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Stardock Game News

Creativity and Play: A Gaming Retrospective

Published on Monday, May 20, 2019 By ScottTykoski In The Video Game Machine Dev Journals

If you've played Stardock games before, you know how much we try to encourage the modding of our titles. Making games is fun, and we do our best to open it up for players to enjoy.

There's something amazing about that first time you edit a text file, then start up a game to see the change as you play. Sure, 8-year old you would probably just change the phrase "Player 1 Start" to "Player 1 Fart"  - * guilty cough * - but it really is an eye opening moment: YOU have the power to change & create within the games you love.

The goal of The Video Game Machine is to put this power at the player's fingertips. And while we bring some fresh ideas to the table, we're certainly not the first ones to tap into the creativity of gamers.

Here are some of our favorite Games, Tools, and Accessories that allowed us to get creative!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lode Runner
Systems: C64, NES, PC

One of the first titles I ever encountered with a Level Editor, Lode Runner let you make single-room levels where collecting gold and avoiding enemies was the name of the game.

Simple and straightforward, but even with just a handful of options it was a extremely engaging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excitebike
System: NES

Nothing was better then passing the controller back and forth, making devilishly difficult Excitebike tracks for your friends to try out.

Just don't be the guy that makes a track of only Mud Puddles. Nobody likes that guy.


 

 

 

 

 

D&D Unlimited Adventures
System: PC

Unlimited Adventures was a pretty amazing toolkit - letting you make maps, quests, battle encounters, and everything that makes an RPG fun.


Wolfenstein3D - Map Editor
System: PC

Looking back, the true power of the Wolfenstein Editor was in how dirt-simple it was to use. You placed blocks down on a grid and out popped a 3D level for you to run around in. As we'll talk about later, 3D can quickly lead to control issues & frustrations.

That this tool pulled it off is impressive (even if it wasn't REAL 3D, but back then it felt real enough).




Mario Paint
System: SNES

OK, so you couldn't design games in it, but you can't talk about creativity in games without bringing up this little masterpiece. I mean, if you had a VCR with the proper setup, you could even use this game to make your own cartoons!

Also, many of the UI Themes and ideas started here would find their way into Mario Maker, so that was cool to see (for all us Mario Paint veterans).

 

Galactic Civilizations II
System: PC

Forgive me for listing a Stardock game here, but the appeal & longevity of GalCiv2's 'Ship Designer' still blows me away. To this day - nearly 13 years after it's release - players still create and show off their ships. That's the power of creativity when used as a game mechanic.



Minecraft
Systems: Anything with a Screen.

You know it. You've loved it. It's 3D Legos. It's made all the money.

Moving on…


Little Big Planet
Systems: Playstation

One of the leading forces of creativity in the newer console generations, Little Big Planet was tons of fun to build content for. The talented team at Media Molecule even has a new game - Dreams - that can make some amazing 3D creations.


Disney Infinity
Systems: Wii, XBox, Playstation

One of the first casualties of the "Toys to Life" game explosion, Disney Infinity actually seemed to do everything right - ESPECIALLY their amazing 'Toybox' mode. Here, you could use objects unlocked in the main game to build your own worlds to play in. The problem - for me, at least - was that the 3D controls made the creation process too slow & cumbersome. It would take a long time to make something, and often the finished product was too far from what you envisioned.

This is a big reason we went 2D w/ Pixel Art: quick design iteration with an interpretive visual style should alleviate some of those problems.

As a whole, however, Disney Infinity was an amazing package that my kids and I still play.



Super Mario Maker
Systems: WiiU

The current creativity juggernaut is the Super Mario Maker series. With a sequel coming out next month for the switch, it seems gamers are certainly excited to do more with their games than simply play them.



Where Does The Video Game Machine Fit In?

There have been a TON of great gaming options for unleashing your creativity over the past 25 years. This leads the the obvious question about The Video Game Machine "Where does it fit in?"

  • It's For Everyone: Ease-of-use has taken the top design spot as we've created The Video Game Machine. A long Early Access period will ensure the rough edges are all filed down so Everyone can be a Game Designer.
  • It's for Short or Long Adventures: In the above examples, almost each one limits the player to one area/scene/level. One of VGMs benifits is that you're making an ENTIRE game, meaning multiple levels. This gives the player lots of room to build a properly epic adventure.
  • It's for Players that want to Tell A Story: Dialog systems and Narration rules make it very easy for players to interject their creation with custom, world building text.
  • It's for Sharing: Right out the gates, TVGM will allow you to upload your creations to share with others, or download games made by the community to play.

