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July 22, 2013 11:44 AM   Subscribe

Stardock buys rights to Star Control from Atari and plans a reboot! In 1992, Accolade released one of the most greatestest, or at least silliest, space adventure games of totally forever: Star Control II.

Sort of a combination of adventure and 4X game, you play an interstellar captain who returns to Earth after long decades to find it enslaved to the Ur-Quan. Freeing Earth, you fly the galaxy looking for clues to the conflict between the Ur-Quan and their cousins the Kzer-za, locating potential allies like the cowardly Spathi and their dreaded BUTT missiles, the insanely suicidal Shofixti, and the, um, charming Syreen. You also explore planets, gather materials, capture wild animals, and meet other exciting and unusual alien species such as the fungoid Mycon, archnoid Ilwrath, and plug-ugly VUX, and then kill them. Played right, you save the galaxy, free numerous species, and win the heart of the (blue) girl.

A freeware version, The Ur-Quan Masters, is available for most operating systems, and an HD update is in progress. While it sold well and is widely acknowledged as inventive and great silly fun, Star Control 2 hasn't received much attention since its introduction 21 years ago, probably due in part to a distinctly subpar Star Control 3 that was released in 1996.

...until today, when Stardock won the auction for the rights to the Star Control franchise in the dismantling of Atari, and announced their intent to reboot the series X-COM style.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe (75 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Interesting.

Windows 8 has to have been a massive lift for them.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on July 22, 2013


I've never played the Star Control games, but have always wanted to because of how intensely in to them the guys from Three Mile Pilot were.
posted by saladin at 11:47 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


juffo wup abides
posted by The Whelk at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2013 [15 favorites]


I hope they do a good job but I don't hold out a lot of hope given their track record. GalCiv was decent but overrated (it was much shallower than MOO) and it took them years post-release to bring Elemental up to playable status and almost sunk the company in the process. So I wish them luck but I'll believe it when I see it.
posted by Justinian at 11:50 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Starflight > Star Control.
posted by Justinian at 11:50 AM on July 22, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've never played the Star Control games, but have always wanted to because of how intensely in to them the guys from Three Mile Pilot were.

One of the things that dates SC2 absolutely and inescapably from the early 90s is its *HEAVY* reliance on mod-tracker music.

...and yeah, the potential here for bitter crushing disappointment that makes me want to burn the world down is high. But still, this is one of the two great early-90s games that I've wished would make a comeback*.

*The other is of course Stunt Island.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:52 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: "...and yeah, the potential here for bitter crushing disappointment that makes me want to burn the world down is high. "

Hey, they made Galactic Civilizations and published Sins of a Solar Empire, so their track record for space games is not too shabby.

Artw: "Windows 8 has to have been a massive lift for them."

It was probably the sale of their online store to GameStop that provided the cash injection, but that's just a guess.
posted by vanar sena at 11:58 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is best.
After this you are so *happy* you do not ask the many questions.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:04 PM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's also the sordid affair with the sexual harrassment lawsuit that hit them a while back and their response to it.
posted by zabuni at 12:08 PM on July 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


Ur-Quan and their cousins the Kzer-za

Wait, I thought the Kzer-Za (green) and the Kohr-Ah (black) are two subraces of the Ur-Quan species.
posted by Avelwood at 12:08 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well obviously it would be impossible for them improve on Fwiffo in any way whatsoever. So I'm not sure what the point is.
posted by aubilenon at 12:09 PM on July 22, 2013


The top comment on that page right now:
Ugh, I hate that Stardock got it. In good conscience, I can't buy anything from that company.

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. The ONLY way this will turn out well, I think is if they get Toys For Bob to develop it. Remember them? The people who made SC1 and 2?

It wouldn't be the first time people other than the original developers made a Star Control game. There's a reason people don't tend to talk positively about SC3.

Alternatively, they could ask Greg Johnson to design it for them -- he designed both Starflight and Star Control 2.
posted by JHarris at 12:10 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's disappointing that Activision didn't buy the rights and give the franchise back to Toys for Bob. It could have been a nice gift for the first billion dollars of Skylanders revenue.
posted by Gary at 12:11 PM on July 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


I suspect Toys For Bob are too busy rolling around in a swimming pool full of mad Skylanders money to work on a StarCon sequel.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:12 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I suspect that isn't true murphy slaw (that's a good username). I seem to recall them saying they want to work on such a game.
posted by JHarris at 12:13 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


So how many of Stardock's personnel were sold off as slaves for this deal?
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:14 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, I thought the Kzer-Za (green) and the Kohr-Ah (black) are two subraces of the Ur-Quan species.

