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Fire and RTS gaming: September 2016

Published on Monday, September 26, 2016 By Draginol In Ashes Dev Journals

MS8_DESKTOP

Engineers are terrible at marketing.  We really are. 

If you’re playing Ashes of the Singularity, you may have noticed we updated the game last week. A minor update with some major changes.  Under the covers, Nitrous got a pretty big boost.  But because it doesn’t add features, it didn’t get a lot of attention.  But performance wise, it was the result of months of optimization.

Making the largest scale RTS of all time is a big challenge in 2016.  My friend, Chris Taylor, arguably still holds the record with Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance.  Our friends at Uber did something pretty neat with Planetary Annihilation but they had a few things working against them not the least being timing: The audience was on the cusp of changing from single core GPU engines to multi-core.  I would argue that Ashes is just barely at the right time because its hardware requirements have meant that only the very top end PC hardware enthusiasts who just so happen to like RTS games are going to buy Ashes of the Singularity.

The most obvious challenge in the past few years has been the dramatic diminishment of budget.  Supreme Commander 1 had a budget of around $20 million or so.  It’s hard to even fathom that kind of budget today.  2007 was a different world.  THQ could get Supreme Commander onto store shelves and most stores had fewer than 40 SCUs (40 different games).

Do you remember?

Do you remember when you had only a couple dozen choices for buying a game?  That was the world of PC gaming back in 2007.  And so PC games had much larger budgets than we have today.

By contrast, today, a new game has to compete with everything that has come before.  Why should you buy Ashes of the Singularity when you can buy Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance for $14.99? A fully realized game.  Sure, it was released in 2007 but it holds up well.  

Today, we work on smaller budgets.  Much, much smaller budgets.  But what we lack in budget we can make up with perseverance. At least, theoretically.  If people don’t buy the game, for whatever reason, we’d have to assign those developers and artists to a different game (if you haven’t reviewed Ashes please feel free to do so.  But we have the advantage of both professional developers and artists on hand and a state or the art engine and a passion to work on the game.

When I see someone say “You shouldn’t buy this, go play Supreme Commander: FA” I groan a little since, as anyone reading this knows, there will never be another Supreme Commander game. Ever. Whereas, every cent we get we put back into Ashes.  We didn’t have $20 million, we had less than $3 million. And with that, we’ve made something pretty amazing. 

Escalation

So the first expansion pack is due for Ashes.  If I had a time machine, I’d do it as a DLC since people seem to be confused about stand-alone expansions nowadays.  But for us, it’s just an expansion pack to Ashes that we are integrating with the base game for simplicity (i.e. buy X and get the best thing we have).  It’s a pretty big undertaking but we think it will help make Ashes the modern RTS to beat.  It’s just so…good.  We’ll be doing videos soon.

Rambling

Sorry to ramble.  Just a busy Monday night over here in Plymouth Michigan.  Tomorrow, I fly over to Towson Maryland to check out how things are going with Star Control

Available Now - Become a God in the 4X Fantasy Strategy Game, Sorcerer King: Rivals

Published on Thursday, September 22, 2016 By Island Dog In Sorcerer King News

 Ascend to Godhood in Sorcerer King: Rivals!
From the makers of Galactic Civilizations comes a new fantasy 4X game!

 The land has already been conquered. The malevolent Sorcerer King now seeks to become a god.
Little does he know, however, that you can ascend as well thanks to the powerful Forge of the Overlord
that only you possess.

Explore the lands and their wonders, expand with new cities and outposts, exploit the resources and
treasures you find and exterminate all those who oppose you!

 

Play Sorcerer King: Rivals
Today -
$29.99
  Sorcerer King Owners
Upgrade -
$14.99
 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Achieve victory through Ascension 
Consume the shards before the Sorcerer King gets them first. Rival his power while fending off the other factions rising against you and cast the spell of Ascension to destroy the world and become a God.
 
 
  Face Down Powerful new Demigods
The Sorcerer King now has more legions prepared to guard his lair. Face down against terrifying demigods like the Shadow Dragon Nabunihr, test your might against the Crystaline Serpent Abeix, or train your bows on the great bird, Corvos, Bringer of Storms.
 
