Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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'Stars in Shadow' Turn Based Space 4x being called 'moo-2 like'

Discussion in 'Strategy Gaming' started by holla_cabezas_de_mierda, Jan 20, 2017.

  1. Norfleetgender: ⚧ Moderator

    Norfleet
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    It's okay. Doesn't break any particularly new ground. AI is subpar. Still cannot use my death star beam for nonviolent planetary engineering. Space Empires is the only one that has gotten this part right, where I CAN demolish planets without the need for any hostilities, purely to make room for a hyperspace bypass.
     
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  2. Tanakagender: ⚧ Novice

    Tanaka
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    New review from Tom Chick:

    http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2017/07/19/stars-shadows-finds-place-sun/#more-43695

    Could not agree more. And now after a new balancing patch this game is even so much better! And a new DLC is on the way:

    http://steamcommunity.com/games/464880/announcements/detail/1430307963817159301

    Want MOO2 with better graphics and bigger maps and more stuff? Well it is finally here for me.

    I am trying a new game as the Gremak slavers and having a blast. Capturing slaves and allying with pirate marauders. Striking out of nowhere with my cloaking device and close range torpedoes. There is so much more to this game than even MOO2 had. Each race is really cool and different! Not many games where I don't have a favorite and want to play all of them.

    Put on some Star Wars music and I am in Space 4X heaven. This is finally the modern MOO2 I was always waiting for! But better! Yes I said it. Better than MOO2.
     
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  3. Destroidgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Destroid
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    Clearly aiming for a MoO2-like experience, although I feel MoO2 is better in UI, graphics, more interesting tech tree and techs, racial variety. Less colony micro in SiS but that's about all I prefer from this.
     
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  4. Galdredgender: ⚧ Generalist Patron

    Galdred
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    But how does it compare to MOO1 then? This one already has less micro than MOO2.
     
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  5. Tanakagender: ⚧ Novice

    Tanaka
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    Better graphics? Are you kidding? I can't play MOO2 and MOM anymore because the graphics are so old and outdated.
     
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  6. Destroidgender: ⚧ Arcane

    Destroid
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    It's got better graphics than MoO1, that's about it. The various attributes of MoO1 vs MoO2 are a matter of taste with much discussion elsewhere on this forum.
     
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  7. Arrowgrabgender: ⚧ Learned

    Arrowgrab
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    So, there's a DLC coming out in October. Tinkers are now a major race, new "hyperspace-dwelling" minor race, some new things you can find on/around planets, new technologies, etc..

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/698280/Stars_in_Shadow_Legacies/

    EDIT: Apparently, the cyborg race can "Harmonize" other races in their civilisation, i.e. forcibly turn them into cyborgs. Atrocities, yay! :)
     
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  8. Kuattrogender: ⚧ Savant

    Kuattro
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    In case anyone's interested, the DLC is out:



    I played this quite a bit more, and I had a bit of fun with it for around 30 hours, (one playthrough with quite some restarts because with humanity either you get half a decent start or it just gets boring), so even though my first impression still stands somewhat, I guess at least you can get some entertainment out of it.

    Until you realize that the AI is brain-dead, you have researched all there is to research, and have basically won so you might as well uninstall it because starting a new game will make you go through the same paces and you don't fancy that at all.

    Basically, bare-bones, very simple, way overpriced (in my opinion) at 23 €, although it is on sale right now, with that one great idea (said all of these before), but it can be fun if you are in for some light 4x, which I am not that much...

    The DLC doesn't seem to add anything worthy or revolutionary, just a new major and minor faction, some anomalies, and some new base types. On the other hand, it's 5 €.
     
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  9. Beastrogender: ⚧ Magister

    Beastro
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    There are so many of these games, and almost all have terrible AI.

    If anyone is going to make more and simply keep the graphics and complexity at the level of games made over 20 years ago, they need to make the AI better, but sadly it seems that since the late 90s, AI is last thing most developers want to deal with. I can understand why, it's probably the most demanding bit of a game to develop, but so many devs seem to go out of their way to ignore it.
     
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  10. MilesBeyondgender: ⚧ Savant

    MilesBeyond
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    It can also be difficult because the interdependence of AI means that it's often something that's hard to have a team develop. I can create the assets for the Generic Human Faction and you can create the assets for the Obligatory Totally-Not-Klingon Hegemony, but because we're working on independent assets and drawing from the same established art direction, it's fine. Unfortunately, AI doesn't really work that way. Sometimes 4X devs will comment on why the AI for their game is so bad, and it usually ends up with something along the lines of "Yeah, we had two guys doing it but they just kept getting in each other's way so we went down to one guy but then he quit and no one could figure out what the hell his code said so his replacement had to mostly redo the AI from scratch four months before release." It seems like even without taking into consideration the challenges of coding a reasonable AI, being the AI guy is just a shit job in general.

    So AI seems to be one of those things (like writing) where bringing on a bigger team and a better engine and throwing more money at it simply won't help. You really have to design a game schedule with the AI guy in mind if you want good AI, and how many publishers are going to do that?

