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Author Topic: Sins of a Solar Empire - Beta Musings  (Read 51123 times)
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Lockdown
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« Reply #40 on: May 22, 2007, 12:47:02 PM »

Short answer is yes.

Long answer is I would say it's certainly in a playable state for an early beta.  Though I'm not sure how much of the final product we are seeing at this point  (ship types, artificial intelligence, automation options, etc.); and I know that game design tweaks are beginning to manifest based on beta feedback.

Unlike very early beta's of the GalCiv series, this game is certainly a "fun" type playable right now.  Ironclad seems willing to try new things to see how they work based on tester feedback, so I would suspect the testers are going to see a bunch of changes in the game as time goes on.  I think the new release date is scheduled for Feb/Mar. of 2008.  If this holds, I'm guessing up until about October, we are going to see lots of feedback implemented for experimentation.  From what I've read, the last months will be dedicated to multiplayer testing and all that is involved in that. 

The neat thing about the beta, even at this stage, is that you can customize the galaxy and teams the way you want, and the A.I. certainly is at a point to put up a fight and make the game fun.  If it's too easy, you simply team them up against you.  If it's too difficult, you give yourself teammates.  Etc.. etc..

Quote from: Tals on May 22, 2007, 05:44:44 AM

Those videos look good - makes the game very tempting even in beta state. Persumably a lot of the overall control is helped by the audio cues from the pilots?

Earlier you described a stardock beta as being a proper beta - would you say the game was in a playable state yet - or still very much a beta?

Tals
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« Reply #41 on: May 22, 2007, 04:30:42 PM »

OK.  Need to correct something I said earlier which was wrong/misleading.

I had mentioned that I wished carriers could house more than 2 squadrons of fighters/bombers.  Well, they can.  When your Carrier gains experience and "levels up" - it gets the ability to house more squadrons.  I have a carrier in my current game that can house 4 right now.  I don't know how high is goes.  Not only that, but one of the abilities of the carrier that can be chosen upon gaining experience is to make your squadrons do more damage for a period of time.  I have this at level 3 right now, and again, have no idea how many levels this can go to.  I LOVE carriers in this game, as they can also be upgraded with an ability to place a missile station in the field of battle which functions completely on it's on, firing missile salvos at bad guys.



Picture of the TDN Lazarus - my (currently level 5) carrier.
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« Reply #42 on: May 22, 2007, 08:06:44 PM »

 drool
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« Reply #43 on: May 23, 2007, 02:53:06 AM »

Actually, I'm not too sure about this "levelling up" as the main way to differentiate forces.  It seems like they've taken the level ups and made them more like the things you should be able to purchase/manufacture as modules in a capitol ship rather than interesting abilities gained via crew experience.

For example, why are extra fighter squadrons only available to a carrier after levelling up?  Does the carrier somehow grow extra space on the flight deck?  Although yes, a more experienced crew could handle, launch, and maintain a larger fighter wing, but it seems odd that the starting carrier is so limited.

Having some sort of cap ship module system along with the experience system would be much more interesting in my mind.  Modules are researched and purchased with a ship, these include things like the Homeworld 2.  Carriers could purchase extra fighter bays, extra defense grids, advanced fighter repair bays, etc...  Then the benefits from ship experience would be things like:  More experienced launch, landing, and maintenance crew allows the cap ship to pack in a few more fighters per launch bay module, giving each fighter squad 1 or 2 extra fighters and perhaps faster launch and recovery times.

So basically, these leveling up upgrades as they are right now should be modules you could build and purchase for cap ships, and the experience should be abilities that let the crew do more things with the ship and its modules.

Also in this way there can be even more ship types since you could have a defense carrier loaded with point defense modules and only a few fighter bays, then another carrier could be some kind of super carrier, loaded with all possible fighter bays, and an extra experience ability that allows them to carry and launch more fighters per bay.

It'd open up new research options too where you could research the ability to include more modules on certain ship types, along with different module types.
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« Reply #44 on: May 23, 2007, 12:32:56 PM »

@ Turtle:  I don't disagree.  I think HW2's system is better.  However, the system used in Sins is easier, which might be why they went with the simplified system of upgrading.  I really don't know.  My memory is hazy, but in HW2 - when one upgraded the bombers and interceptors from the research tab, where they global upgrades, or tied to the mothership/carrier that created those particular squadrons?

Now, some more thoughts:

To update a bit:  I got that particular carrier up to level 8 at this point in my game.  No more fighter squads.  Which begs the question of is it capped at 4, or is it something else that is increasing the # of squadrons.  There is an upgrade option upon "level-up" that increases the squadrons to "Heavy".  I wonder if this is somehow tied to the # of squads.  I doubt it, but should look into it further.

As I get further and deeper into the skirmish mode of the game, I am also noticing two more things.  First, battles get pretty intense, especially as you get closer and closer to an enemies homeworld, and his defenses are more established.  It is kind of bizarre, because it's tough to compare this game with anything else I've played.  I'll use Homeworld 2, only because it's probably the closest thing I can think of.  In HW2, battles could take place anywhere in space, as there was really no "homebase" to defend so to speak.  One could argue you created your own homebase, based on where your mothership and shipyards were located.  So these needed to be defended.  Also, carriers in HW2 functioned like a barracks of sorts in most games, and could be mobile bases, for lack of a better term.  Then there were the asteroids where you got your resources from.  These were sort of like control points in a game of Dawn of War.   In Sins, you have actual planets/gravity wells that you can build shipyards around and defenses and such.  But "space" is empty, other than the travel lines.  If you have a 20 planet game, it's almost like you have 20 islands that you are either defending or attacking.  I'm not saying it's good or bad, just that it's different.

