Modders Can Change Everything About Stellaris

Total conversions are like mods, except so ambitious they never get released. Ho ho! A little bit of 1999 mod community humour there. They’re also sometimes mods that completely change the face and function of game, bending its every part in service of some new purpose. That’s what Paradox want to support more of across all their games, and to that end they’ve released a 3D model exporting tool alongside a new developer diary discussing modding for their upcoming procedural space strategy game, Stellaris. It looks hot like that sun.


“Any gameplay exposed to the player in Stellaris should be moddable,” says Stellaris designer Joakim Andreasson in the video above. “So our modders can change pretty much every value, most of the game rules, and the content they see within the game.”

Which sounds exiting to me. Despite my cynicism, this is exactly what I want from modding, much more than small tweaks or GTAV-style muck-arounds. Stellaris seems a particularly deep vein of potential too, given its apparent chops as a generator of galaxies. We’ll have a review of the game for its release next Monday.

To download the Clausewitz Maya Exporter, you need to login to your Paradox account here and then head to the Downloads tab. It has partial support for Crusader Kings 2 and Europa Universalis IV, so there should be cool things being made with it even before the release of Stellaris. Maybe you could swap all those soldier models for giant frogs. I don’t know why you would though.


  1. RedViv says:

    CK2 total conversion getting even better?
    I really should invest in a Time-Turner.

  2. KoenigNord says:

    I’m so ready for a WH40K total conversion on Stellaris already.

  3. mtomto says:

    I remember that the same thing was said about civ5. You “CAN” maybe change everything… but how easy will it be? Some times in civ5 you can’t change a little thing, without needing to change a shitload of things.

    • Darloth says:

      Such are game engines, though!

      It looks like adding modular bits (especially anomalies or other self-contained scripted things that work with stats and values already present) will be very easy indeed.

      From what they’ve shown so far, new more crunchy stuff like ship weapons and sections will be just as easy if you’re not doing anything properly new, and harder but possible to add new behavior via triggers (in Lua, from what I can tell.)

      I doubt it’ll have a mod editor quite as impressive as Star Ruler 2 (mostly because nothing does and they would have mentioned it by now. I don’t know why more places don’t build something like that, use it to develop, and then release it.)

      That being said, if almost everything is accessible via script and data, then with sufficient time all things are possible. It remains to be seen how much GUI customization can be done, that’s the only really unknown part (for me) so far. I’m a little disappointed that the exporter is so very specific to Maya and Photoshop (those aren’t cheap!) but if the format isn’t that odd, I’m sure someone will eventually expand it for others. The images at least seem to just be dds which can be generated separately.

      • Darloth says:

        Eh, I guess I do know why – because it’s hard work that doesn’t really generate many extra sales :)

        I had a look and there are specifications for the paradox .mesh format slowly appearing, so yeah. Models and graphics are very possible, most scripting will be possible, we’ll see what isn’t when it gets here I suppose.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        Regarding using other tools, the person who wrote the dev diary about adding new art to the game has said:

        “You can use any paint software, as long as you can save it to .dds somehow.”


        “We will also release our .mesh format, so anyone with the skills can write an exporter for other software, like blender.”

        So I’m sure owning Maya and Photoshop won’t be necessary soon.

    • ramshackabooba says:

      I’ve done small mods for other Paradox games (they share the same core engine) and it’s really easy to mod the non-graphical things. Now this new feature that lets you mod their 3d models with Maya is out of my league as I’m not a graphical guy, but normal modding is not hard at all. Obviously, it depends on how ambitious you are with your mod. If you want to make a mod that changes how much damage the troops do, you can do that in a few minutes, but if you want to do a total conversion, then yeah, it’s a lot of work.

    • falconne says:

      While I haven’t modded Civ 5, I did play around a fair bit with the Civ 4 SDK and I expect Civ 5 is similar. I don’t know what more you were expecting… they practically released the bulk of the game source code; it’s what most of the Civ developers themselves would work on.

      To do a total conversion mod you have to know C++ and tolerate the bad coding practices/architecture in the existing codebase that make things difficult, exactly as the developers had to. It’s not like cosmetic modding in most games where you change some xml and maybe a bit of lua.

