Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

Naturally I’m waiting until the last day of the year to finally write this.

If you’re looking for a drab, properly edited, PR approved article, this is not that article.  So hang on as we do a skim through of the hyperbole of awesomeness that’s been going on this year.

Let me get this part out of the way: If you’re a gaming journalist, we’re going to be at GDC with a suite. In that suite will be Soren Johnson (Civ IV), Bruce Shelley (Civ, Age of Empires), Dan Baker (co-author of the DirectX shader language, engine lead on countless games), Dave Pottinger (Age of Empire series), Dorian Newcomb (art director on countless games), Tim Kipp (system lead on countless games including Civ V and industry expert on touch UI integration). And we’re going to be showing a lot of never before seen things and reacting to some of the upcoming industry announcements that aren’t currently public.  If you’re in the media and want to cover any of this, contact our PR manager, Stephanie Schopp (

Now, let’s talk about this past year:

Here’s a brief recap for those of you in the Stardock community:

The new game studios

Back in 2011 when Stardock sold Impulse to Gamestop we were asked what we were going to do with all that capital.  At the time, I said we would set up an investment fund to help fund startups. 2014 was the year when we unveiled the first of these new companies.  It’s been a real challenge keeping the things we’re working on under wraps.

Oxide Games was announced early this past year and unveiled a tech demo called Star Swarm.  Someday we’d like to do a full on game of it but the purpose here was to show Mantle (and while we couldn’t say anything at the time, how a future DirectX 12) could dramatically change the way games are made.  Right now, as we speak, any games you’re playing are communicating with the GPU via 1 core.  You have 4 cores? 8 cores? That’s nice. They’re doing little for you in terms of improving your gaming experience.  But Mantle and DirectX 12 will change that.  This will be a very big deal in the coming years.

Oxide is making a new type of 3D engine that will take advantage of this which will allow us to make new types of strategy and role playing games into the future.

The Oxide team is led by what was essentially the Civilization V engineering leads which includes one of the developers of the DirectX shader language. 

Mohawk Games

imageMeanwhile, acclaimed designer, Soren Johnson and I founded Mohawk Games together.  Soren is best known as the lead designer of Civilization IV. He has assembled an amazing team from around the industry and they’re currently working on a game called Offworld Trading Company.  And the good news is that this game is expected to go into Steam early access around this February. 

OTC has been a mixed blessing. I kid you not that this game is banned from being played outside of lunch hours now.  Even though it won’t ship until 2016, it’s been being played multiplayer for a long time.  Don’t worry single player fans, Soren has you covered. Even now, it’s single player AI is remarkably good (did I mention it’s still a year away from release).  Once released, its addictiveness will no doubt result in arrests and investigations. I’ll be in Belize by then.

Stardock: Towson

We also opened an office in Towson Maryland.  We’ve been lucky enough to recruit some amazing talent including Civilization V art leads (terrain, models, etc.), sound and music leads and some Big Huge Games veterans.  We are very fortunately to be located down the street from Firaxis, the world’s #1 strategy game studio (imo) and we share the building we’re in with Brian Reynold’s Big Huge Games (though they managed to get the lead graphics dev we wanted for Star Control! Winking smile)

The studio out there is working on Star Control.  Right now, it’s just the underlying game systems (which uses Oxide’s Nitrous engine).  The main game is expected to begin development this year once we’ve recruited a lead designer for the game.  Unfortunately, Paul Reiche, one of the best game designers in our industry’s history and the creator of Star Control 1/2, is pretty busy on Skylanders these days. 

We’ll be talking a lot more about the new Star Control in 2016.  Not too much will happen this year other than saying that while we will continue to support and promote the original Star Control classic series ( the new one will be a reboot and have a different set of lore from the classic series.

Mothership Entertainment

Meanwhile, down in Texas, industry veteran Paul Tozour and us have founded Mothership Entertainment.  They’re working on a game that we expect to announce this year but won’t be released until 2016.  I can’t even hint at it right now. Smile

Stardock: Austin

All the new games, including Galactic Civilizations III and Sorcerer King will be using a new meta game service we internally call Tachyon.  The simplest way to describe it is that it’s built on top of Steamworks.  So in case there’s any question on this: As far as Stardock is concerned, Steam is the PC game platform and Steamworks is its API.  I could write entire articles on how impressed we’ve been with Valve.  They run Steam in a way that only a privately held company could run it.  But I digress.

We want our new games to be able to have a meta experience like you see with (which we love).  Luckily, we were able to recruit one of the original architects, Adrian Luff from Blizzard to run the new studio. 

Other cool stuff coming up


imageEnsemble Studios created some of the best games of all time including Age of Empires and Age of Mythology.  When Microsoft closed Ensemble, many of its key leads went on to form a new company called BonusXP.

In 2015, their first major PC game will be announced.  The new game, whose developers include Dave Pottinger and Bruce Shelley is expected to be unveiled before GDC in 2015.   One of the reasons we feel very certain this game will become very popular is that after playing it, its game mechanics seem so obvious in hindsight.  In fact, I expect we’ll see a lot of games…borrow from it in the future.  I’m a fan.

Windows 10

We have a lot of things coming up for our non-game software (Object Desktop).  Still, if all goes well we will be in the position that in 2015, more than 50% of our revenue will come from games.  Most of our customers know us from our non-games.  

imageUnfortunately, since our programs tend to end up part of the OS, we tend to not talk about what we’re coming out with until the new version of Windows is far enough along that something won’t get integrated. Which isn’t to say we mind if Microsoft incorporates our OS ideas into Windows. Anything that makes Windows better is good for us all.   But we have some new things in development that are so obvious that once you see them in action you’ll know they’ll be part of the OS at some point.

Galactic Civilizations III & Sorcerer King

I can’t forget GalCiv III.  The beginning of 2015 will start out with us releasing the types of games we’ve been traditionally known for: 4X strategy games.  Both of these games excite me for very different reasons.

GalCiv III is being built on a brand new, 64-bit platform. It’s a custom engine designed to be built on for the next decade.  This matters because it will allow us to create, what we hope, is a true living breathing galaxy with amazing depth over time.

imageSorcerer King, is exciting because the game lends itself to third-part modder expansions in a way nothing we’ve made before does.  It was remarked by one of our modders that you could remake Baldur’s Gate with the Sorcerer King engine.

The people on the other end of your screen

I just wanted to end this with a mention of how much we appreciate you.  There are very few independent tech companies from our generation left.  And I can tell you, it’s a pleasure being able to talk to our customers and our friends in the media as openly and plainly as possible.

I believe this transparency has been crucial to our success over the years.   We are techies. We make no bones about that.  We love what we make and I say this without reservation, we love making this stuff for you. 

on Dec 31, 2014

It's all good....

on Dec 31, 2014

Well, good luck in 2015.

on Dec 31, 2014

Wow... I actually had no idea you fellas were up to so much.  Nice!

on Dec 31, 2014

we love making this stuff for you. 

We love making our desktops look so much better. Making WindowBlinds, Docks, and all the other things to enhance our desktops. I'm saying it but think many would agree. Thank you for the programs that allow us to do all these things.

on Dec 31, 2014

on Jan 04, 2015

Nitrous version of Sins 2 on Tachyon?

on Jan 13, 2015

Why must you be so merciless to my wallet? Any plans to bring the old Star Control games to Steam?

on Jan 13, 2015


Why must you be so merciless to my wallet? Any plans to bring the old Star Control games to Steam?

Don't think Stardock owns those, just the IP rights to make new games.

on Jan 13, 2015


Nitrous version of Sins 2 on Tachyon?

Yes please. My body is ready.