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Digital Gaming => Computer Wargaming => Topic started by: Jarhead0331 on October 06, 2018, 08:45:42 PM

Title: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 06, 2018, 08:45:42 PM
...doesn't exist yet. My quest to find it has revealed that even the best tend to excel in a few areas, but then render key details and features abstract, or just omit them altogether.  I think the game that comes closest to what I consider the "perfect" 4x is Aurora. The near limitless complexity and and ability to do pretty much whatever your mind can dream of.  Alas, even Aurora has its limitations...much of which are painstakingly obvious.

I'd love to someday be involved in the development of the last space 4x game that hardcore fans of the genre will ever need or want to play. Until then, lets talk about the ingredients that would be essential to making such a dream game. I'm going to start the discussion with this post and I will continuously add to it with additional ideas over time. I don't think I'm going to get through much tonight since I'm really tired and fading fast, but while my mind is thinking about it, I wanted to begin.

The game must focus equal depth in all four of the "x's" in "4x". eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate. I translate this loosely into the following core components:

I.  Government/Political/Cultural

   A. Empire creation

   B. Domestic systems
       i. social policy
      ii. religion and racial traits
     iii. bureaucratic institutions
 
   C. Foreign systems
       i. Diplomacy
      ii. Espionage

II.  Economy

   A. Industry/Production/Distribution/Consumption
   B. Resources
   C. Taxation
   D. Trade

III.  Research

    A. Physical Sciences
       i. Physics
      ii. Biology
     iii. Chemistry
     iv. Geology
      v. Astronomy

   B. Applied Sciences
      i. Engineering
     ii. Mathematics
    iii. Medicine
    iv. Computers

   C. Propulsion

   D. Construction

   E. Weaponry

   F. Theory

IV.  Ship/Vessel/Craft/Weapon Design

V.  Combat

   A. Fleets
       i. Deep space
      ii. Orbital

   B. Armies
       i. Planetary invasion

VI.  The Universe

   A. Modes of travel
   B. Discovery
   C. Planets, planetoids and stellar objects
   D. Anomalies

To be continued...
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: SirAndrewD on October 06, 2018, 09:02:35 PM
You know, it's funny, I agree here. 

But what's funny is that space 4x seemed to be moving in the direction to create the game you describe around the MoO2 days. 

But no one has brought it all together, even though it seems a no brainier.  They always want to cut down or leave something out. 

It doesn't seen crazy to just do something like you describe.  It wouldn't even need millions of dollars to pull off.   They just always want to skimp and leave something out.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Gusington on October 06, 2018, 09:28:56 PM
Recreate Emperor of the Fading Suns.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Anguille on October 07, 2018, 03:19:47 AM
Yeah, i have the same dream. The working document for Master of Orion 3 was pretty good i think.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: sandman2575 on October 07, 2018, 08:25:16 AM
Very much agree with JH's assessment.

I'd be curious to hear what you guys consider the best Space 4xs in each of the 6 categories JH lays out?

My own two cents:

I. Government/Political/Cultural:  Not sure I have a clear front-runner here. I just bought the "Intrigue" expansion on sale for Gal Civ III, which is supposed to enhance this area, but to be honest the game still bores me too much to see what the expansion brings to the table. I'm inclined to give Endless Space 2 pretty high marks here, as in many categories.

II. Economy:  Distant Worlds is still the gold standard here IMO, with its independent civilian economy and very detailed resources management, trade, etc.

III. Research:  Will give the edge to Sword of the Stars II, which does some great things I have not seen replicated in other space 4x, for example, the need to carry out 'feasibility studies' for techs, the possibility of simply failing research, randomized tech trees, the need to build expensive Prototypes of new ship designs before you can start mass producing them.

IV. - V. Ship Design/Combat:  Again, SOTS II is my winner. There's no Space 4x I've played that has better combat, damage modelling, actual 3D battles -- all this hampered by a clunky and half-baked UI. Still, it's great when it works. I also love designing ships in SOTS II more than any other game. Lots of flexibility here.

VI. Universe:  Distant Worlds for me. Even though it's only 2D, I actually genuinely love the exploration phase of DW, which in most games really just feels like a chore. Stellaris has a good, but not great, exploration mechanic. SOTS II is to my mind the most interesting out there in terms of modes of travel, with different races / techs making very different ways of getting around possible (Endless Space 2 is also good on this front -- it initially looks like 'just star lanes,' but tech advances open this up in very interesting ways, plus the Vaulters have a unique capacity to stargate, like the Insect race (can't remember name) in SOTS.