So will VGM stack up against these creative classics? We certainly think so, but more importantly - what tools or games did we miss from this list?  When we talk about getting creative in a video game, what experiences comes to mind?

Let us know in the comments!

Thanks,
TeamVGM

Now Announcing: The Video Game Machine - The Game that Makes Games!

Published on Thursday, May 16, 2019 By Tatiora In The Video Game Machine News

Create your own unique video game and share it with the world in
The Video Game Machine
Join the Founder's Program today and get access to the alpha on May 29th!

Make, play, and share unique video games that you’ve made yourself! The Video Game Machine is a sandbox game that removes the tricky parts of development and leaves only the fun, putting the power of creativity in YOUR hands.

Give valuable input on mechanics and gameplay during the development process by joining our Founder's program! You'll get access to the alpha of the game on May 29th, plus all future betas and the full game upon final release. Joining the program also includes a special Founder's badge for the forums.

(A key will be issued to you via the email you purchase The Video Game Machine with on May 29th.)

 

In The Video Game Machine, you'll:

Make a Game

The possibilities are endless! Choose from a massive selection of heroes, enemies, special items, and more! In the game editor, customize your levels with unique terrain and interesting landmarks. Build worlds, place enemies, hide items, write dialogue, and set rules to personalize the gameplay details.

  Make a Game

 

Play Your Game Play Your Game   Play Your Game

Once you’ve chosen the elements of your game, it's time to play it! Have fun exploring your creation, then hop back into edit mode when inspiration strikes. By blurring the lines between making and playing, creating a game has never been easier!

 

Share with Others

Upload the games you've created and share them with the community! You’ll be able to see what other players have come up with and download the games they’ve made as well.

  Share with Others

 

Here's how you'll MAKE a game:

Choose your Characters   Choose Your Characters

Select the hero of your game from several provided options, including knights, superheroes, ninjas, cats, unicorns, vegetables, and much more! Heroes need foes to fight, so select some enemies from the editing menu, place an advancing army, and let the battle for the fate of the world begin.

 

Pick a Genre

Start with a blank slate or build from a sample game based on the genre of your choosing! You can create an exciting side-scrolling adventure, blast enemies off the screen in classic shoot 'em up, or set off on an epic adventure filled with of secrets, lore, and loot.

  Pick a Genre

 

Establish Your Rules   Establish Your Rules

Decide how your game will play by determining specific sets of rules! Choose how many levels your game will have, how enemies will behave, how the camera will follow the player, and more.

For more information, visit www.TheVGM.com

(A key will be issued to you via the email you purchase The Video Game Machine with on May 29th.)

Welcome to The Video Game Machine!

Published on Thursday, May 16, 2019 By ScottTykoski In The Video Game Machine Dev Journals

Greetings, and welcome to the official forums for The Video Game Machine - the Game that Makes Games!

If you've ever wanted to make a video game of your own, then you're in the right place. The goal of TVGM is to make the ultimate sandbox game where the making and the playing are combined into one fun, creative experience....but for that we need YOUR help, beta tester!

First and foremost, the current build of VGM is pretty early and kind of rough. If you join the alpha that starts on May 29th, you'll have access to the first two genres: platformer and adventure. As you play, we'll be looking for feedback as issues arise and things don't work as expected.

Second, The Video Game Machine is begging for all your best ideas about things to add: mechanics, heroes, enemies, rules, etc. In this regard it's the perfect game for beta testing - nowhere else will you see an design so open to new & creative suggestions.

So, with that in mind, I encourage you to dust off those old video game ideas that you dreamed up as a kid, get excited, and get creative!

We can't wait to see the awesome adventures you all make when the alpha becomes available on May 29th!

Galactic Civilizations III v3.7 Anniversary Update Available Today!

