DEV DIARY: AI Walkthrough of 1.84

Published on Sunday, November 27, 2016 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals



For the first series of these I’m going to put these up so that those of you who have no idea who I am don’t get too concerned that there’s this guy endlessly criticizing the game (and other people’s games) in the most unprofessional way. 

Who I am: I’m the founder and CEO of Stardock. I wrote the original Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 back in 1993 largely as an AI simulator in which humans were allowed to interact.  It took off from there.  I designed GalCiv I and GalCiv II.  For GalCiv III, I consulted and helped here and there but most of my time was spent on Ashes of the Singularity and my day job of running Stardock in which the game stuff is a minority of our overall business.

To be candid, I’m here for you guys.  I write games for people to play. I don’t care how popular the genre is.  I want to play what I want to play and hope you feel the same.

Now, let’s get started.


There are two pieces of starting up the game

  1. The first is that pretty little start-up window.  I’d like to see it have a different graphic than the main loading window.
  2. The main loading window

I lowered the load time of #1 by 2.7 seconds on my machine.  I did this by having the language validation put onto another core and moving other validation to being a background thread becuase it doesn’t matter when it happens.

I lowered the main loading by 11 seconds on my machine by having the main game textures loaded on different cores.

Note: If you have a dual core machine there’s nothing I can do for you.  I’m not changing algorithms here (that is called optimization).  I am re-architecting it to run in parallel.


Before you get the next update, load up the game and open up task manager.  On my machine, a couple of my cores are pegged.  I’ve fixed this by using different APIs for measuring time (they’re less precise but much cheaper) along with reducing the number of threads that game sets up for its job system which I’m in the process of scuttling entirely to replace something more similar to what we did with Nitrous over at my other job at Oxide Games.

Bottom line, this updated GalCiv III architecture which will likely show up in 1.84 should use a lot less CPU, be a lot faster and be more stable.  I hope to see this released as an opt-in early next week.

Game Setup



Memory Use on start of game (via task manager)

  1. v1.84: 2.9GB (my modified version)
  2. v1.83: 4.8GB (current Steam version)

How: Updated the DDS file compression to use one that is new to DirectX 10 (I was able to avoid a DirectX 11 one and get nearly all the benefits). I am still in process of doing this so this will keep getting better.

Total Time from launching the game to being in the game via “quick start”

  1. v1.84: 22s (my modified version)
  2. v1.83: 36s (current Steam version)

So on my machine, 14 seconds of boot time reduced.  This is due to re-architecting, I didn’t “optimize” any algorithms.  I’m just using your hardware a little more completely (parallel computing, my friends at AMD and Intel would be pleased).

Defaults I recommend

  1. Tech Brokering should be disabled by default

Features I’d like to see

  1. I’d like to be able to add components to Mercenary Ships. I think this is very VERY Important. Literally, let me just click upgrade and add and remove individual components.
  2. I’d like to be able to do the above to any ship in fact.
  3. Planets that aren’t class 0 should be given some very subtle atmospheric effect
  4. I think embassies should have to be founded by Diplomatic Envoys. Gives players a lever to improve relations.
  5. GNN report on where the universe stands that comes up every say 20 turns on a particular topic.
  6. In diplomacy, Civs with neutral and then less than neutral relations should get their own circle.  Right now, a player with unfriendly relations occpies the same ring as someone with cordial which isn’t helpful.


  1. I haven’t gotten to play a lot of GalCiv III since it launched.  It is most definitely a lot better of a game than when it was released.  It wasn’t “bad” when it shipped but I felt it was a bit too much like GalCiv II with a re-skin with a lot of rough edges.  Today’s game shows a lot of nice, and often subtle, refinement. 
  2. Playback speed of battles should be 2X by default
  3. Too many cigar shaped ships.


Part 2: Duel

I feel like the performance is good enough to really start digging into the AI strategies.  I already fixed a couple of things I thought were not ideal. 

