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StarDrive 2: Jammers, Androids, Base Assaults in New Video

By on August 6th, 2014 9:16 am

StarDrive 2 | Turn-based space 4X strategy game by Zero Sum Games and Iceberg Interactive

Iceberg Interactive and Zero Sum Games are preparing to show off their progress on their upcoming title, StarDrive 2, at GamesCom 2014 next week. Thankfully, they’ve not left those of us who can’t attend empty-handed. A new dev log video has arrived and is putting many of the game’s new and enhanced features on display for all of us to see.

As has been customary with the StarDrive 2 videos, we once again get a peek under the hood at multiple facets of gameplay.

The August video begins with a return to the space battlefield once more. The combat AI has received some overhauls, and is now more capable of taking advantage of their long-range weaponry. Thankfully, new defensive technologies such as point defense weapons and ECM jammers have been added to help even the odds against enemy missile boats. Fighters have become smaller and more numerous. And, alongside an enhanced vertical perspective in combat, a feature which allows ships to appear to fly under and over one another, continue to make combat more exciting to watch and presumably to participate in.

While the real-time combat appears to be greatly enhanced over its predecessor, the strategy “4X” mode of the game has been getting some attention. The starmap has received enhancements by way of a new empire border system that is easy to read and a vast improvement over the original StarDrive’s more blob like structure. On the economic front, the dev log shows off some new android citizens, a new type of constructible worker that will play a pivotal role for the mechanical races, though they are also usable by the more traditional races. Minor races are also poised to play a role in StarDrive 2, and the video mentions that it will be up to the major races to decide whether they want to bargain with them or simply conquer/enslave them.

The video ends with an up to date look at ground combat, not just on planets, but on bases as well. Two sides square off in an asteroid base in a mode that is reminiscent of a turn-based tactical game like XCOM, Jagged Alliance, or Xenonauts, complete with action point allotments. One major difference here though is that combat is deterministic, meaning no random dice rolls. As Daniel describes in the video, his vision is for the ground based combat to play out like “fantasy, science fiction chess”. It’s a different approach, certainly for a 4X space game, but seeing as though I expect ground combat to take a backseat to space combat, it may end up being the right call. I believe it was mentioned before, but it bears repeating that these ground units are also fully customizable with different weapons and armor.

StarDrive 2 | Turn-based space 4X strategy game by Zero Sum Games and Iceberg Interactive

As the video closes, it confirms that StarDrive 2 is scheduled for a Fall 2014 release. At this time, no announcements regarding Early Access or an open beta have been made.

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119 Comments


  1. zigzag says:

    Ship movement is looking good! Looking forwards to seeing more at Gamescom.

  2. Happy Corner says:

    And a bunch of comments about “I’m never buying this! Because Stardrive 1!” in 3… 2… 1…

    • jackswift says:

      Don’t they usually go, “Finish Stardrive 1 before working on a new game!”

    • Brian Y says:

      Well you fan boys are entitled to your opinions as are the critics. We will all be voting with our wallets, and I am willing to bet this will not do as well.

      • DevildogFF says:

        I’d be willing to bet that this one will have more “mass appeal” and therefore, do much better than you think, Brian.

        Also, it just oozes personality and style. Your loss.

      • Happy Corner says:

        Actually, I’m not a fanboy. I played Stardrive 1 for maybe an hour, and the jury’s still out about whether I’ll try Stardrive 2 at all. I just get bored of the endless backlash posts.

    • Robert says:

      Nah… Not that the sentiment doesn’t exist, but that the community here is generally less aggressive and whiny.

      Generally…

      I don’t trust any devs to deliver on their promises.. internal and external factors are too damn hard to predict, and great games hit impassable walls all the time. That is to say, game development is hard, and depends on chance. Development is expensive and releasing something broken is, in the end, often the only option. Money runs out, loans must be repaid, time is finite. That is real life. Caveat Emptor.

      If its good, I’ll buy it. I’ll find out post release. I’m really excited about Stardrive 2. I like Stardrive 1 just fine.

  3. Mark says:

    I’m wishing that tactical combat was not RT. There’s a lot of detail and depth to ship design and combat – which is great – but it looks like it will only be possible to make partial use of that depth while in the midst of the frantic chaos and frenzy of RT. The pause button can only alleviate the problem so much.

    It will probably work adequately well with small battles but I can see bigger battles devolving into RT blob vs RT blob with no possibility to fully *use* all the rich tactical detail except in random piecemeal fashion.

    Oh well, it could have been worse. At least the tactical combats are instanced and we don’t have the situation where 5 such combats are all happening simultaneously in different parts of the galaxy – every second – like in Distant Worlds. That’s a big plus for Stardrive.

    • DevildogFF says:

      The battles remain pretty small, so it never feels like your battles are just RT blob vs. blob.

      • Mark says:

        That’s good to know. Keeping fleet battles small will definitely minimize the problem. I’m much more excited for this game now, looking forward to the reviews.

  4. DevildogFF says:

    Hey Keith,

    Zero has stated in the recent past that he will not have an Early Access period, as he wants to finish it and release it without “feature creep” and the like.

    So, most likely, there will not be an open beta and he’s currently conducting a small closed beta. I don’t know if there are plans to open that up at all any time soon. If it does happen, I’d imagine the group would stay pretty small.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Those are my impressions as well. I figured some people might ask since nearly every game has some kind of early access these days. I don’t disagree with his decision. Staying focused and avoiding creep is very important.

  5. JD says:

    Bizar all mechanics literally taken from Master of Orion 2. And yet this game lacks that one thing that makes MoO2 so memorable. That is ‘character’ and atmosphere.

    Personally I see no character here whatsoever. Sure it looks pretty but where is my ominous atmosphere. Where is the sence of vastness that you felt (remember that backgroundmusic) when you saw the galaxy screen in MoO2. That is character.

    Sword of the Stars 1 and 2 had genuine character and atmosphere. The music, the atmosphere, the races, the universe and lore that sucked you in, wether or not you like the game mechanics. Nothing of this I see here at all. Just shiny things, it’s bland, sterile, like Endless Space.

    This is just my personal opinion, this does not mean this game therefore is bad, I just find it so sterile. I hope that is just the video tidbits that provide a wrong impression. But I actually doubt it.

    • Devildogff says:

      The personality and character is there. I promise. Much, much more so than Endless Space.

      You’ll see.

      • JD says:

        You know this how? You work for Iceberg/ZeroSumGames?

        • Keith Turner says:

          Devildogff is a moderator on the StarDrive forums and is likely involved in the closed alpha testing. Note this is purely an assumption on my part.

        • DevildogFF says:

          Keith is correct. I cannot say too much as I’m obligated not to, but I am involved in a very limited beta and I can tell you that Zero is working very hard to bring a lot of soul to this game.

          Just stay tuned and give it a look when it releases. No harm in that, right?

        • JD says:

          No harm in that at all Devildogff. I have been proven wrong more than once when it comes to games. I am most likely over comparing this with MoO2 as it is so clear that MoO2 is at the foundation of SD2.

