dislike the cartoon-like drawings that look like they were made by a kid, partly breaks the immersion for me.

      I know that they need a lot of custom drawings for various menus and screens, and they save time by doing them in this style, but you can probably find some guy from deviantart to retrace them all free with a much more realistic art style that’s in line with the whole “future, space and sci fi theme”.
      Maybe even make a few loading screen arts with CoolShips based on the in-game ship sprites.

  2. Mythox says:

    look like a promising game !! =)

  3. Sven says:

    Thanks for the great writeup Adam. I think I need to admit that my “playable in a single evening” goal really is stretching the truth a bit. Six hours is probably about as short as we’ll be able to keep game times, and six hours is an “evening” only in a fairly generous sense :)

    • Adam Solo says:

      You’re welcome Sven, although we have to thank to Edward for the article as he was the one who did most of the research work and the write-up itself.

      Personally, I’m also very interested in your game. Please keep us updated on your progress.

    • Gary says:

      Sven, I hope you allow for epic games also, for those of us, like myself, who want to spend hours and hours and hours playing a game. I’m one of those who will always choose the highest number of stars/largest galaxy size so a game lasts longer :)

      Anyways, good luck on your game!

  4. DevildogFF says:

    The artwork is exquisite! I love the diplomacy screen there, too. I’m extremely interested.

  5. Smoking Robot says:

    Looks good to me. The search for a well-rounded space 4X goes on…..

  6. t1it says:

    “…simplifying the strategic game, and increasing the number of smaller battles…”

    Tactical battles ought to be good if your going to “simplify” the strategic game. Your inspiration MoO2, SoTs etc already had a relatively simple strategic game…
    I see there’s more than two resources to manage though so I guess it’s not going to be too simple.

    • Sven says:

      Yeah; good eye. The current pre-beta strategic model is actually more complicated than the strategic models in SOTS or MOO1; and while the plan is to keep the production rules simpler than either CIV or MOO2, we are including a multi-species population management feature that certainly requires more player involvement than comparable features in SOTS.

      So while the strategic game is pretty stripped down compared to, say, Endless Space; it’s not going to be the simplest, leanest 4X strategy game you’ve ever played.

      I still think relatively short gameplay times are doable though. I’d argue that SOTS game times have the *potential* to be far shorter than they actually are — in the case of SOTS, the strategic model doesn’t really require 10 hour+ playtimes, it’s just the overheads of the 3D realtime tactical battles that tend to push you to that point.

  7. Happy Corner says:

    I agree, it looks promising… but we’ve seen promising-looking games on this site before, only to be disappointed in the end. We’ll just have to see!

    I’m a little confused by one bit, though: “My goal as a designer is essentially to do with MOO2 what Valve did with Quake. To take a set of classic mechanics and refine and elaborate on them to the point that the gameplay experience becomes something quite different.”

    I think perhaps he means what Valve did with *Half-Life*. Quake was actually done by id (and it wasn’t really “something quite different” in the way that Half-Life is remembered as).

    • Sven says:

      Yeah, I may be getting unnecessarily clever with my metaphors here :)

      I mean, I guess if I’m Valve, and Quake is MOO2, then MicroProse is id, and Stars in Shadow is Half-Life. Um, I think it all kinda makes sense, but only if you can wrap your head around the audacity of me comparing myself and Arioch to that early Valve dev team :) Also, you may kinda need to be a game history geek — I forget there are gamers around nowdays who don’t necessarily have clear memories of the moment when Half-Life launched :)

      • Happy Corner says:

        Yeah, I figured that’s what you meant. Anyway, I started gaming on the Intellivision, so you needn’t worry about any great deficiencies in MY memory of video game history! ;)

        That aside, you have some good ideas and a distinctive art style. I will be keeping an eye on your project, and I wish you the best of luck with it.

  8. JohnR says:

    Yes, I agree completely about the art style. Definitely very appealing. I will for sure be keeping an eye on this one. After all the disappointments and near misses we’ve seen in the space 4X genre the past few years, gamers are well overdue for a pleasant surprise.