The second thing is, as I get further along, and battles get bigger, the real-time nature of the game really starts to show.  It's not so much about tactics as it is about the type of group you bring into the battle (which, to be fair, Blair and Brad have said all along).  So, depending on your feelings about this type of play mechanic, will probably effect how you view the overall game.  It's not meant to be a tactics game afterall, but a strategy game.  Like I said, I don't want to pounce on the game yet, as I don't think it's fair, but I'm wondering what we haven't seen yet that will add to the depth as you get to the later game stages.  The good news is, I have had a significantly "stronger", more expensive force, wiped out by what was in my estimation a much less expensive enemy force.  I can only assume this was due to the makeup of the enemy fleet being much more effective than mine.  I don't know. 

Perhaps I'm overanalyzing at this point anyway, as there is so much I still don't know about the final game.
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« Reply #45 on: May 23, 2007, 01:45:30 PM »

Quote from: Lockdown on May 23, 2007, 12:32:56 PM

@ Turtle:  I don't disagree.  I think HW2's system is better.  However, the system used in Sins is easier, which might be why they went with the simplified system of upgrading.  I really don't know.  My memory is hazy, but in HW2 - when one upgraded the bombers and interceptors from the research tab, where they global upgrades, or tied to the mothership/carrier that created those particular squadrons?

I'm just theorizing, but perhaps the design philosophy behind the "level-ups as upgrades" could be to encourage withdrawal of fleet units instead of leaving them to die to the last ship. Maybe the designers are trying to get you to emulate real-world fleet engagements which are decided long before all the ships on one side are destroyed.

One could argue that the same could be achieved using the HW2 style system of buying modules, but a player with abundant resources could still build carriers and modules and let them get destroyed just because he knows he can build more. With a "level-up" based system the player with more resources still needs to shepherd his forces because otherwise he'll end up with a lot of "first level" ships vs. the enemies "level 8" ships. Which brings up another dynamic - the interplay between quantity versus quality of forces.

Quote
I'll use Homeworld 2, only because it's probably the closest thing I can think of.  In HW2, battles could take place anywhere in space, as there was really no "homebase" to defend so to speak.  One could argue you created your own homebase, based on where your mothership and shipyards were located.  So these needed to be defended.  Also, carriers in HW2 functioned like a barracks of sorts in most games, and could be mobile bases, for lack of a better term.  Then there were the asteroids where you got your resources from.  These were sort of like control points in a game of Dawn of War.   In Sins, you have actual planets/gravity wells that you can build shipyards around and defenses and such.  But "space" is empty, other than the travel lines.  If you have a 20 planet game, it's almost like you have 20 islands that you are either defending or attacking.  I'm not saying it's good or bad, just that it's different.

Theorizing again, it seems as if the designers are really trying to make "sea combat in space". Drawing from real-world examples, it is really tough to get fleets to fight each other in battles of annihilation. Sea power is only useful with regards to influencing land power. Case in point: Battle of Midway. The Japanese knew the Americans would not engage their fleets in a stand up fight unless it was to protect a strategic land mass. Midway Island was that land mass.

Going back to the game, lets suppose we could fight each other anywhere we wanted, even in deep space. I see that you have a fleet out in deep space and you are daring me to attack you. I'd think to myself, "self, what does that gain me? Absolutely nothing. Lets go invade his planet and take his resources instead."

That brings up another question actually. When ships go into warp do they stay in warp until they reach the destination's gravity well? If so, does that mean you cannot change the destination of ships currently in warp? If that is true, then that brings up some interesting options for tactics involving feints and raids.
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« Reply #46 on: May 23, 2007, 03:12:10 PM »

Heya Ray... nice to see you around these parts!  It's too rare.

Your first point is valid.  It should be noted that you can upgrade your capital ships using resources instead of by letting it happen naturally via battle experience.  That being said, it certainly is not very efficient economically past the first few levels of upgrade, and does take time to accomplish.  So that is certainly a consideration regarding the importance of knowing when to withdrawl.  Also, if I am correct, a ships hull strength (hitpoints) is increased with each level of experience.  Again, doesn't make a lot of sense (as Turtle pointed out), but does support your theory.  Case-in-point... when I am in big battles now, I pay particular attention to the Lazarus (my level 8 carrier).  If I lost that ship in battle, I would be crushed, considering how awesome it has become.  If I notice an enemy focusing fire on it, and it exhausts it's shields and begins taking hull damage, I get it out of battle as fast as I can.  Part of the reason I am hoping they have some specific A.I. instructions you can give to specific ships as they further develop the game.  You could then have an Akaan Cruiser who's sole responsibility is to support your tricked-out carrier during a battle, and you could adjust it's A.I. to do exactly that... before you warp in.

Your second theory is also valid.  And from what I have seen so far, once your ships enter warp, they are stuck there until they reach their destination.  To come back requires them to turn around in their new location, juice up their warp drives, and then jump back to where they came from.  Much faster for smaller ships to do than for the powerful capital ships.  I do not believe ships can change direction once in the warp line, unless there is some high level tech that allows this that I have yet to discover.