Disclaimer:  Writing good AI is more art than science.  People who know nothing on programming imagine that we can somehow just brute force calculate out some perfect strategy.  No, you really can’t.  People will pick short terms with decent AI over massively long terms with great AI.  My job is to make a really good AI with short terms. 

Every few years I do a rating of the AIs I’ve written.  Here is how I’d rate them on a scale from 1 (terrible) to 10 (ideal). And my opinions change a bit over time as I learn new things.

Galactic Civilizations OS/2: 9

Galactic Civilizations I: 8

Galactic Civilizations II: 6

Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar: 8

Galactic Civilizations III: Twilight of the Arnor: 7

Galactic Civilizations III: at launch 4

Galactic Civilizations III: at end of 2015: 6

Galactic Civilizations III: today: 5

For other references:

Most other 4X games I play go between a 3 and a 6.


  1. The governor system really hurt the AI.  I can only imagine what they do to humans.  But it’s not ideal.
  2. The ship design system needs to be improved. Before Crusade.
  3. The planetary improvement system needs to be improved: before Crusade
  4. The strategic fleet AI needs to be improved. before Crusade
  5. Spacing of stars in star generation needs to be changed (hurts AI, makes game less interesting)

Other problems:

  1. Catering to forum “experts”.  I see a lot of code in here that was put in clearly to assuage people on the forum’s pet peeves. It’s good to listen to feedback. It’s bad to implement their advice as they suggest. Computer players aren’t people. When you try to make an AI play like a human like this, you end up with a very exploitable AI. 
  2. Exploits.  I see a lot of systems in here that I, as a player, could exploit.  Any time I play a game, I exploit it.  It’s a game.  I can choose not to exploit it but the more often I have to do that, the more fun I lose.  You can’t plug exploits easily.  You need to have a better AI system in which exploits just don’t come into the picture in the first place.

That said..

I’m going to do a 1 v 1 game and exploit the hell out of the AI as best I can.

Lots of improvements made today.   But also some significant game design changes to how the economy works that is sure to create some discussion.

The area I’m not that familiar with (in terms of exploits) is diplomacy stuff. Feel free to chime in below with any good diplomacy exploits you want me to look at.

Big problems

So 400 turns in on a massive map I’m running into a couple different problems here. 

First, the AI is reducing its priority on building colony ships even though there are many many worlds available (I modified the internal settings so that there are thousands of worlds to test this). 

Second, the AI is slowly reducing its priority on technology which is causing it to fall further and further behind me.

Part 3: LESS CPU Usage


So after my tweaking, the idle CPU time is, well, idle.  I mostly play GalCiv III on my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 so I’m pretty sensitive to battery use. 

Sheer Performance difference:


Thanks to Jon (a GalCiv player who likes to play insane maps with 50+ players) I have access to saved games with hundreds (plural) of hours put into them.  I used these saved games to help carve down some of these costs.

Now, my machine is a monster so my turn times are already short.  On his machine, it was taking multiple minutes to get through a turn while on mine, even on the public version, it’s “only” 13 seconds.  So then it’s question of whether it’s a CPU or memory thing. 


Part 4: A better, smarter AI

I ended up having to jettison a lot of the way the AI decides what ships to build.  It’s not that the code was bad or that a lot of work hadn’t put into it.  The problem was a fundamental issue of strategic priority: What should the AI do at a given time?

As the game progresses, more and more things compete for resources and this is where AI’s tend to fall apart in complex strategy games.  GalCiv III struggles with this as well.

For example, what type of ship should an AI facing 50 opponents, 14 it’s at war with that also has 4 unclaimed resources within range and 9 nice planets but is also facing money issues but has 3 trade route slots available and has a very vulnerable enemy that can be attacked if it builds a starbase to increase its range unless, instead, it decides to produce a fleet of longer range Frigates?

What I can tell you is that building a colony ship kept getting  knocked lower…and lower…and lower in the priority list.  The result was that as the game went on, the AI, which expanded well early on, would get slower and slower at further expansion.

