Things are starting to get super busy here on Star Control which is making it harder to have time to communicate with you guys.
Let me first tell you WHAT we are working on and second ask you WHAT you would like to see in the next update.
## Planet Exploration ##
When we do the postmortem on Star Control: Origins, the Planet exploration feature will be the highlight of things we probably shouldn't have done.
That feature, by itself, is a full blown game. Planetary Annihilation, spent most of its budget creating a spherical world and that was for an RTS. Super Mario Galaxy is basically just the Planet Exploration game.
That said, we are committed to it but I have made some design changes to it to make it more practical. They'll still be spherical and look pretty much the same. But we're switching the underlying tech to be based on what we've built in our other games. The main difference being that the planets won't be randomly generated now but rather but rather made by the design team using our existing tools.
So there will be around 1,000 different planet maps instead of "infinite" but it also vastly decreases the chance of getting worlds that are just, well, broken due to being procedural generated.
## Super Melee ##
This part of the game is fairly far along. I gave copies to a few of the Founders to try out and got some initial feedback on bugs, compatibility and fun. Their opinion of it was a lot higher than mine (I am unhappy with Super Melee presently but it is far better than it was).
We will be updating the Super Melee build for those few founders who have it this Friday and presuming all goes well, begin handing it out fairly steadily.
My top priority on Super Melee though is making the ships more moddable. By the end of this Summer, I expect Founders to be creating and sharing their own ships to play in Super Melee. Right now, there just aren't enough knobs.
So important is Super Melee to us that I've assigned Stardock's Chief Scientist, Neil Banfield, the creator of Multiplicity, Start8, WindowBlinds, DeskScapes, etc. and also a huge Star Control fan to make it moddable.
The internal test prior to shipping is: Can a moderately technical person create the Enterprise and have it fight Slave 1?
The game won't ship until that test is passed.
## Stellar Cartography ##
One of the other major features we are working on is Stellar Cartography. It's part of the Universe Maker.
The test for shipping the game is whether someone reasonably technical could re-create Ur-Quan Masters in this engine. We won't be shipping the game until that test is passed.
## Why is modding so important? ##
Have you ever wondered why the adventure genre is pretty much dead? Or why RPGs are rare? It's because in the age of digital distribution, keeping gamers in your game's ecosystem is very important.
To be blunt, Star Control: Origins will not be successful unless the game is able to attract and keep players playing it. The game must have a great and engaging story of course. But at the end of the story, there must be a reason for players to keep playing it. Releasing new adventures as DLC or what have you is not very viable anymore because it is really hard to get people back into your game.
Which gets back to what I think is the heart of Star Control. Star Control lends itself to being an infinite adventure game. It's in space. It has aliens. It's not tied down by history. It lends itself to having great communities of people creating and sharing their stories, their art, their designs with each other in an approachable way.
## What's next? ##
What would you like me to talk about in the next newsletter?