You probably haven’t heard of this one before, but PurpleOrange Games has been working on it for a while. They recently finished an overhaul of their website and it appears that more information is coming out as a result.
I was recently given the opportunity to ask some questions of its main developer, Tiago Carvalho and he graciously answered them rather quickly (please excuse any gramar mistakes, as Tiago’s first language is not English):
Q: How long has StarLife been in development?
A: Four years now! StarLife development started in 2010 when I finally got the courage to start developing a game, it was in May and by the end of the year I found the first team member, our concept artist Danilo. Anders, our musician came along when I was lurking on RPGCodex and found a post where he was offering help to indie developers, our writer Jan came along after a writing contest also on RPGCodex and finally Diego our designer came last when he found our site and sent me a message asking about the game.
Q: Can you tell me a little about SL and its influences and what will set SL apart from other 4X games?
A: StarLife started as a Master of Orion 2 clone, I wanted to make it as close to MoO2 as possible and then I would experiment with it, but later I decided that instead of making the same mistakes I would try to understand them and fix before anything else. Because of this I started to think about other games that have nothing to do with MoO2 or 4X but had some nice elements that I wanted to incorporate, as well as thinking about the core concepts of MoO2.
One of the most exquisite influences is Mad TV, and old DOS game which I love, there you have to buy movies/shows and then grab advertising contracts every single day and put them between your movie intervals, I loved how I went on doing it without feeling bored, so I thought about a system where every turn new requests from your planets or from other races comes to you on a list and you have to choose which one to take, they require something from you and give you reward for fulfilling, looks like a quest system but it’s based on Mad TV so you don’t have to do much, just be sure that your empire is producing enough of what is requested, and then the game opens up for you to improve your planets via this system, you can improve relations with other players and also have something to do every single turn that is not boring.
I also loved the exploration system of Eador and have made similar in several ways, like how you have to spend turns until you get to know a planet entirely or how you can get random events from exploring, and also that exploring is a requirement so you can expand your population territory, they don’t want to go over areas that aren’t fully explored yet.
About the core concepts, for example MoO2 has multiplayer, sometimes I even forget about it but if you take a closer look to how the game works you will start to realize that singleplayer isn’t as good as it could be because the game has been changed to allow multiplayer to exist. Diplomacy couldn’t become more expressive because in a multiplayer game diplomacy between players happens in a very different level than diplomacy between a player and an AI. Decisions were made so people in a multiplayer game wouldn’t exploit it in their favour and we end up with an incomplete and dumbed down diplomacy experience. Many little things had to be tweaked for multiplayer, we can also assume that a lot of time was spent on multiplayer so it would work as intended.
In StarLife we care only about singleplayer, diplomacy will be deep and we don’t have to care if in a multiplayer game this could be exploited, also StarLife isn’t a competitive game where everyone wants to win. There will be plenty of species playing along with the player and each one have their own agenda, each one have something different they want to accomplish, most will be peaceful as long as you keep out of their way and if threatened all of them will fight back! Not to exterminate you but to push you back, put you in your place. StarLife is about living together, evolving and in the end the player will have to learn how to depend on others for several reasons. One of them is that you can’t really grow too much, as you grow you will have less control over your borders and if you become too big your empire will probably split.
This should give you an idea of what StarLife is, it’s a mix of several games where we took what we loved and transformed it to the 4X genre, StarLife is also about a solid foundation where we decided what we want it to be so we won’t have doubts about how to develop it later, much like a board game where they have simple yet fundamental rules that makes the game easy to understand and hard to master.
Q: You mentioned beginning a Kickstarter. When will be you starting that?
A: We have no date yet but probably at the start of the next year (2015). We need to have a solid demo to be able to start the Kickstarter campaign since we are a new company, we have to make sure people will understand that we are serious about this and that we have the skill to make it work.
Q: Finally (for now), will there be an open Beta or Alpha?
A: Alpha will be open as soon as we get a working version that has some gameplay to show but we want Beta to be closed, it would be a reward in the Kickstarter campaign.
Great, thanks for doing this! We’ll be in touch soon! For those that are hungry for more, head on over to PurpleOrange Games’s website here: Starlife