    As an aside, the developer mentioned SOTS as an inspiration. I’ve recently been revisiting Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and I see now where the phrase ‘Sword of the Stars’ comes from. ;)

    BTW Edward, your comment on ‘reverse synergistics’ in games struck a chord with me. One of the best examples of this is Guild Wars 2. The game does a lot of things very well, but overall ends up being rather less than the sum of its constituent parts.

  9. vmxa says:

    Hope this turns out great. Love Moo and Homm as well as AoW (first one). Counting on Spacesector to keep me from forgetting this one.

  10. Mark says:

    One series of related questions that I did not see an answer to is as follows…

    What gameplay experience/s will this game offer that MOO2 does not? Why would I wish to buy this game rather than just fire up MOO2 or SOTS?

    In what ways is it actually a *better* game or a different experience?

    • UncaJoe says:

      Yes, good questions, Mark. I’d like to see the answers to those. On another topic, six hours of game play seems all too short to me. Yeah, I know games can get way too long, but I wonder if it will be possible to make a longer game, e.g. with a very, very large universe?

      Anyway, good review (as usual). I’m not convinced (having seen too many promises unfulfilled) but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this one.

    • Sven says:

      Yup — it is a question worth trying to answer. Though of course, there are really two questions here: “How does it improve on MOO2”, and “How does it improve on SOTS?”

      Relative to SOTS — the difference is pretty clear — it’s a matter of core design choices. SOTS is deeply committed to its 3D realtime tactical space combat system — whereas SiS revolves around a 2D turn-based tactical game. Different fundamental gameplay mechanic — basically.

      Relative to MOO2 — a lot of the differences are less obvious. Of course, thanks to the last 20 years worth of technical progress, we can make a game using much higher resolution art than the original MOO2’s. And we have all sorts of options for adding other kinds of eye candy that just didn’t exist back then. But graphics aside, there’s also a lot of ways that the intervening 20 years worth of game releases inform the design The races offer a lot more fundamental distinctions than MOO2’s, often in ways that owe quite a bit to SOTS. And as JD has correctly inferred, we are aiming for a level of strategic complexity roughly between that of the first two MOOs — looking for that elusive sweet-spot between too much and too little late game micro.

      The hope, of course, is that all the larger and smaller mechanics changes add up to a 4X game that’s particularly fun to play. But we still have a fair amount of balancing and tweaking to do before we’ll really be sure what’s working and what’s not.

      The current dev plan has the closed beta starting around New Year’s. And once those beta builds start going out, we’ll be able to start having much more specific conversations with you guys about a lot of the smaller design choices :)

      • UncaJoe says:

        Thanks, Sven. But that didn’t answer MY question, exactly. Will a longer that 6-hour game be possible? You see, if the game actually turns out to be as good as it looks to be, I’d like to live in that universe a while.

        • Sven says:

          The honest answer here is that we don’t yet know just how the gameplay times are going to pan out. And we won’t be in a position to really know for a while yet.

          The first beta phase (scheduled for New Year’s) is going to focus on testing and balancing the tactical battle system. The version of the strategic game those first intrepid testers will see will be fairly rough and unpolished, relative to what we’re hoping to have for release.

          I’d guess it will be at least 2 or 3 months before we’re looking at a version of the strategic game that’s close enough to final that we can really say where average game times will fall.

          Right now — what we have is really just an intention. And that intention is — game times should be shorter than a Civ map — shorter also than MOO2 — ideally closer to MOO1 or perhaps a particularly involved HOMM map. But we are also set on including a feature set that incorporates more colony management features than SOTS or MOO1 so, whether or not the 6 hour playtime goal is even terribly realistic remains to be seen.

          But to answer the one question I can answer with confidence at this point: star count and empire count numbers are certainly going to be configurable. So you will have the power to adjust at least those two dials when setting up a new map.

      • Mark says:

        Thanks, that gives me a better understanding of the niche that this game fills and I have to say that a game which combines the gameplay of MOO2 with the racial distinction and diversity of SOTS is certainly one that I would be interested in.

