Empire Management For Dummies

Empire Management For Dummies

Sirian
Sirian

February 27th, 2003, 1:27 pm #1

Need help?


OK, forget the game manual. You may want or need it later to fill in the gaps of your understanding, but trying to read it for starters is asking for trouble. You will be hit with a lot of information that will seem disconnected. Don't waste your time. The first thing to do is jump right in.

Secondly, the "Master's Notes"? Forget those too. Turn them off. You can turn them back on later to get into the details, but even these are information overload.

I'm going to simplify things for you, on getting started.

Thirdly, if you've heard about how the "AI is supposed to be able to run the minor details for you", forget that too, for the time being. You need to get your hands dirty with a LITTLE BIT of manual labor first, so you can gain some basic understanding of what the gameplay is all about, and why these various numbers and sliders matter, and what they control.


Step One: Your ships. You start the game with two scout ships and one colony ship. These are "starships", which can travel outside your home system, as opposed to "system ships" and "orbitals" which cannot.

You need to give orders to your starting ships. Here you have your first decision to make: Do you, or don't you, risk sending out your colony ship to as-yet uncharted systems. The up side: you might get your new colony started sooner. The down side: there's a slight chance you will run into a "guardian" in a nearby system. That means your ship would be destroyed (it won't have time to run). Safest would be send the scouts ahead first. (We'll have to learn more to gauge the exact risks/rewards).

You issue orders to ALREADY FORMED task forces (groups of ships) from the galactic map level. Like this:



TF's that are "idle", awaiting orders, sit on the right hand of the star. Ships that have been issued orders to move sit on the left side of the star. This is just like it was in MOO1, for those who played it.

You click on your TF stack (if more than one, you have to select which one you want), then you point to another star and your ETA will be shown. You need to travel along the visible star lanes, sending your two scouts for sure. Send your colony ship to the "better" looking star, or in a third direction, if you're feeling bold.

Now you have sent your ships. They will take a couple turns to arrive.


Next you want to check out your home system. At this point, you don't actually want to play the game yet. You want to get used to opening and closing the various interface modules. This part IS confusing, so I recommend you just click on buttons, open stuff, close it, open it again, close it again. I did this for TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES, but once I got the hang of it, I knew how many screens that were and what type of information was located on each. Doesn't yet matter WHAT the info and options are for, you need to spend enough time moving through the UI now, so that later you don't get stuck for minutes on end trying to get to a specific screen.

The first major problem I had was how to GET OUT of the main planet screen. I finally figured it out, you can double-click on the star to go "up" from planet level to system level, and from system to galaxy. The white arrow below shows how to "get out of this damn planet screen" and get to the galaxy level, where you command your ships.




Once you have some comfort in the UI, and can at least get from the galaxy level to the system level to the planet level and back again, and have opened up the windows at the bottom of the screen, etc, then you are ready to survey your home system.

The most important thing in the early game is compatible planets. You need to grow your population in a hurry, just like Civ3. Well, how do you do that? In Civ3, you don't rush off to found cities in the deep mountain range with all hills/mountain tiles in range. You look for fresh water and fertile tiles and food bonuses. Same principle here. You want to find green worlds. Any kind of green will do.

IF you have any additional green worlds (besides homeworld) in the home system, then you may want to make a change to your "what to build" list. I'll explain in a moment.

Here's a shot of my home system in my first game. (This info is shown by clicking the Planet button at the bottom, or the F7 key). My homeworld is #4, there's a second green world at #5. The other six planets in the system turned out to be hostile, yellow and red. I'll eventually grab them, but they would be dead weight at this point.



The red-yellow-green slider next to the little planet pics is the only relevant info there for now.

You can quickly determine if any worlds are green by using the filters at the bottom. Click on "similar environment" to view only green worlds. You'll spend a lot of time on the planet screen, so get used to using these filters. They "overlap", so you can click them on and off to check all sorts of things. The "blockaded" option will eventually be VERY important, but more on that later.




Now we're going to look closer at the planet info. In the shot below you see my filtered list, showing only the two green worlds, including Home.