    • zigzag says:

      I’m in the opposite camp. Master of Orion 2 is one of my favorite games, but I found the races bland and derivative. I loved it for its mechanics. Sword of the Stars had ‘character,’ but I couldn’t stand it.

  6. chuki792 says:

    The more I see/read about this game the more I want it… I’m caught up in DW:U so much now that I’d forgot any other 4x’s were coming out and with the wait for predestination (still at the top of my wish list) this is coming back on my radar. That said, I’ll be waiting for some reviews before dropping any cash and early access is out of the question for me… Please, Please Mr Zero, prove me wrong! (pretty please;-))

  7. Careful says:

    People don’t buy into this. Stardrive promised a lot of things and never delivered. The developer cashed in on promises he never intended to deliver. This is just his next scam – show something pretty, promise the world, get people hyped, release and abandon the unfinished mess. It happened before, it will happen again.

    • MReynolds says:

      Can’t roll my eyes hard enough at the same batch of idiots that stalk this developer. Scams are where someone takes your money and gives you nothing in return. There’s a big difference between that, and you not liking a video game you bought. It’s just slanderous (libelous?) to accuse this dev of ‘scamming’ people. It takes years of work to make a video game and lots and lots of money. Stardrive was fine. It was the dev’s first effort and it wasn’t amazing, but by god it was pretty decent most especially considering its humble origins.

      This second entry looks better in every way. If you didn’t like the first one, don’t buy the second, but give it up on calling it a scam.

      • DevildogFF says:

        Finally, some actual intelligence. Thank you, MReynolds. I wouldn’t be nearly as dedicated to helping him out if 1/10 of what some of these people are saying was true.

        It’s just not. SD1 was a good game. Not perfect, but what is? It represented years of Dan’s hard work and he has learned a lot of lessons. Lessons that are extremely evident in Stardrive 2.

        I played the original for over 100+ hours through Steam and Desura, which is amazing considering my limited time. My $20 was extremely well spent.

      • Careful says:

        It’s not about liking. The AI is factually non-existent. The memory leak makes playing lategame, even if there was an AI that would take it as far, impossible.

        He advertised a fully working game with AI and a full feature set.
        What you get is a buggy sandbox that stops working once you build too much. Oh and you don’t have any real enemies.

        Promising the world and delivering nothing is literally the definition of a scam. The fact that he banned honest and true reviews just shows this.

        Stop with being a fanboy/smurfing. SD1 was a complete ripoff and a scam – no amount of trolling & lying will change that.

        • DevildogFF says:

          Okay, man. Then I guess you won’t be buying the sequel.

          You’re entitled to your own opinion. I just don’t think it’s accurate or fair.

          Take care.

        • Bob says:

          Have to agree. Like so many others have said also. But you wouldn’t know it now as the dev and other moderators have repeatedly deleted posts and banned lots of people from the SD1 forums who mentioned problems with the game (me being one of those banned). Only people like us remain to warn others that he released an unfinished game, abandoned it, and started working on a sequel.

        • FireStorm says:

          I have played 600+hours of Stardrive and your statements are simply false. The AI is as chalenging as any i meet in 4x games : much better and challengign then total war series, more or less at level of sword of stars 1.

          So you have tons of real , challenging enemies , not counting remnants.

          The only poitn i can agree too is performance problems on big maps in late game .Yeah it was the case when i was playing

          I dont understand where your post comes form, because it simply cant come from playing the game.

    • Njordin says:

      It won´t happen again. Why? – It´s not going Early Access.

      • Careful says:

        He released a beta as a full “feature complete” product. Nobody is complaining that he didn’t do enough in early access. People are pissed off that he didn’t finish the game after it was released. And this is exactly what will happen once more. After release he has the money and he will rip and run, just like before.

        • csebal says:

          While I share your skepticism towards Zero and his work, I do not believe you are on the right path, when you make baseless accusations of criminal behavior.

        • Njordin says:

          Well… when it´s released you can look at the gameplay by your very self through youtube and reviews.

          you don´t have to buy it then, it´s meant to be feature complete at release. if not, don´t buy it or wait till it is.

        • Mark says:

          Njordin is right, nobody with a brain has to get ripped off unless they insist on it. Wait for the review, wait for several reviews, read forums. Watch some let’s play videos on You Tube and then make up your mind during a Steam sale. Its totally impossible to get ripped off if you do this. All it requires is a little patience.

        • Keith Turner says:

          While I enjoyed StarDrive for what it was, I will certainly be casting a critical eye on its sequel when I review it. Of course, I always encourage people to read multiple reviews as my opinion may not always line up with everyone else’s. I can only do my best to articulate what I like/dislike about a game based on my experience with 4x games. Some people may like different things or encounter different bugs, so multiple viewpoints are a useful thing to have.

        • Bob says:

          I guess people don’t want to be warned about getting ripped off so let them.

    • FireStorm says:

      I have spent a lot of time with Stardrive and had tons of fun. Sure it feels like soem features are just finsihed to be finished and tech tree is short, but it got a lot of superb features aswell , great ships design and battles, great races with character, super space battles…

      Sure it isnt a 10/10 game but it was a lot of fun for me , no regrets. Moreover Zero offers a discount on Stardrive2 for past Stardrive1 customers, aknowledging not everything turned out as planned.

      For me its a fair deal.

  8. Razlebol says:

    I liked the first one even with all the problems it had and I am looking forward to this one.

    • Keith Turner says:

      I agree with everything you just said.

      The original wasn’t the best 4X game ever, but I certainly enjoyed my time with it. This one looks much better, but we shall see what the final product looks like.

  9. ashbery76 says:

    SD2 Looks like the best upcoming space 4X by some margin.

    Star ruler 2 could be very good but needs lot of work yet.

    GC3 alpha has not impressed me.

    Lords of the Black Sun needs far more time in development.

    Predestination.Will wait and see but latest vids make it look average.

    M.O.R.E.I think this is vapourware.

    • Jeff P says:

      This looks like the game SD should have been: genre-bending 4X with a lot of depth and polish. I’ll definitely be watching for it.

      I’m wary of Star Ruler 2, as the game uses the same ant farm approach as the first game: lots of tiny units doing their own thing with little direction needed (my critique about DW:U as well.)

      I’m also disappointed in GC3, as it looks like little more than a slightly updated GC2.

      I’m a backer of both Predestination and M.O.R.E. Predestination appears to be losing its original emphasis on planetary exploration and development (a draw for me) and is having bug problems. I, too, will be surprised if M.O.R.E. ever sees the light of day because of programming team instability.

      • hakkarin says:

        I originally backed up MORE but than changed my mind a short while later after I concluded that I knew too litle of the people who were making MORE and if or not the game would become something. It appears I was correct in that decision.

