X4 = dead?

Talk about strategy games like MoO series, Civilization, Europa Universalis, etc.
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muxec
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X4 = dead?

#1 Post by muxec » Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:37 pm

In the last 7 years no 4X could catch my attention for more than one evening. Nor civ4, nor GalCiv, nor sucky MOO3. Looks like nothing new can be done in the genre. Surely, modern 4X TBS games are better than 17-years old civ 1, but not that much better. Someone already bored with Civ 1-3 will not find much new in Civ 4 or Galciv or whatever. Yes, galciv features different economical model, but is it THAT different? There are not many ways to keep the game balanced, there are too few ways to let players make meaningful decisions.

All genres are suffering from aging of the industry, veteran players have seen it all, veteran player are probably not the target customer, but TBS games can not be significantly improved by improving graphics, it is minor aspect of the game. Increased complexity was the way to go in early day but now it leads to excessive micromanagement or reduced understanding.

4X games are not that good in multiplayer, for most of the game players do not interact and wars are often too fast with winner often known too soon.


A few words on future games:

Space Empires 6, Civ 5, MOO4, Galciv 3 will probably be developed later, but how much innovation can these titles provide?

I hope Master Of Magic 2 will be made sometime, but honestly I doubt the quality of the future game. Old "good" Age of Wonders utilized the worst parts of original MoM with good sides thrown away. Will MoM 2 have the same fate? Is it possible to keep it balanced without making it boring (original MoM was poorly balanced (1994, duh) and AoW was balanced even worse.

Stars! Supernova Genesis will never be released due to publishers' greed.


Is X4 really dying?

Will freeorion achieve what other developers failed? Will it provide something attractive to veterans who have seen it all already?

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Re: X4 = dead?

#2 Post by arthus » Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:40 pm

Maybe its "graphical enhancements" that kill the genre? Just as 3D did to RTS games (in my humble opinion). Perhaps the pressure on developers to have up-to-date visuals that ultimately do poor in functionality, caused X4's demise. I'm generalizing of course..

There is also the fact that gamers desire more realistic gaming, which complicates gameplay (again, a broad generalization). Now you feel that you should have hundreds of ships on a galactic armada, or lots of subsidiary units to help sustain a medieval empire, and implementing every little detail is very very difficult, and all that fails in gameplay even if it was implemented.

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Tsenzouken
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Re: X4 = dead?

#3 Post by Tsenzouken » Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:16 am

In my opinion, it is the pace of development.

Developers can have the best plans in the world, but once the marketing people start breathing down their necks about having the product ready to make money NOWNOWNOW all the planning in the world won't help a whit.

That's why MoO3 was such a letdown.

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Re: X4 = dead?

#4 Post by eleazar » Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:31 am

muxec wrote:Is X4 really dying?

Will freeorion achieve what other developers failed? Will it provide something attractive to veterans who have seen it all already?
FO will not be the answer for "veterans" like you who seem simply bored with the whole genre.

TBS is not a flourishing genre, but it's not dead either. Spore looks like it may invigorate the whole single-player side of things.

Even if the companies don't return to TBS games they are fortunately easier for the OSS community to make than real-time networked games.

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Re: X4 = dead?

#5 Post by jursamaj@yahoo.com » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:44 pm

Tsenzouken wrote:In my opinion, it is the pace of development.

Developers can have the best plans in the world, but once the marketing people start breathing down their necks about having the product ready to make money NOWNOWNOW all the planning in the world won't help a whit.

That's why MoO3 was such a letdown.
Personally, I have (I think) some great ideas for a TBS game, but I know that I'm not up to programming it in a reasonable amount of time. Even doing it as an open source project doesn't appeal, since those often don't go any faster than individual projects. And since TBS is currently out of favor/style, I don't expect I could interest a game company. :cry:

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Re: X4 = dead?

#6 Post by M4lV » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:46 pm

I wouldn't exactly call it out-of-style since there are constantly new tbs games hitting the market which are quite successful. Sure, FPS and MMOs have much wider player base but that does not mean there are no companies interested in creating tbs games..

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Re: X4 = dead?

