Brad Wardell's Blog


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 JoeUser.com.  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.

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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.

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It is very simple to create or modify existing styles

 

Availability

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 www.objectdesktop.com to get it.

 

Screenshots

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Fluent Peach (Peach Mode)

 

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Dark Waters

 

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Crystal

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Fluent Red (Red Mode)

 

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Workbench

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MacMono

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Midnight

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Warp

 

GalCiv III Dev Journal: April 2020

Published on Wednesday, April 15, 2020 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals

So we are on the road to v4.0.  It's hard to believe that GalCiv III was released five years ago.  We've made a lot of changes since then.

Version 4.0 is designed to do a lot of different things.  I won't go over all the changes here but instead will take you on a bit of a guided tour.

Most of the changes are for users of Retribution which is the latest expansion.  If you don't have that, I highly recommend getting it.

Turn 1

On your first turn you're going to likely notice some subtle but important changes.

First, more food.  There are a lot more fertile tiles in general that you can use either for farming or plow away to build other things.

There is also an Administrative Center that you can have 1 per planet with.  It gives you 2 admin points but it's also useful because it enhances adjacent structures.

There has also been a slight tweak to the costs of planetary improvements (on Retribution).  You also end up with a fuller set of choices.  

Not only have asteroid fields been made bigger but Durantium is more common as well.

Technologies have been tweaked so that more administrative points are handed out and a lot more trade routes are handed out.  For instance (Retribution), Xeno Commerce now provides 5 trade routes instead of 2.

Early game changes

Resources like Promethion are somewhat more common as well.

On the other hand, while we've added more asteroids, we've reduced the amount of raw resources mining bases give from 1.0 to 0.50.  As many know, by late game, a disproportionate amount of raw resources ends up coming from the asteroids which was not the intent.  

Instead, because food is so much more common, players will tend to have much larger populations which do provide, over time, more production.

Planets themselves have gotten a bit of a make-over.  More interesting layouts and more interesting cosmetics.

Even Mars.

And this is all in the first 20 turns or so.   We will discuss more as we get closer.

Highlighted feature

A lot of users have asked for the ability to turn OFF the colonies auto-upgrading structures.

Coming in v4.0 in May!

The PC of the future - The new desktop

Published on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 By Brad Wardell In Software Blog

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This PC is using Windows 10.  But not just Windows 10 on its own.  It's been upgraded a bit with Object Desktop. That's what Object Desktop does.  A lot of the things in Windows we see today first showed up in Object Desktop.  A few examples include transparencies, shadows, gadgets, ZIP files as folders, GUI skinning, etc.  There is a natural progression to the operating system.

On this screenshot I have Groupy, CursorFX, Fences, Start10 and a new app that hasn't been announced yet. 

The PC of the future series is going to explore where we think the desktop is going. This PC has 64 CPU cores and 128 logical processors.  It has 128 GB of memory and an extremely fast GPU.  So what are we going to do with this hardware? That’s what this series will explore.

Edit: Additional screenshots below.

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