Anyway, a very quick and dirty run-down, but I love this topic, so very interested to hear the thoughts of youze guyz.

Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 07, 2018, 10:04:02 AM
Filled in some more details for research.

Overall, I take my inspiration from games like (not an exhaustive list): Aurora, Master of Orion 3, Polaris Sector, Distant Worlds, Emperor of the Fading Suns, Star Wars Rebellion, Sword of the Stars I and II, Stellaris, Space Empires IV, Solar War, War in the Pacific, Crusader Kings II
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: bbmike on October 07, 2018, 02:08:25 PM
I'd argue your core components listed should apply to any genre 4x game and not just space.  O0
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Ian C on October 08, 2018, 05:41:21 AM
Edited: deleted non-constructive rant about why companies don't make good games and should listen to the opinions of middle-aged wargamers.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Rayfer on October 08, 2018, 07:58:26 AM
JH...just speculating.  Could it be that the complex interrelationship between all those various game functions (in you original post) can't be handled by current game AI's running your opponents in a single player game. Maybe today's AI's just aren't up to the task?  I could see it working in a multi-player game.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: sandman2575 on October 08, 2018, 09:41:52 AM
@Rayfer -- I'm sure AI limitations are part -- maybe a significant part -- of the reason why 4X games tend to all play somewhat similarly, with similar mechanics and similar weaknesses.

Which gets to my biggest pet peeve about Space 4X, which is that the paradigm Sid Meier created for Civilization some, what, 30 years ago at this point, *still* dictates the overall template and mechanics of these games.

I'm awaiting the next brilliant Sid Meier to come along and rewrite the paradigm, but it sure doesn't seem like he/she is anywhere in sight.

I'm sure the reason that the Civilization template is still so widely used is that programmers know the drill in their sleep at this point. I can understand the reluctance to try something truly new because of the programming challenges that would entail.

But man do I want some devs to come along and truly shake things up in a Space 4x genre that has become predictable, and to some extent, boring at this point.

Case in point -- I tried booting up a Gal Civ III campaign the other night. Two dozen moves in, and I'm bored to tears and putting it back on the shelf. I had a similar experience with Stellaris. Really the only Space 4x that really holds my attention these days is Endless Space 2.

The early stages of most Space 4x games are just hideously boring at this point. Single home planet -- not even outposts on nearby planets. An single explorer ship is the sum total of your civilization's fleet -- maybe you get a colonizer too, but that's it. Basic technologies that, by any reasonable standard, would have been mastered by a civilization so advanced have to be slogged through, because them's the rules. Also, you can only ever build small corvettes and frigates -- large capital ships are completely beyond the capacity of your civ. to build-- again, for some reason. Most of the galaxy completely terra incognita for some reason (I guess even though these civs are capable of interstellar travel, they lack any advanced astronomical/research infrastructure at all. Powerful radio-telescopes? What are those?).

I could go on but you get the picture. Well past time for this formula to be shake up -- or even completely discarded.


Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 08, 2018, 10:01:52 AM
@Rayfer -- I'm sure AI limitations are part -- maybe a significant part -- of the reason why 4X games tend to all play somewhat similarly, with similar mechanics and similar weaknesses.

Which gets to my biggest pet peeve about Space 4X, which is that the paradigm Sid Meier created for Civilization some, what, 30 years ago at this point, *still* dictates the overall template and mechanics of these games.

I'm awaiting the next brilliant Sid Meier to come along and rewrite the paradigm, but it sure doesn't seem like he/she is anywhere in sight.

I'm sure the reason that the Civilization template is still so widely used is that programmers know the drill in their sleep at this point. I can understand the reluctance to try something truly new because of the programming challenges that would entail.

But man do I want some devs to come along and truly shake things up in a Space 4x genre that has become predictable, and to some extent, boring at this point.

Case in point -- I tried booting up a Gal Civ III campaign the other night. Two dozen moves in, and I'm bored to tears and putting it back on the shelf. I had a similar experience with Stellaris. Really the only Space 4x that really holds my attention these days is Endless Space 2.

The early stages of most Space 4x games are just hideously boring at this point. Single home planet -- not even outposts on nearby planets. An single explorer ship is the sum total of your civilization's fleet -- maybe you get a colonizer too, but that's it. Basic technologies that, by any reasonable standard, would have been mastered by a civilization so advanced have to be slogged through, because them's the rules. Also, you can only ever build small corvettes and frigates -- large capital ships are completely beyond the capacity of your civ. to build-- again, for some reason. Most of the galaxy completely terra incognita for some reason (I guess even though these civs are capable of interstellar travel, they lack any advanced astronomical/research infrastructure at all. Powerful radio-telescopes? What are those?).