Explore new Factions and Champions
Turn the land into frozen mountainsides, build cities on the snowy plains, and enhance your warriors as Bazaal the Dwarven King, Sovereign of the Frozen Realm faction! Or, raise armies of undead and spread enchanted lands across the world with Valemor, Sovereign of the Endless Night faction. Conquer enemies and quests with new champions and their unique powers and abilities.
 
 
    Craft Unique Items and Potions
Gather ingredients and recipes to craft unique weapons and armor for your army! Experience brand new adventure by embarking on never-before-seen quest lines while you enjoy the witty writing and light humor in the face of the world's destruction.
 
Share your Quests and Maps on Steam Workshop
Become the author of your own adventures with the user-friendly quest editor! Write the quest text, craft your decisions, and decide on the rewards. Tightly integrated Steam Workshop support lets you easily share your creations with the rest of the world!
 

 

 

Play Sorcerer King: Rivals
Today -
$29.99
  Sorcerer King Owners
Special Upgrade -
$14.99
 

www.SorcererKing.com

Sorcerer King: Rivals release day!

Published on Thursday, September 22, 2016 By Draginol In Sorcerer King Dev Journals

Greetings!

Many years ago I wrote Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 in my dorm room in college. Some of you reading this may have even played it a long long time ago.

Following its success, I always wanted to make a fantasy strategy game. Our first try at it was somewhat of a disaster. We made this amazing, custom, fantasy 4X engine but we couldn't quite get the game right.  That game, of course, was Elemental: War of Magic.  I was so disappointed in it that we gave its sequel and expansion out to our fans for free.

Today, we're releasing a new fantasy 4X.  While it takes place in the world of Elemental, it has a different premise.  In Sorcerer King: Rivals, you can, in addition to the usual explore, expand, exploit and exterminate mechanics, ascend to godhood bit by bit.

When you play the game, if it feels like a mixture of Master of Magic and Populous, that's not a coincidence.  Those are two of my favorite games and I really wanted to capture that spirit as much as I could here with the time we had.  We've also included a bunch of modding tools so that you could, literally, recreate some of your fantasy RPGs.  So while Rivals is a strategy game, the engine supports making RPGs.

I’ve made a gameplay video of me playing it (badly): https://youtu.be/KT7PBDaZrhw

The home page is www.sorcererking.com and you can also get it on Steam and GOG. 

Go to: http://store.steampowered.com/app/496730/ to download.

I will be doing a marathon stream of it today on https://www.twitch.tv/stardock. Come hang out. We can talk about anything from PC gaming to OS/2. It's all good.

I also started a Dev diarty on modding if you're interested: http://forums.sorcererking.com/479737/page/1/

You can always reach me directly on Twitter @draginol

And here are some screenshots of it in action:

SKRivals_KeyartFinal_nologoskrivals_logoSK-Rivals-CraftingSK-Rivals-setupSK_Rivals-4XForeverSK_Rivals-alwaysnewSK_Rivals-deadlySK_Rivals-demigodsSK-custombattleSK-ReviewBanner

 

 --

 

Modding Diary #1: Sorcerer King: Rivals Quests

Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 By Draginol In Sorcerer King Dev Journals

 

Overview

Since there’s a lot of material to go over, I’ll try to be as succinct as possible.

For Diary #1 we will cover:

  • Directory Structure
  • Quick Links
  • How to cheat
  • Sample Quest: Editing existing
  • Sample Quest: Creating new one
  • Debugging your quest
  • Sharing your Quests

 

Directory Structure

For our purposes, I am going to refer to this directory:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Sorcerer King – Rivals (or its equivalent on your PC) as the GAME directory.

and

C:\Users\Draginol\Documents\My Games\SorcererKingRivals as the USER directory.

 

  • The Quest editor is in GAME
  • All the graphics are kept in GAME\Gfx
  • All the maps are in GAME\data\Maps
  • All the really cool stuff to mess with are in GAME\data\English
  • Quests are stored in GAME\data\English\Core Quests
  • The stuff you create will be in the corresponding sub-directory of USER.

