Author Topic: Other 4x Games I've Tried  (Read 4318 times)

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Offline Thundercraft

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Other 4x Games I've Tried
« on: March 10, 2013, 07:36:20 AM »
I wanted to share what I loved and disliked with other games of the 4x genre.  Aside from the trip down memory lane, I felt this insight might even help others here who develop such games.

My best friends and I fell in love with Masters of Orion II and we played it both solo and "hotseat" with each other for years.  I've also played MOO1 and it was pretty good for it's time.  But most gamers agree MOO3 was a huge letdown.  (The game interface was way too complex to manage an empire to the point of being downright tedious and boring. )

I've also enjoyed VGA Planets.  I liked it's approach to 4x strategy, the unique empire and native races, and the little details of play.

A friend and I gave Space Empires III a try for a while as "hotseat".  It was interesting and some of the features sounded promising.  Though, as we were just playing the demo/shareware, we didn't get very far.  The best features were reserved for the registered version and the demo had a turn limit.  I thought the $35 price tag was just too steep for an indie game.

Sadly, I decided to give "Stars!" a chance shortly after the game was abandoned, so I never got to try this one.  Though, I'm pretty sure I would have enjoyed it.

You've probably never heard of Xpace.  But, in my opinion, it could have been one of the better/best designed 4x games.  (It was abandoned in an early alpha stage, before a full release. ) Even their released alpha would have been awesome if it wasn't for how the AI for computer opponents is basically non-existant.  And it's far too obscure to find other players.

I had a blast playing Pax Imperia (real-time) and Reach for the Stars (turn-based).  The combat and conquest was interesting, as well as planet management, the tech tree, etc.  It was complex, but not so tedious as to never finish a game.  I highly recommend them for fans of the genre.  They had a wonderful balance of features and gameplay.

I also enjoyed Ascendancy.  I felt it had a unique flavor and approach to the 4x genre, particularly with the 3D system maps and ship movement, the colorful aliens, planet colonization and the ship designs.  Sadly, the AI was disappointingly easy.  Though, there was a patch that did noticeably improve it.

I was impressed with Imperium Galactica II for the breathtaking graphics (for the time) and real-time play.  Though, it sort of felt like a Command and Conquer set it space and, again, the AI felt too easy.

Malkari was a unique and interesting deviation from the usual space exploration and conquest game.  (It's not even a true 4x, I suppose. ) It was enjoyable, but I made my games too large and never finished it.  (My own fault, though it did start to feel a bit repetitive after a while. )

Though, personally, I was disappointed with most of the more recent entries in the 4x genre, like Birth of the Federation and even Stardock's Galactic Civilizations 1.  I could never "get into" either.  They seemed to have simplified stuff while somehow sucking most of the fun out of it.  Both were tedious to get an empire up and running and neither could keep me interested long enough to give their game a chance.

Also, I could not stick with Star General long enough to finish a game.  It just felt too abstract and tedious.  Mostly, though, it was all about conquest, with little in the way of exploration or resource development and nothing about colonization.

As for tabletop space wargames with 4x elements, I did play a bit of Full Thrust in college.  It's primarily a wargame, but "campaign rules" are available and I found it interesting enough to purchase the Full Thrust sourcebooks.  Our group started a campaign, but the GM had us quit the system after just one battle.  :(
« Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 02:41:57 PM by Thundercraft »
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Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2013, 09:58:19 AM »
Space Empires V is pretty fun with Kwok's balance mod.