I was simplifying for the uninitiated, but you're of course right (except the Kohr-Ah were green).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:15 PM on July 22, 2013


Launch Fighters!
posted by Mister_A at 12:15 PM on July 22, 2013


This stinks. I don't want to buy anything from Brad Wardell. I really liked GalCiv1 and 2 but after learning more about the owner of Stardock...no. He doesn't deserve any of my money. Go HERE if you need a heads up. Fuck that fucking prick.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:18 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


(oops, I backwardsed that. Kzer-za green. I am not a *happy* *camper*)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:18 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's a good thing that some of this IP is going to actual game developers, instead of shitty shell companies and toy conglomerates that sue indie developers.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:24 PM on July 22, 2013


FRUNGY!
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:34 PM on July 22, 2013


(except the Kohr-Ah were green)

KOHR-LY?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:38 PM on July 22, 2013


Play it with vigor.
posted by Nomyte at 12:38 PM on July 22, 2013


So how many of Stardock's personnel were sold off as slaves for this deal?

Don't sell too many - once the Druuge Mauler engines are operational, they'll need crewmembers as fuel.
posted by anonymisc at 12:39 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boy that dude sounds like a Class-I jackass. Sucks, because I LOVED the Star Control games.
posted by Mister_A at 12:42 PM on July 22, 2013


Hmm. Rebellion just bought up Battlezone.
posted by Artw at 12:54 PM on July 22, 2013


I hope their CEO is not Mussolini or something...
posted by Mister_A at 1:16 PM on July 22, 2013


Hey, wait a second, it looks like... CAN IT BE?... YES, IT IS!...A MIRACLE!!
OH HAPPY DAY!! JOYOUS OCCASION!!
You have our eternal thanks, good Captain!
You will be immortalized as the blessed figure that delivered unto us our future!
We will revere your very likeness!
Let me take the Ultron...yes, I feel the link...the knowledge, and... the Power.
Hmm, it seems that there is much to do.

posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:20 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bob the angry flower did a star control strip.

Also, my mind is so clouded with nostalgia about this game I can't even see straight. I got it running again and those pixels are REALLY BIG on my thunderbolt display. Like cocktail napkins.
posted by poe at 1:21 PM on July 22, 2013


Is it just me, or might there be enough interest for a MeFi UQM Super Melee tournament to happen?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:22 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ideally, they'd hand it off for Toys for Bob; if that wasn't an option, the design would go to the FTL guys and Erik Wolpaw, Porpentine, and Brendan Hennessy would share out the writing.

But really, Wardell will end up riding the game into the turf. What made Star Control special was its atmosphere and world-building, its writing. And even if Wardell could govern his arrogance, even if he was a nurturing, respectful boss, even if he could turn out games on time, under budget, and with a tolerable number of bugs, he'd still be a shitty writer:
Yes, she had been wearing dresses those last few months at the Keep, but this was different. This was a gown. This was silk or something

(Elemental: Destiny's Embers, by Bradley Wardell)
posted by Iridic at 1:25 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Poe, I find the game looks best when using the HQ scaler and simulating scanlines.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:28 PM on July 22, 2013


Our Ship Of The Imagination!: This stinks. I don't want to buy anything from Brad Wardell. I really liked GalCiv1 and 2 but after learning more about the owner of Stardock...no. He doesn't deserve any of my money. Go HERE if you need a heads up. Fuck that fucking prick.

The Kotaku article linked from that page is pretty damning. I'm normally willing to at least examine the possibility that the situation might not be as bad as the suing person suggests, but the evidence is substantial, and the counter-claims of sabotage are pretty absurd.

So, a person is going to sabotage everything before they leave the company and sue... for what? To make sure they lose their case? And you didn't have ANY backups, despite being a software developer? And I'm sure she wiped the drive, so you couldn't recover deleted files. And none of them were kicking around in anyone's email. So, then you had to take all of your programmers and debuggers and have them recreate the marketing materials instead of making the game work. Because programmers and debuggers can absolutely switch over into doing marketing with no problems at all.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:48 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nitwit!
Jerk!
Baby!
Worm!*


(They're Pkunk insults from the game, which I dearly love. Please don't ban me!)
posted by introp at 2:01 PM on July 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


(They're Pkunk insults from the game, which I dearly love. Please don't ban me!)

Even if you do, there's a 50% chance he just immediately comes back anyway.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:05 PM on July 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


Bob the angry flower did a star control strip.

