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All About Gizmos

Published on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 By ScottTykoski In The Video Game Machine Dev Journals

One of the most powerful tools in the Video Game Machine is the GIZMO tool. With Gizmos, you can bring your levels to life in unique and interactive ways.

The Basics
While the main building block of your level is the 'block' (no surprise there), gizmos will take those blocks and do interesting things to them.

Simply select the Gizmo tool on the left hand side of the Level Editor (the Gear Button) to show the list of available options.

Most gizmos can also have a 'Target'. When a gizmo is activated, its target will also be activated. This is useful for making switches that cause things to happen in your level.

Set a target by rolling over the gizmo, pressing the [T] key, then clicking on the target location.

Starting Location
Use this to place the starting location of the player in this level. If there are multiple locations, the game will simply use the first one it finds.

Finish Line
Place these at the end of a level. The current stage will end and the next one will be loaded.

Hidden Area
Placing these onto a section of blocks will turn them into a "Hidden Area", meaning the player will be able to walk into those tiles to find hidden loot (and possibly enemies).

Hidden Area tiles may look like they're blocked, but you can run right through them!
Old-school games were known for their awesome secrets - we highly recommend placing these in every level.


Pushable Tile
Place this on a block to make it 'pushable'. When the player presses against it for 1 second, it will move in the direction pushed.

If targeting: The targeted gizmo will be activated when the block is pushed.


Doors will teleport the player to a target location. If the Doorway gizmo doesn't have a target, then nothing will happen when the player steps on it.

Weapon Trigger
Trigger gizmos are just switches, where activating them will simply trigger another gizmo.

The Weapon Trigger gizmo will activate when hit by a weapon. By default it will activate with any attack, but you can also specify what type of attack is required (Sword, Dagger, Fire Attack, Explosion, etc).

If targeting: The targeted gizmo will be activated when this gizmo is attacked.


Trigger Area
When the player steps into a Trigger Area, they will activate whatever gizmo the area is targeting.

If targeting: The targeted gizmo will be activated when this gizmo stepped into by the player.

Trigger Link
If a 'Trigger Link' gizmo is targeted and activated, all linked gizmos (touching the chain of linked gizmos) will be activated as well.


Movement Group
The Movement Group gizmo is a powerful tool that lets you move large chunks of your level around. Simple place Movement Group gizmos on tiles you want to group together, then set a Target Destination for the group with the [T] key.

If targeting: The target tile is the destination for this movement group. When a movement group is activated, it'll move to it's target location.


Swappable Tile
Swappable Tiles can swap from one type of tile to another. This is useful for spawning ladders in Sidescrollers or opening Pathways in Adventures. Place it on a tile, then press [E] to edit the gizmo and specify what type type it should swap to.

By default, the tile will be destroyed.

Alpha 1 Note: Currently, Swappable Tiles only activate it they're actually ON a tile. A future update will allow these to be placed in empty spaces and activate as expected.


Flying Enemy Pt. (Sidescroller Only)
Spawns a flying enemy at this location. If the enemy is killed, will respawn the enemy in 4 seconds. Useful for Pit-Jumping challenges.


Gateway Gizmo (Adventure Only)
Links two levels together via the side of a room. When you exit a room by the set direction, you will teleport to the linked Gateway exit.

Press the [E] key over the Gateway gizmos to link them together.

By linking levels together with the Gateway Gizmo, you can create one, large, interconnected world.


The power of the gizmo system is that these simple systems can be connected in interesting ways, giving you an infinite number of options to make your creation truly you own.

What clever gizmo combos have you come up with?  

Let us know in the comments...and happy building!

Community Newsletter #3 - 05/27/2019

Published on Monday, May 27, 2019 By SchismNavigator In Stardock Community Newsletter

A new game and so much more in this third edition of the Stardock Community Newsletter.


In this, the third edition of the community newsletter, we have highlights on a new release, game updates and a hot new mod.


As a reminder, if you have any comments or would like to see something included in a future edition you can leave it in the comments below or as a direct message on discord.


The Horizon


The Video Game Machine!


We have announced a new game: The Video Game Machine


What is The Video Game Machine (imagine an echo each time)? Well, simply put it is a game for making other games. Fun idea huh? Of course, there have been a few games like it before, but this one is a PC-first title and supports multiple different 8-bit inspired genres.


With The Video Game Machine you will be able to create your own levels, scenarios, add dialogue, create triggers, change the rules and even go a step further (for the really technical) and edit the XML files directly. You can then share your game with others who own The Video Game Machine and see who has the most diabolical mind amongst your friends.


In VGM you will be able to make a game, play that game and then share it with others! All without needing to know anything about programming, bitmaps, tilesets or driver incompatibilities.


The Founder Program is live now, you can sign up and expect to get your hands on the game as soon as the 29th of May. By doing so you will also be able to help us direct the development of the game, including what future genres we add and other features that we may or may not have thought of yet.



Sign up today!


Continue Reading...

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.








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.

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!


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

(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. 

3.7 Changelog


  • 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:
  • 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.  


  • 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.


*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


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 as well as on Steam and GOG.

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






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

Siege of Centauri: Beta Update 5

Published on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 By DerekPaxton 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

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