Brad Wardell's Blog

How can forums compete with Reddit?

Published on Friday, December 25, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Everything Else

I'll be honest with you.  I spend a lot of time on Reddit.   

One can see a direct correlation between the rice of Reddit (and to a lesser extent Twitter and Facebook) and the fall of blogs and forums.

And I think that's a shame because the nice thing about forums is that you get to know the regulars and there are many nice features on forums that Reddit doesn't have.

Still, the UI on many forums, including ours, is not as good as I'd like to see.  Which makes me wonder, what would it take to make forums more competitive to Reddit? What would they need for you to come visit more?

One reason I ask is that over the next 18 months Stardock is going to be releasing a lot of stuff and we'd like to get our forums in shape to hopefully offer a fun and useful place to spend time at.  

In 2020, we did a number of behind the scenes updates that regulars might have noticed (for instance, the entire backend got a huge upgrade making everything much faster).  But there's a lot of UX stuff that we don't have a consistent opinion on which shows. 

So we're asking you, what are 5 things you would do to these forums that would make you and other more inclined to visit?

Sins of a Solar Empire at the end of 2020

Published on Friday, December 25, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Sins of a Solar Empire

Merry Christmas everyone!

So 2020 has come and gone.  We hope to have some exciting news for you this next year in the world of Sins.  In the meantime, we will be continuing to do events and hopefully have some new updates to the game in the coming months.


GalCiv at the end of 2020

Published on Friday, December 25, 2020 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals

It's hard to believe that GalCiv III was released over 5 years ago.  Since then, we've had a few major expansions and a lot of DLC.

As we enter 2021, we have finally reached the stage where GalCiv III won't be seeing any new DLC but will continue to get updates in the form of balance, fixes and performance improvements as we find them.  Updates will be less frequent as QA time is particularly precious right now.

We are very proud of how Galactic Civilizations III evolved.  We have taken a lot of lessons from it on things that people liked (citizens, hyper gates, artifacts) and things that players didn't like so much (how invasions worked, commonwealths, how governments worked) and will be applying these lessons in the future.

One feature of GalCiv we have discussed many times is how future-proof the engine was.  And that has indeed been proven out as the engine is state of the art (does need its rendering module updated to DX12 at some point).  This means that its future sequel will start out much more fleshed out.  

With GalCiv III v1.0, we basically had to start from scratch which was a real bitter pill, especially given that I had spent oner a decade on the GalCiv OS/2 and Windows I/II AI tech which had to be rewritten.

For those who don't already have GalCiv III, now is the best time to get it.  It is now in its fully realized form.  And for those of you who have been on this journey with us, I hope you like how its evolved and thank you for being there with us!

Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

Star Control: End of 2020 status report

Published on Thursday, December 24, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Star Control

It's Christmas Eve as I write this.  2020 has been a pretty crazy year.  Covid has affected us just as it has probably affected many of you.

In the case of Star Control, it has put a big crimp in our plans.  

The roadmap for Star Control is for us to bring the engine to be cross platform between PC, XBOX and PS.  The problem is that the project has a single dev kit per platform.  Normally this isn't a big deal.  But with everyone working at home, we can't realistically "Share" the kit.  We have the game largely ported to the XBOX but it's not ready for certification.  We haven't even started on the PS version of it.

In the process of porting, we've been able to make a number of improvements to the game from a performance point of view but again, not enough bandwidth to put it together for a PC update.

Once we have a unified version of the game, we will release it onto PS4/PS5/XBO/XBSX.  But I don't have any timeline for that as we are still all working from home sharing a single kit.

Meanwhile, the Star Control team has been sent over to other projects we have going on that you will likely start to hear about sometime next year.

The next Star Control sequel is still in the works but remains in pre-production.  We learned a lot during the development of Star Control: Origins and are pretty eager to apply those lessons to the next Star Control game.  But rest assured, that the Tywom, Phamyst, Arilou, Mowlings, and of course Jeff will be back for more plus a bunch of new aliens as Earth begins to explore new parsecs in the Scryve sector.

Stay tuned and have a merry Christmas!

The new Mac M1

Published on Thursday, December 24, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Personal Computing

So I got the new MacBook Air M1.  I have to say, it's pretty amazing.  It's, by far, the fastest laptop I've ever used in terms of how it feels to use.  This is likely a combination of the OS (MacOS tends just feel more responsive than Windows) and the phenomenal performance of the M1.

Anyone else pick this up yet?

This is why mass mail-in voting was a bad idea

Published on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Politics

When you vote in person, the trust-level of the result is high.   I fill out my ballot, I walk to a machine with a poll worker and I insert it in and my vote is cast.

But with mail-in votes, especially ones where the ballot applications are mailed out, you have a bunch of vulnerable points in the process:

  1. You have the possibility of harvesting the applications.  Picture an operative going to a college dorm or a high density housing complex and going door to door to gather those applications and sending them in.   This part isn't particularly problematic because it's just the application.
  2. The follow-up, called ballot-harvesting, is a much bigger problem.  You have operatives arriving and ensuring that the people vote "correctly" and then gather up the ballots and send them in.  Anonymous voting is extremely important for reasons that have been widely discussed elsewhere.  Ballot harvesting is very difficult to prevent in this system.
  3. In both 1 and 2, you are relying on the application and the ballot to, in general, make it through the mail system.  These ballots/applications can be easily lost.  Which way different neighborhoods tend to vote is not an mystery.
  4. You also have the issue with people who shouldn't be voting voting.  This is the "no voter ID" issue on steroids.  Whether it be adults voting in place of their parents in nursing homes or even people who just shouldn't have received an application because they died or moved and having an operative take care of the rest is a problem.

Now, in none of these examples can this make up for a massive lead.  But it can probably generate a 1% delta in a given state. 

This is why, for the integrity of our system, voting should be done in person.


Your remote working setup

Published on Sunday, August 23, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Personal Computing

With many people working out of the office, how are you handling it?

I confess I feel pretty blessed that I get to work daily with my sons up at the lake.  One is a 3D artists and the other a systems engineer.  Here is a picture of our setup.

image image

It’s a little messy and ad-hoc but super comfy and productive.

MacBook Pros really do hold up

Published on Friday, June 19, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Personal Computing

I have a 2012 MacBook Pro that I'm using to type this on.

As a Windows/PC user mainly, I am used to my PC laptops and desktops start to feel slow and obsolete after a few years.  

Yet, this laptop feels as good as ever.  The display is still amazing, arguably better than my Surface Book 3 (Which I have here and yet find myself using the Mac when doing light work) and the GUI remains as smooth and responsive as ever.

That is one big benefit of MacBook Pros over every PC laptop I've ever used, they retain their value.

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