#7 Post by jursamaj@yahoo.com » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:52 pm

arthus wrote:Maybe its "graphical enhancements" that kill the genre? Just as 3D did to RTS games (in my humble opinion). Perhaps the pressure on developers to have up-to-date visuals that ultimately do poor in functionality, caused X4's demise. I'm generalizing of course..
There's something to that. Civ 4 seems like it has some interesting changes to the series, but the massive 3D approach just bogs my machine down so much, it's basically unplayable (Mac Quicksilver 2002).
arthus wrote:There is also the fact that gamers desire more realistic gaming, which complicates gameplay (again, a broad generalization). Now you feel that you should have hundreds of ships on a galactic armada, or lots of subsidiary units to help sustain a medieval empire, and implementing every little detail is very very difficult, and all that fails in gameplay even if it was implemented.
My ideas involves variable levels of abstraction. I can't remember if I thought of it before or after I heard about Spore, but it's similar: as the game progresses, the level of abstraction moves up from individuals, through villages, kingdoms, empires, etc. The tricky part is different things can be at different levels of abstraction at the same point in the game (thus, an empire can fight neighboring kingdoms, etc.). Interfacing such items is going to be ... tricky. :P

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Re: X4 = dead?

#8 Post by jursamaj@yahoo.com » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:53 pm

M4lV wrote:I wouldn't exactly call it out-of-style since there are constantly new tbs games hitting the market which are quite successful. Sure, FPS and MMOs have much wider player base but that does not mean there are no companies interested in creating tbs games..
I haven't kept up with games quite as much as I'd like, and may never come to Mac. Can you cite some recent successful TBS games?

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Re: X4 = dead?

#9 Post by M4lV » Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:58 pm

look at freeorion wiki: http://www.freeorion.org/index.php/Space_Strategy_Games

on gamespot.com for example you find those tbs games mentioned there on pretty high ranks (<200 out of 10000 games in total) and with high ratings. Even Star Trek Supremacy, a fan-made tbs game, is listed there on pos. 376.

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Re: X4 = dead?

#10 Post by eleazar » Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:16 pm

jursamaj@yahoo.com wrote:
arthus wrote:Maybe its "graphical enhancements" that kill the genre? Just as 3D did to RTS games (in my humble opinion). Perhaps the pressure on developers to have up-to-date visuals that ultimately do poor in functionality, caused X4's demise. I'm generalizing of course..
There's something to that. Civ 4 seems like it has some interesting changes to the series, but the massive 3D approach just bogs my machine down so much, it's basically unplayable (Mac Quicksilver 2002).
There's a difference between killing a genera, and killing slow computers.


Excessive focus on graphics is a problem, but you can't blame that all on the companies... most players buy games based to a large degree on graphics. When almost everybody is focusing on the pretty-shiny stuff, innovations and refinements in gameplay get left behind.

So far as i can tell the improved graphics in civ 4 did not have a detrimental effect on the game. IMHO it's just as easy to understand and manipulate, and the gameplay IMHO is an improvement over previous versions. However they certainly could have provided the same gameplay quicker and/or cheaper if they went for a lesser graphics level. But it's questionable weather the game would cost the player any less. Less pretty graphics equals less sales, and therefore to recoup the cost of development, a higher price per player. (A gross simplification, but basically true)

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Re: X4 = dead?

#11 Post by jursamaj@yahoo.com » Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:39 pm

eleazar wrote:
jursamaj@yahoo.com wrote:
arthus wrote:Maybe its "graphical enhancements" that kill the genre? Just as 3D did to RTS games (in my humble opinion). Perhaps the pressure on developers to have up-to-date visuals that ultimately do poor in functionality, caused X4's demise. I'm generalizing of course..
There's something to that. Civ 4 seems like it has some interesting changes to the series, but the massive 3D approach just bogs my machine down so much, it's basically unplayable (Mac Quicksilver 2002).
There's a difference between killing a genera, and killing slow computers.
True, but by it's nature, TBS generally doesn't *need* the 3D game optimized PCs that programmers are aiming at. If I could/would install a powerful 3D video board, Civ4 would run just fine on my machine. Not everybody buys the latest-and-greatest game machine every 2 years.
eleazar wrote:Excessive focus on graphics is a problem, but you can't blame that all on the companies... most players buy games based to a large degree on graphics. When almost everybody is focusing on the pretty-shiny stuff, innovations and refinements in gameplay get left behind.
Absolutely. And TBS depends on good gameplay, not eye candy. I'd happily buy a game that looked about like Civ2, if it had good, innovative game play, and came out for Mac
eleazar wrote:So far as i can tell the improved graphics in civ 4 did not have a detrimental effect on the game. IMHO it's just as easy to understand and manipulate, and the gameplay IMHO is an improvement over previous versions. However they certainly could have provided the same gameplay quicker and/or cheaper if they went for a lesser graphics level. But it's questionable weather the game would cost the player any less. Less pretty graphics equals less sales, and therefore to recoup the cost of development, a higher price per player. (A gross simplification, but basically true)
So give the player the option. Many games allow setting how good the rendering is, so take it a little further. Once you've got the gameplay engine working, whether it displays in state-of-the-art amazing 3D graphics or much-easier-on-the-machine graphics shouldn't be an issue. Having *both* interfaces doesn't cost that much more, and opens up *both* markets.

