Account Cart Search

Stardock Game News

GALCIV DEV JOURNAL: January 2018

Published on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals

Happy new year!

This month marks my one-year anniversary of returning to my beloved Galactic Civilizations as its lead designer.  And since then, we've made a lot of changes much to the joy and angst of many galactic conquerors.

Unintended Consequences

With the announcement of the third expansion pack to Galactic Civilizations III imminent, this serves as a good time to look at where we stand today.

For the past year, I've been going through and weeding out improvements, events and other game modifiers that had unintended consequences.   

The very first thing I did was read all the forum posts on GalCiv3.com, Steam, Reddit, elsewhere and see a lot of criticism for what amounts to unintended consequences of multiplying bonuses.  Getting rid of these has been good for the game but not all players appreciate the changes since it dramatically nerfs their gameplay.

For example, with the right combination, you could get ships with a base speed of over 40 moves per turn.  That's without adding an engine.  There are players who have posted complaints at how slow things get when they try to move their 90 move per turn ship around late game on a ludicrous sized galaxy.

The game itself was designed (and thus the underlying engine) on the premise that you wouldn't get many ships with more than say 10 moves per turn.   

While the AI could be scripted to do the same thing, it would destroy the game.  If you think it's slow for you to move a ship 90 moves per turn, imagine 60 AI players doing it with 400 ships per turn.  Even with a multicore Astar path finding algorithm, it would make the game both unplayable and not fun (what's the point of even having defenses or a forward line if ships can swoop in from sectors away every turn?).

So there's been a lot of work to get things balanced together.  It's not a matter of trying to change the game around as much as making the game play as had been originally intended.  As a math nerd, when I came in and saw the numbers it was just a matter of time to find all these unintended bonuses and kill them off.

Version 2.8: Invasions & Accessibility

One of our Fall tasks was to do more focus testing on why people don't find GalCiv III that approachable.  From watching new players, one thing was incredibly obvious.  The DESIGNER button at the top of the screen of the main screen was killing us.

Think about it.  You're new to the game and you are just clicking on buttons and you click on the Designer button and you get a super complex screen.  It's poison to new players.

The thing is, we don't really need that button.  For one thing, players can design ships from the main menu now.  Secondly, the ship designer, while super cool, isn't one of the features you need to use to manage your empire.  It belongs as part of the shipyard.

The second big task we worked on for 2.8 was the AI managing legions.  The concept of having to train legions and then put them on transports was relatively new as of 2.5.  And while the GalCiv III AI is somewhat genetic in how it works, I still have to make the "tests" that it has to pass to determine whether it's on the right track. 

Unfortunately, I was quickly schooled by other GalCiv players in not being very good at keeping a healthy supply of legions and transports ready to deal with opportunities.  And my own weaker assumptions got passed on to the AI.  Version 2.8 addresses this. Hard.

The rest of the AI changes were small but add up to a big difference.  For instance, previously, the AI had a one-size fits all fleet size.  While good enough for most players, our better players found themselves able to actually out compete the AI even on harder levels.  Thus, the AI gained the ability to evaluate different sized fleets based on a number of galactic conditions (instead of a fixed size).

Cleaning

Most of my work was on Crusade.  We brought over features from Crusade to the base game but we didn't bring what is arguably the more important aspect of it - cleaning and streamlining.

Put  your new player hat on and load up the base game.  You have tons of technologies to choose from with lots of improvements, weapons and modules that really just are hard to grasp onto.  Thus, we streamlined the base game for 2.8 so that there are fewer techs available at the start and what they provide is more obvious and more beneficial.

Population Growth

Population growth is tricky.  On the one hand, you want it to be realistic but on the other, you don't really want it to be realistic because realism can be pretty boring.

So we have population growth default to 0.1 population growth per turn.  Many good players recognized that if you loaded up transports with tiny populations to colonize you could get huge benefits by fast expanding.  And a big part of our work has been to support tall empires and not give fast expansion too big of a benefit.

For 2.8, we made the minimum population you can have on a colony ship be 1.  This makes colonizing a planet somewhat more serious than previous and allows us to avoid having to do a % population growth (do the math, there's no happy ending with a flat % growth -- boring or broken).

Diplomacy

We are in the process of adding some new diplomatic modifiers.  One of which is "We have a long, happy friendship" which essentially helps reward players who have been keeping the peace a long time from suddenly having players going to conquer them.  We already have various hidden mitigating factors for this but we haven't had anything a player could visibly see.

As always...

Anything you can do to spread the word on Galactic Civilizations helps.  Sales determine how many engineers we can put on the game.

