A lot has changed in the past year. From two guys working in garages on a tiny indie game which had run out of money to a three-man team looking forward to their game’s boxed release. (September: Europe; Mid-October: United States). Blind Mind Studios have made major splashes in the news and have had an awesome, vibrant, community spring up under their feet. I think it’s safe to say Blind Mind Studios, and Star Ruler, aren’t quite so unknown any more.
After 25 major patches, listening to critics and customers alike, and taking their commentary to heart, Star Ruler v18.104.22.168 has emerged: Blind Mind Studios consider this their best, and hopefully not final, attempt at making a full-blooded 4X/RTS hybrid. They look forward to their critics taking another shot at the game and hope they have as much fun as they and their dedicated fans do.
Here at Mana Pool we will certainly give the game another shot – especially to see if the aspects we criticised the most have been changed. We felt the game had great potential when we did our first review of Star Ruler, but didn’t live up to it’s full potential yet. Let’s see how we feel after we’ve played through the new version extensively!
Here are some of the major changes since we’ve reviewed the game:
- Planets gained ‘conditions’ which affect planet-wide production, structure, population, and ore count. There are both positive and negative conditions; what conditions a planet gets is linked to the type of planet it is. New types of systems were added to the game: Asteroid systems which contain vast amounts of asteroids as well as very large asteroids, unique systems such as the Remnant Imperial Seat, the Remnant Gate Array, and an Unstable Star system. If you blow up the Quasar these days it’ll detonate all but the most hardy of stars in an expanding wave of destruction.
- Ringworlds were added in and now have 1000 effective structure slots.
- A comprehensive set of changes to the user interface. It has been greatly expanded, graphically improved, made more informative, and has become as a result much more functional. This including more detailed interfaces and more comprehensive control over what your ships do. We also allow you to save entire game setups so that you can quickly swap between game styles that you prefer.
- The AI has been greatly improved in its expertise and has also been given ‘personalities’ which change its fundamental attributes, what ships it builds, and so forth. We also made it so that you can’t diplomatically contact another Empire until you have met them (at your option).
- Two NPC factions were added to the game: Pirates and Remnants.
- Pirates steal resources from wealthy but insecure systems, growing more powerful or weaker depending on how much they’re able to get away with.
- Remnants are a powerful but sedentary defunct Empire which, since its fall, only has its remaining automated defenses and ships to its name.
- We added an additional shipset, pinnable minimaps, selectable race portraits, empire flags, new weapons, new tools, new maps, the ability to choose the color of your empires, race customization through a point-buy “race traits” system, an IRC, game lobbies, an automatic patching system, an in-game reference manual, more LAN support, dedicated server support, more sound effects and particle systems, and 30 more minutes of music into the game.
- Finally, we added a new system ring which shows how proportionally strong you are to other Empire presences in your system and Blockades which, if your enemies outnumber you by whatever amount the Blockade setting is set to, they deny your planets access to the Galactic Bank.