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Sins of a Solar Empire
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Weeble
Starscape Jedi
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:16 pm    Post subject: Sins of a Solar Empire Reply with quote

Anyone got this?

I got it at the weekend, but haven't had a lot of time to play it. It's more than a little intimidating. It has an extremely short tutorial, and no single-player campaign, just automatically generated games vs CPUs and multiplayer. I feel dropped in at the deep end. It's a bit like being taught how the pieces move in chess and then being thrown into it without getting taught any openings or strategy. In fact, it's more like being taught that players take turns moving the pieces in chess and leaving you to figure out how they move. I think I will enjoy it once I know what's going on, but I don't feel like I have the patience to learn everything by trial and error.
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Poo Bear
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haven't tried it yet, but aren't all 4X games like that? I love the concept, but they always play the same way for me. Here's my ten step guide to failure in 4X games.

1. dive in and start a game, no clue what to do, can't even work out which button to press. The UI is immense.

2. look for a tutorial, there either isn't one or it raises more questions than it answers.

3. give in and open the manual, but then get bored after page ~30. Start a game again, kind of know what is going on, but the AI is hidden apart from the odd scout encounter or the occasional bit of ominous world news so a definite feeling of unease. No idea what everyone else is up to.

4. after half an hour a lone enemy ship turns up that is radically more powerful than anything I have and it takes everything I've got to kill it.

5. in a panic switch over to a military build up and pump everything into technology.

6. feeling cocky send out my latest wonder fleet to knock some heads, but where I have 5 mother ships the first enemy I meet has 300 and each one is twice as hard.

7. real fear now that 3 hours of game play could go straight up in flames, withdraw all forces, build defences and stockpile units. Play nice with diplomacy.

8. everyone starts asking for money and technology, I give in to everything. Please don't kill me.

9. everyone is ****** off on all my planets and it doesn't matter what I do! Why don't they realise we all need to pull together to survive?

10. a biblical armada of death and destruction turns up and annihilates me.

It started this way with MOO and ended with GalCiv2 exactly the same. I think my best experience was definitely with Civ2 although I still never actually won.



p.s. I'm playing Armageddon Empires at the moment, a 4X game with a card based game mechanic - sweet. Could this be my new "magic the gathering"?

http://www.crypticcomet.com/games/AE/armageddon_empires.html

I'm on stage7 of "the path" at the moment (yes it does have a 60 page manual and yes the UI is immense). Most fun I've had since Civ2 actually. I thought I'd won at one point, I was almost giddy with excitement. Then a lone assassin appeared out of nowhere near my capital, oddly he looked like a weird sort of clown type fellow - that was when I knew I was in trouble. I had some top level snipers hanging back for this very reason, but they couldn't touch him (not sure why). He proceeded to wipe out all my heroes round after round (heroes lead armies, run cities and perform research). Eventually I got him, but I'd had to bring in the entire armed forces to chase him off. I just had enough left to eliminate the machine enemy race when another lone unit materialises in my back yard. A single massive genetic nightmare that resembles Cthulu created by the mutant enemy race. It's currently grinding its way towards my capital through hundreds of troops, attack jets, mechs and tanks.

Oh well, time to reload an earlier save (again).


p.p.s SOASE looks interesting, RTS meets 4X, nice idea.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SOASE is pretty decent. It has the same failings that most multirace game has that theyre really all the same with little differences that make little to no difference.

The first thing you should be doing is building a cap ship factory, building the first battleship and then having it wait around in your little homeworld while you pay to level it to 3(worth every credit) since cap ships get significantly more powerful per level. Then you make a couple of scout frigates and set them to auto explore. Then use your cap ship to blast away any resistance around other planets gaining exp all the while.

After this point it really becomes personal choice how you play the game, im a fan of the 4/4/4/4 or 8/8 cap ship deployment and just buggering the little ships altogether. Once you figure out how the AI responds to certain actions the game becomes less challenging. And multistar maps suffer from a not enough ships syndrome because you hit the 2000 cap way too soon
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd forgotten about the above advice, although I think it will take more investigation in order to be able to actually follow it Smile


Anyway...


First session of SOASE (or PDPM as I call it - Please Don't Play Me)

Jumped straight into the game, no idea what's going on, ooh lots of buttons to click on and a spinney camera!

Spend 30mins in the tutorials. They take things slow, one at a time and actually make you go through the motions of clicking on things, but this stuff is too complicated. It would have been FAR better to run through an artificial game where most of the functionality is turned off, that way you could play with it and let it open up gradually. I finish with a slightly better understanding of some of the surface points, but a headache.

Start a 2nd game. I grasp that there are multiple huge tech trees and I can't do much without getting some research done which won't happen until I build labs and start mining metal and crystals. Ok. I run out of metal and crystals in seconds, but I can buy more on the black market as I have loads of cash for some reason.

I've got a lot of structures and things seem to be researching quite nicely. I build 5 gauss defence platforms which look very aggressive. I've got about 20 small ships of different types, hopefully that will be ok.