Fertility has to do with the average quality of the land for farming. Minerals has to do with the average quality for mining. Farming and Mining are the only two "gathering of resources" that your planets will do. These are approximately similar to "food" and "shields" from Civ. Without food, your people will die. Without minerals, you can't build anything. For some races, they eat minerals, and some eat a combo of both minerals and food, and these races have special concerns, playing differently from the rest.

Now... in some sense, none of this info matters, since if the world is green, you want it. Period. It could be the dirt-pooriest barren mudhole in the galaxy, if it's green you want it anyway. Although if you have more than one green choice available to you, you want to settle the better one first. This info is how you decide that.

The "size" is also important. Each "size" of a planet holds two DEA's (economic sectors). Deciding what you want your planets to be doing is the MAIN THING you will do in playing this game, even when you turn over day to day control to your viceroys (letting the game play parts of itself for you).

You absolutely MUST understand the DEA's, or you will be forever lost. And which types of DEA's will do better on which planets is largely determined by the info shown in the screenshot above: fertility, minerals, gravity, compatibility with your species, and size/population totals, plus any "specials" the planet may possess.

Ideally, you can get the most out of your empire by having your planets specialize. That is, you have your mineral-poor, highly fertile worlds produce mostly food, while the barren mineral-rich worlds do lots of mining. Planets with high biodiversity and certain specials are better for research, while planets that suck at everything can concentrate on manufacturing (importing the raw materials) or military training.

Problem is, if you opt for specialized planets, you have to know more, do more. You have to keep an eye out on the food supply, the mineral supply, etc.

Or, you can choose to have your planets "fend for themselves", with each feeding itself. Your less fertile worlds might have to farm the entire planet just to stay alive, though. And worlds with surplus fertility might see it wasted on low-yield mining DEA's since there's no need for the surplus food there. This method takes the least intervention from you, but it can be a lot less productive on the whole.

There is also a middle ground, where the game tries to get more out of the planets, but looks to local needs first.


For those of you play Civ3, think of it as the difference between "connected cities" and "unconnected cities". A connected city can import resources not available locally, improving its production. Also, the way the unit support works, the whole empire supports the units. Well, in MOO3, the same happens with food and minerals. If your total empire produces more than it consumes, no planets go wanting.

Well, this is a large part of how you play the game. You have to choose wisely on which planets to settle. Then you have to set up the DEA's on each planet, so that the COMBINED total of all DEA's on all planets meets all of your empire's needs. You can do this manually. You can also do it on the macro level by using the "Development Plans" under the Empire button. This part is daunting in itself, as there are a lot of ways to set up development plans. I don't have a handle on that yet. I spent my first night micromanaging ALL the DEA's on all my planets, to get a sense for how much of this or that I would need. If you don't know what the DEA's do and how many of each kind you need to get certain things done, there's no sense "setting policy" yet. Only once you understand how to make EFFECTIVE decisions about your DEA's and which kinds you want more of, will you be ready to start figuring out how to set the right policies to let the Viceroys take over the execution of your policies.


OK, now that you have some sense of what matters, it's time to get involved.

Before we go to the planet level and start tinkering, there's one more side of the game: diplomacy. The diplomacy is the one part of the game for which there is no automation whatsoever. You as player have to do this part, and if you are to be successful, you need to be willing to look in on diplomatic matters almost every turn. Well, this assuming you start in the Senate, as I did my first time up. If you start out on the rim and don't know anybody, diplomacy won't matter in the early game.

I decided to give diplo a go, so I contacted my Sakkra neighbors and offered a trade agreement.

Now the diplo part is really cool. No more "real time" chats across light years. No Civ-style haggling. You make your offer, send it, and then you wait. In a turn or two, a reply will come back. There ain't much haggling. You don't get to sit there and fiddle the price to the max. I really, really like this. It's one of the brightest spots in the game, IMO. A real step up, gives a good "empire" feel to it, like you have real neighbors, not just AI's with different faces but the same personality. Here's a shot of my first ever message being sent.




Next up: Getting Started With Gameplay.


- Sirian
Quote
Share

Joined: November 11th, 2000, 10:42 am

February 27th, 2003, 2:09 pm #2

I actually understand and did most of that after 4 hours. Still refusing to RTFM, tho, I have the readme file printed and might just glance at it to put me to sleep. Hehe.

