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Star Control - The Art of Storytelling

Published on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 By Frogboy In Star Control Journals

We live in an age where developers actually brag about creating random quests as if that’s a good thing.

In an age of gigabytes of memory the challenge isn’t in how many worlds you have, it is how to make those worlds compelling.

In Star Control: Origins, there are no random missions. 

No episode of Star Trek ever ended with Captain Kirk receiving 14 Dilithium crystals for his troubles.  Star Control is about telling stories in which you are the central character.

Each mission is designed to tell a story.  While we don’t forbid missions from giving the player some sort of tangible reward, most of them simply alter the universe in some, subtle way.  It is the journey, not the destination we care about.

Consider the popular HBO series, Westworld®.   In that series, guests travel to Westworld and interact with “hosts” that are AI-driven beings with scripts.  In no episode is it suggested that guests leave with some sort of monetary benefit.  Instead, the world is designed for visitors to learn a little bit more about themselves.

While the central narrative (spoiler alert – not really) is that you must save the human race from certain annihilation, there is one way to accomplish that task.  Far be it from us to get in the way of a voyage of self discovery. You have a goal (save all life on Earth from terrible murder aliens).  How you do that is none of our business.  We just hope you do it. You know, so that we don’t…well…die. Living is our favorite state of existence.

Building a rich, living universe

So you might ask yourself, if you’re not going to resort to randomly generated quests where the player does X to get Y, how are you going to have enough content to make the world feel truly alive?

The answer, my friends, is that you make it easy for creators to tell stories.

Consider for a moment the user interface presented in Westworld:


Now, to be fair, this system is far too complex for the authors we are seeking out to use.   Our answer is Adventure Studo, a new major application we are working on.  This app alone is as big as one of our major software projects.  Its purpose is to make it possible for us to recruit Sci-Fi authors to easily create their own stories in Star Control.

Like many of you, we love to tell stories.  Stories that don’t necessarily end with the protagonist gaining 5 quadroons of space-gold.   And the way you make that happen is to make it easy for creators to do their thing.

At GDC, we’ll be showing off Adventure Studio.  To my knowledge, no one has ever tried to do something like this (though I want to give props to the Never Winter Nights team for doing a lot of pioneering in this area). 

Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Star Control: February 2018 - Of the Lexites

Published on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 By Frogboy In Star Control Journals

The new Star Control is moving swiftly!  We expect to release Fleet Battles Beta 2 within the next several weeks as most of our work is focused on the adventure game.

We have been listening to feedback from the fans and incorporated that feedback into the project.

For example, below is a screenshot which shows the updated home solar system:


Our home solar system

Continue Reading...

Galactic Civilizations III v3 Preview: Farming

Published on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals

How will we feed our billions?

In Galactic Civilizations III, we presume that by the time we are colonizing planets, our home world has reached an equilibrium between food production and population.  But let's face it: when we colonize other planets, it'll take many years for those planets to build up sufficient farming infrastructure to produce for the kinds of populations you have on your home world.


Surplus Food

Galactic Civilizations III will be treating food a bit differently to reflect the awareness of just how important a large population is on your planets. 

When Galactic Civilizations III first shipped, players built farms on planets and that would increase that planet's population.  Because it was so easy to increase your population, our conversion between population to production was: production = the square root of population.

Continue Reading...

Galactic Civilizations III: Map Sizes and Memory

Published on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals

One of the biggest challenges we have faced in developing Galactic Civilizations III has been map sizes and the memory they require.

On a number of occasions, we have tried to reduce the the largest map sizes down to improve performance and shrink memory requirements.  And each time we have attempted to do that, we have ended up with a very vocal outcry of anger.

But large map sizes come with a significant memory cost to be aware of.

Continue Reading...

ASHES DEV JOURNAL: February 2018

Published on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 By GGTheMachine In Ashes Dev Journals



Yesterday we launched the 2.71 update which featured a number of changes to air units and some improvements to Scenarios and Campaigns. With King of the Hill and Overlord tweaked, this now means almost every Scenario and almost every Campaign mission has received a rework over the last year compared to how it was when they launched. Sometimes I get nostalgic for how much Ashes has changed since I started last January and how overpowered certain strategies used to be (Punisher rush, anyone?).

Continue Reading...

Galactic Civilizations III: Let's talk food.

Published on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals


I'm not liking the farming mechanic.  It seemed like a good idea on paper but in practice, it's just tedious and exploitive.  Here's how I'd like to see it work:


Some planets would have a Arable land tile including all starting planets.  Building on these tiles produces food.

The tech tree would have a path for players who want to get the most out of those resources to get a lot of food.  The arable land resource be destructable -- you can destroy it (like you can any resource btw) to put something else there.   This would make food take its rightful place as an important strategic resource rather than one that is simply produced by min/maxing.

What are your thoughts?

