Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
“Idea Incubator” is our new column focused on mod and game design ideas. Unlike reviews that discuss a given game as a product of economic product, the intent of these articles is to delve into the mechanics of the games in question, suggesting improvements and feedback as avid fans and players. Of course, we might also pitch ideas for new mods since we don’t really know where to begin ourselves (though that’s something we’re also looking to learn more about and report back – but that’s for another day).
H’omg. It’s almost time. Stellaris comes out tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited. Come to think of it, it’s been a long time since I’ve been stoked for a game release, let alone a sci-fi 4x strategy one (with Endless Space, Civilization: Beyond Earth, Sins of a Solar Empire, among others, the genre has been risking overkill in the past few years). But Paradox Interactive has proven time and again it knows a thing or two about empire building. While running out of historical eras to feature — what with the rest of its grand strategy games spanning over 1,200 years — it was only a matter of time before they put their own spin on interstellar colonization. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s what the genre’s been needing: intuitive empire management that weaves storytelling with tactics, breaking the Zerg rush mold so many of these games have fallen into.
What sets Stellaris apart from the rest of its competition is that, like Crusader Kings II before it, it tells the story of your people’s rise to power over the ages. By focusing on the individuals — whether that’s your science, military, or administrative officers, your rulers and colonial governors, or the various dignitaries from the other star-faring races you’ll meet — Paradox adds a bit of warmth to the cold vacuum of space, grounding the player in the affairs of their empire and the shoes of its leader. As such, you get to choose your first form of government and racial values such as materialism or spirtuality, and bear witness to quelling (or succumbing to) riots of opposing political and ideological thought. But just as the ebb and flow of power within your dominion is fluid, so too is the game’s shape itself.
Paradox has had a history of putting its players first, wanting them to take ownership of the experiences they have with their games. With scores of modders happily at work making new content and overhauls for their past titles (and heck, people have already been brainstorming over the past year in preparation for this one), Stellaris‘ modability has been given a little extra attention with creative fans in mind:
As one of the developers said in the video: “We’ve tried to take the approach that pretty much any gameplay exposed to the player should be moddable. So, our modders can go in and change pretty much every value, most of the game rules, the content they see within the game, names, flags, and portraits. Everything.” As someone who loves watching what the talented coder-fans come up with, to see a developer be so supportive of their players not only enjoying their product but experimenting with the inner workings of it… that’s pretty neat. But if anything’s possible, what should be made first? If you have the know-how but need a few ideas for a Stellaris mod to get started, I’ve got you covered. This is “Idea Incubator” after all.