I'm writing this review to point out both some great things I see about Stardock and somethings as a fan player I wish could show some improvement, in all to benefit both sides of the spectrum. I've been a fan of Stardock, since sometime shortly after the release of Galactic Civilizations II and, seeing the wonderful community and relationships that the company has with their customers. I hope this continues as Stardock moves forward and hopefully continues to grow and succeed as a company. Some of this I have said in other posts some of new, I apologize for the duplication. So here it is...
What I love about Stardock.
Continued communication with their customer base.
This is not always fun and sometimes can be outright painful, however, Stardock has and continues to try to remain visible with their community. Should there be a major problem with their products they are normally out there and attempting to get a fix out fairly quickly. I remember a time shortly after Dark Avatar was released for Galactic Civilizations II, in which one update completely broke the game. Stardock was on it and got a new update out with in 24 hours to correct that issue, there is nothing like customer service than take care of the issue in a timely manor. In the same way they continue to remain active on the forums offering suggestions and support on how current issues can be fixed or reported with their current games.
Not only that, Brad, frequents the forums and holds conversations with his customers. Now sometimes us as customers and him as CEO, don't see eye to eye and that happens, however, he has the final say. I personally have huge respect for him for taking the time out of his schedule and staying in touch with the community.
Continued development of great games.
Several modern day software game developers have stepped back from in depth game development, especially EA (Electronic Arts). They have gone to quick money, getting the game out and exploit everything we can. The opposite continues with Stardock. Instead of the quick cookie cutter game, they put a lot of thought and time into the game to make sure the game is not only fun to play for 30-60 minutes but, continues to remain fun for a long time. With that being said they have the quick games that are done in an hour or less and, has great replay ability as well as games like Galactic Civilizations that one game may last for 100 hours.
DLC Content done right.
As many game developers have gone to DLC to help the bottom line and remain profitable with updates on a game for years to come, Stardock is no exception. With that being said they do it right. Should a long time fan look for the next big game from Stardock they have continued to provide the Founders Editions, which allow for all DLC and Expansions (at a higher upfront cost). This then turns the choice back to the user. No longer does the customer have to only purchase the game and then if they like it shell out all the extra money for all the extra's unless they choose to go that router. When a customer purchases the game, they can purchase the "full" game. Now as a fan $100 price or more can seem expensive but, not when you count that all in. In all it will turn out as an investment and cost savings based on released price of the game, expansions and, DLC's. The customer also has the choice though to purchase the game at the lower price and buy the DLC's expansions as they choose but, then they only have themselves to be upset with if they end up spending more in the long run. Thanks for this, Stardock.
Things I wish were a little different.
The Beta process and internal testing.
I don't think, Stardock, is doing a bad job here I just wish things would be a little smoother. Like other larger companies both game developers and general modern companies as a whole bugs and issues can be dealt with later and, this is something that Stardock has seemed to follow in suite. It seems like they just ask the question, does the game run and, does it appear to work. Not the questions is it stable, what can be improved or, does it meet extreme features. Now like I said they are very good at fixing the issues but, after the release, wouldn't it be great if this was handled prior to release and didn't have overlap negative reviews or feedback? I think so. How could this be changed? Some of my suggestions are good some of them many people will disagree with but, here I go.
Stop relying mainly on internal testing. This is great for catching larger bugs but, let's face it most internal testing is not done for fun and doesn't have the time to really let the game develop and, explore the depth and length of games like Galactic Civilizations III. Either bring in temp game testers to stress the game at cost (which may not be great) or, more trusted community members either at limited or no cost. (Not saying myself just in general). Give them full access and have them provide feedback on the fun factor, suggestions to improve, as well as bugs. At the same time continue to give founders early access and listen to feedback. For one, the founders shelled out extra money for the game and they want to see the game succeed too as they have an investment in the game as well. Like always some suggestions will just not mesh with the direction in which you want the game to go, however, some suggestions may help the game improve and get better.
Give the game a longer bug catching phase prior to going gold.
No, customer likes to play a buggy game that is crashing or not working right. This will outright break a game for some customers and they won't come back and offer up negative feedback. This can be prevented. If these bugs can be fixed prior to going gold than maybe these customers won't be blinded by the small downside of the game and enjoy it and grow to love it. After all, how many once negative reviews will change them to positive after the fact months after the game has gone gold. I would bet not many. I understand that you can't catch all bugs but, crashing should be a minimum and all features should work correctly.
Founders Editions offered longer or after more information released.
This is nothing against the Elite Founders Editions as I love that Stardock offers this as an option. What I wish could be done differently is for this to be offered longer and, maybe even at a higher cost. Yes, I said higher cost and, here is why. Right now most of the Founders editions have been offered early after the game announcement, which is fine. However, several of these games had limited information available for the game during this process. Now I understand, you only want loyal customers who really love the game to get the opportunity to help during this process. I think it would be great though if they offered this option though after more information was available such as this is what the game is. Here is a few early screenshots that show a hint of what the game will be. Now that you know a little more here is the Founders Editions again but, this time maybe 20% more, should you want the game with out worries of DLC's or, Expansions here it is. After release sorry you missed out.
Overall, I'm very satisfied with Stardock and it's games and, hope to continue to enjoy their wonderful games for years to come. Thank you for your time and, have a great day.
Now back to the game....