Oh no Bob! Don't try to escape that way - your only hope is to dive into the planet! Graze it as close to catastrophe as you dare, slingshoting around the gravity well, cut thrusters to preserve that speed and momentum, take your licks as the dreadnaught comes in range, convince yourself desperately that you'll be flung out of range soon enough - wildly out-of-control slingshot speed is the only way you can get out of range! Dump all your limpets as you go by, and keep limpeting for life and limpet from a distance. It has limpets? OHTHANKGOD engage engines and cower and gibber far away in the farthest darkest corner of space, waiting and hoping for the giant green ball of limpets (with a dreadnaught at the core) to eventually fall into a gravity well and go head to head with a planet.

A planet has a chance of winning.
posted by anonymisc at 2:06 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ha. I read Stardock as Starbuck's and though "oh really?"

My roommate used to kick my motherfucking ass daily on Star Control. I don't have fond memories.

announced their intent to reboot the series X-COM style

So are they just rebranding Galactic Civilizations as Star Control?

I have met and worked with Brad, and sorry, dude, but he seemed just like those guys who are libertarian right-wingers at age 13 and never grow up.

The Kotaku article linked from that page is pretty damning.

Protip: If you are the CEO of a corporation, never put this statement in writing:

"I am an inappropriate, sexist, vulgar and embarrassing person and I'm not inclined to change my behavior. If this is a problem, you need to find another job."

NEVER.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:20 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heh.. I never even knew there was a Star Control 2. I used to play the original Star Control for hours and hours, me and my friends would exchange self made mods (thank you, ResEdit). I made a Death Star ship, it was impossibly slow but damn near industructable.
posted by mediocre at 2:25 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to play the original Star Control for hours and hours
...
I never even knew there was a Star Control 2.


I'd accuse you of living in a cave, but apparently there was a computer in there. I didn't think caves had computers. (unless you're the Times.)
posted by anonymisc at 2:31 PM on July 22, 2013


I suspect that isn't true murphy slaw (that's a good username). I seem to recall them saying they want to work on such a game.

I remember a few years ago Toys for Bob were asking fans to sign a petition and send in fan art that they could have around the office so they could convince Activision to fund a sequel.

That was before they hit the jackpot with Skylanders. Given Activision's modus operandi of running franchises into the ground, there's probably no way that they'd put Toys for Bob on any other project at this point.
posted by zixyer at 3:00 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd accuse you of living in a cave, but apparently there was a computer in there.

I dunno about mediocre, but my only experience with Star Control was on a Sega Genesis. Between that and Herzog Zwei, I can't imagine you would need anymore games. Ever.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:01 PM on July 22, 2013


Juffo-Wup is the hot light in the darkness. All else is unfulfilled Void. The source of Juffo-Wup is at 629.1, 220.8.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 3:22 PM on July 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Self-link
posted by Mister_A at 3:33 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now I've got the Melnorme music stuck in my head. Thanks.

No, really, that music is great.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:03 PM on July 22, 2013


I'm really disappointed that Toys for Bob didn't get it.
posted by Jairus at 4:49 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a few words from PR3 on the sale:
Stardock hasn't contacted us, so we don't yet know their plans. Looking at
the court schedules (and this is consistent with my recollections), they
acquired the trademark 'Star Control' and copyright to the original
materials in Star Control 3 -- that is to say, not any of the copyrightable
materials from Star Control I & II, which Fred and I still hold.

In terms of our interest in the trademark and why we didn't buy it -- we
weren't sure that we could make use of the trademark soon enough to make
sense, but we sure are interested in what Star Dock wants to do next!

- Paul
I kind of can't believe they didn't buy it because they weren't sure if they could use it anytime soon. That's shocking.
posted by Jairus at 4:58 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


More Star Control II nerding out here.
Let us bathe ourselves and revel in its glory and nerddom.
posted by herrdoktor at 5:26 PM on July 22, 2013


Jairus, where did you get that quote? I'm not seeing it in any of the articles on this topic, and it's not on Paul Reiche's Twitter.

The fact that they don't even have the rights to the Star Control 2 content removes any faint glimmer of hope that I had that Stardock could have produced an interesting game.
posted by zixyer at 5:43 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's great to see there's still so much love here for Star Control.
posted by interim_descriptor at 5:45 PM on July 22, 2013


This makes me a *happy camper*. I am *squeezing the juice*.
posted by waraw at 6:00 PM on July 22, 2013


Jumping *peppers*! This is *smiley* time. You are *campers* after all!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:04 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Enough talk! To arms, to Super Melee now! SNORT!

should we start a MeTa?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:07 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


should we start a MeTa?

Yes. Yes, we should.