Published on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 By Tatiora In GalCiv III News

Galactic Civilizations III v3.7 Anniversary Update Focuses
Exclusively on Fan Requests
For a limited time, save 85% on the Core Edition and 70% on the Gold Edition 

For the game's 4th anniversary, we've focused exclusively on a top-to-bottom series of improvements based on fan requests! These improvements are major quality of life changes that improve the overall experience of Galactic Civilizations III.

v3.7 improves ship AI, multiplayer performance, memory use, pathfinding performance, pacing, and the empire management UI, as well as addresses a host of minor bugs. It's available now as a free download for owners of the base game. 

See the full changelog below!

GalCiv III v3.2 GalCiv III v3.2 GalCiv III v3.2
GalCiv III v3.2 GalCiv III v3.2

Don't have Galactic Civilizations III?
Save 85% off the Core Edition and 70% off the Gold Edition when you buy direct from Stardock!

Galactic Civilizations III
Core Edition 
Reg. 29.99 Sale Price: $4.49*


(Includes Crusade expansion
and Mega Events DLC FREE)

 

Galactic Civilizations III
Gold Edition
Reg. $118.86 Sale Price: $35.70*


(Includes the base game, all
expansions, and all DLC)

Buy from Steam  |  Buy from GOG

Owners, the v3.7 update is ready and waiting for you in your Steam client. 
www.galciv3.com 

3.7 Changelog

Gameplay

  • Ships are more likely to use hyperlanes (Retribution only)
  • AI handles ships more intelligently on larger galaxies in terms of evaluating their target value.
  • AI handles building up new colonies better later in the game
  • The AI no longer uses the Government as "explorers." (aka fodder)
  • Colony Capital now gives +1 raw production for every level it goes up.
  • Reduced thruster hull mass modifiers to 0.05% from 25% in both Crusade and the Base game
  • Fix some balance issues with weapons and growth improvements reported on the steam forums: https://steamcommunity.com/app/226860/discussions/4/1771511442695715977/
  • Re-Enabled the Fusion Power Plant, but nerfed it to work better as a prereq to the Quantum Power plant.
  • Fix mismatched description and value on Precursor Factory world for Morale value. Changed both to 4 from 10, make sure it is not OP.
  • Synthetic races can build the Advanced Planet Capital and Terraforming improvements.
  • Yor Manufacturing: Increased manufacturing bonus
  • Yor Manufacturing: Level one adjacency value is now a multiplier ( for consistency with subsequent upgrades).
  • Synthetics can properly colonize extreme worlds.
  • Tweaked the leader-game-intro screen and economy summary
  • Ship designs that use components removed in Retribution can now be loaded again in Retribution. The old deprecated components are simply ignored.
  • Extreme world colony mercenary ships can now actually colonize extreme worlds if Crusade is installed.  

UI

  • Fixed a typo on the Quantum Power Plant
  • Updated the game startup window to work with larger fonts
  • Show Morale on the Planet List Entry Window
  • Changed Copy, Edit, and Delete buttons on the Civilization Setup Window to be icons instead of buttons.
  • Fixed typo in warning message if you stacked multiple Commanders in a fleet.
  • Changed "Class" to "Role" label on the Fleet tool tip.
  • Changed "Type" to "Role" label in the Fleet Details window.
  • Flavor text (English only) tweaks to planet descriptions.
  • Grammar cleanup on the Korath.

Bugs

*Sale ends on 5/21/2019 at 1pm ET.

Community Newsletter #2 - 05/10/2019

Published on Friday, May 10, 2019 By SchismNavigator In Stardock Community Newsletter

Welcome to the second edition of the Stardock Community Newsletter.

 

We have a lot of exciting things to go over, ranging from new game updates and releases, to events, and more. So let's get started with what is new and coming up on the horizon.

 

Everything will wrap up with Respawn, a new section that was not in the first edition, where we get to highlight what has been going on and follow up on anything big.

 

The Horizon

 

Earth Rising Part 2: Return of the Lexites

 

We released Part 2 of the expansion to the new Star Control game on Wednesday. In it, players will finally come face to face with the very beings who inspired the formation of Star Control in the first place -- the Lexites. Earth Rising - Part 2: Return of the Lexites introduces players to the post-singularity species called the Lexites whose mysterious motives to stop Earth’s expansion into the galaxy will require all the player's efforts in order to stop them.

