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The long-awaited sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters hits its crowdfunding target in less than four hours, and they’re not kidding about that $4.4 million stretch goal

After a long, rocky road, the sequel to Free Stars: The Ur-Quan Masters is finally taking flight. A Kickstarter campaign to support the development of Free Stars: Children of Infinity got underway earlier this week, and it’s already a major success, having tripled its $100,000 goal in just three days.

For those who haven’t been following the action, Free Stars: Children of Infinity was originally entitled Ghosts of the Precursors, but that ran into grief when Stardock filed a trademark lawsuit against the project. Stardock claimed it had acquired the rights to the Star Control series from Atari in 2013, and while Ghosts of the Precursors was positioned as a sequel to The Ur-Quan Masters, that game was in fact an open-source remake of Star Control 2, which was developed by Toys for Bob and released in 1992.

The whole thing eventually came to an amicable settlement that, among other things, granted Pistol Shrimp Games—the studio founded in 2021 by Toys for Bob co-founders Paul Reiche and Fred Ford, along with Dan Gerstein and Ken Ford—the right to make new Ur-Quan Masters games. And more than 20 years after the release of The Ur-Quan Masters, there’s still a lot of interest in more: The Children of Infinity blew past its initial goal in less than four hours.

“We really weren’t sure what to expect, but we were surprised and quite flattered to see so many people turn out with so much enthusiasm!” Gerstein told PC Gamer. “One of the best feelings as a creator is getting to actually put your work out in the world and get feedback on it. After so many years on our journey to this point, we are simply thrilled to have the opportunity to bring so much happiness to people and create something we love that we can share with the gaming community.”

The gameplay in the Children of Infinity Kickstarter video will be almost immediately familiar to fans of The Ur-Quan Masters, and Gerstein said there will be “lots of little touches, callbacks, and reminders” of that game.

But it’s not meant to be purely a nostalgia project: Fred Ford said developers “want it to be a familiar place that will beckon to the fanbase, while updating it enough to modern sensibilities to entice new players into the lore and universe.”

The core elements of that gameplay are similarly connected to the early days of the series, both in the open-ended freedom players have as they make their way across the stars—Gerstein called it “letting the player ‘Be the Captain'”—and in its “diversity of storytelling and how aliens express themselves,” a nod to the fact that some of the alien races in The Ur-Quan Masters are, to be blunt, a little goofy.

“There are weird aliens, scary aliens, and funny aliens in our fiction,” Gerstein said. “The aliens, however, always take themselves completely seriously. The player may laugh at them or be scared of them, but the aliens don’t think that: they are convinced of themselves.”

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There’s also an element of “be the captain” in Pistol Shrimp’s decision to make an Ur-Quan Masters sequel more than 30 years after the release of Star Control 2. “This was the last game where we controlled virtually the entire development (e.g. design, engineering, production, etc.),” Ford explained.

“We poured our hearts and souls into it and nobody told us we couldn’t. As our careers progressed, we were obliged to take more and more direction from our publishers, because the money required became larger and larger. We wanted to return to that unfettered position and we still had fans waiting patiently.”

The Free Stars: Children of Infinity Kickstarter has already knocked off more than a half-dozen stretch goals including “enhanced super melee,” more ships, and Mac and Linux versions, and with 28 days left in the campaign there’s plenty of room for more. The final stretch goal, a promise to make the entire thing open source after two years if the Kickstarter hits $4.4 million, seems like a distant dream and maybe not entirely serious, but Pistol Shrimp isn’t kidding.

“Open-source is a big reason for our being able to make this game,” Ford said. “The open-source version of The Ur-Quan Masters, which has been active for over two decades has spawned community mods and kept the lights on for this sequel.

“Releasing everything would be a nice bookend and allow fans to contribute their own ideas. It also happens to be our continuing livelihood and getting to this point has been long and hard; so putting a price on that seems only right.”

It might be a long shot, but with $300,000 raised over three days, anything seems possible, and The Ur-Quan Masters clearly has enduring appeal. The Free Stars: Children of Infinity Kickstarter campaign runs until May 17—Pistol Shrimp hopes to have the game out sometime in 2025.

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