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Published on February 4, 2008 By Zoomba In Sins Modding

Download the Galaxy Forge Tool


Note: Download the example map that accompanies this tutorial here.

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.

imageOnce you've downloaded and extracted the tool, open up Galaxy Forge.exe. You will be greeted by the following screen (pictured right). When you start the Galaxy Forge tool, you begin with a default map already setup with the following:

  • One Star set to random color
  • Two terran home planets
  • Two default players (NewPlayer0 and NewPlayer1)

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..."


imageThat 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:

  • Design Name - Name your race. This will be how the race is referenced in the editor only.
  • InGameName - The name of the race as displayed in-game if it belongs to the AI
  • StartingCredits - How many credits the player starts the game with.
  • StartingCrystal - How much crystal the player starts the game with.
  • StartingMetal - How much metal the player starts the game with.
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. imageThis is where you'll make some default changes about your map and how the editor works. Defaults These are basic settings for new planets, players and stars that are added to the map.

  • New Planet Type - The default planet type for any new planet you add to the map.
  • New Player Starting Credits/Metal/Crystal - The starting resources assigned when you add a new player to the map.
  • New Star Radius - The radius of any new star system added to the map

I'm going to leave these as my defaults for this tutorial map. Display The options for how the map is displayed in the map selection screen within Sins of a Solar Empire.

  • Browse Description - Description of your map. Put a line or two about the map, lore etc. This is the creative description players will read in the map browser.
  • Browse Picture - The icon associated with your designed map in the map browser. This image should be a .tga file and placed in the Textures directory where you installed 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 \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.

  • Is First Capital Ship Free - Sets whether or not the first capital ship is free for players to purchase.
  • Planet Artifact Density - Value 0-100. Controls what percentage of planets will have artifacts on them.
  • Planet Bonus Density - Value 0-100. Controls what percentage of planets will have bonuses on them
  • Players - How many players have been added to the map (this number is based off of the Player editor)
  • Recommended Players - Set what kind of game(s) the map is best suited for (i.e. solo, 2v2, 4v4, FFA etc.)
  • Scale - Controls how big the galaxy is. Large values will spread out your galaxy more.

imageTo set the Recommended Players, click on the field, and you'll see a [...] button on the right. Click on that to bring up the Galaxy Scenario Game Type window.

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.

Home Planet

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.

  • Exploration - How much of the planet has been explored. You explore planets to discover artifacts and planet bonuses.
  • Infrastructure - How much infrastructure the planet starts with. Building this up helps defend your planet against bombardment
  • Logistical - How much logistical infrastructure the planet starts with. Logistics limit the number of orbital structures you can place around a planet.
  • Population - How much population support your planet starts with. This limits how many people can live on a planet.
  • Tactical - How much tactical infrastructure your planet starts with. This limits the number of defense placements you can build around a planet.

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:

  • Panning The Map - Hold the middle mouse button and drag in any direction.
  • Zooming in and out - Scroll Wheel. When zooming in, it will center on wherever your mouse cursor is.
Now that that's out of the way, lets add a planet! There are two ways to do this:
  1. Double-click anywhere within the radius of the star
  2. Right-click anywhere within the radius of the star and select "Add Planet"

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. image

For editing the planet, you're going to be focusing on the details panel again.


  • SpawnProbability - The chance that a planet exists in the game. 1 means always, 0 means never. You can set the value between the two for a % chance.
  • StartingUpgradeForArtifact - Controls what level of artifact upgrade the planet starts with
  • Starting UpgradeForCivilianModules - Controls what level of civilian module upgrade the planet starts with
  • StartingUpgradeForPopulation - Controls what level of population upgrade the planet starts with
  • StartingUpgradeForTacticalModules - Controls what level of tactical module upgrade the planet starts with.
  • UseDefaultTemplate - Do you want to use the predefined planet template for this planet? This just gives you the standard structures and resources if it's an owned world, or if it's an empty planet occupied by militia.
  • Position - The X,Y coordinates of the planet on your map. Only edit these if you want very precise planet placement.
  • Design Name - The name of the planet as displayed in the Galaxy Forge
  • InGame Name - What you want the planet to be named in the game.
  • IsHomePlanet - Is this a homeworld?
  • Owner - Which player owns the planet at the start of the game.
  • Type - What type of planet do you want this to be? Terran, Ice, Gas Giant etc.
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.


Like with every mod tool, there are a handful of "gotchas" or places that aren't quite clear enough.  As people encounter problems/ask for help, we'll update this FAQ section with questions and answers we think everyone should know about when using the Galaxy Forge.

  1. I tried to load the map in my game, but I immediately get a victory/defeat screen after loading.  What's going on?
    Make sure you save the galaxy file in the Galaxy folder wherever you installed Sins of a Solar Empire (i.e. c:\Program Files\Stardock Games\Sins of a Solar Empire\Galaxy).  Do NOT save it in your local settings/app data directory.  Maps created with Galaxy forge will not load properly from that folder.

Comments (Page 1)
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on Feb 04, 2008
This tool is absolutely awesome. I already redesigned the maps I designed with notepad during the betas and I even haven't downloaded the game completey.

Very cool and intuitive!
on Feb 04, 2008
Definitely cool editor. i like it, a lot
one quick question: how do i connect different star systems?

btw: yay for being able to use the editor while waiting for my key
on Feb 04, 2008
All star systems are automatically connected.

Also, as an aside... holding down control will allow you to add phase lanes easier than right clicking.
on Feb 04, 2008

Also, as an aside... holding down control will allow you to add phase lanes easier than right clicking.

That'll make life MUCH easier!

on Feb 04, 2008
very cool, thank you ^^
on Feb 04, 2008
why in the hell would an editor not have an undo button in this day and age? didn't that make content creation a gigantic pain in the ass for you guys? would it be terribly hard to add that kind of functionality?
on Feb 04, 2008
If you want to remove a planet or sun etc that you've added, simply select the object and click DEELTE. Simple.
on Feb 04, 2008
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.

It's amazingly user friendly for what it is. Don't sell yourselves short.

Also, how do we deal with making maps for mods? Is there a way to load the mod's files, for example?
on Feb 04, 2008
Yep, click on the mods tab to load your mods. Mods follow the structure of the main sins folder so just make a special Galaxy folder in your Mod directory and put your custom maps there. We have tutorials coming soon too!
on Feb 04, 2008
sweet, thanks for being awesome and prompt. now the next question is about how all the guts of the files are all scrambled now. Why is that?
on Feb 04, 2008
how many planets should fit in a star with radius 100, dont want to over crowd or under crowd the star system...

random question i know...
on Feb 04, 2008

it's just an optimization thing to make the game load faster. there will be tools that expose everything that was available before... soon.
on Feb 05, 2008
Is there a way to set where the players will star on which planets? We have 2 human players as the first and second and then 8 NPC ones so we changed player0 and player one but it seems each time it set us on different player start planets (Randomized start possitions). Is there any way to make it so the player starts are the same number as in the setup list (AKA 1st is player0 and last player9)?
on Feb 05, 2008
IMPORTANT: Save the galaxy file in your program files/stardock/total gaming/sins of a solar empire/galaxy directory, NOT the one under local settings/application data.

Enigma: investigating...
on Feb 05, 2008
Only thing I am confused of is the distance between planets on the editor. I made 150 star radius and put alot of planets in there pretty well spread out but Im not sure if it will be crowded/spread out. I guess I will just have to try to load it up when I get home and see for myself.
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