I could go on but you get the picture. Well past time for this formula to be shake up -- or even completely discarded.

Have you looked at Aurora? It seems to address the vast majority of your complaints. You can start your civ at any technological level and state of expansion and discovery. You can gift the technologies that you feel your civ should have already discovered. Its an extremely complex, well thought-out and flexible system...of course it sometimes looks and plays like a spreadsheet, which I think is where it fails, but really, for a one-man operation, Steve Wamsley has accomplished something truly remarkable.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: sandman2575 on October 08, 2018, 10:44:46 AM
I've never tried Aurora, for all the obvious reasons. Some things about the complexity and flexibility definitely appeal to me, but in the end, I can't bring myself to play a game that looks mostly like a bunch of Windows XP windows and menus. I have enough difficulty with CMANO in that regard (which probably accounts for the "20 minutes" game-time logged according to my Steam account...)

I know it means I miss out on some good stuff, but I have a minimum graphics & UI appeal threshold for games I'm willing to devote time to. I can't bring myself to play any of the John Tiller games, for example. The Gary Grigsby "War in the X" titles are probably the minimum I'm willing to put up with.

Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 08, 2018, 12:18:52 PM
The "look" of Aurora kept me back for a long time too, but once I forced myself to start learning the fundamentals it really became fascinating. Again, its not the perfect 4x, otherwise, I wouldn't have started this thread  :crazy2:, but in terms of features, depth and complexity, it pretty much checks all of the boxes.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Phantom on October 08, 2018, 12:24:10 PM
I share the frustration. It seems we either get a graphically superb no brainer or a well thought out and beautifully complex exercise in accountancy. Surely its not beyond the wit of man to combine the two?
I speak not as an expert on space 4x (Space Empires V here!) but as someone who has encountered the issue with other genres. The best thought out, technically accurate and playable age of sail sim is the DOS program "Clear for Action" - it's a truly a wonderful piece of work, and was actually designed to support miniature play. I'm frustrated that someone hasn't put this (or Aurora) in front of some graphics whiz with the brief "great game, don't fuck about with it - just make it look nice"
How hard can it be?
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: joram on October 08, 2018, 03:27:30 PM
Aurora should be subtitled 'Spreadsheets in Space'.  Granted its been awhile (maybe 3 years now) since I tinkered with it but what it really needed was a story mode.  No amount of graphics would fix that there didn't seem to be much of a point to it. 
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 08, 2018, 07:26:34 PM
Aurora should be subtitled 'Spreadsheets in Space'.  Granted its been awhile (maybe 3 years now) since I tinkered with it but what it really needed was a story mode.  No amount of graphics would fix that there didn't seem to be much of a point to it.

I felt this way about Aurora largely until I took the time to learn how the game and its systems work. Once you start to learn what you can do, you begin to develop your own plans to accomplish your own goals. The development of the game, as I understand it, was meant to trigger the imaginations of players of an old table top game. It was literally made to help them roleplay. So yes, nothing in Aurora will guide you. The player is expected to use his or her own imagination to explore, or conquer, the stars. This could be very clearly a positive feature for some, but a negative for others...
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Yskonyn on October 09, 2018, 02:45:05 AM
I agree fully that the space 4x genre has become stuck for a long time.
There was a thread in the RPG section a while back with some interesting ideas.
If we can’t get a game with AI to create something interesting to play we could try to setup something multiplayer and go as deep as we want with a game system that provides the depth we would like!

I’ll quote my post from earlier this year:
Re: StarFire
The free QuickStart Rules can be obtained here: http://www.wargamevault.com/product/213075/Quick-Start-Rules

The QSR do not cover campaign play.
According to the official forums StarFire Solar (the latest and a rework of Ultra with a focus less on tournament play and more on narrative) is the recommended version if you want to create big sweeping campaigns.
It definately looks like this game hardly knows any bounds. You can truely craft your own endless fully featured space 4x, but the rulebook is over 400 pages!

It comes down to wether we can / want to put in the effort to learn this, cause I am sure it wont be the game that’s limiting; fully modelled ships, fleet combat, exploration. Its mind boggling deep. 😳

StarFire is a HUGELY detailed ruleset with just about anything you can think of regarding 4x play. The only thing with this is that it’ll take considerable effort to setup and play, but the narrative will be completely in our own hands.