Stronger, smarter, faster - v2.8 for Galactic Civilizations III brings major AI improvements

Published on Thursday, February 8, 2018 By Island Dog In GalCiv III News

AI for the massive-scale space strategy game now more
human-like thanks to v2.8's 
"supreme commander" system update
For a complete list of changes, see the changelog at the bottom of the post!

Galactic Civilizations III is the largest 4X space strategy sandbox game ever. Set in the 23rd century, you’ll compete against humans and all manner of aliens for galactic domination. Research new technologies, explore the galaxy, and colonize new worlds while engaging in diplomatic intrigue - or, sometimes, all-out war - with other races and answer the question: how will you rule your galaxy?


GC3 v2.8


What's new in v2.8:

v2.8 leverages one of the greatest advantages of Galactic Civilizations III: its new, 64-bit, core-neutral game engine. Since most PC gamers have at least 4 CPU cores, we took the opportunity to develop a semi-genetic algorithm based AI that allows the computer to play much more like a human would.

GalCiv III is already known for its good computer opponents. To continue creating new depth of experience for our playerbase, the new asynchronous “supreme commander” AI will observe and send priorities for computer empires, which will feel much more like playing against another human.

We want players to have lots of viable strategic choices. To that end, we have been making lots of balance updates over the past year. v2.8 will help players play as a “tall” empire as well as a “wide” empire by giving them the potential to tilt the balance of the galaxy through smaller empires and well-run nation states.

The final focus of the new update has been in the ongoing drive to make the game more approachable without sacrificing its celebrated depth. A number of new UI elements to streamline gameplay, additional in-game descriptions, and more. Some changes are minor improvements, like moving rarely-used features to a different place, but other changes like defense modifications for ships will make the game even more intuitive and satisfying.

GC3 v2.8 GC3 v2.8
GC3 v2.8 GC3 v2.8


v2.8 is now available 
Don’t own Galactic Civilizations III yet? Save 10% when you buy direct!
Also available on Steam. 



v2.8 Changelog

  • Required starbase spacing reduced from 4 to 3.
  • Balance pass on defenses based on new combat update that makes defenses a lot more worthwhile.
  • Updated AI ship blueprints to reflect the changes to the battle system.
  • Pacing improvements for the Crusade tech tree.
  • Industrial Sector maint reduced from 2 to 1
  • Recruit Celebrity requires an Aurorus Arbortetum instead of Helios Ore because, uh, why would any celebrity be interested in raw ore? How does that even work? Hey, famous movie star, here's some metallic ore for you. Please do a USO tour. Because... you know, you'll get some ore!  As the famous saying goes, you will attract more celebrities with flowers than...ore.
  • Torians can once again increase their population cap (opt-in bug)
  • Restored missing improvement and tech text that was missing from the opt-in.
  • Commander ships are no longer stackable in a fleet
  • Mega Resort -- changed the bonus from +25% bonus to a flat +4.
  • Financial buildings now provide +1 to influence growth
  • Major boost to defenses: Defenses are now reduced by the squareroot of damage rather than full damage making defenses much better.
  • Base Research Lab returned to base game
  • Cultural Festival now requires Cultural Influence
  • Peacekeeper event won't trigger until at least turn 200 (instead of 100)
  • Defenses on Peacekeepers reduced so that they can be worn down faster.
  • "Go to" renamed to Auto Pilot.
  • More AI research focus attention
  • AI improvements to planetary improvement choosing.
  • Cosmetic change to the FOW color.
  • Cosmetic change to the size of ships on the main map.
  • Cosmetic change to the starbox visuals.
  • When receiving messages from a Civ, it names the Civ in the title bar.
  • Added tooltips to the various "idle" button states.
  • Added tooltip support for notifications.
  • Clarified message for insufficient population to eject a colony ship.
  • AI better at early game administration resource and late game invasion legions
  • Upgrading to a ship to a colony ship class penalty increased.
  • You can no longer colonize planets with empty colony ships.  This also addresses a problem where the Yor AI could quickly colonize the entire galaxy.
  • You can no longer launch colony ships from a starbase without population


  • AI now will adjust how big its fleets need to be based on the assignment of the fleet.  Thus, scouts and survey ships don't need escorts while mega fleets now need larger fleets.
  • AI smarter at picking quality ship designs.
  • AI much better at going after key technologies based on the conditions of the game
  • Streamlined the base game tech tree.
  • Tweaked the AI fleet governor to use defenders.
  • Adjusted the culture tree to be more in line with the planetary improvements
  • Set default colony ship population to 1.0
  • Minimum population for colony ships increased from 0.5 to 1.
  • Decreased the spacing between civilization starting positions and pirates
  • Base game laser weapon now comes with Militarization tech.
  • Nerfed several of the crazy Lost Treasures DLC rewards
  • Navigation Center is now a Galactic Wonder
  • Eliminated ship moves going up based on the level of certain planetary improvements
  • Galactic Navigation Center global moves decreased from 3 to 1 (yeeesh!) ...and it now longer provides an additional 0.5 points per level! (double yeesh!)
  • Galactic Navigator's Guild benefit reduced from providing 4 moves per turn to 1! ...and it no longer provides an additional 0.5 points per level in moves!
  • Galactic Mainframe research bonus increased from 0.3 to 0.5
  • Starport level benefit increased from 0.5 to 1
  • Synthetic Race population increase Promethion cost reduced from 10 to 1
  • Synthetic Race population increase Duranitum cost reduced from 5 to 1
  • Synthetic Race population increase improvement increases by 0.5 instead of 1
  • Changed default invasion from 1 legions to 2.


