Stellar Relic

Author - David Andrews

The Iron Chalice, Part One

ironchalice

Massive Chalice is a ‘tactical strategy game’ developed by Double Fine and released on Steam Early Access way back on November 11, 2014. On June 1, 2015, it hit launch on both PC and Xbox One. To learn more about Massive Chalice, check out our roundtable on it (coming soon). For this AAR, I’ll be playing on Hard difficulty with Iron Mode enabled – meaning every choice is saved immediately.

Behold, I am the Lord thy…uh..demigod?

Truth be told, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be. I know there is some lip service about how I am some sort of immortal demigod emperor of whatever this place is, but I have no idea who I was before this came to be. Was I a King? A tribal chieftain? A baker? No clue. All I know for sure is now that Massive Chalice has begun, I’m going to be the God Emperor this place needs. Whatever it’s called. For the next 300 years I will command my soldiers and researchers in order to hold out against The Evil Bad Guys Cadence in what is essentially a centuries-long rearguard action. We’re all that is left and salvation is right around the corner and now we need to make babies. Yes, babies.

Before we get to that though, we need to assemble our noble heroes! These are men and women who have but a drop of the Chalice-y good stuff I do, making them pretty powerful – but not so powerful as to prohibit them leaving their chair (like me). After some quick randomizing, this is what I end up with:

that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them

My early favorite? The House Jett – they get me. Jaaksi seems a bit too upbeat, what with their positive and proactive house words, but at least they aren’t the super-downer Fireshaper clan. Strength among the ashes? Seriously? Anyways, with that sorted we can get down to the business of running this place, which since it lacks a name I’m gonna call Davelandia.

Davelandia is divided into five parts: The Pale Sea (that has no sea); The Augurs; Ebott Marsh; The Salt Stacks; and The Cinterlands. Each has an inner and outer realm, or put another way: places that are relatively safe and places that are going to be destroyed in the next 300 years. I, of course, elect to build Davelandia’s first Keep (we were ranked 273rd in country infrastructure prior to the Cadence showing up, sorry) in the latter place, out in The Augurs, which grants me more XP per kill for all heroes of the Vanguard.

"how many birds do you see?" "I dunno, six?"

In a scant five years (Davelandians are quite hard workers when they have an immortal Emperor threatening death on one side and weird alien bad guys threatening death on the other) the first Keep is built and a decision must be made: who shall sit as its regent and found the first Heroic Dynasty of Davelandia? Massive Chalice is a game of genetics as much as it is a game of blowing up enemies, and having completed one (failed) play through previously, I now know exactly what I want from my bloodlines. Thus, anyone who is puny, a dullard, a drunk, or asthmatic is immediately disqualified. Unfortunately, this reduces my options down to two: Clotoric Jett or Eochaidh O Nuallain.

Davelandia needs some help in the given name rankings too, if we're honest

Jett is perhaps the better choice, but is younger and slightly higher level, useful in the Vanguard for the next 20+ years (as long as he doesn’t get himself killed); O Nuallain is a solid pick in the genetics department but relatively replaceable on the Vanguard, and so:

FUCKING BLOODY BEAR HOW CAN I NOT PICK THIS SHE DEVIL

All Hail House O Nuallain (the house of a thousand pronunciations)! And for his partner I have picked the very demure Lady Bloody Boar. Take notice as well, for their children will be a class (I’ve) never before seen: the Brewtalist! I have no idea what I’m doing but hopefully they can make some not-terrible children.

With research renewed on something called a ‘health potion’ (which I’m pretty sure involves whiskey) Davelandia seems well prepared for the next onslaught. By which I mean probably totally fucked.

