1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Distant Worlds; 4Ex Space Strategy; What do you think?

Discussion in 'All Other Games' started by Wade., Feb 28, 2010.

  1. Hawawaa

    Hawawaa Prime

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Location:
    Michigan
    Ok bumping this quickly, Shadows should be out in April (new ballpark). Artists are kinda running behind and they are in bug killing mode right now. There is a closed beta going on right now. Any new info comes I will make sure to update this.
     
  2. Hawawaa

    Hawawaa Prime

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Location:
    Michigan
    Ok moar info and release is expected late April or more likely May. Info DUMPING! :bigmouth:

    And yes there will be a bundle of some sort coming around launch (sale probably too).

    Matrix Games is proud to announce the upcoming release of the highly anticipated third expansion to the critically acclaimed 4X space strategy game series Distant Worlds: Shadows.

    Distant Worlds: Shadows adds new gameplay to the Distant Worlds universe and is set in a new era in the Distant Worlds timeline, called the Age of Shadows.

    In this time, when the planetary civilizations have not yet rediscovered hyperspace travel, factions of space-based pirates with remnants of ancient technologies battle each other to succeed in survival and expansion. They struggle to hold back the rebirth of the space empires from the ashes of the first war against the Shakturi while establishing themselves as the new power in the galaxy. It is up to the player to choose a side.

    New gameplay includes expanded ground combat, with a full new ground combat tech tree, a ground combat resolution screen and multiple different troop types as well as ship and base boarding and capture. The expanded tech tree also includes Gravitic Weapons and Tractor Beams as well as additional planetary facilities that allow you more customization on character recruitment.

    Distant Worlds: Shadows also includes an updated and improved graphical engine, a much enhanced AI and comprehensive difficulty settings that will be challenging even for the veterans of the series and as usual many new modding possibilities.


    Please note: Distant Worlds – Shadows REQUIRES ownership of Distant Worlds, Distant Worlds: Return of the Shakturi and Distant Worlds: Legends.

    Get more information on Distant Worlds: Shadows from its official product page - http://www.matrixgames.com/products/466/details/Distant.Worlds-.Shadows

    Now on ingame additions and pics-

    Posting some higher resolution versions of the new screenshots here. Note the assault pod entering the atmosphere from the orbital space in the ground combat screen, about to land on the planet and unload its troops.
    Spoiler :


    Spoiler :


    An invasion underway at a colony world.
    Spoiler :



    A preview of the Graviton Beam specs. That's the entry level gravitic weapon.
    Note also the color coding for components on the left side where the required resources are not available.
    Spoiler :


    A well-developed Zenox world defended by both Infantry and Armor. Note that Special Forces are very good at targeting and eliminating planetary facilities (and planetary defense units), which adds another dimension to the ground war. Without that Armor Factory or Fortified Bunker, it's a different war. Planetary defense units are similarly excellent at destroying invading troops before they land.
    Spoiler :


    A Dhayut homeworld with infantry, armor and planetary defense units.
    Each troop type has different attack and defense strengths, different size for transport and different maintenance levels. Each can be upgraded through their unique branch in the new ground combat tech tree.
    Note also the troop types with green backgrounds in the planet details, these are garrisoned. You can have the automation set garrison levels automatically. You can also set them manually. Garrisoned troops will never be loaded by transports and removed from the planet, they stay and defend it.
    Spoiler :


    Another invasion underway. Note also the resource shortage message in the planet detail screen. We've added a great deal of information to the player in the various screens and also in event messages to make it easy to know why something has stopped building and what you need to get it started again.
    Spoiler :


    Note the new Capture ship order.
    Spoiler :


    Boarding action underway.
    Spoiler :


    A view of the updated Fleet screen with new troop loading settings.
    Spoiler :


    A view of a planet's troops through the colony screen, with the new garrison and ungarrison options.
    Spoiler :


    A view of the updated troop screen, which now supports multi-select and more sortable options and filters for easy troop management.
    Spoiler :


