Sins of a Solar Empire is an incredibly robust RT4X strategy game that allows you to grow your empire and conquer the galaxy. Games can last hours, weeks or even months. To start you off, Sins comes with dozens of pre-built maps, 3 sizes of randomized maps and a sophisticated in-game map generator that lets you define virtually every aspect of a map. Set your preferred planets, stars, distances etc and have the game automatically generate a map based on your choices. You can even share and distribute the map to friends, either via the Sins of a Solar Empire site, or directly in online multiplayer matches.
Unfortunately, the in-game designer doesn’t give you complete control. You can’t choose, for example, where you want a planet to be placed, or what you want it to connect to. You can’t set how many militia forces are stationed there, or whether or not it’s a homeworld, or if it’s a pirate base. If you want to hand-craft your map, the in-game tools won’t meet your needs.
Galaxy Forge is the answer to that problem. Part of the Forge Tools suite used by Ironclad Games to develop content for Sins of a Solar Empire, Galaxy Forge is a map editor tool that allows you to place stars, planets, travel lanes and more. You can build a map to your exact specifications. Do you want a multistar map with strategic choke points and no pirate base? No problem, just create it in Galaxy Forge and load it in the game. Galaxy Forge is a WYSIWYG editor, so placing planets, phase lanes, stars and more is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse.
While Galaxy Forge is incredibly easy to use for the amount of control it gives you, it’s not fully an end-user-friendly tool. So, to get everyone up to speed as quickly as possible creating great maps to share with the community, I’ve created this short guide to building a complete map from start to finish..
WARNING: The editor has no undo feature, so be careful when you move elements or make any changes. Save early and often to make sure you don’t accidentally delete something you’ve spent hours tweaking and customizing.
Getting Started with Galaxy Forge
Galaxy Forge is a stand-alone tool that does not use the main game to run. So you can install this on virtually any machine, even that old Pentium III you have stashed in the closet.
To start, make sure you have the Galaxy Forge tool downloaded to your PC. You can get a copy of the tools from the Sins of a Solar Empire website on the Downloads Page.
When you start the Galaxy Forge tool, you begin with a default map already setup with the following:
Before you get started adding planets, phase lanes and more stars, you probably want to decide if this is going to be a 2,4,6,8 or 10 player map.
To modify the number of players in your game, go to the Edit menu and select “Players…”
That will open up the Player editor tool. On a new map, you already have NewPlayer0 and NewPlayer1. Even if you want to make a two player map, you’ll probably still want to edit the names of the players. Select a player from the left, and all of their editable options will appear in the box on the right.
For this simple guide, we’ll focus on the following options:
I am going to stick with a simple two player map, and name the first player “Alcari Crusaders” and the second player “Vor Syndicate” and I’ll leave them both with the default starting resources.
Naming Your Map & Filling in The Details
Now that you have a new map with your starting players setup, lets start to configure the big-picture details for the map. Click somewhere in the black space of the map to bring up the galaxy details in the settings panel on the right.
These are basic settings for new planets, players and stars that are added to the map.
I’m going to leave these as my defaults for this tutorial map.
The options for how the map is displayed in the map selection screen within Sins of a Solar Empire.
For my tutorial map, I’m going to use the description “An example map created to go along with the Galaxy Forge guide”
For Browse Picture, I’m going to be lazy and just take one of the existing scenario images and reuse that. In this case I’ll use: ScenarioPicture-Fulcrum (found in <your Sins directory>\Textures\ScenarioPicture-Fulcrum.tga)
These are settings to edit how the editor works with scrolling and zooming and shows your current zoom level. These settings will not impact the map itself.
These are some overall game settings for your map. They will impact how the game plays.
By default, this is empty. Click “Add” and a new game type will be added. By default it’s set to “Solo”. However, if you select the item from the left, on the right you can change the type from a drop-down menu.
You can add multiple types if you have a large map you feel would work well for multiple configurations of players. A map designed for 10 players for example could be set for Solo, FFA, 5v5, 2v2v2v2v2 to fill all spots.
For the tutorial map, I think I’ll leave the first capital ship as free, but bump up the % of planets with artifacts from the default 15 to 50 (I want this to be a rich map), but I’ll leave the bonus density alone. I’m also going to designate my map as a solo only map since it’s just two players.
These are the default settings for any planet you designate as a homeworld in your game. Setting any of these to 10 locks it, preventing the player from upgrading it further.
For the tutorial map, I’m going to leave these alone.
Ok, we have successfully configured all the meta details for our map. We’ve set description, picture, game type and messed with the distribution of artifacts. Now that all of the fluff details are out of the way, it’s time to get down to the business of making the map!
Making the Map: Adding Planets, Stars and Phase Lanes
Ok, now for the fun part, actually drawing out the game map! For this part you’ll be focusing almost exclusively on the map window, instead of the details window like the previous section. Here you’ll place, move and connect up all the planets and stars you want to add to your map.
To start, lets look at our map as it stands
We have one star, two home worlds on opposite ends of the system, and that’s it. There isn’t even a phase lane connecting anything so if you loaded this map right now, you wouldn’t be able to travel anywhere. The planets were auto-assigned to the two players we edited earlier.
Before we get started editing the map, there are a few controls that will make life much easier when trying to move around the map:
Now that that’s out of the way, lets add a planet! There are two ways to do this:
The planet added will have the default settings you defined when you were tweaking the overall map settings. So for this tutorial, it will auto-place a Terran planet.
I’m going to place a handful of planets around the map….
So now that I have all of my planets laid out approximately where I want them, it’s time to connect them all together. To do this, right click on any planet, select “Add Connection” and then left click on the planet you want to connect with. Now let me connect up all of my planets…
At this point I have a fully functional game map. I could save this, load it up in the game and play it, but it would be a little bit boring considering all I have are Terran type planets, no pirates and just one other player to fight.
Editing Planets, Stars & Making Things Interesting
Every planet object on my map right now are terran planets with nothing special about them. We also have a star with the color set to random. Oh, and we haven’t named a single planet, the star, or anything. Sure it’s a technically complete map, but it just doesn’t feel right. Here’s a snapshot of the map loaded in the game:
The game will automatically name planets and stars you don’t name, so technically you don’t have to worry about that detail, but there’s a lot more you probably want to tweak and fiddle with.
First off, having a few dozen Terran planets just doesn’t look right. This is space, and habitable M class worlds are supposed to be rare right? Well, lets change things up a bit. To start with, we’ll select the planet directly below the Vor Syndicate’s home world.
For a quick-and-dirty map, the only field you really have to play with is “Type” in the properties section. From there you can select any standard planet type programmed into the game. I will now go around my map, changing up the planet types to give me a slightly more interesting map to play on.
I now have a map with volcanic, ice, desert and terran planets. Various asteroids, Plasma & Magentic Storms, even a Pirate Base. This map pretty much covers everything and if you want to just do the basics to build a map that is playable with default settings, you’re done. Just save the file and hand it out to your friends, or upload it to the Sins of a Solar Empire website for everyone to download.
There’s a lot more under the covers that you can play with and tweak, but this guide was just meant to get your feet wet and familiarize you with the basic, bare-minimum steps needed to make a map.
And always remember you can open any map that comes with the game in Galaxy Forge to see exactly how Ironclad built each of the maps, what special options they used etc. It’s perfectly alright to borrow heavily from great maps when you’re trying to figure out how to get a planet to start with a specific artifact, or to give players a quick start by giving them a handful of ships to start out with.
If you have any more questions, be sure to visit the Sins of a Solar Empire Modding Forums. Players and developers alike will hopefully be able to answer any question you might have.