New fan-requested updates in v2.7 include toggling between date and turn number, more destructible planetary improvements, AI improvements, and much more. Learn more here.
Stardock Game News
We have several community events coming up this weekend. Check the links for the details on each event and how to participate.
Stardock Welcomes Kevin Unangst as Vice President
of Global Marketing and Strategic Partnerships
Kevin Unangst is a nearly 30-year veteran of Microsoft where he has helped lead Microsoft's product marketing and partnership efforts for Windows (including Windows 95, Windows XP, and Windows 10) as well as Xbox 360 and Microsoft’s games portfolio - from Halo 4 to Kinect. Most recently, he led the product marketing and partner marketing for gaming on Windows 10, including DirectX 12.
Naturally, the question arises, what would draw Mr. Unangst away from Microsoft to Stardock? While Stardock is known for being very innovative (including many firsts: ZIP folders, OS/2 Warp 4 desktop design, first 32-bit commercial game, first commercial multithreaded game, first digital distribution platform, and the first DirectX 12 game) the company seems an unusual choice for someone who, with his experience, could have made a very different move.
Kevin's answer to that question is as simple as it is complex.
"I’ve been a customer of, and partner with, Stardock for many years. Stardock has regularly been ahead of the curve at various transition points in our industry. Most famously, Stardock was way out in front on digital distribution platforms with Impulse®. Time and time again, Stardock has led the way in technologies we take for granted today but they’ve generally not been able to take full advantage of that lead. My experience in building partnerships and creating product awareness will help transform Stardock into the industry leader their technological vision makes possible."
The entire Stardock crew is excited to have him join us - and so is our resident "Stardog," Arrow. Welcome, Kevin!
Winter is coming. And so is Galactic Civilizations III v2.7. This version has been in the works for a long time as a general, all around, polish pass on everything in the game.
Hey guys! November was a busy month for us at Stardock due to our launch of the Star Control Origins beta.
A couple of things to talk about today including an announcement!
The next update we're working on is mainly focused on bug fixes, some introduced in 2.6 and some that have been around for a while but weren't prioritized because they were low impact. You can expect 2.65 to be out sometime before Christmas. 2.65 won't be as big or as interesting as our past updates, which is why it's not referred to as 2.7. That's because of:
##Major DLC/Minor Expansion##
We're working on a Major DLC/Minor Expansion that is currently scheduled for the first half of 2018. We're not yet ready to reveal much info about this, but what I will say is that air transports are planned as the main feature. We've already got some cool content lined up which I'm excited to launch!
##From Classic RTS to Living Worlds##
This isn't directly related to Ashes, but this is an amazing video featuring insights into Stardock's vision for the future of strategy games. Maybe some of this vision will make it into an Ashes sequel?
So that's it for now! Thanks again to everyone passionate about Ashes and active in our community.
From Classic RTS to Living Worlds
What will the next generation of strategy games play like?
Blogger Brandon "Wayward" Casteel from The Wayward Strategist and Stardock's founder Brad Wardell share their thoughts on how strategy games have evolved over the years and how they'll continue to evolve in years to come.
Star Control: Origins is a science-fiction adventure game set in an open universe that puts the player as the captain of Earth's first interstellar vessel on a mission to find allies to help save humanity from certain annihilation. The new beta unlocks the Fleet Battles feature, where you'll assemble ships in a fleet and engage in battle with fleets controlled by either the computer, humans via the Internet, or even friends sitting at the same PC. Learn more here.
This week, the first beta of the Star Control reboot is unleashed on an unsuspecting universe. 25 years ago, Accolade released Star Control II.
Back in 1992, Accolade was a major game publisher. Some of the best games of all time came from them, including Test Drive, Power at Sea, Hard Ball, Steel Thunder, and many, many other games. During the late 80's and 90's, they were a match for Electronic Arts and Activision.
Eventually, Accolade was acquired by Atari. Stardock acquired Star Control from Atari in 2013. But, 25 years ago this month, Star Control II was released making gaming history.
When Giants walked the earth
Many fans are familiar with Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford's contributions to Star Control II. Paul was the guiding hand and mentor while Fred was the programming genius. After Star Control II, they would go on to form Toys for Bob, which was later acquired by Activision. But Star Control wasn't the last thing they worked on of note. They led the team that made Skylanders, which you may have heard of.