There was no way to “tweak” this.  It had to be re-done and moved away from bottom up priority system and instead be looked at from the opposite direction: A top down.  The AI player needs to know what its goal is, globally, and pursue it decisively.  That’s where AIs are good.

Another area it struggles with is when it should, post-haste, send a unit to a troubled area versus rallying them up.  I see people on forums saying that the AI “just” needs to build bigger fleets.  Duh.  They’ve put a lot of effort (almost an insane amount of effort) into trying to do this well.  In GalCiv II, my code for handling this was a lot less sophisticated in the sense that the answer was ALWAYS just build the damn fleets. No nuance. Just do it. 

Test game



Sunday night check in:

Just before midnight, I have my second check-in (first check in was all performance, this one is balance and AI)


# Memory #
New Compressed Textures: (DirectX 10)

Starbase minimum distance reduced from 5 to 3 tiles
AI tends to focus more on tech (generally) than previously
AI will build survey ships late in game
AI provided with a much wider variety of ship designs to choose from with the various strategies
AI weights units much more closely than previously in order to not make one virtually impossible to build
Opposing culture diplomatic penalty reduced from 1.25 to 1.1 if AI is benevolent
Opposing culture diplomatic penalty increased from 1.25 to 2 if AI is mercilous
Opposing culture diplomatic penalty increased from 1.25 to 2 if AI is cruel
Close to victory diplomatic penalties increasedf rom 1 to 5
Ripe for conquest diplomacy penalty reduced from 0.75 to 0.1 if AI is benevolent
Ripe for conquest diplomacy penalty increased from 1.25 to 1.25 if AI is aggressive
Minimum planet class to be a manufacturing world reduced from 7 to 4
Max number of colony ships the AI will construct at once increased from 2 to 3
Max slider focus reduced from 95% to 75% (to deal with coercion penalty)
Coercion forgiveness eliminated (there is always some coercion if you move off from center)
Maximum coercion reduced from 50% to 35%
Colony Capital production points reduced from 5 to 1
Civilization Capital production points reduced from 5 to 1
Influence Radius root increased from 1.75 to 4 (i.e. influence ZOC will start out much much smaller now)
Tech inflation penalty significantly reduced
Penalty for switching a constructor to a colony ship increased from 50% to 75% (yea, you know who you are)
Pirates moved further away from starting location
Increased the variance for the various settings (minors, , pirates, etc.)
Modified the governor script to provide a bit more flexibility based on planet bonuses when building improvements
Colony capital maintaince eliminated
Colony capital hub  provides a 2 (was 1) level bonus to adjacent buildings if they are population or manufacturing or research
Civ capital hub provides a 3 level bonus (was 1)
Reduced maint. slightly on research buildings
Rare habitable planets decreased from 30% to 25%
Nebula and black holes and anmalies made much less common on all settings
Occasional planet frequency amount doubled from 1X to 2X
Common stars modifier increased from 0.9 to 1
Common planet frequency amount increased from 0.75X to 3X (this also fixes a bug where common was less than occasional)
Abundant stars increased from 1X to 1.5X
Planet Frequence increased from 0.25X to 3.5X (also fixes bug)
Tiny map size decreased from 30 Sectors to 18 sectors
Tiny map base objects increased from 32 to 120 (i.e. tiny maps will be a lot more filled)
Small map decreased from 40 to 32 sectors
Small map base object count increased from 64 to 150
Small map max habitable planets increased from 32 to 40
Medium map size decreased from 60 sectors to 40 sectors
Medium map Base object count increased from 110 to 200
Large map size decreased from 75 to 60 sectors
Large map base object count increased from 155 to 300 (i.e. over twice as many stars/planets/etc. in a particular size)
Huge map size drecased from 95 to 70 sectors
Huge map Base count increasded from 250 to 350
Gigantic map size decreased from 180 to 80 (but number of objects remains the same -- more stuff)
Immense decreased from 240 sectors to 120 sectors (but same object count)
Excessive decreased from 290 sectors to 160 sectors
Max camera zoom on excwssive increased from 16000 light years to 30000 light years
INSANE map size decreased from 380 to 320
INSANE map object count INCREASED from 1200 to 1400!
INSANE map maxhabitable planets INCREASED from 600 to 640 thanks to memory reduction in this build
Max camera zoom increased from 18.2k light years to 40,000 light years.
Sensor cost components reduced slightly
Cargo module cost reduced from 27 to 10 (cheaper colony ships -- but remember, planets now rely more on population for their production)
Tiny hull cost reduced from 11 to 10
Small hull cost reduced from 25 to 20
Medium hull HP increased from 100 to 120
Large hull cost increased from 128 to 300
Large hull HP increased from 250 to 600
Large hull storage incresed from 100 to 120
Large hull logistics cost increased from 7 to 10
Huge hull cost incresd from 432 to 500
Huge hull HP incresd from 500 to 800
Huge hull storage increased from 250 to 300
Huge hull logistics increased from 10 to 16
Cargo hull cost reduced from 42 to 24
Cargo hull HP reduced from 10 to 1
Cargo hull logistics incresed from 5 to 6
Max AI improvement queue reduced from 3 to 2

