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

Greetings!  With Star Control: Origins out and having already sold nearly 50,000 copies after only a week of availability we are now ready to talk about...THE FUTURE.

sco_mukay

We will be making an official announcement after version 1.1 (the big modding release) is available but we didn't want fans, especially those who are starting to finish the Origins adventure, to have to wait to know what's next.

Needless to say, we've gone back and forth on the best way to deliver new stories, quests and features to players in a way that fits in.  Now, keep in mind, the base game will continue to be updated and improved for free.  But obviously, new adventures and content are a different thing.  So what's the best way?

SCO-Sept18-5

We looked at 4 options.  I'll list the 3 we rejected and why.

Option 1: Traditional expansion.  This is what we've done with our other games.  You make a single big expansion and release it.  Fans tend to like these in our strategy games.  However, the problem here is that this would mean waiting a year to continue the story in any meaningful way.

Option 2: DLCs.  DLCs make sense in many ways but they have a lot of issues too.  Many players will say that they feel "nickeled and dimed" when they see lots of little DLCs.  We ran into this with Galactic Civilizations III where we'd just release a few DLCs per year.  That sounds reasonable right? But after 3 years, there's now 12 of them and people get upset seeing all those DLCs.

Option 3: In-Game transactions.  Believe it or not, a lot of people do like these.  However, I personally don't like this.

Vindicator_Perspective-web

So what's left?  We look around at other adventure/rpg games and a Season Pass works the best.   I won't get into too many details but the plan is to release 6 mini-expansions for $19.99.  The micro-expansions will be released one at a time and they will add new missions, new characters, ships, stars, map areas, features, etc.  

I wouldn't call these mini-expansions "episodes" because much of the content doesn't require that you have completed the Origins mission (plenty of it does follow the end of the Origins mission).  

The first mini expansion would be made available in November and they'd continue on a set schedule with all of them and a general (non-spoilery) list of features that each one will bring. 

SCO-July18-6

When the first micro-expansion is installed, if you have finished the Origins story, the next stage in our multi-year story arc will continue.  So after the "credits roll" you get a new cut scene that introduces you to the new state of the universe.  On the other hand, if you have not finished the story or for those who have never played the game, they'll just see the galaxy a little more filled out.  New side-quests, just a bit more "stuff" to bring the universe alive.

What will effectively happen is that players will have more and more paths to choose from in deciding how best to help Earth and have a richer, deeper universe to play in.

Please let us know your thoughts.

[ German Version ]  [ Russian Version ]


Comments (Page 1)
on Sep 28, 2018

I haven't yet completed the story and I was already looking forward to more. I had thought a decent amount of extra content may end up coming from fan mods, and despite being pleased I would've been partially sad as fan stuff usually doesn't include voice acting ^^

I am very pleased to hear that expansions are on the table, and look forward to all the inevitable twists and humor to come.

I've highly enjoyed SC so far and would partake in expansions in any form the arrive in.

on Sep 28, 2018

Sounds like a plan. Shut up and take my money

on Sep 28, 2018

First, you already have a customer no matter which option Star Dock goes with.

My quick thoughts. 

First and foremost make planets more interesting! More critters (16+), more weird formations and also signs of civilization on planets besides a single ruin. This should just be a goal for the original game. While I believe the initial reaction was correct about "people will not be spending most of their time on planets", for the main plot. However, to keep the game "alive" after the main story is over, spending time on planets becomes more and more important. (A great excuse would that the Arilou have abducted all the animals, and have now returned them.) This should be just an update.

As a customer it is harsh going from a major Race with the voice acting and 3d models, to the little still picture and text on the screen. So may I suggest interacting with the Major Aliens already available and dig deeper into them if you go with the mini expansion packs? Help push back or expand their territory, civil wars, the Overmind, etc etc ...

The mini expansions should lead to a major expansion. Plan out where you want the story to go, and have the mini expansions be a prelude to the next major expansion.

I would also like to see Star Dock approved player expansions. Player expansions that are "good enough" to become official, much like the ship building contests. Maybe a 2 times a year contest?