        I have to admit, the “cartoony” graphics and art style do not really appeal or impress me. But I don’t really care about graphics in a 4x and as long as the gameplay and AI are good, I will be buying.

    • Manfromstars says:

      And do you remember for Space Empires IV or V? And loot ships sest mods?

  11. JD says:

    Looking at those colony screens. I see the economy of this game is leaning more towards an amalgamation between economy principles from MoO1 and SotS1. That may actually be a very nice balance resulting in less micromanagement hell.

    Interesting too see more details about this.

  12. Jeff P says:

    I was glad to see the developers mention SOTS as an inspiration for their game, although I’m a little puzzled as to which aspect they are emulating. SOTS’s galactic map is 3D; SIS is strictly 2D. SOTS’s tactical game was real-time with few ships that you controlled only indirectly (prioritize a target, but no control over individual weapons.) SIS appears to be of the select-a-ship-fight-the-ship school. The SOTS tech tree was divided into tech “eras” (fission, fusion, anti-matter) with a significant random factor for individual techs; it isn’t apparent what form SIS’s tech tree will take.

    Along with all the other readers of this site, I will be interested how SIS turns out.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Focus on tactical combat I suppose. (Same as the HoMM series.)

      Not sure what you mean by “controlling ships indirectly” about SotS1 – you have a lot more control than in other 4X games : you can use movement stances which will make ships move automatically, or control the movement of ships manually; you have 3 choices for ship facing (facing, broadside, manual); you have 3 weapon banks you can attribute the weapon groups to (which can be told to hold fire or fire only at the selected target); you can pinpoint where you want to fire those weapons, for instance stripping enemy ship turrets or crucial ship sections; and you also have several manually fired weapons…

  13. Smoking Robot says:

    I still miss Ascendancy. It wasn’t a great game but it was unique and had a lot of charm. Best music for a 4x, ever. And a great GUI.

    • Manfromstars says:

      Oh yea, years still waiting if Ascendancy 2 come. :/
      But Ascendancy is one of most atmospherical game by music for me.

    • UncaJoe says:

      Yeah, I miss Ascendancy too. A little. You’re right the game had a rather unique charm. That was good! Music? Well I turn it off on any game I play; too distracting. But, LOL, that’s just me.

  14. Vanhal says:

    Yet another try in genre filled with numerous fails. Although this one have my sympathy due to nice art and interface style. Go for it, maybe this time.

  15. Nicholas Lee says:

    Looks interesting. I’d like too, but don’t really have time to do any beta testing.

    Are you planning to put up a signup button, so we can get a notification when you have something to release? Or maybe steam Greenlight page?

    • Sven says:

      if you send me an email (at i can certainly add you to “a game announcements” list.

      also, if you use RSS, you should be able to sign up to receive automatic notifications of new website posts on the main page — and said posts will certainly include a release announcement.

      setting up a little form so people can register themselves for email announcements does sound like a good idea though. give me a moment here — i may be able to hack something like that together fairly quickly :)

      • Sven says:

        It’s a bit belated, but, I did finally get around to putting up an email list signup form — you should be able to find it on the site’s about page:

  16. Benji says:

    Please don’t release this without a decent AI :/

  17. Ashbery76 says:

    Looks very interesting.Love the art.

  18. Echo2361 says:

    I’ll will be closely following the development of this one. I like the art and the idea of different races having different technological advantages is something I enjoyed when playing SOTS so I’m happy to see the devs are taking their inspiration from that game.

  19. Smoking Robot says:

    I’ve been saying for YEARS (decades, actually) – ‘Remember how fun games were back when they were 320×200 resolution?’

    That’s because you HAD to have a good GUI then, and good basic core gameplay.

    This looks like it could be that kind of game – a hi-rez version of a game that could have been made 20 years ago before EVERYTHING GOT SO FREAKING COMPLICATED AND HARD TO SEE.

