Light of Altair

I cut my teeth on space strategy games. Master Of Orion was single-handedly responsible for getting me into PC gaming as a kid. The hours I sank into that game probably could've gotten me a PhD by the time I was 12. I think I made the right choice.

Regrettably, the time-sink factor of the genre has put it on the back burner lately more times than I'd like to admit. I wish I had the time to play Sins of a Solar Empire. At 3 hours a game though, it's just too much to fit in to my old-man weeknights. Fortunately for me, Light of Altair came along.

Light of Altair has a map consisting of several planets, on each planet you can build multiple colonies. A colony is a zone where you can place various buildings like hydroponic farms, solar panels and industrial centers. Each building can make your citizens happier (or not), or will let you produce food, energy or money. Food helps grow colonies, energy is used to power more buildings and more income lets you fill your coffers. You can harvest fuel and ore from planets as well, then use those resources to build ships to defend your colonies. Once you get enough fuel, you can colonize yet another planet. Simple, but satisfying.

It strips the 4x space strategy genre down to it's tasty, addictive bones. The ship building for instance, is simplified in all the right ways. Each hull type has slots, which can be filled with weapons or armor. There are no huge, arcane lists of items to add to 5 different mount points - no multitude of subsystems to configure. Just pick your weapons and armor and build. It's exactly what I want out of ship customization.

The story bits are serviceable -- the single player campaign progresses from colonizing the Moon all the way to distant star systems. The game has a very good tutorial and the demo gives you a solid sampling of the gameplay.

The interface is clean and very easy to learn. What could be an overwhelming amount of information is presented well and is easy to understand. The combat is very simple, but the ship-customization and various classes of ships available keep it interesting.

Why You Should Check This Out: A space strategy game that is a joy to play, Light of Altair is 4x space strategy simplified. Light of Altair has done a great job of distilling the elements that made games like Sins of a Solar Empire so addictive. If you prefer your strategy gaming in 20-minute chunks, Light of Altair is for you.

[size=20]Download Demo Now[/size]

[size=18]Buy Now: $14.95 - Impulse - Steam[/size]

Comments

I had heard about this but gave it a pass. This writeup actually makes it sound pretty cool. Demo will be played.

Ah MOO, I've lost so many days of my life to that game and I don't regret a single instant. I'll have to dig it up and reload MOO2. But in the meantime, I'll have to check this out. Thanks for the head's up.

more income let's you fill your coffers

A stray apostrophe there, kind sir.

osmosisch wrote:
more income let's you fill your coffers

A stray apostrophe there, kind sir.

Whoops, thanks.

This sounds pretty cool. I very much enjoyed GalCiv II until the later stages of the game, where my aging laptop tended to churn to an abrupt halt. I don't know if the computron will handle this much better but it's worth a shot.

Thank the gods! This might just break my Ascii Sector fetish. Thanks Pyro!

I don't know about this one. There was a thread on it when it came out and everyone seemed to agree that it wasn't very good. It is particularly bad at letting the player know what is going on. How do I increase populaton? Why would I want to? Why do I want to build the mining structures? Do more labs make research go faster? Etc, etc.

I'm assuming those things are very easy to find out with some trial-and-error, but the game had yet to hook me so I just closed it down.

Faceless Clock wrote:

I don't know about this one. There was a thread on it when it came out and everyone seemed to agree that it wasn't very good. It is particularly bad at letting the player know what is going on. How do I increase populaton? Why would I want to? Why do I want to build the mining structures? Do more labs make research go faster? Etc, etc.

I'm assuming those things are very easy to find out with some trial-and-error, but the game had yet to hook me so I just closed it down.

They explained all that stuff pretty well in the tutorial I played. Not sure, did they not have a tutorial when you played it?

Oh hey, it's this game again.

The author sent me a review code a month or two back, then a few days later went on a giant smear campaign against me on Twitter, Quarter to Three, and everywhere else he could about how I'd leaked the game to pirates. Then he realized he was mistaken, and spent the next day trying to retract it all. Took me more than a week of emailing people to get all the "OMG ERIC MAJKUT GIVES REVIEW COPIES TO PIRATES!#$!#%!" links removed from Google.

And honestly, the game is pretty awful.

Sigh.

DrJonez wrote:

Oh hey, it's this game again.

The author sent me a review code a month or two back, then a few days later went on a giant smear campaign against me on Twitter, Quarter to Three, and everywhere else he could about how I'd leaked the game to pirates. Then he realized he was mistaken, and spent the next day trying to retract it all. Took me more than a week of emailing people to get all the "OMG ERIC MAJKUT GIVES REVIEW COPIES TO PIRATES!#$!#%!" links removed from Google.