What most people may not realize is that the team who made Star Control II later went on to create other things that you are probably quite familiar with. These legends came together in a moment in time and created one of the greatest games ever.
Let's take a look at some of the industry legends who teamed up to create Star Control II.
Greg Johnson, who designed the Starflight series, worked on Star Control II. He also worked on Deluxe Paint! He later joined Electronic Arts back when it was only a couple dozen employees and worked on the Adventure Construction Set. He also was the lead on ToeJam & Earl. Today, he leads HumaNature Studios.
Mat Genser and Robert Leyland also worked on the writing for Star Control II and have gone on to have careers in games and movies.
Speaking of movies, Iain McCaig, who worked on Star Control II as an artist and writer, is an industry legend today in movies and film. He designed Darth Maul and countless other Star Wars characters. Recently, he worked on character designs for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also worked on Terminator 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Iain McCaig, one of the writers for Star Control II, would later go on to design Darth Maul
You can find more of Iain's Star Wars related work here.
Another writer on Star Control II was John Estes, who went on to work in the film industry and today is an active producer and director of documentaries.
Prominent science fiction artist, George Barr, also contributed his work to the art of Star Control. He was best known for those "pulpy" sci-fi images you'd see on book covers.
If you want to see more of his work, visit here.
Another legend, Erol Otus, was one of the leading artists on Star Control II and was even the voice of the Chmmr.
Artist Erol Otus may be familiar to you from his work in Dungeons & Dragons, as well as his art in Star Control II.
Erol Otus also did music for Star Control II as well. Here's a fantastic interview with him.
Erol Otus designed the Zoq-Fot-Pik for Star Control II and is also known for his D&D fantasy art.
Kyle Balda worked on animation for Star Control II. You may not recognize his name, but you've seen his work. A lot. He is the director of Despicable Me, Minions, The Lorax, and led the animation department on Monsters, Inc.
You've seen Kyle Balda's work somewhere besides Star Control II we suspect.
Another legend who was part of the art animation team was Greg Hammond. Most recently, he produced The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. Before working on Star Control II, he was a producer on Loom and Wings of Fury. After Star Control II he went on to work on games such as Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE-Fighter.
Armand Cabera was the artist who designed and created spaceship art and the spaceship animations on behalf of Accolade and Toys for Bob, and has gone on to have an amazing career.
The music for Star Control II came from a contest in which anyone could submit a proposed track to a given description. Riku Nuottajärvi was one of those who created music for Star Control, most famously the Hyperspace sequence. He is now the lead composer for
Star Control: Origins.
This is by no means a complete list of the men and women who worked on Star Control II. 25 years ago, Star Control II served as a nexus of amazing talent.
For a full listing of the Star Control II team, visit the credits page.
It is no secret that Star Control was influenced heavily by Starflight. Starflight's lead designer, Greg Johnson, helped write the dialog for Star Control II. David Brin's science fiction series about the Uplift Universe and Larry Niven's Known Space universe were influential in creating the setting.
In the Uplift universe, a patron species will genetically modify a pre-sapient client species until it is sapient and then have it serve the patron for a period of time. This concept found its way into the Star Control classic games lore and helped create a universe that felt well lived in.
What made Star Control II so special?
There are many answers to this question. I can only speak for myself. The "cute" art style of Star Control II contrasted nicely with the quite dark story. There is something unnerving talking to a seemingly pleasant alien whose theme song is "DIE! DIE! DIE!". Star Control II broke all the rules for a 1992 game. You played Star Control? Great. Guess what? You lost. The human race is stuck behind a slave shield. You discover that within minutes of the start of the game. In an age where every game seemed so happy, this was quite a change of direction.
To put the innovation behind Star Control II's story in perspective, imagine if you went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens only to learn that after Return of the Jedi the Empire had won and had killed the main characters. That's how startling the beginning of Star Control II was. It was unexpected.
Nowadays, players are a little more jaded. But in 1992, the Star Control II opening was downright dark. Moreover, the "bad guys" of Star Control -- the Ur-Quan -- were actually the lesser of two evils. Their cousins, the Kohr-ah, weren't satisfied with merely enslaving everyone. They wanted to cleanse the galaxy.
Star Control II's lasting influence
Some people consider Mass Effect a high budget remake of Star Control II. That should give you an idea of its influence. Stardock's own Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar took inspiration from Star Control II as well. In that game, the primary villain, the Drengin Empire, had been victorious in the war against the Terran Alliance and its coalition. The Dregin's shock troops, the Korath, weren't satisfied with enslaving the enemies -- they wanted to exterminate them. Thus, when Galactic Civilizations III came along, several of the species from the previous game were gone -- exterminated forever.