Another interesting option I posted:

Ok, here is a crazy idea regarding Aurora multiplayer:

Would it work if you let each participating player create an Empire in Space Master mode.
Then we start the game and player 1 plays his Empire for say 1 game year (to be determined), while the other Empires are on autopilot.
Then the game gets saved, player 2 switches to his/her Empire in Space Master mode and then play another year.
This way we let the savegame go round and round and effectively have Aurora multiplayer going! 

The wiki actually refers to Space Master mode as being derived from Dungeon Master. And facilitates the switching/creation and editing of Player and Non-Player Races.

O0

Jarhead, OJsDad, bobarossa, Rayfer, Tuna and bbmike interested to see if we can make it work?
If we can then we'll have intelligent (well somewhat at least, if you look at myself) opponents, we can make diplomacy as detailed or as basic as we want while having the super deluxe groggy gameplay from Aurora itself!  :smitten:

Aurora’s Game Master mode can be used creatively as well.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Yskonyn on October 09, 2018, 03:10:03 AM
Another suggestion that might be right up our alley is Space Empires 4X published by GMT Games!
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/84419/space-empires-4x

It has a VASSAL module making it very well suited for PBeM or Forum play as well!
http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Space_Empires:_4X
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: bbmike on October 09, 2018, 07:19:14 AM
Another suggestion that might be right up our alley is Space Empires 4X published by GMT Games!
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/84419/space-empires-4x

It has a VASSAL module making it very well suited for PBeM or Forum play as well!
http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Space_Empires:_4X

Or you could also play the computer versions. Space Empires IV Deluxe and Space Empires V are both on Steam.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Barthheart on October 09, 2018, 09:35:50 AM
...
Or you could also play the computer versions. Space Empires IV Deluxe and Space Empires V are both on Steam.

SE IV was a good game.... I never thought much of SE V though...
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 09, 2018, 09:52:50 AM
...
Or you could also play the computer versions. Space Empires IV Deluxe and Space Empires V are both on Steam.

SE IV was a good game.... I never thought much of SE V though...

I draw some of my inspiration from SEIV. However, overall, I always found the game to be dull and soulless. Nevertheless, it has some excellent depth and a bunch of features that we just don't see a lot of these days. Even something as simple as being able to designate a new colony for a specific purpose (i.e. industrial, farming, military, science, etc.) I mean, such a simple and obvious feature that no other game seems to have really utilized. Why the hell not?  The closest any game has come is Polaris Sector, which lets you set development priorities for the planetary AI.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: bbmike on October 09, 2018, 10:11:18 AM
I agree if you play against the AI. For multiplayer I think it would work really well.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Barthheart on October 09, 2018, 11:04:09 AM

I draw some of my inspiration from SEIV. However, overall, I always found the game to be dull and soulless.
...

Can't argue there, after a while in a game it did become kind of dull.... more so than most 4x game but I think this happens to most people in most of the games of the genre....
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: DennisS on October 09, 2018, 11:36:23 AM
...
Or you could also play the computer versions. Space Empires IV Deluxe and Space Empires V are both on Steam.

SE IV was a good game.... I never thought much of SE V though...

SE IV IS a good game. Perhaps the best of all the 4x games out there. I liked Stars! a lot as well.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: FarAway Sooner on October 09, 2018, 05:09:48 PM
I agree with Sandman:  The Space 4x genre is heavily burdened by the game play conventions that Sid Meier first dreamed up for Civ 1 almost a quarter-century ago.  It's even the freaking "one scout/one settler/one city" feature!  There are so many opportunities to expand that.

I think one thing that's been sadly neglected in most Space 4x games is the PvE aspect.  Sure, you have your occasional Barbarians spawning out of a Goody Hut, but that's about as sophisticated as most of the Space 4x games get in this regard.

One thing that DWU got entirely right in their Dark Ages period is the idea that you populate the galaxy with dynamic PvE adversaries.  Pirates who are more powerful than you and extort tribute in the early games, but not nearly as dynamic (i.e., they lack research), make for an interesting adversary.  Splitting pirates up into different factions, and giving players the option to play nice with some (or all) pirate factions adds an intriguing layer.  It also means players get to face tough strategic choices about when to start picking a fight with a pirate faction, and which faction to fight with.

The "Space Monster" cliche is tired, but because it's not the only component in PvE play, it's pretty interesting.  They even have some more indestructible space monsters (e.g., the "Silver Cloud" of devouring nanites you often release in mid-game) that keep the challenge fresh in the mid-game.

As others have said, the ability to model an actual civilian economy is also very well done.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Yskonyn on October 11, 2018, 03:56:00 AM
Did that SE4 grogheads pbem game ever lift off?

