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Massive-scale RTS, Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation v2.1 Released

Published on Thursday, February 23, 2017 By Island Dog In Press Releases (Ashes of the Singularity)

Plymouth, MI. – February 23, 2017 - Stardock released version 2.1 for its massive-scale RTS Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation today. The update rebalances several maps and adds a single-player observer mode, an option for disabling supply lines, unranked matches, and new maps.

"In addition to making some adjustments with AI visibility and balance, we’ve added features that players have been asking for, like the single-player observer mode," said Derek Paxton, Stardock’s Vice President of Entertainment. "You can learn how the AI makes decisions by watching it battle during customized games using any settings or parameters you want."

The latest v2.1 update for Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation releases during a special Steam sale where players can save 50% off of the game from February 23 - March 2. The sale is a great opportunity for enthusiasts who have been curious about Escalation to get it for a limited low price.

Among the improvements to v2.1 include options for supply lines, a quick-match multiplayer option, rebalanced maps for multiplayer and new maps for single player.

Last week, Stardock merged the base game with the critically acclaimed expansion pack into a single title, Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation and provided all owners of the base game a free copy of Escalation.

"The growing single-player modding community and the extensive multiplayer options convinced us that we needed to combine the Ashes of the Singularity and Escalation communities together," said Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock. "After all, there can only be one singularity."

For a complete list of the updates in v2.1, please view the changelog here.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation retails on Steam or through Stardock for $39.99. From February 23 - March 2, you can purchase Escalation for 50% off. For more information about the game, please visit www.ashesgame.com.  


Screenshots:
Screenshot 1 | Screenshot 2

 

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Please contact press@stardock.com for all media inquiries.

About Stardock: Stardock is a developer and publisher of PC games and desktop software founded in 1991 by nationally recognized technology expert Brad Wardell. Located in Plymouth, Michigan, Stardock is a powerful leader in the video gaming and software development world.  Its PC games include Sins of a Solar Empire, Offworld Trading Company, Galactic Civilizations and Ashes of the Singularity.



Destiny's Embers: Part 1

Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 By Draginol In Elemental Dev Journals

ElementalPoster

Overview

Years ago, Random House asked me to write a book around the Elemental universe.  As a first time author, I was assigned an editor, Dave Stern, who soon became a good friend of mine.

Over the course of writing the book, now sold on Amazon, Dave and I would go back and forth on the story along with Random House's requests to ensure that the book was commercially successful.  I will be the first to admit that my vision of the story may not have been as commercial viable as theirs.  After all, the editorial team assigned to me was the same team managing the Game of Thrones series who, fortunately for me, had a lot of extra time to spend with me due to a Dance with Dragons being late.

The end result, however, is that what is on store shelves is dramatically different from the original story I wrote.

Thus, for the first time, I will share with you the original draft of the book with you. 

I hope you enjoy it.

Continue Reading...

DEV DIARY ESCALATION #1: The great map rebalance!

Published on Saturday, February 11, 2017 By Frogboy In Ashes Dev Journals

Greetings!

I’d like to introduce you to Callum McCole.  You’ll be hearing about him a lot in the coming months as I have asked him to take an ever great role in helping me on design elements of Ashes of the Singularity.  He runs the popular RTS YouTube channel, General’s Gentlemen.

As an RTS player of many years, I have often lamented when game developers fail to make the most use of the RTS community when it comes to design and balance that can be helpful both for the expert players as well as newcomers.  I have seen people make this wish so often that I suspect many of you will be surprised that we have fulfilled that wish.

The upcoming version 2.1 of Escalation will be the first to have the beginnings of his efforts starting with the great map rebalance.

In his own words:

 

Fixed Maps:

 

Canopus

Canopus is a 3 player map which is currently in the 1v1 map pool. It features incredibly narrow choke points with only a single path into the player's base and a small centre area with a mountain making the centre impassable. This is bad for gameplay since there’s no room for flanking or aggressive maneuvers, the game rapidly because stagnant and just about spamming defenses. The tight narrow chokepoints create problems for pathfinding and the balance is ruined by the unflankable PHC Artillery Turret.

Canopus also has a disproportionately high amount of Radioactives compared to Metal.

Changes Applied:

  • Create additional routes between each peninsula to allow for more strategic diversity and flanking routes
  • Reduced the size of the impassable terrain in the middle
  • Added a metal relay in the middle of the outer pathways

Old: New:

clip_image002

Ceres

Ceres is a great map as it is, but it suffered from not having a second set of Metal deposits near the base. Adding in additional Metal deposits makes map control more strategic, which is important for a map that is so small.

