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Space Strategy Games: What’s next?

By on July 9th, 2009 2:00 am

Since the beginning that humans face the stars ask themselves what’s out there and how wonderful and exciting it would be to discover new places and meet new races. This profound sense of wonder and insatiable curiosity drives many of us to fantasize that possibility.

So what we cannot live in real life we experience in the virtual one. Movies and games have been offering this possibility. Computer games in specific have been putting people in command of space faring civilizations that explore new worlds, meet new races, establish new societies and gain the ultimate knowledge of the Universe.

Like so many of you I’m a space lover in general and a computer game space strategy lover in particular. I’ve been playing computer games, and specially space strategy computer games, for a long time now. I assembled a chronological classification of what I consider to be the space strategy game landmarks, games which I’ve been playing intensely over the years. The question is what’s next and where should we go from here.

The Beginning [1993]: Master of Orion [1]

Master of Orion

This game is consensually considered the father of space strategy computer gaming. You could for the first time experience what would be like to be in control of a space faring race with most of its core elements like trade, technology evolution, space ships construction and more importantly its customization, colonization of planets, creation of armadas, diplomacy and ultimately war. The game is turn-based which means that you play “your turn” and then wait for all other computer players to finish playing “their turn” and so on. The game offered single player only possibility, i.e. no human-human multi-player offered yet. Two sequels were made for this game: “Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares” and “Master of Orion III”. Both offered human-human multi-player possibility.

The Branch to Real Time Strategy [1997]: Imperium Galactica [2]

Imperium Galactica

This game takes on the Master of Orion legacy and makes a leap to a new level. The most important innovation of this game resides on its gameplay style. It abandoned the “turn based” concept to become the first real-time space based strategy game of its kind. The most notable features also include improved graphics and detailed planet management. This game did not offer multi-player possibility though. One sequel was made: “Imperium Galactica II” which offered multi-player experience.

The Adaptation to a Franchise [1998]: Star Wars: Rebellion [3]

Lucasarts took the space strategy concept genre and adapted it to the StarWars franchise Universe. For the fans this was seen as the perfect marriage of StarWars lore and most loved space strategy gaming, the concept had it all to succeed. The game offered the possibility to play as the two sides of StarWars: – the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire in single-player or multiplayer mode. The gameplay is a mix of real-time and turn-based elements.

The Evolution of a Franchise [1998]: Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri [4]

Sid Meier, one of the most successful individuals of the gaming industry, literally took his Civilization franchise to the stars. Alpha Centauri is basically civilization in another planet with all its alien aspects. The story is simple but sound. The technology tree, units, buildings and diplomacy are creative and very polished. Although not on a true “Master of Orion” genre, since Alpha Centauri action is all played in a single star system: Alpha Centauri, the game is definitely 4x “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate” only at a different scope.

The Remake with a Twist [2003-2007]: Galactic Civilizations [5]

Stardocks’s Galactic Civilization is neither a branch nor an adaptation of the original Master of Orion series but rather its remake. It is basically Master of Orion but in the present (in this case we are in 2003). It delivers better graphics, more polished mechanics that have been perfected over the years on-top of turn-based gameplay single player only mode. Its major innovation was not on the logic or the product itself but on the business concept. It is distributed with no copy prevention that allowed extensive modding by the community. It was also based on the principle of delivering constant updates to customers that featured among patches for bugs also improvements on what the community would want to see in the game. Several sequels and expansion packs were developed which include Galactic “Civilizations II: Dread Lords”.

The Next Generation [2010]: ___________________?

Since the early 90’s space based strategy gaming has been evolving at the rhythm and pace of available technology, creativity and also adapting to the trends of the modern society. In spite the concepts still being basically the same the delivery of these concepts is radically changing nowadays, or at least broadening.

The question is where we should go from now to keep the concept appealing at the same time expanding its coverage. The network society demands ubiquitous products which can be accessed quickly, easily and anywhere with no requirements for special tools or products. Current technology already offers this reality with the Internet and the global range of telecommunication services and products.

So the question we now face is: Which of the following features would we like to see explored in future ubiquitous space gaming experience or which elements do we favor more and in which order? Or basically what do we want to see next?

