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MORE: Oldschool Turn-based 4X Space Strategy [Kickstarter]

By on September 3rd, 2012 9:34 am

Heads up people, we have a fresh new space 4X game on Kickstarter. It’s called MORE (Military, Organization, Research, Economy) and it’s a turn-based 4X space strategy game that proposes to pickup from Master of Orion 2 and “expand its gaming experience without complicating it”. That’s a good starting line no doubt.

If I’m not mistaken this is the second space 4X game that attempts crowdfunding at Kickstarter. The first was StarDrive, which turned out to be a success case as we all know. Daniel DiCicco raised a total of $17,676 from an initial pledge of  $7,500 (235% total funding) in a time Kickstarter was not yet, let’s say, fashionable.

Now, an international team composed of 12 people from Poland, United States and Germany decided to take the plunge and after 4-months work they’re now on Kickstarter looking for financial support for their space 4X game project.

What’s different about MORE?

More is not always better but my interpretation is that IdeaLcenter wants to get back to basics and add more on-top of the classic turn-based 4X space gaming experience. Meaning expanding on the Master of Orion and Galactic Civilizations series, but especially over MoO.

For instance, regarding ship design they propose not only customization and hull modification but also a complete from scratch hull design experience. This full design feature is similar to what GalCiv2 offers (with the expansions) but it is more on top of MoO2 as MoO2 only allows customization and not hull design. Sounds complicated but doable as GalCiv2 has proved. The thing is if adding more here will improve the experience or add too much micromanagement to the ship design process. What I mean is, some players will probably like to design their ships from scratch but others will just prefer to add a few touches to preset hulls. We’ll see.

Late game micromanagement is usually a pain in space 4X games, and generally in all 4X games. It’s great to control many dozens of star systems and even more planetary colonies but all ends up being too much to manage by late game. Some games offer automation options which let the AI run the economy for you, but usually this is not completely satisfactory. IdeaLcenter understands this and stated “We will not rely on automatization of processes, which in time reduces gameplay to mere next-turn clicking”.

In turn they propose an interesting new concept to reduce late-game micromanagement. As your empire grows, and through technology advancement, you can merge colonies belonging to a star system into a super colony that they designate as Dysonian Sphere. At some point it will even be possible to merge super colonies into clusters that can be managed as single entities. Bravo! And they add that with such potential these clusters will be able to produce epic-size spaceships capable of destroying entire star systems. This micromanagement reduction concept sounds brilliant in theory and I’m convinced that it can be implemented reasonably well as long as the managing mechanic and the UI don’t get too complicated due to this object management diversity.

Challenging AI with emphasis on diplomacy and military alliances. IdeaLcenter proposes trade treaties, research treaties, influence spheres, coordinated alliances (AI and player coordinate actions against common enemies and share information), fleet lending (you lend your fleets for the AI to control or vice versa for credits or other rewards), a reputation system, different kinds of governments and race characteristics like xenophobic, meaning not negotiating at all (reminds of MoO Silicoids).

3D maps and battles. Master of Orion or Space Empires maps and space battles are played in 2D. MORE will make the leap to 3D, with all that’s great and not so great about it. 3D is nice but it’s a hard nut to crack. The challenge is to make 3D systems that look good but that are usable at the same time. So far I haven’t seen any game of this genre nail the 3D completely, not that many attempts have been made, one has to say. But let’s give these guys a chance to prove that’s possible, after all space is 3D (and beyond).

MORE: Space 4X game | User Interface

20 playable races, each with its unique UI style. From minuscule insects and organisms living in gas giants to huge creatures living in space. Plenty of variety here. There seems to be also special techs available for each race and special military tactics (e.g. psychic abilities).

Animated cutscenes. I miss these. They don’t need to be elaborately exquisite videos. Just some small cutscenes embedded in the gameplay always help with immersion. This is also a nice plus in my opinion.