The enemy turn up with vastly superior forces and ships that look like carriers. They wipe me out, but strangely don't actually take over the planet, then they leave. WHAT !! Are they just cruel?

End of game 2.


Second session of PDPM

Starting again I try to move things along faster. I spend all the money I have on the black market to give me lots of resources to play with. I focus research on ships and weapons. I build up a fleet of about 20 ships again, but this time they are more expensive and there are a couple of light carriers. I build more gauss defences and also some fighter bays.

I send all the ships to the neighbouring planet. Almost immediately an enemy fleet turns up at home and annihilates my defences.

I reload.

This time I wait until I have two fleets, the one I'll explore with gets a colony ship. From the last game I know that both neighbouring planets are occupied. This time I leave a fleet to guard the home world and send the other one off past the first occupied planet. The idea now is to just run and keep jumping until I get past my neighbours sphere of influence and can colonise some distant world. I jump 3 worlds out and still everywhere is occupied <cry>.

Each time the fleet jump the occupiers hammer it so I can't go any further. This last world has hardly any defences though so I decide to go for it and attack. What few enemy ships there are immediately zoom past my attackers and take out the colony ship. This game hates me Sad I kill the enemy ships and build a new colony ship. It takes a while for the colony ship to get here, but it makes it with only a fraction of health remaining. Taking out the undefended enemy structures is taking ages, come on, hurry up. Just as I think I'll get a chance to colonise, the enemy turn up in force and annihilate me.

Inside me, some small part of my soul dies.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First off, you need a capital ship. The first one is free, the rest cost 3000 credits and a whole bunch of resources. By not building a capital ship you are in effect throwing away a huge amount of free money. If you buy the middle capital ship you can use it instead of a colony ship by taking its "colonise" ability. A capital ship can fight an awful lot of small ships on its own.

Next, when you say the planets are already occupied, do you mean by opponents or by native forces? Every colonisable planet is initially defended by non-aligned natives. Asteroids have the fewest defenders, next up are lava planets, then ice planets, desert planets and finally terran planets have lots of defenders. You'll want to start with asteroids and work your way up to the others. Asteroids you can capture with your capital ship alone. I think you might be able to do the same for lava and ice planets, but you really do want a fleet backing them up for anything tougher. If all the planets really are held by your enemies, either you're taking far too long or you're playing with too many enemies. I'd recommend practising with a single computer on a relatively small map.

Build some scouts early and turn on auto-scouting. It's the top-left button on their panel, and you right-click it to make it "auto-cast". They'll run all over the galaxy exploring, and generally won't stay at one planet long enough to take serious damage. They'll probably die eventually, but generally you don't need to nanny them too much and they're cheap to replace.

The game would no doubt be improved immensely by a basic single-player campaign that can slowly introduce you to all the concepts and units, but my understanding is that the developers consider the considerable time investment required to do something like that would compromise the competitive multiplayer aspects too greatly.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The expansions they're working on will feature a full campaign, although with it being something you have to pay for it must be designed for people who've mastered the game and want to go further rather than helping newbies.

It's a very interesting game, because I'm so used to modern titles that spoon food you Nintendo style to ease you in. Even though I don't really know what's going on with SOASE it's obvious there's a great game there and that they've just focused on the core game rather than the icing (like older games used to). Conventional wisdom would say that must be costing them sales and yet they claim to be selling it like hot cakes.

It's interesting to compare this with the other game I'm playing at the minute - Advance Wars:Days of Ruin. The first AW was wonderful, but then Black Hole Rising and Dual Strike seemed to over complicate things and I soon lost interest. Days of Ruin is wonderful though, as intuitive as the first one so far, lots of fun. A perfect campaign system drip feeds new units and new functionality one map at a time. As you unlock each central map you also unlock one or two optional maps. Each central map teaches you something new and the matching optional maps provide a higher level challenge around what you've just learned for you to practice your new skills should you want to. I'm about a third of the way through.


Anyway, thanks for the tips I shall try again.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing about SOASE that's not immediately clear, is that there's a lot of similarity between the races. Each race has six frigates: a scout, the basic workhorse "light frigate", a long-range frigate, an anti-squadron frigate (squadrons are the small groups of fighters or bombers docked in a carrier or capital ship), a siege frigate (good against structures and the only frigate that can bombard planets) and a colony ship. Each race also has four cruisers: one carrier, one heavy assault, and two miscellaneous support. Similarly, each race has five capital ships: one focused around assault, one around being a carrier (i.e. it holds many squadrons and has abilities to support them), one around colonisation (it has the colonise ability), one on general support and one on killing planets. Each race has the same layout of ships when you go to build them.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Game 3 hour 3

This time I selected a normal random medium sized universe, the default game in the demo puts two enemies as your immediate neighbours - eek!

I only allowed one enemy and set him to "easy".

The obvious improvements - the enemy isn't next door woo! and in fact he's left me alone the whole first hour. I get my free capital ship and it is indeed a life saver, shame the game didn't tell me I could do that in the first place. I colonised a neighbouring asteroid field and a lava planet. As a result I have surplus of metal, which is good because I have no money to build anything so I have to keep selling it on the black market Sad One odd thing is that it won't let me build any structures because I've ran out of "logistics points" - I'll have to trawl the manual to find out what that means.