      • Evil Azrael says:

        I backed both, too. Currently i am mixed in feelings for both games. Testing the planetary demo gave me only the thought: okay, i am now focused on this planet for a lot of turns.. but what happens in the galaxy around me? Do i have to manage many planets like this?
        M.O.R.E may be vapourware. I hope they won’t run out of money. I was shocked when they announced they would starting working on the “turn management” half a year ago. A working game loop is probably something you want to implement at the very beginning, not when you are already in delay.
        We’ll see. I hope the disappointment is not too big.

  10. t1it says:

    This is shaping up to something Daniel, thumbs up!

  11. hakkarin says:

    I wonder how the Android civs work if you are a cyborg faction. In the video he said that for normal factions android civs can’t do any research but that obviously would make no sense for a cyborg faction that can’t have normal civs. I wonder if this means that either their civs are given an execption to this rule or if they have a different means of research. I also hope that android civs are something that normal factions can only get very late game at a very high price or else there is not really much advantage to being a cyborg faction.

    Anyway, what about release date? Is this thing still comming out in September next month?

    • DevildogFF says:

      Probably a bit later as to avoid competing with other Iceberg titles that are releasing in that same time frame.

  12. Buxaroo says:

    I am REALLY impressed with the space combat. I gotta say, this is looking like a day one purchase for me. I don’t care about the shortcomings and/or promises of the first one, doesn’t take away from this game at all. The GUI looks great and responsive as well. Keep it up Zero, this is shaping up to be a damn good game.

    And I had no idea that ground combat was going to be anywhere near this style, I really love it. Damnit, of all the games I got on EA, this is THE one I want most, but can’t get :-/

    • Mark says:

      I like the ground combat too, but I wish it was a little less deterministic. Real battles – of any type – *do* have a luck factor, they are not decided completely by strategy. So a small random factor in battle would have made the whole concept more interesting and immersive.

      I don’t WANT to feel like I’m playing chess! I want to feel like I’m involved in an actual ground combat.

  13. Alex says:

    Looks alright. Empire customization doesn’t appear to be anything special.

    Hope it lives up to its expectations. Last thing anybody wants is another filler 4X floating around.

    • Mark says:

      Agreed, there have been way too many of those, in fact Stardrive 1 was a yet another sub-mediocre “filler”. Its well past time for a true classic to be launched. Hopefully Stardrive 2 will be it.

  14. Todd says:

    SD 2 is shaping up nicely.. I’m on board, Day 1. You have to move on as a developer and put your time and effort into your next project. The original SD was good enough that I found enjoyment in it. Looks to me like Zero has really progressed in what he wants out of his vision for SD… kudos to him.

  15. csebal says:

    When all the other contenders in a race are running in the wrong direction, are blind or have no legs at all, then the one eyed runner with the one leg will win by default as long as he manages to hop through the finish line without breaking his neck. Congrats, SD1, you won.

    As for SD2:
    I smell the classic case of wanting to be everything at once. Ever heard the phrase: Jack of all trades, master of none? Well.. this is just as true for games. A game without focus will never be successful. People looking for a management game will be bothered by the strategic aspects, those looking for strategy will be bored by management. Those who want ground combat will not find it good enough (as evidently effort had to be split between ground and space combat + all other things), those who want space combat will not find it good enough either, lets not even consider those who will not like the game BECAUSE it has ground combat. If something can be automated, then people will complain that the AI is not good enough and they HAVE to micromanage everything, if things cannot be automated, then people will complain about the lack of that.

    Yes there will be people who like all these various aspects, there are even some who WANT all this to be in one game, but the more circles you draw on your target audience board, the smaller the overlap will be.

    There is no pleasing everyone and this is what so many game devs do not realize. Even worse, oftentimes they try to broaden their focus to draw in more players, when in fact it has the complete opposite result.

    So what do I think about SD2? I would not bet a penny on it becoming a good game. Because from what I can tell, it has no clear focus. It might become “successful” by default, pretty much like SD1 did, but that does not make it a good games in the eyes of those who are not junkies, but actually make objective judgements based on standards and not on their own needs.

    Once a truly great 4X game comes out, it will cast such a huge shadow, that you will need a flashlight to find these “maybe good enough to pass the time with until a decent game comes” wannabes.

    • Mark says:

      Your race analogy rings true but personally I’d give the prize for best crippled champion to Distant Worlds. IMO Stardrive 1 wasn’t even good enough to struggle across the finish line although the ship design was ok.

      As for for Stardrive 2 I guess only time will tell, although the dev’s passionate belief that we all want to play glorified chess masquerading as a ground combat simulation is definitely starting to ring serious alarm bells.

      Honestly I think that many devs are almost totally disconnected from the reality of what gamers actually want and if even one of them finally gets it right, the statement in your final paragraph will end up being 100% true.

    • JD says:

      Good point csebal. Many games do bolt on a lot of extra ‘stuff’ and tend not to stick to a specific design. This is exactly what Jon Shafer has been saying also.

    • Mezmorki says:

      @csebal

      Good points.

      I come from a boardgame design world, and also a fan of space 4X games. The big failing I see with so many 4X games (almost all of them in recent memory) is NOT that they try to do so much, but rather because they make each element too complex and intricate and lose sight of their connection to the overall strategy of the game.

      It’s a scope + scale issue fundamentally, and I have a sneaky suspicion this is partly a consequence of design and development practices for videogames. As you say, they lack focus because it’s so easy and tempting keep bolting new elements onto the game with no clear vision for how they all tie together.

      I’d LOVE to see some examples of original design documents for video 4X games, and compare originals to the final product.

      SD2 example of scope + scale issues. Why on earth, in a game about running a space empire, do I have to micromanage a fight between half a dozen units on an asteroid base? Seriously? The basic issue is that a game is going to be interpreted and executed at it’s finest level of detail – and if that is picking out gear and skills for individual grounds at such a detailed level, how can that possibly scale up to an engrossing strategic game?

      I’ll remain cautiously optimistic, but I just find the whole design process around 4X of games to be maddeningly frustrating.

      • Todd says:

        I’m not sure you have any clue what 4x gamers want.

      • Vanhal says:

        I agree with you about ground combat, but “because they make each element too complex and intricate”? Seriously? One of the main issue with every recent 4x was dumbing down everything, and Stardrive 1 was premier example of that. To me it looked like Zero took Master of Orion 1 (and that game is 21 years old – twenty one!) then cut off 90% of it’s features.

        • Mark says:

          Good point, my number 1 complaint about modern 4x games is that they are too dumbed down compared to the classics, not too complex. More depth, options and meaningful complexity please.

          And Immersion too! If you are modelling ground combat, make it feel like ground combat for god’s sake, not frickn chess!

        • csebal says:

          @Vanhal, @Todd:
          It might sound counter intuitive and that is why so many game developers fall into this trap, but Mezmorki was absolutely correct.

          It is not about dumbing things down. It is about picking an area you want to focus on and making sure that EVERYTHING in your design serves to make that one area as good and enjoyable as possible, while cutting everything that does not improve the experience of your chosen area.