Let it be known, I really suck at SC2/UQM melee against HOOT-MAN BEINGS. But I would still totally sign up for such a thing were it to be organized.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 6:46 PM on July 22, 2013


IS MAC EMULATOR A THING?
posted by Mister_A at 6:59 PM on July 22, 2013


You don't need an emulator for Mac: http://sc2.sourceforge.net
posted by Juffo-Wup at 7:42 PM on July 22, 2013


Juffo-Wup automatically wins, because of his user name.
posted by JHarris at 7:46 PM on July 22, 2013


Between that and Herzog Zwei, I can't imagine you would need anymore games. Ever.

Oooh Herzog Zwei is terrific, yes. Although I might point you to ToeJam & Earl. It's not the same kind of game, but Greg Johnson helped make it.

You know, I don't think I've said Greg Johnson's name enough. Greg Johnson!
posted by JHarris at 7:49 PM on July 22, 2013


I'm really happy that TfB wound up getting back on their feet with Skylanders. In the late 90s and throughout the 00s they seemed to go directionless for a bit and do a bunch of quickly forgotten licensed games, and it always seemed like such a waste for the guys who made one of the classics of PC gaming. I wouldn't begrudge them if they'd prefer to work on their cash cow, but TfB involvement in a real Star Control sequel would be absolutely amazing.
posted by C^3 at 8:22 PM on July 22, 2013


mrgrimm: "Herzog Zwei,"

Wait, wait, I read that and assumed it was some sort of Werner Herzog parody flash game or something. It's not? It's a real serious thing that exists?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:29 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh yes. YES INDEED. Herzog Zwei is not the first RTS, but it's damn close to it.
posted by JHarris at 9:35 PM on July 22, 2013


TAGS ARE MISSING THE PRECURSORS
posted by en forme de poire at 10:00 PM on July 22, 2013


Also, what happened to the Androsynth?
posted by en forme de poire at 10:01 PM on July 22, 2013


Don't be such a *silly cow*. we don't want to *frumple*.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:16 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait, I read that and assumed it was some sort of Werner Herzog parody flash game or something. It's not? It's a real serious thing that exists?

Here's a pretty good example of gameplay.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:17 AM on July 23, 2013


we don't want to *frumple*.

*frumple* is a state of being. The verb it leads to is *dancing*.

Also, Nnnnnggggaaaahhhhh!!!!!!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:43 AM on July 23, 2013


Here's a pretty good example of gameplay.

God, Red's actions in that make me sad. He sends motorcycles to capture a base when it's only infantry who can do that.

I am nearly unbeatable at Herzog Zwei, as a friend way back then discovered. I'm the same way at Rampart.
posted by JHarris at 12:42 PM on July 23, 2013


MeTa

Nnnnnggggaaaahhhhh!!!!!! It is *dancing*!!!!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:11 PM on July 23, 2013


There's also the sordid affair with the sexual harrassment lawsuit that hit them a while back and their response to it.

I played and enjoyed the Ur-Quan Masters, but its odd how this game is being given a pass given how horrible Brad Wardell is.

Court records from the lawsuit show several troubling messages from Wardell to Miseta, as well as allegations of problematic in-person behavior. E-mail messages included in the records go back as far as March, 2008, and include a link to a sexually explicit YouTube video, a comment that Miseta was chosen to go to a conference "not just because you're 'hot'," and a 100-question "purity test" that he asked her to take and then send him her score from. The purity test includes questions like, "Have you engaged in group sex?," "Have you engaged in intercourse with an unconscious person, while conscious?," and, "Have you had anal intercourse?"

You'd expect people to organize a boycott.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:36 PM on July 23, 2013


You'd expect people to organize a boycott.

That would probably hold more weight once the game actually exists.
posted by aubilenon at 5:30 PM on July 23, 2013


Yeah, I've not seen a lot of pass-giving here. Wardell has nothing to do with Ur-Quan Masters. Whatever game he makes will probably have to follow from SC3, which is not well-liked by people.
posted by JHarris at 6:49 PM on July 23, 2013




Jairus, where did you get that quote? I'm not seeing it in any of the articles on this topic, and it's not on Paul Reiche's Twitter.

It was posted in The Ur-Quan Masters Forums.
posted by Jairus at 1:34 PM on July 24, 2013


Brad's response to boycotts is hilariously childish

WOW. That's... that's....

That's the greatest response to anyone claiming that "capitalists" and "job creators" are ultimately economic rational actors that I could make. Because this guy should be above this kind of petty name-calling and he entirely isn't.
posted by JHarris at 1:58 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


For more childishness, check out this forum post. Quite long, but it's been a hobby of a certain forum I frequent to follow. His responses have been interesting to it, to say the least.
posted by zabuni at 8:21 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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