  • Human-Computer VS Human-Human experience
  • Thin Client Browser based approach vs Normal Client based
  • Free content with paid extensions VS Paid to use
  • Reward system importance
  • Eye candy factor importance
  • In-game movies?
  • Technology tree depth
  • Spaceship customization depth
  • Races number and customization level
  • Story depth
  • Universe depth
  • Overall customization
  • Others …

[1] Master of Orion:

[2] Imperium Galactica:

[3] StarWars Rebellion:

[4] Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri:

[5] Galactic Civilizations:

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  1. brenatevi says:

    What I want is scalability, meaning a game that can work on a wide range of systems, yet can look good on systems that can handle better graphics. Best existent example is Sins of a Solar Empire. I will admit that I spend more time in the zoomed out view, managing my systems, ordering my fleets around, but when an Epic Space Battle ™ occurs (lots and lots of frigates, cruisers, and Capital Ships) I can zoom into it, and watch the plasma bolts fly, and ships explode grandly. Yet, even on lower graphic settings, the space battles in Sins looks good, just on a better system, it looks even more Epic.

  2. NelsMonsterX says:

    I’ve been pushing for adding missions to GalCiv3. I’d love to use the flagship like the Enterprise by dropping into the different homeworlds and picking up missions to perform like: transporting diplomats, transporting scientists to witness anamolies, delivering weapons or medical supplies, etc. All of this with the rewards being capital, influence, technology, weapons/ships, etc.

    I’d also like to see a lot more mini-cutscenes. For example, during successful invasions, it’d be nice to see the relative race of aliens being hunted down and destroyed OR if converting, see the diplomacy in action. Something to give the game a little emotional punch.

    Something lacking in all games is the ability to customize your soundtrack. I’d love to be able to use my own music, directly in-game and have my playlists correlate to the action in the game. For example, have a playlist of great battle music and another with peaceful or hopeful music. These could alternate depending on what is going on in the game.

  3. Thimble says:

    The next big thing in Space Strategy games: MMORPG.

    Back before the internet, we often played multiplayer games via BBS like “Space Empire” and “Tradewars”. You now have Eve Online, but it doesn’t have colony building/expanding.

    Think Eve with autonomous fleets and planet colonization.

    The gaming universe would be truly massive.

  4. Dudesweat says:

    Definitely agree with Thimble. One day maybe in a decades time or more we will see a game with the scope of Spore, Eve, Civ4, GalCivs and Elite all rolled into one. And the graphical and interactivity of a FPS, RTS & RPG.

    Think Mass Effect gfx, with the depth and openendedness of Elite or the new Star Trek Online game. Also many communities will be responsible for creating entire planets and worlds in their own right. People will be able to visit so many planets and themes in one self contained universe with gfx comparable to todays best cinema cgi. It will be truly remarkable. For now we can only dream about that not so distant future.

  5. Jay says:

    You forgot a few games.
    1. Stars! (95?) <– absolute best strategy IMO.
    2. Ascendency (95?)

  6. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Human-Computer VS Human-Human experience

    When I think about it I see a sotware architecture problem: from my point of view the AI should get exactly the same information that the human player is getting and it should give its orders to the game engine through the same channel used by the human player.
    The AI will not need any graphic rendering or sounds but the game architecture should not discriminate between the two kind of player.
    If that can be done we get a couple of things: Human Multiplayer adapted code from scratch (aside of timing issues: AI will never have to stop to help child homework [at the least for the nextr three or four year then, after the singularity who knows?]) and a standardizable AI interface.

    A standard AI interface could bring us more than on AI for a single game and AI who can play different games.

    Now about the difference between the two experience let’s start saying that in the best (but creepy) case scenario there should be no difference. Probably some difference will be added to un-creepy that but they will be interesting difference, possibly parametrizable.

    In a real case, what we have now (that I know), the AI always fall against repetitive behaviours: I give you 10000 and my reputation goes up one level, repeat, repeat, repeat, etc.
    With a human player that will never happen.

    In playing against the AI we are trying to immagine the algorytm behind its behaviour and once we get it exploit it mercilessly.

    Against a human player we do almost the same but

    1. He can change even radically behaviour for a lot of reasons.
    2. He can be ripetitive to sucker us in a trap.
    3. If we try to exploit that mercilessly he surely will change

    So, as it is now the experience is extremely different, but we hope for a better future

    • Adam Solo says:

      Completelly agree with you. Ideally AI should not have access to privileged data :)
      And yes, in almost any game sooner or later you end up figuring out how to exploit the AI.