          It is really all about this one quote:
          “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

          A design process cycle pretty much works like this:
          – you take an idea
          – keep adding things to the design that you believe might help with your idea
          – look at your design and realize its way too complex and start removing things from it, until you get to the minimum set that can sustain your goal.

          If you neglect doing that last part, or start off with an idea too big for a single project, then you end up where so many games have ended up in the past: the trash bin.

        • zigzag says:

          @Mezmorki @csebal I’m with you on this one. Master of Orion I and II (and, if we’re casting the net wider, Civilization and Alpha Centauri) were simple games with few mechanics, but for whatever reason they’re (wrongly) remembered as paragons of complexity.

        • Mezmorki says:

          I’m with what csebal said quite nicely. This whole “complexity” obsession is a trap I think. I maintain that complexity DOES NOT equal depth. They are two completely different dimensions of a game’s gameplay experience. Chess and Go are both considered some of the deepest games in, well, the history of games, and neither of them are particularly complex.

          Master of Orion 2 is a far simpler game, mechanically, than most other 4X games in recent memory. What made it so great is that the systems that were in place were implemented in such a way that most of your choices were deeper and more significant. The “complexity” of the game emerged from the gameplay as a result of how situations came together and how relatively simple systems combined to create something far more organic and complex.

          Devs seem hell-bent on capturing that magic spark that MoO2 seemed to posses, but they are chasing the wrong conclusion and players seem largely caught up in the chase too. But it always seems to end in disappointment and unmet expectations.

          That’s my feeling on things anyway.

        • Mark says:

          @ Mezmorki,

          Yes, I’d agree with that, Chess has a few simple rules from which an enormous amount of depth and interesting, meaningful strategic options emerge during play. I think that many of the classic 4x games were similar in that respect, much more than the sum of their parts.

          On the other hand we have MOO3 which – so they tell me – has enormous complexity under the hood, none of which is really accessible by the player who has to micromanage furiously and constantly fight the interface in order to indirectly influence the largely inaccessible economic model. And that’s when you understand it. Moo3 is an example of a complex game which ended up as far *less* than the sum of its parts. All that complexity was not only worthless but horribly annoying and frustrating.

          I think that modern games which try for complexity also often end up as less than the sum of their parts, just like Moo3 (although obviously not quite as bad). There’s none of that brilliant emergent gameplay that the classics seem to have.

          Even worse, many modern games which don’t even try for complexity end up both dumbed down *and* less than the sum of their (very few) parts. I’m worried that good game design is simply becoming a lost art.

    • FireStorm says:

      The problem with your post is 4x games and for example XCOM alike are by definition a combination of subgames that affect each other. In 4x , the stratregic layers affect space combat, which affect in return strategic layer , same of ground combat. Same thing for xcom strategic layer/tactical/air combat. I imagine its very tricky to design and pull off, but if done right thats what 4x games and Xcom alike are about. Synergy of many different parts. So i disagree with your whole point about specialization and jack fo all trades being bad.

      • csebal says:

        If you read further down, there is a rather complex discussion about how game design elements interact, which should put my points made above into perspective.

        TLDR version: Its not about saying that games should only have one feature, its about saying that games should only focus on one PURPOSE, and all features should be tailored to serve that PURPOSE. If it is space combat simulation, then you need an excellent combat engine, a great ship designer, lots of fun weapons, but not much diplomacy or empire management. (SOTS version). If you want it to be more of an economy simulation, then you need great industrial – management features, decent research and diplomacy, but you can leave espionage or combat related stuff more abstract. The list goes on really.

        Look at any good game in gaming history and if you look hard enough, you will find what the initial goal of the creator was and you will see that everything in the game exists to serve that goal and nothing else.

        • SQW says:

          It’s like most people going into businesses – most of us has one or two skill sets but that’s rarely enough for success. A good game needs someone to design the game, make the game, manage the people/project/money with a laser focus and finally, someone to market it and keep the fickle gaming community happy.

          Most indies I see nowadays are just a few talented coders with a passion for games striking out on their own but with no concept of how to be successful beyond ‘make good game = make good money’.

          The rare moment where a team gathers that can tick all those boxes is when we start seeing something special. Until then, barring dumb luck, all we’ll get is mediocre stuff.

    • Jingles says:

      Chess style turn based ground combat does seem like daft idea, the other parts of the game will have to be spectacular for me to buy.

      “Once a truly great 4X game comes out, it will cast such a huge shadow”

      I agree with the above, but dont hold your breath becuase I dont think it will ever happen, after 10+ years of waiting I have given up.

    • Gray Carlyle says:

      Wow, couldn´t word it better csebal. Its sad but true, no 4x spacegame in the past years was better than mediocre. Distant Worlds is nice but it got something wrong, that I couldn´t point a finger at.

  16. TimmY says:

    Very nice. I love the fact that the game is turn based now. It’s easier to play a turn base game while working :D

  17. JD says:

    Vanhal said: “… One of the main issue with every recent 4x was dumbing down everything, and Stardrive 1 was premier example of that. To me it looked like Zero took Master of Orion 1 (and that game is 21 years old – twenty one!) then cut off 90% of it’s features.”

    Your missing the point of csebal and Mezmorki statements. Too many of these game think that complicated equals detail. This is the biggest trap a designer can fall into.

    Now in defence of Master of Orion 1

    MoO1 is indeed ‘old’. It is also one the best examples of solid game design. For example the research in that game is truly random, forcing a player to literally adapt ones strategy. There is no golden path to research in that game. No game ever has similar research ever. Also the races in that game are genuinly unique with unique stats, unlike MoO2 where this was less so. Also there were no boring build queues to bog down the momentum of the macro game. Many folks do not seem to realize that MoO2 is nothing more than Master of Magic with a space skin in terms of design. It has almost nothing in common with the beauty of the first game except the name of the game and the names of the races.

    I will rest my defence of csebal and Mezmorki statements with a quote:

    “The goal of every strategy game is to offer tough choices – the more you have, the less tough each becomes. Managing 100+ cities is painful!” – Jon Shafer

    • Mark says:

      Um, Master of Magic was bloody awesome! One of the best 4x strategy games ever made. So if Moo2 is nothing more than MOM with a space skin then that explains a lot about why it was so amazing. Not knocking MOO1, it was also very good, but I thought MOO2 was much better.

      • JD says:

        The majority of players never played the first MoO, so their ‘introduction’ to the genre, it’s sequel for them remains the golden standard. And yes many folks do no realize the Master of Magic connection, they do not realize that MoO2 is built on top of a revised MoM engine with better graphics. Well engine is big word, revised libraries, as that is how stuff was done back then.

        • Mark says:

          Yes MOO2 is clearly based on MOM. The reason I commented is that you seemed to be revealing that connection as a criticism of MOO2.

          I wouldn’t have thought that basing one awesome game on an equally awesome (or better) game could possibly be construed as a negative. Of course you might not have meant it that way, its just the way it seemed to read.