Mass Effect and Galactic Civilizations aren't the only games that Star Control II influenced. Many games today have a concept of Precursors. Was Star Control II the first game with the concept of an all powerful Precursor civilization? It's hard to say. Babylon 5 had "The first ones" but in terms of games, I am not aware of any game that touched on it before Star Control II.
One of the greatest gifts ever to befall the gaming community was the creation of the Ur-Quan Masters. In 2002, 3DO's version of the game assets were turned over to the fan community allowing any fan to use the ships, source code, aliens, etc. as they saw fit, provided it was for non-commercial use. The result: The Ur-Quan Masters.
And so, here we are, 25 years after the release of Star Control II. Happy anniversary!
We’re always looking for ways for improve the competitive experience in Offworld Trading Company. Toward that end, today we’ll be making a new patch available on the next_version beta (located in your Steam beta properties). This patch is focused on adjusting game balance, to make it so that players can consider all available headquarters when beginning game.
Transparent Aluminum was a relatively innocuous patent when it was added to Ceres Patent Labs. Scientists in particular might take it as a bonus for building a Lab, allowing them easier upgrade, but it was rarely the point of building the Lab itself. All of that has changed on Io, where the 200 glass cost of Space Elevators made the Patent feel like a must have tool at times, allowing for extremely cheap, powerful buildings. As Transparent Aluminum’s problem stemmed from allowing for this Elevator rush, we’ve decided not to adjust the Patent, but to change the cost of the Elevators, which now require 600 aluminum, 100 glass, 100 electronics. This both reduces the amount of glass a player is able to replace and increases the demand for aluminum in situations where players are look to take their goods offworld.
Optimization Centers are already widely used, but typically used in just one way, spreading out very cheap optimizations across a number of decent resources, rather than being able to focus on a few very valuable resources. While this was sometimes due to the volatile market of the given match, at other times it was simply because high levels of optimization were not worth the investment. Optimization Centers have been rebalanced to make it easier for to reach Perfect optimization levels, which we hope to allow the player more options as to how they’d like to improve their production. We also expect this change to buff the Elite faction, which will retain its optimization bonuses.
Other Elite changes
Elite have been in an odd spot since launch, but we certainly aren’t going to give up on them. In addition to the optimization changes, Elites will be getting their second starting share back and will have the ongoing chemical cost of their Pleasure Dome halved. The goal of this is to make it slightly easier for Elites to push toward the late game where they truly shine, without making it impossible for other players to shut them down if they seem to be getting out of hand.’
Nomads have been a dominant force on the ladder since they arrived, especially in shorter games. It’s to be expected that faction will always remain a threat in the early game, as having easier access to hard to reach resources will always be strong. That said, Nomads often could find an easy late game too as their large number of claim returns would allow them to take advantage of auctions and black market actions in a way that no other faction could. Nomads will receive fewer return a claim actions for leveling up, making it a true cost for them when they want to spend one.
Scientists have been undergoing more changes than most other factions lately, due to the addition of Io and the need to balance them on an entirely new location with very different rules from the previous two. This has left them underperforming a bit, and so they’ll be given a little of their old black market protection back, in the form of a free goon squad upon founding. This bonus will provide a boost, without making a scientist who is in the lead feel like an unstoppable force no matter what is thrown at them. In addition, the basalt construction penalty has been removed.
No other factions are receiving direct changes immediately. This doesn’t mean they’re being ignored, and we’ll be keeping an eye on overall balance.
Nuclear Plants are receiving no changes. One of the reasons for this is the intent that Solar Panels are weaker the further we get from the sun. Nuclear Plants being strong helps reinforce this idea without the player having to keep in mind number differences between locations. As with all decisions, this is subject to change if it persists as a problem.
