Be sure to check out the fifteen-minute Extended Edition Director's Cut below!

Fishlabs was quietly showing off an alpha build of their upcoming free-to-play galactic empire game, Galaxy on Fire: Alliance at GDC 2013, and we got some time to play around with it.

If you've ever played Mob Wars or anything like that, you'll be familiar with the idea of building up a persistent force of troops and taking the fight to other players in the game. Galactic commanders have to form alliances, harvest planetary resources, build ships, and improve their character's skills to cut out their territory in the stars.

Usually, these base-building games that rely on long cooldown periods are very starkly text-based, and at best have well-created icons, but Galaxy on Fire: Alliance turns that notion on its head by implementing some exceptionally great graphics. The version of Galaxy on Fire: Alliances that we were shown was still in the very early stages, but the concept screenshots that we were shown of what's coming looked extremely promising. Even on the mechanics front, Galaxy on Fire: Alliances looks like it will be doing some unique things with coordinating attacks among other alliance members. It sounds like in-app purchases will be employed exclusively to speed up tasks, so nobody should have to worry about being steamrolled by a ridiculously massive star destroyer just because some dude was willing to pay five bucks for it.

Though I'm hesitant to apply the real-time strategy or the MMO label on this game as liberally as Fishlabs has here, Galaxy on Fire: Alliances will very clearly be raising the bar for these types of games, whatever you want to call them. Keep an eye out on this one in the third quarter of the year.