Follow SpaceSector.com on G+ Follow SpaceSector.com on Twitter Subscribe the SpaceSector.com Facebook page Subscribe the SpaceSector.com RSS feed Receive notifications of new posts by email

Galactic Inheritors – Early Access First Impressions

By on February 19th, 2015 2:09 pm

Galactic Inheritors | A Space 4X Strategy Game by Crispon Games and Argonauts Interactive

Galactic Inheritors is a new turn-based space 4X strategy game by Crispon Games and Argonauts Interactive that focuses on the macro-scale elements of managing a space empire. The game entered Steam Early Access on February 10, 2015 and the plan is for it to remain in Early Access for at least six months before release, though no official release date was confirmed and the estimate is based on a roadmap the developers published on their forums (also on Argonauts Interactive’s website).

You can read our earlier coverage of the game where we asked Chris King a few questions about his reasons for making Galactic Inheritors here.

Galactic Inheritors focuses on managing your empire through a streamlined mechanic. The star system as a whole acts as the basic economic unit instead of individual planets. The game also focuses on a more war-like experience where there are no formal alliances. It has no tactical combat or ship customisation, as the player produces their warships via military contractors that improve their capabilities the more they produce allowing the player to shape the specialisation of each of their firms. The game introduces media as a means to influence interspecies relations and your empire’s readiness for war, taking the place of traditional diplomacy.

State of the Game

The game is still very rough around the corners in polish, presentation, and UI integrity, but that’s not unexpected for a game that is currently in a mid-Alpha phase. There seems to be very few show stopping bugs; the only crash I experienced was during the later tutorials when clicking on the help button. The only glitch I experienced was the music not loading when the game is initially loaded (the music returns when you return to the title screen from inside the game, however).

Visually the game is rather simple looking. Though high quality graphics are rarely needed for a good game, and many games that we consider as our favourites had poor visuals, a certain visual flair can help. It should be noted there is very little variation in visuals in the game at the moment. Ships of all races look the same; even ship classes of the same size look the same. Though the game is not in beta yet, and these art assets may change, I’d recommend more variation in graphical assets. The UI is also very rough around the edges, but the roadmap for the game lists this as one of the many areas they are planning to improve.

Galactic Inheritors | System Management

Game Elements (as of Early Access release)

Set Up:

  • Choose between 5 different races, each with their own set of bonuses and penalties.
  • The game at the moment has only a few galaxy options, mostly impacting size. There are only two shapes and three difficulty levels.

Strategic Gameplay:

  • Travel is done along Jump Lines; ships travel 1 jump per turn. Though not a popular choice for many fans of the genre, it makes sense in this game as a lot of the strategy will be focused on taking control of choke points both during the expand and exterminate phase.
  • Research tech within a traditional tech tree similar to those found in the Civilization series; the player will unlock new units and structures with each tech. Each tech provides one unlock.
  • Explore new systems and explore systems for resources. Explorer ships can also be consumed to exploit these bonus resources, giving a permanent boost to their respective star system.
  • Upgrade star systems as a single economic identity. The game abstracts each star system as a single object. However, the game doesn’t treat it like one planet per system, but more like the whole system is handled as one object for you to focus on.
  • The player will build infrastructure that will increase the system’s Potential Commerce (money), Potential Production, Potential Research, and Defense (which slows down systems from being cleared).
  • A system’s output (Commerce, Production, and Research) will be dependent on its development (Growth) and capped by its maximum potential which is assigned to system and increased with infrastructure. Each development level fills in one slot in each of the three output fields.
  • Building Colony Ships stunts growth and drops the system’s development level by one tier. This means the player will have to plan their expansions carefully in the early game.
  • System resources offer permanent bonuses to a system’s output when exploited by an Explorer Ship (which is consumed).
  • Player can build Galactic Exploration Wonders, but it seems their effects are not implemented yet.
  • There are only two victory conditions at the moment. A Tech victory where the player unlocks the secret of the ancient mass drivers that looms in every system which achieves dominion over all others or by wiping out all the other races old school style.

