Greetings and Salutations eXplorminate fans. What’s an exciting week we’ve had, eh? Let’s wrap up the 1st Anniversary celebration series with a few words from our staff.
Rob “DevildogFF” Honaker
Has it been a year already? I have a hard time wrapping my head around how fast the time has gone. The idea for eXplorminate had been running around in my mind for months before I finally started making it all happen during the Labor Day weekend last year. Shortly after I brought it online, I asked Nate to be a part of it and off it went! Now, we have a handful of talented and dedicated writers and contributors that I truly consider my friends and we’ve all managed to create a lot of great content in a short period of time. It’s crazy. We’re rapidly becoming a relevant site for the 4X genre and the feedback has been amazing!
That it’s becoming the entity, the voice, that I wanted it to be is the single greatest thing about 2015. Here, we can relate and bond over the great genre we call “4X,” and this community has single-handedly led to me meeting many new and amazing people that love our genre, too. It was games like Endless Legend, Sorcerer King, Star Ruler 2 and At the Gates that have reminded me why this genre excites me so much. I’ve spent about four times as much of my (limited) time on 4X games this year than all of my other games combined (though Rocket League is catching up!)
Looking to next year, I’m really excited to see what comes of the Master of Orion reboot, Endless Space 2, Stellaris, and much, much more. It’s an amazing time to be a 4X fan and I’m over the moon at how good the future looks. As the genre hits its stride again, I’d really like to see more studios consider alternative takes and mechanics to bring the genre forward. Whether it be something as awesome and fun as the diplomacy from Star Ruler 2, or the asymmetrical factions of Endless Legend, to the unique migrating-city gameplay of At the Gates and the RPG-centric gameplay of Sorcerer King. They’re all innovative in their own way and seeing more of that going forward excites me like nothing else.
So stick around, folks. We’re creating something that really stands out and I’ve managed to find some amazing people with depth of passion and articulation. We will only continue to get better and make every effort to bring you the best 4X news that we can. Thanks for being with us so far. Our audience is what drives us and motivates us to stay up on those long-past-midnight evenings when we’re all a bit loopy, but eager to get the weekly podcast to you. We wouldn’t be able to do it without you. I can’t wait to see where we are this time next year!
Nate “Nasarog” Lobos
When Rob “Devildog” asked me to join eXplorminate, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. A year later, we are still learning, but we now have something to show for it. A respectable website, a Steam group with an active forum, many many podcasts, and a very solid platform for writing reviews. Let’s not forget to mention our amazing staff full of new friends and colleagues. Wow. WOW!!! All of this is made possible because of you, the community, as well as many friendly publishers and enthusiastic studios.
The one thing that really caught me by surprise was our podcasts. I never expected to enjoy them so much. I do not like the sound of my recorded voice at all. I have to talk a lot at work, so I thought that when the time came to make them, I wouldn’t have anything to say. Boy, was I wrong. The thing I needed to learn was how to not interrupt my co-hosts or interviewees, and I am still working on it. But overall, I think it’s one of our stronger offerings. Our YouTube content is amazing as are our reviews. We are still hammering out the finer points with each of them, but the podcasts are already there. I am most proud of those.
The next eXplorminate year appears to be just as jam-packed. Endless Space 2, Stellaris, Master of Orion re-boot, Galactic Civilizations 3, Lord of Rigel, Galaxia: Remember Tomorrow, Imperia 5X, Java MoO, Xenia’s Ark, Stars in Shadow, GalaCollider, Dominus Galaxia, Deep Space Settlement, and Battlefleet Gothic: Armada are going to blow up the space 4X genre. The last three years were mostly about the terrestrial game, and we have some amazing games coming up as well. At the Gates, Stars Beyond Reach, Thea; the Awakening, Oriental Empires, Civ:BE Rising Tide and Total War: Warhammer, not to mention expansions. It’s a Golden Age for me; that I’m sure of. I have no clue where I am going to find the time to play them all, but you can be certain that I will!!!
In closing, I have to say that I am proud of what we have done. I am honored and thankful to our amazing community for their time and patience, and most importantly of all, their support. When we had a computer disaster, they helped out. When we needed help with content production, our fans joined us as staff. When we contact the many developers and publishers out there, they almost always respond and kindly at that. I can only say thank you so many times before it looks like I don’t mean it, but I really do. Thank you, and keep coming back; we’ve just started.