Quick Links

Master Quest Editor manual: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13rh_IQeVEk1o0LM46QW-2OH_71-MAJd9Hq10TUhZIJY/edit?usp=sharing

Technical Quest Editor Docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vi_is5ArrtgTm-JGTBP37CcAdqNdsqFArMnxrFoKlgE/edit?usp=sharing

Minor Faction Quest Docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Iz6crsohppUaRZJGjyw9wi_NMLDplnavCJ8aXT7wd2I/edit?usp=sharing

Dungeon Master stuff: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EDVOytcyPkCqJohKMCxI6wifaAjgfd-6XYGbUiCo1lw/edit?usp=sharing

Dungeon Master Docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19DU-I6x_IT-mzQIYJgX7715Ygsapaq0QNOzryrEZK_0/edit?usp=sharing

Rivals Tech Docs: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sp3T17GtTAxbNxvOrGgy_yDc_GIPO1fHmkMHiF8Ub1Q/edit?usp=sharing

 

How to cheat

From team. Go to Library > Sorcerer King:Rivals and right click. Choose Properties > General > Launch Options.

You'll see "These options are for Advanced Users only." (LIKE US!)

Enter "-cheat"

These are commands I find useful for finding and triggering quests:

CTL + U reveal entire map

CTL + T teleport selected unit to wherever cursor is.

CTL + M should give you 1000 mana

CTL + E should unlock all spells

CTL + C should copy any unit

Sample Quest: Looking at an existing one

Load up the Quest Editor:

image

Loaded

To see what a finished quest looks like do this:

File->Open Quest

go to the GAME\data\english\Core Quests directory and load up one of the quests in there.

 

image

A loaded quest

Click on the Edit Quest Options button and you will see this:

image

Here are the key things to understand:

  1. You don’t need to enter a description
  2. You should fill in the author info though if you plan to share it.
  3. Give it a unique name (like, put your name as part of the internal name)
  4. Trigger Type of QuestLocation means it’s an actual place on the map and not, say, a random event
  5. Trigger Origin of EventLocation means that whatever is going to happen, it’s going to happen there.
  6. Quest Class of of MInor means finishing this quest doesn’t end the game. Thus if you were making an RPG, you’d have one or more of your quests be a major quest to finish the game.
  7. Is Starting Point checked means that it can be placed near your starting location.
  8. Spawn Rating of 1 means it’s relatively easy.
  9. Pref Quest Location refers to the tile design being used. We recommend you use what’s there as it is some work to create new ones.
  10. Conversation Music refers to the MP3 or WAV file that is going to be played.

 

Now, go back to Objective #0.

Objectives are the state machine of a quest.  So in the example here, I can kidnap someone (which isn’t very nice) or help them.

IF I kidnap them THEN I get a Popup where we have our snarky text AND we provide some rewards (pressing the Reward button shows what those rewards are)

image

The rewards dialog

So in this case, I get 3 things:

  1. The guy I kidnapped
  2. A resource: DoomsdayCounter of 5 (which means we’re giving the SK 5 ascension points)
  3. A resource: _Intimidating of 1 which the Dungeon Master uses to reward/punish players later in the game.

If you want to know where we have resources you can go to: GAME\data\English\CoreResources.xml

If you want to add more, you don’t have to put them in this file.  As long as they are in a file with <ResourceTypes> at the start and end.  

Getting back to the quest at hand. If you choose Help them out then the game will Goto Objective 1 AND launch a battle AND pop up a dialog with snarky dialog.

Objective 1 looks at the victory conditions. If you win then you go to objective 2 which ends the quest.

If you click on the Battle button you get this:

image

You can name your battle whatever you want.  It’s basically a variable that more complex quests can refer to later on in the game (“Hey, you won battle AV14 back 35 turns ago!”)

image

If you click on a unit you can see the type of unit is it. 

To see all the units in the game you can open GAME\dat\English\CoreUnits.xml  We also have an Excel spreadsheet SK Editor in the GAME directory that has lots of tabs that present these.

Mind you, you can create your own units. They don’t have to be in this particular file.