Regarding feints - definitely possible, depending on the size of your fleet.  And the A.I. will sometimes do some really interesting things, which I don't fully understand as I don't know the implications of actions well enough yet.  Sometimes it will come after me with a fleet that is obviously designed to wipe out my defending fleet.  Other times it will come at me with just enough combat vessels to keep me busy, but focus on siege ships that go directly to my planets to bombard it into extinction (which can theoretically hit you pretty hard economically).  Other times it will completely bypass numerous planets/asteroids in my chain, because it has a specific goal in mind, which could be pretty deep into my empire.  Now, it has to be able to travel through my gravity well to do so, which takes time, but if I'm not prepared, it can pretty much travel through it with little to no resistance at all.  So as a player, you start recalling your forces to the awesome planet you think he's heading for, only to see him come in to an area you just pulled your fleet away from to take it over.  He sacrifices some of his fleet for the greater gain.  Now, whether the A.I. is doing this stuff cause it's that smart, or cause it's just flailing around haphazardly, I don't know yet.

  There are also transmission type structures that are described as influencing planets adjacent to the gravity well they exist in.  I have no clue what that means yet, but I'm sure that is a strategic factor that will need to be taken into account as well.



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« Reply #47 on: May 23, 2007, 03:46:41 PM »

Quote from: Lockdown on May 23, 2007, 03:12:10 PM

Heya Ray... nice to see you around these parts!  It's too rare.

Hiya smile. Due to work I only have time to respond to games or topics which have caught my eye, as this one has! Thanks to your writeups I'm very excited about the prospects for this game.

Quote
Regarding feints - definitely possible, depending on the size of your fleet.  And the A.I. will sometimes do some really interesting things, which I don't fully understand as I don't know the implications of actions well enough yet.  Sometimes it will come after me with a fleet that is obviously designed to wipe out my defending fleet.  Other times it will come at me with just enough combat vessels to keep me busy, but focus on siege ships that go directly to my planets to bombard it into extinction (which can theoretically hit you pretty hard economically).  Other times it will completely bypass numerous planets/asteroids in my chain, because it has a specific goal in mind, which could be pretty deep into my empire.  Now, it has to be able to travel through my gravity well to do so, which takes time, but if I'm not prepared, it can pretty much travel through it with little to no resistance at all.  So as a player, you start recalling your forces to the awesome planet you think he's heading for, only to see him come in to an area you just pulled your fleet away from to take it over.  He sacrifices some of his fleet for the greater gain.  Now, whether the A.I. is doing this stuff cause it's that smart, or cause it's just flailing around haphazardly, I don't know yet.

Most excellent! I remember back in the X-wing/Tie Fighter sim days that the Rebellion mission briefings would talk a lot about doing "hit and fade" operations. Many a time was spent raiding undefended Empire stations until the Empire fleet shows up, then warping out. I had high hopes that Star Wars: Empires at War would let me execute hit and fade operations on a strategic scale. Unfortunately the warp travel between points in EaW seems too quick to be able to out-feint your opponent.

However, SotSE has me intrigued. I wonder if smaller sized fleets can execute a raid in a gravity well and get out before larger forces can intercept. Also, sounds like smaller sized fleets can penetrate outer gravity wells, fly through them at sub-warp, and then warp to more vulnerable inner systems. Given that, it sounds like the strategery part of the game is going to be on out-guessing and out-maneuvering your opponent on the strategic map and then, based on your fleet composition, deciding whether to press the attack or retreat.

Definitely seems like I would be a "Grand Admiral in space" at this point. Me like!  nod
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« Reply #48 on: May 23, 2007, 04:14:13 PM »

There is another concept as well, that I haven't talked about yet because I haven't done it.  It is the possibility of quick warping from one star system to a completely different one.  This is something that becomes available relatively early up the tech tree.  I have not tried it because I have not played a game yet with more than one star system.  To trump this, there is also a technology that can be researched that lets you build inhibitors in the gravity well itself to prevent an opponent from quick warping away.  Therefore, you could theoretically "lure" someone in, and then give him no chance to quick warp out.  To counter this strategy, even higher up the tech tree is the ability to counter the inhibitor. 

Now, I have no clue how the mechanic actually works obviously, since I haven't done it.  But depending on how they implemented the warping, where you are warped to (maybe the stars gravity well itself?), how much control you have, etc... could create even more strategy options.  Also, if I remember correctly, there is also a tech that lets you do a coordinated warp.  (I read that in a forum somewhere).  I don't know what it means - but the sound of it is pretty cool. 

And one more thing regarding ships with lots of experience which is interesting:  Not all the special abilities are available right away.  Just as one example, if you look at this picture of the Dunov:  The EMP ability (which is potentially devistating) is not available to be upgraded to until the ship itself reaches a certain level of experience.   Imagine losing that ship after taking all the time to finally get it enough experience to get that skill?  Bummer, indeed.

« Last Edit: May 23, 2007, 04:23:16 PM by Lockdown » Logged

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« Reply #49 on: May 23, 2007, 08:22:09 PM »

On the other hand, they could counter the desire to sacrifice ships by making the experienced based upgrades more useful, whilst still keeping the idea of modules providing base mechanical functionality.

As above, say you have a Dunov with an EMP module, sure it's an EMP ship basically, it cost a good bit more than a vanilla Dunov too, but not an amazing ability.  But what if there were specific EMP upgrades to represent that crew's in depth knowledge of that module?  For example, you could increase the size of the EMP blast, or you could turn the blast into one that expands outward in an arc at the enemy instead of a sphere, then later it can be turned into a directed Ion beam which disables ships with pinpoint accuracy.

Also, as above I'm okay with crew experience meaning the ship can take more damage, you can attribute that took the crew positioning/preparing the ship to take less damage (armor deflection etc...) and the damage control crews being more effective.  It's also another reason not to sacrifice this ship.