# Bugs fixed #
Fixed double counting of trade routes for AI diplomacy purposes
Placed a critical section around the D3DX11CreateShaderResourceViewFromMeory call (random, late game crashes)
Placed a critical section around m_textureSets.PushBack( pGC3TextureSet ) (fixes random load game crashes on large games)
Fixed bug that could cause the AI to see tiles in the opposite map position of where they were exploring
Fixed a bug that could cause the AI to reduce the priority weighting on colony ship production based on the # of targetable planets

# Optimization #
Removed legacy stopwatch code from the sound system
Moved old profiling junk
Reduced CPU usage of the particles thread
Reduced CPU usage of main graphics thread
Removed redundant debug output

## AI ##
Added UpdateColonies and UpdateShipyards as seperate functions
Eliminated the UpdateColoniesShipyards (readability)
AI builds scout ships later in the game to keep exploring very large galaxies
Dramatically reduced AI >normal economic bonuses (no longer needs them)
Re-designed the way the AI expands into the galaxy with colony ships so that its expansion no longer stalls on large maps
Dramatically reduced the amount of time an AI will interact with a player if they are not within ship range
AI doesn't try to bribe other players to go to war unless they and the other players have a decent military already
AI will no longer give tech gifts to players with a different ideology (i.e. no more Drengin giving you tech if you're a nice person)
AI now scales the number of similar ship projects based on number of colonies rather than a flat number
AI pumps up colony ship production priority if there are a lot of nice planets laying around
AI pumps out fewer Constructors in general
Re-designed the eway the AI determines which planets should get a shipyard to be more (way more) intelligent
Updated AI's handling of adjacency bonuses to be more intelligent
AI values planet quality more when picking planets to colonize
AI somewhat more heuristic on tech research
AI somewhat quicker to war


This will take some testing.  When you boost perf like this, you uncover timing issues that were well hidden before. 

GalCiv Dev Diary: Prelude to AI work

Published on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals

So tomorrow is my first day on GalCiv III.  It’s been a long break for me.  It’s very nice returning to my baby.  GalCiv III is the first GalCiv game I didn’t design or get to spend much time on. 

A few observations

The engine is fancy

I basically have unlimited memory to work with.  However, it uses a lot of memory.  This isn’t terribly surprising given how complex the ships can get.


But it is still a problem. 

I spent a little bit of time with this.  If we require DirectX 11 and leave the DirectX 10 folks behind, we can, literally, halve our memory use in texture compression.

The Job System needs to be updated

GalCiv III’s engine is both its strength and its weakness.  The strength is that it has incredible potential as a 64-bit, multi-core, high performance engine.   The weakness is that these features can (and are) abused.

A high performance engine means it has the ability to be really really fast.  But there’s another way of looking at it: It’s also very very forgiving of non-performance tuned code.