Other promised features include: leaders (colony governors, ship captains, spy masters), raw materials, mineral extraction, food transportation, no starlanes, multiplayer over LAN and Internet, intuitive UI (the current mockups do look simple), rich game setup customization, complex technology trees with specific techs for each race and achievements. And more.

Who are these people?

You can easily tell by watching the Kickstarter presentation video, and text, that the people behind this game are space 4X hardcore fans, and science fiction lovers in general. They surely know what they’re talking about. So, I have a strong feeling that these guys mean business.

Without making direct references to other titles of the genre they say not to be satisfied with the recent gaming experiences and point out that the solution is to get back to the genre’s origins and expand from there without complicating the experience but by providing more options. “We do not want to create a game with just impressive graphics. We want to go beyond the visual and special effects and create a truly amazing gaming experience, drawing on the wealth of options.” ~IdeaLcenter.

They seem to have the expertise and a lot of things done already for a 4-month period working on spare time. They look motivated, driven and excited. All they need and hope for now is our support. Count me in guys!

If they succeed in Kickstarter, IdeaLcenter expects to enter Alpha in July 2013, Beta in October 2013 and release in December 2013.

To know more go head to the kickstarter page or the game’s official website. A game copy for the PC is awarded with a $10 pledge. Full price is set for $20 at release time.

Some screenshots

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  1. Martok says:


  2. eleazar says:

    I wish them well, but i gotta be suspicious of a new game that offers so much.

  3. Alex says:

    They’ve got my support

  4. Federico says:

    Looks very promessing, specially their AI concept. I think there´s much to be achieved through AI development to help this kind of games regarding realism, depth, immersion, replayability… I look forward to see it working.

    Adam, great article, as always… ;)

  5. Thank you for Your support! You are great!

    @ elezar – It will be hard work for us during that period, but we know that we can do this game.

  6. Ahbery76 says:

    I will back it and hopefully good finance will improve those awful animations.

  7. Sledge Hammer says:

    Great seeing this game covered here, still the flow is rather low, hopefully as the media picks it up it receives more audiences.
    I want to build my own dyson sphere!

    • Adam Solo says:

      I suspect many people are counting coin as there’s lots of good offers around at the moment, already available or to be released soon. I’m convinced Idealcenter has nailed it on their offer for a particular niche of 4X gamers desiring for a worthy MoO2 remake/evolution. Oldschool TBS lovers. But even in that niche there’s competition at the moment. Give it time and I’m sure many more people will back this project.

  8. RandomBlue says:

    Looks interesting, I pledged.

  9. Hypnotron says:

    I wish them luck but I will bet that the earliest they will be able to complete a “good” game is 2014. $50,000.00 is not enough to allow a team of 6 to quit their fulltime work and really dedicate themselves to this project.

    They know this of course so I suspect their aim is mostly to ensure they get at least some funding and that the kickstarter does not fail.

    Maybe if they cut multiplayer completely from the start, they can release in 2013…

    • Gary says:

      Hypnotron, they have addressed the $50k. I asked them about that in their comments, and suggested they put it in the FAQ, which they have done. This is from the FAQ:

      “Yes, $50,000 will be sufficient to finish our project, because we will invest into it our own money and time, as well the cost of living//working in Poland is slightly smaller than the U.S. or Western Europe.

      However, we realize that if we manage to get a bigger budget, we will be able to give you a better game with M.O.R.E. additional, higher quality content.”

      They responded to my question in the comments with the info above (before they put it in the FAQ), as well as:

      “In addition if we succeed with Kickstarter project, we will have additional sponsor,”

      I’m guessing it’s a publisher who is waiting to see if this game will have support from gamers. Or perhaps Poland has some kind of government program to help new businesses.

  10. farcodev says:

    The first screenshot remembered me of Supremacy and Millenium, and the second remembered me of Imperium.
    Three games on Amiga.

