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Community Newsletter #1 - 04/26/2019

Published on Friday, April 26, 2019 By SchismNavigator In Stardock Community Newsletter

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the new Stardock Community Newsletter!

Today we will be going over some of the things happening in the community including game updates and events being run, as well as sitting down to talk with a crazy active mod maker.

This edition is separated into three sections (Horizon, The Forge, Uplink) but future editions shall include an additional section with an update on topics from the previous edition.


The Horizon

Community news and upcoming events

Siege of Centauri Roadmap

This month we have been busy, really busy, like so busy that we think we left the stove on but there is no time to go and check so here is hoping nothing has burned down. Why so busy?

Siege of Centauri went into early access this last week!

Leading up to release we have been very fortunate to have amazing feedback from select alpha playtesters and our founders. The game would not have launched as well as it did without their invaluable input. Thank you guys and please keep sending us your feedback!

Now that the game has been out for nearly two weeks are finally getting to implement some of the initial wave of feedback from the wider group of players who have come along for the ride of early access on Steam.

Some, but certainly not all, of the updates on the horizon (callback) can be read about in a Steam news post from Brad. Personally speaking, I can not wait to see what you guys think of the new pausing mechanic, build grid system and new turrets which are coming soon.

If you are a streamer or YouTuber and are interested in Siege of Centauri get in contact either here on our forums or on our Discord server.


Sins Mega Mod Mashup

With so many different mods for Sins there it was only a matter of time someone would try something like this. One of the mod makers and streamers in the Sins of a Solar Empire Community is taking it upon themselves to work on a new mashup mod. This is primarily being directed by their community but it is not too late to follow and perhaps help influence the direction it takes.

The goal is to include various models and ideas from the disparate mods, with the various creators' permission, to create a unique mashup mod.

Here is the first video in the series.


Ashes of the Singularity 3.0 In Dev

Yes, work on 3.0 for Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation has begun. It is still a little early on and we do not have an official announcement for what will eventually be included, some of which will depend on Siege of Centauri. However, Brad himself has begun with some fixes and adjustments with the v2.79 opt-in build now available on Steam.

You can read some more about some of the changes included in this next patch here. You can provide feedback on the changes on the forums or on Discord.


OTC Casuals Tournament

Trattpingvin from the Offworld Trading Company community discord server has been doing some great work recently running different tournaments. The latest one is scheduled to start this Saturday (27th April) and is aimed at the more casual player.

The top prize is a Steam game worth up to €20 with three runner ups winning a Conspicuous Consumption DLC steam key each.

More details are available here.



The Forge

Showcase of a single creator and/or creation


Every day we are amazed by the creative and passionate people who not content to merely play video games, one of life's best pursuits but change them, create with them and often finding new and inventive ways to break them.

Today we want to shout out to one of the oldest and most prolific creators in the Galactic Civilizations community.

With well over 800 items on the Steam Workshop for Galactic Civilizations III it is easy to see why Airmaster is one of the most recognizable names for people who love to load up on custom races, ships and have a blast roleplaying in GC3.

Whilst he is known for recreating popular science-fiction ships and races I am going to highlight Airmaster's original work.

The Terran Sovereignty is a custom civilization complete with some thirty-six new ships. This range from the fast and nimble Tiger II through to the torpedo titan Colossus.

Anyone with Galactic Civilizations III can explore this collection for themselves by following the link to Airmaster steam workshop here.



The Uplink

Uplink is the guest portion of the newsletter where we sit down and talk with someone from the community itself. We find out who they are, what they are all about and why you should like, fav and subscribe to them on YouTube, or something like that.

#1 - Sundered Echo

For our inaugural edition, we sat down and spoke with Sundered Echo (AKA Sovereign Echo), a mod maker from the Sins of a Solar Empire community who has been creating a bit of a stir amongst many of the longest running mods. Not many people who only casually follow the modding scene might know about this guy yet but he has been doing some interesting things behind the scenes and so we thought we would sit down and ask them about it.

Listen to the full interview here.


Transcript (Abridged)

Schism Navigator (SN): Today I am sitting down to talk with Sundered Echo, one of the modders in our Sins of a Solar Empire community. To start with the most simple question which is going to put you immediately on the spot: Tell us about yourself.

Sundered Echo (SE): In terms of my participation in the Sins modding community I am the lead coder in the Dawn of the Reapers mod, which is focused around Mass Effect. I am also a coder on Ages of the Federation, an upcoming Star Trek mod.

SN: I remember someone say you might be involved in something else as well.

SE: We have some secret projects at Prolific Studios and sometimes I help out Sins of the Prophets the Halo mod.