Don't get me wrong, I'll eventually get inside the manual (or other sources) for some solid data once I feel I wouldn't be totally clueless reading the info. Ya, a different approach but I wouldn't have known WTH you are talking about a few hours ago

Only thing I need to figure out when I wake up tomorrow is how to assemble a ground troop and take over the few enemy planets I managed to defeat...

KoP



Quote
Like
Share

Joined: February 12th, 2003, 9:16 pm

February 27th, 2003, 2:41 pm #3

Need help?


OK, forget the game manual. You may want or need it later to fill in the gaps of your understanding, but trying to read it for starters is asking for trouble. You will be hit with a lot of information that will seem disconnected. Don't waste your time. The first thing to do is jump right in.

Secondly, the "Master's Notes"? Forget those too. Turn them off. You can turn them back on later to get into the details, but even these are information overload.

I'm going to simplify things for you, on getting started.

Thirdly, if you've heard about how the "AI is supposed to be able to run the minor details for you", forget that too, for the time being. You need to get your hands dirty with a LITTLE BIT of manual labor first, so you can gain some basic understanding of what the gameplay is all about, and why these various numbers and sliders matter, and what they control.


Step One: Your ships. You start the game with two scout ships and one colony ship. These are "starships", which can travel outside your home system, as opposed to "system ships" and "orbitals" which cannot.

You need to give orders to your starting ships. Here you have your first decision to make: Do you, or don't you, risk sending out your colony ship to as-yet uncharted systems. The up side: you might get your new colony started sooner. The down side: there's a slight chance you will run into a "guardian" in a nearby system. That means your ship would be destroyed (it won't have time to run). Safest would be send the scouts ahead first. (We'll have to learn more to gauge the exact risks/rewards).

You issue orders to ALREADY FORMED task forces (groups of ships) from the galactic map level. Like this:



TF's that are "idle", awaiting orders, sit on the right hand of the star. Ships that have been issued orders to move sit on the left side of the star. This is just like it was in MOO1, for those who played it.

You click on your TF stack (if more than one, you have to select which one you want), then you point to another star and your ETA will be shown. You need to travel along the visible star lanes, sending your two scouts for sure. Send your colony ship to the "better" looking star, or in a third direction, if you're feeling bold.

Now you have sent your ships. They will take a couple turns to arrive.


Next you want to check out your home system. At this point, you don't actually want to play the game yet. You want to get used to opening and closing the various interface modules. This part IS confusing, so I recommend you just click on buttons, open stuff, close it, open it again, close it again. I did this for TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES, but once I got the hang of it, I knew how many screens that were and what type of information was located on each. Doesn't yet matter WHAT the info and options are for, you need to spend enough time moving through the UI now, so that later you don't get stuck for minutes on end trying to get to a specific screen.

The first major problem I had was how to GET OUT of the main planet screen. I finally figured it out, you can double-click on the star to go "up" from planet level to system level, and from system to galaxy. The white arrow below shows how to "get out of this damn planet screen" and get to the galaxy level, where you command your ships.




Once you have some comfort in the UI, and can at least get from the galaxy level to the system level to the planet level and back again, and have opened up the windows at the bottom of the screen, etc, then you are ready to survey your home system.

The most important thing in the early game is compatible planets. You need to grow your population in a hurry, just like Civ3. Well, how do you do that? In Civ3, you don't rush off to found cities in the deep mountain range with all hills/mountain tiles in range. You look for fresh water and fertile tiles and food bonuses. Same principle here. You want to find green worlds. Any kind of green will do.

IF you have any additional green worlds (besides homeworld) in the home system, then you may want to make a change to your "what to build" list. I'll explain in a moment.

Here's a shot of my home system in my first game. (This info is shown by clicking the Planet button at the bottom, or the F7 key). My homeworld is #4, there's a second green world at #5. The other six planets in the system turned out to be hostile, yellow and red. I'll eventually grab them, but they would be dead weight at this point.



The red-yellow-green slider next to the little planet pics is the only relevant info there for now.