    A view of the Ground Combat tech tree.
    Spoiler :


    A view of the Gravitic Weapons tree, including one of the new Gravitic Area Weapons. These are very fun. They don't extend out from the ship, instead they target a point in space and create a gravitic distortion there, along with pulses of tremendously strong gravity that can destroy ships and bases. When one of these goes off, you see the ships in the area pulled in towards its center and shaken to pieces.
    Spoiler :


    New Troop policy options.
    Spoiler :


    New Boarding and Capture policy options.
    Spoiler :


    Some of the new Planetary Facilities (which now also cost maintenance - the late game economy in general is much more in balance after a variety of adjustments during Shadows development).
    Spoiler :


    And finally, the first implementation of interface scaling. Please look at the bottom left information display and compare it in size to the other screenshots. The new two way arrow button in the top left of that display toggles it between the larger size for easier to read text and the smaller size to see more of the map.
    Spoiler :
     
  3. Maniacal

    Maniacal the green Napoleon

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    Messages:
    18,778
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Honestly that UI looks more confusing and complicated than Dwarf Fortresses...
     
  4. Hawawaa

    Hawawaa Prime

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Location:
    Michigan
    Maybe if this was DW base ya UI for that was rough. Every expansion the UI is getter way better. They have scalable UI now and fonts are better (this was major complaint of late). Only thing missing now is coop and multi. Seriously the UI and game is easy to manage. If certain part you don't want to manage automate it. DW has never been easier to manage.

    I thought the first complaint would be price. I can understand loving Endless Space UI more.
     
  5. GAGA Extrem

    GAGA Extrem Emperor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2008
    Messages:
    1,589
    Gender:
    Male
    My thoughts.
    As much as I'd love a complex 4x game, I don't really have the patience to deal with that anymore. :(
     
  6. Hawawaa

    Hawawaa Prime

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Location:
    Michigan
    Ok new news Shadows will go gold May 14th and release on 21st of May. (if they need to push it they will but for now this is the date)

    Also other good news-

    Eric Rutins- "We're about to release Distant Worlds: Shadows, the next expansion. The current plan is to have a modder-focused expansion after that and then start work on Distant Worlds 2. This is subject to change though. If Shadows and the modder-focused expansion do very well we may look at extending DW 1 a bit further, but we'd really like to do a new engine to show what we can do."
     
  7. NBAfan

    NBAfan boss

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    3,351
    This could be interesting, but then it's published by Matrix, who is a ******** publisher. They actually think that selling on Steam, having cheaper sales time to time and making demos is bad business. I remember seeing Johan from Paradox going to their forum and talking smack about how they don't sell on Steam and don't bother making their UI's any good.
     
  8. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5,323
    Their business model is poor - the need for all previous expansions to play the new ones, the price point, the introduction of basic game features (including much-needed interface patches, pre-warp starts, ground combat technologies, planetary facilities, espionage agents, visual tracking for ship vectors, a manually controllable and navigable research tree, cultural influence radius, and all but the most basic weapon design options) only in paid-for expansions, and the complete absence of content patches are all serious issues aside from the pricing.

    For instance, this is their blurb for the new expansion:

    "Start a new empire before the discovery of hyperspace travel and try to expand into the stars, or play as one of the legendary Pirate factions of the Age of Shadows, competing with new victory conditions to establish an alternate history where the pirates triumphed over the planetary civilizations. The pirate options alone include four completely new playstyles (ranging from Raiders to Smugglers) and new smuggling and mercenary missions. Also included are ship boarding actions and ship and base capture, new Ship Captain characters and pirate raids of planets and space stations.

    New gameplay also includes expanded ground combat, with a full new ground combat tech tree, a ground combat resolution screen and multiple different troop types (infantry, armor, planetary defences and special forces). Ground combat is now animated and resolved from the descent of the first assault pods from orbit to the final battles for planetary control, with new bonuses for combined arms and the effects of the different troop types as well as local space superiority all considered in the outcome.