So modules would provide base functionality, helping to differentiate two ships of the same class right out of the box.  Then the crew experience and path  you take with experience upgrades would turn base functionality into more deadly ships.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2007, 08:47:53 PM by Turtle » Logged
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« Reply #50 on: May 24, 2007, 12:03:54 AM »

The more you guys talk about this game, the more and more intrigued I am over it. Keep up the beta discussion, okay? It's really drawing me in.
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« Reply #51 on: May 24, 2007, 01:10:07 AM »

Quote from: Turtle on May 23, 2007, 08:22:09 PM

So modules would provide base functionality, helping to differentiate two ships of the same class right out of the box.  Then the crew experience and path  you take with experience upgrades would turn base functionality into more deadly ships.

Agreed.  I love this idea.  But I don't think we're going to see it.  So, what I am hoping for instead is just a lot more ship types.  Now, maybe what we could convince them to do is make the EMP (which by the way is just an example, as it's been replaced in the new beta) actually employ some of those ideas as you level up the EMP ability itself on that specific ship.  In other words, have a level 3 EMP have a bigger blast radius.  A level 4 EMP track.  A level 6 EMP have a recurring burst that keeps things down longer,  Etc...  (then again, maybe some of the abilities already do stuff like this... I need to check).

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« Reply #52 on: May 24, 2007, 02:21:16 AM »

Forum Effect.... I have now pre-ordered this game.  Keeps the beta discussion going!
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« Reply #53 on: May 24, 2007, 02:31:17 AM »

I dunno. I guess I don't have a problem with the whole experience thing because I see it (along with the module building) as a game representation of something thats a lot more complicated in real life. Think about it. People don't design carriers to only carry 2 squadrons and then retrofit them individually to carry more. They design a whole new class of carrier where every carrier in that class can carry 8 squadrons.

Lets say the Space Navy for whatever reason decides to individually upgrade different ships in the same ship class. Realistically one would still expect to have to bring that ship back to spacedock, take the crew off the ship, let the engineers work on it, put the crew back on, and conduct space trials with the new module to get the crew and ship re-integrated with each other. I certainly wouldn't expect the ship to "grow" a new module while out in space. Thus, I see this as a gamey representation of what takes navies years to do: build new ship classes to integrate new technologies and lessons learned from the last war.

Viewed a different way, I see the use of experience levels as the Space Navy's way of rewarding successful individual crews with the latest and greatest in technology. Given two Dunov class cruisers, one captained by Ivan McNewbie, fresh out of the academy, and the other by Mikhail "Bulldog" Halsinski, veteran of 5 battles and awarded the Nebula cluster for Bravery - which one would the Admiralty bequeath their new, untried EMP technology? I'm guessing Capt. Halsinski.
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« Reply #54 on: May 24, 2007, 11:32:05 AM »

Unless Captain McNewbie is married to the Admiral's daughter of course.  Then he would get the new EMP and "Bulldog" would get the shaft.
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« Reply #55 on: May 24, 2007, 12:28:51 PM »

Quote from: Lockdown on May 24, 2007, 11:32:05 AM

Unless Captain McNewbie is married to the Admiral's daughter of course.  Then he would get the new EMP and "Bulldog" would get the shaft.

Actually the Admiral's Daughter would get the "shaft".....

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« Reply #56 on: May 24, 2007, 12:41:28 PM »

While I am not going to preorder this one, I do hope Lockdown continues to post detailed stuff. I have some serious reservatinos with some of the core gameplay dynamics, but the whole concept and some of the implementation of this just looks so solid that I can't wait to try it.
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« Reply #57 on: May 24, 2007, 01:13:19 PM »

I don't want to derail my own thread here, but I've had a couple of private emails asking me about this game compared to Sword of the Stars.  So I thought I would mention it quickly here. 

First, I never played Sword of the Stars beyond the updated demo.  Therefore, I don't feel really "qualified" to compare them.  Second, I didn't particularly like the combat in Sword of the Stars.  Not a knock on that game in the least, just that ships seemed to blow up way too quickly and the overall feel of the combat was not to my liking.  I realize that is ambiguous, sorry about that.

Second, I would say the games are just different.  Sword of the Stars has concept I really like.  It's sort of the Total War concept of turn-based strategy portions mixed with real-time combat portions.  I personally love this type of game.  What this does is allow SotS to be deeper from an economic-strategy standpoint than Sins is at this stage in development.  SotS has those neat sliders for research vs. savings, and construction vs. trade, etc...    Sins has none of that.  Sins research tree is also not as complex as SotS at this point.  Sins has none of the individual ship building aspects of SotS either.  Sins is a realtime game with some really cool concepts thrown in.  Sins is still in development and I have no idea how deep it will get into some of the concepts that SotS has, if at all. 

So, it's hard to compare them because they are so different in my mind.  Everything about the way SotS is made tells me I should love it and it should be one of my favorite games ever; yet I get to the combat parts of the game and wince.  I don't know why.  Meanwhile, when you really sit and breakdown Sins, it's basically just another RTS with a deeper research tree than your average RTS, that has pre-set units that can be somewhat upgraded, is slower paced than most RTS's, and has potentially gigantic maps.  In my mind, it shouldn't really be all that great.  Yet I am really enjoying playing it, even in it's beta state.  Don't ask me to try and figure it out, cause I can't.

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« Reply #58 on: May 24, 2007, 01:31:29 PM »

Quote from: Lockdown on May 24, 2007, 01:13:19 PM

So, it's hard to compare them because they are so different in my mind.  Everything about the way SotS is made tells me I should love it and it should be one of my favorite games ever; yet I get to the combat parts of the game and wince.  I don't know why.  Meanwhile, when you really sit and breakdown Sins, it's basically just another RTS with a deeper research tree than your average RTS, that has pre-set units that can be somewhat upgraded, is slower paced than most RTS's, and has potentially gigantic maps.  In my mind, it shouldn't really be all that great.  Yet I am really enjoying playing it, even in it's beta state.  Don't ask me to try and figure it out, cause I can't.