  • Base Game: Custom factions with the "Raider Ship Style" will now get the proper ships awarded by events and anomalies.
  • Fixed crash in battle tooltip if privateer is stationed by itself in a starbase or shipyard
  • Fixed several improvements tooltips that were saying they were both "one per player" and "one per galaxy"
  • Fixed typos and sTough
  • Added dialog if the game fails to start because the graphics driver fails to initialize.  This is usually caused by out-of-date drivers.  
  • Crash fix in the event that the AI can't negotiate with another AI for a tech trade.
  • Fixed AI related multiplayer desync bug 
  • Fixed shipyard window to always show the military production generated by the sponsors regardless of if there's a ship in the build queue or not
  • Fixed issue in influence system where it was displaying "Foreign ship in your ZOC" alerts for ships owned by allied players
  • Fixed typo.  Near bay Nearby ships.


Secret Missions - our biggest DLC yet - is now available for Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation!

Published on Thursday, February 1, 2018 By Island Dog In Ashes of the Singularity News

Build new units, conquer challenging scenarios, and engage in massive multiplayer battles on enormous maps in Secret Missions!
Support for the DLC and additional fixes and changes available in the free v2.7 update today.
See the changelog at the bottom of the post for all of the details.

Ashes DLC - Get it Now
Also available from Steam

Exciting new scenarios, new units, and huge maps await you in Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation’s largest DLC yet! Take on the role of a PHC leader and conquer dangerous missions where the odds are stacked against you, or join with the Substrate to repel your PHC oppressors.
Secret Missions DLC Core Features
-------------- NEW UNITS --------------

PHC Atlas

PHC Atlas

This anti-air, anti-drone frigate is an excellent line of defense against Drone Hives. Since it only costs metal and doesn't require radioactives, the Atlas is a less powerful, but inexpensive, alternative to the Apollo cruiser.


Substrate Tormentor

Substrate Tormentor

This indirect fire frigate is capable of saturating an area with artillery shells, causing damage to anything in its radius of attack. Although it lacks accuracy and direct single target damage, the Tormentor is at its most powerful against groups of units rather than structures.


-------------- NEW SCENARIOS --------------

Ascension  |  The Substrate have developed a prototype experimental Eye of Darkness. Defeat it before you’re wiped out.

Battleline  |  Push out strong units, maintain your resource levels, and survive against a large Substrate army.

Carnage [PHC]  |  In the biggest scenario to date, face down 7 enemy Substrate opponents while also helping your 6 allies stay alive long enough for you to claim victory.

Carnage [Substrate]  |  In the biggest scenario to date, face down 7 enemy PHC opponents while also helping your 6 allies stay alive long enough for you to claim victory.


Deadlock  |  Build up your forces and fight off the Substrate before they reach critical mass or overrun you.

Entropy  |  The PHC are attempting to overrun your Substrate base before you gain a critical mass of Turinium. Hold them off.

Incursion  |  The PHC have launched an attack on Substrate territory. There is no one around to help - you will have to defeat them on your own.

Influx  |  Ventrix has tainted the name of the PHC for long enough. Overcome the scarcity of resources and take him out with vicious orbital attacks.

PHC Atlas   Substrate Tormentor


-------------- NEW MAPS --------------

Nashira  |  Enormous symmetrical 14 player map designed for standard 7v7 games

Entropy  |  Large asymmetric 1v3 map

Osiris 5  |  Large 2v2 with limited choke points through the center

Pallavia  |  Medium 2v2 with limited choke points through the center


Battleline  |  Medium 1v1 map

Battleline Frenzy  |  Medium, single lane 4v4 for combined defenses and huge clashes of forces

Galatea  |  Large symmetrical 10 player map designed for standard 5v5 games

Caldera  |  Large symmetrical 12 player map designed for standard 6v6 games


PHC Atlas


The new Secret Missions DLC is now available for $3.99

Ashes DLC - Get it NowAlso available from Steam

Save 10% with our community discount when you buy direct!

v2.7 Changelog:


Lowered volume of Agamemnon weaponry
Lowered volume of Substrate Regenerator. (Also affects Overmind and Queen)
New and improved Air Marauder Audio


Balanced the Radioactives between North and South teams on Rigel
Moved starting location of Nexus and added additional Radioactives on Walbright

Bug Fixes

Fixed Targetting issue with Reaper and Saboteur
Fixed an issue where Juggernaut weaponry was lowering the volume of other sounds
Fixed some tooltip errors

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