If you're looking for new 4x games, check this out:

http://www.spacesector.com/blog/2013/01/a-list-of-sci-fispace-games-you-cant-miss-in-2013/

I have my eye on Stardrive and DW: Shadows in particular. Hopefully Shadows will resolve some of DW's long standing problems. 
 

wilddog5

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2013, 10:21:54 AM »
stardrive came out this week on steam if you want to try
 

Offline alex_brunius

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2013, 05:42:00 AM »
Though, personally, I was disappointed with most of the more recent entries in the 4x genre, like Birth of the Federation and even Starport's Galactic Empires.  I could never "get into" either.  They seemed to have simplified stuff while somehow sucking most of the fun out of it.  They couldn't keep me interested.
Birth of the Federation (Release date June, 1999 ) is recent? :D

You might want to play some recent 4x space games. Here are the big ones today:

* Sword of the Stars 2 (turn based strategy, real time combat)
* Endless Space (turn based)
* Sins of a Solar Empire (real time)
* Galactic Civilizations II (turn based)
« Last Edit: March 28, 2013, 05:53:14 AM by alex_brunius »
 

Offline SteelChicken

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2013, 08:09:14 AM »
I really liked BoTF.   
Distant Worlds is one of my favorites, although its pricey.
I despised Endless Space. 

MOO2 is my all time favorite though.


For those of you who liked SEV, are the mechanics any better than IV? I really enjoyed IV, but found V's UI and 3D view highly annoying.
 

Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 11:17:45 AM »
SE V's combat resolution and ship design and some other core mechanics are way better. But the AI is kinda crap.  Try Kwok's balance/ai mod.  I personally modded it so tha most research was done at the homeworld, which IMO really helped balance the game. 

The game to watch right now is Stardrive, it will release on April 26th.  But if you buy it now on Steam you can just start playing it.  It is real time and has very detailed ship design and battle simulation.  It has some balance problems but there should be a balance patch before release.
 

Offline SteelChicken

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 11:22:16 AM »
Yeah I've been watching stardrive.  Does it have the rock/paper/scissors combat of Endless Space?
 

Offline Elouda

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2013, 01:55:38 PM »
No, its closer to Space Empires V's style of having a certain grid 'layout' that you add components to. Combat itself is fairly straightforward, nothing like the oversimplified stuff we got in ES.

My personal favorites at the moment are Star Ruler and Sword of the Stars II (and of course Aurora). While I've messed a little with some of the others like Stardrive, I haven't invested massive amounts of time into them.
 

Offline GenJeFT

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2013, 06:03:24 PM »
I did a video on StarDrive. Its about time a decent 4x space game came out. Its tech tree is a bit short unfortunately.

I can give you a link to a video I made to take a look at it if you like.
 

Offline xeryon

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2013, 12:59:54 PM »
I haven't tried it, but I just got a notice that Sword of the Stars (1) went on sale on Steam.  It's $4.99 for the title and the three expansion packs in one bundle.

Anyone care to offer a critique of this game?  I know it's only $5 but if it's particularly bad I won't bother with the download.
 

Offline Erik Luken

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2013, 03:13:09 PM »
I haven't tried it, but I just got a notice that Sword of the Stars (1) went on sale on Steam.  It's $4.99 for the title and the three expansion packs in one bundle.

Anyone care to offer a critique of this game?  I know it's only $5 but if it's particularly bad I won't bother with the download.

For me, SotS is/was a fairly run of the mill type game. The nicest twist was the entire tech tree was not available. You'd get the basics and then some extras, but not the same stuff every time. So you could not use the same strategies with your ships. You have to modify it to your available tech.
 

Offline xeryon

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2013, 04:16:51 PM »
That's interesting.  I can understand the aspect of roleplaying a race in aurora with biases for/against certain techs but it is so hard to do in practice when I know it will make my gameplay easier to research what I know is best.  I'm still stuck in the 'do whatever I can to win' mentality of games with endings.  Having the game push limited tech availability on me would be a unique hurdle.
 

Offline Thundercraft

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2013, 04:42:25 PM »
Birth of the Federation (Release date June, 1999 ) is recent? :D

What can I say? These days I'm a cheapskate who generally prefers to play second-hand games several years after release, when prices are much more reasonable. Also, I don't have as much time (or drive) to play them or the income I used to have. I still have old games I've never got around to playing.

