Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, the upcoming standalone expansion for SOSE, will be adopting better Steam integration for the convenience of its community. Rebellion producer Chris Bray noted the changes that should lead to a more streamlined multiplayer experience:
"The majority of multiplayer features we're adding with Rebellion, as far as connectivity and that sort of thing, are Steam oriented. So you'll be able to add and browse your Steam friends while in the game, join their games, send invites. All those sorts of things are pretty standard for Steam integrated games, but we didn't have those in the past. It'll be easier to play with your friends this time around."
Then there's the question of accessibility, which the RTS genre isn't exactly known for. Sins is no exception to this, being one of the more complex strategy games out there; its notoriously massive scale can lead to incredibly lengthy matches. While the veteran fans will still have their classic Sins experience, Rebellion gave co-devs Stardock and Ironclad a chance to draw in more players. How? One method is to design gameplay in a way that would support shorter battles. Quick 'n' dirty, if you will.
"On top of that, on the gameplay and more feature-oriented side, we added a lot of new victory conditions. There's five new victory conditions; things like 'Last Capitol Standing,' where whoever has their capitol destroyed is knocked out of the game; 'Occupation Planet,' which is kind of like a 'King of the Hill' type game.
"Optional things like that that make the multiplayer games a little shorter in scope, so you can get in, play a game with somebody for maybe a half-hour, or an hour, if you want to set it that way. Which makes it good for keeping the multiplayer community active beyond people who want to do five-hour -- sometimes multi-day -- games with ten of their friends. We really tried to add features to make [Rebellion's] multiplayer a little more accessible to [more] people."
On the subject of community sharing, the development team has looked at utilizing Steam Workshop before, but as of now, they simply don't have the resources for it. Still, it's an avenue they hope to investigate some time down the road.
"We have looked at things like Steam Workshop, but we don't plan on having Workshop support at launch. We're definitely not commiting to anything, but it's something that we're personally interested in and will be looking at, if we have the resources to do later on. We would like to, but we'll just have to wait and see."
Bray has only been with Stardock a few short months. Prior to January 2012, he was at Ubisoft Red Storm, a development studio focused heavily on Tom Clancy titles including the recent Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Bray also says that while he's excited to be part of the Rebellion team, he's mostly taken a hands-off approach, letting the Stardock and Ironclad's devs handle Rebellion without much interference.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion beta testing is just about over as the game is being prepped for launch in just a few weeks. Co-developers Ironclad and Stardock are wasting no time making last minute gameplay tweaks and balance changes, but for the most part, the game appears quite ready for June 12.