My point was that we could lament the state of 4x, but we could instead be setting something up here on grogheads. With several people interested in a good 4x experience we should have no issues making diplomacy interesting because it’ll be human controlled. So one of the big negatives with AI would have been taken care of.
If we can just decide on a platform to use that’s suitable for forum or email play we’d be set for a grand space adventure against and with eachother.

I mentioned StarFire because its basically Aurora 4x in paper form. Huge and daunting, but at the same time many stuff can be optional. (There is a VASSAL module for the tactical stuff out there)

I mentioned Space Empires 4X because of the boardgamey feeling, but SEV or SE4 might be handier because of its electronic form.

Aurora’s Space Manager feature is interesting and certainly can work, but it will be fiddly.

Or.. you can just jump into my Battletech campaign! 😜👍
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: HDIAndrew on October 11, 2018, 11:06:26 AM
A friend of mine used to argue that all games are glorified spreadsheets, and that the better games just hid that more effectively :)

I think the 4X format still works well, but each X needs to be considered more broadly. For instance, eXploration refers both to exploring the game environment and its mechanics - determining who to make best use of each. eXpansion refers to extending control over territory and game resources of all types. eXploitation refers to exploiting that territory or those resources to maximum effect. eXtermination is probably the least appropriate X, as we usually refer to exterminating all the game enemies, but really it can apply to exterminating their ability to threaten us. I personally like thinking of how eXtermination applies to 4X games that can be played co-op, like the classic M.U.L.E.

And I always think we should consider a fifth X - conteXt - for the best 4X games.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 11, 2018, 02:46:02 PM
Andrew, I'm sorry to blow your cover, but gentlemen (and lady or two), Andrew is the founder of Holistic Design and the lead developer behind Emperor of the Fading Suns!!!!

We're not worthy! We're not worthy!!!  :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy:
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: airboy on October 11, 2018, 03:33:00 PM
Space Empires IV is still the best IMHO.  I acknowledge the flaws mentioned by others.

Another issue is playability.  The more stuff you put into the mix, the more time investment you have to be able to play it.  I can only master so many Dominions 3 level complexity games without burning out.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Yskonyn on October 11, 2018, 05:27:07 PM
Hi Andrew! Great so see you here and let me take the oppertunity to thank you for the great game you created!  :peace:

On a different note: I have been browsing through the Solar Starfire handbook, but the thing reads like some kind of professional engineer’s manual.
Lots of abbreviations, accronyms and formula’s. Not really something you pick up and play.
Diving a bit further into Starfire it seems that 3rd edition (Called Legacy on the website) combined with the Unified Tech Manual is much easier to get into.
This is also the version where Aurora 4x is based on if I understand it correctly.
Solar is so detailed that it becomes pretty much unplayable unless you make a study of it. 😳
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Kushan on October 15, 2018, 08:03:11 AM
Which gets to my biggest pet peeve about Space 4X, which is that the paradigm Sid Meier created for Civilization some, what, 30 years ago at this point, *still* dictates the overall template and mechanics of these games.

Can’t agree with this more. I’m probably in the minority on this but I liked the vanilla Distant Worlds research system. Wasn’t perfect and could have used some refining but you’d think the world was ending with the criticism of it, which boiled down to “its not a generic civilization style tech tree, it sucks”.

I think my ideal system would be a mix of Aurora, vanilla DW, with some of the randomness from Stellaris. Basically, you’d always be researching all fields, the more you used say lasers the more research you got, but you would also have the ability to focus certain tech by assigning research teams.

Probably in the minority on this too, not to mention going to suffer the wrath of Jarhead, but I hate planetary invasions. Probably because I’m a big fan of the Honorverse novels, but I feel once you control a planets orbit, and can glass it without effective resistance, why land troops beyond garrisoning it to keep the population in line. Not to mention when you have populations in the millions or billions, landing a few hundred thousand troops in the invading force would be at a severe disadvantage.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 15, 2018, 08:17:43 AM
^LoL. Yeah...I do love my planetary invasions! Detail with these operations is something that I feel is always lacking in 4x games. I agree, that such a large scale operation may not always be cost effective, but certainly the option should be there, as should other options of planetary control, including, blockade, bombardment, etc.