Dallin “Kearon” Holden
For me the high point was watching our YouTube subs, views, and numbers overall continue to climb. Never would I have imagined that we would have over 300,000 views this first year alone. Honestly I just have a ton of fun making LPs, and it has been humbling to see people continue to come back week after week to watch me stumble my way through these games. I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to everyone who has stuck with us!
Dave “Daveheart” Gwynne
Looking back over the past year, it is perhaps the camaraderie that has developed through eXplorminate that I have loved the most. From all ages and walks of life, the community has rallied around this common unifier – a love of 4X gaming – and we’ve seen some lively, spirited discussions as a result. The genre itself, specifically in the style of play embodied in 4X, likely has a significant role in attracting like-minded people: rational, strategic thinkers, loaded with big ideas just itching to be shared. Being part of a community like this one is enjoyable on multiple levels.
Oliver “Mezmorki” Kiley
Looking ahead, there is a ton on my radar. In the 4X realm, this includes the Cthulhu-themed 4X game That Which Sleeps, space-based Galaxia: Remember Tomorrow, asymmetrical 4X At The Gates, and a curious space empire game Descendants: Voidborne, where successive games build on each other in the same universe. Most of these are 4X games that are trying to take a different approach to the genre. I am usually interested in all things Warhammer related, so Total War: Warhammer and Battlefleet Gothic: Armada are both on the radar. Outside of the strategy genre, I’m looking forward to a bunch of games, but for some reason Children of Morta is in the forefront. From the backlog I want to dig into Sunless Sea, Massive Chalice, and Wargame: Red Dragon. Of course I’ll be keeping up with 4X games too.
Micah “Marlowe” Dutro
Personally, I think that innovation is critical for the survival of the genre. While the recent 4X renaissance has been great, many of our ancient enemies have returned as well. Even in the year 2015, AI is still a problem, diplomacy is extremely difficult to dial in, and even in new and exciting titles, the endgame is still tedious. In an era when game developers across all genres are spending a lot of time and effort on quality of life improvements for their players, the 4X genre must find a way to do the same. Change is never easy, but I am looking forward to the new ideas that this new golden age of computer gaming will bring to 4X games.
Troy “TC” Costisick
The coming year fills me with awe and dread. The awe comes from the sheer number of games and expansions that are in the works. The next 12 months will see a whole new batch of designs for us to consume and digest. There is so much to look forward to, but also something that concerns me. It seems like three out of four of all the new games coming out are Space 4X, and most of those are marketing themselves as having some kind connection to the Master of Orion series. Stellaris, Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars, Lord of Rigel, Endless Space 2, Predestination, Gallacolider, Galaxia: Remember Tomorrow, Dominus Galaxia, Pocket Space Empire, Galaxial, Imperia 5X, Stars in Shadow, and probably a few more will hit the market next year. My concern is that the public will get annoyed with all the games in the same subgenre being released so close together. The acronym YAMOOC (Yet Another Master of Orion Clone) could very well enter the gamer lexicon. This next year could very well see a lot of indie companies go under as they all vie for the same slice of gamers.
Ben “rogue_LOVE” Martin
After years as a 4X enthusiast, I had started to believe that I was done with the genre – or maybe that the genre itself was done. The year has done a lot to prove me wrong on both counts. But even more than that, what I’m most enthusiastic about as I look to the next year is the strategy gamer community. (No, really. Why are you giving me that look?) I’ve been blown away by the eXplorminate community’s engagement, from spectacular discussions, to shows of support in the face of technical disasters, to developer and publisher involvement. Thank you to our founders for proving that if you create strong, meaningful content, you can build the space your community deserves. And an equally big thank you to all of you for making this corner of the internet a great place to be.
And with that, it’s time to bring our one-year anniversary extravaganza to a close. We hope you’ve had as much fun participating as we had putting it together! Thank you for reading, and for all that you do to make this a great community. We’re all excited to see what the coming year has in store for our beloved genre. So stick around and enjoy the ride.
Stay sharp out there, fellow gamers!
—The eXplorminate staff