    To elaborate… someone makes a game (I’m making this up) called ‘Wizards and Swords’. And there’s eight spells in the game. Then ‘Wizards and Swords II’ comes out and there’s 32 spells. So it’s FOUR TIMES BETTER, RIGHT? Um, no. NO. NO, NO, NO. There’s something I call the ‘golden balance’ in game design. This looks like they’re shooting for that and I think a LOT OF PEOPLE would like to play that kind of game.

    Maybe I’m wrong about the kind of game they’re making and that people want to play it (a lot of people).

    But maybe not. I’ll be following this one closely.

    • UncaJoe says:

      Wow! Smoking Robot, you’ve hit on a very sore spot with me and you are absolutely correct. More is NOT always better. I think that was/is the problem with a lot of games. And yes, for me, super cool graphics and wonderful music, alone, do NOT make a game great and replayable year after year after year. That said, I sincerely hope this one turns out to be an exception.

    • Sven says:

      This is an epic post, and I certainly got a huge kick out of reading it.

      Our ambition, of course, is for Stars in Shadow to be an extraordinarily good game; one that moves the 4X genre forward in some key areas, and, perhaps backwards in others :)

      But I’m actually embarrassed by a number of things about the current UI — the tech screens, in particular, are far cruder than I want them to be — and I’m not sure just when we’ll be able to find the time to polish that interface. Even so, it’s great to get some feedback and encouragement. Glad we appear to be doing something right :)

      • Smoking Robot says:

        I think music really adds to a game. If you do a kickstarter to get someone like the Fat Man or George Oldziey to do your music I will sign up in a New York minute!

        Failing that if you have it mod-able so we could use the music from Ascendancy that would work too. :)

        • Sven says:

          Kickstarting to get a really big name to do some composing is definitely something I’d consider.

          Like UncaJoe, I tend to turn the music off when I’m playing strategy games — but, there are a rare handful of titles out there that had really extraordinary soundtracks, worked said soundtracks into the gameplay quite carefully, and ended up elevating the whole experience as a result. Star Control 2 and Homeworld both being excellent examples.

          Re: Modding, that’s very much something I’m planning to support. Rather like the old HOMM titles, you can currently change the soundtrack by just swapping your own MP3s into the music directory; but most the game logic per say is written in Lua, and it’s all intended to be pretty hackable. It’s not exactly *documented* at the moment, but, I’m hoping that will start to change as time goes on. And, honestly, lack of documentation has never been much of a deterrent for determined modding communities :)

  20. Keith Turner says:

    An unexpected surprise, in a good way! I am actually pretty excited to hear that short playtime will be possible with this one. While I can appreciate an epic game from time to time, I find that I gravitate towards the medium or smaller maps in 4X games these days. The fact that you are attempting to make things interesting and unique right from the beginning is very appealing.

  21. ACEofHeart says:

    Looking forward to seeing this game’s progress. As someone already mentioned, please don’t fall into the trap that “more” is always better. That was the mistake the creators of Master of Orion 3 made.
    Just refine your core gameplay, make diplomacy interesting, and don’t make the endgame a micromanagement from hell.
    Good luck.

  22. Smoking Robot says:

    I think it’s worth noting that the article on this webpage for ‘The Last Federation’, with typical space 4x screens with lots of tiny text and fonts and LOTS OF STUFF on the screen has four comments.

    And this game has 42 comments.

    And yet I’ve been saying FOR A DECADE that space 4X games NEED TO STOP LOOKING LIKE THEY DO (I’m looking at YOU, ‘Distant Worlds’). I hope this game is a big hit so game developers finally GET A CLUE how a game should look!

  23. Enpi says:

    Looks great. I miss a game which can replace MOO2, which is the genres classic masterpiece in nearly every aspect.

    One of the reasons why MOO2 was such a good game have been its myriards of genius little actual game mechanics like its combat algorythms, the population moving system or the colonist/food transporters.

    But it had also one weakness – it was not moddable. Would it have been possible to mod it with bigger universes, technologies and their costs, I am sure it would be still be very popular today.