Truncated notes are available below
- Cave terrain is now highlighted when holding down the “z” key
- Optimization costs have been adjusted
- Improved (25%) from 20 Chemicals, 40 seconds to 30 Chemicals, 30 seconds
- Efficient (50%) from 40 Chemicals, 60 seconds to 40 Chemicals, 40 seconds
- Advanced (75%) from 60 Chemicals, 80 seconds to 50 Chemicals, 50 seconds
- Perfect (100%) from 80 Chemicals, 100 seconds to 60 Chemicals, 60 seconds
- Elites now start with 2 extra shares owned (up from 1)
- Space Elevators now cost 600 Aluminum, 100 Glass, 100 Electronics
- Scientists now start with a Goon Squad
- Basalt construction penalty removed
- Nomads receive one claim per HQ level (including HQ1), changed from two claims per level after HQ1
- Elite Pleasure Dome now consumes .25 Chemicals per second (down from .5)
Players have been contributing questions to the Lore Google doc. There is a lot even we don't know yet about this universe. It's a strange, complicated and ancient place and many of those who do know are not very cooperative with us for various reasons including excuses like "You're just meat" (whatever that means) and "Seriously, you're just meat".
So let's go over what we do know as of November 14, 2087.
[POSSIBLE MINOR SPOILERS]
A few assumptions about you
If you have access to this Star Control intelligence document, we will assume you are already familiar with the universes we already have some familiarity with. Thus far, Star Control Universe Intelligence (SCUI) has categorized information from what we refer to at the 6000 series of universes. Specifically, the 6014 universe, the 6058 universe, the 6015 universe and of course our universe which is designated at 6091.
Answers to Questions from the Google Lore document Q&A:
Are the Orz in our universe?
Not that we are aware of. Thus far, the Orz have only been seen in the universes that also feature the Ur-Quan. We do not know if there is a connection. But thus far, none of the aliens from that universe have appeared here.
What do we know about the Faction of Eight?
Very little so far. What little we know comes from the Tywom Science Council. They existed approximately 11,000 years ago. We don't even know what worlds they were on.
How big is the known universe?
There is known and then there is known. With modern telescopes, including the Hercules that orbits Neptune now, we can see a lot. However, we still can't see most brown-dwarfs. The star charts we've received from the Tywom don't go out very far.
We can reach approximately a thousand star systems with the Tywom Hyperdrive. Unfortunately, most stars are too dim to see until we are relatively close. After all, only 50 years ago we only knew about 8 planets in our own solar system.
What do we know about "Jeff"?
We aren't even sure that's his real name. The only race that even speaks our language are the Tywom and without their universal translation technology, we wouldn't be able to interact with anyone. Jeff is simply the name the translation software converts his name to. What we do know is that he's incredibly powerful but also not particularly interested in any of us.
What is Jeff helping the Mowlings?
We don't know yet. The Mowlings technology is less advanced than even our own. They don't even appear to have Hyperdrive (well, technically, neither do we yet but we're working on it). Clearly, the only reason the Scryve haven't wiped them out is because of Jeff. Why is he helping them? We don't know.
How did we first learn of the other universes?
Mostly through the Tywom. They have not encountered an Origin yet but they have researched the various oral histories from non-uplifited species who seem to have originated elsewhere.
What do we know about the Scryve and their empire?
Unfortunately, not a lot. They are the primary power in this sector of the galaxy and their empire has thrived for thousands of years.
What do we know about the Precursor starbases?
They seem to be automated which allows for upgrading and refueling of ships provided that they provide the necessary resources.
What happened to the Precursors?
We don't really know. Something pretty awful happened around 250,000 years ago. We humans were still messing with stone tools back then.
Can you elaborate on the rumors that there is a powerful being called "The Ancient One" roaming this sector?
We know it's powerful and that it fled from the galactic core. It hasn't yet come anywhere near this part of the sector.
What is the current policy regarding the Synths?
The technological singularity was as good and as bad as we thought. As a species, we had to make some tough choices. One of those choices led to the flight of the artificial beings referred to as "Synths". There has been no contact with them since. However, as they were the impetus for the Star Control program, we remain committed to finding out their fate.
Are there any more comments regarding the artifact found on Mars?
What is the ETA on us being able to manufacture our own Hyperdrives? What do you have to say to those believe that our tax dollars are better spent simply purchasing more from the Tywom or the Menkmack?
Star Control's policy has not changed. The generosity of the Tywom is appreciated as well as the...eagerness of the Menkmack. However, for Earth to survive what is obviously coming, we cannot rely on others to supply our fleets.
Is there a comment regarding Gliese 942 vanishing?
What about the rumor that something sent two Mars-sized objects into it at near relativistic speeds?
There is no evidence for that. That is a baseless rumor.
Can we really trust the Tywom?