      I prefer Human-Computer interaction mostly due to time constraints. I have little experience with Human-Human game experience in space strategy games. Hotseat can be fun for a while though. I’m curious to see how Empire of the Eclipse turns out, since there is no Human-Computer gameplay experience. It is a pure MMO.

  7. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Thin Client Browser based approach vs Normal Client based

    I really have no time for multiplayer games: I always want to be able to pause and dedicate myself to my family.

    It is true that the terminal that we are using are becoming every day more light (I love my iPad) but at the same time they are becoming more powerful so a normal client has always the needed cpu/gpu to run.

    I feel that both approach will go on possibly for different targets.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I have mixed feelings about browser based games in general. At first I thought they could be the future of games but now I begin to doubt that. I still prefer desktop “normal client” games to browser based games any day.

  8. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Free content with paid extensions VS Paid to use

    It all comes down to how steep is the learning curve.
    Steeper it is more difficult is to give it axay for free.

    On the other hand if you have paid for it you have an incentive to overcome the initial problems.

    So the game will need to be tailored to support your economic model.

  9. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Reward system importance

    Carrots are always better than sticks.

    Here you are talking about Steam-like achievements?

  10. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Eye candy factor importance

    If eye-candy is an end in itself I actively despise it becouse often comes at the price of mechanics, user interface and storylines.

    If it is well integrated it is what moves a game to A-list. We are extremely dependent from our vision sense, much more that the others. So better it looks better it is.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I know that many people will say otherwise but I tend to agree that graphics are very important in space strategy games (as for mostly any other game). They do not need to be 3D or flashy but they need to be clean and pretty. Ships, starbases and planets need to be beautiful. This surely helps building immersion.

      If anybody asks me if graphics should be sacrified in favor of gameplay I would say sure but be prepared to not achieve greatness if you neglect your aesthetic aspects completely.

  11. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > In-game movies?

    We are speaking about pure eye-candy here as by definition In-game movies are not linked to the actual game engine(usually).

    I was just thinking about that yesterday making the comparison between Civ4/Civ5/GALCIV2/DW.

    In the end, even if after a while they become ripetitive, the movie are adding a level of immersion to a really detached game like any strategic one.

    But they are to be good, the ones in GALCIV2 are not exactly Pixar-level.

    In DW I would have liked to have some of that.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I agree with you. I like movies in games even if they are short and somehow repetitive (the colonization movie of galciv2 for example). We know the movie is always the same but somehow they help make the game feel more real.

      I think developers should invest more in in-game movies. They are definitely a plus.

  12. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Technology tree depth

    I think that this idea come from Heart of Iron but I never played it.

    Lets divide technologies in Theories, Applications and Items.

    Theories are really dept development, difficult to research (but with possible random breacktrough), difficult to understand even if you buy it from someone else.
    When you understand a theory nothing change unless you don’t find how to use it.

    Applications are more or less like the usual techs, but you can research them only if you have mastered the theory behind.
    If you buy an application without having mastered the theory you can use it at a limited level and you can’t research sub/over applications that start from there.

    Items are the thingies that, after being researched(designed) you will be able to buy for your ships, planets etc. Here you can put all the shield, shield+1 but less quick, shield -1 but more cheap etc. that you want without polluting the tech tree in a ridicolous way. they are cheaper to research (design) and you can infer them from captured materials/goods.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Research is one aspect that needs to evolve in 4x games in general. Tech trees should be big, random and have specific branches or techs for specific races. Research is an area where the designers can still invest a lot. In other words I think a lot can be done here.

  13. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Spaceship customization depth

    This should be a good idea but I seldom do that because with technologies coming every moment you really should stay in the design room more than in the game itself.

    There is also that when I see that I’m regularly winning with the base design I lose a lot of the need to do that.

    I quite liked that Galciv2 remembers my previous (graphically orrible) designs so when the right combination of techs is known the design is automatically unlocked.

    The interface has to be really user-friendly.
    You should have something really basic, like fine tuning of the default design, and an optional much more in dept environment (maybe with the first expansion/dlc/standalone 2nd version?).

    I feel also the need of a virtual environment where to test my designs against my older ones, wilder ones, enemies captured ones. It would almost be a game in itself or it will be a game in itself a la Gratuitus space battles that interface with the main Strategic title and you cold only been able to use techs you got in the main game and alien designs you captured in the main game.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Having a virtual environment to test designs is a brilliant idea!