You can quickly determine if any worlds are green by using the filters at the bottom. Click on "similar environment" to view only green worlds. You'll spend a lot of time on the planet screen, so get used to using these filters. They "overlap", so you can click them on and off to check all sorts of things. The "blockaded" option will eventually be VERY important, but more on that later.




Now we're going to look closer at the planet info. In the shot below you see my filtered list, showing only the two green worlds, including Home.



Fertility has to do with the average quality of the land for farming. Minerals has to do with the average quality for mining. Farming and Mining are the only two "gathering of resources" that your planets will do. These are approximately similar to "food" and "shields" from Civ. Without food, your people will die. Without minerals, you can't build anything. For some races, they eat minerals, and some eat a combo of both minerals and food, and these races have special concerns, playing differently from the rest.

Now... in some sense, none of this info matters, since if the world is green, you want it. Period. It could be the dirt-pooriest barren mudhole in the galaxy, if it's green you want it anyway. Although if you have more than one green choice available to you, you want to settle the better one first. This info is how you decide that.

The "size" is also important. Each "size" of a planet holds two DEA's (economic sectors). Deciding what you want your planets to be doing is the MAIN THING you will do in playing this game, even when you turn over day to day control to your viceroys (letting the game play parts of itself for you).

You absolutely MUST understand the DEA's, or you will be forever lost. And which types of DEA's will do better on which planets is largely determined by the info shown in the screenshot above: fertility, minerals, gravity, compatibility with your species, and size/population totals, plus any "specials" the planet may possess.

Ideally, you can get the most out of your empire by having your planets specialize. That is, you have your mineral-poor, highly fertile worlds produce mostly food, while the barren mineral-rich worlds do lots of mining. Planets with high biodiversity and certain specials are better for research, while planets that suck at everything can concentrate on manufacturing (importing the raw materials) or military training.

Problem is, if you opt for specialized planets, you have to know more, do more. You have to keep an eye out on the food supply, the mineral supply, etc.

Or, you can choose to have your planets "fend for themselves", with each feeding itself. Your less fertile worlds might have to farm the entire planet just to stay alive, though. And worlds with surplus fertility might see it wasted on low-yield mining DEA's since there's no need for the surplus food there. This method takes the least intervention from you, but it can be a lot less productive on the whole.

There is also a middle ground, where the game tries to get more out of the planets, but looks to local needs first.


For those of you play Civ3, think of it as the difference between "connected cities" and "unconnected cities". A connected city can import resources not available locally, improving its production. Also, the way the unit support works, the whole empire supports the units. Well, in MOO3, the same happens with food and minerals. If your total empire produces more than it consumes, no planets go wanting.

Well, this is a large part of how you play the game. You have to choose wisely on which planets to settle. Then you have to set up the DEA's on each planet, so that the COMBINED total of all DEA's on all planets meets all of your empire's needs. You can do this manually. You can also do it on the macro level by using the "Development Plans" under the Empire button. This part is daunting in itself, as there are a lot of ways to set up development plans. I don't have a handle on that yet. I spent my first night micromanaging ALL the DEA's on all my planets, to get a sense for how much of this or that I would need. If you don't know what the DEA's do and how many of each kind you need to get certain things done, there's no sense "setting policy" yet. Only once you understand how to make EFFECTIVE decisions about your DEA's and which kinds you want more of, will you be ready to start figuring out how to set the right policies to let the Viceroys take over the execution of your policies.


OK, now that you have some sense of what matters, it's time to get involved.

Before we go to the planet level and start tinkering, there's one more side of the game: diplomacy. The diplomacy is the one part of the game for which there is no automation whatsoever. You as player have to do this part, and if you are to be successful, you need to be willing to look in on diplomatic matters almost every turn. Well, this assuming you start in the Senate, as I did my first time up. If you start out on the rim and don't know anybody, diplomacy won't matter in the early game.

I decided to give diplo a go, so I contacted my Sakkra neighbors and offered a trade agreement.

