Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

Greetings!

We now have an official release day: September 20, 2018!  Almost five years since we began our adventure with Star Control. 

For this occasion we have begun to number these journal entries to count up to week 13, which is when the game gets released!

13 weeks...Not much time.  So even though it's a Sunday as I write this, and my birthday, I'm pleased to share this blog to let you know where we are.

The Living Universe

You are the captain.  This is your story....

...However...

Your story happens within a much larger universe.  One that is being simulated many times per second. 

Star Control is an RPG. But under the covers, there is a lot of strategy game-like AI to make the various empires behave how you would expect them to behave.  Empires will grow. Empires will shrink.  Your actions will have dire consequences for some, and be a tremendous boon for others.  It just depends on your choices.

That said, I personally get skeptical when I see "living universe" type claims from games these days. I'm jaded. I suspect some of you are too.  So let me walk you through, specifically, what I mean by that.

Star Control is not a strategy game. Not even a little bit.

We are best known for our strategy games.  Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a Solar Empire, for example.  We have a lot of experience on those types of games.  That's why when we began development for Star Control: Origins, we brought in a lot of new people, people familiar with RPGs, and talented writers who understand what Star Control is supposed to be: an epic adventure filled with colorful characters, meaningful choices, and most of all, great writing.

But our strategy game experience has been very beneficial, because it allows us to look at the setting from a grand strategic point of view.  For example:

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The Drenkend are one of the empires in the Scryve sector of the mid-Spur region of space (where we live).  They don't simply have a single ship. That would make no sense. They have freighters, haulers, transports, personal transports, security (sort of like police), as well as various types of military ships.

The same is true with the Scryve, who are the main power of the Scryve sector (the name of the sector gives it away):

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And here's the MuKay:

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These are 3 of the many species that are just doing their thing. Powered by AI, they will run from danger, fight each other, ignore you, or pursue you. It all depends on what their job is.

I don't know about you guy,s but when I play a game in a "living world," I expect to see someone delivering goods and services, people traveling, businesses doing...well, business.   Does that mean each of these ships you intercept will have some sort of "kill the space rats in the space basement" quest? No. Most of them have no interest in you. They have their own thing.

What I can say is that what they do is not random.  It's more akin, to borrow a popular show analogy, to Westworld.  You, the player, are the butterfly effect in this universe.  You are the only random element in our...harmony.

____________________________________________________________

READ THE SERIES

Prelude 1 of 13 - The Living Universe (Current)

Prelude 2 of 13 - So Many Planets

Prelude 3 of 13 - Creating Interactive Stories

Prelude 4 of 13 - The Mid Spur

Prelude 5 of 13 - The Aliens of Star Control

Prelude 6 of 13 - The Ships of Star Control

Prelude 7 of 13 - The Aliens of Star Control Part 2

Prelude 8 or 13 - The User Interface of Star Control 

Prelude 9 of 13 - The Lore of Star Control

Prelude 10 of 13 - The Art of Star Control

Prelude 11 of 13: The Environments of Star Control

Prelude 12 & 13: Coming Soon

 


Comments
on Jun 29, 2018

Empires will grow. Empires will shrink.  Your actions will have dire consequences for some, and be a tremendous boon for others.  It just depends on your choices.

This is what I'm most curious about...if we just sat back and did nothing, what would we see? Would the universe change around us while we watched?

If it depends on our choices...suppose we didn't follow the story, talked to characters, any of that. Suppose we just went around blasting the ships from one empire, smashed them to bits as best we could...aside from making them cranky with us, might that give another empire an advantage in conquering them? I mean, suppose we managed to hit a diplomatic courier of some kind...

 

Don't get me wrong, I want to play the story more than anything else, really...I'm just curious how much impact dialogue will have versus how much impact will be had by doing things purely with your ship.

on Jul 04, 2018

Since the game isn't timed, if you sat and did nothing, nothing would happen.

The universe changes based on your actions.  So if you go and do something to species A, then something might happen.

But in practice, you are, after all, only one ship in a very big universe.  Destroying lots of ships from Empire A might cause Civ B to start taking over its territory and so forth.

on Jul 04, 2018

Since the game isn't timed, if you sat and did nothing, nothing would happen.

But none of the empires will go to war with each other if we just leave 'em to do their thing? No breakdowns in diplomacy, no trading getting out of hand and an empire taken over financially...any of that?

I mean, I grok why that might be so--the game would get out of control if that happened, the story would get totally disrupted--but it'd be cool if it worked like that.

But in practice, you are, after all, only one ship in a very big universe.  Destroying lots of ships from Empire A might cause Civ B to start taking over its territory and so forth.

Even if we decide to chuck the story and just turn pirate? Our going all destruct-a-mundo would potentially affect the map, regardless of the game's plot?

Cuz...that's cool, too, even if the empires can't do it to themselves without our interference.

on Aug 07, 2018

Yeah, I am skeptical about the "living universe" The article specifically made it sound just like any other scripted game. Just because every ship of race doesn't have the same shared attack/flee pattern doesn't make it "alive" for me.

For me the "living" ascension means the entities are not driven by scripts based on "what would they do in situation" but "what would they want". Behavior based on desires and fears.

So if you meet a trader or transport or pirate, race is less relevant. I would expect "random" facts  generated. So this trader is poor, he needs take care about someone/owes money, no police around, and he has comm jam on his ship so "decides" the gain is worth the risk, so he may try to loot you. Same way he might ask for money based on his/races pride and then he may or may not try to destroy you anyway because of fear of consequences/revenge and his inclination to honesty.

If you meet a pirate of enemy race. He is important one and wealthy enough not to take a risk and not engage "the hero of the galaxy". Or he might ask you for a favor against government you both fight. Or he is lower foolish one wanting promotion and needs "a great deed".

If these behavior are set in hierarchy... Like race has their behavior background (pride, temperament, coward, seek honor in death, greed), current political situation has some behavior changers (fear of consequence, a lot to loose, bribing is common). And NPCs you've met have their tier in "society": like  T1 domain ruler, T2 noble, T3 peasant and they heritage their behaviors.

So if you meet a pirate there is slim chance he will be T2 and high chance he will be T3 belonging under random one of four T1 warlords operating in the sector. And that means he is under strict belief that detonating his ship rather then being captured gives earns his family an honor... which he may or may not obey based on his personal behavior traits and current situation in which he may or may not see the better way.

That's what I would call the "living universe". To be able to "get know" who rules certain sector, how their followers will behave. But it would also mean that "random" event like "an artifact discovery" at random spot in the universe would change the political situation. Spawned near two warmonger races they would fight over it. Spawning deep in democracy race it might grow the religious movement with different behaviors. And these things happening without player involving. With possibility of randomized history based on random events and simulated behavior changes before player even steps in

But that's more like a dream. Looking forward what you've done

on Aug 09, 2018




What I can say is that what they do is not random.  It's more akin, to borrow a popular show analogy, to Westworld.  You, the player, are the butterfly effect in this universe.  You are the only random element in our...harmony.

Imagine if, instead, the opposite was true.  That instead of being the only one random element that might alter the AI behavior, that through an efficient framework and structure... everything on the "Active Map" was "attached" too you.  And, of course, everything on the "Passive Map" was as you are describing.