I may take a close look at Sword of Stars 2. I've seen some videos of Star Ruler and what I see and hear is quite tempting. Generally, I'm much more partial to turn-based. However, I will consider real-time games. Galactic Civilizations II? I haven't looked at the reviews, yet. But with my awful experiences with Galactic Civilization 1 and Stardock, it's not on my shopping list.

Since my OP, I've recalled a few other 4x games I've tried. One of those is Spaceward Ho!". Compared with others, it's extremely simple and short - more of a coffee-break deal. Which, really, can be a nice change of pace. It's rather easy to play and learn, too.

Also, looking around, I see that prices for Space Empires IV have really dropped. I'm very tempted to get it now. Though, I see the reason is because Space Empires V is what people are after. Maybe I should skip straight to V?

Recently, I decided to re-install some of those old games to see if they were as awesome or as bad as I remembered.

I was looking forward to playing Imperium Galactica II again, even though I beat the AI players very soundly last time. It had very nice 3D graphics for it's time. And I managed to get it installed on my Windows XP laptop. However, whenever I try to run it I get error messages and it crashes. :( The requirements stated that it (supposedly) supports Windows XP. But even changing the shortcut to "Windows 98 compatibility mode" did not fix it. I guess it didn't like my more modern graphics card? I may have to install it on an old PC...

I then installed Pax Imperia and read through the manual and some online tips. When it started... man, talk about outdated graphics! :-[ It's limited to a resolution of 640x480, max! And the videos are more like 320x240. I was in the process of creating a new game when I realized something: The only recognized condition for winning a game is by conquering all other races. That's... not ideal to me, especially since I prefer to play really large galaxies. BTW: There are no strategy guides, tips, cheats or anything for this game on GameFAQs.com, which surprised the heck out of me.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 04:50:52 PM by Thundercraft »
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Offline Thundercraft

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Galactic Civilizations 1: IMO, a failure on many fronts
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2013, 04:45:10 PM »
After failing to start those games (see above), I decided to give Galactic Civilizations 1 a fair try. (In my OP I had mistakenly referred to "Starport's Galactic Empires" when I was really thinking of Stardock's "Galactic Civilizations 1".)

It installed fine. Though, I had to read through the docs to discover the v1.05 patch that comes with the install disk - which had to be installed manually.

I started some new games, looking for an ideal world and starting location, and read through the manual and strategy guides. And I gave it an honest go. I did not really give it a real chance before. That said, it's still bad.

It obviously takes some inspiration from other 4x and space games. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The meeting of the Federation of Planets (or whatever) every few years to vote on topics is obviously from the Master of Orion series. And I believe some inspiration - such as some of the random events - may have come from something like "Strange Adventures in Infinite Space".

I didn't care for their random events. Nothing good ever happens unless you choose an "evil" option that has serious consequences later. It's nothing more than a morality litmus test - short term vs long term rewards/penalties. In some cases, bad things will happen unless you choose the evil option.

What's unfortunate is how the only adjustments for AI opponents is picking their alignment (good, neutral, or evil) and a difficulty rating from Beginner to Genius. You can't even change how the races look. Also, it's limited to 5 opponents, though one can turn them off so you only have 1 through 4 opponents.

What's bad is the clunky interface. This makes everything three times more tedious than it ought to be - making a chore out of something that should be fun. I even made and printed out a keyboard shortcut diagram and I memorized the few shortcuts, but that doesn't help much. It's just that the layout is terrible.

What's worse is how the AI players cheat and are impossibly difficult to defeat, even on "Normal". To be fair, if I replayed the game over several times, learning more each time, I'm sure I could beat them - even on Normal. But that's not the issue: All AI opponents are aware (as stated in-game) of the entire galaxy! And, so, they make a beeline to colonize all habitable planets in their range. The only way to compete with this is to pump out Colony Ships yourself at a 200% spending rate (spending twice as much in Military as your monthly income, rapidly depleting your reserves) and try to beat them to these planets - which is only practical by cheating and knowing where those few habitable planets are.