Similarly, there is a CoreItems.xml and a CoreWeapons.xml and so on.  You can explore these files and get pretty creative on what happens during a quest.  But for today, we’ll keep it simple.

 

Sample Quest: A new quest

This time, I’m going to create a new quest.

 

Quest Options

  1. Name your file (give it a unique name so some other modder’s quest doesn’t overwrite it. I’m going to call mine DraginolSample
  2. Name your quest (in my example, a disgusting hut)
  3. Click on Edit Quest Options.
  4. Enter your name as the author
  5. Give it a unique internal name. (like Draginol_SampleQuest_09212016)
  6. Give it an image. It’ll look for any file in the gfx directory (either in GAME or USER). I’ll use QuestPainting_Inn.png for my sample.
  7. Trigger Type: Add QuestLocation for this exmaple
  8. Trigger Origin: EventLocation
  9. SpawnRating (1=easy 4=hard) I’ll do 1.
  10. What about your preferred quest location? You can open up the GAME\data\English\CoreQuestLocations.xml file to get a list of them. I’ll use QuestLoc_Hut

This is what I have so far:

image

 

First Objective

Click the Add Objective button. Then click on the objective.

image

  1. Write some text for the opening dialog.
  2. Click Add Choice Option. If you tell it to goto Objective –1 that means the quest is over.
  3. Click and add a second choice option.  Click on the goto Objective and you can go to a tab to specify the text for the new objective (and it’ll automatically create the objective target).

Second objective

  1. Enter in the text the player will see from choosing this choice.
  2. Click Reward.
  3. Click Add Treasure.
  4. Choose Give Item
  5. Choose an item to give him (I opened up CoreItems.xml in notepad and searched for scroll and found Scroll_BoostHP
  6. Choose amount 1 (1 scroll).
  7. Click update treasure
  8. Click Save.
  9. Then go to file->save

That’s it.

Now it’s time to test it.

Testing your Quest

This is a very important part before sharing your creation with others.  Once you get into making quests it gets much easier. But the first time does require a little effort:

  1. Load up Sorcerer King: Rivals
  2. Go to the Workshop icon in the bottom left
  3. Load up the map editor
  4. Hit the Create button
  5. Find where it placed your starting location (the S on the map)
  6. Click on the little arrow next to the red shard button on the left. Click on the quests button.  You should get a list.  When I test, I often will move the Core Quests directory out of the GAME directory entirely just to make it easier for me to find the one I did.
  7. Select your quest and then RIGHT click near your starting location.
  8. Save your map
  9. Close Sorcerer King: Rivals (so that it will reload all the data)
  10. Load the game, start a new game and choose the map you just made.

 

image

Finding your starting location

image

Placing my quest near my starting location.

image

My question in action

 

If for some reason the game doesn’t place you where you thought, use those cheat keys.  Ctrl-u unhides and Ctrl-t can teleport your unit to the location.

 

Uploading your Quest

Now you’re ready to share your quest.

  1. Go to the Workshop again (little icon in the bottom left).
  2. ChooCse upload quest
  3. Choose upload quest

And you’re done.

We do recommend you edit the description and such on Steam.

image

My Quest on Steam

Have fun!

Elemental: Rivals of the Sorcerer King–a walkthrough

Published on Friday, September 16, 2016 By Draginol In Elemental Dev Journals

Author’s note

Some years ago Stardock developed a game called Elemental: War of Magic.  We loved it.  Unfortunately, it was a bridge too far.  Too ambitious and it largely collapsed under its own tech.  The name Elemental was tarnished and we moved away from using it.

The original plan was to have:

Elemental: War of Magic (2010)

Elemental: Fallen Enchantress (2012)

Elemental: Legendary Heroes (2014)

Elemental: Sorcerer King (2016)

Ah the best laid plans.

So here we are in 2016 and are about to release Sorcerer King: Rivals.  Last year we did release Sorcerer King but, as many noticed, it was 75% RPG and 25% 4X.  Rivals, by contrast, is a more even split.  More 4X. 

