The most stringent warning I’ve seen on a game in Early Access so far has been the all caps WARNING THIS GAME IS IN EARLY DEVELOPMENT description for DayZ on Steam.
Stardock’s approach with Star Control is far less cantankerous, but certainly eyebrow raising all the same. Rather than trying to get people to flood in for early access through their founders program, Stardock wants only those who are absolutely dedicated. And you’ll have to take a survey to prove it.
In case you’re not up to speed, Stardock is rebooting the ancient Star Control games. “It will be an action/adventure game in the same vein as Star Control 2 / Star Flight and other games of that classic genre,” the official FAQ says, with the studio also planning to support the original franchise (although the reboot will have a completely different story).
But just because they’re starting afresh doesn’t mean they want to start afresh with the player base, at least for now. If you want to jump in early, you’ll have to fill out a survey — and even then, Stardock isn’t guaranteeing that you’ll be approved. “If Star Control is as near and dear to you as it is to us, fill out the survey linked below for a chance to join our Closed Founder’s program,” the landing page says.
“If your application is approved, you will gain access to The Vault and the private forums where you can get an insider’s look at our development process as we move toward release. You will also have the chance to play each iteration of the game when we enter Alpha and Beta phases.”
Stardock’s previous founder programs have functioned like Early Access packages, but I couldn’t find any information on their website or forums to indicate that those selected through this process would be asked to pay any money. From the developer posts and replies to fans, it appears that they simply want the most dedicated, hardcore Star Control fans possible so they can help guide the direction of the reboot (with people probably able to buy into the alpha and beta later on, as was the case with Galactic Civilizations 3 and Ashes of the Singularity).
The survey has 26 questions about how much time you play games, what genres you like or dislike, your favourite and worst gaming experiences, your experience with the original Star Control games, and a final note about “why … you would be a good choice for the Star Control Founder’s Program”.
Stardock has announced that the game will be using the same engine as Ashes of the Singularity, the RTS game that’s more popular for its capacity as a DirectX 12 benchmarking tool than its gameplay. The game’s budget has also been revealed to be US$5 million and is targeting a 2017 release to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Star Control 2.
If you’re interested, you can go through the whole survey here. Only fully completed applications will be accepted, and you’d better have brushed up on your sci-fi beforehand.