      I like to design my ships. When a game doesn’t offer this feature I think it’s a major minus. Master of Orion series, Space Empire Series, Galactic Civilization Series all benefited from allowing the player to costumize their spaceships.

      From my experience in talking with people it seems the great majority likes the idea of having ship design. Future space strategy developers should have this in mind.

  14. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Races number and customization level

    The two part of your poit are directly dependent: deeper is the costumization level and more race you can have in your game.

    The real point is personality. Races should be really different, physically, physiologically, philosofically, technologically, etc.
    If you have a meta-history all this difference need to be prominent in their past and their future goals.

    I would go for a prime number of races: 5, 7, 11 etc. the costumization level will be the one who will permit to have that number of races really different between each other.

    About Do-Yourself races, why not, I don’t care about them but if a 10% of your audience care you could do that (again as an expansion/dlc/etc.?).

    P.S. I’m seaking a lot about expansion becouse I feel that this kind of game are an enormous endeavour even for a big software house and I feel that you really can’t cram all your ideas in the first outing.
    That said the same first outing has to be engeenered to be simply expanded and enriched.
    You will have to choose what mechanics are really needed to have a good game and stick to them. Then, if you have done your job well, you will have time to expand (explore, exterminate….).
    For races too, it is pointless to start with 20 really similar ones, better with five as much interesting as is possibles ones.

    P.P.S. I really like the idea of different way to move across the universe for each race (at the least at the beginning).

    P.P.P.S. The super-bad guys that want to conquer the galaxy in the last third of the game is such a good idea that I will not keep it for an expansion. That should be in immediately.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I loved Master of Orion 2 costumization options. The perfect example of how costumizing races can be simple, easy and fun.

      Another major plus in my personal opinion. The devs should allow the player to costumize their races.

  15. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Story depth

    Medium depth: you are almost playing sandbox but the Story is messing things up to keep the game interesting but…

    the story has to be flexible.

    The bad guys should always change (in DW after you discover who the Sakaturi are is too simple to prepare for their coming and kick their…), dramatic discovers should come from many different ways. Treasons should happens but not always the same way and they should be balanced by selfless sacrifice.

    The story should be like the skeleton of the game, but the bones should every time move around a little.

    One of the biggest problem of the strategic games is that usually, at a certain point dependent on the difficulty level, you have won and the rest, even a long rest, is just mopping up. The Story can be a way to upset the balance, to keep the game alive until the end.
    For the inesperienced player also a way to help them in the game even if they are in a catastrophic situation.

    It is fair to cheat. It all depends on why the game is cheating: it should cheat only for to give the player always a fulfilling experience game after game.
    And it should always cheat in a slightly different way.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I agree. The story can be of help on pacing games, especially on late games when there is simply not anything left to do. Master of Orion 2 was brilliant in this in my opinion. The Antarans ending was simple and repetitive but at least it was an ending.

      The problem of 4x completely sandbox games is that they lack soul. That can be mitigated with good races character of course (I’m thinking in Armada 2526) however I think games should always have a central story.

      You may say. Civ is completelly sandbox, has no campaign or story and is superb. Well yes, but Civ does have a story, it is the story of human race :)

  16. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Universe depth

    Please refer to my infinite size map post.

  17. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Overall customization

    I start with a last word on starship that I tought now: them also need personality, memorability. will think about that and I will expand my idea in a future post.

    About costumization I think that you are speaking about modding.

    If that is the case well, I’m not a modder and, even if I tried mods in various games I usually am more a vannilla player.

    If you are designing your software well with expansions and dlc in mind I see nothing bad to open the needed calls file to who like this kind of meta-game.
    On the development side I also will not invest a lot to help them unless that will not have return for everybody.

  18. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    > Overall customization

    If, on the other and, you are speaking about users-created contents, that is a different thing.
    Universe is bis, well, just one planet is already quite big, imagine hundreds!

    Any kind of encounter/npc critters system will quick become repetitive and boring, unless it will be opened up to the users creativity, backed by simple intruments.

    The users will have three choices:

    Only original contents,
    Officially moderate contents,
    Non moderate contents (age restriction apply, creator filters, etc.).

    I stand that Spore is a veritable treasure of ideas unfortunably not really interesting to play.

  19. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    AI in three simple step:

    1 – Put out your game with the usual crappy AI and a good multiplayers option.
    2 – Make the multiplayers game sending you all that went on (with the players permission of course) and use that to train a neural net.
    3- Come out with a neural net AI.

    Simple no?