It just turns every new game into a literal "space race" which becomes a tedious micromanagement to beat your opponents to the most valuable resources (planets, mostly). One can't even spare the resources to do research until later in the game, when all the habitable planets in range have been claimed, by you or your opponents. This makes the first 50 turns or so with all players stuck with beginner technology! Combat isn't usually an issue until late game. This makes the first half of every new game boring. (At this point, I wish I'd given MOO3 another chance instead. And that's saying something.)

What's awful is how the Military / Social / Research sliders are an all-or-nothing affair that apply equally to all your planets! It's impossible to devote one planet to research and another to building a social project, while a third to building a ship. Well, you could, except you'd have to balance the sliders to spend equally - meaning, those billions of credits your spending on each planet is mostly going to waste! The best solution I can see is to make sure all your planets are doing the same thing: Either building ships, building social projects, or doing neither so as to devote to research. That way your money isn't being wasted. Problem is: Most of the time the majority of your planets won't have a good reason to build a ship or social project, meaning they'd be better off doing research. You can't set local tax rates on a per-planet basis, either.  >:(

And it's glitchy: The sliders to adjust the Spending Rate and Income Distribution (Military, Social, and Research) are buggy. I'll have them set and switch to a different menu... then click [Next Turn] and wonder why my Colony Ship was not produced - even though the last time I looked it said "0 turns" to completion.

Also, I found a rather annoying bug. If I load a saved game and try to repeat what I was just working on (say, loading up colonists), it will crash-to-desktop - almost every time. It doesn't help much, either, that you can't turn off the intro movies (though, you can click to skip) and the main game menu takes several seconds to load because of the fancy animation.

Then I realized that, in all likelihood, Stardock has a more recent patch.

So I went to Stardock.com and GalCiv1.com and found there was a v1.2 patch now. And beyond game balances and bug fixes, it even comes with expanded content and a new cheat mode. It's like a whole new game.

Unfortunately, I purchased the European CD version. Neither the Stardock Central update software nor their websites will recognize my CD Key as a valid serial number. I'm SOL as they will only allow the download if you can register your software! Obviously, I'm not impressed with Stardock.

UPDATE: After several email messages (including requested photos of my game disk and CD Key to prove I owned an original), I finally got an updated version. There was some issue with registering my CD Key in particular. Just my luck.

They gave me a Steam code to play the Altarian Prophecy version of GalCiv1. (A nice gesture. But that was another 800+ MB of downloads on my slow connection.)

And... Yes, some issues have been fixed or improved. I started the Campaign Mode and it is nice to have a story to go with it. Also, I do appreciate the new cheat codes as it allows me to see the map and play on somewhat equal footing with the AI empires. (Which is the only code I use.) However, the sliders for Spending Rate and Income Distribution still act glitchy. And the game difficulty is still pretty high.

What really made my blood boil, though, was when I discovered that the space anomalies, space junk and such - which add up to be very useful - will randomly and slowly evaporate! They will all disappear by mid to late game regardless of whether or not anyone grabs them up! (I checked: Many disappeared while the AI was in no position to grab them.) As my race bonus I had a really high ship movement, yet I could not get all of them in time - they just disappeared on me.

Also, none of the manuals or strategies guides made it clear that having a relatively high tax rate will cripple your population growth - to the extent that your empire will rapidly fall behind the others. Even if none of your planets are revolting or have an approval rating below 50%, it still does this.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 05:43:52 PM by Thundercraft »
"Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." - Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington
 

Offline Tregonsee

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Re: Other 4x Games I've Tried
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2013, 02:08:23 PM »
You might want to try the advanced version of GalCiv1, also known as 1.5.  More options and better player interface.
GalCiv2 is a much different game
 

 

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