Galactic Inheritors | Tech Tree (Research)

Warfare and Military:

  • Vessels are produced by your Industrial Complex which costs money to produce and maintain (the game’s economy doesn’t seem to be complete as there seems to be no visible treasury).
  • You have 3 companies, with 3 docks each. Each dock can produce 1 ship, and each ship grants XP to increases the level of that company.
  • The player can spend XP to buy upgrades for each company independently. The upgrades will grant different bonuses, giving each company a different specialty.
  • Ship combat is abstracted. The system seems simple as the player has no influence over it except with what ships they built and perks chosen when leveling their companies. There is also no visual representation of what happens as the results are quickly presented.
  • Undefended systems can be bombarded till the system is rendered uninhabited (there is no invasion mechanic, systems are cleared out and then colonised by the victor).

Media:

The game does not have Diplomacy in the traditional sense. Instead the player uses media to influence their own people and other races. Positive Media can be used to form agreements that help soften relationships and stall a war, while Negative Media can be used to generate events that increase your race’s desire to start a war. Once a player has enough Hate, Fear, or Greed they can declare war. The player can also offer a cease fire that will end a war early. It plays a pivotal role to stall wars you do not want to fight or provoke a war, or start one of your own.

It should be noted that the developers stated their intention to improve the media system during the Early Access period, as one can read in the roadmap below.

Galactic Inheritors | Media Manipulation

Roadmap

According to the devs’ roadmap, the game should be in development for at least 6 months more. As for the update/patching process the “plan is to patch at least one to two times a month, of course major problems will be fixed sooner through hot fixes outside that schedule”, states Chris King from Crispon Games.

A summary of the planned schedule:

  • February: Fix bugs in main game; improve the AI; upgrade to the interface, art and balance.
  • March: Ships and Combat. Improving and adding additional algorithms for combat which will improve diversity in ships and companies.
  • April: Improving Economic and Solar System management by expanding options available.
  • May: Media and Government improvements, this will improve what media can do, and even play a role in peacetime management of your empire. Also, expanding on diplomatic options, the game’s focus will remain “kill all aliens in due time” but some additional options will be added.
  • June: GUI and content, improvement to the GUI and the possibility of adding new content like new techs, ships, improvements, and the like.
  • July: Polishing and balance phase.

Galactic Inheritors | Corporate Improvement

First Impressions

It is hard to get a full first impression on a game this early in development. Overall, from what I have played the game seems a little thin. Since it doesn’t offer the wide scope of several different mechanics it is entirely dependent on its primary focus. The media system, though interesting, doesn’t seem to play a role outside of triggering wars. The development roadmap mentions improvements to the media system and this will be welcomed. I do recommend they focus on making Media play a significant role in the game outside of just manipulating declarations of wars.

The military and combat is another area they need to improve. A game that does not have traditional diplomacy, trade, or tactical combat needs something for the player to sink their teeth into. As mentioned earlier, Media is one realm they can expand on to improve the game. The other is to expand on the companies and ship variety. Abstract combat can still contain elements of player involvement. This is especially true for a game where war is the primary means to winning the game.

One aspect I did like was the small flavour texts one would receive when exploring or colonising a system. The exploration flavour texts were very interesting as they presented some of the lore of the setting and dabbled in some of the themes one would find in science fiction stories. That sometimes helped create the feeling that each of these systems may have had a history of their own further highlighting your achievements as you traverse space and settle new worlds. These flavour texts were minor, but they were still a nice touch.

As usual, Early Access carries a huge risk and players should show caution. The program is for the truly dedicated or the entrepreneurial individual who wants a chance to give direct feedback, but there is no guarantee the finished product will turn out the way the buyer expects.

Galactic Inheritors is available on Steam Early Access for $14.99 USD. The game can also be purchased on GamersGate, the Humble Store, Green Man Gaming, and Neuronzone. However, each of these distributors only give a Steam Key and the game requires Steam to install and play.

     Subscribe RSS

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


28 Comments


  1. Mark says:

    Simplified, abstracted ship combat hu? Player just watches with no input? Not even a movie to watch with ships going pew-pew at each other? How incredibly boring…. Next!

  2. Ashbery76 says:

    Once again another sci fi game that has little in the way of theme and visual immersion.The gameplay seems wafer thin too.

  3. SQW says:

    Why release a mid-alpha game as EA? Payed beta-tester? Running out of funds? If the game’s core gameplay is as generic and meh as it sounds right now, 6 months of polishing existing content most likely wouldn’t turn a C to an A.