Changes Applied:

  • Added two metal deposits to one of the nearby empty relays

Old: New:

clip_image004

Deneb

Deneb is the most asymmetric map in the 1v1 map pool; while an asymetric map looks pretty and is interesting if done right, the current implementation of Deneb is imbalanced in favour of the left side due to the following issues.

  1. The left side has an additional Metal relay
  2. Southwards expansion on the right side is hindered by Turinium Generators.
  3. The Central mountain has two attack paths onto the right side, but only one for the left.

Balance aside, Deneb has a disproportionately low amount of Radioactives compared to Metal. This limits strategic diversity and generally favours PHC who are less radioactives intensive than Substrate.

Changes Applied:

  • Reworked the terrain layout in order to be more symmetrical
  • Symmetrized the resource layout to be fair and balanced for both sides
  • Replaced the side Turinium Generators with Radioactives
  • Centralised Turinium generators to make Turinium acquisition more viable

Old: New:

clip_image006

Knife Fight

Knight Fight is an extremely linear map, with only a single pathway through the centre of the map from which all points are connected. This results in little strategic diversity and no room for flanking and tactical manoeuvres. Knife Fight should have additional pathways opened up along the sides with the points being connected to allow for more tactics and attack paths. The south spawn also suffers from the first two relays being further away from the Nexus than the North spawn.

Changes Applied:

  • Equalised the travel time from starting locations to first two resource points
  • Opened up an additional pathway on the sides of the map
  • Opened up an additional pathway on the top and bottom of the map
  • Connected the resources points on the sides of the map

Old: New:

clip_image008

Monaco

Monaco only has two pathways across the map with Starting Locations situated incredibly close to each other. This makes the map easy too easy to lock down with static defenses, while the close proximity of spawns allows for Artillery Posts to directly siege the opponent's Nexus from the safety of their own. Lastly, having two “safe” Turinium generators on each side of the middle prevents Turinium from being accumulated. 

Changes Applied:

  • Moved player starting locations to map corners
  • Reshuffled some of the resource layout to replicate a more standard starting location
  • Created a wide Pathway in the centre of the map
  • Centralised all the Turinium Generators to make acquiring Turinium more viable

Old: New:

clip_image010

Regulus

Having only a single attack route onto the other half of the map means static defenses easily lock down and prevent any aggression, creating a long, slow  grind to break through the enemy defenses with no potential for flanking. This inherently favours PHC, who have access to the Artillery post. Regulus needs additional pathways across the map to allow for more maneuvering.

Changes Applied:

  • Created a pathway at the top and bottom of the map with an empty relay
  • Moved the starting locations to map corners to account for additional pathways

Old: New:

clip_image012

Ulrich

Without any central Path, players can only fight each other via the sides of the map, when combined with how Ulrich is a very large map for 1v1 given its medium size, this makes the map feel very slow. Having only two attack paths on opposite ends of the map can can result in players attacking each other on opposite sides and having their armies completely avoid this other, creating a base trade situation. This is not a very fun dynamic, players should have more opportunity to move their forces around the map and be able to better respond to attacks.

Secondly, having two easily defensible Generators on each side of the map results in Turinium rarely being generated for a player.

Changes Applied:

  • Created a pathway between the centre of the map
  • The middle now only has a single centered Turinium Generator
  • Added Metal Deposits onto one of the empty relays near the starting locations

Old: New:

clip_image014

 

Adjusted Turinium Requirements

 

The Turinium Requirements in Ashes are not only vastly inconsistent, they are also too high. Almost all games will come down to annihilation of the enemy, with Turinium levels being ignored and neglected. Turinium Generators are still actively contested due to the additional resources they provide, but Turinium as a victory condition is not providing any strategic diversity and consideration from players.

I have standardised the Turinium levels on the current and future ranked maps, lowering the Turinium requirements where it is too high and making it more consistent. I used 500/750/1000 as the basis for Tiny/Small/Medium maps, but varied it slightly depending on how difficult Turinium acquisition is on those maps.

