Welcome back to part 13 in our Features Series. One of the more radical features of Lord of Rigel compared to other 4x (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) games and space strategy games is the inclusion of the Galactic Cold War. When we first sat down and began throwing out ideas for Lord of Rigel, one of the first and central ideas was to have two active elder species in the galaxy. Many strategy games have various progenitor species who leave behind relics and can be tied to victory conditions, or a powerful non-player faction serving as random threat. Having two elder species who would actively engage with the galaxy allows for LoR’s mid and end game to be much more dynamic than other games. Players can’t quite hope to outclass or outmatch these factions, but can try to outwit them. Overall LoR becomes a much more political game as a result. Story wise having these two factions explains why the player species are starting on an even playing field and why some gameplay mechanics like the galactic council exist.
Having two powerful ancient species is also not unprecedented in the genre. Babylon 5’s Shadows and Vorlons had proxy wars using other species while hiding most of their power. This became the basis for how the Rigelans and Arcturans would interact with players. They’d try to encourage the formation of power blocs and there is a delicate balance that needs to be kept unless either side begins to unleash superweapons that could doom the galaxy. This situation also lends itself well for savvy players to try to use the factions against each other and carve out their own path.
One thing we wanted to avoid was outright making one side or the other more “good” or “evil” but the Rigelans and Arcturans have done noble and terrible things. Both species have completely incompatible goals and view themselves as taking the galaxy in the right direction. We wanted a situation where players could feel justified with siding with either faction if they wished without one or the other necessarily being the “bad guys.” Overall balancing the cold war between these elder species is the greatest ongoing challenge for Lord of Rigel’s development. But having these elder races as active parties in the game drastically sets us apart from any other 4x game out there!