 

Point/Counterpoint: The Legacy of MMOs

World of Warcraft

MMOs are destined to die. It’s a fact of life that we as MMO players don’t often like to acknowledge, but at some point every company will either a) crash and burn and take the servers down with them or b) transition to other genres and take the servers down with them. The question isn’t ‘what if EVE Online or The Secret World were to go down forever?’ – it is instead ‘what should happen to MMOs when their parents need to pull the plug?’ Some, like Mr. Murff, believe MMOS should be archived so that players can still experience them after closure; others, like Mr. Andrews, believe intellectual property rights should remain intact. 

James Murff

I’m very much a big proponent of games as historical artifacts (in the same way as painting, or books, or music, or what have you), so I am, of course, a damn dirty liberal hippie. Here’s how.

MMOs are an essential part of the gaming landscape, and offer people experiences they can’t get anywhere else. Games like Warhammer, City of Heroes, and Star Wars Galaxies left an indelible mark not only on the MMO genre, but also the people who played them, some of whom did so for almost a decade.

By allowing companies to wholly control these games to the point that they can shutter them, forever, never release the source or software to the community, and generally freeze all attempts at historical archival, it creates entire sections of gaming history that are arbitrarily “lost.” This is unique to games-as-service too; in books, movies, and even non-MMO games like Halo, archival is always an option, because there will always be a copy somewhere that can be backed up. Not so much for the religiously-guarded servers of MMOs.

I think it’s fully within a company’s right to shutter an MMO if it’s not performing. That’s fine! But I think that there should be a legal mechanism or organization in place to gracefully transition those games into “archival”; that is, they are no longer subscription-based or require purchases (except the clients, much like a normal game purchase) and the original company no longer maintains or updates the game in any way, but you can still play them.

Whether this is done through a full transference of property rights, or via negotiated licenses (such as Creative Commons) is a valid point of contention, as is which games should be selected for archival. But I don’t think it can be said that these games shouldn’t be saved in some capacity. Otherwise, what’s the point of playing them? All MMOs die eventually, after all.

I do think it’s fair to say that the source shouldn’t be released, or released under a limited license. However, it’s not like companies haven’t been sued for source theft before; Dennis Dyack’s company was destroyed because Epic sued them over the unauthorized use of Unreal Engine’s source code.

This isn’t an emotional response, it’s a historic one. We have a duty to preserve gaming culture and history. Archival is an important aspect of any creative medium, and games are a creative medium. Imagine if we didn’t strive to preserve books, or movies, or paintings; many classics would be lost to time. This is no Library of Alexandria, of course, but the preservation of games should be an important aspect of contributing to the medium. MMOs are the only games with this unique problem – all other games can be archived, either digitally or physically – so I think it’s only fair that we put measures in place to give them a measure of archival as well.

I absolutely believe it is the right of a company to shut down and no longer support an MMO. But I also believe we have a duty to preserve games – or at least the games that had such a huge impact on our medium – and MMOs fall under that category.

As for intellectual copyright, there’s all sorts of problems with how companies and the government handles copyright in the United States. The foremost, though, is that we give people and companies copyrights to their products for almost 100 years after the dissolution or death of either. If you have an estate, you retain the copyright forever. There’s a reason why alternative rights contracts – such as Creative Commons – have sprung up over the years in the wake of modern copyright law.

Part of a creative medium’s value is in how we transition the concept of private creation into public creation. Many beloved characters and stories exist within this public domain – Sherlock Holmes, the Cthulhu Mythos, Dracula, etc – and the stories that have resulted are some of the best we’ve seen.

Companies should have the right to protect the software they create and a right to shut down a service they are providing. What I don’t think they have the right to do, though, is forever lock off chunks of history for the sake of a profit margin.

We have a historical imperative to preserve these games, just as we do to preserve other creative mediums. That means a graceful transition (how? I’m not entirely sure, the details have to be hammered out, and it will be expensive) into a state where the company is no longer supporting the game, but either players or a non-profit (non-profit is my personal favorite option) are running the server. Players should be able to play, understand, and enjoy these important dead games, without infringing upon the company’s copyrights.

