Impressions from the new guy

A space strategy macromanagement game with turnbased battles.
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CautiousChaos
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Impressions from the new guy

Post by CautiousChaos » Fri Jun 06, 2008 4:31 pm

Hello everyone,

I thought it would entertain me a little if I related my impressions of the game in a shiny new thread.

What I was Looking For
I was looking for a strategic space combat game (ala MOO, GalCiv) that was a little less heavy on the micromanagement and a little heavier on the combat.

What I found
Well, pretty much just that, so good call to me.

Impressions
I've purchased the retail product and have been playing for several days. I've accumulated impressions of the game, some good, some less-than-good, and I thought I would share.

Gameplay, Liked:
  • I do like the emphasis on the ship battles. Enough so that I am chomping a little at the idea of having more options in a future release, like new weapons and effects and such.
    I liked very much the effects used in the battles - missiles especially launch in a cool way.
    I liked the turn-based movement
    I liked the tactical aspects of firing angles, range, visibility.
    I liked the simplicity of the empire management (macroeconomics). I used to get into the weeds on these things, but have far too much to do nowadays to get into that level of detail.
    I liked the military ship building - a reasonable amount of ships with having to micromanage and configure each ship. Like that you had different versions of a class of ship depending on the technology available.
    I liked the simplicity of transport operations (raiding)
    I loved the simplicity of capturing a planet. I so didn't want to have to get into ground wars.
    The planets in the battle screen look nice.
    Like the simplicity of research and especially like how I can select an advanced research item and have prereqs auto-researched.
    I liked that there isn't any storyline. I don't need one. I'm just here to take over, so get over it everyone else in the galaxy.
    I liked being able to save mid-battle. Couldn't have lived without that one.
    Having just two adversaries is actually refreshing.
Summary, Liked
I like the simplicity in the game's approach with more emphasis on the battles and less on the empire. The battles themselves are entertaining, although some improvements in the interface and special effects would be welcomed. Sound during the battles was simple, entertaining, and enjoyable.

Gameplay, less-than-liked
  • Missing beam weapons (or haven't got there yet).
    Miss having some type of cool shield effects (seeing the shields react to missiles, beams, etc)
    Special negative effects of the system (like magnetic field) could be communicated visually somehow - it's pretty obscure what's at play.
    Music, well, it's fine, but not something I miss if I mute it. It doesn't really add to the experience.
    Galaxy map is difficult to scan - have to scroll to the edges and the scrolling takes forever. Would like to have the whole map on screen instead.
    The differences in ship models are too subtle making it tough to visually distinguish a Transport from a Scout.
    Always could be nice to have little blinky lights on ships or engine trails...
    The battlefield layout is I think one of the down sides of the game. Planets laid out in a rectangular area really removes me from the experience (unnatural). It also creates an effect where I have to hunt for planets. The same issues with scrolling in the galaxy map appear here - it takes waaaaay to long to scroll around the map trying to find planets or my ships.
    It would be cool if there was something going on in the galaxy map from time to time. Like random events, spacelanes that are closed, or just something pretty to look at. As it stands it's pretty spartan.
    Some visual indicators on the battle screen for moving to next unit, next planet, next unit with movement points, next unit with firing points, etc would be very helpful. Shortcut keys are cool, but I tend to forget them.
    The ending screen was a complete letdown. I went through all the effort of conquering the galaxy and all I get is a "congrats"? Ugh. I'm a dictator in my new universe. I deserve more. Give me some music, noise, fireworks, dancing ladies, dancing anythings, a party. A recap of stats would be cool as well.
    No random events to keep the game interesting time after time.
    Sometimes the battles feel all too familiar - each neutral battle plays out just about the same.
    The difficulty slider doesn't seem to make much of a difference in the game. On easy or hard I am hard pressed to see a big difference in the experience. Enemies do seem a little tougher to beat, but going from easiest to 3/4 full difficulty hasn't made much of a difference at all.
    The difficulty stars on the planet also do not seem to have much bearing on the actually difficulty of the battle. A 1-star battle feels just about the same as a 4-star battle.

Summary, less-than-liked
Mostly, the interface around the galaxy and the battlefields really needs some polish. Random events would be very welcomed to spice things up from game to game. Some additional colorful and bright special effects (shields, weapons, environment) would help to make the game more interesting as well.