Maps:

Players

Size

Old Turinium

New Turinium

Bis

4

Tiny

600

600

Frosthaven

2

Tiny

500

500

Knife Fight

2

Tiny

750

500

Kralon

2

Tiny

2000

500

Monaco

2

Tiny

1000

750

Proxima

4

Tiny

2000

600

Spica

3

Tiny

1500

600

Thuban

4

Tiny

750

600

Ceres

2

Tiny

750

500

Canopus

3

Small

1000

750

Cygnus

2

Small

1500

750

Deneb

2

Small

1500

750

Maurn

2

Small

1500

750

Pyn

2

Small

1500

600

Regulus

2

Small

1000

750

Turtuga

4

Small

1500

750

Vega

2

Small

2500

600

Rus

2

Small

1000

750

Pulaski

4

Medium

2000

1000

Ulrich

2

Medium

1000

750

Italia

2

Medium

1500

1000

Espana

2

Medium

2500

1000

New Ranked Map Pool

The following maps are suggested for the next ranked map pool, assuming that these maps are updated with the above adjustments. While this map pool has small and medium maps, it is mainly skewed towards tiny. Some players don’t like the faster pace of tiny maps, preferring the more forgiving pace of medium, but those players are more likely to be playing more casual team games instead of 1v1’s, so it wouldn’t make sense to tailor the map pool around those types of players. If Ashes had a map veto system, that would give more flexibility to add more maps of different types.

Map

Size

Turinium Requirements

Bis

Tiny

600

Ceres

Tiny

500

Frosthaven

Tiny

500

Knife Fight

Tiny

500

Proxima

Tiny

600

Spica

Tiny

600

Deneb

Small

750

Cygnus

Small

750

Pyn

Small

600

Rus

Small

750

Italia

Medium

1000

Espana

Medium

1000

 

You are welcome to comment on these changes. We hope to release v2.1 quite soon.

CRUSADE DIARY 2: The Civilization Builder

Published on Thursday, February 9, 2017 By Draginol In GalCiv III Dev Journals

Galactic Civilizations games have had ship building in them for almost 20 years.  And ever since, people have used it to create all kinds of amazing designs from robots to their favorite Sci-Fi ships.

image

Ship designer from Galactic Civilizations II

With Galactic Civilizations III, players were able to share their designs with millions of other players via Steam Workshop.  Suddenly, players could download and play with almost any type of ship imaginable.

As much as players loved being able to design and share their ship designs, there was one thing they kept requesting over and over: the ability to assign ship designs to a Civilization and have them use it.  This way, if they wanted to create a race of giant robots, they could.  Or if they wanted to play their favorite sci-fi race (or play against it) they could.

In Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade their wish is fulfilled!

Civilization Builder

First, video. Paul Boyer and I sat down with the Civ Builder the other day. I wanted to show off the laser space sharks and aquatic race we built. Check out this exclusive video to see what we created.

Now, let's walk through the new Civilization Builder, screen by screen. From the main menu there is a new button - Civilization Builder.

 

image

The Civ Builder exists outside the game.

 

Once inside, the player is greeted with a series of screens that lets them configure a completely new civilization.  With the Steam Workshop, you can download new logos, alien portraits, alien backgrounds, alien images, etc. 

image

Players can put together a completely new alien race using assets shared by other users.

Once you have decided what your alien civilization looks like, you can move on to what their strengths and weaknesses are.

image

The trait screen lets you assign the civilization various strengths and weaknesses. Many of these abilities give them unique gameplay features.

 

From there, you can decide what their ships will look like.

image

Ship Visual Style

There are dozens of different color combos you can play with, along with a host of different textures and materials.  You can give your ship style a gritty, beat up look or a...well, completely outrageous look.

Once you finish deciding what visual style your ships will have, you can move on to assigning ship designs to each class of ship.

 

image

Here you can assign a ship design to all of the auto-generated ships which is what the AI will use as well.

Here, you control every default ship in the game.  In the above example, I have assigned my colony ship to be a giant robot fish because...of course!

But let's say you don't like the choices we provide (and yes, we're going to include giant robot fish).  You can click a button and go onto Steam and browse the tens of thousands of ship designs that have been made by players already.

image

Fans have created virtually every kind of ship you can imagine. 

Picking a cool ship design, it is instantly in the game.  The GalCiv ship designer is essentially a giant set of blocks that you can use to create anything. For the past two years, players have been busy making lots of ships.

image

Downloaded ship design is mixed with the color and materials chosen earlier.

This is then repeated for each of the ship categories in the game. 

Next up, players will want to give their civilization some personality.

image

Personality Editor

On the Personality screen, players can decide how the AI will use this player.  They can also set up what the AI will say in various common scenarios.  If that's not enough, the player can directly access that civilization's XML file to go crazy with how they will react in different situations.