If I could hazard a guess, its because SotS put the strategy in fleet composition and fleet movement, which is where it properly belongs in naval (yes, the closest parallel is blue-water naval battles) combat.  Which is different from land battles and hasn't really been properly portrayed in RTS form. Its a different emphasis from a traditional RTS, and you are enjoying yourself because the tension is high during fleet maneuver and fleet buildup, even if the battles themselves are somewhat lackluster.

So, unlike land battles, where the nail-biting moments are during the battle itself, as you constantly click here, there, and everywhere to exploit the terrain and out-click the enemy, the nail biting moments are during the execution of your grand scheme of maneuver. You send out your diversion fleets to outlying enemy planets, hoping the enemy takes the bait. You wait, and wait, daring yourself to wait just a little more, and hoping your diversion fleets survive long enough to make the enemy commit more ships to the battle. Then, at the right moment, you send your true invasion fleet at the real target and try to get your diversion fleets home before they are utterly destroyed.

Still, that's just a guess. I wish I was in the beta so I can find out for myself smile.
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« Reply #59 on: May 25, 2007, 05:57:13 AM »

Quote from: raydude on May 24, 2007, 01:31:29 PM

Still, that's just a guess. I wish I was in the beta so I can find out for myself smile.

Likewise, very tempted but just not sure whether the remote interaction of the fleets would appeal or not.

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« Reply #60 on: May 25, 2007, 01:11:13 PM »

If anyone's still interested in my discoveries, even though I posted those video links, here is more:

Last night was more testing stuff than playing, just to see what I've missed.

First:  I discovered waypoints.  These work pretty simple.  Target your planet and on it's little HUD you will see the option to set a waypoint.  This can be set anywhere in the gravity well of the planet, or even on another planet itself.  Any ship made from either the Frigate or Capital Ship yard will move to that waypoint immediately after construction.  If you targeted another planet, it will autojump using the most efficient warp line to get there.  You can also set waypoints within the gravity well itself for the "tactical" movement.  Select a ship, and shift click within the gravity well. [See picture below].

 


Also, I discovered control-groups.  Rubberband a group of ships, hit Cntl 1, and you have your fleet.  What's neat is, the game creates a little icon with the number 1 on the left for you to quick select the group at any time to issue orders.  Very intuitive and easy to use.  The picture above shows that I currently have 2 fleets.  The first fleet has exactly 5 ships in it (you can count the white pips to see this) and the second fleet has 1 ship in it.  Notice to the left of the [1] icon that the arrow is pointed sideways instead of down.  That means it's closed, and giving me the abbreviated view of the fleet.  If it were down, each individual ship would be represented with it's own icon under the white pips, exactly like the planets underneath are (those are all open, therefore showing me everything).  Of course, you can set those waypoints for entire Cntrl-Grouped fleets as well as individual ships.


Alright, next is this picture:



This shows what it looks like to have two stars in the game, instead of just 1, which is how I've been playing in order to learn the game.  If we use my previous analogy that planets are like little islands, then I would say star systems are like different continents.  Very far apart, and made up of their own little islands.  The planets under my control are in the bottom star system, and my color for this game is red.  Pretty simple to understand for sure.  Note that this is all done by zooming the mouse wheel.  Simple as can be.  For those wanting a more precise zooming (that is, less big jumps in zoom level with the wheel, you simply hit shift while zooming in and out - more useful for tactical battles than just normal play).  Notice this view does not show warp travel-lines.  But this next picture does:




What you are looking at here is a picture of the star itself, and the warp line from it to the other star system.  Of note is that I'm about halfway up the tech tree, and I do not have the technology to jump my ships from one star system to the next yet.  So even though you see a warp line, the distance is too far for my fleet to make the jump with it's current technology.  Remember also, I am playing as the TEC, the only race available to us at this point in the beta.  I have no idea if travel or tech is different for the other two races, or how much we don't have access to as far as possible travel abilities, if any.

These last 3 pictures are just for fun.  Two are battle shots, one of which is showing one of my carriers getting blown up.  The third picture is of me bombarding an enemy planet so I can send in my colony ships to take it over.







- - - -

OK.  The next thing I discovered is different battle orders for ships.  Like just about everything else in the game, these are pretty simplified (at this point, anyway).  Each ship has 3 options plus 1.  The 3 options are [gravity well], [local area], and [weapons range].  From what I can tell so far, these are, for lack of a better term the rules of engagement for the ships, and how they will handle enemies being in the same gravity well, if you don't specifically give them orders yourself.  The plus 1 option is for them to guard a specific ship.  In other words, if you highlighted your carrier and then righ-clicked on your battleship, the carrier will follow the battleship around.  I haven't tested enough to know how it will handle encounters when it's doing this "guarding" or how the rule of engagement options affect this command.  I will mess with this later.

The last thing I want to leave with in this post is that I am getting used to the interface finally.  It took me about 4 solid play sessions to say this, but my concerns about controlling the entire game, even though it's realtime, are almost completely eliminated.  So you figure, if it took me (the resident GT idiot) about 4-5 sessions, it would take most of you about 2.  It really is incredibly inuitive and easy to use once you learn it.



