Welcome back to “War Stories,” an ongoing video series where we sit down with game designers and ask them to tell us about game development challenges that almost sank their projects. In previous instances, we’ve been lucky enough to get some time with the likes of Lord British (of Ultima fame) and Paul Neurath (of Thief), among others. This time, we’ve scored big: we tracked down the creators of the Star Control series—none other than Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III.
Star Control was a fun little Space Wars-alike, but it’s the second game in the series that truly became famous. Star Control II is the last—and many would say best—entry in the sorely missed Starflight-style space exploration/RPG genre that flourished in the 1980s and ’90s. That pedigree is strongly represented in the game’s form—in fact, Ford and Reiche even had the assistance of Starflight alum Greg Johnson in fleshing out aspects of SC2’s design and dialog.
Control them stars
For the few Ars readers who might not have played Star Control 2 (or its later open source re-release, The Ur-Quan Masters), it might be difficult to see why I’m so effusive in praising a game that turns 26 years old next month. And I admit to no small amount of personal bias here, as SC2 is one of my favorite games of all time. But the game is just so damn good—from the tight plotting, to the wonderfully written and varied alien dialog, and especially the beyond-addicting two player melee combat with hilariously unbalanced ships.