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Industry & Technology

Video: How Star Control II was almost a much more boring game

Ars Technica - October 23, 2018 - 2:10pm

Video shot by Sean Dacaney and edited by Evan Watkin. Click here for transcript.

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.

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Abode adds IFTTT-style automations to its home security app - CNET - News - October 23, 2018 - 2:00pm
Abode's app update makes it possible to personalize your smart home devices to work with the security system.

iPhone XR's Product Red model blazes bright in crimson - CNET - News - October 23, 2018 - 2:00pm
In addition to black, white, blue, coral and yellow, Apple's latest iPhone XR flaunts a flashy, vibrant shade of red.

Dyson will build electric cars in Singapore for a 2021 launch - Roadshow - News - October 23, 2018 - 1:50pm
The company is making fast progress on its expansion into automotive and wants to start manufacturing ASAP.

Amazon Go cashierless store reportedly finds New York location - CNET - News - October 23, 2018 - 1:32pm
The checkout-free store is apparently going downtown, near the World Trade Center.

Life on Mars might exist -- under the surface - CNET - News - October 23, 2018 - 1:32pm
Oxygen found in rocks and underwater lakes lead scientists to believe there could be some level of subsurface life.

Zip it! 3 more reasons to be glad you didn't jump on Windows 10 1809

The Register - October 23, 2018 - 1:29pm
So fonts are funny and archives aren't ace but, hey, at least it isn't deleting files, right?

The problems with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update just keep on rolling in as users complain of borked zip file extraction, broken fonts and iffy brightness controls.…

Linus Torvalds returns to head Linux coding community

BBC Technology News - October 23, 2018 - 1:18pm
Mr Torvalds took a short break from the Linux world to get help to become more polite to engineers.

Verizon sees Apple Watch-fueled growth amid early '5G launch' - CNET - News - October 23, 2018 - 1:13pm
The carrier's also been busy dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

2019 Chevrolet Tahoe: Model overview, pricing, tech and specs - Roadshow - Reviews - October 23, 2018 - 1:01pm
Chevy's full-size SUV can be remarkably value-packed on the low end, or alarmingly pricey on the high end.

How much money should you spend on a new car? - Roadshow - News - October 23, 2018 - 1:01pm
Before you agree to a monthly payment for your new loan, keep these guidelines in mind.

Dell tries to make durable laptops more modern with updated Latitude rugged line

Ars Technica - October 23, 2018 - 1:00pm


Today, Dell announced availability of new models in its Latitude Rugged and Latitude Rugged Extreme laptop lines: the 5420, 5424, and 7424. These follow up on the previous 4414 and 7414 models.

The line is aimed at professional users working in factories, on offshore oil-rigs, in the military, in disaster-relief situations, and the like. Dell says it chose the Latitude brand, which is usually targeted at the enterprise space, in part because it aims to align the configurations of its Rugged and Extreme Rugged lines with those of the standard Latitude line in such a way that administrators can use the same image to deploy and manage systems across product lines.

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'Instagram used more than Snapchat' by US teens

BBC Technology News - October 23, 2018 - 12:58pm
Instagram has overtaken Snapchat as the most used social media app among US teens, says a study.

Samsung's graphene batteries promise to charge five times faster – without exploding

The Register - October 23, 2018 - 12:46pm
Chaebol says development is done and dusted

Samsung Mobile (or at least a fan blog) has claimed development of its graphene battery technology is, er, all wrapped up, raising hopes of finding them in products soon.…

I ship you knot: 2,400-year-old Greek trading vessel found intact at bottom of Black Sea

The Register - October 23, 2018 - 12:07pm
Carbon dating places it as oldest complete wreck

A bunch of maritime archaeologists, scientists and surveyors have discovered at the bottom of the Black Sea what is thought to be the oldest intact shipwreck – at a whopping 2,400 years.…

London Uber drivers to charge electric car fee

BBC Technology News - October 23, 2018 - 12:00pm
The 15p fee will be handed to drivers to help them pay for an all-electric car, says ride-hailing firm

iPhone XR photos, and how Portrait Mode works - CNET - News - October 23, 2018 - 11:58am
A look at some of the photos I took with Apple's newest iPhone (and a test of Portrait Mode's limits).

Morrisons supermarket: We're taking payroll leak liability fight to UK Supreme Court

The Register - October 23, 2018 - 11:31am
Brit grocer says it shouldn't be held responsible for criminal actions of worker

Morrisons has vowed to take its hack liability fight to the UK Supreme Court after failing to convince Court of Appeal judges it should not be held responsible for the actions of a rogue employee who leaked the supermarket's entire payroll via Tor.…

World's longest sea crossing: Hong Kong-Zhuhai bridge opens

BBC Technology News - October 23, 2018 - 11:25am
The $20bn bridge spanning 55km is an engineering marvel but has been dogged by safety issues and delays.

Self-driving school bus test halted in US

BBC Technology News - October 23, 2018 - 11:01am
The test, which involved transporting schoolchildren, was irresponsible, the NHTSA says.

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