If I had to explain it super simply I’d say it’s Master of Magic meets Populous.

www.sorcererking.com/rivals

And so it begins…

Once upon a time…

During the War of Magic, one of the major powers was known as Gilden. In this land dwelt the Ironeers. They were the descendants of the Dwarves who had migrated south from the Frozen Realm during the elder years before the Cataclysm.  In the aftermath of the War of Magic, Gilden was destroyed by Mirdoth the Sorcerer.

Now, in 464AC, the Frozen Realm has established a small Keep…

 

Part 1: New Lands

Of Giott and his expedition

Bazzal, the Lord Hammer of the Frozen Realm is a channeler. Having discovered the ruins of Ipel, found the Forge of the Overlord intact.  While not knowing how to use it, he bound himself to it with the hope of being able to master its great power.

To explore these strange new lands, he sent out Giott, his most trustworthy servant, to see what there is to see.

image

The goal was to find shards. Through the Forge of the Overlord, Bazzal could channel the magic of this land to ascend to godhood and rid the world of evil once and for all.  Giott quickly found a second shard near their fledgling keep.

However, the shard was already claimed by Krik, a wannabe Warlord in the south.  He would need to be removed first which would require more soldiers.

image

The Frozen Keep had access to a single essence in these early days. This would allow the casting of a single city enchantment

image

Enchanted Hammers was a natural for the dwarves and would increase the city’s productivity.

The Loremaster of the Frozen Realm urged Bazzal to learn the Tuelage spell.

image

The shards granted Bazzal magic power that he could split between Lore, Skill, and Mana. Lore went to learning new spells.

Discovery by the Sorcerer King

The Sorcerer King sensed Bazzal was a channeler.

image

The proud Bazzal had no intention of allowing the Sorcerer King to tap his power.  For now, the Sorcerer King, preoccupied, was willing to leave the Frozen Realm alone.  This would not remain the case for much longer.

Exploration

image

Giott found an abandoned village. Its fertile fields left unharvested. These lands were much warmer than what the Dwarves were accustomed to. Unlike the other creatures of these lands, the Dwarves could farm on tundra and ice itself if necessary as well.

Carefully, Giott approached the abandoned village.

image

Ice Walkers!

The swampy village has been attacked by Ice walkers! These dread beings must have followed the Frozen Realm south!

Giott was more concerned if that meant the dreaded Ice Lords had come south as well. Their ancient enemy was powerful and relentless.

With the Ice Walkers destroyed, Giott looked through the ruins of the city and found numerous abandoned items. Bazzal now had enough to craft via the Forge of the Overlord.

image

A Humble start: crafting gloves.

Reinforcements

Dril the Axeman joined the company shortly after the encounter with the Ice Walkers.

image

Dril would join the company and together, remove the ruffians guarding the southern shard.

image

Krik was backed up by a magic wielding Ogre!

image

Who immediately casts gigantify on himself.

Remember: NOBODY like a giant ogre.

Soon all were dead other than the giant ogre.

image

Calling for some help from Bazzal, an obstruction was placed in front of the ogre. Its giant size would work against him.

image

Protected from the giant, Giott could use his crossbow to inflict damage on the giant.

image

Giott’s spider’s belch made sure that the Ogre would have to wade through poison to get around the obstacles. Nevertheless, he was able to confront the mighty dwarf. Luckily, the poison was enough to overcome the giant. Unfortunately, the rest of Giott’s party was killed in the confrontation.

The defeat of the bandit lord would allow the Frozen Realm to claim a second shard.  In doing so, Bazzal’s skills increased and he was able to acquire a new skill.

image

Bazzal could now train Dwarven Magi.

image

Similarly, Giott himself gained a new trait.

Legend of Gorm

Gorm was trained as an explorer.  He was stealthy (for a dwarf) and could be sent off to get the lay of these strange lands.

image

Gorm would explore the new lands

image

He soon encountered Ceresa’s Legacy

From point of view of the Wraiths, Relias was the villain in Fallen Enchantress. And they tell a persuasive tale that indeed, Ceresa, the Fallen Enchantress, was the true hero of the story.

image

Ceresa’s lands spread chaos.

