I think of Grim Fandango, where a lot of the effect of the narrative comes in the way scrounging for clues by trial and error makes it feel as if you really were stuck in that town for a year. Play through quickly with a strategy guide and you won't actually get the effect of the environment.
Or take the difference between the original Zelda and the later games: I'd say the fact that the original completely lacked the well-marked trail of where you were supposed to be going and what you were supposed to be interacting with made it seem as if you had "found" a smaller part of a wider world, and you were reacting to its logic.
Star Control II did both of these things as well as any game has. The reasons for your actions were always intrinsic (not to make "1/5" go to "3/5" and then "5/5", quest completed!) and your course through the game was meaningful because it took place in an economy of choice, effort, and time that was consistent and weighty.
Beyond navel gazing, I think the real upshot is when something like Breath of the Wild is so universally adored, part of what you're seeing is all the potential being left on the table by the current paradigm of gerbil wheels with scrolling backdrops.
Star Control II is that game. So is Ultima VII, and several Infocom games that filled my
imagination and seemed bigger than they were. Before the era of a complete walkthrough a click away that will lead you by the nose.
The turning point was voiced dialogue. Once that became the norm, content became exponentially more expensive to produce, and so the size of the worlds shrank.
In contrast with Lucasart ones - but both were fun, just in different way!
Then came... "The Day of the Tentacle" - OMG!!!
I wrote copious notes while I played that game, something that I tried to do recently with a game, but eventually gave up in a moment of weakness and just looked for FAQs online. This was something you could do in 1992, I certainly had internet then, but you had to stop playing your game, possibly reboot, and then dial your modem, and try finding the answer with something like gopher, or hope that a local BBS had people talking about it. Basically it was enough bother that you'd power through a lot more than you would today.
I also largely consider SC2 to be one of the first incrementals ever produced. I don't think there's any way you could beat the game the first time you played it, without knowing some key locations. There was just too much to explore. Like the first rainbow planet I found allowed me to make enough progress, that I think I beat the game the following playthrough. But like the article mentioned, this accidental incremental element just doesn't really fly today, especially for a game that can take hours of investment.
I bought Star Control 2 in a retail box, and it came with a big fold-out map of all of the stars, which I still have in a box somewhere. Granted, the map didn't tell you exactly what you would find at each star system, but it did subtly mark points of interest (which I failed to notice until after I had completed the game the first time).
Master of Orion
Master of Magic
Raptor: Call of the Shadows
Chuck Yeager's Air Combat
Command & Conquer
Falcon 4 Gold
Doom II (with some ridiculous levels I hacked like an enemies mosh pit on a secret outside area)
Welltris + Mouse Commander mod (TSR that converted mouse movement into simulated keypresses)
Also: that universal crack/trainer from way back and all the demoscene goodness that went into awesome cracks, cheats and trainers
It is freely available here: http://sc2.sourceforge.net/
It's also curious that TFA claims it never had a console port, and then later on mentions that the open source version is based off of the 3DO source.
> Star Control was ported to the Sega Genesis, but, as it happened, Star Control II would never get the same honor, perhaps because its sales didn’t quite justify the expense and/or because its complexity was judged unsuited to the console market.
I think in context, they mean it never got a port to the Genesis as SC1 did.
TFA does also mention the 3DO console port in the context of the Crystal Dynamics acquisition, a few paragraphs before talking about the source code.
Wiki implies there was a full release on the 3DO? It's on the available platforms list anyways, but so is OSX, which would imply they're including UQM-supported platforms
Ugh, I've played many games like this, and while it's true that they do have advantages, I think they're a poor choice in open-world games like Star Control II, where there are many different things you can do at any one moment. If I can just ignore the world-ending threat and mess around with side quests with zero consequences, it really makes me not take the threat seriously. Plus it's much less immersive when the evolving galaxy doesn't evolve independent of my actions - it's easy to perceive games that only progress the world when I hit some specific milestone in the main story.
IMO, "the world only moves when you do" is the safe and boring choice when it comes to stories. A truly independently evolving world like Star Control II's is radical and much more interesting - and if it was more common for games to evolve in wall-clock-time, you wouldn't have this issue of players having their playthrough unexpectedly ruined.
I hold SC2 in high regard from when I played it back then, but I don't think it aged well. I tried playing it again recently and found the travel to be too tedious.
I'm not sure though that it'd be possible to fix SC2's unfun aspects while keeping what makes it special.
But what I remember most was how brilliant the writing and humor was. Not just the hilarious alien races and their depictions/dialogues, but the creative drama of the overall plot and universe, in which humans were seemingly just a minor character in a conflict between warring centipedes. I don't think there's a game from that era that I want more to be remade/rebooted (with Fallout 3/4 being disappointments). Unfortunately, it seems to be mired in a intellectual property dispute between the original creators and Stardock .
My favorite moment: when the Ilwrath tell you exactly from where, and on what radio frequency, their evil gods communicate to them. You immediately think: Wait, surely you can't ....? Ah, but of course you can.
It's based on the 3DO version, which has different dialogue in some places. This makes the game noticeably more difficult, because you are only told the general area of a certain mandatory quest item, not the exact location as in the original PC version. This also makes it IMO more boring, because the only way to find the item without spoilers is repeatedly checking planets at a time when you probably have enough minerals already.