It's still no easy ride though, I'm constantly under attack from damn pirates and if it wasn't for that free capital ship I'd be toast. I can't remember the last game that made me work this hard to get my fun fix Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does the demo not include the full set of tutorials, or was it just too much to take in? I'm sure all these things were described in the tutorials. What was lacking in the tutorials was any idea of strategy or tactics - what's the difference between the ship types? What's a good idea to do first? What do I do to cope with certain kinds of ships?

Each planet has a limited quantity of logistics and tactical points, which indicate how many support and defense structures you can place in orbit around it. You can spend money to upgrade the planet's infrastructure to increase either of these, and the number of upgrades and their effect varies depending on the type of planet - generally planets supporting a larger population also support having more slots. Support structures include research stations, ship factories, trading posts, etc. Tactical structures include guns, hangars, repair bays and various high-tech devices specific to each race. Different structures require different numbers of points.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you implying I'm too lazy to sit through the tutorials or was half asleep - I'm outraged! Wink

One of the tutorials did talk vaguely about logistics, but I don't think it mentioned each planet's limited points allocation or how to increase it (well, that's the story I'm sticking too). I suspected it was a research issue, but I haven't yet found the exact thing to research and they all cost a fair bit too. I need more money.

Of course the ideal solution would be to make the "you can't do this" red warning messages actually hyper link to an explanation of what the problem is and what you can do about it.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, planet upgrades are all on their own panel. Select the planet and find the upgrade button near the left. Remember that a freshly colonised planet is "underdeveloped" and costs you money until you upgrade its basic infrastructure. On the upgrade panel you can upgrade: basic infrastructure, to increase the population cap and remove the underdevelopment tax; logistics, to get more logistics slots; tactics, to get more tactical slots; exploration, to explore the planet and try to find hidden artefacts. You can also (for a large fee) move your homeworld to the planet. Planets closer to your homeworld are generally more effective. (They have a higher "allegiance" cap, which acts like a multiplier on various things.)
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's odd: having this conversation makes me realise how much I've learned about this game, despite still feeling like I know nothing. So far these are the games I've played:
  • My first game was a big game with two friends against three computers. I had next to no idea what I was doing, barely did any research, but built lots and lots of ships. To start with my friend told me to build the colony capital ship and use it to colonise (and upgrade) some asteroids, build a bunch of light frigates, research the thing that lets you colonise arctic or lava planets, and colonise the nearest one of them. Then he mostly left me to figure things out myself.
  • I next played a few games against the computer on varying sizes of maps, though only one computer because I didn't feel that confident.
  • I played a two-player game against my friend (who's very competitive) and got hammered. The pirates do seem to make such a difference!
  • I played a multi-star system game against three computers. This was quite interesting and I actually used the diplomacy stuff to make alliances with the computers. It ended with just me and one computer left, allied, with it being unclear who was doing better. I saved the game to try to go back later and win alone, but I since installed a patch and can't go back now.
  • I played another game against a single computer on a small system again for fun. I'm still not really confident or patient enough to play with many computers or higher than normal difficulty, or to play multiplayer with me friend who has already played *far* more than me.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Never noticed those, that'll help get things moving.

Have you played the game as intended yet i.e. multi-player? The demo cannot go online which seems odd as there's no single player campaign. I'd have thought the demo would let you join a few games just to see if anyone is online and what the game is like. I'm suspicious of online multi-player in games as it usually involves me dying repeatedly Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posted just as you did - doh!
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More stuff: you mentioned pirates, do you know how the pirate bidding system works? If you click on the pirate button at the top, you can view the black market and the bounty screens. Every player has a bounty on their head. Any time anybody, player or pirate alike, destroys something owned by someone with a bounty on their head, they get a small piece of the bounty, which I believe is proportional to the value of the thing destroyed. Every 10 minutes or something like that, the pirates will send a fleet to attack the player with the highest bounty on them. You get a warning when this is about to happen, and something like a 30 second window to place last minute bounties. Once they have launched their fleet it will go and attack a planet of the player with the highest bounty at that moment, even if a higher bounty is later placed on someone else. I'm not really sure how they decide when they're done and go home. You cannot recover money you've placed as bounty. (Other than by destroying that player's stuff to claim it, that is.) Also note that bounty is placed anonymously: you can see how much bounty is on everyone's heads, but you can't tell who put it there. I think you can place bounty on someone you have a cease-fire with, but you cannot place bounty on someone you have a peace-treaty with.

The pirates themselves have no shields. I don't believe they have any anti-squadron (flak) ships, so I think fighters and bombers should be good against them, but I'm not 100% sure there. If you're not going to fight the bidding war to keep the pirates going at your opponents, I think it might be wise to buy more capital ships, so that you can benefit from the experience when killing pirates. Then again, I'm not really sure how it shares out the experience.
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