That is just my thoughts.

on Sep 28, 2018

If you have time I would buy a DLC for just one more planet type: oceanic (right now the closest thing to oceanic are ice balls).  You don't have to let us go underwater.

on Sep 28, 2018

Sounds good! I agree for season pass solution,     

on Sep 28, 2018

How would adjustments to core gameplay mechanics work under a micro-expansion logic? Not just global rebalancing, but actual mechanics changes to, e.g. spice up resource collection. Normally, an expansion gets a certain amount of clean slate to work with, and that opens up a lot of potential design space without having to worry about breaking earlier content. Will "season pass" content be less ambitious as a result? Or does it mean that someone who buys on Steam Sale in a few years may have a very different Origins experience than early players?

Also, unless each content modules involves new systems, wouldn't the universe get "mined out" at some point and behave weirdly for long-time players?

Also also... would any of these plans focus on multiplayer content? The queue was pretty lonely, so I've already given up on it.

on Sep 28, 2018

Edgecase

How would adjustments to core gameplay mechanics work under a micro-expansion logic? Not just global rebalancing, but actual mechanics changes to, e.g. spice up resource collection. Normally, an expansion gets a certain amount of clean slate to work with, and that opens up a lot of potential design space without having to worry about breaking earlier content. Will "season pass" content be less ambitious as a result? Or does it mean that someone who buys on Steam Sale in a few years may have a very different Origins experience than early players?

Also, unless each content modules involves new systems, wouldn't the universe get "mined out" at some point and behave weirdly for long-time players?

Also also... would any of these plans focus on multiplayer content? The queue was pretty lonely, so I've already given up on it.

The new stories and such will add new stars and new areas onto the map.

If you're into astronomy you may have noticed there are a few stars that we don't have on the hyperspace computer.  The expansions will make it clear why.

 

on Sep 28, 2018

I choose option 1.
First. This is quest. And we need to continue story.
Second. Mini DLC not as interesting in quests as in strategies. If I finished story(game) what will make me go through history again? small DLC - I don`t think. An alternative story is possible. or may be play for other race? ^)
Third. I see way to upgrade this game. As classic SC game is good but we need replayability. We need live universe not static. we need more strategy/diplomacy/exploration/research/more conflict. The universe should not be spinning around us.

on Sep 28, 2018

All the mini expansions will be adding a ton of quests, missions, features, etc.

Some even include new aliens.

And while all of them will add content throughout the course of the game, probably 50% of it will be content that happens after you have completed the Origins adventure.

Anyone here who has GalCiv III knows the push back we got after a few years when we had a bunch of DLC for it.  If you're a new player, seeing 6 DLC instead of 1 season pass expansion has a pretty negative impression.

Plus, this way, we know what everyone has and can rely on it.

on Sep 28, 2018

So is selling nearly 50,000 copies in the first week good?   This is a serious question with no intended snark or sarcasm.  I don't have much perspective on indie game sales numbers or Stardock past sales numbers. 

on Sep 28, 2018

Agkistro13

So is selling nearly 50,000 copies in the first week good?   This is a serious question with no intended snark or sarcasm.  I don't have much perspective on indie game sales numbers or Stardock past sales numbers. 

It’s not just good for an indie. Outside a handful of truly major AAA games, you’d be hard pressed to find a PC game selling thst many in a week. It’s certainly our best launch. GalCiv III sold approximately 60,000 units in its first month through all channels.

Even during the old retail days when we had Walmart, Best Buy, etc. a good launch was about 75,000 during an entire month.

If you want truly massive numbers, you need to release on the consoles.

on Sep 28, 2018

Well hey, Congratulations then! I was hoping this game would do well enough to (re)launch the franchise, and it looks like you pulled it off. 

on Sep 29, 2018

I think SC:O would actually make a very good console port. I have to be honest though and say that the story felt a lot shorter than Star Control 2. It also felt a lot more static. Each alien faction had basically like a 2 or 3 step quest chain and that was it. There weren't really very compelling narratives and a lot of quests just dead-ended. Like bring us hyperdrives and 100 francium. OK I did that and then they said thanks, gave me some RU and that was it. There was not actual expansion of the human sphere of influence. Help free some Trandals from the Overmind. OK did that, and then nothing really happened. 