  11. eleazar says:

    From article:
    “complete from scratch hull design experience”

    based on the very short clip showing hull-building, this doesn’t sound like the best description. It looks like you assemble the hull from several pre-made parts– which is IMHO a promising system.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Yea, using building blocks. But it’s still hull design from scratch, not over a preset hull.

      • TauridBorn says:

        Um, I beg your pardon, Adam, but Galactic Civilizations 2 DID offer hull design from scratch, or close to it.
        Dread Lords didn’t have it, but in the expansion packs the player could choose a custom hull type. Okay, there was a very small square box, but it was unnoticeable and easily hide-able. I think that should count as “from scratch”.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Are you sure about that? I was of the impression that you always required a hull base to start from in GalCiv2 no matter how small it was. That’s why I thought MORE would be a step forward because you seem to start from nothing.

        • Adam Solo says:

          I checked GalCiv2 TA and indeed you can design “almost” from scratch. As you say there’s only a small cube to start from, so, it’s practically from scratch alright. I’ll correct that.

  12. Jeff P says:

    Very impressive presentation. I’m a little surprised a major distributor didn’t pick this up: at least in concept it seems miles ahead of offerings we’ve seen lately (I’m looking at your, Legends of Pegasus!) I normally don’t contribute to Kickstarter (I’d prefer to see how a project develops before parting with my cash) but this is an exception. I’m in.

  13. Lumberjack says:

    This game looks absolutely wonderful and full of potential. It is the first game I have seen on Kickstarter where I instantly wanted to pledge, rather than sit back and watch the development until release. You have my support and I sincerely hope it goes to good use to be the 4X space game I’ve been wanting for years.

  14. salvo says:

    Well, one MORE try to eventually find the real successor to MOO2, let’s hope they succeed. Backed it.

    • Ahbery76 says:

      A MOO2 clone this is not,not even close.

      If you mean real successor as in a good 4x game then your 90’s game nostalgia will never be met.

  15. Chop says:

    Ive just got to say watching the trailer that they not only want to copy MOO but the trailer format for X, most amusing but doesnt pull it off with the lame voice of the narrator. Want more?
    Sounds good but still no answer to the mid / late game micro management. Joining systems sounds like an intresting concept though. Maybe one day someone will have a lightbulb moment and have the ideas needed to pull the MOO2 thing off and drag it into the 21st century.
    Not yet though and not with this, its way to ‘disjointed’

  16. reynanuy says:

    Wow. This game seems too good to be true indeed. But anyone who can come up with such a good trailer, obviously know what he/she is doing; regardless if that something is actually a game. I was initially a little worried this was nothing but smoke and mirrors, granted some rather pretty smoke and mirrors; but illusions nonetheless.

    Then I researched some of these guys and they seem to check out, at least the basics. The fact that they plan for an alpha/beta with community support gives the project some credibility as well, something that rings loud now after the LOP fiasco we suffered. To tell you the truth for a 4 months work, what little we have seen so far, shows tremendous advance; it’s not easy coming up with all that design and the prototype/mock ups needed to show it in that time frame.

    Really what they propose is obviously not an evolution of the genre, but a deep expansion of the best example of it, and I couldn’t agree more with that plan; so I will back them for sure. I look forward in interacting with their community to help this one off the ground, even after Endless Space was such a success(in my eyes at least); I can’t help but believe that we can do MORE! ;)

    ps: I hate that title! I realize the word play potential and why it was chosen, but I just hate it …

    • Adam Solo says:

      I also hope that’s just a code name for now.

      And about the 4-months work, impressive right? Even if everything is mockups for now it still takes a lot of time to do all those things. And the presentation video alone is also a lot of work, and quite professional also.