In time, Gorm would establish contact with others including the Keepers of the Flame and the Imperium.

 

image

The Dwarves are not above making dick jokes.

Tandis the Arnor

At first, we thought he was a man.  But he was no man.  He was something beyond that.  He simply took the form of a man.  He called himself Tandis and he offered to join our cause.

“I have approached the others and they are warring upon one another while the Sorcerer King smiles,” he said.

He looked at the Forge of the Overlord.

“Beware of the Forge, for it is the source of all grief on Elemental,” he warned. “Created by the trio of Hallas, Argynn and Breon through the Spell of Making, the Forge of the Overlord is what first caught the attention of the Titans.  Now, you must use it to become a Titan yourself.  Only through you can Mirdoth be thrown down and the lands freed.”

image

With Tandis came new recipes for the Forge

 

The Sorcerer King soon confronted the Frozen Realm about Tandis.  For he knew what he truly was and the threat he represented.  But the Dwarves would not give him up.  It was at this moment that the Sorcerer King first began to perceive the threat of the Frozen Realm. 

Tandis himself journeyed into the wilds for a time, alone, to seek out the location of other shards.

 

Part 2: Allies & Enemies

The Spring brought new hope to the Frozen Realm.  Ceresa’s Legacy had allied with them in their cause to bring down the Sorcerer King.  Their powerful forces would be a boon in the war to come. 

Meanwhile, the Sorcerer King was still unaware of the growing threat.  However, he had made a great deal of progress towards his own ascension.

 

image

The Ice Lords

The Spring also resulted with Gorm finding the Ice Lords. They had arrived. Fortunately, they were very far away. But now, they would be seeking the Frozen Realm out actively to destroy. 

Dwarves are not known for their charisma.  However, they were getting along better with the other races better than they were with each other.  Each day, battles between the various races were fought out in plain sight.  They were being manipulated by the Sorcerer King to battle against each other.

Ascension

image

Through the Forge of the Overlord, the Spell of Ascendancy is available.  With enough magic, it can be cast which begins to fill the Orb of Power (aka Curgen’s Bane) with Bazzal’s essence, wresting control of it from the Sorcerer kIng.

However, in doing so, the Dwarves would be noticed by the Sorcerer King immediately. Thus, Bazzal waited until he was well prepared for the consequences.

 

image

The Sorcerer King knows the threat

 

End Game

What would happen next I leave to you. Smile

Sorcerer King: Rivals vs the original Sorcerer King

Published on Thursday, September 15, 2016 By Frogboy In Sorcerer King Dev Journals

Once upon a time…

In the Summer of 2015, Stardock released a 4X-RPG hybrid called Sorcerer King.  The premise of the game was that after the events of Fallen Enchantress (or choose any fantasy 4X really) the bad guy (in this case, the Sorcerer King) had conquered the world.  The good guys had lost.

Not content with ruling the world, the Sorcerer King had begun to use a mysterious artifact known as the Bane of Curgen (an orb) to destroy the shards of Elemental to ascend to godhood.

Your role in Sorcerer King was to stop him.  To do that, you would raise and army, gather allies and confront the Sorcerer King in his fortress.

And this was super fun…for the first few times.

However, there are only so many times it’s fun to go kill fizban in his castle and Sorcerer King thus had limited replaybility.

Rivals: Your Turn

Over the past year, we gave some thought as to what would increase replayability without losing what makes Sorcerer King unique amongst 4X strategy games.  We hit upon the idea that the player should have the ability to become a god too.  In this way, we not only got to eliminate the Doomsday counter but instead gave the game more strategic depth without sacrificing the things that made Sorcerer King so special.

Below are a few key things that make Sorcerer King: Rivals different from Sorcerer King.

 

A New UI:

image

The first thing players will notice is that there’s a new UI.  We tried hard to not have to change it but ultimately, we realized that to do what we wanted to do, we had to redo the user interface.  For example, we want to support an unlimited number of world resources rather than the fixed number we had in Sorcerer King.  Similarly, since the object of the game now is to charge up the orb of power (the bane) and compel it to obey you, we would need a different way of presenting that.