MMOs are small societies, experiential games that pull together people in interesting and even studiable ways. EVE Online is considered a good avenue of study for economists, and the infamous plague in World of Warcraft led to research in how disease is spread in a society. They are indeed a product of their time, and as time goes on, these MMOs change. Saying that the experience of EVE now is fundamentally different than EVE of 2005 is not disputable.

Still, though, we shouldn’t be so quick to let the tangible aspect of these MMOs disappear. YouTube and the like only gets us so far; in order to truly understand and appreciate a society that developed and is now dead, you need access to more than just their media. You need their monuments, their cities, their real and approachable spaces. The death of an MMO is the destruction of these monuments, the dismantling of the tangible, and all that’s left are second-hand accounts.

There is a wonder in wandering these spaces, empty or full, and seeing the legacy left by both players and developers. A book without a monument lacks impact; a monument without a book lacks context. They are inextricable, and to deprive us of one is to deprive us of the whole experience. That’s why we should preserve these spaces, and perhaps even some of these societies.

Dave Andrews

This is a pretty cut-and-dried case in my mind. The companies who construct MMOs do (and should) hold all rights to their work. It is their property, paid for in the labor and infrastructure costs associated with the teams who build them, and to suggest that we are merely ‘allowing’ companies to wholly own something they made is a ludicrous argument. The only entity entitled to the ownership (in whole) is the entity who created it (or to whom the product is sold). To argue otherwise would be to argue for the dissolution of the concept of private property.

Being a long time MMO player – and having spent time with almost all of the titles mentioned above and a fair few others – I totally get the emotional response to a hobby effectively being killed by something beyond your control. It sucks, but at the end of the day you simply have to respect the rights of the intellectual property owners. If they can no longer maintain and operate an MMO and the infrastructure involved (which can be quite expensive), or no longer find it in their best interest, then they have the right to shut it all down and move on.

The other thing to keep in mind is that in the vast majority of cases, MMOs are not shut down arbitrarily. MMOs are a product/service and gaming studios are businesses. When they start consistently going into the red and the choice is either appeasing a handful of players or trying to keep your employees fed and clothed.. well, I know which option I’d pick.

Where most of this argument exists is in a very emotional place and there really is no arguing with emotion at the end of the day. However, the fact remains that source code is no less an asset than a building or an iPhone or anything else – and players are very much not entitled to that asset. As we should all know by now, when you subscribe to an MMO you are purchasing the rights to use a service and a client. You are categorically not buying the source code, server code, or anything else.

In addition, there are costs to consider. How would such an ‘archival’ solution that involves legislation be funded? In my personal experience running MMOs (backend server work, etc), I would estimate the cost of running an MMO of three thousand or fewer players to be around 27,000 USD (2015 dollars). This covers things like rackspace at a semi-decent datacenter, labor for a semi-competent engineer (who can do database, network, and system engineer work), and all the miscellaneous things that go into serving up MMO content. That doesn’t sound like a lot – but how many MMOs have had the plug pulled on them over the years? How many more can we expect to die in the next 10? Is this really something we want government funding to go towards? I realize I’m asking a lot of questions, here, but I truly don’t understand my colleague’s obsession with keeping dead things alive.

Setting aside the copyright argument (I can’t really argue with someone who believes copyrights are culture killers) and the realities of cost (it would cost around 27,000 USD per month to run a barebones MMO from my experience), this is the most important argument I think I can make against a forced method of maintenance mode for MMO properties: the game you are trying to preserve has already died by the time maintenance mode would be an option. Think of an EVE Online with 10% of its current playerbase – how fun is that game even? If you were a newcomer looking to experience EVE Online in 25 years, you wouldn’t be able to. Hell, if you are a newcomer right now you wouldn’t gain any understanding of the previous 10 years of the game, even if you put 10 years into it.

