There’s no 4X studio more committed to world-building than Amplitude, the developers of the Endless games. Paradoxically, there’s none more committed to handing the reins to their community either. The eighth faction in Endless Space 2 will be designed by one contest-winning player, who will have their ideas baked into Endless lore.
Read more: the best PC space games.
Of course, they’ll be subject to the same rigours Amplitude apply to their own creations. How does this alien civilisation live? How do they interact with other races and defend what’s theirs? What of their traditions and religions? These are the questions I considered, in all the depth a 45 minute flight to Paris would allow. I spread that time across five different factions, drawing on a firmly-held conviction that quantity implies quality.
Then I sat Amplitude co-founder Romain de Waubert de Genlis down face-to-face and read aloud, presenting my new cultures as if in a petri dish. It’s through his constructive feedback that I will best the competition - though you’re free to leave your own less-good suggestions in the comments if you wish.
Not a race exactly, since they’re made up entirely from clones of the versatile character actor Gary Oldman. Their defining traits are:
- Strict population limit, and jealously-guarded cloning technology - to ensure there are enough roles for all of the Garys to play
- Garys hate apes. If the Oldmen detect any simian activity on a new world, they must immediately resort to extermination
- Every Gary in the military holds the same rank: Commissioner. Leads to frequent breakdown in communication. In game terms this can mean a delay in response to move and attack orders
- Bonus to espionage after researching thick-rimmed George Smiley glasses
Romain: “Glaring mechanical issues? There are quite a few. One, there’s a similarity with a faction we already have, the Haroshem - they are all clones. It would be sad to have the same idea twice in the game. Then the ape extermination - sure, PETA would love that. It’s a great way to make a lot of friends. But at the same time, why apes and not cats? Because who likes cats anyway? We could expand a bit on that. You could have a lot of fun with them.”
[Pause for clarification. Is this cat-hating creative director saying the Garys aren’t hateful enough?]
“Yeah, we could do better. And maybe there are no apes in our galaxy.”
A pale, bipedal race with a long history but steadfast aversion to record-keeping. Cultural tradition of dancing around poles and drenching themselves in gravy.
- Very late blooming. Brexitani aren't considered to come of age until they're 50 years old, when they're awarded housing in a lavish ceremony
- Covered the surface of their home planet with flags, which have made it impossible to produce anything
- Consequently reliant on trading with other races, but intolerant of any intrusion into Brexitani space
- When played by AI, will work patiently towards a diplomatic victory - but a turn or two before winning, suddenly change approach and undo all that good work
Romain: “Do you want people to hang themselves? Make sure you have some laughs and [reasons to] smile. But making people believe they can win until the last minute and then telling them, ‘Sorry, you just lost, Brexitani’? I like that. I’m sure we will find enough depressed people to be able to vote for it.”
Telltale’s The Spacewalking Dead
Dishevelled, shabby-looking creatures with a miserable temperament.
- Long ago ran out of the raw materials to produce clothing, so developed a tradition of painting their bodies with the appearance of clothes - shirts, jackets, buttons, etc
- Only hold one planet at a time - until attacked, at which point they'll flee to another world, kill everyone there and take it for themselves
- Never make the first move in diplomacy - instead responding after a long pause once they’ve consider their options
“We can easily make the pause between the chats. So they’re zombies? Humans? They shoot first and then they say it’s for the good of all the others. They’re survivors. Seriously, really seriously this time, it could be fun to play a different game within the game. It’s not about empire-building - for you it’s just surviving, trying to hide from the others. And you win if you manage to make it to turn 100. Just playing a different game on the same map as the others could be a lot of fun. It’s more like a twist you would want to bring to the game, a mod.”
A barbaric race with spindly legs and incredibly muscular upper bodies that leave them uniquely suited to low gravity worlds.
- Aggressive, tribal culture
- Only one ship available for construction - the bulky Partibuus
- Rarely permanently colonise planets - instead harvesting them of their liquid resources before moving onto the next
- Despite this, traditionally have close and respectful relationships with their elders
- After a declaration of war, 50% chance of peace and a poorly spelled apology letter the following turn
“They’re a bit like [ravenous, mindlessly-militaristic Endless Space race] the Cravers, but they cry a lot. Just the title Crying Cravers could attract quite a few people. It could be the name of a tavern: ‘Hey, let’s go to the Crying Cravers tonight’. That works. Let’s make a pub out of that, more than a faction.”
This species was born on a planet with a toxic atmosphere, so evolved a cockpit-like appendage that surrounds their crucial respiratory systems.
- Desperate to find intelligent life, but with a campaign starting point so far off the edge of the map they're doomed never to make contact before another faction wins the game
- Have a love-hate relationship with their god, whom they call Shorn. Shorn is worshipped but also blamed for Nomanski hardships
- Driven to catalogue life on new planets, but invariably disappointed by what they find
“So they hate their god but they love him as well. But strangely enough they had the choice, and chose to follow their god at first. So they can’t complain, you know? I would definitely not pick that one. Sitting on the edge of the map, not meeting anyone, having these five billion planets around you where there will be no life. I would not pick it. But we could try that, we could give it a chance.”
That sounds like a yes to me. But in the interests of fairness, you can submit your own concepts for the consideration of the Games2Gether community until October 13.