Brad Wardell's Blog

Ashes of the Singularity v2.0 Changes

Published on Sunday, May 31, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Ashes Dev Journals

Changelog for what I'm working on for Ashes v2.0:


Structure Changes

  • Quantum Archive radioactive cost increased from 300 to 400
  • Quantum Relay radioactive cost increased from 300 to 400
  • PHC Refinery radioactive cost increased from 300 to 600, time increased from 90 to 120.  This was done to decrease early game use of it.
Unit Changes
The big change here is that the Substrate units that had armor have had it removed.  Instead, shields have been slightly increased and shield regen increased.
  • Mobile Nullifier radoactive cost increased from 500 to 700
  • Nemesis (PHC sniper) radioactive cost increased from 100 to 200
  • Hades HP increased from 1200 to 1400
  • Hades radioactive cost increased from 180 to 240
  • Harvester radioactive cost increased from 280 to 512 for same reason that the PHC refinery cost was increased. It is not intended as an early game unit.
Weapon Changes
Weapons that had a minor armor piercing ability have been removed.  Generally, weapons either penetrate armor or they do not.  Figuring out whether armor piercing of 4 in the middle of the game will matter is not helpful.
  • Artemis barrage reduced from 6 shots to 5 shots.
  • Artemis shot AOE increased from 30 to 75.
  • Artemis damage reduced from 85 to 70
  • Artemis projectile speed reduced from 150m/s to 100m/s
  • Avenger's Plasma bolt hose (Substrate anti-TI killer) reload time increased from 9.6 to 2.1
  • Avenger Plasma bolt hose bolt count increased from 8 to 12
  • Avenger Plasma bolt hose will no longer target buildings
  • Destructor Plasma Rain (Substrate building killer weapon) will no longer target units
  • Destructor Plasma Rain bolts per volley increased from 12 to 16.
  • Drone bolt range decreased from 400m to 300m
  • Hyena Cutting Array (Substrate Mauler primary weapon) reload time increased from 2.8 to 4.2. Duration increased from 2.2 to 2.5 DPS increased from 70 to 75.
  • Nemesis Rail gun (primary PHC sniper weapon) reload time reduced from 9 to 5.5.  Damage increased from 800 to 900. Can no longer target buildings. Range increased from 1400 to 1600  The unit is more expensive but is now more capable of countering mass dreadnought spam.  The cost bump from 100 to 200 radioactive makes it too expensive to justify as an anti T1/T2 unit.
  • Orbital Strike no longer has armor penetration. Damage decreased from 1000 to 800.
  • Archer (PHC T1 primary weapon) rockets creased from 3 shots to 2. Reload time increased from 3 to 4. Damage increased from 30 to 40. (80 damage delivered).
  • Brute (PHC1 T1 primary weapon) Plasma bolt shot count increased from 6 to 7. Damaged increased from 3.5 to 5.
  • Reaper (Substrate T1 primary) range reduced from 525m to 450m. Reload time increased from 1.06s to 2.1s. Duration increased from 2.4 to 2.8.
In addition to these changes, there was a general pass on secondary weapons of T2s, T3s, and T4s to make those weapons fire more often but do less damage.
Building changes
  • Buildings given an armor value of 4 to encourage players to choose building destroying units that can only target structures.  For example, a unit that does 5 damage per shot will have 4 of it absorbed by armor with only 1 point doing damage.  However, a weapon that have armor piercing will bypass this.
Special Ability Changes
  • Plasma Storm AOE increased from 500 to 600. damage per second reduced from 10 to 5. The objective is to make Plasma Storm an area denial weapon not to simply wipe out swaths of units.  We may reduce the damage further and increase its effect in a future update.

Stung right on the knuckles

Published on Friday, May 29, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Life, the Universe and Everything

I do my first Spring inspection on the new hive.  The bees are really gentle so I don't bother wearing gear.  No problem.

But when I go to put the hive back togoether, one young bee has managed to get stuck on the outside. Knowing that she isn't likely to find her way back in (she can't fly yet) I take her on my finger and try to get her to walk back in the front.  She insists on walking on my arm.  

Eventually I gently blow to get her to move back towards my fingers and into the hive.  When she reaches my knuckles, BAM, she stings me.  No good deed...


Stardock games in the pipeline

Published on Friday, May 29, 2020 By Brad Wardell In PC Gaming

I've worked on a lot of games over the years.  It's really hard, on a personal level, to dedicate multiple years to a single project.  It's the nature of the business but at the end of each project I end up in quite a bit of a funk.  

Looking back on my own schedule here is what I've been worked on:

  • 1992: GalCiv OS/2
  • 1993: GalCiv OS/2
  • 1994: GalCiv OS/2
  • 1995: GalCiv 2 OS/2
  • 1996: Avarice
  • 1996: Trials of battle
  • 1996: Entrepreneur [Pear engine]
  • 1997: Entrepreneur [Pear engine]
  • 1998: Links Golf OS/2
  • 1998: StarCraft: Retribution
  • 1999: Business Tycoon [Pear engine]
  • 2000: The Corporate Machine [Pear engine]
  • 2001: The Corporate Machine [Pear engine]
  • 2002: GalCiv Windows [Pear engine]
  • 2003: GalCiv Windows [Pear engine]
  • 2004: The Political Machine [Pear engine]
  • 2005: GalCiv II Windows [Kumquat]
  • 2006: GalCiv II Windows [Kumquat]
  • 2007: Sins of a Solar Empire  [Iron]
  • 2007: GalCiv II Windows [Kumquat]
  • 2008: Demigod [Forge]
  • 2008: GalCiv II Windows [Kumquat]
  • 2009: GalCiv II Windows [Kumquat]
  • 2008: Sins of a Solar Empire [Iron]
  • 2009: Demigod [Forge]
  • 2009: Elemental [Kumquat NG]
  • 2010: Elemental [Kumquat NG]
  • 2011: Fallen Enchantress [Kumquat NG]
  • 2012: Fallen Enchantress [Kumquat NG]
  • 2012: The Political Machine [Kumquat]
  • 2013: Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes [Kumquat NG]
  • 2014: Ashes of the Singularity [Nitrous]
  • 2014: Offworld Trading Company [Unity]
  • 2015: Ashes of the Singularity [Nitrous]
  • 2015: Offworld Trading Company [Unity]
  • 2015: Sorcerer King [Kumquat NG]
  • 2016: Ashes of the Singularity [Nitrous]
  • 2016: Sorcerer King  [Kumquat NG]
  • 2017: GalCiv III [Kumquat Galactic]
  • 2018: GalCiv III [Kumquat Galactic]
  • 2018: Star Control: Origins [Cider]
  • 2019: Star Control: Origins [Cider]
  • 2019: GalCiv III [Kumquat Galactic]
  • 2020: [UNANNOUNCED] [Cider]
Which brings us to the future projects:
  1. GalCiv IV [Kumquat Galactic]
  2. Unannounced game 1 
  3. Unannounced game 2 [Cider]
  4. Ashes of the Singularity II  [Cider]
  5. Star Control: Sequel [Cider]
There's quite a bit of demand for Ashes II.   Cider is built on Nitrous (think of Nitrous as the kernel and Cider as the game engine).  Unfortunately, we're pretty booked and the software group has threatened violence if I steal any more engineers.

Writing your next game in Lua

Published on Friday, May 29, 2020 By Brad Wardell In PC Gaming

I recently wrote an article for Gamasutra on scripting languages and game engines.  

Whether it be Lua or Python or some other scripting language, I think there is a lot to be said about not having to compile your code after every change.  It makes iteration much faster to be able to be playing the game and be writing code changes to improve it while it's running and have those changes simply update.

I don't have a strong preference between Lua and Python other than I prefer Lua's C++ like nature and it's small and fast.  Our engine, Cider, can use any but our next generation of games will be using Lua.  

Using Lua means other people could, in effect, completely mod up our games to be completely different because the gameplay is largely available.

Traditionally, performance is an issue in using scripting.  But that was before we had a core-neutral engine core: Nitrous.  If you have a 4 core system (8 logical threads) then scripting becomes a non-issue.  At that point, it's really video card stuff that becomes the limiting factor.

I'm a total convert.  The only thing I don't love, which we have to deal with still, is the debugging.

Taking a break from Twitter

Published on Friday, May 29, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Life, the Universe and Everything

It's funny how Twitter started out claiming it was a messaging service.  And yet, over the years, it has become as moderated, often with a political bias to its moderation, as any community forum.

I wonder if it might be worth putting in effort on  Before there was Facebook or Twitter, we had JoeUser which was intended to be a place where people could easily share their thoughts with friends.

Most to least fun I’ve had on a given game project

Published on Saturday, May 2, 2020 By Brad Wardell In PC Gaming
  1. Elemental: War of Magic (most fun) [2010]
  2. Galactic Civilizations OS/2 [1993]
  3. Galactic Civilizations II [2006]
  4. Star Control: Origins [2018]
  5. The Corporate Machine [2000]
  6. Sins of a Solar Empire [2008]
  7. Fallen Enchantress [2012]
  8. Stellar Frontier [1999]
  9. Ashes of the Singularity [2016]
  10. Trials of Battle [1996]
  11. Avarice [1996]
  12. Offworld Trading Company [2016]
  13. Galactic Civilizations I [2003]
  14. The Political Machine [2004]
  15. Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade [2017]
  16. StarCraft: Retribution [1998]
  17. Sorcerer King [2016]
  18. Demigod (least fun) [2009]

None of this is meant to imply that any of them were bad experiences.  Just that some were more enjoyable than others.

Stardock Curtains brings new customization options to Windows

Published on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Software Blog

Last year, Microsoft released “Dark Mode” to Windows 10 users.  Dark Mode gave users an alternative color and style option to the Windows GUI. 

Now, Stardock is preparing to release a new customization program called Curtains.  Curtains works similarly to the modes that Microsoft has implemented.  Any app that already supports the existing dark and light modes will automatically benefit from Curtains.


Stardock Curtains

Stardock Curtains includes several new styles such as Graphite, Crystal, Sky, and Midnight.  It also includes styles that give users the ability to change Windows to look like previous versions of Windows (XP, Windows 95, etc.), as well as alternative operating systems.

Stardock is well known for its customization programs including Fences, Groupy and Start10.  It also is the developer of classic GUI “skinning” apps such as WindowBlinds.  Unlike WindowBlinds, which is far more comprehensive, Curtains doesn’t take over the painting of the Windows GUI but instead works akin to how Dark and Light mode on Windows 10 works.  This means that it inherently takes advantage of different DPI settings and is able to leverage apps that already support Dark and Light Mode.

For Creators

Another big difference between Curtains and WindowBlinds is the complexity of a Style versus a WindowBlinds skin.  Because WindowBlinds essentially takes on the responsibility of drawing the GUI of windows, skins must include all of the GUI controls.  One missing element or one poorly designed control and a WindowBlinds skin can look incomplete.  By contrast, Curtains only needs to supply a handful of images and settings.  It’s simple enough that style modifying and creating is part of its configuration.


It is very simple to create or modify existing styles



Curtains will be going into beta on Stardock’s Object Desktop suite of Windows enhancements tools next week (late April 2020).  A stand-alone version is expected later in the Spring.

Visit to get it.




Fluent Peach (Peach Mode)



Dark Waters





Fluent Red (Red Mode)











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