Can anyone understand the “many whelps” of Onyxia or the context of Leeroy Jenkins even today? MMOs are an experiential piece of entertainment that is constantly shifting and requires, uniquely, a base number of players to really understand. The reason MMOs live (and die) in ways that other genres of video game do not is this simple fact. Social and cultural context are what define MMO experiences, more so than the code or the quests or the mechanics of gameplay.

MMOs are about people; it is the only real draw of the genre. How those people come together, the bonds that are built from shared experiences, the competition of being better than the other guild, or team, or realm, those are what make MMOs worth preserving – and it is also why they cannot be preserved in the manner James describes. We don’t need to preserve the ‘approachable spaces’ of a game by keeping the servers on. Comparing YouTube to the dusty scrolls of yester-millenia is facetious at best, not to mention the fact that the reason for the emphasis on preserving spaces in the real world is that those spaces often functioned as media (read: statues, plinths, triumphal arches, pillars, and columns all serve as media upon which information is written).

The digital media of the modern era is perfectly suited to record the digital spaces that function as MMOs. Without the context of actually having been there, having been a part of the zeitgeist of World of Warcraft or Star Wars: Galaxies or EVE Online, future players will be fundamentally unable to understand what made those games great. The experiences that those communities share are the only thing worth saving – and keeping the server lights on isn’t the way to save them.

There is, however, a method of preserving these experiences that exists right now. Everyone can (and many do) engage in this archival process already. It not only relates systems, art, and level design; it relates the actual experience of playing. It is called YouTube and it is free of cost to the developer. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City famously included EVE Online in their initial slate of video game inductions in 2013 and they didn’t do it by running a small server version of the game; they did it by putting together a video presentation. Game experiences change in MMOs, more so than any other category of video game. They are fluid in nature and the joy of them exists not in code, but in the people you play with and against. Better to document and record those experiences than to put up an empty shell of what used to be a video game.

To reiterate: it sucks to realize that a part of your life is now gone and can never be retrieved. That is as true for childhood as it is for a player’s alternate life in MMOs. Part of growing up and maturing as an adult is the realization that you can never, ever recreate old magic. You’ll never down Onyxia for the first time again; you’ll never win your first 1v1 in EVE Online again either. Instead, you should focus on looking forward, to making new magic and new memories and new friends in new spaces and new communities and new contexts. It is important to know and respect the legacy that past MMOs have delivered to us, but that doesn’t mean we should wallow around in their graves in a sad attempt at paying respects.

Game of the Month Club: August 2015 – War Thunder

Fly some planes with Stellar Relic in War Thunder!

Every month, the masterminds behind Stellar Relic collaborate in their secret lairs to decide which game will get a special highlight on the site. We tell you, our faithful readers, which game it is, and invite you to share your thoughts about it throughout the month. At the end of the month, we post up a collaborative post in which we reflect on our month with the game. In the future, we hope to reward you with prizes like giveaways relating to the titles we pick, discount codes, and more – but for now, we’re just going to be picking a game for us all to play and then reflect on. It’s a Book of the Month Club, but for games. Game of the Month Club. Simple!

For August, we’ve selected War Thunder. This decision was made in the wee hours of July 31st, as we had originally intended to return to Space Engineers for our first selection – but War Thunder was a last minute consensus opinion that I think we’re all happy with. Our experiences with War Thunder range from none (Thomas) to 30+ hours (James), allowing us to represent an array of experience going into it. It’s also important for us to select titles that are widely accessible – both to us and to our readers – and War Thunder is free to play. Finally, we all nerd out to varying degrees over World War II stuff (Thomas in particular), so it was a title we were all really happy to select.

To grab War Thunder, you can either go direct to the source or you can download the game via Steam. I would personally encourage everyone to log a couple hours solo in the title, just to get your bearings, but then find a friend to play with you; War Thunder is a ton of fun solo, and even more so when flying with friends.

Feel free to share your relevant IDs in the comments below if you need someone to fly with – and don’t forget to post your impressions of the game over the course of the month!