In terms of research, have you looked at Plolaris Sector? It seems to have the research system you are describing. All fields are research simultaneously, but you can place a focus on a particular tech.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Anguille on October 16, 2018, 03:13:14 PM
In Horizon you get to research in 6 fields at the same time: propulsion, electronics, construction, armor, biotech and weapons. Within each field, research is being done on many different techs. In each field you can focus on one tech (research team will focus on that tech). You can also focus research on one specific field. Finally, there are new techs that will show up depending on what you research and i think it's partially random.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Steelgrave on October 16, 2018, 04:51:07 PM
I haven't cranked Horizon up yet. It's sat untouched on my Steam account like it belongs on The Island of Misfit Toys. Maybe I should give it some love.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: WargamerJoe on October 17, 2018, 02:27:05 AM
Polaris Sector's tech system and it's ship building/tactical layer are the best bits about that game. Unfortunately, they're too good in comparison to the rest of it - I don't think it holds together well as a complete experience.

If we're talking about genre burdens, I think MOO2 has done more to influence space 4X games than anything else, although one could argue that in turn derives itself from early Civ games.

It's weird how little innovation there's been though, especially since a couple of years ago there was a mini-boom of new space 4X games, mainly under Iceberg Interactive. It was as if a bunch of gamers decided to make the 4X game they always wanted... excepted they just ended up making every other 4X game again.

Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: solops on October 17, 2018, 06:07:33 PM
My favorite research model ( and one of my favorite games) was Sword of the Stars I & II. There was a tech tree, but you were NOT guaranteed that all of the techs would be available each game. A "Core" was available every game, including some race specific stuff, but sometimes you just did not get some pretty important techs and had to work around it. Not getting point defense can be a killer if you do not adapt your ships and fleet design to account for it. And, you cannot "see" which techs are missing ahead of time, so you research away, down to long path to something and then find out your race has NO clue what it is and cannot research it. If it is something you really want, you have to find a race that DOES have it, go to war with them and then hope you get the tech during a salvage operation. I think all games should use a similar model.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: bbmike on October 17, 2018, 06:21:50 PM
^Agree. I also kind of liked the blind research option in Alpha Centauri.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Yskonyn on October 18, 2018, 05:02:25 AM
I agree wholeheartedly about SotS tech tree system. I personally like it more than Polaris Sector's theoretical and applied sciences system.

I also think Distant Worlds is the pinnacle of economy simulation. Items and resources actually have to be transported from a to b, something many 4x games abstract to a number or an 'automatic flow system'.

Stellaris actually does very well with the random events and sweeping story arcs that might change the balance of the game bigtime.

GalCiv does very well with having an AI that's pretty smart, but above all, seems to play like a human opponent.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: SteveW on October 18, 2018, 08:40:18 AM
^LoL. Yeah...I do love my planetary invasions! Detail with these operations is something that I feel is always lacking in 4x games. I agree, that such a large scale operation may not always be cost effective, but certainly the option should be there, as should other options of planetary control, including, blockade, bombardment, etc.

Have a browse through the changes list for the forthcoming C# version of Aurora. From about the middle of page four onward, there is a lot of new detail on planetary invasions (in particular pages 7/8).

http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?topic=8495.0

Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Jarhead0331 on October 18, 2018, 08:42:38 AM
^LoL. Yeah...I do love my planetary invasions! Detail with these operations is something that I feel is always lacking in 4x games. I agree, that such a large scale operation may not always be cost effective, but certainly the option should be there, as should other options of planetary control, including, blockade, bombardment, etc.

Have a browse through the changes list for the forthcoming C# version of Aurora. From about the middle of page four onward, there is a lot of new detail on planetary invasions.

http://aurora2.pentarch.org/index.php?topic=8495.0

OMG! SteveW is here!!!!

 :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy: :notworthy:

EDIT: Now that I've collected my wherewithal, I am following the change list in the C# thread very closely. Its a large part of my inspiration for starting this thread.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Yskonyn on October 18, 2018, 08:55:58 AM
Hi Steve!
Thanks for Aurora! Its peeked my interest for several years now, but I just have to find the time to properly sit down with it some day.
Liked the Lets plays on YT from various people.
It also pointed me to StarFire 3rdR which I am trying to learn and make ready for forum play atm.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Kushan on October 18, 2018, 09:24:19 PM
Hi Steve. Really looking forward to Aurora C#. Looked through the thread, but didn't see an answer to a question i have. Will the fighter UI be getting simplified? Personally I find managing large groups of fighters a little clunky and tedious the last time I played.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: SteveW on October 19, 2018, 03:55:58 AM
Hi Steve. Really looking forward to Aurora C#. Looked through the thread, but didn't see an answer to a question i have. Will the fighter UI be getting simplified? Personally I find managing large groups of fighters a little clunky and tedious the last time I played.