Not all cores are created equally. Notice that one of them is pegged.  Now, imagine if you’re playing a 2-core CPU (like a laptop). This would be an issue.

A few examples is that there are a lot of calls for high precision timers in the gameplay code when, in fact, we only need the current time in seconds.  Things like that add up faster than you might think.

Performance Tuning


Before I can even contemplate writing AI code for GalCiv III, the performance has to be a lot better.  I can’t afford to wait 30 seconds between turns.  It’s late game AI performance that needs help.  But I can’t spend 3 days playing a game to make a few changes.  The turn times have to get drastically faster.

Now, mind you, even today, GalCiv III is, to my knowledge, the fastest 4X at doing turns.  That is, late game, waiting 30 seconds for 20 players on a large galaxy to do their thing is actually pretty impressive.  But it can be a lot better.

And so that’s what I did yesterday and today: I made it a lot faster. A lot faster.  Loading up the game is about half the time it was.  Turn times are about a quarter the time they were.  But there’s a caveat to my performance tuning:  If you’re running 2 cores, you won’t notice any difference.  If you have 4 cores, you’ll probably notice.  If you have 8 cores, it’s massively better.  That’s because I solved many of these problems through improving the task system.

Instead of an AI player going through all its ships one at a time to do its pathfinding, I just split it off into the N-1 cores at a time to do it.  That is, if you have an 8 core PC, it’ll do 7 ships simultaneously. 

Just warming up

Don’t get too excited.  My check in (which you should have shortly) should make the game faster and more stable and use a lot less memory.  But this is nothing.  This is one day’s worth of effort. There’s a ton of low hanging fruit.

If I hadn’t checked in an update to Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation (if you don’t have it, do me a favor and go get it! <G>) to update their high level units, I’d have been able to fix that damn animation on loading thing that bugs the hell out of me (the galaxy should spin smoothly but there’s a call in its thread that sucks up too much CPU at a time).

This is for the base game

I will be getting to the expansion pack AI as well.  But I want the base game’s AI and general performance to reach a place that are more satisfying.

That’s all for now.

A Tournament Edition: The whitepaper

Published on Saturday, November 19, 2016 By Brad Wardell In Ashes Dev Journals

imageA very long time ago, like, a million years ago, Stardock made a game called The Corporate Machine.  Like all of Stardock’s games, it was played almost exclusively single player.  But unlike our other games, it was surprisingly popular in multiplayer.  How come?

For The Corporate Machine we did the following:

  1. Start-Up Watcher: A little system tray app that monitored for available games and let people launch it.
  2. 7 multiplayer only keys that people who owned the game could share with their friends and included the Start-up launcher.

Last week, we released Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.  People seem to really like it but, like our other games, it’s mostly played single player. 

When we designed Ashes of the Singularity and Escalation, it was our expectation that about 95% of players would play it single player, 5% multiplayer.  In reality, it’s been closer to 97% single player.

For multiplayer fans, this stat could be bad news but there is a silver lining: It becomes economically justifiable to release a multiplayer-only version of the game in the future.

Here would be the limitations:

  1. No single player support at all. No skirmish, no campaign, etc.
  2. Cannot add AI bots to multiplayer hosted games.
  3. Would have to have a Stardock ID (so that we have some direct control over issues of griefing, ,cheating, etc.).

Time frame

Not yet.  There are a couple of features that are pre-requisites. 

  1. The replay feature for version 1.5 of the base game (2.1 of Escalation) is absolutely a requirement. 
  2. We also need to create a new system tray app that will make it easier for people to jump into games.
  3. We need a scheduling app that will let people set up games and remind others to join in when the time comes.

Eventually, this Tournament edition would be available on Steam for $9.99 which would allow people to get the benchmark as well (since a lot of people just want the benchmark).  We don’t plan to make it free-to-play except for friends of those who have the base game.

Post your thoughts below on what you think of this concept.