    So Sven I hope you game will be moddable. This would be a big plus.

  24. UncaJoe says:

    Amen, brother!

  25. Mark says:

    Except that Distant Worlds was a pretty awesome game. Not without faults but certainly one of the – if not *the* – best and most popular recently released. Which doesn’t really support your “simple is good” claim.

    I think the formula for making a good 4x space game is a little more complex than large fonts and ultra-simplistic mechanics or everyone and his grandmother would be churning them out in bulk.

    The Last Federation was a boring POS which explains the 4 comments. Check out the comments for SOTS II, Distant worlds or even Stardrive and you’ll see a different story.

  26. Mark says:

    I agree, the cartoony art style does absolutely nothing for me, but it wont really influence my decision to buy because I don’t see graphics as particularly important for a 4x.

  27. UncaJoe says:

    Agreed, Mark. I own it, I play it, I like it (faults and all). But it seems to me to be exception that proves the rule. Ok, so that begs the questions: what did they do right and can some of that “right” stuff be applied to turned-based space games?
    Oh? Right! I’m off the topic; this should be all about SIS. My bad.

  28. stormcloud says:

    Art style is very refreshing (I like it), but the move towards a more casual pacing worries me more. This will almost undoubtedly involve several streamlining of the mechanics and gameflow, to such a point that the grand strategy 4x appeal is lost and it turns into a bland casual game. It irks and disappoint players that expected better from the genre.

    That said, making a faithful MOO2 copy isn’t exactly stellar by todays standard. It’s a good classic, good for retro-gaming sessions. The genre’s devs need to break out of the MOO mould and aim to create a new identity for themselves. Just like what SotS had achieved in the shadow on MOO2 … and they screwed up on SotS2* :( Go figure.

    *They didnt screw its mechanics, its solid. They screwed the GUI and I have a faint suspicion that some of the performance impact ingame might be attributed to the sqlite calls they use for savegame db.

  29. Ivan says:

    Guys, I want you to succeed!

  30. SQW says:

    SOTS 2 was a real tragedy.

    The Mars 2 engine is a real beauty and I loved the setting. Unfortunately they piled on too many new and unnecessary mechanics instead of building on top of earlier successes which in turn, made the already-mediocre AI even more confused.

    My money is on GC3 failing for exactly the opposite reason – playing too safe and close to the original.

  31. Eleahen says:

    Best of luck, Sven!

    You and Arioch make an amazing team.

  32. FireStorm says:

    Guys you seem pretty interested in 4x games, you might want to join eXplorminate steam group, its focused on 4x, lots of nerdy dfiscussions:)

  33. JD says:

    One of these eXplorminate guys did a let’s play of Stardrive2, it was terrible. The amount of hyperbole and superlatives used in the video was appalling. Everything was ‘Amazing’ and ‘Awesome’. I stopped watching halfway through. No thank you I will stick with substance and context.

  34. Zero says:

    @JD Dude that was like one of their first broadcasts, cut them some slack. Broadcastin ain’t easy.

  35. Ashbery76 says:

    How deep are the economics, will the game have trade lanes,etc?

    What about ground combat?

    What is the max space fleet combat unit count?

    Strategic resources?

    Is there a reputation mechanic?

  36. JD says:

    @Zero: Using hyperbole and superlatives al the time has nothing to do with broadcasting for the first time. It has to do with competence of the caster.

    To quote a journalist:

    “Overusing these words means the potency of their original meaning is being eroded. Using them generously (and inaccurately) is devaluing our language, leaving us bankrupt of appropriate adjectives when a truly remarkable event does actually happen.”

    A tabbed menu in stardrive is not awsome or amazing it is a tabbed menu.

    Amazing is a cure for cancer.

  37. Mark says:

    @ JD

    Its one of the reasons I like Space Sector’s more comprehensive reviews and attention to detail. Even if the reviewer shows some bias (which is rare) there’s generally a wealth of information present so you can draw your own conclusions from the facts presented.