 

Set in the late 21st century, the player is the Captain of Earth's first interstellar starship with the mission to explore the galaxy,  find allies to help protect Earth from hostile aliens, and find the resources necessary to help Earth begin to expand to the stars.

 

The expansion pack, Earth Rising, is being released in 4 parts. It adds a host of new aliens, ships, adventures and destinations to the already rich universe introduced in Star Control: Origins. Because Star Control is a non-linear action/RPG game, the new content does not require the player to have already completed the main story arc from the base game.

 

Earth Rising is available on Steam and GOG right now.

 

Check out the trailer below!

 

 

Continue Reading...

Fantasy 4X strategy game, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes gets major update

Published on Friday, May 10, 2019 By Frogboy In Elemental News

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Stardock released a major update to its classic fantasy strategy game, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes today.  The new version incorporates many months of fixes, performance optimizations, AI enhancements, balance tweaks and a host of other improvements.

"We are really happy to finally be able to get this update out to the fan community," said Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock Entertainment. "We've been making improvements to the game for many months and been waiting until it reached a critical mass of updates to get it out there."

The game takes place on Stardock's fantasy world of Elemental.  In it, players start a kingdom from the a single leader and must contend with other civilizations who are looking to take control of the world.  Players research technology, design their own units, build cities, fight wars, go on quests, engage in diplomacy all while trying to unite the world under their rule.

Version 2.5 is available from the game's home page at www.elementalgame.com as well as on Steam and GOG.

It's available on Steam and GOG for $24.99.

Screenshots:

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Stardock Releases Earth Rising - Part 2: Return of the Lexites for Star Control: Origins

Published on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 By Tatiora In Star Control News

Stardock Releases Earth Rising - Part 2: Return of the Lexites
for Star Control: Origins

Get the Earth Rising Expansion Now
Play Part 1: Aftermath & Part 2: Return of the Lexites today!

Stardock released Part 2 of its expansion to the new Star Control game today. In it, players will finally come face to face with the very beings who inspired the formation of Star Control in the first place -- the Lexites. Earth Rising - Part 2: Return of the Lexites introduces players to the post-singularity species called the Lexites whose mysterious motives to stop Earth’s expansion into the galaxy will require all the player's efforts.

Set in the late 21st century, the player is the Captain of Earth's first interstellar starship with the mission to explore the galaxy,  find allies to help protect Earth from hostile aliens and find the resources necessary to help Earth begin to expand to the stars.


The expansion pack, Earth Rising, is being released in 4 parts. It adds a host of new aliens, ships, adventures and destinations to the already rich universe introduced in Star Control: Origins. Because Star Control is a non-linear action/RPG game, the new content does not require the player to have already completed the main story arc from the base game.

Highlights in Return of the Lexites include:

 

  • Lexites - The Post-Humans who left Earth decades ago are back!
  • New Missions - A series of missions dealing with Earth's expansion into the galaxy as well as missions involving your command crew.
  • New Ships - Battle against new, fully-armed Lexite ships. Earn rewards from quests in order to unlock and purchase ships.
  • New Weapons - Take on new challenges as you face enemies with weapons you’ve never seen before.

Get the Earth Rising Expansion Now
Check out the features and quests in Part 1: Aftermath here!

Star Control: Origins

More is on the way!
Following Return of the Lexites, two more parts will release. Purchasing the Earth Rising expansion will
give access to each part as they become available.

Part 1: Aftermath (Now Available)  |  Part 2: Return of the Lexites (Now Available)

Part 3: The Syndicate (Summer 2019)  |  Part 4: Earth Rises (Fall 2019)

 

Star Control: Origins is available for $29.99 on Steam, GOG, or www.starcontrol.com

Siege of Centauri: Beta Update 5

Published on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 By Derek Paxton In Siege of Centauri Dev Journals

*** RELEASED 05/16/2019 ***

Thank you all for your feedback. We are listening and have made some significant changes to the game based on it. Most notably we redid the entire game progression to be smoother. That requires redoing all the maps so we couldn't release new missions as they wouldn't fit in with the old system.

The big change is that we will no longer tie unlocks to score. Instead new towers and orbital abilities will be unlocked by completing missions. This offers us a few advantages.