Also of note — they’re requesting $2m in gofundme donations to fight it, but have only gotten 40k in 6 months. My hopes of ever seeing a proper sc3 is vanishing.
A slightly better armchair take can be found at the UQM wiki  with actual lawyer commentary 
Not taking any real sides here, I feel everyone involved is greater than I regardless of outcome, but do hope folks keep an open mind.
That's a pretty wild claim to repeat. Not a single person on the original team agrees with it, and they've filed the copyright registration in court. There's basically no evidence at all for that conclusion, except that Stardock made the claim (not supported it, not provided evidence of it, merely made the claim)
Even if you do believe it, it's legally irrelevant as the team has signed the copyright over to them, and they released The Ur-Quan Masters back in 2003 using that copyright.
I was a member of the community back in the lat 90s/early 00s and this was common knowledge even back then.
1. They attempted to trick the UQM project leadership into signing a document that said Stardock owned the rights to everything in Star Control II. Stardock would then "generously" license rights back to the UQM project as "protection". In reality it would put the free game under Stardock's thumb
2. There are leaked conversations of the owner of Stardock labeling the UQM forum and star-control.com as hostile to his company and how he is going to shut them down
3. There are two subreddits for Star Control. The fan owned /r/starcontrol and the Stardock owned /r/StarControlOfficial. An unknown reddit account took over /r/starcontrol under strange circumstances and sowed havoc for a couple of days before reddit intervened and removed the new mod. There are theories that Stardock was behind it.
It's worth noting these registrations are dated 2017/2018, after the mud-flinging began. I wouldn't be shocked to hear they're invalid.
There's also a ton of evidence supporting this copyright: The game CDs, manual, and box art all also say copyright Fred & Paul; there's email threads with Accolade discussing the possibility of merging the copyright and trademark; the fact that they published the game with no change other than removal of the "Star Control" trademark; and basically the entire team signing off on this.
If someone else was claiming to have written it, I could see a credible conflict, but literally everyone involved in the actual creation of the game says that, yes, it was created by Fred & Paul.
But I haven’t taken a look at the lawyer commentary. (I don’t know that I care enough to). But outside of the lawyers and stardock’s ceo commentary, I haven’t seem anything to imply they weren’t in charge of the whole thing.
But anyways, I didn’t care for the stardock’s game, so it doesn’t matter what the truth is for me. I just want a proper sc3 (though I’m expecting they’ll still try to “modernize” itand toss out all the fun with it, as most decade-apart sequels go; but a man can dream, can’t he?)
It's very much the opposite in fact. Stardock has sued the original creators on frivolous grounds, is trying to prevent them from using the characters they created, and is actively spreading false information about who created the Star Control universe. More information here: https://www.dogarandkazon.com
I mean the mechanics were not really groundbreaking even back then. The game won it's place in history due to it's great characters and wonderful story. You can't be faithful to the game without building on it's story.
If nothing of the story is used they could have just made the same game with a different brand and it would be exactly the same. The use of the Star control name is simply a marketing tactic to get people who heard and liked SC to buy a game they would otherwise not - I.E. they wanted to milk the brand.
- Excellent storyline, for the most part
- Well written humor and dialogue
- Creative dialogue options
- Unique personalities for every species
- A sense of vastness in mystery in the universe that rewarded exploration.
- Great artwork
- Fun mini games, especially the "Super-Melee" combat
- Interesting RPG/upgrade element as you acquired new ships and parts for your main ship.
- Did I mention the music was both ahead of its time (tracker format when everything else was midi), and amazing?
Teleporting the Arilou into the planet/moon though was infuriating.
My godfather got me a pirated disk (5 1/4"!) from Malaysia when I was about 9 or 10, which included the full manual. The disk was completely corrupted - I was able to get it to play just the intro and then the game would crash.
I devoured that manual though - the full future history of Earth and the Ur-Quan War story had me totally hooked.
Fast forward 15-years or so to when I discover the whole game is open-source now as the Ur-Quan Masters story, and I was giddy to finally be playing it (and getting to listen to the glorious Hyperspace music scores), while my kitten at the time had to be distracted from clawing my monitor because he wanted to chase the blue-spaceship across the screen.
It's an amazing game, that just goes all the places you want it to.
Played MELEE mostly from the game, and bit of the Adventure, but to be fair - MELEE for me was the best part - endless plays, much like we've played ARCHON, and ARCHON 2 before that - in fact these were the two most played games at school (somewhere ~1991-1993).
Then around this time my other favourite game came to be Heroes of Might and Magic 1, 2 and later 3 - and much like the ones above it - "multiplayer" was really people taking turns, and promising to not see while the others are playing - some sessions ended up being more than 24hr, after which the girlfriend back then of my best friend, had to kick us out (we drank, and not showered for whole day...)
Then the same experience in the army (mandatory service back then, where I came from), lol. So much fun...
And I've never really played much multi-player network game myself - PC clubs, or nowadays internet (with the exception of Hearthstone - nothing else).
I do miss the funky, weird, games of old times...
PS: That triangular building is somewhat "cursed" in that it can't seem to keep tenants. Is the space too expensive, is it too unusable by being shaped as such or do risky ventures pick it?