This one seems to have given us the slip since it was announced, but a number of ex-Eve Online developers have banded together to create Starborne, an extremely ambitious massively multiplayer online 4X strategy game. Starborne is basically Eve Online’s epic star battling formula whittled down to, er, six-month-long rounds.
Yep, you heard that right. Starborne will let thousands of players all battle it out across an entire universe for six months, conquering star systems, forming alliances and building huge empires. At the end, there can be online one winner.
Described as a fusion of Civilization and Hearthstone, Starborne is a 4X MMORTS with support for up to 2492 concurrent players in its current alpha incarnation. The Hearthstone comparison comes about because Starborne will be free-to-play and operate on a card-based system. Cards can be unlocked through completing missions, drops from NPC forces you’ve defeated, or through in-game purchases, but Icelandic developer Solid Clouds has said everything will be earnable through normal gameplay. Cards will perform a range of tasks, including upgrades for stations and fleets, new avatar pictures, special bonuses, hiring mercenaries or trading bonuses.
"Starborne actions take real-time," says Solid Clouds, a studio formed by Ásgeir Ásgeirsson and Hrafnkell Óskarsson, EVE Online’s former art director and designer respectively.
"Whether it's mining an asteroid field, spying on your neighbors, attacking your enemies, manufacturing ships or constructing buildings and outposts, everything takes real time … no one wants to wait for thousands of people to finish their turn, so each player's 'turn' is limited by the number of actions they can perform (a number that increases as their empire expands). Once their available actions are depleted, players can log off to return later when their ships have returned and their queues are empty."
It all sounds like a very neat idea, although a lot hinges on just how Solid Clouds implements the F2P mechanics in Starborne, and whether this becomes a pay-to-win system. If you want to give Starborne a go yourself then you can download the latest Alpha release right now and get involved. Just head over here to give it a shot.