Now the diplo part is really cool. No more "real time" chats across light years. No Civ-style haggling. You make your offer, send it, and then you wait. In a turn or two, a reply will come back. There ain't much haggling. You don't get to sit there and fiddle the price to the max. I really, really like this. It's one of the brightest spots in the game, IMO. A real step up, gives a good "empire" feel to it, like you have real neighbors, not just AI's with different faces but the same personality. Here's a shot of my first ever message being sent.




Next up: Getting Started With Gameplay.


- Sirian
Few quick tips in addition:

The "-" key will bring you one menu up from wherever you are.

The "g" key will bring you back to the galatic star map.

I used these constantly trying to get from one screen to another.

-Brack
Last edited by Brackard on February 27th, 2003, 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Sirian
Sirian

February 27th, 2003, 3:06 pm #4

Need help?


OK, forget the game manual. You may want or need it later to fill in the gaps of your understanding, but trying to read it for starters is asking for trouble. You will be hit with a lot of information that will seem disconnected. Don't waste your time. The first thing to do is jump right in.

Secondly, the "Master's Notes"? Forget those too. Turn them off. You can turn them back on later to get into the details, but even these are information overload.

I'm going to simplify things for you, on getting started.

Thirdly, if you've heard about how the "AI is supposed to be able to run the minor details for you", forget that too, for the time being. You need to get your hands dirty with a LITTLE BIT of manual labor first, so you can gain some basic understanding of what the gameplay is all about, and why these various numbers and sliders matter, and what they control.


Step One: Your ships. You start the game with two scout ships and one colony ship. These are "starships", which can travel outside your home system, as opposed to "system ships" and "orbitals" which cannot.

You need to give orders to your starting ships. Here you have your first decision to make: Do you, or don't you, risk sending out your colony ship to as-yet uncharted systems. The up side: you might get your new colony started sooner. The down side: there's a slight chance you will run into a "guardian" in a nearby system. That means your ship would be destroyed (it won't have time to run). Safest would be send the scouts ahead first. (We'll have to learn more to gauge the exact risks/rewards).

You issue orders to ALREADY FORMED task forces (groups of ships) from the galactic map level. Like this:



TF's that are "idle", awaiting orders, sit on the right hand of the star. Ships that have been issued orders to move sit on the left side of the star. This is just like it was in MOO1, for those who played it.

You click on your TF stack (if more than one, you have to select which one you want), then you point to another star and your ETA will be shown. You need to travel along the visible star lanes, sending your two scouts for sure. Send your colony ship to the "better" looking star, or in a third direction, if you're feeling bold.

Now you have sent your ships. They will take a couple turns to arrive.


Next you want to check out your home system. At this point, you don't actually want to play the game yet. You want to get used to opening and closing the various interface modules. This part IS confusing, so I recommend you just click on buttons, open stuff, close it, open it again, close it again. I did this for TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES, but once I got the hang of it, I knew how many screens that were and what type of information was located on each. Doesn't yet matter WHAT the info and options are for, you need to spend enough time moving through the UI now, so that later you don't get stuck for minutes on end trying to get to a specific screen.

The first major problem I had was how to GET OUT of the main planet screen. I finally figured it out, you can double-click on the star to go "up" from planet level to system level, and from system to galaxy. The white arrow below shows how to "get out of this damn planet screen" and get to the galaxy level, where you command your ships.




Once you have some comfort in the UI, and can at least get from the galaxy level to the system level to the planet level and back again, and have opened up the windows at the bottom of the screen, etc, then you are ready to survey your home system.

The most important thing in the early game is compatible planets. You need to grow your population in a hurry, just like Civ3. Well, how do you do that? In Civ3, you don't rush off to found cities in the deep mountain range with all hills/mountain tiles in range. You look for fresh water and fertile tiles and food bonuses. Same principle here. You want to find green worlds. Any kind of green will do.

IF you have any additional green worlds (besides homeworld) in the home system, then you may want to make a change to your "what to build" list. I'll explain in a moment.

Here's a shot of my home system in my first game. (This info is shown by clicking the Planet button at the bottom, or the F7 key). My homeworld is #4, there's a second green world at #5. The other six planets in the system turned out to be hostile, yellow and red. I'll eventually grab them, but they would be dead weight at this point.