Features

  • New Progression System- Tower/orbital unlocks are no longer tied to score. Instead they are unlocked by completing missions. Because  of this unlocked tower/orbital popups will no longer interrupt game play and we can have more score variety (it was difficult to balance people unlocking towers in time if someone got a lot less points than a another player because they were playing on a lower difficulty level).
  • Chronoshift- This replaces the pause mechanic. Pausing now puts the game into "bullet-time" or "matrix" mode where the player can slow down the action to make decisions. But this is a limited resource to keep the pressure on game play. On easier difficult levels we are generous with the time given, but on higher difficulty levels it will be tougher.
  • Outposts- Some maps have Outposts. These are buildings with no military value, but they give a big score bonus if they survive the mission. It's up to you if you want to spend resources defending them or not.
  • New Mission: Dule. A large map with multiple choke points and a defensible colony, and hard to defend outposts.
  • New Mission: Ascent. A mountain with the colony on top and winding paths going higher and higher until they reach the top.

Balance

  • There are now 9 difficulty levels.
    • Trainee- -90% Score, +60% tower damages, +100 metal,/n Infinite Chronoshift
      Beginner- -75% Score, +50% tower damage, +50 metal,/n Chronoshift depletes 75% slower
      Novice- -50% Score, +40% tower damage,/n Chronoshift depletes 50% slower
      Easy- -25% Score, +20% tower damage
      Normal- No Score Modifier, Normal hit points
      Challenging- +25% Score, +30% enemy hit points
      Hard- +50% Score, +60% enemy hit points,/n Chronoshift replenishes 50% slower
      Unyielding- +75% Score, +100% enemy hit points,/n Chronoshift replenishes 75% slower
      Nightmare- +100% Score, +150% enemy hit points,/n Chronoshift never replenishes
  • Decoy no longer lasts forever.
  • Increased the cost of drone bays.
  • Rail Gun delay between firing increased slightly.

UI

  • Minimaps give an audio and visual queue whenever a new wave starts, telling you exactly where they are coming from.
  • Buildings with hit points (metal refineries, fission reactors, etc) now show their hit points when selected.
  • Towers and orbitals now have a highlight ring if they are available.
  • UI Animates when a mission starts.
  • New splash screens images, new campaign screen image.
  • Replaced all the unit and tower selection images.
  • New/updated sfx.

Fixes

  • Fixed an issue where a tower can stick to a lower tier unit when there is a better target in range.
  • Fixed an issue where Scarabs couldn't attack.
  • Fixed an issue where Punishers smoked when undamaged instead of when they were damaged.

Siege of Centauri: Epicurus at Night

Published on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 By Derek Paxton In Siege of Centauri Dev Journals

Epicurus has already suffered an assault. The colonists set off a bomb that destroyed the invaders, and killed themselves as well.

The colony is already on fire when we arrive and won't survive any sort of assault. It's going to be a long night.

On the positive side, the colonists rigged energy cells here to explode. Just clicking on them will detonate them and damage all surrounding enemies. And we have long passes leading to the colony that offer a wide variety of places for defenses. Be careful just building around your colony though, it is already close to falling.

The invaders have failed here once. Their next assault will test us.

As if that wasn't enough, this mission features a new enemy. The Gliding Crane, an air transport that must be shot down before it reaches its destination. If you don't it will drop enemies close to your colony.

Community Newsletter #1 - 04/26/2019

Published on Friday, April 26, 2019 By SchismNavigator In Stardock Community Newsletter

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the new Stardock Community Newsletter!

Today we will be going over some of the things happening in the community including game updates and events being run, as well as sitting down to talk with a crazy active mod maker.

This edition is separated into three sections (Horizon, The Forge, Uplink) but future editions shall include an additional section with an update on topics from the previous edition.

 

The Horizon

Community news and upcoming events

Siege of Centauri Roadmap

This month we have been busy, really busy, like so busy that we think we left the stove on but there is no time to go and check so here is hoping nothing has burned down. Why so busy?

Siege of Centauri went into early access this last week!

Leading up to release we have been very fortunate to have amazing feedback from select alpha playtesters and our founders. The game would not have launched as well as it did without their invaluable input. Thank you guys and please keep sending us your feedback!