  17. Brian says:

    I have always been searching for a good space 4X and have found little to whet my appetite. So far Endless Space fell hopelessly short, and games like Distant Worlds are just too disjointed for me. I want something more engaging and this still seems abit overambitious, so I will wait and see. The animations are ok and hopefully with more money they can come up with something truly remarkable. Are we 4x Space Strategy lovers forever cursed? We either get good micromanagement and lousy ship battles, or lousy gameplay and good graphics, why can’t we have it all. Its just not fair, there has to be a successor soon that strikes a good balance in all areas. I am starting to think that by 2012 if we haven’t nailed it we never will.

  18. Jeff P says:

    What sold me on supporting MORE is the differentiation of the aliens: they are all unique (size, appearance, ships, personality) and this uniqueness extends to the UI as well (shades of Gal Civ). The most memorable (for me) aspect of both MOOII and the Gal Civ games was the atmosphere. Your avatars, ships and colonies looked different and played differently. The player didn’t simply select the red team or the blue team, you became the alien. Playing style and aesthetics were important. This is why you see so much “fan fiction” from space 4X games: imagination as well as intellect is required to play. MORE (clumsy name, I agree) seems to “get” the atmosphere better than most projects I’ve seen. I sure hope they pull it off.

  19. Jay says:

    Honestly I don’t see this doing anything better or different from any of the other countless 4x games released recently or in development did or are doing… I also think they showed the game way too early, most of the art, animations, UI and the overall visuals are really off putting at this stage. That and I agree that name is awful.
    Another thing, a year and a half to finish this game ? I’m a little skeptical on that one.

    • farcodev says:

      Do pretty animations and mockup is a thing, dev the sh*t is an another one, without counting bug tracking.

  20. Jeff P says:

    My last comment in this thread: I was down hard on LOP because Kalypso was so secretive and vague about the game here and on their own forum it looked like they had something to hide. They did have something to hide: it was poorly programmed and unfinished. I doubt they will ever be able to salvage that game.

    The beauty of Kickstarter (and Desura) is the transparency: customers track the game as it develops, and may impact the direction of the project. Whether MORE is completed or stalls, we will know what we are getting. For me, this is a far superior situation to the unpleasant “surprises” we have encountered in the last 12 months or so.

  21. Jay says:

    Jeff P, every major 4x game released or in development this year did that. Endless Space, Star Lords, Stardrive, etc… LOP is the exception to the rule. Except for that one, I’m not sure what “unpleasant surprises “we” have encountered in the last 12 months” you are referring to. Endless Space was not a bad game by any means and Star Lords is showing a huge potential and is already pretty fun to play despite still being in alpha. Plus, like I said, the development of these games was/is as transparent as it gets so I have no idea what you are talking about.

    • Adam Solo says:

      “I’m not sure what “unpleasant surprises “we” have encountered in the last 12 months” you are referring to.”

      I’m sure SotS2 was in Jeff’s mind Jay. 2 unfinished space 4X games in a 12 months span is too much, giving that they were backed by renowned publishers.

      • Jay says:

        Still SOTS2’s development wasn’t exactly closed. If I recall correctly it went through several betas and the testers weren’t forced to sign a NDA. At least I recall testers freely talking about the beta in several forums I went to.

  22. Martin says:

    Its very encouraging to see so many space 4X games this year. But is that an excuse to dilute the industry with sub par gameplay. I don’t know why GalCiv2 is used as the recent poster boy for 4X space strategy, it was not a polished game. It lacked many things like realistic planetary orbits, at least this one hints at considering scaled aliens and a myriad of stellar classifications. But I will wait with bated breathe. I have hoped for a breakthrough that can champion this genre once more. Please if not this game someone worthy step in to make a good go of this. And don’t be a small upstart company with zero accolades. It would be good if someone like the team behind Planetary Annihilation or Civ5 had a go.

  23. t1it says:

    I’m in! I just can’t resist ambitious 4x developers! And what I saw was really impressing and even the feature list :D

  24. csebal says:

    As sad as it is, I’m all out of “blind hope in bold promises” for the next year or two.

    Is it just me, who has found their kickstarter page to be vague and lackluster?