The new fleet window has a naval organisation tree. You can set the fighters as a sub-fleet and then detach/attach them as a group.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: SteveW on October 19, 2018, 05:10:07 AM
Hi Steve!
Thanks for Aurora! Its peeked my interest for several years now, but I just have to find the time to properly sit down with it some day.
Liked the Lets plays on YT from various people.
It also pointed me to StarFire 3rdR which I am trying to learn and make ready for forum play atm.

Third Edition Starfire is a great game. A small portion of the code in Aurora survives from an assistant program I created to play 3rdR. In fact, playing Starfire ultimately led to Aurora.
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: mikeck on October 20, 2018, 05:29:26 PM
Two space combat themes I’d love for someone to make...
1. A realistic tactical ship space combat game. I’m thinking like Silent Hunter 5 in space. Charting long term patrols, interdicting trade, taking out warships. You’re in command of a Space Navy Frigate. You get various missions and can move around inside your ship going to the sensor quarters, weapons, engineering, etc. Combat would be complex and realistic. Would detect enemy ships at extreme range and have to set a course to intercept using orbital mechocs like Children of a dead earth. Then target and use long range missiles and kinetic kill weapons up close.

2. A future tactical ground warfare game. Can be near future...maybe 100 years. Maybe US vs China on mars or something. Infantry, attack aircraft, energy weapons, space based strikes. Doesn’t have to be Mars.
Could be earth. Just want future tanks, attack aircraft and lasers pew! pew!

Besides the 8500 warhammer 4K types of rTS, I can’t think of any. I’d want a more slow,
Realistc and complex game. Well, like Combat Mission or Graviteam. Heck, I’d even take a hex and chit turn based version

So....could one of you guys hook that up?
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: FarAway Sooner on October 26, 2018, 09:16:17 AM
I'll be the first one to admit that I haven't tried the modern stuff much (it all looks derivative to me, I'm afraid), but one bad-ass space combat simulation system that I always enjoyed was the PC adaptation of the FASA board game, Renegade: Legion Interceptor

That was a 1990 DOS game, and had limited replay value due to all sorts of limitations.   The FASA title was slightly derivative of Star Fleet Battles, but with some fascinating different weapon profiles that made for really different choices in tactics.  Nothing was more satisfying than punching a narrow-beam laser attack through a dent in the enemy shields that you'd already made with a nuclear missile the turn before!

The different "shapes" of damage for different weapons, and the resulting "tattered shields" effect also kept a lot of suspense in combat.
 It was never as simple as, "Well, I've got 20 HP left on my front shields, and his Photon Torpedoes are only going to do 16 damage, so I know..."
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: SteveW on October 26, 2018, 09:40:17 AM
I'll be the first one to admit that I haven't tried the modern stuff much (it all looks derivative to me, I'm afraid), but one bad-ass space combat simulation system that I always enjoyed was the PC adaptation of the FASA board game, Renegade: Legion Interceptor

That was a 1990 DOS game, and had limited replay value due to all sorts of limitations.   The FASA title was slightly derivative of Star Fleet Battles, but with some fascinating different weapon profiles that made for really different choices in tactics.  Nothing was more satisfying than punching a narrow-beam laser attack through a dent in the enemy shields that you'd already made with a nuclear missile the turn before!

The different "shapes" of damage for different weapons, and the resulting "tattered shields" effect also kept a lot of suspense in combat.
 It was never as simple as, "Well, I've got 20 HP left on my front shields, and his Photon Torpedoes are only going to do 16 damage, so I know..."

I had this game on 5 1/4" floppy disk, plus I also have a couple of copies of the original board game. The armour rules and weapon damage profiles for Aurora are shamelessly stolen from this game :)
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: FarAway Sooner on October 26, 2018, 01:26:12 PM
That is awesome!
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Sparhawk on November 06, 2018, 10:48:45 PM
Some thoughts I had today while I should have been focusing on task at hand.

Aurora: The game that broke the spell Eve Online had over me. I was between jobs and read about Aurora on a forum and felt I had time to give it a go. Literally 2 months later, full time gaming, I came up for a breather. I did take the time to keep my Eve skills updated though. This was in 2010 so I don't know how much the game play has evolved. I haven't played it much since, way to much energy required. I loved it, goodness I loved it.  I had trouble keeping my economy afloat as my navy expanded even with my focus being mineral extraction. I just could never build up a large enough reserve of minerals. I loved the anticipation of exploring new star systems. Always that chance of making contact.

