Free Stars The Ur-Quan Masters
Image: Pistol Shrimp Games

Next week will see the release of Free Star: The Ur-Quan Masters on Steam — an updated version of the classic 1992 science fiction action-adventure Star Control II — from Pistol Shrimp Games. This is a company founded by the Toys For Bob veterans Fred Ford & Paul Reiche (thanks Rock Paper Shotgun!).

Free Star: The Ur-Quan Masters will be available for free from February 19th and will allow players to mod and tinker with the game by taking advantage of its long-running open-source fan project.

As you may well be aware Star Control II is already available on Steam as part of a bundle along with the first game, so you might be wondering why the game is suddenly getting another release and why it has been rebranded to an entirely different name.

Well, the answer to that is kind of a long story, with the abridged version being that the rights were essentially split at some point between Ford and Reiche (who own the original game) and the Star Control: Origins publisher Stardock (who acquired the rights to the Star Control name).

Because of this, a fairly public and ugly legal battle ensued over who owned what and who infringed who, with the two parties eventually settling with each other in 2019.

The result of this lawsuit meant that both parties could continue publishing their games (though Ford & Reiche seemingly can't use the Star Control name).

To coincide with this new release, Pistol Shrimp Games has launched a new podcast series called Channel 44, discussing the legacy of The Ur-Quan Masters. It features interviews with Fallout creator Tim Cain, former Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah, and BioShock director Ken Levine, among others. The first episode is available now.

[source, via]