        • JD says:

          Well I partly ment it as a negative. As many people tend to think as MoO2 has this unique design and refer to it as such and that is not really the case. I should have been more clear with that.

    • elethio says:

      I think you’ll find that SD1 did a heck of a lot of stuff that MoO didn’t even try to do.

      As for SD2, it does follow MoO much more closely (no spoilers).

      • JD says:

        Your first remark is directed at the wrong person… >>mumbles something about reading is difficult<<

        "As for SD2, it does follow MoO much more closely (no spoilers)."

        You mean MoO2 obviously, as the mechanics in SD2 are literally taken from MoO2.

    • Njordin says:

      Anyone remembers Imperium Galactica? No?

      • Mark says:

        Yep, interesting design and I played it a lot. Didn’t really blow me away or anything though.

      • Jingles says:

        Yes every other comment I post on here makes a referance to it.

        Just give up! almost no one can see that it was the very pinnacle of the genre. Even Digital reality (the makers) the guys who recently stated that Imperium Galactica 3 would be a MMO4X before quickly cancelling the entire project.

  18. BlueInstinct says:

    “Mezmorki says:
    I come from a boardgame design world, and also a fan of space 4X games. The big failing I see with so many 4X games (almost all of them in recent memory) is NOT that they try to do so much, but rather because they make each element too complex and intricate and lose sight of their connection to the overall strategy of the game…”

    thats just so wrong!

    can u give examples, i mean, its not like there is a unmanagable ammount of recent 4x games.

    hmmm: horizon, endless space, sots II, SD1, Distant worlds, Legends of pegasus, sots1, space empires 4+5 (iam not counting sins)
    non space: civ5, Fallen enchantress, dominions3+4, Age of wonders III, Warlock, TW-series

    thats just a list from the top of my head, but i really wonder how most of them suffer from too complex mechanics that are not connected with ‘the whole game’

    for me there are 3 categories of fail:

    1) not enough funds/resources
    2) Dumped down
    3) Terrible AI

    Sots2,and Legends of pegasus are classic examples of category 1.
    they really didnt suffer from too complex mechanics at all

    Civ5, TW series and age of wonders3 are a category 2 and 3 fail

    Warlock is the prime example of category 3 Fail

    the others are in between and i think SD1 did a pretty good job, specially the ship designer was fantastic and i lost many hours in it.

    But SD 2 for sure has a ton of promise to be one of the best!
    i personally CANNOT WAIT =)

    • hakkarin says:

      In my opinion nr1 is not a flaw because it does not have anything to do with the talent of the designers. Nr2 is is subjective, and nr3 is the only really valid argument in my opinion.

      • BlueInstinct says:

        yeah my number one was not reffering to talent at all, just a major reason why games dont turn out good, wich was the topic that mezmorki and others have been discussing

        your right again with number 2, its very subjective but defenitely an issue for alot of players

        so iam not sure what kind of valid my arguments are lacking

    • Mark says:

      Personally I’d add….

      4) Bad or broken game design.

      And in this category would go…. in order or merit.

      Moo3 (everything)
      SOTS2 (entire strategic layer, especially fleets, and UI feedback)
      Civ5 (1UPT leading to Carpets of death)
      Horizon (Tactical Combat)
      Distant Worlds (Real time leading to 3+ combats per second on large maps)

      And BTW, MOO3 in addition to being a broken mess is also a prime example of how extreme inaccessible complexity can lead to an experience that is far less than the sum of its parts. You wanted an example, MOO3 is the poster child.

      That being said, I wouldn’t disagree with your first 3 fail categories either, they certainly play a role especially the modern trend of dumbing everything down until its paper thin and shallow.

      • ashbery76 says:

        Moo3 is an interesting case because you never actually played the proper design.Half the mechanics were cut just before release.

        • Mark says:

          Well considering the state of the boring, overly complex, broken mechanics that *did* make it into the game, all I can say is thank god we didn’t get exposed to any of those that were deemed not good enough to make the cut.

          If there were such a thing as “crimes against computer games” the MOO3 devs would be in prison for life.

        • Chuki792 says:

          Right next to Bernd and the rest of the Egosoft management!!! OOh, i went there… again! xD

  19. Klaus says:

    The game and its design decisions seem to me a little bit odd.

    The realtime space combat is my biggest gripe. Is this intended only for watching all the big explosions? Seems very boring and unnecessary to me at the first glance. I also dont like realtime, even pausable. At least they should have given the choice to duke it out on a grid/hex in TB modus like MOO2 offered.

    The ground combat game OTOH is played on turnbased mode? Why not also a similar engine like space combat? Also the ground combat scale is totally off. On one side I manage whole clusters of stars and on the other side I manage a single soldier squad of 6 men in a little bit cheesy looking small ground skirmish where I can duck behind office desks for cover? I find that makes no sense at all.

    Strategic game looks fine, but one has to wait for its actual mechanics to have a final opinion.

    • Njordin says:

      You don´t have to play them by yourself.

      implementing an “option” to play in realtime or turnbased is not an option.

      but i agree on prefering turnbased combat, if realtime combat is too shallow.

      • Mark says:

        “implementing an “option” to play in realtime or turnbased is not an option.”

        Well it certainly should be! It would solve a lot of problems about the way people want to play “their” game.

        Don’t like TB comabt? select RT.
        Don’t like RT combat? select TB.

        Problem solved. There could/should even be a quick resolution option there for people who don’t like watching tactical combat. Why not? The more people you please the more games you sell.

    • Jeff P says:

      “At least they should have given the choice to duke it out on a grid/hex in TB modus like MOO2 offered.”

      Sorry. That was the feature I LEAST liked about MoO2: late game, the battles were so big, so slow, and so repetitive I occasionally fell asleep in front of my monitor!

      Strategic turn-based, tactical real-time, is my preference. IMO, SotS I and II handled tactical combat best: relatively small groups of ships in player-defined formations fight in real-time over reasonable distances for a predetermined number of minutes. The player has nearly complete tactical control over his fleet and that personal control is essential to victory. There is an option for instant resolution, but even handling battles manually isn’t time consuming. I am fully aware of the many weaknesses of those two titles, but I feel they presented tactical combat best of any space 4X game.

    • Mark says:

      I agree with pretty much your entire post.

  20. Zero says:

    To me, the experience of playing StarDrive is less about roleplaying the space emperor and more about being the author of my own space story. At the center of all of these stories is conflict – with other races, with the environment (pirates etc), and with your limited resources.

    My aim regarding depth and complexity is to provide different gameplay systems to let you resolve these conflicts. A diplomacy system to stave it off, an espionage system to subtly influence it, an economic system to help you become powerful, etc. And as we add more and more systems – space combat, ground combat, story events, the design challenge has been to make all of these systems affect one another in sensible and fluid ways. It’s very important to me that no gameplay system exist in a vacuum. And it’s also important to me that you feel connected to these systems, that you can be making tough choices and that you can see the results of your choices clearly.