Now that the game has been out for nearly two weeks are finally getting to implement some of the initial wave of feedback from the wider group of players who have come along for the ride of early access on Steam.

Some, but certainly not all, of the updates on the horizon (callback) can be read about in a Steam news post from Brad. Personally speaking, I can not wait to see what you guys think of the new pausing mechanic, build grid system and new turrets which are coming soon.

If you are a streamer or YouTuber and are interested in Siege of Centauri get in contact either here on our forums or on our Discord server.

 

Sins Mega Mod Mashup

With so many different mods for Sins there it was only a matter of time someone would try something like this. One of the mod makers and streamers in the Sins of a Solar Empire Community is taking it upon themselves to work on a new mashup mod. This is primarily being directed by their community but it is not too late to follow and perhaps help influence the direction it takes.

The goal is to include various models and ideas from the disparate mods, with the various creators' permission, to create a unique mashup mod.

Here is the first video in the series.

 

Ashes of the Singularity 3.0 In Dev

Yes, work on 3.0 for Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation has begun. It is still a little early on and we do not have an official announcement for what will eventually be included, some of which will depend on Siege of Centauri. However, Brad himself has begun with some fixes and adjustments with the v2.79 opt-in build now available on Steam.

You can read some more about some of the changes included in this next patch here. You can provide feedback on the changes on the forums or on Discord.

 

OTC Casuals Tournament

Trattpingvin from the Offworld Trading Company community discord server has been doing some great work recently running different tournaments. The latest one is scheduled to start this Saturday (27th April) and is aimed at the more casual player.

The top prize is a Steam game worth up to €20 with three runner ups winning a Conspicuous Consumption DLC steam key each.

More details are available here.

 

_______________________________________________________

The Forge

Showcase of a single creator and/or creation

Airmaster

Every day we are amazed by the creative and passionate people who not content to merely play video games, one of life's best pursuits but change them, create with them and often finding new and inventive ways to break them.

Today we want to shout out to one of the oldest and most prolific creators in the Galactic Civilizations community.

With well over 800 items on the Steam Workshop for Galactic Civilizations III it is easy to see why Airmaster is one of the most recognizable names for people who love to load up on custom races, ships and have a blast roleplaying in GC3.

Whilst he is known for recreating popular science-fiction ships and races I am going to highlight Airmaster's original work.

The Terran Sovereignty is a custom civilization complete with some thirty-six new ships. This range from the fast and nimble Tiger II through to the torpedo titan Colossus.

Anyone with Galactic Civilizations III can explore this collection for themselves by following the link to Airmaster steam workshop here.

 

_______________________________________________________

The Uplink

Uplink is the guest portion of the newsletter where we sit down and talk with someone from the community itself. We find out who they are, what they are all about and why you should like, fav and subscribe to them on YouTube, or something like that.

#1 - Sundered Echo

For our inaugural edition, we sat down and spoke with Sundered Echo (AKA Sovereign Echo), a mod maker from the Sins of a Solar Empire community who has been creating a bit of a stir amongst many of the longest running mods. Not many people who only casually follow the modding scene might know about this guy yet but he has been doing some interesting things behind the scenes and so we thought we would sit down and ask them about it.

Listen to the full interview here.

 

Transcript (Abridged)

Schism Navigator (SN): Today I am sitting down to talk with Sundered Echo, one of the modders in our Sins of a Solar Empire community. To start with the most simple question which is going to put you immediately on the spot: Tell us about yourself.

Sundered Echo (SE): In terms of my participation in the Sins modding community I am the lead coder in the Dawn of the Reapers mod, which is focused around Mass Effect. I am also a coder on Ages of the Federation, an upcoming Star Trek mod.

SN: I remember someone say you might be involved in something else as well.

SE: We have some secret projects at Prolific Studios and sometimes I help out Sins of the Prophets the Halo mod.

SN: A little birdy told me you have been really, really active with the Sins modding community recently. Up until 6 months ago I don't think anyone had necessarily even heard of you.

SE: That is correct. I think it was around July last year that I started seriously modding Sins.

SN: That leads to our next question, what attracted you to Sins in the first place.

SE: That's going way back. I remember the original Sins in a box on a shelf. I was very young and I'm very fond of sci-fi and ships. The combination therein is the best thing ever as far as I am concerned. I remember getting it in a boxed copy and staring at it longingly but I did not get it that day the parents wallet was not opening.

