Stardock Corporation, the publisher of 4X strategy Sins of a Solar Empire, announced today that they've acquired the rights to the Star Control franchise. They plan to begin work on a new game in the series later in 2013.
"We expect the new Star Control to come in the form of a reboot, similar to what Firaxis did with the XCOM series last year,” said Brad Wardell, president and CEO of Stardock. "We are looking at Star Control II as a major source of inspiration.”
Star Control 2, released in 1992, is considered one of the best PC games of all time. It took place in the aftermath of a war between Earth and the Hierarchy of Battle Thralls. The Earth lost this war and is now encased inside a slave shield. The player, one of the last remaining free humans, must journey across the galaxy and recruit other alien races into a new alliance that can battle the Hierarchy.
Branching dialogues were a big part of the game. Players had to act diplomatic to the strange alien species that they encountered. When diplomacy failed, they had to fight these aliens in real-time battles. The player could use their flagship or one of the other alien ships in their fleet in battle. Each ship had different attributes and abilities to master.
As you might've guessed from my Twitter profile, SC2 is easily one of my favorite PC games. It might not be at the top of the list but it's up there with Half-Life 2 and XCOM. The game had an engaging story and perhaps the funniest set of alien races this side of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The combat itself hasn't aged well - I didn't even enjoy it back in the nineties, to be honest - so I'm very curious to see how Stardock will update that side of the game.
It's not clear whether Stardock will simply be publishing the Star Control reboot or developing it as well. They have extensive experience as a developer, having shipped PC strategy games like Galactic Civilizations II and Elemental: Fallen Enchantress. I think they'll be great at upgrading the mechanics of Star Control for a modern audience.
The quality of writing is a concern for me, though. The reason SC2 worked so well is the story. I hope Stardock has a good scribe lined up. I'd say that they should recruit SC2 writer Paul Reiche III for the job but it might be hard for him to balance that task with being CEO of Toys for Bob, currently in charge of the hugely successful Skylanders series. Hopefully he can at least play a consulting role.
Additional details on the reboot will be revealed soon. In the meantime, if you're curious about SC2, you should check out the free HD remake developed by fans. The first and second game are available in a bundle on GOG as well.