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StarDrive -- a 4x Action Strategy Game for the PC's video poster

StarDrive is a space-themed 4X Action Strategy game with deep ship design, colonization, diplomacy, research, and beautiful 3D graphics Read more

Portland, OR Video Games
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This project was successfully funded on December 30, 2011.

StarDrive is a space-themed 4X Action Strategy game with deep ship design, colonization, diplomacy, research, and beautiful 3D graphics

Portland, OR Video Games
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About this project

What is StarDrive?

 StarDrive is a 4X Action-Strategy game where the goal is to build a space empire.  Starting with a single planet and a small number of space-worthy vessels, you forge out into the galaxy, exploring new worlds, building new colonies, and discovering the StarDrive universe.

The heart of StarDrive is its ship design and combat engine.  StarDrive takes a module-based approach to ship design, allowing the player to create custom ship designs where the composition and placement of ship modules really matters to the performance of a ship in combat.  In combat, if your portside armor is taking a beating, then rotate around and show them the starboard side!  Hide behind a friendly capital ship's shields, warp into and out of the fray, launch fighters, lay mines, and so much more. 

A few examples of ship modules that you might equip to your ships

Features of StarDrive:

  • Customize your Race by selecting from a large list of physical traits, socioeconomic traits, and traits relating to your history and tradition
  • Deep, module-based ship design as described above
  • Lead your forces into battle with your own flagship that you control like an arcade shooter; command your fleets like you would in a real time strategy game with simple mouse commands
  • Tactical ground combat to take over enemy planets
  • A deep research tree with many dozens of technologies
  • Alien Artifacts to find and collect, which give bonuses to your empire
  • Rich diplomacy options, allowing you to make and break treaties with alien races; trade technologies and artifacts, sell ships, declare wars, and design joint operations with your allies.
  • Finally, MULTIPLAYER.  Do this all with your friends online.  

More on Ship Design

Ship design is not limited to only your Flagship.  You design every ship in your fleet using the same system.  I have included dozens of stock ship designs that will come with the game and become available to the player as they gain new technologies.  The AI will pick from these stock ships in building its own fleet, and the AI will also steal some of your ship designs.  

A ship that might make a good blockade runner, or torpedo boat...

The Economy of StarDrive

The main economic work in StarDrive is the acquisition of new planetary colonies. Colonies produce resources that are simplified into 4 categories: food, production, research, and money. Each resource fills a role. Food is consumed every game “turn” by the colonists on your planet. Insufficient food supply leads to starvation and population shrinkage; sufficient food supply allows population growth. The larger a planet’s population, the more resources it can produce. Production of resources generally is tied to planetary population.

In a vein similar to Masters of Orion 2, you assign your planetary colonists to their roles to specialize a colony using a simple slider system.  If you want to just focus on combat and exploration, you can turn planetary governance over to a governor, and specify what type of colony you would like to build (i.e. industrial, agricultural, etc).  In this way, you won't get behind if you decide to focus on a battle or on micromanaging some other part of your empire.

“Production” is the resource used to build ships and buildings. For instance, a “mine” building will increase the production of a colony; however, you need production to build a mine. Building up a colony from the initial outpost to an industrial juggernaut involves ensuring that the planet has enough food for the population to grow, and enough production to bootstrap your way up.

I have modeled colonization of planets somewhat realistically. When you first get to a planet, you have very little with you, and you are not able to produce very much. However, you can accelerate planetary growth by assigning freighters to carry goods throughout your empire. The freighters are largely automated and will bring food, production, and also new colonists to your recently settled worlds.

Your trade network is therefore vital to properly growing your empire. Consequently, defending your trade network (or attacking your opponents’) is absolutely critical. Research is produced at planets as well with research facilities that you build there. You can choose to focus a planet by building higher-level, more expensive research buildings. You can also trade with alien races to acquire tech.

Finally, buildings and ships all cost money for maintenance. You have to have sufficient population to tax for income, and you can also raise money through trade with alien races and by researching economic improvements.

StarDrive Multiplayer

Multiplayer in StarDrive will come in two different flavors.  StarDrive will ship with a multiplayer battle arena mode in the DOTA tradition.  In this mode, there will be no researching or designing; instead, players will have to choose how to allocate their starting resources to purchase a fleet comprised of ships which they have previously designed offline.  Killing enemies or achieving objectives will bring you more money which you can use to buy more and better ships.  

The second mode will be a full multiplayer campaign mode.  However, this mode will not be released with the initial versions of StarDrive because it is going to take a little longer to code.  That said, the more funding we get for this project, the sooner both Multiplayer modes will be available because I will be able to dedicate more time to coding and less time to earning money to pay for art!

What is Zer0sum Games?

Zer0sum games is a humble independent game studio in Portland, Oregon.  And by humble, I mean to say that there is only one person working here (me, Dan).  However, I have a really wonderful artist named Ariel Chai who lives in Australia, and he is a freelance artist who has created all of these beautiful ships and ship modules.  

The funds that I hope to raise will go almost exclusively towards paying for more art.  Great game artists are very hard to come by and I feel very lucky to have such a talented artist on my team.  By funding this project, you are really funding him!

Inspirations for StarDrive

The primary inspirations for StarDrive are the PC classics of Masters of Orion 2 and Escape Velocity.  To me, there is nothing better than starting small and working your way up through a hostile alien universe.

Ultimately, I plan to make several games inside the StarDrive universe (assuming, of course, that this one is enough of a success to justify it).  The first game, StarDrive, is a 4x game as described above. After the multiplayer modes are released, I will be creating a new StarDrive RPG experience based on the same engine.  In it, instead of creating an empire, the player will start with his humble ship and play out a story in a sandbox universe where he or she can trade goods, buy and sell ships, and so on.  Whereas StarDrive is an homage to Masters of Orion 2, our next project will be more of an homage to Escape Velocity.  


  • Because I didn't know any better! I should have had a longer funding period, but Kickstarter says shorter funding periods are better, so who knows what's going to happen? Right now, we seem to be doing great. I really want to make this happen, so everyone who can tweet, blog, faceyspace, or otherwise, please get the word out!

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    359 backers

    Receive the digital version of StarDrive upon its release. Receive a supporter credit in the game.

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    163 backers

    Gain access to the StarDrive closed beta, plus all previous rewards.

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    88 backers

    Get access to in-dev versions of the game plus all previous rewards.

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    Get a real warm and fuzzy feeling for being a huge supporter, and get all previous rewards. I'll also write you a personal thank you letter and put some sort of reference to you in the game.

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    3 backers

    Design a spaceship! You get to design a spaceship that will appear in the game. You can submit concept art or a written description of what you would like to see, and we will work with our talented artist to commission your ship and place it in the game. + all previous rewards.

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    5 backers

    Receive a producer credit in the game. Design an alien race that will be in game by working with us to design their racial art and their ships + all previous rewards.

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Funding period

- (29 days)