The red-yellow-green slider next to the little planet pics is the only relevant info there for now.

You can quickly determine if any worlds are green by using the filters at the bottom. Click on "similar environment" to view only green worlds. You'll spend a lot of time on the planet screen, so get used to using these filters. They "overlap", so you can click them on and off to check all sorts of things. The "blockaded" option will eventually be VERY important, but more on that later.




Now we're going to look closer at the planet info. In the shot below you see my filtered list, showing only the two green worlds, including Home.



Fertility has to do with the average quality of the land for farming. Minerals has to do with the average quality for mining. Farming and Mining are the only two "gathering of resources" that your planets will do. These are approximately similar to "food" and "shields" from Civ. Without food, your people will die. Without minerals, you can't build anything. For some races, they eat minerals, and some eat a combo of both minerals and food, and these races have special concerns, playing differently from the rest.

Now... in some sense, none of this info matters, since if the world is green, you want it. Period. It could be the dirt-pooriest barren mudhole in the galaxy, if it's green you want it anyway. Although if you have more than one green choice available to you, you want to settle the better one first. This info is how you decide that.

The "size" is also important. Each "size" of a planet holds two DEA's (economic sectors). Deciding what you want your planets to be doing is the MAIN THING you will do in playing this game, even when you turn over day to day control to your viceroys (letting the game play parts of itself for you).

You absolutely MUST understand the DEA's, or you will be forever lost. And which types of DEA's will do better on which planets is largely determined by the info shown in the screenshot above: fertility, minerals, gravity, compatibility with your species, and size/population totals, plus any "specials" the planet may possess.

Ideally, you can get the most out of your empire by having your planets specialize. That is, you have your mineral-poor, highly fertile worlds produce mostly food, while the barren mineral-rich worlds do lots of mining. Planets with high biodiversity and certain specials are better for research, while planets that suck at everything can concentrate on manufacturing (importing the raw materials) or military training.

Problem is, if you opt for specialized planets, you have to know more, do more. You have to keep an eye out on the food supply, the mineral supply, etc.

Or, you can choose to have your planets "fend for themselves", with each feeding itself. Your less fertile worlds might have to farm the entire planet just to stay alive, though. And worlds with surplus fertility might see it wasted on low-yield mining DEA's since there's no need for the surplus food there. This method takes the least intervention from you, but it can be a lot less productive on the whole.

There is also a middle ground, where the game tries to get more out of the planets, but looks to local needs first.


For those of you play Civ3, think of it as the difference between "connected cities" and "unconnected cities". A connected city can import resources not available locally, improving its production. Also, the way the unit support works, the whole empire supports the units. Well, in MOO3, the same happens with food and minerals. If your total empire produces more than it consumes, no planets go wanting.

Well, this is a large part of how you play the game. You have to choose wisely on which planets to settle. Then you have to set up the DEA's on each planet, so that the COMBINED total of all DEA's on all planets meets all of your empire's needs. You can do this manually. You can also do it on the macro level by using the "Development Plans" under the Empire button. This part is daunting in itself, as there are a lot of ways to set up development plans. I don't have a handle on that yet. I spent my first night micromanaging ALL the DEA's on all my planets, to get a sense for how much of this or that I would need. If you don't know what the DEA's do and how many of each kind you need to get certain things done, there's no sense "setting policy" yet. Only once you understand how to make EFFECTIVE decisions about your DEA's and which kinds you want more of, will you be ready to start figuring out how to set the right policies to let the Viceroys take over the execution of your policies.


OK, now that you have some sense of what matters, it's time to get involved.

Before we go to the planet level and start tinkering, there's one more side of the game: diplomacy. The diplomacy is the one part of the game for which there is no automation whatsoever. You as player have to do this part, and if you are to be successful, you need to be willing to look in on diplomatic matters almost every turn. Well, this assuming you start in the Senate, as I did my first time up. If you start out on the rim and don't know anybody, diplomacy won't matter in the early game.

I decided to give diplo a go, so I contacted my Sakkra neighbors and offered a trade agreement.

