Sunless Sea’s Former Lead Now Writing For Stellaris

Stellaris [official site], Paradox’s sci-fi fusion of 4x design and grand strategy ideals, is a game that generates stories. As your species moves through the galaxy, encountering all manner of alien life, you’ll create tiny tales and epic sagas. There are also stories already written, however, in the form of quest chains, and over the weekend we learned that one of the minds behind Fallen London and Sunless Sea will be adding to those space-stories. Alexis Kennedy, co-founder and formerly creative director of Failbetter Games, is now crafting word-shapes for Stellaris.

Kennedy left Failbetter earlier this year and will be devoting his time to freelance writing and work on his own projects. The first example of the latter is already available, though Kennedy “hesitates to call it a game”. It’s called Cultist Simulator and here’s a brief description:

CULTIST SIMULATOR is a narrative crafting game by me, Alexis Kennedy (Fallen London, Sunless Sea, Dragon Age: the Last Court). It’s set in the NOON world.

These things number among its influences: ADARKROOM, Doodle God, the Kittens Game, Lord Dunsany, CS Lewis, Ars Magica, the Secret Knots, and of course the inconsolable, inevitable, HP Lovecraft.

I’ve put a simple Javascript alpha prototype live, to try out some mechanics and some lore. Currently, there’s enough content to let you destroy yourself, your city and your followers by summoning a Thirstling of the Red Grail.

You can play with a prototype here.

The work on Stellaris will concentrate on mid-game content. That Kennedy is contributing makes me hopeful that the galaxy will be weirder and more wonderful than ever come the next major update. When it comes to dream combinations, Sunless Sea meets Stellaris is fairly high on my list. Macabre horrors and humour are always welcome. Here’s what Kennedy had to say on his personal blog:

When I was deciding whether to leave Failbetter or not, I took a week’s holiday to think about it. Paradox’s Stellaris had just launched, and I put forty hours straight into its maw, one after another.

So I was very chuffed to end up talking to Paradox about doing some guest writing. As you probably know, Paradox are all about the post-launch support on their games, and I can now announce that I’m going to be writing a chunk of mid-game content for Stellaris, starting in September. This is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to be doing when I started out ronin-ing; thank you to the Stellaris team for making it happen!

Roll on the Fallen Stars and the Sunless Systems.


  1. Cross says:

    Well, that’s mighty exciting to hear. Can’t wait to have 50.000 volts of writing energy jolted straight into Stellaris!

    • Czrly says:

      Oh yeah! Sunless Sea’s quality of writing was phenomenal.

      I bounced off all Paradox’ other games but I might just dive into Stellaris with real motivation, now. I love the genre and I love the ideas.

  2. Fnord73 says:

    This looks really promising. (What is the state of Stellaris at the moment, btw? Got it waiting in my Steamlibrary for more content to come…) Have they patched during summer?

    • vahnn says:

      I’m in the same boat. 20 hours played, but I decided to wait for more content. So far there have been two major patches and a DLC released (racial portraits, cosmetic-only). From what I can tell, there have been lots of fixes and balances changes, as well as some things done to improve the interface a bit.

      I still haven’t played yet, but I think I’m going to dive in later today.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Wait for a while longer. It’s not a bad game, but right now it has definite problems keeping it from realizing its potential. While the game allows your empire to be militarist/pacifist, spiritualist/materialist individualist/collectivist etc., there is only one win condition right now, and it pretty much requires you to play as a militarist. There are also some pretty serious problems with balance and AI at the moment, and the game really starts to bog down at the mid to late stage.

      The next major patch addresses some of these issues (Win conditions and space combat rebalance/AI issues so far) with more to come later. How good the game will be when you play it most likely depends on how patient you are waiting to do so. It might be another year until the game reaches its optimal state.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      As far as I understand it they have very long vacations and seem to take them all at the same time, so there wasn’t much after the second patch came out. They’re back to work now though.

      • Xerophyte says:

        They have a minimum of 5 weeks of vacation (less is literally illegal), and Swedish public pre-schools additionally have an official 4 set weeks in summer when they’re closed. This tends to have the effect that all young professionals take the exact same weeks off and the country mostly shuts down for all of July.

  3. Harlander says:

    This development ought to result in some delightfully weird stuff happening to my future space empires…

  4. klops says:

    I like this.

  5. Hobbes says:

    This can only end with noodly appendages.

    I welcome this.

  6. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Cthulu… IN SPACE!?!?

  7. Rizlar says:

    Delicious sphinx friends!

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    gritz says:

    And now I’m suddenly interested in Stellaris.

  9. teije says:

    Good news! The early game of Stellaris is loads of fun, but the mid-game drags pretty badly.

    For those wondering re state of game, it’s definitely improved since release, with next major patch (Heinlein) out in October. I’ve shelved it until then (130 hours to date). Should be lots more content/balancing by then, but perhaps his writing contributions won’t really show until the patch after that.

  10. Emily says:

    Given certain deep lore in Fallen London, this has, uh, interesting implications.