SN: A little birdy told me you have been really, really active with the Sins modding community recently. Up until 6 months ago I don't think anyone had necessarily even heard of you.

SE: That is correct. I think it was around July last year that I started seriously modding Sins.

SN: That leads to our next question, what attracted you to Sins in the first place.

SE: That's going way back. I remember the original Sins in a box on a shelf. I was very young and I'm very fond of sci-fi and ships. The combination therein is the best thing ever as far as I am concerned. I remember getting it in a boxed copy and staring at it longingly but I did not get it that day the parents wallet was not opening.

SN: Obviously you've been playing Sins long before becoming a modder. Are there any other games that motivate and inspires you as a creator?

SE: I have a very long list of games on Steam, as well as some on Origin as that's the only way to get Mass Effect. Obviously I am a big fan of Mass Effect, all of them, maybe not so much Andromeda. I also enjoy at the moment Battlefleet Gothic Armada II. Once again spaceships and big capital combat.

SN: I can see a pattern.

SE: Been getting back into World of Warships, Stellaris. I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't mention Homeworld.

SN: Some degree of pride being a big Homeworld fan myself. The studio that made Homeworld Cataclysm split and Ironclad were actually one of the three studios that came from that team. So some of the people who made Homeworld Cataclysm also were the minds behind Sins of a Solar Empire. It's a small world.

SE: Indeed.

SN: So was there anything in particular that drew you into modding?

SE: Well there is actually a very particular thing. I had been watching the Dawn of the Reapers mod since the beginning of the mod. Eagerly anticipating it for a long time. I believe it was version 0.4 I downloaded and I looked at all the descriptions' and thought; wow they really need to work on this, this is not very good. And so I thought to myself "I can do this better, this can't be that hard." So I did up a massively overly fancy application, reading up on strings and modding Sins. I sent this application to Lord Set the founder of the mod and I joined at first to do nothing but strings, which is the descriptions of units and things in the game.

SN: A million tooltips basically.

SE: Yeah, but then... You're gonna get a small history lesson. We were active for a little while but then Set decided he had to focus on some real life things and disappeared somewhat. And then around about before July last year he reappeared out of the blue and I had actually just been considering quitting. He contacted me and asked if I wanted to start up again but I wanted to make sure he wouldn't disappear again. We realised we had lost a lot of the original team that included people who did code. Set hated doing code so I asked if I could do it. He pointed me towards the tools and from there it was experimentation.

SN: Was there anyone you got tips from, learning from guides or tools others had made?

SE: It's a little bit intimidating actually and I think it's gotten a little bit better over the last few months. Mostly I figured it out on my own but it was primarily because of the wonderful tools that Zombierus or Zombies-R-Us made. It was mostly looking at existing code and reverse-engineering it from there.

SN: With all that in mind. What advice would you give to other people coming into modding?

SE: I am a firm believer that experimentation is the best way to learn. We have an in-joke that if we haven't managed to break Sins we aren't pushing it hard enough. I try to dream all of the features and push it just until it breaks and then dial it back. Do not be afraid to experiment.

SN: Yes, everyone please break our game!

SE: It can be a big commitment of time and the reason I am able to work on so many mods as I am is because I don't have much else consuming my time. Definitely don't try to join several mods at once like I have!

SN: It's a lot of experience.

SE: It's quite rewarding actually. A joy to create. But you should definitely ask the veterans as much as possible. We look scary but generally we're not. And I have found especially in recent years or months people seem a lot more willing to share what they've done. Especially if you give them credit!

SN: That is something I've noticed not just with Sins. One of the things is there are the best people who are in those communities it's important to them that people cite credit. Most people are cool with others using their code or models so long as they are properly credited. Some of the biggest mods you have assets that were made many years ago still being used and reused.

SE: Another thing to remember is that new ideas might seem silly but it's important to try new things. One of the things veterans told me is I came in without the long term history of modding Sins. So I have new ideas and try to break it in new and interesting ways. Even if you think your idea is silly, go with it anyway, test it because it might work. I must say though that the support that Blair and the guys continue to provide to this game. They don't have to keep supporting us but they do and they keep adding features for modders and that's excellent I am very thankful for that.

SN: I think there is real value in that longterm support and we do take a measure of pride in that at Stardock with all of our titles. Like we even got an update with GalCiv 2 last year. Old games never really die, never truly die. So wrapping it up, where can people find you and what are you working on?

SE: The primary way to get in touch with me would be on the Dawn of the Reapers discord, the Sins of A Solar Empire discord or the Stellar Parallax discord. I generally am pretty friendly and try to answer people who come to me with questions.

SN: Hopefully a lot more questions now.

SE: Oh no, what have I done?