Now the diplo part is really cool. No more "real time" chats across light years. No Civ-style haggling. You make your offer, send it, and then you wait. In a turn or two, a reply will come back. There ain't much haggling. You don't get to sit there and fiddle the price to the max. I really, really like this. It's one of the brightest spots in the game, IMO. A real step up, gives a good "empire" feel to it, like you have real neighbors, not just AI's with different faces but the same personality. Here's a shot of my first ever message being sent.




Next up: Getting Started With Gameplay.


- Sirian
Once you've become at least somewhat comfortable moving between the various screens, and you have sent off your ships and handled any Senate-related diplo offers you want to make, it's time to go to your homeworld and decide how to spend your crucial early turns.

There are only two controls that matter in the early turns: the two sliders shown with pink arrows:



The upper slider is your Military Spending. This controls how quickly you build the items in your build list (additional scouts and colony ships). The lower slider is your Local Development control. This determines how much is spent on DEA construction.

Note, both of these are planetary controls, they affect only this planet. (You only have one planet to start, though).

Now, how do you know WHAT to set these sliders at? The two figures in the orange circle are the relevant numbers. The top is your "current treasury" and the bottom is your "projected treasury" for next round, based on what you do with the sliders. If you spend less now, you'll save more for later use. If you spend more now, you'll have less extra for later.

In classic MOO1 style, I wanted to spend all my early turns maxing productivity, so that I could get more total colony ships produced more quickly, even at the cost of slowing the first couple of them. (In Civ3 terms, building a granary early).

SO... what I did here (as you can see) is to put all the available resources on the lower slider. The "Ending Bank" figure is what I used to gauge. I stopped adding when the Ending Bank was about the same as the Starting Bank. That is, all of the income on this round would be spent on production this round, but no extra spending from the treasury. And it was all going into DEA construction for now.

I let the planetary Viceroy pick the DEA's it wanted, to see what it would pick, and watch the results. It chose to build extra industry and mining DEA's.

The Green arrow points to the subpanel that shows you the planet, region by region. Here you can micromanage the DEA's if you wish (and you need to at least once, IMO, to get a sense of how they work). If you go in there, you'll note that some areas are mountainous, others flat, some more fertile, some more barren. Some regions may have specials. This is the screen where you can determine how to get the most out of a given world by deciding which kinds of DEA's it will have, how many and in which regions.

Two special considerations: A government DEA on almost every world is a good idea, since these reduce unrest, improve planetary defenses (the enemy must capture all governmental DEA's to take a world) and you can build governmental specials like "system seat of government" that give bonuses and other effects. Secondly, you have to consider your race. If your race is prone to unrest, then you may need military and recreation DEA's on all your worlds just to maintain control. (Planets CAN secede from your empire, and even them just going into unrest or revolt is bad enough).

The yellow arrow in the shot above is where you go (after opening the Economics panel, of course) to manage your military queue: in this case, which ships to build.

Finally, the red circle in the upper right shows where the food and minerals numbers are. If the "produced" is less than the "need", you've got to import from other worlds. If a planet that needs imports gets blockaded by a rival fleet, that can be Very Bad(TM). Even worse, if your main farming planet gets blockaded, you could have several mining worlds starving (if you specialize). This is pretty much the only real down side to a specialized economy: it is more vulnerable to attack. IMO, it's probably worth it, though. After all, if you go with max independence for your worlds, all the games will play somewhat alike. If you specialize, each galaxy will offer new and unique challenges on balancing out your empire's needs with its production and available worlds.


Now, you always want to send your first colony ship outside the home system. That's because it's a star ship, with interstellar engines. You can build system colony ships cheaper than colony starships. And if you have any green worlds in your home system (besides home itself) you MAY want to settle those first. Not only are the local colony ships cheaper, but there is no travel time. The sooner you get green worlds started, the sooner your population increases, etc.



Sadly, building queues only three items deep? Who's idea was that? They ought to be hung by the ears.

I had one extra green world in my home system, so I erased the default to-build items and put a local colony ship first, then more colony starships.

These won't have ANYthing done on them to start, as I'm filling out DEA's at my best rate, but unlike MOO1 it doesn't take long to get your homeworld up to full speed, at which time you can put everything you have into colony ship building, at least for a while.