Escalation is a hit! First update released

Published on Thursday, November 17, 2016 By Brad Wardell In Ashes Dev Journals

Our first expansion pack to Ashes of the Singularity is out and people like it! They really like it! Smile

The first update is out

During development of Escalation a number of good ideas came up but we didn’t have time to get them in before release.

This afternoon we released version 2.01.  You can read the full changelog here:

Highlights include:

  • WASD camera movement
  • Request region (multiplayer ability to request a region from another player)
  • Notification pings on the mini map
  • Lots of Balance updates
  • Lots of AI improvements
  • Bug fixes

The new features will be integrated into version 1.5 of Ashes of the Singularity (the base game). 

Esc_SS6The first reviews are in

As I write this, Escalation is sitting at an 82 on metacritic with a 90 from GamingTrend, an 85 from GameWatcher and an 81 from IGN

We expect to have the German, Italian, French, Portuguese language versions in within the next few weeks. 

A few questions answered

Q: Do you have to have Ashes of the Singularity to get Escalation?

A: No.  It’s a stand-alone expansion.  It lists for $39.99 for new players and $19.99 for existing Ashes of the Singularity players.

Q: Does this mean that the base game won’t be updated anymore?

A: No.  We expect to release v1.45 for the base game within the next couple of days and new features and content we create will generally be available for all versions of Ashes of the Singularity.  The base game will continue to receive new DLC, new features, etc.

Q: I don’t have either Ashes or Escalation, which should I get?

A: Ashes of the Singularity targets everyone.  Escalation targets RTS veterans specifically.

Q: Are there any new units coming out for free?

A: Yes, we are working on two new Dreadnoughts that will be added to the game along with a few surprise new units early next year.

Q: I’d like to see new races?

A: They are planned.  The Escalation campaign infers the existence of two more races that we hope to join us in the game.

Q: Will I have to have Escalation to get these new races?

A: No. 

Q: What about modding?

A: Our long-term plan is to turn Ashes of the Singularity into a platform for people to make their own games with.  Much of that will require time and more tools to be made.  You can already do a lot with the game as is (see the modding guide) but our explicit goal is that a customer could use Ashes to remake Total Annihilation or Supreme Commander or any number of RTS games in the future.  This won’t happen overnight but that’s our goal.


While most people will play Escalation as a strictly single-player game, we are putting a lot of effort into improving the multiplayer game as well.  We include a save game feature (and autosave) in the event that there are connection problems the game can be reformed and continued. But there is a lot more we can still do to make multiplayer really fun.



Some Wallpapers



Where should I go to learn more?

I can name 3 places:

  2. Steam
  3. GOG

Get ready for a lot of bitching

Published on Monday, November 14, 2016 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals

Last month, CariElf, the lead developer of GalCiv I and II rejoined us.

Later this month, I rejoin the GalCiv III team.  In effect, it'll be a reunion of the GalCiv II team as we take the game to the next level.

But before we begin the series of GalCiv III updates that leads into the big expansion, let me offer you the same advice I've tried to give others here:

If you want to succeed, you must slay the three F's: Friends, Family, Faith.  

And in the spirit of that credo, my journals are going to take on a much darker tone.

Now, I know many (most) of you like Galactic Civilizations III.  It is very polished and it plays really well and has a good user experience..most of the time.

But I'm not joining the team for those reasons.  I don't care about any of those things.

When I wrote the original GalCiv for OS/2, I wanted to make an AI game.  I only let people play the game because I needed your money for my AI work.  Frankly, the game would be a lot better if there were no humans at all.  You're just too...slow.

I have a lot of complaints.  I don't like the late game experience of GalCiv III.  I don't like the AI's war fighting "strategy" (if you can call it that).  I find the game too slow late game.  Anyway, my point is, I'm old and I'm back on GalCiv which is where I like to be.

But I'm not going to sugar coat my work.  If you want to read marketing fluff, you'll want to avoid my journal entries.  