  20. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    AI… I think that in a game, especially a TBS one, there should be more than one AI working.
    There is the ‘opponent’ AI (OAI), there are the empire management automation AIs that probably works also for the OAI, there should be also a ‘let’s make each game a memorable experience’ AI.

    The OAI should not have any information more than the player, not because it is cheating but because it is not fun. Feeling that the adversary has a different treatment from the program makes the player think in term of program and destroy the suspension of disbelieve.
    Game in general and SciFi/Fantasy game in particular live and die with their capability of create the immersion, the suspension of disbelieve.

    If the OAI subsystem architecture has been correctly designed it should be like any other player, then you have multiplayer almost done from the start. It also open the road to multiple different AI code playing different races.
    This will be unrealistic at the first edition of the game but maybe in the future or with the help of the modder comunity.

    One interesting aspect of a SciFi game (or a non Tolkien fantasy game) is that the AI can be positively bizarre without being incorrect. So let’s be creative!

    The empire management automation AI (EMAI) is an indispensable part of games of this complexity and in any case they are needed for the OAI.
    Unfortunately different races should have different empire management, sometimes slightly sometimes vastly.

    The EMAI of the Yankee empire will not use suicide attacks, the one for Al-Kaida almost always. The ‘Lions in space’ race will send just females around but in the end will not be so different from the humans. The ‘Intelligent crystals’ race on the other side will be vastly different. Let’s not speak about the ‘Intelligent virus’ one.

    EMAI should be parametrizable so one could be able to cover more than one race and make the different races higly parametrizable too.
    A future human race made of identical clones would have almost the same EMAI of the ‘Ants in space’ race.

    Last but not least we look at the ‘Let’s make each game a memorable experience’ AI (LAI).

    Any modern A-list game should have a LAI but TBS games more than the others.
    The LAI should wake up at the startup of the program, analyze previous games, check out already used story combinations, makes interesting ‘random’ choices when the user ask for them.
    During the game monitor the development, if the player is winning or losing appropriate part of the storyline are triggered etc.

  21. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    Fog of war:

    What the player can know and what he can’t is extremely important: it can generate surprise. If a game manage to surprise the player a few times in completely different ways you are on the way to success.

    The classic place where you have the FOW is on the map.
    In the SciFi TBS games that I know the FOW is managed more in term of game choices than with some kind of reasonable explanation.
    You can see all the stars or just the near ones. You have to explore stars with your ship to discover if there are planets! Even the gas giants!

    In a modern game nebulas should mask part of the galaxy and sensor should gave more information about the nearby star system, with the appropriate speed of light delay.

    Another area where the FOW is important is the research tree. While it should be different for each race it should be also different game after game. I would not go the random way: it is too strategic to be left at the hand of fate.
    The LAI can follow this, remember previous games, previous research tree arrangement.
    Some branching can be linked or triggered by the storyline or, again, at the state of the player development.
    The perfect game is the one where the player win but with effort. The program, the LAI should maximize the number of games where this happens.

    The FOW should also be applied to the relationship with the other OAI. The relation value and the posture that they have toward the player should be the official stance, not the real one. The OAI should really try to win or, at the least, to attain it’s goals.
    That would close a little the gap between an human and an AI opponent.

    BTW a galaxy is a big place, I think it could accommodate more than one winner.

  22. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    The morality of your race that depends on your choices was a good if underdeveloped idea of Galciv 2 TotA.

  23. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    Babylon 5 had really distinctive starship design/techs for each of the mayor an even for some minor races.

  24. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    Science: the science behind most of the actual Space TBS games it is at best and rarely Newtonian. Mostly is Science-fantasy space operatic, just between E.E. Doc Smith and Edmund Hamilton.
    I’m quite sure that you will not find Space Monsters in any Asimov, Heinlein etc. and let’s not speak about Banks or Stross.

    Newton is seldom acknowledged and Relativity is at best very relative.

    A modern Space TBS should move up a notch in scientific terms.

    This has not to be done to be ‘correct’ but because every time a player see in the game something too pulp he will think about it and that will kill his suspension of disbelieve.

    Start Trek moved around that kind of problem growing around any kind of gobbledigock (Geordie was dramatic in that sense). At some level you will be obliged to do that but it has to sound realistic and the level has to be at the least medium to not be spotted by just anybody.

    That said while a Space Slug is at best pathetic a cloud of auto replicating killer nanites can cover the same functions with a much better plausibility and thanks to that a much cooler creepiness.