    For the ground combat, this is why the scale is so small. We’re not dealing with battalions, we’re dealing with single dudes. And no that isn’t realistic but it’s easy to accept that this ground combat is representative of a larger conflict, and it also lets me have some more fun and to connect you to other parts of the game. For example, you can hire hero leaders in the game, and I thought it would be awesome if some or even all of the heroes could appear in ground combat, which now several can and do. Using this smaller scale has let me bring those heroes to life more.

    Anyway, this is a bit of a ramble, but it’s a nice discussion and those are my two cents on some of the issues discussed.

  21. Mark says:

    @ Zero:

    It sounds like you have the right mix of depth and complexity and I can certainly agree with your reasons for doing so. Also some here have complained about the similarity to MOO2, but honestly I can only see it as a good thing. Its about time a 4x dev took strong inspiration from such an awesome classic game.

    I like your rationale for the “unreality” of small-scale of ground combat and I think I will definitely be able to suspend my disbelief in order to take advantage of the benefits you mention, particularly heroes.

    My only criticism of ground combat is it’s totally deterministic nature – for no apparent reason or benefit. I love chess, but ground combat is not chess and even a small random factor would have done much to enhance the immersion factor and feeling that you are actually involved in ground combat rather than a board game.

    But otherwise, thanks for outlining your reasoning, it definitely helped.

    • Keith Turner says:

      The decision to make ground combat deterministic is an interesting one. I’d argue that it does not make the game feel any more board game like since board game designs themselves vary so widely.

      There are actually a large number of board games that feature random elements. These can come in the form of card draws, pulls from a bag, and dice rolls, amongst other things. Talisman, Eldritch/Arkham Horror, and the recent Pathfinder Adventure Card Game are a few examples of many. There are also people who hate these games because their well laid plans can be foiled by chance. Some people just don’t find enjoyment in this.

      You are also correct that there are many board games which do feature deterministic mechanisms. Small World is a prime example of a popular board game with deterministic combat. It does have a very small randomized element, a reinforcement die, but that is more of a push your luck mechanism than anything else.

      Again, I’m not necessarily saying deterministic was/is the right call in this case, but I think an argument can certainly be made for it. Despite how much people say they like randomized elements in combat, there are some downsides. People will often complain that the random rolls are “broken” for example when their 98% chance to hit roll fails them. They’ll mention how they miss way too many of their 75% chance to hit rolls for the system to be working correctly. I know for sure I saw this numerous times in the XCOM: Enemy Unknown discussion forums. Assuming the player isn’t in some kind of no-save ironman mode, there is also a very good chance that they will simply reload a battle that goes poorly due to poor random rolls. At that point, the outcome is actually not random but predetermined anyway, since the player will just replay the fight until the rolls go the way they’d like.

      EDIT: I should note that XCOM:EU does actually have some intelligence built around its system such that rolls actually are pre-determined even if you reload in battle. If you reload and take a different action though, you can still game the system until you get the result you’re looking for.

      • csebal says:

        I would like to point out that much of the crying about lost rolls and incorrectly handled chances is a result of perceptional bias.

        That is: the human nature to notice outliers and remember them more than those events that were within expectations.

        It does not mean that there is no issue with it, generally even if its just an observed problem and not a physically existing one, if it troubles the player, then it is a problem nonetheless that you might want to deal with.. OR NOT: after all, and this is the biggest one to remember – you cannot please everyone.

        So on the “to roll or not to roll” question, I believe both approaches are equally valid. They all have their pros and cons and more importantly, I do not think that any one of the two solutions would be significantly better or have significantly more supporters than the other.

        In the above case however, I do believe that in order for the game to be consistent – as Zero seems to be adamant in adding this feature, which I still do not agree with – some random elements should be incorporated to the design, after all.. the rest of the game is not deterministic either, so why should just the “ground combat” part be that?

        It is simply a matter of consistency and expectations. If ground combat is deterministic, then why is space combat not so? If ground combat is turn and tile based, then why is space combat not so?

        I do think that this kind of duality will hurt the game more on the long run than it will help it.

        • Mark says:

          “It is simply a matter of consistency and expectations. If ground combat is deterministic, then why is space combat not so? If ground combat is turn and tile based, then why is space combat not so?”

          Exactly. It almost seems like determinism was chosen for ground combat on a whim with no concrete reason to explain it.

          But I think that RT was chosen for space combat for financial reasons. Its expected in a modern 4x and he didn’t want to hurt his sales by going against crowd expectations. On the other hand he was free to go TB in ground combat because tactical ground combat doesn’t exist in most modern 4x games so there were no preconceived expectations.

          I still maintain that a TB approach for space combat would have been the better way to go for a game that appears to be so deep and tactical. All that depth and all those options are going to be an enormous struggle to use effectively in the heat and chaos of RT combat, pause or no pause.

          And Yes, I think you are right in suggesting that the schizophrenic game design might ultimately hurt the game. It was certainly one of the first things I noticed. Although I guess it could be argued that it would hurt it less than going against the expectations of his customers.

      • Mark says:

        You’re right in saying that making ground combat deterministic doesn’t make it feel like a board game, there are indeed many board games with random elements. What I was trying to argue is that making ground combat totally deterministic makes it feel like anything *except* ground combat.

        My problem is with immersion and the amount I have to struggle to maintain suspension of disbelief trying to imagine that these are actually my troops fighting on a real battlefield. Total determinism makes that far more difficult than it has to be.

        Yes there are downsides to having randomised elements in ground combat, but that’s the nature of ground combat. We are modelling a system that is inherently unpredictable, at least to some degree, and the closer you get to simulation-level of gaming the more that unpredictable element increases. I’m certainly not arguing for war-game levels of simulation here, but at least a token nod to the actual nature of ground combat would be nice.

        Zero’s argument for keeping ground combat small-scale is that it allows the use of heroes and can be rationalized as just one battle among many. That’s a good reason! I can accept that and use it to enhance my immersion. I don’t really like the small-scale, but the reason for making it that way makes sense and the payoff outweighs the negatives.

        But why would a dev deliberately design a particular game element so as to *detract* from immersion and reality for absolutely no reason? What is the benefit of determinism in ground combat that allows me to suspend disbelief and compensate for the lack of immersion it creates? Beats me.

  22. Mezmorki says:

    On the general topic of criticism 4X game design, here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject a while ago:
    http://www.big-game-theory.com/2013/02/a-failure-to-end-too-much-what-and-not.html

    Those points still stand, and I’ve been contemplating more on the subject lately and am working up another post on the topic.

    My current theory is that there are two different, but overlapping, camps of 4X gamers (and maybe more). One camp, let’s call them the “Simulationists” love lots of detail. A quote I see over and over from this perspective is how they “love sitting back and watching the galaxy unfold.” Distant Worlds gets the nod for delivering this type of galaxy empire simulator.