And honestly, the game is pretty awful.

Sigh.

What's the deal with psycho space strategy game developers? Reminds me of the whole Tom Chick vs. Sword of the Stars controversy when that game came out.

Gunner wrote:
DrJonez wrote:

Oh hey, it's this game again.

The author sent me a review code a month or two back, then a few days later went on a giant smear campaign against me on Twitter, Quarter to Three, and everywhere else he could about how I'd leaked the game to pirates. Then he realized he was mistaken, and spent the next day trying to retract it all. Took me more than a week of emailing people to get all the "OMG ERIC MAJKUT GIVES REVIEW COPIES TO PIRATES!#$!#%!" links removed from Google.

And honestly, the game is pretty awful.

Sigh.

What's the deal with psycho space strategy game developers? Reminds me of the whole Tom Chick vs. Sword of the Stars controversy when that game came out.

And the ever-present Mr. Smart. Never thought about it before, but it does seem to be a pattern, right? Wonder if it's the amount of detail involved with the epic scopes that tend to attract people who lean towards narcissistic?

Do you have any specific criticisms DrJonez? I'd like to hear from some detractors, I only played through the demo so maybe it drops off after the first few levels?

PyromanFO wrote:

Do you have any specific criticisms DrJonez? I'd like to hear from some detractors, I only played through the demo so maybe it drops off after the first few levels?

...Wait, what?

I don't mean to be unfair to a well-written piece (and it is), but if you only play the demo of a game you recommend that people buy, I think you need to state in the article that you only played the demo.

I definitely assumed that your column - especially since you made comments that one might logically think refer to the full game experience like "The story bits are serviceable -- the single player campaign progresses from colonizing the Moon all the way to distant star systems." - was based on playtime with the full game.

EDIT: Maybe you were trying to make that clear by saying "The game has a very good tutorial and the demo gives you a solid sampling of the gameplay.", but I took that to mean that you were saying the demo is a good representation of the full game. Which, in fact, you don't know.

I don't mean to be unfair to a well-written piece (and it is), but if you only play the demo of a game you recommend that people buy, I think you need to state in the article that you only played the demo.

If I recommend something that doesn't have a demo I play it all the way through, no question. But this has a pretty meaty demo and I don't say anywhere in the article "You should buy this right now!" If something is free or the demo is worthwhile, I generally make sure I play through that and make that the primary link.

I think it's been pretty rare I've recommended someone buy anything in this article, and if I did it's either fairly cheap or I've played it all the way through.

There's a demo available, and I list the price clearly in the article. FBs are generally cheap enough that I assume we're all responsible enough to make up our own mind based on the article and demo.

I definitely did not mean to mislead anybody about my experiences. For the record, the specific part you mention about the story, the demo lets you play a later campaign in the story to check out some of the more advanced scenarios and it's set on a distant star system.

Has the term "serviceable" gone from being the cliche de jour at GWJ to a permanent part of the editorial lexicon? I think I understand what you mean by it, but its definition is not within the context of its use on this site. Is using a term like "decent", "fair", or "good enough" too boring or un-scholarly sounding for this site anymore?

/pet peeve

Evo wrote:

Has the term "serviceable" gone from being the cliche de jour at GWJ to a permanent part of the editorial lexicon? I think I understand what you mean by it, but its definition is not within the context of its use on this site. Is using a term like "decent", "fair", or "good enough" too boring or un-scholarly sounding for this site anymore?

/pet peeve

Maybe "good enough" works, I generally use it to mean that the story looks pretty generic and I didn't really have to care about it to enjoy the game. Point taken about the verbage, it's all Elysium's fault. I hear multi-syllabic preferences are contagious.

Oh dear God it's got me too *choke* *gasp*

I have to hold firm on the rule that if you use the word 'aight', you have to immediately follow it with the word 'bitches'.

Certainly to some extent (to a large extent, even) "buyer beware" is something everyone should have in mind when they're picking up any game, and if a demo exists and they don't try it, that's their fault.

I just worry that someone (obviously not me, mind you, let's say some guy named Ravenlocke with an "e") who, like you, really likes the 4X formula but finds games like Sins to be intimidatingly time-consuming, might read your article and decide "Hey, it's only $15, and Allen gives it a seal of approval, I'll just snag it" thinking that you had yourself purchased it and found it to be worth the time and money all the way through (which was in fact the impression I got from the writeup).