    Also missing from all the game that I know of are the Relativity Speed accelerated vehicles (rocks) that are the most plausible weapons that will be used in space wars.

    Missing in action are also double or triple stars and black holes / neutron starts are grossly underused.

    Space engineering is quite behind also: no orbitals aside of Halo, ring worlds, Dyson spheres, Matrioskas spheres, beanstalks. No use of L4 and L5 points and other know distinctive places.

    There is a real trove of inspiration in thousands of SF books for interesting and unique planet building. A modern game should be able to use them.

  25. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    Ship design test virtual environment:

    What about an iPhone/iPad/Android app?

    I’m in vacation writing this on my iPad ;-)

  26. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    Good Easter!

  27. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    AI: I just forgot the other AIs who populate a Space TBS, the in-game AIs.
    They can be an opponent, a friendly mentor opponent, an in-game instantiation of the EMAI, an empire-wide disaster, a spooky encounter, a ‘Space Monster’, an helping leader in your government rooster, etc.

    Maybe all of them at the same time (but in different moments of a game).

    I quite like the idea of the advisors having a face, maybe aging and being substituted by a younger new one, maybe a ship captain will become admiral and then your military advisor/minister/automatic manager.

    At some tech level they will be replaced by in-game AIs. Sometimes the AI will make their move to take control.

    Maybe this will be a player-managed evolution of their empire. Maybe this will be an empire-level disaster where the AIs are really trying to expel the player from his command chair. This will be quite hard especially for a technocratic dictatorship.

    If expelled the AIs can then evolve from ‘Space Monster’ to be kept at bay to enigmatic and spooky encounter, to a new race in the Galaxy, to a End of Times opponent or to an ally against one.

    And this are only the ones that came from your empire.

    Lots of story lines, every game a different combination of them, every game a different game.

  28. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    Singularity: I have the strong feeling that SciFi, modern SciFi, can’t completely ignore the Singularity meme.
    Unfortunately, by definition, it is unplayable. But it is possibly, with her sister meme, Sublimation, a possible paceful winning condition.

    GalCiv2 has it but in a boring, mechanical way.

    Singularity should be dramatic and non assuredly positive: when it start is uncontrollable and it’s effect varied and final.

    As I said the best possible outcome is Sublimation, a race wide passage to another level of existence. It’s less glamorous brother is the Uploading, where everybody just give up on the Real and just go all to play WoW.
    Other outcomes are possible and the game mechanics should steer your Singularity Endgame in one direction or the other depending on the moral and technological choices the player made during the game.

    One particularly nasty Singularity outcome is the Godlike Power expansion swarm.

    You, or worst someone else is expanding backed by an ever expanding almost godlike tech level.

    What can stop that? Well, if we are speaking about a single consciousness probably a late Sublimation. If not the various part of the swarm will probably begin an attrition between themselves.
    It can collide with another Singularity etc.

    Point is that the faction who first attain a Singularity is the winner.

    Or it is?

    You have to understand that I.’m still thinking in the ‘Infinite Map’ point of view so during the game we have to assume that multiple Singularity had happened in the Galaxy but we can’t made a winner an unnamed empire in an unexplored part of the galaxy.

    Space is vast and the player should feel that so I’m thinking more of player victory condition:

    The game is won if the player attain certain space/population/economics size, or Diplomatic/politic prominence or a well developed Singularity or something else.

    Winner condition are from the player point of view, losing condition also. So Singularity can happens without ending the game.

    That side a close Singularity wil probably overwhelm the player closing the game, possibly any moment.
    Can it be frustrating? Yes, also exciting.

    I would propose an ‘Excession parameter’ at the game start. Can a close Excession close a game? Yes, no, rarely, and for the thrill seeker … Often and abundantly.

    I will speak more about Excession in a future post if I’m not boring you all too much.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Paolo, if you don’t mind can you please express all your thoughts in the forums in appropriate discussion threads and not in this specific post alone?

      I hope you understand that it would be more profitable to everybody that you launch discussion topics in the forums instead of concentrating all your ideas just in this post alone. I hope you understand. Thanks.

  29. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    Singularity: while an Excession parameter at no tells the LAI to keep catastrophic end of civilization events away from the player empire they still happens in the galaxy or happened in the past.
    Xenoarcheology will bring to the player glimpse of past history, new techs, cautionary tales, perilous encounters etc.

