Star Control 2 becomes Free Stars: The Ur-Quan Masters on Steam next week

By admin Feb13,2024

Free Stars: The Ur-Quan Masters will make its way to Steam on February 19th. It’s a version of 1992 strategy classic Star Control 2 that takes advantage of updates from its long-running open source project, and it’ll be completely free.

The Steam release is being orchestrated by Pistol Shrimp, a company founded by original Star Control creators Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford. Reiche and Ford have long been working towards a sequel, variously called Ur-Quan Masters 2 and Ghosts Of The Precursors.

Why is this release called Free Stars and not “Star Control 2”? Aren’t Star Control 2 and its predecessor already on Steam for a small fee? The rights over the series have been much contested between Reiche and Ford, who seem to own the copyright, and strategy game publisher Stardock, who bought the rights to the Star Control trademark. Stardock developed a Star Control 2 sequel of their own, Star Control: Origins, back in 2018.

Both sides were in a big grump with the other, leading to angry blog posts, spurious DMCAs, crowdfunded legal defences, and eventual amicable settlement due to intervention by bees.

Part of the settlement was that both parties would continue to make their games, with Reiche and Ford offering writing support to Stardock Star Control games, and Stardock offering technology support to Reiche and Ford. Reiche and Ford are seemingly unable to continue using the Star Control trademark, but can use everything else.

To coincide with the release, Pistol Shrimp are launching a podcast in which they’ll discuss The Ur-Quan Masters’ legacy with other developers, with episodes announced which will feature Fallout’s Tim Cain, BioShock’s Ken Levine, Firewatch’s Chris Remo, and more. There’ll be an audio version and YouTube uploads.

If all of this still seems faintly baffling to you, then as always Richard Cobbett has the goods on why The Ur-Quan Masters matters.

By admin

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