Total Warhammer: Trailer of War

Creative Assembly’s Total War series has had a tough go of things recently; Rome II was a big broken mess, nobody seemed to like Napoleon (which is totally weird as he’s a really cool dude once you get to know him), and DLC shenanigans in recent years left fans of the series wanting. Apparently, CA decided that what those fans were wanting was an epic fantasy installment to Total War – which, well, looks really cool. Seriously, check out the headgear on that totally average-height shouty man in the front!

If you look at this trailer and think to yourself ‘there is no way that’s gameplay’, you’re totally right – it isn’t. Publicists, in an arms race of catch phrases, slyly deployed the ‘In-Engine’ part here to suggest to you that maybe this is what the game will look like, then immediately went ahead and clarified their use of English in a wiki post no one is going to read. Whatever ‘In-Engine’ means, though, this trailer is a pretty good one.

Review: Rocket League

Rocket-League_big

Rocket League is soccer. I could end the review there, more or less, and you would understand the fundamentals. Rocket League is soccer, but without penalties, without corner kicks or throw-ins or free kicks. It is soccer with rocket powered cars, trucks, and minivans and a ball that is huge and sparkly and leaves triple helix contrails in the air. The vehicles can double jump, barrel roll, and bicycle ‘kick’ the big spinning glowy ball around an enclosed space in a medley of wall racing, turbo boosting, and opponent destroying.

Rocket League is what soccer should be.

Developed as a sequel to the obscure PS3 exclusive Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle Cars (just call it SARP for short, because good lord), Rocket League was developed by San Diego independent studio Psyonix, which also recently released Nosgoth, a free-to-play third-person shooter. The features that make Rocket League great largely existed already in SARP – in fact, the argument could be made that Rocket League is a stripped down version of SARP, as it contains none of the weird arenas of the older title. Only three things have really improved from SARP to Rocket League: graphics, polish, and Playstation Plus. Those three things, however, make the difference between a forgettable buggy piece of software and a gut-clenching, visceral, exciting video game.

SHINY

Visually, Rocket League is a stunningly palatable mix of vibrant colors and neon contrails. Neon is usually a sign of a bad time – neon ‘Bud Sold Here’, ‘Vacancy’, and ‘Food/Gas’ signs are typically an indicator that maybe you should just keep driving – but in Rocket League, neon means fast. A solid, speedy hit of the gigantic beach ball generates an explosion of twisting colors, while small touches, bumps, or brushes generate subtle redirections of movement unaccompanied by the bold strokes of neon.

Rocket League also features a fairly robust set of tutorials and practice modes, encouraging users to develop more advanced tricks than simply bunny hopping in front of their own goal. Aerial strikes, goaltending, and offensive play are all covered in practice mode. In addition, there is an offline ‘seasons’ mode in which you play the part of an individual on a team. This is one of the weaker spots of the game, though, as the AI is either the brain dead idiocy of Rookie difficulty or the HAL-like perfection of Pro difficulty, with nothing in-between. The lack of stats (as you might find in actual sports games) also serves to damage the playability of the offline season mode; without progression, single-player sports games are devoid of personal meaning.

This is when it all started to click.

It is in online multiplayer that Rocket League shines, and it’s possibly the best multiplayer game to hit the market so far this year. Multiplayer contains two sets of playlists: Ranked and Unranked. There is only one game mode, though, which is straightforward fútbol with rocket cars. It can be intimidating at first, particularly if you happen to be matched up with players of superior skill levels. For the first couple of hours, I struggled to hit the ball while other players conducted aerial assaults and epic saves left and right. I felt, to put it lightly, inadequate.

However, once your fingers develop the muscle memory and your brain catches on to the trigonometry required, Rocket League transforms from a font of self loathing to a bastion of pride and hubris. As I performed my first aerial strike goal (in other words, managed to leap off the wall of the arena and hit the ball out of mid air straight down into the opponent’s goal), a strange version of myself appeared. I thumped my chest and shouted “LOOK AT THAT SHIT,” startling my children and disgusting my wife – and I didn’t care a lick. I had done the unimaginable – the perfect goal – and no one could stop me. I became a monster in the best way possible.

