Stardock have hired Kevin Unangst - who spent 30 years at Microsoft - as their new vice president, where he will head the company's global marketing and partnership group.
It’s an interesting time for Unangst to join Stardock. With Star Control: Origins coming out later this year, we’re getting our first look at the technology the company first started working on in 2011. Back then, Stardock sold digital storefront and multiplayer platform Impulse to GameStop, and took the money it made to invest in a long-term plan.
“[Stardock] created a fund to develop a series of new technologies and content for those technologies that they hoped would begin to bear fruit in 2021 - ten years later,” Unangst says in a Q&A Stardock sent out with the announcement of his new position.
The first of those technologies is Nitrous, a game engine developed by Oxide Interactive, which is a company Stardock co-founded. Nitrous allows software to scale in ability to the number of processing cores it has available. It is central to the Cider engine, the game engine in which Star Control: Origins is built.
When the new Star Control comes out next year we’ll have a good look at what Nitrous is capable of. “Cider allows us to simulate the entire game universe in real-time, which enables us to deliver players a story-driven game experience that takes place in a living universe,” Unangst tells us in an email. “Historically, such attempts at this were handled by scripts and hard-coded paths of limited entities. The new Star Control, for example, has quests that can affect other parts of the universe seamlessly. The player's actions can actually affect the evolution of the game universe in real-time.”
The coming years are likely to see hardware take advantage of two strains of development: processors with many more cores than we’ve had in previous years, and processing demands offloaded to the Cloud. According to Unangst, Nitrous is built to take advantage of both.
“Today and in the near term, we fully expect to see continual exponential growth in client multicore machines,” Unangst explains. “But by being natively core neutral, Cider doesn’t distinguish between local CPU or GPU cores or cloud cores. It’s one of the unique aspects of Cider and Stardock’s tech that makes joining them so exciting.”