Also, as we made neutral civilizations into potential rivals, we would need to highlight that aspect of the game.

 

Two new races

image

I don’t want to rag on Sorcerer King. It is still a good game. We made some assumptions when we designed it that didn’t lead it to have the diversity we hoped it would have in gameplay. 

Sorcerer King had 6 sovereigns to choose from. Which is nice. Here’s the issue, all 6 of them were sovereigns of the Kingdom.  In other words, there was ONE race in Sorcerer King and you always ruled the village of Athica.

We made this choice with the best of intentions: It was good for the story.  But it wasn’t good for replayability.

In Rivals, there are two more sovereigns but each sovereign leads its own completely new race which means they have their own units, buildings and spread their own environment across the world.

In other words, Sorcerer King had one race, Rivals has 3.

Ascendancy

image

The most obvious difference is going to be the object of the game.  Now, you use up mana to ascend.  Doing so, however, makes everyone angry and go to war with you eventually so you have to be careful about when and how you do this.  Moreover, as the orb gets magically charged, new spells come into play.  By the end of the game, all hell will start to break loose. 

In play testing, we’ve seen new players think “Oh this is easy” and start to charge up the orb really early only to get crushed utterly because when you start staring into the abyss, it will begin to stare back at you.

Demigods

image

The Sorcerer King also has some demigods as lieutenants. They are insanely powerful. Players of Sorcerer King who go to Rivals will soon notice there are a lot more of them.

Sharing your creations forever

image

All the games in the Elemental series have had some modding tools.  With Sorcerer King, it’s all been put out there for players along with the ability to share them.  As I’ve said to a number of friends, I could rebuild Ultima IV with this this engine.

People who remember Neverwinter Nights and its modding power will be happy to know that they have been given that power once again and, thanks to Steamworks (and eventually via GOG) the ability to share their creations.

If there is interest, we will vastly add on to this (all depends on sales of course).

How you can help

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Game sites cover things that are popular already.  Stardock is an independent developer. In fact, we are, possibly, the oldest independent game developer left in the industry.  We don’t have a vast marketing team to go out and build coverage.  What you can do is spread the word. Word of mouth is king.  We want to keep working on Sorcerer King for years to come and with Rivals, we have a game that you and us can do just that. 

People who liked Sorcereer King are definitley going to like Rivals. It’s vastly better in every way.  There’s more of everything and a lot of attention to detail.

People who like 4X games in general or even classic RPG games will almost certainly like Rivals. 

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

A preview of Escalation at PCGamesN

Published on Thursday, September 15, 2016 By Frogboy In Ashes Dev Journals

PCGamesN has an exclusive preview of Stardock’s upcoming expansion pack to Ashes of the Singularity called Escalation.

IF I had a time machine, which I don’t…yet…I wish we could have called the game just Escalation. I love that title for an RTS.

Anyway check it out here:

http://www.pcgamesn.com/ashes-of-the-singularity/ashes-of-the-singularity-escalation-strategic-zoom

Ashes: SEPTEMBER 2016 Dev Update

Published on Thursday, September 1, 2016 By Island Dog In Ashes Dev Journals

The Goal: Create the biggest, best real-time strategy game ever!

## Performance tuning ##

We haven't set up a specific version number for the next set of updates. Internally we're calling it the 1.5 series. But there's development and then there's marketing.

Right now, we're putting a lot of effort on performance tuning. Ashes is a big game and it's a new engine.

We would really like to get the base game of Ashes of the Singularity down to working on 1GB video cards as well as making sure it runs really well on 4K resolutions. 

While most of you reading this know your hardware, it's important to remember that most people have no idea other than insisting that their 3 year old PC is state of the art still and no amount of posting will persuade them that there 3 year old machine isn't a mega machine just because it plays GTA V just fine.

## The New Units ##

Both The PHC and the Substrate are going to get a mobile quantum jammer. It'll be a very expensive, very late game unit. It's not something players will be spamming out with all their armies. Instead, think of it as a T3-level costing unit that will be very hard to kill.