WICKED HEADAH

Luckily, most chat in Rocket League (for the PS4, at least) is conducted by a preset series of statements accessible via the directional pad. “Nice Shot,” “What a Save,” and “Great Pass!” are all presets that you can trigger to show appreciation. There are also some that are intended to be useful and not merely congratulatory, terms like ‘Centering’ or ‘Take the Shot’ or ‘Defending’ – but these aren’t really used, as everyone is far too focused on the game at hand to muck about with the directional pad.

It is due to this lack of communication, though, that I achieved the greatest sense of accomplishment. The unspoken accord between teammates that can occur, if you are lucky enough to be placed into a team with decent players, is deeply satisfying. Without speaking a word to these strangers, I often found myself synchronizing my actions with theirs. When a ball bounced over to the corner, I slowed in the center of the field, waiting for the opportunity to pounce as my teammate went into the corner and thrusted the ball in front of the goal. It is this developing knowledge of the game, an understanding of geography and team that is bred over time, that produces some of the most rousing moments in Rocket League.

TEAMWORK YAY

There are, of course, a few problems with Rocket League. While it is not beset by the plague of bugs that helped prevent SARP from ever achieving stardom on the PS3, Rocket League struggles with the load of players its success has generated. Rocket League regularly hovers around 100,000 concurrent players searching for their fix of rocket soccer, a number built by the parents of video game stardom in 2015: a place in the Instant Games Collection on Playstation Plus, popularity with YouTube critics and players, and Top 10 placement in games played on Twitch.tv.

Psyonix stated that over 5 million unique players have taken part in Rocket League since release. Perhaps, then, the independent San Diego studio can be forgiven for the inability of their dedicated server infrastructure to keep up with demand. While lag can absolutely destroy all enjoyment of the game, it remains one of the only problem areas with Rocket League. There are a few others – for instance, when playing in a ranked game there are no AI replacements for players who drop out (unranked has this feature), meaning you can be left 1 on 2 or 3 in a game that is nearly impossible to effectively solo. There is also the concern over progression; without stats, levels are by and large meaningless, taking away any sense of real progression.

However, these are minor quibbles, quibbles that mean absolutely nothing while actually playing Rocket League. On the field of rocket-powered automotive soccer, all that truly matters is hitting the ball, destroying your opponents, and executing maneuvers with fine-tuned precision. Luckily, these are all things that Rocket League is superbly designed to do. While the year is young yet in terms of video game releases, Rocket League is easily one of the best games to come out in 2015.

 

This review was conducted on the PlayStation 4, using a privately obtained copy of the game. 

What it’s like to be a woman on Twitch

twitch-study

In a first-of-its-kind study, streaming facilitator service OPG asked the question ‘Is it easier to be a woman on Twitch?’. Predictably, they came back with a totally-not-shocking answer: ‘no, not at all.’ Aside from the numbers, the good folks at OPG made note in the blog post accompanying the study’s release that women streamers deal with a constant feed of abuse in their chats from people who are best described as human garbage (my phraseology, not theirs).

OPG, the Online Performers Group, was founded in 2015 by Omeed Dariani (formerly of Sony Online Entertainment) to serve as a sort of middle man/facilitator for streamers and the publishers who want to leverage them. Their so-called ‘Talent Ninja’, a man by the name of Moblord, often contemplated the situation of women on Twitch and decided to do some digging.

With the help of Twinge.tv and what sounds like a veritable army of helpers from the Twitch community, OPG put together a brief study on ‘the female question’ of Twitch. Contrary to what many men think, it turns out being a woman on Twitch isn’t the Kraft Instant Mac n’ Cheese recipe for success in streaming. Less than 25% of Twitch’s Top 2500 streamers are women; in the Top 500 Most Followed streams, that number drops to less than 10%.