When GalCiv III first came out, it was at a supreme disadvantage because it was on a brand-new engine.  But now, as we enter 2018, it's multi-core, 64 bit engine is looking pretty awesome as the rapid progress should, I hope, make apparent.  You'll be happy to know that the Spectre and Meltdown fixes you may have heard of will affect GalCiv III very little because we don't rely on single CPU core performance.  

Those of you who have moved to 4K probably have noticed just how future-proof GalCiv III is.   As time goes on, the game gets richer, deeper and more polished and with your help, we can ensure it is the ultimate 4X space strategy game.

 

GalCiv DEV Journal: You're in for an AI treat

Published on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 By Draginol In GalCiv III Dev Journals

image

Just in time for Christmas we released version 2.71 which is almost strictly about AI tweaks based on player feedback and saved games.  Now, someone might ask "Why do you need save games to make the AI do [obvious thing]?".  The answer is that with so many different ways of playing the game (both in terms of game setup and in-game strategies) it turns out people play the game very differently from one another.  It's one of the reasons why you have most people who think the AI is really good and some people who think the AI is a total push-over.  It's not that the latter group are cheating or even exploiting, they have simply discovered a strategy that is unbeatable.

But as much as version 2.71 improves the AI, I'd like to give you a sneak preview of 2.8...

Continue Reading...

ASHES DEV JOURNAL: December 2017

Published on Friday, December 15, 2017 By GeneralsGentlemen In Ashes Dev Journals



Hey guys! This week we launched the opt-in for the 2.65 update which when released, will wrap us up for the year.

Today I'm teasing some more info about the upcoming DLC and I'd like to send out best wishes to everyone for the holiday season!

**Upcoming DLC**
 

Part of the upcoming DLC will include a number of Scenarios and Skirmish/Multiplayer maps which I've been working on for the last two months. Many of the maps are in response to types that we currently lack such as symmetrical team-oriented 5v5/6v6/7v7. Here's Caldera, a Large 6v6 map!

Continue Reading...

Long-Time Microsoft Veteran Kevin Unangst joins Stardock's Executive Team

Published on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 By Island Dog In Stardock Dev Journals

Stardock Welcomes Kevin Unangst as Vice President
of Global Marketing and Strategic Partnerships

Kevin Unangst is a nearly 30-year veteran of Microsoft where he has helped lead Microsoft's product marketing and partnership efforts for Windows (including Windows 95, Windows XP, and Windows 10)  as well as Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s games portfolio - from Halo 4 to Kinect.  Most recently, he led the product marketing and partner marketing for gaming on Windows 10, including DirectX 12.

Naturally, the question arises, what would draw Mr. Unangst away from Microsoft to Stardock?  While Stardock is known for being very innovative (including many firsts:  ZIP folders, OS/2 Warp 4 desktop design, first 32-bit commercial game, first commercial multithreaded game, first digital distribution platform, and the first DirectX 12 game) the company seems an unusual choice for someone who, with his experience, could have made a very different move.

Kevin's answer to that question is as simple as it is complex.

"I’ve been a customer of, and partner with, Stardock for many years.  Stardock has regularly been ahead of the curve at various transition points in our industry.  Most famously, Stardock was way out in front on digital distribution platforms with Impulse®.  Time and time again, Stardock has led the way in technologies we take for granted today but they’ve generally not been able to take full advantage of that lead.  My experience in building partnerships and creating product awareness will help transform Stardock into the industry leader their technological vision makes possible."

The entire Stardock crew is excited to have him join us - and so is our resident "Stardog," Arrow. Welcome, Kevin! 

ASHES DEV JOURNAL: November 2017

Published on Monday, November 27, 2017 By GeneralsGentlemen In Ashes Dev Journals

vt63DkU.jpg (1920×406)

Hey guys! November was a busy month for us at Stardock due to our launch of the Star Control Origins beta. 

A couple of things to talk about today including an announcement!

##2.65 Update##
The next update we're working on is mainly focused on bug fixes, some introduced in 2.6 and some that have been around for a while but weren't prioritized because they were low impact. You can expect 2.65 to be out sometime before Christmas. 2.65 won't be as big or as interesting as our past updates, which is why it's not referred to as 2.7. That's because of:

##Major DLC/Minor Expansion##
We're working on a Major DLC/Minor Expansion that is currently scheduled for the first half of 2018. We're not yet ready to reveal much info about this, but what I will say is that air transports are planned as the main feature. We've already got some cool content lined up which I'm excited to launch! 

##From Classic RTS to Living Worlds##
This isn't directly related to Ashes, but this is an amazing video featuring insights into Stardock's vision for the future of strategy games. Maybe some of this vision will make it into an Ashes sequel? 

So that's it for now! Thanks again to everyone passionate about Ashes and active in our community.

239 pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next