    I think all the 4x indies are trying to hard too ape MMO or GalCiv. And EVERY SINGLE TIME the end product is something that falls short. You just can’t help feel every one of them LOVE 4x but lack the necessary skill to translate that love into an actual fun game.

    FTL made truck loads on a simple mechanic. Darkest Dungeon is still sitting on the steam top seller 1st page after 2 weeks and it didn’t get there trying to make a 2D Neverwinter RPG. I wish an indie studio can take a hard look at itself, see its own limitations and try to over come that using some ingenuity in the game design – not just aiming to do a low budget version of an existing classic and hope the starving gaming public will lap it up on nostalgia.

  4. Jodet says:

    ‘Visually the game is rather simple looking.’

    ‘Overall, from what I have played the game seems a little thin.’

    And they say understatement is a lost art.

  5. RandomBlue says:

    This game is extremely simplistic, has horrible annoying sound effects and a really long unnecessary end-turn animation with long animations for each ship as it’s moved. Those issues combined make the game frustrating to play at this point.

    I’m not sure why they would put in sounds that bad or the long end-turn animations at all. Surely they could’ve found much less offensive placeholder sounds.

    I did like the flavor text when exploring planets, but when you get several “extremely rare” binary star systems in a row it starts to seem like they implemented it in the most basic way possible.

  6. Jeff P says:

    Let’s see:

    Space lanes; check.
    No tactical combat; check.
    No designing your own spaceships; check.
    No diplomacy; check.
    Poor visuals and sound; check.
    Simplistic economy; check.
    Problematic UI; check.
    Bug-filled EA release; check and double-check.

    Looks like Crispon Games included every poor design feature 4X players complain about. What is the designer thinking? He may love 4X games as suggested by SQW, but to judge from Galactic Inheritors the designer hasn’t been paying attention to what gamers desire.

    I’m with SQW: indies would be far better served if they had a more realistic appraisal of their talent and capabilities and produced less ambitious projects. Galactic Inheritors is going to end up on Humble Bundle or Bundle Stars before it leaves early access.

    • SQW says:

      This is EA at its worst: a bare bone non-game with a few modules asking $15 in return for a lot of promises. It smacks of financial desperation on the dev’s part which means the game will either disappear into the eternal beta or finish in such a rushed, corner-cutting state that $15 of junk food would’ve been a better option.

      Why else would you risk releasing your pride and joy but is actually a barely coherent tech demo to the public and get canned by the preview?

      Darkest Dungeon did the absolute right thing in releasing its EA at the state the game was in. The devs did the hard, solid work, treated the project like professionals and is getting rewarded monetarily. GI, by comparison, feels like a late term project where the team is hoping for an extension.

    • Mark says:

      Lol, yes I was thinking the same thing. Its like the devs sat down and compiled a big list of all the worst, most unimmersive, game-destroying design features of 4x space games from the last 30 years and then used that list as the design bible for “Galactic Inheritors”.

      Basically if anyone wanting to make their own game did the exact *opposite* of every single design decision in GI, the result would be a pretty awesome 4x.

  7. True_poser says:

    Well, I’ll just repeat what I said elsewhere.

    The game at its current state offers a very intensive early game and a clever method for scout utilization.
    The game at its current state does not offer much more, as all other areas are underdeveloped.

  8. Gary Vandegrift says:

    Thanks for the review, Edward. Sounds like this game needs more time to bake in the oven :)

  9. SamDog says:

    Its just one bad 4x space game after another. Nothing interesting here–why do you bother reviewing these when they aren’t even finished? Its bad enough seeing a half dozen 4x space games complete (with only a few worthwhile).

    If its obviously second rate, at least wait til release to tell us about it.

    yours
    SamDog

    • These are not reviews, these are a combination of announcements, preview/game-info, and a first impression if time permits. SpaceSector doesn’t just do reviews, we do interviews, news announcements, and info-dumps on many games as they go through development.

      This isn’t semantic either, feel to click on any of our official review and you will see a massive difference. ;)

      As to why cover an E.A. game when it hits the digital shelves? Easy, because people ask for it. Not just on the net they ask for it right here in the forums or the comments section of other articles. Though many people do avoid E.A. games, there are a few intrepid risk-takers that are curious, and wishes to know from us what we think.

