Brad Wardell's Blog


Summer of Star Control

Published on Monday, July 29, 2019 By Brad Wardell In Star Control Journals


It's been an exciting Summer so far for fans of Star Control. Last month we re-released the classic trilogy on Steam, posted a major update to the engine to improve the visuals, and now we are busy working on chapter 3 of the Earth Rising expansion.

For those of you who have played the game or will be buying the game in the near future, let's talk about the galactic scene today.

Star Control takes place in the not-so-distant future. The stars are real stars, and in Origins they're placed based on their actual relative distances from Earth. We even have the known exoplanets in there.

The part of the galaxy we are in is known as the "Mid Spur," which refers to Orion's Spur (sometimes called Orion's arm), in a single sector called the "Scryve Sector". 

The Scryve sector contains hundreds of stars with thousands of planets. We travel between stars, skipping slightly above our dimension, through what is called Hyperspace.

Hyperspace isn't truly FTL travel (though you are traveling at near relativistic speeds) in the sense that your ship isn't itself going faster than light. Rather, Hyperspace exists in a dimension that warps space in incredibly intricate and really impossible to understand ways.



Traveling through hyperspace requires two key components: a Hyperdrive (which allows a ship to enter hyperspace), and a Hyperspace map to tell you where the stars are. Without the map, a ship would quickly get lost in Hyperspace. It is only through the map that the sensors of a ship can detect other star systems. 

What this means is that only stars that have been mapped and given Hyperspace coordinates can be found. This becomes obvious when you travel to the edge of "the map". The better question is: why is the edge so fixed and arbitrary? For instance, why is Earth placed where it is? These are all mysteries that Star Control players will gradually discover over the coming years.

For now, we hope you're having a good time playing and welcome any feedback, suggestions or requests for what you would like to see next! 

If you're new to Star Control, welcome to the galaxy!

The Video Game Machine = The Game that makes games

Published on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 By Brad Wardell In PC Gaming

Have you ever been playing a game and wished you could just hit a button and start changing it right in the middle of the game? Then you're going to love The Video Game Machine (VGM).

This is a game we've been working on for over four years.  Hopefully you'll be able to see why.

VGM isn't a development tool.  It's been designed so that anyone can make games with it.  Easily. Here's how it works:

First, you pick a genre.  We've started with popular genres from the 8-bit era (1980s and 1990s). 

Picking the genre eliminates most of the complexity right off the bat.  If you pick a side-scroller, you already have most of the basics down right there.  It's...a...side...scroller.  You can configure it further with the rule-book but the genre sets the stage for how the game is going to play.

image

Pick your genre

And since it's a side-scroller you have a hero right?

image

Pick your character

Eventually, you'll be able to import your own character, graphics, etc.  But for now, we supply the basics for you.

image

Once you name your game you're ready to go!

 

You then start with a clean slate:

image

You can also just load an existing game and start editing that, we include an ever increasing set of games

 

You can also pick your look.  Does the game look like it's being played on a CRT (television) or a modern monitor? What graphics set do you want to use?

image

We already include a ton of different tilesets so you can truly make your own world.

And again, eventually you'll be able to import new tile sets that you create.  But right now, we just want to focus players on the core features.

You can even choose the music you want:

image

You can set the pacing of the music which remarkably enough, can really alter the feeling of the game.

 

Not every side scroller is the same of course.  Super Mario Bros is very different from say an Endless Runner or say Commander Keen.  This is where the rule book comes in:

image

You can further customize the game with the Rulebook

image

Editing my game

image

Adding enemies

At any time, if you hit the TAB key you can start playing.  There is no separation from making and playing.   Here's me just hitting TAB:

image

Easy to switch from making to playing.

image

CRT effect!

This makes it super easy and fun because you can constantly try out your stuff.

 

By this point, you're probably starting to understand where things are going.   There are 3 levels of player for this game:

  • Player A: Just wants to play lots of cool games
  • Player B: Wants to make games but doesn't want to get too technical
  • Player C: Wants to mod games or make really sophisticated games.

For now, we're just focusing on player A and B.  But you can imagine eventually people being able to script up their own rules, their own AI stuff and their own mechanics and sharing them.  They then would show up in the rulebook or in the enemy list or have new tiles and new heroes and so on.

image

Once you have made a game, you can share it with the world.

image

Games made by others

Since we're just in alpha, you can already see the work we have ahead of us.  For instance, we'll need some sort of rating system on public stuff so people can choose between the good stuff and the stuff I made. 

