Sword of the Stars demo

Talk about strategy games like MoO series, Civilization, Europa Universalis, etc.

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Geoff the Medio
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#46 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Sep 12, 2006 5:54 pm

MikkoM wrote:Whereas with FreeOrion it was nice to see that there where detailed descriptions of the techs, which at least to me gave strait away the feeling that you where dealing with real technology.

Now of course there should probably also be a shorter version of the tech text available especially considering the multiplayer where you might not have time to read through those longer texts, but I at least personally love to get a lot of information from the galaxy as it immediately makes it feel more alive and if you look at the world around us today it is full of information that we have to deal with, so I can only imagine what it would be like for a galactic emperor.
I wrote the majority of the tech descriptions, and didn't do so without thinking about it a bit first.

There are two types of techs: Theories, which don't in of themselves do anything for the player, except act as prerequisites for other techs, and Applications and Refinements, which have effects, unlock buildings (which have effects when built), or alter the effects of buildings.

Theories have a paragraph of pseudoscientific technobabble, or practically meaningless "fluff" as a description. There's no need for a short form of this, as it would just be "does nothing". For example:

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Analagous to the "colour charge" of quantum chromodynamics, there are several types of graviton.  With the common attractive-force graviton, the colloqiual "anti-graviton", "right-graviton" and "left-graviton" may be combined to bend and flex the surface of spacetime arbitrarily.  This manipulation is percieved as control of the force of gravity, permitting structures, craft and investigations previously impossible, even theoretically.
Application techs that unlock buildings, but have no effects themselves also get a paragraph or so of description, but this is not just fluff. It's a mixture of fluff and strategic relevance. For example:

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Automated laboratories can produce significant research output without direct supervision, however it remains necessary to provide guidance to such labs regarding what avenues or research to persue, and extract the resulting information from them.  A specailzed control centre is required to facilitate these exchanges.  Consequently, while individual worlds develop their own autolabs without additional cost, the control centre requires signifiant up-front production effort to build.  This makes autolabs more attractive to empires with excess production capacity, but lacking in research output, and less useful for empires already producing significant reserach, but lacking in industrial or minreals capacity.  Additionally, autolabs produce larger quantities of waste products than standard laboratories, negatively impacting health on worlds on which they are used.
Buildings or effects-application techs get some brief fluff, some strategy, and then detailed practical summary of the effects. For example:

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A network of specialized satellites can use tomographic methods to reconstruct the activities occurs deep within a star.  These otherwise costly-to-produce conditions are ideal for a variety of research endeavours, with larger benefits for more exotic star types.

Provides + 4 to research per 10 population on primary research focused worlds in systems with black holes.
Provides +3 to planets in systems with neutron stars.
Provides +2 to planets in systems with white or blue stars.
Provides +1 to planets in systems with red, orange or yellow stars.
I'm not sure how to effectively make a better short-version of descriptions, in general. Really, one could consider the category under which an effects- or building-unlocking-application to be an indication of their general purpose: Production, Growth, Learning, Construction, Economics. I'm not a huge fan of the names chosen, but once you're used to the game mechanics, they should give some idea what a particular tech might be good for.

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Zanzibar
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#47 Post by Zanzibar » Tue Sep 12, 2006 6:47 pm

Daveybaby wrote:Similarly, lots of techs dont really give you any idea what they actually do. Several times i was designing a ship when i suddenly noticed i had a new mission or command section, and didnt really have any idea how it got there. Eventually you figure it out, but the info in the tech screen is pretty useless in general. As with the ship design screen, they have a huge amount of screen real-estate filled up with 3d graphics, and very little given over to information and controls.
Fixed by the full retail version patch. Now, in the design screen it shows you damage, range, etc... for each weapon.
Its just terrible ergonomics. The information is all there somewhere, but the presentation of it is so poor that it becomes nearly useless. They really need to hire somebody who understands how people process information, rather than just let the 3d graphics people design it all. Hopefully things will improve with further patches.
Things have improved with the 1.1.1 patch... and the support of kerberos is awesome!! :D
Yeah, the fuel logistics did get a whole lot less tedious once i discovered the auto-refuel button (though it would be nice if you could command tankers to automatically go and refill their tanks at the nearest system once they were empty). If the patch improves things then that would definitely help.
Auto-refeul now on by default, and travel distance now includes fuel in it's calculation... no more half green, half red lines if you have the fuel to get there!!
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#48 Post by marhawkman » Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:10 pm

MikkoM wrote:So at least to me it felt like I was all alone in a dead galaxy where only the diplomatic meetings and battles brought some life.
there was also the way your empire literally oozed over the rest of the universe. :D I would always colonize Magnate worlds preferentially. Why? they LOVE to migrate. This way you can get a HUGE empire without colonizing. Heck one game I managed to get 16 or more races as part of my empire. Including members of an AI player race. :D and without the hassle of ground combat. (if you both try to colonize a planet simultaneously whoever multiplies fastest on the planet gets control of it. thus I got some Tachidi in my empire) With 16 races I'd get 3-4 new planets every few turns. My biggest problem was with the terrible unrest system. An empire that grows at that rate CAN'T build enough ships to counteract it.
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#49 Post by marhawkman » Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:12 pm