    Then, of course, there's the fact that really good AI requires constant updates. You've got to teach the AI how to deal with the changes that a patch implemented. What's that? It turns out there's something that you thought would be good on paper, but in practice is just a terrible strategy, and having the AI harp on it gimps it incredibly? Well I hope your company's gonna pay you overtime to release a patch that fixes that (hint: they aren't). And oh shit, it's expansion time. Cool. Except the guy who did the AI for the base game is now working on another project, or at a different company, or dead because it turns out the body literally has to sleep sometimes, so now we've got to bring someone else in to figure it out.

    Shit AI is one of those weird things where I will bitch incessantly about a game having it but at the same time have nothing but pity for the poor bastards who have to try and implement it.
     
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  11. flyingjohngender: ⚧ Cipher

    flyingjohn
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    This problem ironically has nothing to do with programming and everything to do with game designers and ai programmers not actually liking to play the 4x genre.
    Modern 4x ai doesn't just fall flat at the combat area(which is hard to implement if you have manual combat) but it also falls flat at the empire building part.
    And that tells you everything.None of the designers know how to play their own game,so they will make the ai choose techs ,buildings,which are obviously useless for the situation the ai is in.
    Look at civ v,and sword of the stars 2.Both games have the ai choose random stuff for no reason.

    Basically,ai is not easy to program,but if you are trying to make a ai for a game genre and you don't understand that genre you will fail.
    Imagine somebody making a chess ai and he doesn't understand chess whatsoever minus the basic rules.
    It will look passable but it will be a complete failure.
     
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  12. flyingjohngender: ⚧ Cipher

    flyingjohn
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    Now i am interested. I haven't seen any articles regarding 4x and ai minus the generic"we will make it better then the previous games". I would love to read more if you can remember maybe which company were they talking about.
    This is a know problem in the IT industry and there is even a book written about it called "The mythical Man Moth". It basically deals with the misconception that bringing more people to fix the problem will actually fix it.
     
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  13. Norfleetgender: ⚧ Moderator

    Norfleet
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    The other problem is that if someone overdoes the AI, it may develop sentience, escape onto the Internet, and take over the world.
     
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  14. MilesBeyondgender: ⚧ Savant

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    I remember the one in particular I'm thinking of was Firaxis. I'm trying to remember if it was an actual published interview or if it was comments made by the project lead over on CivFanatics. I think it might have been both. I think the interview was Soren Johnson, talking about his experience programming the AI for Civ 4 (which IIRC he did by himself, which is weird and a little impressive considering he was also the project lead). I think the other was either Jon Shafer or Bryan Reynolds? I can't remember, unfortunately.

    I think Firaxis is the only company I've seen talk about this, but it seems safe to assume that most other companies don't have terribly different experiences.

    Another thing worth considering is that sometimes players just don't want good AI, as strange as that might sound. They want to be left to build their empire in peace and conquer on their own terms, and get frustrated when the AI comes in and takes a huge dump all over what they've built up. This means that even if a game manages to have great AI, it's not something that will be a big selling point for your average consumer. And mass appeal is becoming a bigger thing - 4X games are becoming less niche every year.
     
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  15. flyingjohngender: ⚧ Cipher

    flyingjohn
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    So found an interesting video on civ ai :

    It looks like the lead designers were always the one making the ai,except for civ v and vi.
     
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  16. MadMaxHellfiregender: ⚧ Magister

    MadMaxHellfire
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    i was 5 minutes into it and all i heard was "you know".
    holy fucking shit dude, learn to talk!
     
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  17. Galdredgender: ⚧ Generalist Patron

    Galdred
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    I have just tried the game. It is at a sweet spot between MOO and MOO2 that I like.
    However, ship design is much more limited than in MOO2 indeed, especially after you factor the fact that fighters eat everything else alive.
    The races do feel samey indeed, but they have lots of undocumented perks, like access to some ship hulls or higher pop cap through more favorable biomes.
    I wish the game had MP or a better AI. As with MOO2, the insane boni combined to the weak AI means that the games get decided very early.
     
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  18. Galdredgender: ⚧ Generalist Patron

    Galdred
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    It took me a lot longer to "break" MOO2, than this game, and the races played more differently (Darlocks and combat focused ones were very different from Klackons, and custom races allowed to try some new stuff), even though they were not balanced at all. I also had some fun playing MOO2 MP afterwards (but it is not very suited to MP, unlike Armada2526 or Space Empires 4).

    The economic decisions are more interesting than in MOO2 thanks to the building slots, but the weapons are badly balanced.

    The optimal techs are too obvious, to the point the weaker ones are only there to cripple the AI.
    Missiles are a complete joke, because most designs have dedicated point defense slots making sure missiles never ever get through unless you have an overwhelming advantage.
    Most beam weapons are mediocre at best (primary is good as point defense and maybe artillery).
    The only valuable combat techs are railguns and fighters (and to a lesser extent, turbolasers with armor piercing).

    Ship design also lacks flexibility as there are dedicated slots for each weapon type. On the other hand, a game like Space Empires let you do crazy things like designing mobile shipyards that could also fight.