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« Reply #61 on: May 25, 2007, 01:16:32 PM »

Quote from: Lockdown on May 25, 2007, 01:11:13 PM

If anyone's still interested in my discoveries, even though I posted those video links, here is more:

You better believe I'm interested in your continual writeups. Write more and post more pretty shots! biggrin
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« Reply #62 on: May 25, 2007, 01:24:52 PM »

Keep it up!! That is an order! Goddamn the last update made me want this game. Like now.
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« Reply #63 on: May 25, 2007, 01:30:55 PM »

Waaaah! Me want in on beta! Me want in on multiplayer testing  nod
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« Reply #64 on: May 25, 2007, 08:22:21 PM »

Quote from: Calvin on May 25, 2007, 01:24:52 PM

Keep it up!! That is an order! Goddamn the last update made me want this game. Like now.

Likewise, it's starting to look very good.

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« Reply #65 on: May 25, 2007, 10:59:23 PM »

OK, I might start running out of things to talk about soon, so I may break things up into smaller chunks.  This little bit will be about Broadcast Centers and their influence.  Let me start by saying I have no clue how this works from a gameplay standpoint.  I can tell you what I did and what happened as a result, and maybe you can come up with your own theories until I convince Blair to come visit us here at GT.

This picture below shows what is called a Broadcast Center.  This badboy becomes available about 1/4 of the way up the research tree for the TEC.  It spreads influence to surrounding planets, whatever that means.



Now, what you actually SEE happening on the map is quite neat (look below).  You see these red lines that are spreading across the warp lanes from my asteroid belt?  Those are obviously influence lines, that much is obvious.  You can actually zoom out and watch your influence travel across the warp lanes.  It would seem to me the more of these buildings you build, the quicker the influence spreads, but don't quote me on that.  I can tell you that all was peaceful in my asteroid belt until the red influence line reached that unexplored planet to the left of the screen.  Not long after it reached there, I got a message from the A.I. telling me "If I were you, I would abandon Archeon".  Sure enough, about 1 minute later, here comes a small fleet of ships to Archeon (where my Broadcast Center is), and they immediately open fire.



What you can't see in this picture is that the influence can actually spread beyond the planet and continue along the warp lane on the other side.  I don't know how far it goes, or if multiple Broadcast Centers "boost" the range of your influence as of yet.  I don't know if there are ways to counter it, other than building your own Broadcast Centers, or anything regarding what it does to a planet as far as morale, or any other things that might happen. 
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« Reply #66 on: May 25, 2007, 11:08:12 PM »

 drool drool drool
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« Reply #67 on: May 25, 2007, 11:09:48 PM »

Quote from: USMC Kato on May 25, 2007, 11:08:12 PM

drool drool drool

Seconded...I can't wait for the second waves of Beta invites to go out biggrin  Good thing I pre-ordered this time ;D
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« Reply #68 on: May 29, 2007, 03:11:15 PM »

I played a bit over the Memorial Day holiday, but not a lot.  I discovered something regarding the economy.  In a nutshell, economy works like this:  You take over a planet or an asteroid.  These have an overall ranking of economy.  Each economic upgrade you make to the planet basically increases the potential population, which increases credits being generated (I guess sorta' like taxes).  Don't mistake this with something like GalCiv, because it's not nearly as deep.  Within each gravity well, each planet/asteroid also has a random number of lesser asteroids that either are mineral-rich or crystal-rich.  You put mines on these, and they auto-produce the resources that go into your resource-bank.  You spend against this collection.  If you don't have the resources to build/research something, you either trade for it on the market (very simplified at this point - think of games like Age of Empires or Rise of Nations), or you wait for enough to collect.  As you and your opponents buy/sell from the market, the trade value for credits is increased/decreased, based on supply/demand I suppose.  These ancillary asteroids eventually "run out" of resources though, and then your economy really takes a hit.  I had originally thought you were stuck at this point, and that could really put a damper on the late game.  However, this is not the case at all.

Enter the ORE REFINEMENT FACILITY.  [pictured below sitting in between those four asteroids]



This building is researched in the non-combat area of the tech tree, and allows ore-freighters to extract minerals/crystals from asteroids that have been depleted.  Now here is the catch:  These freighters must travel from each asteroid they extract from back to the Ore Refinement Facility itself.  This is obviously not as efficient as auto-extraction from the mines, but it does keep your economy rolling.  I do not know if you can auto-control the freighters, but my guess is you do not (in truth, I haven't tried).  The second a freighter is produced, it's out finding an ancillary asteroid and going to work.  They will even travel over warp lines on their own to gather, without any input from the player.  So the Ore Refinement Facility is sort of "fire and forget" I believe.  From an empire-management standpoint, this certainly makes things easier, if not deep. 

Strategically speaking, this adds to the late game options.  Strike forces set up by you to kill these Facilities and their freighters from an offensive standpoint, and putting up static defenses to repel these strike forces from a defensive standpoint.  I have yet to test out the "guard" feature to see if the freighters can be "escorted" as they travel to different gravity wells to collect, but I would guess it is certainly possible.

In other news - a Stardock representative that sometimes posts on the official forums said that quite a bit of gameplay content will be added in beta2 - as that is when the devs expect the beta testers to start testing gameplay mechanics in earnest.  If beta2 goes active sometime in late June (a guess) - you can probably expect a lot more to be learned about how things actually work and fit together.  I'm guessing it will add some depth to the game both strategically and possibly even tactically, depending on what exactly they will be incorporating into the next phase, which at this point is anyone's guess.
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« Reply #69 on: June 07, 2007, 04:56:38 PM »

OK... so this has nothing to do with my beta experiences (which Forza 2 has severely crunched at this time) - but it's at least the same game, which keeps it from being a total derail.

Shacknews did a relatively recent interview with Blair about the game if you want to check it out.  Some new information there, if not a whole lot.