      If we chose to forgo coverage, then many will have to trust other sources or be in the dark. Though it is prudent advice to just wait for the release version and for a full review, they want to know about it now. It is not like a lack of coverage will dissuade people because as I said we had people already ask for some information about the game.

      Personally, the product is being sold (unfinished) and such people -do- wish to hear from trusted sources about said product (even if it’s unfinished). Being silent is not helpful for anyone as the knowledge of their existence spreads fast, what is lacking is reliable information about it. For those that are not interested to know anyways, you can just ignore all of it, nothing is lost for you. These articles are for the benefit of those that do want to know.

      • SQW says:

        Actually ‘if you don’t like it then ignore it’ is how we got the terrible micro transaction mobile generation and all the map/day-one DLCs. Once the norm has shifted, even the ‘good’ guys will have to follow.

        The question here is less why Spacesector is covering this EA but more why is this game even being sold on EA! At its current form, GI is unplayable, not fun and missing so much core features that saying they are seeking player feedback at this time is meaningless. Will the dev allow me to test this alpha with IOUs instead of real money? Don’t think so.

        There are good EAs (Darkest Dungeons, Prison Architecture, Starsector etc) and there these half-backed, badly thought-out 3rd year programming projects asking for not-inconsequential amount of money to the millions that use steam.

        • “Actually ‘if you don’t like it then ignore it’ is how we got the terrible micro transaction mobile generation and all the map/day-one DLCs. Once the norm has shifted, even the ‘good’ guys will have to follow.”

          That’s taking a statement out of context. The statement was meant that if the coverage of an E.A. game is not of interest to a given reader they can choose to not read the article as the article is written for the benefit of the readers that do want to read about it. I checked my paragraph structure, the intent was pretty clear that the topic of that paragraph was about the article.

          I NEVER said for someone to ignore the issue of E.A. and to infer that I did is incorrect. The poster asked why we bothered to cover the game and I was responding to that and ONLY that.

          Now if we want to discuss E.A. issues people can. It has been a discussion quite a few times and naturally there will be more in the future. However, that discussion can be had without misrepresenting what someone said in a related discussion.

          If anything, not covering the games would be avoiding the discussion. Even if the articles themselves do not focus on the business practices (our articles cover the game’s content primarily) the readers are free to discuss it in the comments.

          As for your point:

          Yes, too many games enter E.A. access and many times are far from being an enjoyable product. Many times we seen games gain little improvements in development as well, something we do mention in our final reviews when they do happen.

          This is why it is believed covering these game and giving a first impression if possible is important. We even tend to sign off the articles with a warning of the risks.

          Hopefully, the discussions that happen is enough to give people a better chance to know the dangers and to know what game’s to avoid or at least wait for further information before risking it.

        • SQW says:

          My apologies – I was speed reading it on lunch break.

          I’ve got nothing against the coverage or game journos. I lay the blame solely on the developers who seem to think KS and EA suddenly absolve them of proper business practice and this new ‘there’s free gold in them hills’ mentality.

    • Mark says:

      >>If its obviously second rate, at least wait til release to tell us about it.>>

      Why? I’d rather know *now* if a game is going to be horrible so I can be sure to avoid it and not waste money later. What is the point of keeping quiet about it. Who does that help? If you don’t like first impressions articles then don’t read them.

      SpaceSector is doing a very good job providing detailed information and information is always useful.

      • SamDog says:

        Mark;

        I guess I want to know too, but I am hoping someone will wade through the first cut of 4x game-spam for me. Maybe they have some kind of advertising contract that requires them to do “first looks at game spam” but if it gets too cluttered people will quit reading it.

        I’m a big fan of this site, and I have time to waste, but not everybody does.

        Just sayin.

        yours
        SamDog

        • “Maybe they have some kind of advertising contract that requires them to do “first looks at game spam””

          No we don’t.

          “but I am hoping someone will wade through the first cut of 4x game-spam for me.”

          How will not having the article help with that? You will go to Steam, see the game promoted and be like “I wonder that is like” but find no articles about it. This is like reading a review about a bad game and then asking why was it even reviewed in the first place. You know it is bad because of said review!