    The expanded tech tree also includes Gravitic Weapons and Tractor Beams as well as additional planetary facilities that allow you more customization on character recruitment."

    Okay, so you're telling me that this game's third expansion, for a Master of Orion-style game released in 2009, mostly consists of adding features that were in Master of Orion 2 in 1996 (all those in bold - pre-warp start, ground combat tech, invasion graphics - actually handled better in MOO2, truth be told - and the new weapon options).

    But the game itself is pretty good (and now includes most of the basic game elements and options that were in MOO2, even if it has taken three expansions to get there with a total price point of around $70 and graphics not much superior). The UI is ugly and involves too much button-clicking, without any search functionality, no links to component descriptions etc. from the tech tree, a 'Galactopedia' that covers a huge range of pages but has very cursory game information in most, and tortuous routes to obtain basic information (for example, if you want to see what resources you're missing in order to build a ship, you have to go into the ship design, then Edit, and then check the "you don't have resources X, Y or Z" in the warning panel, and there's no way to see at a glance what resources are needed in total to build a given ship - you have to check the components one by one). There are annoying 'do you want to leave automation on?' popups every time you open a window - you can choose to disable them, but that relies on remembering exactly what is automated and what not and going to a wholly separate screen to disable or enable automation, when a more satisfactory solution would be to remove the pop-ups and add an 'automate/manual' button to the page itself. Ship Design is the best-designed system since Master of Orion 2, but the interface issues made it a huge chore before Return of the Shakturi, and it is still less user-friendly than MOO 2's. It's not helped that automation is binary - everything is automated (except where you step in and modify a specific design, choose a specific tech etc.) or it's manual, and with ship design this means you pretty much have to use automation, since there's no way of manually designing only state ships, only military ships or whatever - if you go manual you have to manually update each of half a dozen generic civilian ship classes and as many civilian base types as well as the military designs.

    The economy remains somewhat opaque - the Expansion Planner offers options to "sort resources by empire priority" only, which is calculated purely on the basis of ongoing supply and demand - it takes no account of potential expenditures (such as resources needed for new ships and bases, which is why the above tortuous route to obtain this information is a serious problem) - an option to "sort resources by Ship Requirements" would be handy. The wealth of strategic resources is interesting, but you have very little control over most aspects of resource and economy management - you can settle resources you need, but you'll be supplied with resources via private traders and the specific resources they provide is outside your control. Although you can plan expansion based on galaxy supply and demand, there's no intuitive way to trace the effect securing galaxy-desired products has on export volumes, or whether it correlates with the import of resources you require. Setting up fuel stops (gas mining stations for the appropriate ship fuel) can be similarly akward - you can build the infrastructure, but that provides you with no guarantee regarding when the private sector will start using it and thus when you can use the fuel stop, which is a vital requirement for exploration.

    You can set up resort bases, one of two direct ways you have of bringing in cash, but even when set up in desirable spots it's up to the whims of the private sector whether any tourists actually get shipped there, and the amount of cash they bring in. This in itself is a great model for an empire builder - give the state control of trade and tourist infrastructure and let the private sector work its magic - the problem is that in game terms there are few ways of tracing the impact your decisions actually have on your economic fortunes. This is all the more problematic given that one of the standard victory conditions is to control X% of the global economy, something over which you have very little control.

    All that sounds something of an indictment, but it's really mostly an interface shortcoming in that you're provided with very little information about what's happening in your empire - the actual way the private/state sector division works plays very well, and certainly the way you play does affect your success. The lack of control is not inherent to the system, it comes merely from not knowing what effects your decisions are likely to have. And while it's decidedly odd to have a '4x' or RTS game in which resource exploitation is marginalised, the core of a space 4x is surely exploration.