Other Genres

For the Alpha, we only included two genres. Side-scroller and Adventure.

image

Adventure genre

Like with side-scrollers, there are a ton of different graphical choices to choose from.

The path forward

We're starting the alpha with the game only costing $10.  Obviously, it won't stay this way.  But we want to encourage lots of people to come try it out, give feedback, tell us what they like and don't like and of course, make games.

Like I said earlier, The Video Game Machine isn't a development tool.  It's meant to be fun.  It's not intended to compete with Unity or Unreal or even sophisticated game making products.  This is a game that is meant to make it easy and fun for people to create games in well understood genres. 

image

We made it very easy for people to tell their own stories through their games as well.

We internally have around 7 genres in various stages of development.  You can probably guess most of them.

Over time, as we advance, modders will be able to create and share their own music, tile-sets, enemies, game rules, gizmos, etc.

Starting today, May 29, 2019, you will be able to start playing it if you join the Founder's program.  Join the adventure at www.TheVGM.com.

Fantasy 4X strategy game, Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes gets major update

Published on Friday, May 10, 2019 By Brad Wardell In Elemental News

image

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 www.elementalgame.com as well as on Steam and GOG.

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

Screenshots:

image

image

image

image

Ashes of the Singularity is getting bigger

Published on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 By Brad Wardell In Ashes Dev Journals

Next month will mark the third anniversary of the original release of Ashes of the Singularity!

It's amazing how much things have changed since then.  I was looking at screenshots and gameplay video and the game has come so far from its first release.

This first image is from Ashes of the Singularity v1.0:

image

And here is what today's opt-in update looks like.

image

The first thing tto notice is how much bigger the buildings and units are. 

Here's a screenshot that shows it off better

image

We still have more work to do as the sizes are going to create some pathing and formation bugs which you will see for yourself if you try out the opt-in.  But the increased size makes the battles a lot more interesting and helps communicate the interactions between units much better.

Galactic Civilizations III: Retribution Journal #9 - Campaign

Published on Monday, April 15, 2019 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals

image

The new version of Galactic Civilizations III includes an updated campaign screen that shows the campaigns as part of a timeline. We wanted to help players know where different campaigns take place in the overall story.

It's hard to believe that the base GalCiv III campaign, Crusade, actually takes place in the middle of the stories that were released for GalCiv III!

Our story so far...

During the campaigns of Galactic Civilizations II, the story ends with the human main fleet teleporting to a pocket universe, but not before using a Precursor (Arnorian) artifact to protect the Earth from Drengin invasion.

Galactic Civilizations III deals with the fleet's return from the pocket universe with a new artifact. A powerful orb known as "the bane" that was a weapon used by the Mithrilar (the beings who created the Arnor in the first place). The Terran fleet, armed with Precursor technologies, swiftly frees the people of Earth, who have been busy building their own fleet behind their protective shield.

The humans go on a crusade to free the other civilizations from Drengin thralldom. Their campaign to free the galaxy starts to turn dark as the Thalan, a species introduced in GalCiv I, explain that they are travelers from an alternate future and that the bane exacts a terrible price for its use (which is why it was hidden in a pocket universe in the first place). The bane's user will begin to lose all manner of perspective, which will lead to the destruction of the galaxy.

Retribution is at hand

The Retribution campaign is a 4-part campaign. I will say, at the start, that Galactic Civilizations, being a space sandbox game, doesn't lend itself to story-based campaigns. I generally don't recommend that people play the campaigns until they are done playing the main game (as opposed to the other way around). The campaigns exist to help players know the lore for the world in which the game takes place.

With that warning said, let us begin destroying the universe.

Into the fire

The campaign introduces (or reintroduces) players to the Drath and Korath, who were both eliminated as major powers during Twilight of the Arnor and Dark Avatar, respectively, in Galactic Civilizations II. 

This campaign is the conclusion of the 23rd century era of Galactic Civilizations stories. While I won't promise you'll love the campaign gameplay (they're not my cup of tea), I hope you enjoy the story they tell.

______________________________

Retribution Journals

Journal #1

Journal #2

Journal #3

Journal #4

Journal #5

Journal #6

Journal #7

Journal #8

Journal #9 (Current)

708 pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next