      I’ve been longing for the day Paradox does the same. I always end up wanting to do significant changes to the UI, the automation and notifications. If they don’t go as far as Firaxis did in releasing the C++, and all we get is a lua API, then the scale of total conversion modding will still not be as high as in Civ.

  4. Darth Gangrel says:

    Paradox makes strategy games and I don’t like strategy games, but if there are some total conversion mods that changes the genre or makes the game less of a strategy game, then maybe I’ll buy some Paradox games in the near future.

  5. HefHughner says:

    If Stellaris is only half as good as it appears to be und some talented people make a Star Trek mod, then we will probably see the best Star Trek game ever made.

    • P.Funk says:

      My attitude is that Star Trek or Star Wars mods are pretty incompatible with those Civ style strategy games owing to them being basically static universes where technological differences that characterize the universe aren’t deep enough for them to match the gameplay mechanics of building empires from scratch or near scratch.

      The only time it works is if its a static setting like classic wargames where you’re refighting a 5 year war or something like Star Wars Rebellion. If that’s what the mods people make turn into then it’ll be great.

      • Morgan Joylighter says:

        Paradox does not make Civ style games with static universes. The liveliness and changeability of Paradox gameplay is literally the number one draw and the biggest reason people spend so much time on time. I literally can’t think of a better engine to run that sort of Star Trek game than the one Paradox uses for their titles.

  6. Calamity says:

    Hey guys. For anyone that doesn’t know yet RPS is hosting its own weekly Stellaris Multiplayer campaign. Read more about it in this RPS forum thread link to

    Until sunday there’s also a lore contest for RPS regulars that participate in the campaign for a stellaris code.

  7. crowleyhammer says:

    Sweet this will help me with my EU4 mod, im doing a total conversion to make it a space 4x game, been working on it for years, Ive barely had time to keep up with all this new Paradox stuff so i guess ill check out this Stelaris game what’s it about?

    • mike2R says:

      Sweet, your mod sounds as cool as a Blorg waiting for a party invite.

  8. Morgan Joylighter says:

    Star Wars mod. Star Wars mod. Please make a Star Wars mod. There hasn’t been a game like this since Rebellion which is now 18 years old…even Empire At War is getting pretty long in the tooth and that one was way more focused on RTS-style ground combat than Stellaris is. I hope to God some people will come together and make a Star Wars mod (preferably founded on the old EU since there is so much more material to mine) because I’m dying to play a game of galactic politics and warfare in a fictional setting that I already know and love rather than these random Stellaris races and planets that I have no attachment to. I am sure I will enjoy vanilla Stellaris as it seems to be fascinating creative, but interacting with random planets and races is never going to be as exciting as invading the Inner Core, capturing Corellia or making an alliance with the Hapes Consortium or the Chiss Ascendancy…

    • Zenicetus says:

      Are there enough different factions in Star Wars to make a Stellaris mod interesting, so it isn’t just Empire vs. Rebels? Stellaris seems designed for competition between a large number of different factions, all looking out for themselves. Classic 4x, basically.

      I don’t know the lore very well beyond the movies, so I’ll probably regret asking if there are “enough factions.” ;)

      • brucethemoose says:

        Depending on how easy messing with the AI is and the Star Wars era you choose, you could split factions out of the traditional 2. You could get the Jedi, Sith, old Sith empire, and the cartel, for example. Maybe throw in Rakatta + some others for the fallen empires.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        If “historical” accuracy isn’t a concern, you could throw in Factions from all across the timelines from the Rakatta to the Hapan and Chiss. Hell, you could even use the Yuuzhong Vong as the intergalatic invaders

      • Morgan Joylighter says:

        If you take the galaxy at approximately the point in time of Episode VII but reverting to the political state of the old Expanded Universe, then yes, there are definitely “enough” factions. I will spare you the details ;)

  9. slerbal says:

    The moddability is one of the many things I love about EU4 and CK2 and from reading the dev diaries plus knowing about the Clausewitz engine Stellaris is looking fab. I love making small mods for myself to look at ‘what if’ scenarios.