    • Adam Solo says:

      The page isn’t pretty, in fact it’s very ugly with that alien as cover. But, the concept is sound and the work done so far looks impressive for 4-months on spare time. There’s no playable prototype yet or anything like that so all there is, apparently, is the concept, some art, mockups and planning. They seem motivated and to have the required skills to make it work.

      Now, this will depend on how each one of us sees Kickstarter. If we start betting only on sure things with great credentials than I guess we are only doing the same as Publishers were doing in the past, i.e. trying to bet on sure winners, whatever that is. Or we can give a chance to a bunch of people that had the courage to take the plunge and risk to get a fair or even great space 4X game in a couple of years. It’s our choice.

      There are no guarantees in Kickstarter, but people are responsible for their actions. In fact there was a interesting post published by Kickstarter about this couple of days ago called: Accountability on Kickstarter. I recommend everybody interested in Kickstarter to give it a read. It clarifies many of the doubts people have about the system.

  25. Adam Solo says:

    The 7K mark has been passed. Meaning roughly 14% funding is reached with 51 days to go. If we consider that StarDrive’s goal was 7.5K, MORE is already near that. But, times are different sure, Kickstarter is now a larger place.

  26. Adam Solo says:

    10K mark reached (20%) with 50 days to go.

  27. MayPlayer says:

    I have a good feeling about this game, that is why I am backing them up. They are players themselves and have the skills to deliver (I hope..). Beside that, how much we blow away on other things all the time? I would love to have another MOO2, so spending 10 to 100 bucks isn’t that much anyway..

  28. Gary says:

    M.O.R.E. is at 37.5% funded with 45 days to go, so this project has a very real chance to be funded :) I just hope it doesn’t stall out, but it hasn’t so far. The devs have already listened to their Kickstarter pledgers, and changed the graphic, as well as working on the name. Here is their forum, if you want to chime in:

  29. Stefano C. says:

    I wish them all the best.
    I’m a programmer myself and I am aware of the difficulties of our job.
    Make something by passion in the free time is something beyond the capabilities of the most.
    We NEED a serious 4x game like the old and immortal MOO2. I’ll support for sure this project, so… don’t give up, please.

  30. Adam Solo says:

    50% mark reached with 41 days to go.

  31. Wodzu says:

    Wow! Trailer looks very promissing. But will they pull it off? Such short time for such game with small team…

    20 races??? In my opinion it would be much better to start with something smaller but stable and reliable. I would gladly accept 4 races and 5th custom race at the begining and more to come in an expansion.

    I am escpecially interested in that “challenging A.I.” as we know it sucks in most of the games.

    • Gary says:

      @Wodzu: I figure that since they will have customizable races, that putting together 20 races is just a matter of picking 20 combinations that work together, and since they already have to support the bonuses/maluses in the game, all they need is the art to support those races. I’m guessing their artist just loves to draw :) And they can use 20 races as a selling point. It makes random games more fun, too, since there is a greater pool of races to draw on as your oppononents.

      • Wodzu says:

        @Gary: Lets hope that they will succed:) 20 races is a lot of drawing. And the ballance issues, how to create 20 balanced races?

        If I am not mistaken I saw on the screen a little insect race and some gigantic bulb-race.

        How insects can fight with something like that?:)

  32. Rhombugula says:

    vast swarms?

  33. IdeaLcenter says:

    We’ve announced Mac and Linux support.

  34. Adam Solo says:

    80% mark reached – 40K – with 26 days to go.

  35. Cristo says:

    49.291$ of 50.000$ and 17 days to go.

    i try to keep my expectations low for Winter 2013 – OMG

  36. Adam Solo says:

    Done! 50K achieved. Now they have 17 more days for stretch goals.

  37. Wodzu says:

    $50,762 and 16 days to go.

    They have money! :)

  38. IdeaLcenter says:

    You can check our newest video. It’s game footage from our battle space module.

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