    Distant Worlds has the best approach to exploration I've seen since Frontier, a wholly different style of game. Its only limitation is that it has no more general phenomena and discoverable types than most space 4xes - the typical types of planets, plasma storms, blackholes and nebulae, a limited number of space monsters, and the usual assortment of derelict ships, alien artifacts, independent alien colonies and storyline events. So far, so Master of Orion (and the storyline is essentially identical to MOO 2's, although so far as I've found with no Orion itself), however this is all taking place within a much, much larger game universe. So exploration can become somewhat repetitive by the mid-game, and while there are a lot of resources out there in the big wide universe, you'll still acquire most of them within your first half dozen or so star systems. The ability of independent colonies to form their own empires over time is also wonderfully characterful (essentially, the new pre-warp start option allows you to play as an independent colony).

    The rest of the game integrates fairly well - diplomacy has a lot of options, but is the typical trade screen variety and easily manipulated to ensure game-long alliances or enmities. Race-specific victory conditions are a nice touch and give an incentive for colonisation which is otherwise only really necessary to support ship production and sandboxing, since you can mine anywhere you want and, as with the rest of the economy, the link between taxation and the figures you actually see in the income shown on the main screen is not well-documented anywhere, making it hard to assess the economic value of colonisation. Leaders, introduced in Legends, are a really key feature that integrate better into the rest of the game universe than those in equivalent games (including MOO 2). They have a pre-Shogun 2 Total War approach to character traits and development, and each is used in very different ways. They add a very strong roleplaying as well as a functional element to gameplay.

    Best of all is the new pre-warp start. This has a few niggles relating to sharing the same interface and build times as the main game (for instance you have god-like vision of everything in your starting system even before exploring it, you still have generic planet names along the lines "Starname 3") and once you get hyperdrive tech you can produce hyperdrive ships en masse very quickly, resulting in a game that has a rewarding, slow development to interplanetary colonisation and warp travel followed by a very abrupt transition to galactic imperialism, without any gradual progression in capabilities or the same sense of achievement for reaching your first star that you get from establishing your first colony in the home system. I also suspect there's too little variety in home systems with this method - the one I've played and the tutorial both have exactly two artefact planets (one of which will always unlock the key to developing hyperdrive), a set of derelict ships, and similar resources and planet numbers. Variety in this would also promote more variety in your early dependence on pirates - you may not have steel or caslon in your system and so will have to turn to the black market, or perhaps you have nothing with hyperdrive secrets so you'll need to actively steal this technology from the pirates who do.

    But this system really helps you build up your empire and characters, giving you much more of a sense of 'ownership' than the slightly random stage of development you have with a 'classic' start, with much more freedom to direct your technological progress and ship development - probably you'll end up automating much less of the game when playing this way and managing more, which ultimately improves the game experience. And it interacts very well with the new piracy system - the ability to smuggle key resources you don't have is a great touch, and paying pirates for protection is actually something you'll need to do, all the while working towards the time when you can, essentially, stop being a pirate's vassal state and turn the tables on them. Perhaps the only thing missing is a "Play as a pre-warp civilization in the Classic Age" start option, where you genuinely would be an independent colony developing in a universe with a lot of established empires, that would behave differently from one dominated by pirates.
     
  9. Azurian

    Azurian The Azurian

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    Messages:
    2,092
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    This is one of my favorite games, I might enter the modding scene. I love Legends and love thae general micromanagement and that it is not turned based. I think Matrix Games should market it a little better, Its a very good game that suffers from poor marketing. Legends is its 3rd expansion.
     
  10. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5,323
    As far as I know Legends is the second and Shadows the third - the only previous expansion I'm aware of is Return of the Shakturi (and since the expansions all require the previous ones to work, I doubt I can have missed any).

    Bad marketing (mostly the pricing and compatibilty issues I referred to) are certainly the killer, but the interface could stand an awful lot of improvement. Sure Matrix Games is an obscure publisher, but they put out a lot of games and should really have a better handle on interface design. Paradox was also until recently rather obscure, and their recent interfaces are at least serviceable.
     
