You may not recognize Adrian Luff's name, but the odds are good that you're familiar with his work. He spent 17 years as an engineer at Blizzard, where he was a driving force behind the development and growth of Battle.net. Now he's taken his talents to Galactic Civilizations studio Stardock Entertainment, which is launching a cloud-based service of its own called "Tachyon."
I'm still not entirely clear on what an "economic RTS" is, but I like the concept of a game that encourages and rewards predatory economic policy on a large scale, especially one being made by the lead designer and AI programmer of Civilization IV. That fellow, Soren Johnson, announced that a prototype his new game, Offworld Trading Company, is now available to play, although there are a couple of catches.
Editor's note: We've received additional comment from Stardock regarding early access pricing for GalCiv3. Read its statement below our original story.
I like galactic conquest, devastating AI and overbearing tech trees, so I'm very excited about Galactic Civilizations 3. Not excited enough to pay the £76 / $100 asking price for the Founder's Elite version, however, which has been placed on Steam and the GalCiv site with some pretty major caveats from the developers. They warn that "major systems are unfinished and content is severely limited" and, remarkably, say "please be aware that the game isn't actually, well, fun yet."
There's a good chance you've seen a game trailer before. Inevitably it will have featured: a) some explosions, b) mild peril, and c) a soundtrack that honks like a steamboat fighting Aphex Twin. None of which is really possible when demoing a 4X strategy. Galactic Civilizations 3 is further handicapped by being set in space, meaning it can't even flash a bit of tantalising terrain at the viewer. Nevertheless, the follow up to the excellent GalCiv 2 is unveiling its first footage, and, if you're of the right frame of mind, it's still pretty sexy.
New independent studio Oxide Games wants to reshape the way strategy games are built. The five-man team—mostly ex-Civilization V developers—is building a new 64-bit 3D engine called Nitrous, with a focus on adding some technical muscle to new turn-based and real-time strategy games. The aim, according to the studio, is to help developers add massive scope to upcoming games.
Waiting for a reboot of one of your favorite franchises can be emotionally draining. Will it reignite an old flame like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, or defile your memory of it like SimCity? Stardock CEO Brad Wardell knows you're probably really stressed out about the Star Control reboot he's been working on for the past six months, but it's cool—he said a bunch of things in an interview with Ars Techinca that should calm you down. Most importantly, he said that reboot will be a prequel and that it will include a multiplayer mode. "We plan to start the game around 2112 with aliens first contacting the Earthlings and the formation of Star Control," Wardell says.
Last week, I put out a universal distress call, pleading for some PC news with which to battle the approaching armada of console minutia. This morning, I get in to find that somebody has left a howdytron on our galactic garbleblab. Translating the message, I find... an advertisement for squirdleprong enlargement pills. Stupid space spam. Oh well, that was a waste of time. In which case, we'll have to make do with these first Galactic Civilizations 3 screenshots.
Two decades have passed since Stardock released its first game, Galactic Civilizations, and on the eve of the company’s 20th birthday, it’s unwrapping Galactic Civilizations III, a sequel to the game that put the studio on the map. Seven years after Galactic Civilizations 2, the follow-up is promising massive scale, moddability, and a redesigned ship builder alongside its trademark political intrigue. Joining Watch Dogs, it’ll also only run on 64-bit operating systems.
Stardock Entertainment has just announced that Fallen Enchantress producer/designer Derek Paxton, who will take over as vice president of games development and production. Stardock CEO Brad Wardell will remain with the company, shifting his focus toward the software and business side of the operation. We had a chance to chat with Derek about his time in the industry so far, what kinds of changes he'd like to see, and what's next for Stardock.
On August 16 - this Friday - Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes will emerge from the magic interpipes of the World Wide Web and sit on store shelves in a fancy-pants box. In celebration, Stardock have put out a new video showing off Fallen Enchantress' fantasy-flavoured turn based battles, empire-building, dragons and giant evil glowing Python fiends. I hate those guys.
Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes is a standalone expansion for Elemental: Fallen Enchantress, itself a re-worked and polished version of Elemental: War of Magic, which came out back in 2010. It adds two extra factions, reworks the way you hire heroes (formerly they'd loiter on the map like super-powerful hobos), adds more magic, more maps, more monsters. Anything beginning with "M" has received attention. They've even put in a new mevelling mystem!
The nineties gave us flannel-on-ripped-denim fashion and classic film roles like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. Yep, it's a period most of us would rather forget—but if it's going to be revived at all, PC gaming supergiant dev Stardock has at least chosen a more favorable part of the era. Today it's announced that it's gained the rights to classic PC sci-fi franchise Star Control, with plans to begin development on a reboot this fall.
Who would've thought you could buy entire new planets for $5? Ah, video games. Today you can do just that with Forbidden Worlds, the first expansion pack to Sins of a Solar Empire's excellent expandalone addition to the franchise, Rebellion.
Sometimes a sequel wants to say more than the original ever could. Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes, a new standalone expansion to the Stardock strategy game, puts you at the helm of a fantasy empire in a hostile world filled with flaming corpse monsters and wailing undead banshees.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, the standalone expansion to Stardock's RTS/4X released almost a year ago, is getting a small, $5 DLC out of the black. Dubbed Forbidden Worlds, the new content will include new planet types, new steam achievements, and a planet specialization system.
You get the impression that Stardock are trying to bury the memory of much maligned 4X strategy Elemental: War of Magic - possibly while whistling a nonchalant tune, hoping we'll not notice the fresh patch of disturbed earth and the shovel in their hand. First there was Elemental: Fallen Enchantress - the standalone expansion that went a long way to fixing the ill will caused by its predecessor. Now we have the second expandalone, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes, conveniently dropping that troubled prefix altogether for its May 22nd release.
This is the latest effort by Stardock to properly execute their vision of Elemental: War of Magic , the 4X strategy game we gave 70% back in PCG 219.
It’s a solid turn-based strategy game. You begin with a single hero, found your civilisation and employ strategies both aggressive and diplomatic to further your aspirations for world domination. Through expansion, subjugation and the wielding of grand magics, you move armies across the battlefield to kill wandering creatures, gather lost treasures, carry out quests and capture towns. These are familiar game mechanics, and though highly competent, Enchantress never really feels like it’s pushing the boundaries.
It's a little-known fact that CEOs love writing reports. The whole reason that many companies become publicly traded is so their CEOs can spend their time writing endless reports for shareholders. For Stardock boss Brad Wardell, this poses a problem: as the head of a private company, there's no-one to report to. Rather than forlornly wandering the corridors of Stardock HQ, bothering staff with pie charts, he's instead decided to scratch that report itch by drafting a frank and honest address to their customers. In it, he talks about the company's performance over the last year, and hints at what they're planning next.
Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes, in development by Stardock, seeks to continue the territory tussles and sword-and-spell battles of Elemental: Fallen Enchantress. Its predecessor, Elemental: War of Magic, was repackaged into Enchantress after poor reviews in 2010. The latest talent brought onto the team may help keep the quality high: in a forum post, CEO Brad Wardell announced the addition of former Civilization 4 lead designer Soren Johnson to Stardock.
The smoke from Evan and T.J.'s epic Face Off over the future of the RTS genre still hazes the office like the diesel fumes of a tank rush, but we're already reading the thoughts of other industry members chiming in on the matter. In a blog post, Stardock founder Brad Wardell claims the demand for RTS games still exists—it's just pent up from the wait "the adoption of the hardware to implement the next-generation RTS designs."