Other interesting statistics include women receiving significantly fewer concurrent viewers than men and concurrent viewer growth being 10 times larger for men than it is women. OPG states that they are now in touch with the data scientists at Twitch to conduct further demographic studies such as this one.

In another life, I cared very deeply about streaming: what worked, what didn’t, what were good numbers, getting partnered, gathering subs. In the course of my duties in that life, I often had conversations with business partners that went something like this:

Business Man: “We don’t have enough hot girls on our stream!”
Me: “It’s pretty difficult to find women who are both willing to work for nothing and also know the games we cover extremely well.”
Business Man: “Screw the games, we need hot chicks!”

Women streamers undeniably attract attention from a certain demographic, but that same demographic is content to just drive by, hurl abuse out their window (or via their Twitch account), get banned from the channel, and move on. With these statistics, we now know that abusive drive-bys do not translate to sustained growth on the world’s largest streaming platform; they are just abusive drive-bys.

 

Welcome!

welcome

Stellar Relic is the result of three people who liked working with each other at another outlet being slowly (but inexorably) let go for ‘business reasons’ – pesky things like requesting actual pay or pushing back against business decisions in editorial. James, Dave, and Thomas all love games, particularly obscure titles that don’t get a ton of mainstream coverage. Our old gigs allowed us to explore some of this, but here at Stellar Relic we’re creating the opportunity for ourselves (and hopefully others!) to spread our wings.

We want to bring together the serious and the silly in a way that makes sense to intelligent readers. We’re not here to capture the latest triple-A trailer teaser traffic; we’re here because we love games and want to understand them on a fundamentally deeper level than most gaming media. We want our readers to feel edified by reading a piece, to feel enlightened in some small way, and ultimately to share in our love of games that often don’t get much of it.

The Team

James Murff is a veteran of multiple gaming publications, including Joystiq, PC Gamer, Gamefront, and more. He likes sentient machines, obscure indie games, and dissecting game mechanics.

David Andrews used to work at Sony Online Entertainment (back when that was a company that existed) and ran a gaming media site for a couple years before his soul was crushed.

Thomas Howell is an undercredentialed dork who plays games and writes about them. He’s passionate about the intersections between gaming and history, identity, politics, and the future.

The Goal

The first and foremost goal of Stellar Relic is to give complexity a chance to shine.

We love complex games here. Whether they are dense grand strategy games put out by Paradox, or deceptively simple indie fighting games such as Nidhogg, our goal is to showcase how games can be subtle and nuanced. Whether that nuance is a number buried in a spreadsheet or a mindgame played with an opponent doesn’t matter; we want games that challenge you and push you in new directions.

This also means that we won’t be dropping old titles to focus on new ones. If a game is being covered here, it will be covered as long as the writer is interested. So many sites rely on the eternal churn of new games, new content. We would rather enrich your experience with an existing game than try to tell you about every new release. Don’t worry, though; we’ll still tell you about upcoming titles that catch our eye.

The Community

As you can see below, we have comments on every article! While so many sites suffer for this, we won’t. Here’s why:

Our comments will be heavily moderated. There is no illusion of free speech here; if you say something repugnant, whether ironic or not, we will delete your comment and ban you. There is a line here, and being overly aggressive, personal, or bigoted will guarantee a deletion and ban. We want comments to be a place where people can express themselves safely and without others coming in to ruin their good time. If you come here to do that, we won’t let your comment stand. It’s as simple as that.

As long as you abide by this simple rule, have fun! We read every comment and we love to respond to readers, whether it’s to clarify a point, encourage deeper discussions, or just make jokes.

The Fun

Above all, we here at Stellar Relic do this to enjoy ourselves, and we want you to enjoy our work and community as well. We will always strive to cover new and interesting games and media, join with you to play and talk about games, and create opportunities for you to share in our journey.

Welcome to Stellar Relic!