Obviously $15 is not a ton of money either way, and it'd be my-- Ravenlocke's fault for not downloading the demo. But I do think the level of effusive praise in the writeup gives it the feel of a review, not of a "first impressions" piece. Not trying to accuse you of intentionally being misleading at all, just saying I got the wrong impression and advocating clarity.

EDIT: Aight, bitches?

I propose we start using 'aight', as in the lazy linguist's 'alright'.

Free sample: "Yeah, that game was both tight and aight..."

Edit: "...bitchessssssss!"

Yeah these things are definitely not reviews. I don't put nearly enough time into them for that.

However, point taken, I'll try to make sure I pepper my playtime in there somewhere from now on.

Clemenstation wrote:

I propose we start using 'aight', as in the lazy linguist's 'alright'.

Free sample: "Yeah, that game was both tight and aight..."

Edit: "...bitchessssssss!"

Oh no you di'n't. You forgot the apostrophe in a'ight!

I agree the implication from what I'd read was that this article talks about the full game. Maybe a little disclaimer is in order to note that you're talking about the demo content only.

I'm also party stung by this because I too miss space-themed games like this. I bought the Space Rangers 2 bundle and found it crushingly hard to play -- I got slaughtered constantly, which is sad because I think I could really have fun with it if it was significantly easier.

I'll definitely take this demo for a spin. Thanks for writing about it.

And TheWanderer, I'm going to try out Ascii Sector as well. Thanks for that heads-up.

Dysplastic wrote:

Now stop whining, aight? This is MY HOUSE and you fools be TRIPPIN.
(Did I get it right? )

Almost, but you forgot to amicably call us all bitches.

Ouch, ganging up on Pyro here!
Personally, I think all these Fringe Busters articles by definition come with a big serving of Caveat Emptor. This is stuff that's clearly not for everyone, and I think if someone plops down 15 dollars based on a couple of paragraphs when there is a free demo available, well, that person was asking for it.
All the FB picks I've seen so far are either Free, 5$, or have a demo available. I don't think anyone can complain they've been mislead when the cost of trying it out for yourself is so low.

Just because an article has "the feel" of a review, doesn't make it a review. That being said...ending a column with "if this, then this game is for you!" does give that sort of feel.

Anyways, stop whining, aight? This is MY HOUSE and you fools be TRIPPIN.
(Did I get it right? )

Dysplastic wrote:

(Did I get it right? )

Undoubtedly ... err, I mean, FA SHIZZLE.

DrJonez wrote:

Oh hey, it's this game again.

The author sent me a review code a month or two back, then a few days later went on a giant smear campaign against me on Twitter, Quarter to Three, and everywhere else he could about how I'd leaked the game to pirates. Then he realized he was mistaken, and spent the next day trying to retract it all. Took me more than a week of emailing people to get all the "OMG ERIC MAJKUT GIVES REVIEW COPIES TO PIRATES!#$!#%!" links removed from Google.

And honestly, the game is pretty awful.

Sigh.

Did the guy even apologize?

Just because an article has "the feel" of a review, doesn't make it a review. That being said...ending a column with "if this, then this game is for you!" does give that sort of feel.

I do tend to get excited when I really start digging a game. People should get me all hyped up on caffeine then pay me for box quotes.

Just noticed Steam has X3: Terran Conflict on sale this weekend for 20 bucks. XFire says I put 108 hours into X2, so if you did to the new revamped controls and so on of X3:TC might be for you for 5 more bucks than this game.

Just a thought. I'm still going to try the demo later tonight when I get a moment.

Oh dear, look what I started.

Evo wrote:

Has the term "serviceable" gone from being the cliche de jour at GWJ to a permanent part of the editorial lexicon?

It's a workmanlike term.

mazpantz wrote:
DrJonez wrote:

Oh hey, it's this game again.

The author sent me a review code a month or two back, then a few days later went on a giant smear campaign against me on Twitter, Quarter to Three, and everywhere else he could about how I'd leaked the game to pirates. Then he realized he was mistaken, and spent the next day trying to retract it all. Took me more than a week of emailing people to get all the "OMG ERIC MAJKUT GIVES REVIEW COPIES TO PIRATES!#$!#%!" links removed from Google.

And honestly, the game is pretty awful.

Sigh.

Did the guy even apologize?

He gave me a fairly brief apology, so that's better than nothing Honestly I was MUCH more concerned about the Google links and such though. Kinda hard to continue working as a gaming writer when half of the industry thinks you're a pirate.