SN: Obviously you've been playing Sins long before becoming a modder. Are there any other games that motivate and inspires you as a creator?

SE: I have a very long list of games on Steam, as well as some on Origin as that's the only way to get Mass Effect. Obviously I am a big fan of Mass Effect, all of them, maybe not so much Andromeda. I also enjoy at the moment Battlefleet Gothic Armada II. Once again spaceships and big capital combat.

SN: I can see a pattern.

SE: Been getting back into World of Warships, Stellaris. I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't mention Homeworld.

SN: Some degree of pride being a big Homeworld fan myself. The studio that made Homeworld Cataclysm split and Ironclad were actually one of the three studios that came from that team. So some of the people who made Homeworld Cataclysm also were the minds behind Sins of a Solar Empire. It's a small world.

SE: Indeed.

SN: So was there anything in particular that drew you into modding?

SE: Well there is actually a very particular thing. I had been watching the Dawn of the Reapers mod since the beginning of the mod. Eagerly anticipating it for a long time. I believe it was version 0.4 I downloaded and I looked at all the descriptions' and thought; wow they really need to work on this, this is not very good. And so I thought to myself "I can do this better, this can't be that hard." So I did up a massively overly fancy application, reading up on strings and modding Sins. I sent this application to Lord Set the founder of the mod and I joined at first to do nothing but strings, which is the descriptions of units and things in the game.

SN: A million tooltips basically.

SE: Yeah, but then... You're gonna get a small history lesson. We were active for a little while but then Set decided he had to focus on some real life things and disappeared somewhat. And then around about before July last year he reappeared out of the blue and I had actually just been considering quitting. He contacted me and asked if I wanted to start up again but I wanted to make sure he wouldn't disappear again. We realised we had lost a lot of the original team that included people who did code. Set hated doing code so I asked if I could do it. He pointed me towards the tools and from there it was experimentation.

SN: Was there anyone you got tips from, learning from guides or tools others had made?

SE: It's a little bit intimidating actually and I think it's gotten a little bit better over the last few months. Mostly I figured it out on my own but it was primarily because of the wonderful tools that Zombierus or Zombies-R-Us made. It was mostly looking at existing code and reverse-engineering it from there.

SN: With all that in mind. What advice would you give to other people coming into modding?

SE: I am a firm believer that experimentation is the best way to learn. We have an in-joke that if we haven't managed to break Sins we aren't pushing it hard enough. I try to dream all of the features and push it just until it breaks and then dial it back. Do not be afraid to experiment.

SN: Yes, everyone please break our game!

SE: It can be a big commitment of time and the reason I am able to work on so many mods as I am is because I don't have much else consuming my time. Definitely don't try to join several mods at once like I have!

SN: It's a lot of experience.

SE: It's quite rewarding actually. A joy to create. But you should definitely ask the veterans as much as possible. We look scary but generally we're not. And I have found especially in recent years or months people seem a lot more willing to share what they've done. Especially if you give them credit!

SN: That is something I've noticed not just with Sins. One of the things is there are the best people who are in those communities it's important to them that people cite credit. Most people are cool with others using their code or models so long as they are properly credited. Some of the biggest mods you have assets that were made many years ago still being used and reused.

SE: Another thing to remember is that new ideas might seem silly but it's important to try new things. One of the things veterans told me is I came in without the long term history of modding Sins. So I have new ideas and try to break it in new and interesting ways. Even if you think your idea is silly, go with it anyway, test it because it might work. I must say though that the support that Blair and the guys continue to provide to this game. They don't have to keep supporting us but they do and they keep adding features for modders and that's excellent I am very thankful for that.

SN: I think there is real value in that longterm support and we do take a measure of pride in that at Stardock with all of our titles. Like we even got an update with GalCiv 2 last year. Old games never really die, never truly die. So wrapping it up, where can people find you and what are you working on?

SE: The primary way to get in touch with me would be on the Dawn of the Reapers discord, the Sins of A Solar Empire discord or the Stellar Parallax discord. I generally am pretty friendly and try to answer people who come to me with questions.

SN: Hopefully a lot more questions now.

SE: Oh no, what have I done?

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