  11. Quintillus

    Quintillus Archiving Civ3 Content Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    6,595
    Location:
    Ohio
    Sounds somewhat interesting, but I'd never heard of it before. I guess this goes to the poor marketing point. I had heard of Pride of Nations, but that's because it was for sale at Gamersgate... which goes to NBAfan's point about selling on Steam (or more generally, multiple marketplaces). But it also sounds like the type of game where I'd like to have a demo to see if it plays well or is just an interesting concept without the game play.

    I see Matrix is where Slitherine games are sold nowadays, as well. Those used to be sold in brick-and-mortar stores in my area, and then disappeared. I do see what y'all are referring to with pricing for old games, though, and the explanation of bumping the Pride of Nations price point above the release price in the thread NBAfan linked was bizarre. I can see how not having super-cheap sales might lead to more revenue in the long run, since people who might've bought it super-cheap or held out for another super-cheap sale might pay more instead, but charging more than release price for a 2-year-old game doesn't make sense.

    $30 for Distant Worlds doesn't sound necessarily too high (though it's towards the upper end for a 2010 game), but it's high enough that I'd want to play the demo before buying it. After all, I got EU IV for less than $40 in August, and it was brand new and had a demo that I tried first.
     
  12. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5,323
    The problem with $30 for Distant Worlds is that it's nearly unplayable due to interface problems - the first expansion, Return of the Shakturi, wasn't much more than an interface patch but you still have to pay full price for that (and the interface is still far from great). As I noted in an earlier post, Matrix seems not to provide any actual patches for the game, just expansions.

    My advice is to wait until the Matrix Christmas sale, which brings things down to a semi-reasonable price.
     
  13. Hawawaa

    Hawawaa Prime

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Location:
    Michigan
    Well its that time again so get your wallets ready! Nice preview of Universe on Spacesector- http://www.spacesector.com/blog/2014/01/distant-worlds-universe-more-modding-and-wrap-up-pack/


    Well whats in DW Universe-
    expanded Mod support, Stand alone expansion, (also we finally get a bundle if you been waiting), new story line, new virus tech, planet destroyer tech and maybe more. More info will come when release is near. 1st quarter is the set date.

    This might be the final expansion and it might not be the last. But DW 2 is planned for the future.
     
  14. Sonereal

    Sonereal ♫We got the guillotine♫ Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    Messages:
    14,897
    As much as I do want to play the game, $30 is way too steep for me, especially a game this old.

    I'm not going to say that every game ever should be sold on Steam and Steam uber alles, but this game is practically begging for a Steam sale.
     
  15. Hawawaa

    Hawawaa Prime

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Messages:
    549
    Location:
    Michigan
  16. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5,323
    Thanks for the heads-up - I'll pick this up since for me it will only be $10 and can be transitioned to Steam, but it's not very clear what the new expansion actually adds. Planet destroyers? Meh. A problem at present is that you run out of things to do other than rinse-and-repeat before the game gets to that stage; hopefully it will add some much-needed interface improvements such as those I mentioned as pretty much mandatory in my long post above.
     
  17. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5,323
    Picked Universe up and ... well, I can now play Distant Worlds on Steam.

    That's pretty much all there is to report; there's not evidently anything new anywhere else in the game; no interface improvements, no Galactopedia improvements (and still no search function), no new planet types or resources to give much impetus to exploration past the early game (though unless it's just the systems I've been rolling, good resource sites seem to be scarcer in your starting and nearby systems).

    As with the other expansions, there's a new start option but I haven't tried it yet - it seems to be just a standard DW start but with a different storyline (possibly different races since it's set earlier in galactic history?), as I favour the pre-warp start from Shadows. Still no 'pre-warp start in Classic Age' option, sadly, nor a pre-warp start in the new setting.

    EDIT: Just loaded up the new setting to see what the starting conditions are, and basically describing it as a 'new start' is misleading. It's essentially a scenario - you start in a prebuilt galaxy with your and the surrounding empires established (there are no new races, and as you don't get to select a race I'm not sure whether you default to Human or whether race selection is always random), with the main objective apparently being to beat the "newly-arrived" Shakturi.