    Sublimates civilizations could keep interfaces with this plane of existence to be explored with the outmost caution.
    Defensive singularity tech level weapons can be waked up with dramatic effects (speak about space slugs!).

    A Singularity swarm can stop just at the outskirts of the player empire basically resetting to zero a big part of the map.

    And we are speaking just about random events. The story lines would be able to use them to great effect.

  30. Paolo Bertiglia says:

    Will do.
    I was just thinking aloud about what should be next in Space TBS. It was you who sent me here.

    My next post is about the player point of view/in-game role. Where should it go for you?

    • Adam Solo says:

      This thread “The perfect 4x game” is a good place for your thoughts:

      Alternatively you can launch your own thread(s) in “Game Design”:

      What do you think?

    • Paolo Bertiglia says:

      Got it, sorry, I’m new to this forums participation.

      Some of the thing posted here were really in search of feedback and now I fear that reposting them will make contents duplication.


      I will start with a couple of ideas not yet expressed and I hope to have developed at least a next step of the others when I will get there.

      • Adam Solo says:

        Don’t worry about that. The things you posted are jewels that cannot be wasted without being properly discussed.

        So the forums are the best place for you to get feedback from the community. If you want we can move the posts to the forums. You can create the forum threads that you find appropriate. Then copy & paste your comments from the “Space Strategy Games What’s Next” post to the appropriate threads. When you’re finished let me know and I’ll delete those comments from the post.

        Then we can all discuss your ideas in a more convenient way. Let me know if this is ok for you. Let me know if you need help om familiarize yourself with the forums.

  31. bertipa says:

    I will do it myself, but in a couple of week when I’m back at home with a proper desktop and a mouse.
    I will also try to reorganize, divide the specific topics and to add some late ideas.

    Meanwhile I’m still defining in my head the post on the player in-game role.

  32. Larry says:

    It’s been a long time since anyone has commented, so I hope I’m not being a bad guest.

    One of my biggest problems is my removal from the action.

    In any standard space 4x game, the player is always distanced from the action. The player never gets the experience of viewing the galaxy and events from the bridge of a ship. The player never gets the experience of being a participant of activies on planets – like diplomatic negotiations, espionage and sabotage, and ground combat.

    I’ve played games where I have been a part of those experiences, and I have found them to be quite enjoyable. When I played X3 Reunion and viewed Argon Prime and its massive shipyard and defenses for the first time, then traveled through the gate system to another sector and prayed that my sensors could guide me out of the nebula I knew that I had never encountered a game like it before and I haven’t since. (Except maybe EVE Online.)

    Maybe it would be better for space 4x games if the player could also participate in a singular role in his or her empire at any given moment and witness it firsthand. Of course, trying such a hybrid or fusion would be incredibly difficult if not impossible – both from a technological standpoint and an entertainment standpoint. Not only would the developer of such a game have to develop the traditional 4x engine, but a first person shooter or roleplaying engine as well. Not only would the developer have to develop the traditional 4x interface, but others as well. The final hurdle would be integrating the functionality and interface of those four things seamlessly. In the end, a jack of all trades might just be a master of none.

    Lots of costs, little perceived reward. I believe if done just right the effects could be amazing. EVE Online is attempting something of the sort, with their online players contracting planetside missions to Dust players. It will be interesting to see how that works out. If someone cannot figure out how to eliminate the distance between the player and the results of his or her actions, then I fear that space 4x games will always be limited to the small niche that isn’t affected by that distance.

    • Adam Solo says:

      That’s a good point . Traditionaly that has been 4X space strategy games’ legacy, to put the player in the Emperor’s seat. Things are managed from a higher level perspective. Sometimes you do participate in the action closely depending on how deep the space battles are for example.

      X3 and EVE Online, and all those more RPG / Adventure games are on the other side of the space games spectrum. They put the player in the driver’s seat and show him things closely. However what these games offer in action lack in strategic depth (you don’t really have that much economical decisions, resource gathering, diplomacy interaction, research and tactical warfare to do). Some 4X games try to use some RPG elements (like MoO2’s and DW Legends characters) and some Space Simulation / RPG / Space Adventure / Trade games also contain some strategic elements here and there.

      I think there’s room for everybody. But I agree. As possible 4X strategy games should contain the best of the RPG / Adventure / Action games and the other way around. There all kinds of tastes for every type of space game.

      ” In the end, a jack of all trades might just be a master of none.”

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