To Boldly Go
Why Stardock Loves Space Strategy
Stardock has a long history of strategy games set in space. Starting with the original Galactic Civilizations back in CEO Brad Wardell’s college days all the way to the more current Galactic Civilizations III, Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation, and Offworld Trading Company, we have continued to bring the stars to 4X fans everywhere.
But, why is outer space so alluring to our Michigan based studio? It’s a question we're asked a lot, one our devs are more than happy to answer.
“I think people like the idea of being out there in space,” said Paul Boyer, the lead designer for Galactic Civilizations III. “They just want to go out there and explore. And when you find that great world, that perfect planet that you uncover...that’s what [you would] call a ‘second of fun.’”
Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation lead designer Callum McCole says that making games set in space is “very useful for designers.” The flexibility to make units feel different to each other as well as visually intuitive is possible because while some things in science fiction are influenced by reality, there is plenty of room for creativity and application of the imagination.
While some designers enjoy the wide possibilities offered by pure sci-fi, others prefer an approach that’s more familiar to people. The CEO of Mohawk games and lead designer for Offworld Trading Company Soren Johnson got his start with games based in history (Civilization IV) and tends to stay a little closer to proven science. “I’m not really super comfortable as a designer making up this brand new fiction from whole cloth,” Johnson said. “I wanted Offworld to be - even though it’s set in the future - pretty grounded, which is why we set the game in the solar system. It’s attached to things that people know.”
“Sometimes it’s a question of ‘how can we fill a role that the game needs?’ but we also want something that’s unique and isn’t just a larger version of existing units,” said McCole. “That is the good thing about sci-fi is that you don’t always have to think about the physics or the realism. You can do what you want and what’s good for other parts of the game without having to stop and think about whether it’s realistic or not.”
All of the designers at Stardock agree on one thing, though: it’s all about what makes gameplay fun. While some level of realism is considered when determining what kind of resources are required to build something within the game - for example, needing thulium for certain types of weapons in Galactic Civilizations III - ultimately those types of design decisions are of secondary importance to the question of, “is it fun?”
Stardock has been making space strategy games for over 20 years and we're not stopping anytime soon. We continue to release DLC for our most popular space titles and we're also working on Star Control: Origins, a long anticipated continuation of the beloved Star Control series.