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Re: X4 = dead?

#12 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:56 pm

jursamaj@yahoo.com wrote:So give the player the option. Many games allow setting how good the rendering is, so take it a little further. Once you've got the gameplay engine working, whether it displays in state-of-the-art amazing 3D graphics or much-easier-on-the-machine graphics shouldn't be an issue. Having *both* interfaces doesn't cost that much more, and opens up *both* markets.
Given the tight time constraints and huge cost of making AAA (or even A) games today, adding any extra features does cost that much more... Everything extra has to be debugged and tested, and a whole separate graphics system isn't trivial. As well, when graphics are the major driving force behind a game's sales, there's little motivation to add graphics that look 5 or 10 yeras old to a modern game; anyone willing to play with those graphics is more likely to just find a cheap copy of the original game that the new one is a sequel to, rather than pay full price for a new game with the new fancy graphics engine they don't care about. And even in strategy games, many of the new features added to a new release are integrated with the graphics. GalCiv 2's ship design editor wouldn't work with tile-based graphics in any comparable way... and consider Spore; the modern graphics engine is an integral part of the major bullet point feature of the game: making your own stuff using in-game editors.

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Re: X4 = dead?

#13 Post by eleazar » Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:51 pm

jursamaj@yahoo.com wrote: So give the player the option. Many games allow setting how good the rendering is, so take it a little further. Once you've got the gameplay engine working, whether it displays in state-of-the-art amazing 3D graphics or much-easier-on-the-machine graphics shouldn't be an issue. Having *both* interfaces doesn't cost that much more, and opens up *both* markets.
That would be nice if it was practical, but i doubt it is for many (if any) games. The subset of computer users who have older, slower computers is, i believe nearly the same as the subset who wouldn't spend much money on games... i.e. if someone doesn't spend much on hardware the chances are very good he doesn't spend much on software.

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Re: X4 = dead?

#14 Post by jursamaj@yahoo.com » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:49 pm

eleazar wrote:That would be nice if it was practical, but i doubt it is for many (if any) games. The subset of computer users who have older, slower computers is, i believe nearly the same as the subset who wouldn't spend much money on games... i.e. if someone doesn't spend much on hardware the chances are very good he doesn't spend much on software.
That's pretty much equivalent to saying that those who don't buy a new luxury car ever 2-3 years don't buy many CDs/MP3s to play in their car stereos. I don't think you'll find good evidence to support either claim.

The problem is, if your new software *only* runs on the lastest, most expensive hardware and OS, of course somebody who doesn't own such a machine isn't going to buy your game. This is not evidence that such people won't buy a good game that runs on the system they already have.

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Re: X4 = dead?

#15 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:03 am

jursamaj@yahoo.com wrote:
That's pretty much equivalent to saying that those who don't buy a new luxury car ever 2-3 years don't buy many CDs/MP3s to play in their car stereos. I don't think you'll find good evidence to support either claim.
Not quite; it's reasonable to assume that people who don't spend a lot on hardware won't spend a lot on software either, because the purpose of hardware is essentially to support software, whereas the purpose of a car is by no means to play CDs/MP3s. It's more like saying that people who aren't willing to replace their DVD player with a Bluray probably aren't going to buy very many movies, which is a reasonable assumption. Anyone who is sufficiently "into" something to purchase the software is usually willing to purchase the hardware required to support it.
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