Chatting with Ars Technica, Stardock - Star Control's new owners - CEO Brad Wardell revealed that the new title would be a prequel, following an alternate timeline. "We plan to start the game around 2112 with aliens first contacting the Earthlings and the formation of Star Control," explains Wardell, setting the game just over 40 years before the beloved Star Control II.
Series creators Fred Ford and Paul Reich ended Star Control II on something of a cliffhanger, hinting at another grand adventure, but they weren't involved with the third game which had little to do with the series. Stardock's setting the next Star Control before the events of of the second game just in case Ford and Reich decide to finish their story.
Though Ford and Reiche are not officially involved in the prequel, since they work for Activision developing the Skylanders universe, Wardell has still been in touch with them, at first asking what sort of involvement they want to have, and then getting their opinions on game design.
Stardock's repertoire of 4X titles like Galactic Civilizations and Sins of a Solar Empire doesn't immediately make them seem like the obvious developer for a prequel to a title that's ostensibly an adventure game, though its fantasy 4X games Elemental: War of Magic and Fallen Enchantress do contain some adventure-like elements.
The studio's history as a strategy developer is not, Wardell explains, going to stop Star Control from being true to Reiche and Ford's vision, however. "In our minds, Star Control is more of an adventure game. The new game is definitely coming from the same mold as Star Control II. In terms of design, I don't think our 4X development really comes into play since we don't see Star Control as 4X. But we are very familiar with space-based game development and we've assembled a team of Star Control fanatics to ensure that we stay true to the series."
These "fanatics" assembled by Stardock include developers from Firaxis, Big Huge Games and, of course, Stardock itself - none from adventure studios, but all certainly from titans of strategy.
Reassuringly, Wardell reveals that Stardock intends to bring back Super Melee, the player vs. ship combat, both single-player and multiplayer, building on the foundation laid out in Star Control II. "We intend to make Super Melee a pretty big part of the game from a multiplayer point of view. It'll be an expansion on what was in Star Control 2 except we would like to support more sophisticated battle arenas and up to 8 players. We picture there being a lot of different modes for Super Melee ranging from classic to Dota-style super melee."
Lamentably, we'll have to wait until next year - which at the beginning of 2014 seems like a very long way away - to hear about a release date. "We don't expect to even consider what a release date is until next year (2015) at which point we'll have a good idea of how far along we are," Wardell said. "We do expect the new one to be home on the PC but also be available on Mac, PS4, XBO, Steambox and any other platform that Nitrous supports."
Looks like I'll have to content myself with The Ur-Quan Masters for a little while longer, then.
Cheers, Ars Technica.