Sword of the Stars II: So many aspects of this game that I just can't get enough of. I enjoy playing any of these types of games with a peaceful start where I can build up a respectable empire before hostilities start. SOTS II has maps that make this possible. The tech tree is always the first thought I have thinking of this game, so unpredictable. I must have point defense, whether laser or ballistic, if both research paths fail then it's just not worth it to me. Way to many missiles to be without PD. I enjoy how the economy is modeled with goods based on size of planet and player interaction with creation of freighter ships. One gripe I have is the limitations of police cutters. Earlier in the game with fewer freighters to defend and fewer pirates attacking at once, the cutters can overwhelm the few pirates attacking. Later as there are more pirate ships with better offense/defense and the cutters are split up defending more freighters, they become overwhelmed, and there is no way to upgrade them.  The battles truly make this game for me. Creating ships and fighting with them in this manner is something you only get with this game.

Distant Worlds: It just doesn't get more expansive than this. I always play with very large maps in sandbox mode. I feel like I've got the tiger by the tail and am running to keep hold. This is the one game that I never custom design my ships. Maybe because the game does such a good job automating, possibly because the research is always progressing so fast and furious. I set the parameters I want then just upgrade. I don't automate colony expansion. Trying to balance the economy with expansion is always a fun challenge. Part of that is anticipating what resources will be critical for production then finding planets to colonize or building mining bases that will keep the economy expanding.

Galactic Civilizations III: I truly enjoyed the progression of this game over time. It really is more of Gal Civ II but expanded with some empire management tweaks that work well. I enjoy the tech tree. It is the best example of " I want to research this, but I really need to improve these lasers." Unfortunately the Intrigue expansion has made it unplayable for me. The latest tweak limiting agriculture to ag tiles only limits the population capacity of planets, thus development. What good is a planet with 20 developable tiles but you can only use 8 because of population cap.

Polaris Sector: It's all about food brother. I love Earth-like planets and all their potential, I make them into farms anyways. Ocean planets? Until you get a mature empire they are all about research. The main thing about this game is specialization. Each planet must specialize in the category with the most potential. Manufacturing? If an Earth-like doesn't have 40+ points in this and I've got several farm planets anyways I get more farms. It's better to have strategically located manufactories that can build a ship in 5 years than numerous planets that take 15 years. I like segmented galaxies where I can create choke points that are easily defendable. More than other games Polaris Sector is about building up your fleet for the onslaught and you must be on your toes and manage your research just right to keep an edge over and counter the opponent.

Stellaris: Until recently I hadn't played since the switch to starlanes. After giving it a whirl I'm pleased. With Polaris Sector and SotS II I'm used to lanes anyways I guess. This is a solid game. Pacing is a little more relaxed. I love exploring and this game panders to that. There is depth to your empire and the universe that you can only get with a Paradox game.


Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Yskonyn on November 07, 2018, 12:48:49 AM
Nice writeup Sparhawk!

On DW: the computer is not very effective with building new ships with regards to speed. It does an ok job with making ships with the latest tech weaponry, but I always end up tweaking every build so it can achieve max speed.
But the automation of the game in other areas is very nice!
A way to slow down research pace is to select the higher cost research starting option. Actually it makes the game play much nicer I find, regardless of mapsize.

On GalCiv 3: even though its a more traditional ‘Sid Meier’-like experience I just love the way the AI can play shrewdly in this game. It plays out as a believable human opponent.

On SotS2: The police cutter issue is a rather big one I agree. You will need to relegate part of your military to offer ‘coastal’ support, which can become tedious.
The Techtree randomness and the combat is superb in this game, but its more a wargame than a true 4x I find. Very much still a game dear to me, warts and all.

On Stellaris: I really like the breadth of this game. It truely makes you feel you are building an empire (like DW does as well), but large chunks of playtime are just looking at the clock for me and that detracts from the experience. How do you solve this?
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Gusington on November 07, 2018, 06:43:27 AM
Not owning most of these games this thread has become an encyclopedia for me ...thanks all!
Title: Re: The greatest space 4x to conquer them all
Post by: Sparhawk on November 07, 2018, 10:34:16 PM
Thanks Yskonyn,

I'm definately going to adjust research cost on DW when I fire it up again. I can already see ways the game play will be affected. With Stellaris  I find that my time is usually well occupied managing survey and constructor ships as well as managing construction on planets. When the game first came out I created a humanoid race of fanatic materialist scientists that I still enjoy playing. It doesn't take long before I can colonize 15 systems in my home sector. I don't know what the max is with research. About research, I've noticed that as I collect more research points, the cost of research increases. I don't know if that is causal or if there are other factors that increase the cost of research projects as the game progresses.