26 Sep 2010

The Ur-Quan Masters

Screenshot of The Ur-Quan Masters

The Ur-Quan Masters


I learned something new this weekend. First, I learned that one of my favorite childhood games, Archon, has some spiritual successors. The game designer Paul Reiche III, who designed Archon, went on to design other games from his studio Toys for Bob. I just learned all of this when I was listening to a podcast where some old timers like me were discussing the game Star Control 2, which Reiche designed and which was released for PC in 1992, and then on 3DO. It sounded like a great game, and given the Archon pedigree I was curious to try it out. Well the good news is that 3DO released the source code back to Reiche in 2002 and he made it open source, and so there are many ways to play the game today on modern hardware including Mac, PC, Wii, and Android. The name “Star Control 2” is trademarked and so this open source version is called “The Ur-Quan Masters.” Having played for 30 minutes, I was immediately drawn in to the accessible gameplay, the gentle introduction that gives you full control but subtly guides you to try new things, and the tinge of humor in the dialog. An abandonware success story!

The only bad news is that the iPhone port seems to have stalled just when it was almost complete.