    The other camp, let’s call them the “Strategists,” tend to argue for more deliberate gameplay systems, even if the result is more abstract or simple; provided the experience is strategically deep. A typical quote might be something like “I’d prefer fewer but tougher choices in my games.” There is a general aversion to any sort of automation – players want direct control and for the game to not spiral out of control into a micromanagement nightmare.

    The paradox is that both camps hold MoO2 up on a pedestal, but for different reasons. MoO2, especially for a game of its time, did have a fair amount of character and sense of narrative and progression, especially appealing to the simulationists. Yet the mechanics and rules were also pretty concise, offering lots of tough and hard choices. There was a lot of variety in the game too, but players rarely had access to all of it within a single game session; hence its enduring replay value.

    Maybe these two camps, and the desire to appeal to both of them given their common love for MoO2, is causing the tensions and failings in 4X game design. I agree with the above points about some games (ES comes to mind) being simple/streamlined but failing to have that simplicity still support a deep experience. Other games have the opposite problem: tons of complexity and detail that doesn’t hang together in any coherent manner and comes across equally shallow but in a different way. Game designers’ in this area have a tough challenge!

    • Keith Turner says:

      Good analysis, Mezmorki. We may never see a game that straddles the line in the same way that MoO 2 did.

      I actually appreciate automation when it lets me shift my focus at a time I deem appropriate. For example, colony/city governor options are something I’d never use early on as I micromanage my first few colonies, but these same unused elements become critical when my empire grows and I want to focus on more interesting things like combat, diplomacy, and exploration. At that point I don’t care about colony 8 that much, I just want it to manage itself, grow on its own, and produce what I need.

      At the same time, too much automation or simplification is not good. I agree with your examples, Distant Worlds and Endless Space. Neither of these gives me exactly what I am looking for out of a 4X game.

    • csebal says:

      I would approach this from a different angle.

      Mechanical complexity and Structural complexity

      Mechanical complexity is the number of dials and buttons and gauges you have on your screen that you can fiddle with for each of the game’s systems.

      Structural complexity is a trickier beast, as it is not about the amount of fiddly bits, but the amount of systems with fiddly bits and how they can interact together, or in other words, the total number of fiddly bits that give you the actual number of combinations you can play with.

      Then we have several scales:
      – The complexity scale – abstracted to simulation – is influenced by how much or how little mechanical complexity the game has
      – The scope scale – small to large – is influenced by the number of systems, so how much or how little structural complexity the game has.
      – The depth scale – shallow to deep – is a mixture of both, with the mechanical complexity having a linear effect and the structural complexity having an exponential effect on it.

      As you said, depth comes from meaningful choices, which I would translate to a slightly more mechanical term: meaningful choices come from a combination of the various systems, rather than different options of the same system, so variations of the same thing.

      You might have 15 types of guns in your game, but at the end of the day, you will still just have guns. If you however add ECM, fighters, shields and all other kinds of various modules, even if each of those new systems have less overall mechanical complexity, the amount of systems will increase the structural complexity of your game and making decisions about how to use the various systems together is inherently more meaningful than choosing which one of the N options for the same thing you want to use, which will pretty much be decided by “which one has the best stats”

      The above is a small scale example of the concept, but it can be expanded into larger game systems as well. Having more, but less detailed game systems is often times more desirable than having fewer but well detailed ones.

      There is a golden road here of course, a fine balance that needs to be found, as having too much or too little mechanical complexity is not good and so is having too much or too little structural complexity.

      After all, there is a reason why most games have problems getting this right, besides the obvious reason that sometimes the creators are unaware of the difference in the first place.

      • Mezmorki says:

        I wrote a blog post a while ago attempting to pin down what exactly “depth” in a game is.

        http://www.big-game-theory.com/2013/01/Searching-the-Depths.html

        The TLDR version is that depth in a game is a function of how many “factor layers” (or heuristic layers) there is in a game. For example, in a 4X game deciding how to get the most production directed towards some specific problem is a basic optimization problem/puzzle in the absence of other factors. If you have to consider how your opponent’s moves will impact the optimization, it’s deeper. If you add another layer but deciding how much to invest in a production versus using resources elsewhere, that’s another factor. If there are layers of uncertainty in the timing or outcome of the production, that’s another layer. Games with more depth tend to have more and more (and thicker) heuristic layers to them. The mechanics underpinning these might be relatively simple (e.g. Go or Chess) but situations that players face are multi-faced and complex nevertheless. I think this idea aligns with your “structural complexity” notion, because the depth comes out of the interactions and trade-offs and decision making that occurs in consideration of all of these interacting layers.

  23. Peter says:

    All this talk about MOO will gets me nostalgic again. Stop it :(
    Btw its a year gamenet orsomething took over the rights to moo, any rumours yet about moo4?

    • Mark says:

      I think the disaster of MOO3 forever killed any chance of seeing an official MOO4. Our only chance of ever getting a MOO4-like experience will be from devs like Zero who seem to be heavily inspired by the concept.

    • zigzag says:

      Master of Orion IV: World of Spaceships. Ugh. (This is probably unfair on Wargaming.net.)

      • Vanhal says:

        Yes, a bit. Or perhaps not, their earlier games, though being really good aren’t exactly in the field we hope to see in potential new MoO. My biggest hope is that they didn’t buy MoO rigts just to put it on the shelf.

        About World of Spaceships, it would be good if they actually made this, unless it would be another fighter-shooter like dozens others. But capital ships, yea, that would be nice.

  24. Evil Azrael says:

    I do not like randomness in battle. I lost too many sure wins by having to roll dice in games like Risk, AA and Twilight Imperium. Panzer General was one of most “unfair” computer games, Luck decided if you nearly lost your best unit or the enemy was erradicated. Save-Attack-Load, repeat until won. Btw, just to prevent this easy cycle i would always store the state of the random number generator in save games. The venerable Empire and Sid Meier’s Civ were also very random in the combat resolution.

    Coming back to Panzer General, some versions offered the option to disable randomness. But somehow this was a little bit “dry”. A little bit luck can be the salt in combat resolution. A better working solution may be to use a normal distribution around the deterministic result.

    • Mark says:

      I can certainly empathize with your point. I don’t like lots of randomness in combat resolution either. It may or may not be realistic but is definitely not fun to have all your hard earned strategic planning spoiled by one die roll.

      But I’m even less enchanted by game systems that do an extremely poor job of modeling the game element they are attempting to simulate. Such as ground combat in SD2 being totally deterministic which IMO would be equally dry as your Panzer General example. I’d be more than happy with only a small luck factor, just to spice things up and make ground combat actually feel like ground combat.

  25. Alien JD says:

    Have the mid game performance problems in Stardrive 1 been fixed?

  26. Daniel Judah says:

    Let’s just say give Zero a chance of redemption.
    By removing Early Access I think it’s good enough. It’s a promise that the full features will be available from the moment you purchase the game.

    I for one didn’t have any qualms about SD 1. I really like the ship design though. I don’t see it as a great game, or indeed a good game, but it’s a decent game.

    What we should do is wait for this to be released, and see the review score.