The problem we run into late game on the bigger maps is that you can nuke enemy armies to death as they cross. 

After the expansion is released, we want to bring over the Barrager upgradeable defense and the Heavy Annihlator so that there is a bit more turtling available to players.

## Escalation is coming!!! ##

Speaking of the expansion, Escalation is coming. This is the first expansion that adds:

  • 9 new units
  • 12 new defensive structures
  • Volcanic planets
  • Crystaline planets
  • Strategic zoom
  • A prequel single player campaign
  • Updated version of the Imminent crisis campaign
  • Escalation single player campaign
  • Doubles the number of players from 8 to 16
  • Doubles the maximum map size
  • Updated soundtrack
  • Changes to the Substrate economy system
  • Visual and UI update
  • Upgradable defenses
  • New orbital abilities
  • Substrate gains a Harvester unit that can steal resources from regions
  • New game setup options


It's $19.99 for Ashes players and $39.99 for new players.

It's being released as a stand-alone expansion. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we would have made this a DLC instead of stand-alone given some of the anger that we've seen regarding releasing the expansion as a stand-alone.

Somewhere between our release of Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes and now expandalones have gone out of favor. 

We prefer explandalones for a variety of reasons. Mainly, it lets us have a new install directory. I wish I had a better reason than that but it didn't occur to us that anyone would care one way or the other since all the other RTS games do their expansions that way (StarCraft: Legacy of the Void, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance, The various Dawn of War 2 expansions, the various CoH expansions, etc.

Anyway, lesson learned, people prefer their expansions released as DLC. We'll keep that in mind in the future. 

We're really excited about Escalation. We've listened to player feedback since release and created this in response.

It'll be released in November.

You can pre-order it here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/507490/


## Steam Reviews ##

I'm going to rant about Steam reviews for a second. I won't get into whether reviews are "fair" or not. They are what they are. 

Games with review scores less than 70% become "mixed" and that kills sales. Ashes is at 70%. You can read the reviews and decide if they're legitimate or not. 

What I can say is that the market is the market. Our ability to keep working on Ashes is dependent on sales. If people don't like Ashes, then it won't sell and that'll be the end of it. 

RTS's are expensive to develop. We want to continue to develop Ashes for years to come. But we can only do that if enough people want us to. While sales of the game remain quite strong, there is a very strong correlation between Steam reviews and sales.

The recent review score is based on 99 people's reviews. That's a tiny number of people. The game has only been reviewed by 1300 people. That's less than 1% of the player base.


## Increasing Replayability ##

One of the major projects for after version 1.6 (Fall) is to implement features that will further increase replayability.

The sandbox game is something we think is very strong. But Ashes isn't a 4X game which are the kings of strategy replayability. And while we love multiplayer, only a small percentage of people play Ashes multiplayer. We are adding more features for MP (such as replays) to help on that end. But we want people to want to play Ashes daily for years to come.

We'd like to hear your thoughts on that.

That's all for now!

Cheers!


Originally posted by Brad on the Steam forums.

http://steamcommunity.com/app/228880/discussions/1/350540780276858218/

 

Ceres Initiative DLC

Published on Monday, August 22, 2016 By Island Dog In Offworld Dev Journals

Originally posted by Soren Johnson on the Mohawk Games blog.

 

Today, we released the Ceres Initiative DLC, which is a entirely new location to play Offworld, with new terrain and even a new resource tree.

The rule changes are the following:

  • Resources diminish over time (a High resource tile becomes Medium and then Low)
  • Uranium is a new resource (it’s a metal, like Iron and Aluminum, so it is produced by with the Metal Mine)
  • New building: Nuclear Plants, which converts Uranium and Water into Power
  • New terrain: Salts, which boosts Farm production by 50%
  • New terrain: Caves, which gives mines, quarries, and pumps access to resources in adjacent tiles
  • New patent: Liquid Batteries, which allows Solar Condensers to work at night
  • Water Ice can be found on all maps
  • Days are shorter (9 hours), so buildings turn on and off more frequently, and debt can accumulate faster
  • No Wind Turbines, Geothermal Plant, Dust Storms, or Superconductor
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