Left: Concept drawing of the Vasari Vulkoras Desolator.
Right: Vulkoras Desolator as it appears in the final version of the game.
5. Stardock failed to get Impulse, its next-generation digital distribution platform, completed in time for release with Sins of a Solar Empire.
Impulse takes all of Stardock's first-party applications and all of the games it sells (both first and third party) and combines them into a single platform.
It was hoped that Impulse would be ready for release by Sins' launch and included in the retail package. Instead, Impulse's release was pushed back to this month.
6. Multiplayer gaming on the PC remains a challenge.
On the PC, there is no standard way for games to interact with other users over the Internet. As a result, users inevitably have to configure routers to port forward.
Stardock and Ironclad hoped to make this experience as seamless as possible. Even with a six month long multiplayer beta, there were still users who had a hard time dealing with personal firewalls and their routers (99% of users have no problem but 1% of thousands of users is still a lot of people).
The good news is version 1.1 will include groundbreaking new network technology that should eliminate this problem altogether.
The biggest lesson we learned is the importance of making sure that the developer and publisher are compatible. If Stardock and Ironclad hadn't gotten along so well, the game itself would likely have been very different with very different results.
From Stardock's perspective, the experience on Sins of a Solar Empire cemented its commitment to ensuring that any games it publishes are developed by studios that view game design as an iterative, collaborative process where the strengths of both teams are combined.
Most of the "what went wrong" with Sins of a Solar Empire are tied to budget and time. Could Sins have gotten higher scores if it had waited another six months and incorporated a single player campaign, stronger AI and more content? Probably. Would it have sold better? A release date of August 2008 would have put it 30 days out from the release of Spore as well as other major titles.