Answered by Brian Clair, associate designer at Stardock, about Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion.

What inspired you make this game?

Ultimately it was the fans of the series that inspired us the most. We'd wanted to continue the Sins of a Solar Empire story and wrap up the current timeline, plus finish our 'vision' for the features we didn't yet have. Having such a loyal group of fans expressing their desire for many of the same things and just more Sins in general was a great motivator.

While developing the game, what was the hardest issue(s) that you came across?

This would have to be updating the graphics system for shadows and self shadowing. This one feature took up more than half the project's time because it was so difficult to get right. In most games, you're dealing with short distances on shadows but in Sins: Rebellion, the solar system is literally millions of kilometers across and can be hundreds of thousands of kilometers from the star (light). This made it incredibly challenging to get shadows to be noticeable and cast right without tanking performance or upsetting other visuals.

What was your "best moment" during development?

Besides getting the shadows working right, I think seeing the first titan in the game was one of my best moments. It took us about a month to work out all the kinks and get the model the way we wanted it. Seeing it move through space, its scale to the existing ships and then fire its weapons was pretty cool.

Were you able to incorporate all of the ideas that were proposed?

No, but this is pretty typical of any game in my experience. Designers always have huge lists of things we want to have, but you need to eventually pair down to the best elements in order to finish the project.

If the answer to the previous question is no, would you add those other ideas through DLC or make a possible sequel?

It's something we've thought about, but probably not for DLC. As to a sequel, that's entirely up to Ironclad. I think to do all the things we want to moving forward, we'd almost need to do a sequel to justify the development time and take the franchise forward to where fans expect.

Can you provide any insight into your next title?

Our next release will be Elemental: Fallen Enchantress later this year. It's a turn-based, fantasy strategy game where the player can explore the world, build their own empire, forge alliances and complete various quests.

Any special advice for the fans playing Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. Something like a special gameplay tactic or a hidden gem?

That's a tough question to answer because it really depends on which race you're playing and what your game settings are. I think generally good advice is to be aggressive or, if you're playing as the Vasari Rebels, make lots of friends. There are some hidden gems in there, but they're well concealed. ;)

How do you like the PC as a platform for game development?

Personally I love it, but I know it's a challenge for programmers and especially for QA. The freedom you have on the PC is simply unrivaled, despite all the inherit difficulties that can come with it.

Any advice for people starting out with game development? It does not matter what platform they are using.

The best advice I can give is to have a detailed design document to follow and to budget out your project accordingly. It's very easy to fall into the trap where things fly off the design rails or the project comes to a halt because the design isn't complete. Before you start to invest lots of time/money into your game, make sure you have a clear vision for how you want it to be in the end.

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