What is Starsector?

Starsector is a single-player sandbox style space role-playing game with strategic elements.  That’s quite a mouthful, though, so here’s what it boils down to – fly around with your highly customizable fleet, explore, build stuff, blow stuff up, advance your character.  The goal is to give you lots of meaningful choices in a malleable world.

Want to see the game in action? Various youtubers and streamers have played Starsector, including SsethTzeentach (2019), CohhCarnage (2022), SplatterCat (2021), Nookrium (2021), Mathas (2019), Quill18 (2019), SplatterCat (2019), Giant Bomb (2016), Beaglerush (2015) Bluedrake (2014) and Scott Manley (2013).

When is Starsector coming out?

When it is ready. We are committed to releasing Starsector as soon as possible (for one, we really want to play it ourselves!), and we are hoping the community will take part in that process as well. To that end, we’ve released an alpha version, with it and all subsequent versions available as part of preordering the game.

Will it be on Steam / will I get a Steam key later if I buy it now?

Putting the game on Steam is something I want to look at when the game is more or less “done”. It’s a complicated decision for various reasons – there are upsides and downsides, and it’s not something you can easily try and then back out of.

If the game ends up on Steam, and if Valve still allows developers to generate keys for this purpose, then I’d like to get keys to existing players. However, that’s too many ifs to make a promise, so I would recommend assuming “no Steam key” for any purchasing decision made now.

Will there be a multiplayer mode?

No. There are two main reasons – one is that mulitplayer and singleplayer often have conflicting design goals. In brief, what makes a SP game fun may not work for an MP game, and vice versa. The other reason is the amount of time and effort to implement multiplayer would be equivalent to making an entirely new game. We’d rather focus on making the SP as good as we can instead of spreading our efforts too thin.

Aren’t you worried about piracy?

Oh yeah, big time.  That’s why we put actual piracy in the game as a mechanic – to ward off the evil, real world software piracy. That dark voodoo will definitely work better than any other DRM scheme. That, and chicken sacrifices.  Note: we do not condone chicken sacrifices.

I have two PCs I want to run the game on. Can I use the same activation key on both?

Yes, absolutely.

What does “classic” mean?

We are glad you asked. Let’s use a food analogy: Take a slice of Star Control, mix it with cubed Master of Orion 2, add in a dash of MechWarrior and stir it all up in our special development pot.  As indie developers and old school gamers we are going back to the Golden Age of Gaming with our design choices and presentation.  Of course, if you load up one of those games now you may be cringing at the graphics: that’s where our modern game engine and art department come in. In addition, sound effects and music really set the stage for a memorable experience.

What kind of computer do I need to run the game?

Linux, Mac, or a PC.  Exact specs are hard to pin down, but we’ll make every effort to keep them as low as possible. You will need a display that supports at least a 1024×768 resolution, however.

What kind of ships and weapons are in the game?

Enthusiastic fans have created an excellent wiki that showcases much of the content that you will find in the game from weapons to ships and even a detailed version history going back to the first public alpha release. Check it out.

Additional ships and weapons are usually added in every new patch.

What is the combat gameplay like?

You have direct command of your flagship, and can give orders to the officers aboard the rest of your fleet.  Their personalities and skills play a role in how well they execute those orders – for example, you probably don’t want a recklessly aggressive officer flying a support carrier, or a timidly cautious officer piloting your close-range support destroyer. Battles can vary from small frigate skirmishes to giant fleet-on-fleet battles. You may find yourself running down pirates attempting to flee from your superior fleet, or sometimes you will be trying to escape from a hostile patrol – do you sacrifice some ships to slow the enemy so your freighters can escape?

What will the strategic gameplay be like?

You start small, with only one or two ships.  You have a few ways to progress in your career- build up your personal ship, make money through missions, bounties, smuggling, and scavenging, expand your fleet by salvaging derelicts or buying new hulls, invest in an outpost or two on a resource-rich planet, or any mix of the above. You’ll also want to build up your personal character skills and officer corps to best excel in your chosen path.

Can you say more about the economic model?

The economic model in Starsector strives for one thing – to allow you to make meaningful choices. Say you found a cache of illegal drugs while scavenging in the outer systems. Do you smuggle them to sell on a populated core world, potentially causing instability as you enrich the criminal underground and undermine the rightful authorities? Do you make a risky trip to a pirate base, dodging raiders, to sell the drugs where there is no law? Or do you pass up this profitable opportunity and instead take up an offer to ship surplus food supplies to a starving colony? The choice is yours.

When you found your own colonies, you should choose carefully what resources you specialize in. Perhaps you simply fulfill an economic need – or perhaps you carry out a raid on a competitor’s industry to cripple production and allow your faction to dominate the market. Beware however, because a strong faction may do the same to you if they take offense at your attempt to move in on their cornered market.

Are there mods for Starsector?

Yes, tons! There is an active modding community with a great range of mods available. Check out the modding forums or this index of current mods.

Is there a newsletter email I can sign up for, so you can spam me?

Yeah – the signup form is on the right sidebar. Just scroll up a bit and it’ll be right there. We’ll send out an email every time there’s a new release, so it’s a great way to stay on top of that.

I want to put up a Starsector video on YouTube, or another video service. Do I have permission to run advertisements on it for the purpose of monetization?

Yes, absolutely.

I have a different question.

Let’s hear it!  Leave a comment in the forum, or send an email to fractalsoftworks [at] gmail.com.