    EDIT 2: Although it's possible that either the default settings have changed or the difficulty on Normal has increased. There were over a dozen pirate factions in the game I played today, and with hidden bases on most independent colonies I colonised. This resulted in takeovers by two different pirate factions, without any notification that they had been conquered (this happens even if they have a protection pact with you).
     
  18. ls612

    ls612 Deity Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Messages:
    8,073
    Location:
    America
    So how good is this game anyways? I can handle gameplay complexity and subpar UI (I've learned both Dwarf Fortress and the X series, not to mention C2C), but is this game fun? Is the AI at least passable?
     
  19. PhilBowles

    PhilBowles Deity

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    Messages:
    5,323
    The game is characterful, which is what I look for in a space 4x and something that's been missing from pretty much all efforts since MOO2. More events and things to find when exploring would better suit the game's scale (the "Age of Shadows" start I favour, missing the Distant Worlds standard storyline, seems remarkably short of events).

    Gameplaywise, it's one of those games that seems complex because of the interface rather than actually being complex, mainly because once you understand the basics rather few things are actually within your immediate control. You get to choose techs, design ships, explore, settle colonies and build orbital facilities (but have very little control over what then happens to them, since there are few buildings and, while you can construct space ports to attract trade that will help them develop, resource import and management is wholly automated), and engage in diplomacy. Most of these are just things you select from a screen and click once every so often, so gameplay quickly becomes repetitive - though to an extent that's par for the course for 4xes.

    In terms of the interface, the problems go deeper than being poorly laid-out: fundamentally it is very hard to find information that describes exactly why the game is doing what. For instance, you can choose which resources to establish mines and ports to obtain (though the automated 'private sector' ultimately decides who does the mining and what they mine, in what quantities), and you can be guided by the 'Empire Priority' resource list. But nowhere does the interface tell you why this resource is in demand, so you can't choose your own priorities based on that information. There's no easy way of identifying what strategic resources you're missing to construct ships and bases, and while the ship design screen for a given design lists any resources it thinks you're missing, in most cases somehow the ships build themselves anyway.

    Income is extremely variable and most factors are not directly under your control: the general rule is that colonies provide fixed income, and ports and resorts supplemental income, so the more of each the better. But port and resort income fluctuates massively for no clear reason, expenditures are largely outside your control since much of them come from automated troop recruitment (which you can't selectively disable, and manually building troops every so often is tedious), and the link between private sector income and your funds is obscure. As a result you can't easily plan to build or expand at particular times, but have to spend as and when. And all you really have to spend it on anyway is spamming more ships and building more colonies and bases, which produce more income that lets you do the same ad infinitum. The non-racial victory conditions are rather poorly-chosen, in that all three reward doing exactly the same thing in exactly the same way because the threshholds you need to meet exhibit near-complete overlap: 33% of colonies, 33% of population (which comes exclusively from colonies) and 33% of income (the major reliable source of which is taxing the population of your colonies). So there's nothing much to gameplay beyond colony-spamming.

    All of which results in a remarkably superficial game, but one that pulls you in with character, well-designed races (including race-specific victory conditions that demand specific playstyles) and characters, and the scale of the universe to explore. So yes, it is fun - but if you haven't already got the expansions that give discounts on the new one, not worth investing in until it's on at least 50% sale.

    The AI isn't brilliant, and periodically you'll usually have one or more factions (usually one that isn't trading with you anyway) decide to impose sanctions on you for no specified reason, only to repeal them without being asked to a few months later, and then change their minds and do it all again. To be honest I've rarely interacted much with the AI, as aside from certain racial victory conditions requiring particular types of deal, the other non-pirate factions rarely seem relevant to gameplay unless you're actually at war with them; it's pretty much a Civ IV deal where you open borders and start trade agreements, and sooner or later some money will accumulate while you do nothing else with them except occasionally check to see if they have any techs you can trade for.
     
  20. Stuie

    Stuie Laudir Agus Mir

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2001
    Messages:
    551
    Location:
    Upper Gwynedd, PA
    It kind of feels like EU2 in space.
     

Share This Page