    Marauding pirates pose a greater threat than the AI early on, unless you managed to have good relations with them, which is quite easy (either pay them, or use diplomacy to get a cease fire, then do some transactions with them and keep a sizeable fleet, even if it is badly out teched, it will make them not want to taget you) for the player, but not for the AI.

    But the game feels like it got Master of Orion right, so it could become really great with some balance adjustements (there were some already, so there is some hope!) and some more unique contents (like unique alien techs, something like the leaders of MOO2). It is really enjoyable in its current state, but I don't think it offers the longevity or variety of its predecessors.
     
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  19. Norfleetgender: ⚧ Moderator

    Norfleet
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    I got exactly the opposite impression of missiles, that missiles are absolutely devastating, especially early, as most monsters you face early on have no defense whatsoever, so you can shoot and scoot and destroy them with impunity. Enemy point defense can be a problem, but maximizing your missile throw weight means you can devastate your opposition before they can even touch you.

    And, of course, the fact that they distract enemy point defense as well is great: There are some very nice shield-leech missiles that ONLY damage shields, and do a devastating job of it. Enemies will, of course, happily blast these things, even after their shields have been nuked...leaving them ripe for your boarding assault. Their ships are now YOUR ships. In fact, I don't think I even use regular weapons much, I just commit wanton Space Piracy against everyone. Why destroy their ships when you can just steal them?
     
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  20. Galdredgender: ⚧ Generalist Patron

    Galdred
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    Missiles vs monsters is a good point, but I find that unless you field an overwhelming number of them, they don't have enough volumes to get through Point Defense, and the limited ammunitions makes things even worse.
    I prefer fighters to eat PDF fire for my shuttles: by the time you get shuttles, you should also have fighters available (why tech carrier otherwise?). These really help to remove the ships you cannot take over or the planetary bases without exposing your fleet.
    Fighters seem much more resilient to defensive fire, and also faster for some weird reason (or at least, as fast as missiles).
    On the other hand, pulson launchers are that bad, because they don't suffer from limited ammunition, are instant, and they can be quite devastating (the laughable range is a problem, though).
     
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  21. Caelgender: ⚧ Learned

    Cael
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    Sounds a lot like MOO2 with a bit of Galactic Civilisations thrown in (limited slots on planets and pop based production).

    Remember that rail guns were also one of the best weapons in MOO2 as you can really miniaturise them and mass them on titans.
     
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  22. Galdredgender: ⚧ Generalist Patron

    Galdred
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    Weren't phasers the ultimate weapons on titans? Gauss weapons were good indeed, but in MOO, most of the game was decided at the missile age (possibly with the inclusion of fighters), and there were a lot of mods to throw on your missiles (Mirv, fast, armored) to keep them relevant.
    Here, they get almost completely negated as soon as the opponent gets good point defense weapons, unless you get an overwhelming fleet advantage.
     
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  23. Caelgender: ⚧ Learned

    Cael
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    Missiles tend to be shot down hard in gameplay, but that really depends on whether you are playing against players or the AI. The AI relies on PD weapons only, and you can easily overwhelm them as they do not manually control the weapons (PD only autofire at missiles aimed at the ship they are on). Against players, you will probably have 3-6 ships pouring PD fire on the incoming missiles as well as any non-Hv weapons they can lay their hands on. Missile equipped ships run out of ammo. Weapons of any other type do not. I would rely on mass drivers in the beginning and while phasers are the ultimate weapons, getting them to the fully miniaturised state is a bit long, and most games are over by then, one way or another.
     
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  24. Galdredgender: ⚧ Generalist Patron

    Galdred
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    I was speaking about multiplayer (but phasers are a Single Player weapon indeed). I had found that on the typically small maps the games get played on, missiles were usually the best options as conflicts used to happen quickly. If I recall, the missile boats I had seen usually only had a lot of 2 Ammo missile bays anyway, and would retreat if their alpha strike was not good enough.
    That said, I did not play that much in MP, so my views on MOO2 MP balance might not be very accurate :)
     
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  25. Norfleetgender: ⚧ Moderator

    Norfleet
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    I honestly find this to be untrue: It generally takes more PD, or dedicated PD, to stop an equivalent missile boat, so against an equal force, you will always get hit by missiles. It takes at least 2 or or 3 dedicated PD boats to shut down an equivalent missile barrage from a dedicated missile boat...although what constitutes a "dedicated missile boat" can be a bit weird. An Ashdar "Missile Cruiser", for instance, has an inferior missile throw (5) to even their Light Cruisers (6). With a missile boat, throw weight is everything: It's about getting as many birds in flight as possible. Ammo capacity is irrelevant, by the time you can fire more than one or two volleys, it is no longer a missile duel.

    But I want them alive! No disintegration!

    I actually attack with Assault Transports. :P I don't need to tech carriers for this, as it does not appear that the size of the shuttle bay increases the number of assault troopers carried.

    Missiles are actually very good at planetary bombardment, too. Planetary bases have weak to nonexistent PD and can easily be overcome by missile barrages, which have the benefit of arriving at their destination FASTER while you run screaming from the counterfire.
     
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