If you do a side-by-side comparison with a quest from SC2 like the sleuthing involved in understanding the origins of the Mycon and how that interwove with the destruction of the Syreen homeworld, and compare that to say the Pinthi origins and the Mowlings sickness... I think SC:O does not hold up well. There's just a stark difference in the robustness of storytelling. I don't know if this was an intentional design decision for the sake of being able to sell this season pass, but it really didn't sit well with me as a long-time fan of the series and an early backer of this game. The lack of emotional depth in the storytelling was pretty obvious as well. Compare the rebellion of the Yehat to the Mu'Kays allowing humans into their alliance or the Pkunk's reunion with the Yehat to the Trandals freeing themselves from Overmind control. It's seriously night and day here in terms of how epic the stories feel in their scope. The trandals freed from the overmind didn't even have any story. It was like OK we're free now and we are trying to reconstruct our culture, so bring us some artifacts. And then they just sit around their system doing nothing. Even after we brought them artifacts telling them they used to have a proud warrior culture. That is not interactive and exciting. That feels like a game half-finished. 

Can understand from a business perspective you guys are really just trying to pour in enough money to get the engine built and then slap a serviceable enough story that you can move enough units to get more money to flesh out this franchise, but yeah, I think there were some design decisions in there that could have been left out which could have saved money for more story. For instance, the planetfall lander aspect is just really tedious. I loved the way it worked in SC2. It was a quick drop down, run all around to pick up the minerals, shoot some funny looking critters and bounce. It took maybe 30 seconds to a minute tops. 

SC:O because it has a lot of weird terrain features. If you're moving around in a zoomed out view you keep running into trees or falling off cliffs etc and you waste a ton of time watching your lander roll around. It makes what should be a 30 second run turn into 5 minutes or more. Exploring a new star system in SC2 would take maybe 10 minutes. Exploring and fully exploiting a new star system in SC:0 takes 30 minutes or more. It makes it INTENSELY tedious. I don't know if your design guys have sat down with a stop watch and compared the experience in the two games but this difference in time makes a tremendous difference in the fun factor of exploiting a planet. 

You guys 95% most likely won't change this because you've already spent money on it, but the tediousness of the planetfall experience will probably stop me from purchasing any sequels to this game. And upping the bounties on ships doesn't really change that as it's not all that fun to just sit around and farm ships for RU once your main ship is upgraded enough. It's a no brainer in terms of difficulty and is just another time sink. It's not an enriching experience. 

So yeah, I'm not sold on this season pass. For me, I would need to see a radical change in the way planet exploration works. It doesn't have to be the SC2 system, but it sure as hell can't be the current SC:O version either. And I would have to see some proof of much improved storytelling and much more intricate quests to put more money down. Just feels like there was not a lot of work put into finessing the fine details and thinking carefully about the player experience. There are plenty of indie games out there with deep deep stories and smaller budgets and shorter development timelines. I don't think the goal here should be putting a bunch of money into graphical and art resources. It should be story. This was never a game that was going to stand on the beauty and immersiveness of its graphics. So why time and money was spent on making the planets 3-D which really does nothing but create more tediousness for the player is beyond me. Would have been far better served spending those resources to create more aliens, deeper more impactful stories, and more intricate and branching quest chains. 

In another thread I mentioned the game felt like it played on rails, and Brad responded by saying "There are quests where can choose the fate of entire species." But the question is what species? Certainly not any of the major factions in the game. If you're talking about one of those random tiny alien civs that's local to one star system and all they've got is a little mini-portrait and a nondescript backstory then it's hard to really take that comment seriously. I sincerely hope you don't consider that level of content as proof of SC:O being a live universe. It's pretty much a completely inconsequential decision to the game as a whole. Whatever you choose has little to no bearing on any other aspect of the game. 

So in summary, am hoping Brad will give some indication of whether the planet exploration system will be overhauled and how focused the team is on creating better storylines. That will determine whether I continue to buy content in this franchise. And from the reviews I see on steam, I think that's the general consensus of customers who were not happy with the product they received. 

on Sep 29, 2018

Yes, your decisions can lead to the annihilation of major species. Even the Tywom. That’s been the case since release. If you like SCO then you’ll probably like the new adventures. If not, you probably won’t.

on Sep 29, 2018

The season pass mini-missions followed by a new main mission would be wonderful.

Congrats!