Interview - Sins - Shacknews
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« Reply #70 on: June 07, 2007, 07:36:01 PM »

Ugh...when does the second beta start? frown
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« Reply #71 on: June 13, 2007, 10:26:18 AM »

Anyone have any views on how this game compares with Sword of the Stars - I have a hankering to get a space conquest game - just don't think I want 2 smile

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« Reply #72 on: June 13, 2007, 12:39:45 PM »

The very short, unhelpful answer is that the games are very, very different.  But...

I alluded to this earlier Tals, and since then have played much more of SotS, so I can probably more accurately address this now.  All these comments are based on the current state of Sins - which like I've stated before, is apparently not close to being feature complete.

GalCiv II - Completely turn-based game which is like Civilization in Space.

Sword of the Stars - Turn-based game for the strategic portion.  RTS for the Tactical battles.  Much like Rome:Total War in space.

Sins of a Solar Empire - Completely real-time for all portions of the game.  There is no game to compare it to.  Maybe Kohan meets Homeworld II in space, I guess.  [/shrug]

More on Sword of the Stars:  This game has ship design in its strategic portion.  You research stuff then design/build new ships based on your discoveries.  Sort of like GalCiv 2.  If you include the expansion (Born of Blood) - this game has 5 races.  You do not design new ships in Sins.  Sins only has 3 races.  Both games have the same concept of space being more of a travel area than anything else, although in Sword of the Stars, you can fight in deep space, but it's not all that common.  Both games rely on the gravity wells around planets to be where the action takes place.  Economy in Sword of the Stars is much more fun than Sins.  OK, so that is my opinion, but anyway...  Sword of the Stars has a super cool (pretty simple) slider system for economics.  You decide between Trade (savings) vs. Research as an overall indication of how your overall empire income is spent.  Each planet you own can then further break down (via sliders) things like money spent toward terraforming, infrastructure development, and ship construction.  IMO, it's much simpler to understand and more user friendly than a game like GalCiv II.  Sins on the other hand has a much more RTS style of managing resources, and since it's real time, resources are coming in constantly.  In Sword of the Stars, you can see your projected profit/loss at the end of each turn depending on where your sliders are at (much more like Total War). 

Battles in Sword of the Stars are like mini-events.  You and the enemy meet, a separate screen appears, and you are dumped into a 3d, homeworld-like battlezone.  In the single-player game, you can pause and give orders to your ships/armadas.  Combat is fast, so this is good.  If you have the proper tech researched, you can set up your fleet's arrangement before battle begins, like Total War.  You can group ships into strike groups like Total War.  You DO NOT have complete control of the camera though.  You can click on any ship, friendly or enemy, and use that as a focal point to rotate around, but you can't use the arrow keys to move the camera around like in Total War (this is was an interesting design decision on Kerebros' part).  By comparison, Sins is much easier to control from a battle standpoint, despite it being true real-time.  My opinion again. 

At this point in time, there is no question that Swords is a deeper game.  Economically, research wise, strategic options, etc...  I plan on knowing a lot more how Sins compares once beta2 starts and more features have been added for us to mess around with.   

I'm still not a huge fan of the tactical battles of Sword of the Stars, especially compared to Sins, but overall, the game is growing on me a lot, and I do think it is fun and worth the money.   The different setup options for how you want a game to play out are absolutely awesome, and flat blow away the Total War series for how you want your "campaign" to be.  (ie - short and frantic, or long and epic).

I guess the short answer is... If you think you would like something comparable to Total War in space, with a slightly less-than-friendly interface until you get the hang of it, you will probably like Sword of the Stars.  Sins of a Solar Empire is much more a true RTS, albeit much more deliberate and slower-paced, and potentially monstrous in size compared to most RTS games. Both games have some incredible set-up options in order for the player to be able to play quick, straight to the action type games, or long, drawn-out, truly epic campaigns.  Can't compare multiplayer yet, as it is not open for testing in Sins yet, in case you're interested in that. 

If you have specific questions, feel free to ask.

 
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« Reply #73 on: June 13, 2007, 01:20:54 PM »

I have tried the demo of Sword of the Stars 3 times. Keep in mind I am a huge 4x space game guy. I hated it every time. I am kinda surprised you speak as hihgly of it as you do LD, because I honestly have just found nothing redeemable about it-any info that might make me try it again?
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« Reply #74 on: June 13, 2007, 01:41:34 PM »

Cal - Regarding Sword of the Stars: Nope.  I really have nothing to say that could sway you, I don't think.  I tried the original demo 2 times.  Then I tried the updated demo 2 times.  All four times I thought the same thing:  "In concept, this game is awesome.  But playing it is meh."

Long story short... a friend I work with kept telling me I needed to spend more time with it and learn it.  He said it's the kind of game that grows on you.  So, I did.  And the more I play it, the more I like it. 

I like the economy sliders cause they are easy.  I like the designing of ships.  I really like the customizing of the game set up.  I like the streamlined strategic portion of the game.  I don't particularly like tactical combat yet though, as I think it's too fast.  Pausing is great, but I'd rather not do it.  I really like playing this with my nephew though.  He comes over and we play on the same computer.  I handle most of the strategic stuff (with his input), and he handles most of the tactical combat (with my input).  It's fun.  The toughest thing to get used to is the 3d strategic map.  What a ginormous pain in the ass that is.  The expansion added a 2d map type, but I haven't tried it yet.  I hear multiplayer is the bomb though, but I haven't dabbled in it yet.

I may start a thread and give some of my thoughts if I continue playing it and I think it's worth a write-up.  We'll see.