Summary
I like the game a great deal. I think it can stand some test of time on my harddrive. It's missing something that prevents me from thinking of firing up other titles, like MOO2 or Starships Unlimited, and I think it is mainly in the interface and graphical side of the business. The lack of unpredictability is something that prohibits me from getting super-exciting and I can see that as a factor that would keep me from coming back time and again. The game's difficulty I believe is also too easy. sometimes I just want to get pummeled to keep me humble and I haven't had much in the way so far of that uneasy feeling like I am going to lose.

It's a solid game and one I will continue to play for some time to come. It's especially encouraging that there looks to be some continued support or enhancement to the title moving forward.

-cc

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jack1974
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Re: Impressions from the new guy

Post by jack1974 » Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:41 pm

Hello,
very cool maxi-review, with some good suggestions. I like when users provide such good feedback. That's how Ken Goding managed to obtain so many updates for UBM :lol:
I agree on many points, for example the polish and effects, I intentionally didn't put them because first wanted to concentrate on what I believe is the most important thing, that is gameplay. I can always add more sfx later (and for sure will).
About random events, that's granted for next update. Same for some other "neutral tech" (meaning that can be used both by the Blue Army and the Blood Legion) that will randomly appear when starting a new game, allowing you to research new powerful stuff.
I'm also going to add some new generic techs, like some that increase population growth, etc.
Then, I'll also add the skirmish mode (probably later this summer though).
More stats also will be added in future versions, for example stats on the end of a battle, and final total stats for the whole campaign when you win. Ah yes, also a better winning cutscene would be cool, I agree 8)

I plan also to change the difficulty system. As happened with my other games like Magic Stones, I got some complaint from veteran players that the game was too easy even at hardest level, this requires lot of fine-tuning, but with the introduction of new neutral tech, and the possibility to "assemble your own ship", things will change radically. CPU will be able to assemble their own custom ships too, so really you won't see a battle with same setup... :mrgreen:

Of course those latest changes will be done in later updates (they require quite some time), but don't worry about making long posts like you did - I really read EVERYTHING you write, and I try to implement as many new features as I can, it just takes some time, but in the end you'll get them all, just be patient :wink:

Random1
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Re: Impressions from the new guy

Post by Random1 » Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:21 am

Hmmm I need an emoticon nodding with a sly smile. :mrgreen:

CautiousChaos
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Re: Impressions from the new guy

Post by CautiousChaos » Sun Jun 08, 2008 2:59 am

Glad you appreciated the feedback. Wouldn't worry too much about getting to everything - that's a lot!! I'll be playing for quite a while, especially with some of the random events. I love the tactical battles. Much fun. let me know if there's anything else I can clarify or offer an opinion on...

-cc

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jack1974
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Re: Impressions from the new guy

Post by jack1974 » Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:19 am

Hello,
no problems, I said I'll add everything but not in how much time :lol: jokes apart I love to add new features to existing games, especially if they change the game completely (or almost) adding lot of more variety to gameplay.
Surely the first addition will be random events and new special random tech, that should give the game lot of more variety already. Then the custom ships and skirmish mode.
I'll be asking your opinion again for sure when I make next update, where I'll also change the difficulty level, since you said that some battles are too easy, I want to make sure that with new technologies and random event winning the game at hardest setting is... well, HARD :mrgreen:

KnockOut
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Re: Impressions from the new guy

Post by KnockOut » Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:38 pm

In addition to random events affecting the MC and MB curves, how about the ability to enact bills? For example, you could initiate a speed safeguard bill for ships. It limits the ships maximum speed but reduces malfunctions.

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jack1974
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Re: Impressions from the new guy

Post by jack1974 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:30 pm

well I would have to implement the malfunctions too :lol:
I am still thinking about it, just planning (so far didn't code anything). Would be cool maybe a sort of temporary bonus or malus that you could buy/stop spending money. Like pirates that you would need to corrupt, or something like that.

Tiwaking
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Thank You Great Maker!

Post by Tiwaking » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:08 pm

In lieu of making my own thank you thread, Im hijacking this one

Thank you so much!

This is a most refreshing take on an old concept. I bought it straight away based solely on the strength of the demo, even though it is almost two years old now

It definitely fills the gnawing void-of-annoyance that Sins of the Solar Empire causes by being both simple and rewarding

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jack1974
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Re: Impressions from the new guy

Post by jack1974 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:38 am

Thanks :) you might be interested in knowing that I'm actually planning to do a series of wargame (fantasy setting this time) similar to the good old Fantasy Generals series. But more info on that later, probably this summer :mrgreen:

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