Once you are done, you can save your Civilization and even upload it to Steam (if you use other people's designs, we ask that you get their permission).  Once uploaded to Steam, other players can download the entire civilization, ships and all, in a single click and play as that civilization or play against them.

 

image

My Fish Civilization in game. They're hungry!

 

Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade will be released in Spring of 2017 on Steam and GOG.   You can follow it on Steam by going to its Steam page.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Soren Johnson's Offworld Trading Company Releases new "Blue Chip Ventures" DLC

Published on Thursday, February 9, 2017 By Island Dog In Press Releases (Offworld Trading)

Plymouth, MI. – February 9, 2017 - Stardock and Mohawk Games have released a new DLC for Offworld Trading Company containing over a dozen single-player scenarios. Designed by an avid competitor called Blues, Blue Chip Ventures invites players to test their skill against Offworld’s most difficult challenges.

"Predicting markets, sabotaging your opponents, and breaking monopolies is only the start," said Soren Johnson, lead designer for Offworld Trading Company. "There are also complex "challenges" in the DLC that require you to take what you already know and build on what you’ve learned from the other scenarios in order to beat them."

The scenarios have been designed to focus on specific key game skills and mechanics such as dealing with supply and demand, playing with others in both competitive and cooperative environments, or planning an endgame strategy all the way from start to finish.

"Blues is a top-tier player," said Johnson. “He used inspiration from the Daily Challenges to craft these interesting and strategic scenarios. Blue Chip Ventures is going to make even the most veteran players work hard for their victories.”

Blue Chip Ventures contains scenarios that utilize a few key strategies:

  • Supply & Demand: Focus on monopolizing resources and learn the right times to shift focus to keep ahead of the competition.

  • Play Well with Others: Learn both how to handle opponents and also work with others as a team.

  • Long-term Planning: Deal with debt strategies and turn around a losing game through careful planning.

Offworld Trading Company - Blue Chip Ventures DLC is currently available on Steam and through Stardock for $4.99. For more information about Offworld Trading Company, please visit www.offworldgame.com.
 

Screenshots:
Screenshot 1 | Screenshot 2 | Screenshot 3 | Screenshot 4 | Screenshot 5


# # #
 

Please contact press@stardock.com for all media inquiries.
 

About Stardock: Stardock is a developer and publisher of PC games and desktop software founded in 1991 by nationally recognized technology expert Brad Wardell. Located in Plymouth, Michigan, Stardock is a powerful leader in the video gaming and software development world.  Its PC games include Sins of a Solar Empire, the critically acclaimed Galactic Civilizations series, and Ashes of the Singularity. Stardock puts the user experience first through software that enriches the Windows experience for everyone from casual computer users to highly technical professionals. Products offered by Stardock include Start8, Start10, Fences, WindowBlinds, Multiplicity, and more.

About Mohawk Games: Founded by acclaimed game designer Soren Johnson in 2013, Mohawk Games is built on the principles of iterative design, deep gameplay, and community involvement. Mohawk’s first title, Offworld Trading Company, uses the Unity engine and is being published by Stardock.

New DLC "Blue Chip Ventures" is Now Available

Published on Thursday, February 9, 2017 By Island Dog In Offworld News

Take on new single-player challenges designed by a Top-Tier Offworld Trading Company Player
Blue Chip Ventures' difficult new scenarios will force you to play at your very best to win

Predict markets, effectively sabotage your opponents, and break monopolies in Blue Chip Ventures! This series of new single-player scenarios is designed by one of Offworld Trading Company’s top competitors - will your business come out on top, or will you be filing for bankruptcy?

Over a dozen scenarios will require you to play at your very best in order to beat difficult objectives. Specific "Challenge" scenarios will require nearly flawless execution of everything you've learned and will make even the most veteran of players work hard for their victories.

Learn valuable management skills and become a better executive by undertaking a unique scenario from one of these different categories:

  • Supply and Demand: They want it? You’ve got it. Focus on monopolizing resources and learn the right times to shift your focus to keep yourself ahead of your competition.
  • Play Well With Others: Can’t we all just get along? Focus on how best to handle your opponents - and also how to work well on a team with your allies to seal your victory.
  • Long-Term Planning: You’re in it for the long haul! Deal with debt strategies and turn around a losing game through careful planning.
  • Challenge: Playtime is over! These scenarios will force you to take all of the concepts you’ve learned and execute them flawlessly in order to win.

Blue Chip Ventures is $4.99 and is available through Steam or at Stardock
For more information on Offworld Trading Company, visit www.offworldgame.com. 
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