Zanzibar wrote:Fixed by the full retail version patch. Now, in the design screen it shows you damage, range, etc... for each weapon.
I have to buy that don't I?
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#50 Post by Daveybaby » Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:50 am

marhawkman wrote:I have to buy that don't I?
Think i'm gonna have to as well.
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#51 Post by SmellyTerror » Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:45 am

With nothing to do on planets, research is the only non-military decision you ever make. Otherwise: build the best ships you can. Fight.

Which is cool and all, but I'm not sure I need to play it a lot of times to get everything I'm going to get.

I think I need to have more long-term choices than just research to keep me interested. With so few variables, I suspect it'd be possbile to work out a "best" development path to be followed every game. More complex games like the MOOs stop that from happening by giving you competing economic/military/diplomatic priorities.

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#52 Post by grinningman » Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:07 pm

Hi grinningman, sure i've seen you around somewhere before Razz
Yes, I'm one of the surprisingly large number of people who are waiting for the perfect space 4x game to come along, and playing all the fun ones in the mean time. If the cow project ever gets to a beta stage, I'll definitely be giving it a whirl ;)

The SotS patch doesn't solve all the UI problems (e.g. the research screen is unchanged), but it does help. I think the underlying game is worth the effort of putting up with the UI issues. YMMV of course.
SmellyTerror wrote: With so few variables, I suspect it'd be possbile to work out a "best" development path to be followed every game.
The tech tree is randomised each game, so you won't be able to rely on a set research path. You can still work out strategies to use if certain techs are available, but it helps keep things interesting.

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#53 Post by Zanzibar » Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:27 pm

marhawkman wrote:
Zanzibar wrote:Fixed by the full retail version patch. Now, in the design screen it shows you damage, range, etc... for each weapon.
I have to buy that don't I?
Dude, it's worth the $40. Heck, it was so good I bought the game twice!!
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marhawkman
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#54 Post by marhawkman » Thu Sep 14, 2006 10:42 pm

grinningman wrote:The tech tree is randomised each game, so you won't be able to rely on a set research path. You can still work out strategies to use if certain techs are available, but it helps keep things interesting.
Not entirely randomized. All it does is hide a few techs at random. there are certain techs you're guaranteed to get, and a few that you might or might not get.
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#55 Post by grinningman » Fri Sep 15, 2006 6:09 am

marhawkman wrote:
grinningman wrote:The tech tree is randomised each game, so you won't be able to rely on a set research path. You can still work out strategies to use if certain techs are available, but it helps keep things interesting.
Not entirely randomized. All it does is hide a few techs at random. there are certain techs you're guaranteed to get, and a few that you might or might not get.
I know how it works, I've been playing it for the last few weeks :)

The annoying pedant in me wants to say that I never said, or even implied, that every tech was randomised. But that would petty :P

I suspect that it would be difficult or impossible for an AI to deal with a tech tree that had no guaranteed techs. Might be interesting for a multiplayer-only game, though.

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#56 Post by marhawkman » Fri Sep 15, 2006 7:06 am

Hehe.... Now I'm starting to think about actually coming up with code for a ship tech tree.....
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Zanzibar
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#57 Post by Zanzibar » Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:47 pm

grinningman wrote:I suspect that it would be difficult or impossible for an AI to deal with a tech tree that had no guaranteed techs. Might be interesting for a multiplayer-only game, though.
I think there is a mod out there that makes all the techs random... Not sure how the game's AI deals with it... but it would be neat to check it out.
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#58 Post by Moriarty » Sun Oct 08, 2006 2:06 pm

Having now played it, I must agree that a fully 3d starmap is a royal pain. At least the way these guys have it.

Plus their information GUI's are all overly difficult to use IMHO. Want to find a single ship type? At best it's unintuitive (how am I supposed to know that clicking on a field in the planet listing actually lists the planets in order of that field?) - at worst the functionality is just lacking (I can't figure out how to order fleets).

I'm only on my third game now, but I do know that it won't be interesting me for much longer.
Shame really - the ship combat is pretty (even if it takes ages to load when there are lots of types of ships).

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#59 Post by Daveybaby » Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:13 pm

Finally got the full game. Kinda wished i hadnt bothered. Even the latest patch isnt substantially improved from the demo version. A couple of minor niggles are fixed, but the fundamental problems remain.

:( 3D map renders the strategic game (paper thin though it is) virtually unmanageable. I wouldnt mind, but since all combat etc takes place at stars, the 3d map doesnt add any strategic depth at all.