    A reviewer can call space-lanes “awesome” as often as they like but I will just be mentally replacing the term with “crap”.

    I do agree though that overuse of superlative adjectives does tend to make them lose their meaning.

  38. Shiolle says:

    Now, I really have to ask: how is this game related to Hawken Fleet mod for StarSector? Because they use the same art assets.

  39. Sven says:

    Back in January of 2013 (almost 2 years ago!) Ryan asked if he could use some of the art for the (then untitled) game Jim and I were working on in a modding project. I said “sure”, provided that he gave us credit for the assets, and didn’t charge any money for the mod.

    We went ahead and released a bunch of art to Ryan under a creative commons attribution required non-commercial license — if you have a copy of Ryan’s Hawken Fleet mod, you should probably also have a copy of that license file somewhere.

    The same art pack (used under the same license) may have also made it’s way into some undergrad course materials.

    Basically — I do have a lot of sympathy for the modding community — Stars in Shadow includes a lot of modder-friendly features, and as long as people are giving us credit, and not charging money, I don’t see much of a problem with having the art used in personal hobby projects or course work.

  40. Shiolle says:

    That’s Great to hear. Thank you for clarifying the situation.

  41. FireStorm says:

    Wow JD , way to be negative in an agressive way.After reading your recent comment, im glad you dont want to join.

    YOu might have disliked the narrative, but thanks to his work you could at least form your opinion on the game , and decide its not”amazing” for you. Im one of those guys that is very hyped about SD2 so i can feel DD, it didnt bother me at all.

    Anyway whatever, cant believe your hostility out of nowhere

  42. JD says:


    Dude, where am I saying anything negative about SD2? No where. It’s not about SD2, and I am not even hostile. Read better please.

  43. BlueTemplar says:

    Well, for one the ships are hand-drawn as well. Not sure why you feel that hand-drawn is incompatible with “future, space and sci fi theme”?

    Notice how SotS1 ship models don’t feel out of place besides hand-drawn pictures on the loading screens. It’s because they’re quite colorful, despite being 3D models. More colorful ships allows for better visibility (especially important in combat) – this probably stems from similar design choices made in Homeworld (and Cataclysm).

    This is something that is lacking in SotS2, and I feel that by trying to get “too serious” they also lost a lot of the game’s charm.

  44. BlueTemplar says:

    P.S.: Other examples of hand-drawn ships being FTL, and obviously MOO2.

  45. BlueTemplar says:

    Wow, someone fan of SotS and HoMM like me making a 4X game with graphics reminiscent of FTL… This is like a dream come true!

    BTW, when citing games I suppose you mean SotS1, HoMM2 (because of hand-drawn graphics?) and Civilization 4?

    Did SotS1 really launch on Steam? (in 2006) I thought it was released there only later…
    Steam says october 2008, which is A Murder of Crows expansion, and the only expansion I found on Steam was the later Argos Naval Yard :

  46. SQW says:

    Personally I wouldn’t mind a game mashing SOTS 1 with Gratuitous Space Battles together. Coding tactical AI has always been a hit or miss affair and I wouldn’t mind just sitting back and enjoy the fireworks knowing the AI and I are fighting on equal footing.

    EL came close but tripped and broke both its knees at the AI hurdle. =(

  47. Mark says:

    @ Firestorm: Not sure why you are trying to blow smoke where there is no fire.

    JD is claiming that using the words “amazing”, “awesome” and “fantastic” to describe absolutely everything in a review makes them lose their meaning. So when we actually encounter something that is truly amazing, there are no longer any adequate words to describe it.

    And you know what? He’s 100% right. Please stop with the hostility accusation rubbish and address the point he is actually making?

  48. FireStorm says:

    Maybe i overracted. But I reread and its still hostile for me.
    Anyway lets just forget the whole thing.

  49. Just a quick update:

    The game now has more screenshots:

    Also, the game seems to have shifted to beta and invites to it have started to go out. Their official forums are also up at the moment:

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Post category: Games Under Development, Stellar Indie Venture