I still think GalCiv III is the best space 4X game currently on the market.  But that's mainly because I'm not happy with any of them right now.  If I could combine the presentation of ES 2 with the features of Stellaris with the rest of GalCiv III it would still be...ok.  But let me tell you what is wrong with these 4X games (looking at you Civ VI):

  1. AI. It aggravates me that no one cares about AI anymore.  You can get a 90 review score without decent AI.  
  2. Statistics show that most people play these games as Simcity style games. Well, they're not.  I'm happy to make a space Simcity game but STRATEGY games should be about strategy.
  3. I hate the economic systems of these games.  All of them.
  4. I'm annoyed with the new MOO game.  You know the secret sauce that a new MOO game could have had (did you know I bid $2 million to get the MOO IP?): It's not the battles, it's the fact that they put a lot of effort into having different species mixed together.  Simtex got this back in 1996. GalCiv should steal this.  We won't be for the time being but good grief, what a great game mechanic.
  5. Espionage.  Won't make it until the expansion. But gotta have that.
  6. Politics.  I am probably alone on this but it's a big bugaboo with me that we don't have more politics in these games.  Did you know the original OS/2 version of GalCiv back in 1993 had political parties, elections, etc? And I wrote that by myself. That's how big a deal I considered that game mechanic when trying to run an intergalactic society.
  7. Food.  Seriously. ARRGH.  This should be a global resource.  The idea that planets need to be self-sustaining in food is absurd.

That's just off the top of my head.

Like I said, GalCiv III is the best of the 4X space games on the market right now imo.  But without significant work, it's ripe to be knocked over and it'll deserve it.

So sit back and avoid my journal entries. It's going to be quite a ride.


Ashes vs. Escalation: What's the difference?

Published on Thursday, November 10, 2016 By Brad Wardell In Ashes of the Singularity

The basics

Ashes of the Singularity is a massive-scale, real-time-strategy game set in the future where individual beings command vast armies of machines to conquer entire worlds to add them to their empires.

Ashes of the Singularity was released first. It was designed to target both new players to the genre as well as veteran players. After release, however, veteran players provided a wealth of feedback that indicated they were looking for Ashes to evolve into a substantially more sophisticated game.

Rather than try to make the base game be all things to all people, Stardock decided to continue with Ashes of the Singularity being targeted towards all PC gamers and develop a stand-alone expansion pack designed with veteran RTS players in mind. That game is Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.


Target Audience Everyone Veteran RTS players
Max Players 6 14
Units per race 16 23
Defenses per race 5 10
Largest map Large Huge
Strategic Zoom No Yes

Early adopters
Those who bought Ashes of the Singularity early on (when it was priced higher) will receive a free season pass to all new Escalation DLC released until end of 2017. 

Continued evolution
Both games share the same game core and thus will continue to be developed with new features and content. The base game will continue to evolve to help bring new people into the RTS genre. Escalation will continue to evolve to add more features, resources, units, etc.

We are currently working to support inter-game multiplayer, though we expect most multiplayer enthusiasts will migrate to Escalation with the base game being the go-to game for LAN parties (we believe Escalation will become too complex to be a good candidate to introduce RTS games to).

We welcome your feedback and suggestions below.

A message for Sins of a Solar Empire players

Published on Thursday, November 10, 2016 By Brad Wardell In Blogging


I know some of you clicking on this email are hoping that I’m here to tell you about Sins of a Solar Empire II.  I hope to be able to talk more about Sins of a Solar Empire more in the near future but today I wanted to make sure you know that we’re releasing a new RTS today that I think you might like: Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation.

In many respects, it’s Sins of a Solar Empire on the surface of a planet.

If you already know you want it, get it here: 

Here’s a video of it in action: 


Get Escalation today:


Esc_SS4 Esc_SS2 Esc_SS3

Where you can visit us:

You are also welcome to contact me directly.  Your reply-to button for this email goes to me (this is my personal email address).

I also encourage you to follow me on Twitter. I’m much faster at responding online than via email and such.



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