  27. JD says:

    I have been somewhat critical about what I have seen in the dev videos. But this preview: (http://www.hookedgamers.com/pc/stardrive_2/preview/article-1210.html) has taken away some of my fears. Of course this is just a preview but I found it suprising to read about some things and changes I had no idea existed or at least did not come across properly in the dev videos.

    • csebal says:

      I did go through that review and I must say: meh.

      It is not as much a preview, as it is a marketing material designed to pique interest by making vague statements and hinting at features with very little concrete information.

      At times its even ridiculous and it just gets weird when he starts talking about ground combat events: “The game will usually offer you two or more options for dealing with such situations.”

      The he goes on listing the options:
      1) fight the battle
      2) ignore and do not fight the battle

      Maybe its just me, but when I am thinking about choices, its a little deeper thought than the usual: do it, don’t do it kind of thing.

      The ideas about diplomacy are sound, though very far from being original, but that in itself is not an issue. The key here will be how well it gets implemented, because even the best of ideas can turn into a huge failure, when it is poorly executed.

      Research seems to be copied from MOO with the: got 3 options, pick 1 to research philosophy. Again, not a problem as long as variety and balance is right and the system is properly implemented.

      From the looks of it, Zero seems to be going for a safety this time around, picking ideas that are already proven and known to work in order to make a good 4X game.

      I must say, that despite his questionable ethics and decision making regarding SD1, I admire his ability to adapt and learn from the mistakes he made before, that is: realizing he is not some kind of game designer genius, so instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and fail, he tries to focus on executing using already existing ideas while adding some personal touch to them to differentiate from the rest.

      This approach might actually make SD2 a worthwhile game.

      Which is all the more reason why I’m dumbfounded by the addition of the ground combat module. I could really just compare it to a cancerous tumor obscenely sticking out of a neat little ball of game, that SD2 seems to be shaping into.

      Mini games like this are fun at first, but they just get tedious and boring after a while or tedious and annoying, if they are important enough to require that you deal with them.

      • SQW says:

        Remember that Star War strategy game? Gorgeous space battle, 4x-lite and a face-palm worth ground combat tacked on. They even had to shoe horn in something for the Rebels to compete with an Imperial AT-AT.

        • Mark says:

          Yes they messed “Star Wars Empire at War” ground combat up pretty badly. In spite of that though, I think that done properly, ground combat could be a welcome and interesting addition to the 4x space strategy genre. Especially since it is a relatively new and fresh concept that not many space 4x games tackle at all, let alone in depth.

          The key phrase here of course is “done properly”. What I’ve seen so far of SD2’s chess-like, completely deterministic ground combat does not exactly fill me with confidence. I strongly suspect that the finished product will most likely result in me asking the same question that I find myself asking with increasing regularity, “What the hell were they thinking?”

        • Evil Azrael says:

          Yeah, ground combat is nice when done well. I think it’s also a matter of scale. When you are conquering whole planets and star systems anything with a smaller scale than global warfare like in Civ in completely misplaced. Okay, squad based combat may be nice for special mission like striking a decisive blow at the enemy leadership, it still does not fit. For conquering planets with a (short) billion populaton, you probably need a dozen or even hundred million soldiers and you do not manage it at anything lower than army level (which should already have combined arms).

          Funnily two games which did this at best were Emperor of the Fading Suns and Star Legions, where EotFS was like Civ on multiple planets at the same time and Star Legions was focused solely on invading planets in Real time. Otherwise both games where quite mediocre at best.

      • JD says:

        @csebal, all very valid points and I agree with your post regarding that many games tend to lose focus and bolt on too many features 100%. I agree with your reply here also.

        I was just suprised that this preview or shall we say summary described several mechanics better then the dev videos actually showed. I am referring to the tech tree and diplomacy.

        I am one of those folks that believe ground combat should not be part of a game that is simulating a ’empire in space’. The ground combat should be a simple result screen or perhaps what the paradox titles do. That still works best and keeps the pace of the game flowing much better.

    • ashbery76 says:

      Ground combat is my only concern as I do not think it fits at this scale and looks kinda iffy.The basic strategic game should have been the major focus for a one man team and I hope this whole ground thing has not took up resources away from having important 4X things like many events,large tech trees,space monsters,living gaalxy which are much more interesting.SD1 was pretty bare in those areas.

      • Zero says:

        Well I think ground combat will help you connect more with the characters and places in the game. Instead of the Karsel system being a pirate haven that you look at only from space, you’re going to actually have a chance to have a shoot-out in a bar with space pirates. And the troops you bring to the fight, could be your hero that you’ve been gallivanting around the galaxy with, could be a giant Mech that you invested a lot into building, whatever.

        But whatever the case, whether you like what I’m doing here in the end or not, the ground combat will not serve to take something away from the 4x experience. If you want to not fight ground battles, just click the auto resolve. If you do, then you’re going to find a bunch of lore and some new toys to play with.

        Also, I believe that determinism is ground combat is absolutely the best way to play a tactics game. I want to win because I have the best tactical approach, not because in a critical moment, I rolled a natural 20 and that was the only thing I could do. I would highly recommend anyone who likes tactics games to check out Pox Nora. It’s dated and kind of shit looking, but it is bar none the best tactics game I have ever played, and it’s entirely deterministic.

        • Mark says:

          I like the idea of tactical ground combat in a space 4x and think that it *could* work very well if done properly. Its something I have always wanted and which nobody has yet managed to deliver without making a complete mess of it (Star Wars). The fact that you are attempting it at all makes this game stand out from the crowd as something special, which is a very good thing in an increasingly crowded genre.

          But determinism has nothing to do with what you are trying to model. Ground combat is inherently NOT deterministic. So although I agree with you that tactics should rule, total determinism is going to suck all the tension and immersion out of ground combat by continually reminding your players that they are not engaging in a desperate battle for victory, only a glorified “chess” match.

          What about auto-resolve, will it also be totally deterministic? That would be very boring since the battle would be decided before you even pressed the resolve button. And if auto-resolve is not deterministic then why the difference?

          Other than that, your reasoning makes sense to me and I can accept the small scale in exchange for the benefits you mention. I really like the idea of bringing heroes into a ground combat and viewing the small-scale combat as only one among many is an easy way to retain immersion.

        • SQW says:

          If you want to tact on tactical ground combat for a 4X, then just limit the scope to infiltration, sabotage, assassination style encounters which give you are minor bonus or something in the upcoming space battle.

          The last thing Emperor of a star spanning empire with a fleet of battleship in orbit wants is to connect with the common man having a shootout in a bar somewhere on the surface. I’d call that disconnecting, not immersion.

          A proper tactical combat in the scope of an invasion would be MOO + Panzer General with all the extra work for AI that entails – awesome if you can pull it off but let’s just focus on getting one game polish first eh?

  28. alexodia says:

    Ill wait till full release to judge. to many broken promises (multiplayer) to do anything else. Playable sd1 was immersive it could have been but it felt empty.


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