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« Reply #75 on: June 13, 2007, 05:01:52 PM »

I did'nt like the SotS demo either much but Im a huge 4x'r so I got the game. First 2 tries I still hated it. But last week I grabbed a new mod and the latest update and Im in love with it. I cant stop playing it. You can read some stuff I posted over @ OO in the SotS thread there if ya want. Ive been playing the hell out of it and Im really looking forward to SoaSE now too.
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« Reply #76 on: June 13, 2007, 05:46:38 PM »

Quote from: Daehawk on June 13, 2007, 05:01:52 PM

I did'nt like the SotS demo either much but Im a huge 4x'r so I got the game. First 2 tries I still hated it. But last week I grabbed a new mod and the latest update and Im in love with it. I cant stop playing it. You can read some stuff I posted over @ OO in the SotS thread there if ya want. Ive been playing the hell out of it and Im really looking forward to SoaSE now too.

Only visit OO trade forum. Can you please cross-post? It would be great to have that info in the SOTS thread here too.
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« Reply #77 on: June 13, 2007, 06:08:49 PM »

Quote from: Calvin on June 13, 2007, 05:46:38 PM

Quote from: Daehawk on June 13, 2007, 05:01:52 PM

I did'nt like the SotS demo either much but Im a huge 4x'r so I got the game. First 2 tries I still hated it. But last week I grabbed a new mod and the latest update and Im in love with it. I cant stop playing it. You can read some stuff I posted over @ OO in the SotS thread there if ya want. Ive been playing the hell out of it and Im really looking forward to SoaSE now too.

Only visit OO trade forum. Can you please cross-post? It would be great to have that info in the SOTS thread here too.

Would be pretty pointless IMHO - they have a number of people fairly stoked about SOTs in there - so DAEHAWK just posting won't give the full impact smile That said good to have impressions in here but certainly worth a quick look in the OO PC Games area if you can handle it  icon_lol
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« Reply #78 on: June 13, 2007, 07:51:13 PM »

Heres the last few posts Ive made on it..............

Well Ive reinstalled because of this mod. Id tried the game 2 other times and found it blah. But this time Im doing better. I read the wiki on the starting up stuff and installed the mod and a music mod. Its going much better this time. ive learned how to expand and what to research. Also ive learned about the importance of tankers so i no longer have 3 or 4 ships out there doing sublight trying to reach a planet only to get stuck there.

Also I can research a lot better now. I encountered a alien derelict on my last testing map. Thing destroyed 3 fleets before I finally took it out with a new fleet of upgraded armors. took 5 of them. I was hoping Id get some kool tech from it or that the planet would be a really nice one..like orion was in MOO...but nope..no stuff discovered from the wreck and the planet sucked Smile

But Im enjoying it now so thats all that matters. I think about it when Im away from the computer..wondering what to build next try or what kinda map to load up. Maybe evev a scenerio.


-------------------------------------

Well frak. This game I found another derelict so I waited till I built a salvage ship. Went and blew up the alien and got nothing. I forgot and left my salvager at home Sad

----------------------------------------

Should I concentrate on 1 weapon type like ballistic or beam or torp and skip the others or is a mix of them a good idea?

Are defense platforms worth it around colonies? I guess it would keep me from having to keep a ship there but dont they cost upkeep too?

And is there a way to place a defense platform at a planet with no colony? Id like to blockade chokepoints like I could in SE4 with satellites.

----------------------------------------------

I just won for the first time. ive fallen in love with this game. Well except for 2 annoyances ...1. Sometimes the loading of a battle can take me 2-3 minutes real time. and 2. When you win it just gives you a congrats screen..whoopee.

This game took me a good 8 hours to play. I killed off everyone to win. My last 2 fleets had about 30+ dreanaughts and battleships in them along with a multitude of support cruisers and destroyers. I had about 2 billions credits also. I usually always ran out of cash hehe.

heres a shot from my win screen.



------------------------------------------------

I cant stop playing this dang game! Its starting to interfere with me playing my other games. Take this game Im playing now. I thought Id try the Tarkas. they're supposed to be these military badasses. So i fire up a map and start playing. Hey these guys dont use nodes to travel around. Reminds me a lot of MOO. So Im playing and think that when this exploration gfleet gets to that planet there Ill just stop playing for a bit. Hey wait whats that at the planet?? Its The Swarm. Seems to be a minor alien that just happens to be around that planet. They live in a astroid and are like space bees. They swarm out and destroy my explorers.

So that starts me down a road of research trying to find a way to take them out. I researched a lightning laser that spreads from one enemy to the next like chain lighting. Neat. I send in a fleet of 4 destoyers. It works really well on the swarmers but does'nt do anything to their nest. Neither do the next 3 fleets I send.

30 turns later Ive found myself researching cruisers, heavy beams, fission torpedos, and turrets. Im ready to design my new ships and try again. I cant quit this dang game!

----------------------------------------------

Well a new snag. Id been equipping my ships with lots of new missiles. Now Ive ran into a new alien threat that has some kinda amazing anti missile laser system on their ships. Ive not encountered them before. They look like gray borg diamonds. Theres some kinda mothership that stands off and forms/teleports new ships in.

Lucky for me I have a super cruiser with a forward beam weapon that cuts through anything like butter. Just have to get in close and by then the mothership has brought in 4 or 5 smaller shipss.

I also lowered my time limit on battles thinking they would end faster. Well they do but that a problem now because as my ships get bigger it takes me longer to actually get in range to fight. So a round will end and then next turn its on again...and again and again. Its got to where I have to just hit auto resolve...and sometimes that does'nt go the way I think it would.
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« Reply #79 on: June 13, 2007, 08:04:18 PM »

My poor, derailed thread.  It cries!

(Just messin' - have at it guys.)
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