:( Despite the utterly pointless 3d elsewhere in the game, space combat, the one part of the game that wouldve really benefitted from being in full 3D, takes place entirely on a 2D plane. Having said that, the player's control over their fleet is so appallingly cack-handed that its probably a good thing they stayed with 2D. Its as if, having worked on homeworld, they took every good idea that game had, along with every bit of good UI design, threw them in the bin, and then implemented what was left. WHY CANT I MOVE THE CAMERA AROUND? WHY?

:( How come my ships start firing at enemy ships before i can see them on screen, and before they appear on the radar map? I take it the enemy ships are 'cheating' in the same way when i get hit by missiles and i cant see who shot them yet.

:( If i want to queue up more than 1 turns worth of ships to build, i have to pay for them all now, and pay a bucketload of interest on the loan. Great. So i have to go round all of my production planets each turn and order 1 turns worth of ships, every turn. Its almost as if they were trying to make the game as unpleasant to play as possible, on purpose.

:( Loading times. What is it doing?!?!?!?!?

I have to say i find myself agreeing pretty much 100% with Tom Chicks review. He got it right on Moo3 (and took a lot of flack for it at the time) and i think he's got it right here too. i just wish i'd read it first.

My guess at prioritisation of jobs on SotS:
Highest Priority
3D Graphics
Big explosions
Weapon Effects
Glowing things
Bump mapping
Multiplayer. It HAS to have multiplayer. Marketing said so.
Particle effects
Backstory
That flashy animated bit showing the company logo at the beginning
Website design
Tactics
Strategy
Marketing
Box design
Office christmas party
...
Gameplay controls
Presentation of useful information to the player
Lowest Priority

FO take note: you now have 2 games (Moo3 and SotS) that show you exactly How Not To Do It.
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#60 Post by Zanzibar » Mon Oct 09, 2006 4:00 pm

Daveybaby wrote:Finally got the full game. Kinda wished i hadnt bothered. Even the latest patch isnt substantially improved from the demo version. A couple of minor niggles are fixed, but the fundamental problems remain.

:( 3D map renders the strategic game (paper thin though it is) virtually unmanageable. I wouldnt mind, but since all combat etc takes place at stars, the 3d map doesnt add any strategic depth at all.

:( Despite the utterly pointless 3d elsewhere in the game, space combat, the one part of the game that wouldve really benefitted from being in full 3D, takes place entirely on a 2D plane. Having said that, the player's control over their fleet is so appallingly cack-handed that its probably a good thing they stayed with 2D. Its as if, having worked on homeworld, they took every good idea that game had, along with every bit of good UI design, threw them in the bin, and then implemented what was left. WHY CANT I MOVE THE CAMERA AROUND? WHY?

:( How come my ships start firing at enemy ships before i can see them on screen, and before they appear on the radar map? I take it the enemy ships are 'cheating' in the same way when i get hit by missiles and i cant see who shot them yet.

:( If i want to queue up more than 1 turns worth of ships to build, i have to pay for them all now, and pay a bucketload of interest on the loan. Great. So i have to go round all of my production planets each turn and order 1 turns worth of ships, every turn. Its almost as if they were trying to make the game as unpleasant to play as possible, on purpose.

:( Loading times. What is it doing?!?!?!?!?

I have to say i find myself agreeing pretty much 100% with Tom Chicks review. He got it right on Moo3 (and took a lot of flack for it at the time) and i think he's got it right here too. i just wish i'd read it first.

My guess at prioritisation of jobs on SotS:
Highest Priority
3D Graphics
Big explosions
Weapon Effects
Glowing things
Bump mapping
Multiplayer. It HAS to have multiplayer. Marketing said so.
Particle effects
Backstory
That flashy animated bit showing the company logo at the beginning
Website design
Tactics
Strategy
Marketing
Box design
Office christmas party
...
Gameplay controls
Presentation of useful information to the player
Lowest Priority

FO take note: you now have 2 games (Moo3 and SotS) that show you exactly How Not To Do It.
1) If you play Liir or Tarka you can do deep space interception of any race that is NOT human.

2) Have you tried middle clicking anywhere on the map?? Have you tried ctrl + C... the main issue you are having is a LOT of the controls are not documented well.

3) Your ships fire as soon as they detect an enemy ship in thier weapon range. And well... I guess those sensors are active while warping in to the screen. If you want to skip the warp in animation thingy... hit space bar. There ya go!! Problem sorta solved. And really... this is caused by missiles... you could just put something like plasma cannons on your ships instead.

4) What are your system specs? Do you have the graphics turned ALL the way up?? How big of a galaxy are you playing? How many AI's are in the game? You really need to look at all the issues here... :roll:

Dude, it has multiplayer... install xfire, add me as a friend... I will happily invite you to the sword of the stars chat room. The game is definitely made for multiplayer. Other suggestions... try playing as a different race then human. See what all the advantages are and disadvantages of other races.
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