          “I have time to waste, but not everybody does.”

          Then let them speak for themselves, they do not need someone else to champion them. So either you don’t have time to waste and are genuinely complaining, or using someone else to justify a fallacious argument.

          As I said earlier, if you do not want to read them, or waste your time as you said, then do not read the article. The titles are clearly marked for this reason specifically. Naturally any website will have articles that are of no interest to a given person.

          Consider the following, what about the people that do want to hear about it now? What of them? If we do not cover the game to avoid wasting Person A’s time we’re not meeting the needs of Person B. However, Person A has the ability to not read said article and thus controls their own time wastage. Person B does not have ability to magically conjure a none-existing article to read. As such, said article needs to be written as the power to not read an unneeded article is entirely the reader’s responsibility.

          BTW this is not championing for someone else, I am meeting their requested need. As I said, people have asked for this coverage. Providing to your customers something they can not provide for themselves but you can offer is the primary purpose of any business to customer relationship. Managing your time is not, that is your own responsibility.

          Not everyone plays RTS games on this site, should we stop covering them? Obviously, we are cluttering the front page with all those pesky RTS articles.

          Not everyone likes fantasy (which we expanded into), so should we stop those too? Obviously, they too are cluttering up all the space game news.

          People come here to hear about space games, strategy games (fantasy included), and 4X games. The good, the bad, and the too early in E.A. game. What games to avoid, what games to buy. Reading about a sub-par E.A. game is not a waste of their time, and if it is they can skip the article.

          As I said, not having the article will not provide information to those that do want to know and they do not have the luxury of choice. Also, a reminder, this is not a hypothetic or us guess-estimating what our readers want. We actually been asked if we will cover this game.

        • SamDog says:

          Edward;

          Sorry for all the fuss Edward, and thanks for the steam suggestion.

          yours
          SamDog

  10. Redhowl says:

    I, for one, am grateful that SP does this screening and these insightful articles, otherwise I might have forked in the c£11 asked by the game. I will save my money and wait to see how this evolves.

  11. Ashbery76 says:

    After wasting my cash with Lords of the Black Sun I am no longer buying any space 4X based on perceived future features.Most indie 4x games in the last years have been mediocre to say the least.

    This game has mediocre written all over it imo.

    • Mark says:

      Calling it mediocre is *very* kind. The devs seem to have gone out of their way to include every single unpopular feature that 4x gamers generally complain about. Really makes you wonder what the hell they were thinking…… or not thinking as the case may be.

      • To be fair, I seen games that did include all the features and elements that people want and still came out poorly, very poorly. *coughs*LordsoftheBlackSun*coughs*

        It goes to show both concept and execution matters, and both are important in making a good game.

        Also, more focus is not an excuse for a lack of basic scope, and broad scope is not an excuse for a lack of focus. If your focus is shallow or your scope is sloppy, you will get a bad game. Weighing too much on one makes it that much harder to make that element good while the lack of the other will be noticed. You have to find the right balance and do each part well.

        Too many games are lopsided to one and ignore the other, or badly execute the side they were lopsided to thus effectively ending up with nothing.

        Concept, design, focus and scope (or depth and complexity), and execution are all important steps and all need to be carefully considered to make a good game.

        • Mark says:

          Lol good point, there have certainly been no shortage of absolute flops which promise a terrific list of features. These are usually the ones that everyone says had great “potential”. SOTS II comes to mind as a example, great ideas, incredibly bad implementation of said ideas.

          For these sorts of games, execution is another huge hurdle to overcome before a great game can finally emerge.

          On the other hand Galactic Inheritors doesn’t ever have to worry about the execution phase. Even if the concept is implemented perfectly, it will still end up sucking horribly with its SpaceLanes, shallow diplomacy and zero tactical combat. The potential simply isn’t there.

  12. sabiticus says:

    I like the EA articles. I like knowing about the features and such before a game comes out, and whether I want it on my radar or not. It also gives a better idea of the actual state of the game development. I almost never actually pay into an EA game, though. This one will not be one of those lucky few.

  13. Ermdog says:

    Game just came out and was wondering if anyone has picked it up yet? Totally forgot about this game, but looks good.


Related Articles:

Post category: Early Access, Game First Impressions, Game Previews