OK, so that was my first turn. I think it only took two hours.

* Sent my ships.
* Learned the User Interface (UI).
* Sent diplo offers.
* Maxed spending on DEA's.
* Changed the build queue to match my colonization policy.


Here's the SitRep from Turn 2:



This is a rare event: a senate bill of actual importance. I didn't realize how rare a bill like this would be, at the time.



I seconded the bill, and it was voted on and passed.


Hmm, now here's a curiosity:



That's my homeworld balance sheet on turn 2. Notice the Starting Bank. Hey, that's way more than I was told it would be. Apparently, these numbers DO lie a bit, in the sense that they project based on the current population and "grant status". If your pop is growing (insects grow a lot) apparently you get a happy surprise with an unforecasted surplus.

I don't yet know how, or to what degree, this will affect sound early decisions. Apparently, you can't even trust the numbers in some cases, you have to figure out trends and other factors, and be able to extrapolate what the real numbers will be, if you want to micromanage every shred of early growth improvement.

On turn 3, a DEA completed. The Sakkra actually signed that awax trade agreement. Oh, and I got the first of a kazillion "protests against new technology" that slowed research. I guess that's part of being an insect. I presume other races don't get several of those "bad news" tech notices each turn. Ha! Well, I knew I was taking on the worst researching race in the game, so I have nothing to complain about. Who needs research if you have 8x the next guy's population, right? Right!




OK, now to my chagrin, my colony ship did NOT settle upon arriving in the newly explored system. This began my second Frustrating Experience. (First had been trying to "get back out of this damn planet screen", if you recall from Chapter One).

ARRGH! HOW DO I GET THE DAMN COLONY SHIP TO SETTLE A WORLD?

Even when I thought I had it figured out, I didn't.

Here's the start of the answer: you need to use the planet screen under the Planet tab. There's a recessed panel there, called "Orders", that you have to use to control the colonization AI. See, you can't colonize anything directly. ONLY THE AI CAN DO IT. (As far as I can tell so far). If you know how to control the AI effectively, you can get what you want done. If you don't, you can't.



The orange arrow points to the orders tab.

Now, just go through the planet list and check "Send Colony Ship" to every planet you want to settle, right? BZZT! Wrong-o. Dead wrong. Beat your head on the wall until your eyes pop out kind of wrong. Not going to happen.

If you check mark multiple planets, it will send all new colony ships to the first one, until it has been settled. This could end up with several of your ships going to the same place. This is Very Bad(TM).

What you need to do is to check ONE planet at a time for "Send Colony Ship", and you have to do it in advance. That way when a new colony ship is built, your generals already have orders and it is dispatched immediately. If you wait until after the ship has been assigned to a task force, it WILL cost you at least one extra turn to found your colony, as you cannot combine (that I can tell) the "send ship to this star" order with the "colonize this planet" order. That can only be done (that I have seen) in advance.

Thus the procedure I worked out was to mark one planet at a time, and as soon as SitRep said a colony task force was dispacthed to that location, immediate unmark that world and mark the next one I wanted.

So much for the AI REDUCING micromagagement! If you want to colonize specific worlds, you have to spend three times the effort micromanaging the AI than you used to in MOO1 with the "Go here and settle" one click no-fuss method.

In fact, this lack of direct ability to order a TF to colonize is one of the worst things I've seen on my first night. It's completely senseless that you have to jump through these hoops, IMHO. But... at least you can. At least there IS a way, and it took me two hours before I figured it out.


My third Great Arrgh Moment came when I built my first combat starship. I COULD NOT FIND THE DAMN THING. I knew it was in reserves but I wanted to make it active, and there's no way to do that from the Shipyard. I spent literally half an hour hunting through every panel as if I had lost my car keys in real life and turned the house upside down to find them. I looked under the couch cushions six times, and I even looked in the fridge!

Finally I found it. You have to do it at the system level, or at the galactic level via system control. See, your reserves can pop ANYwhere you want, IF you have the correct "Mobilization Center" improvement built. Anyhow, here is the system level location:



At the gal level, you single-click on a star, if it has the ability assemble a TF, the option will be white, if not it's gray.


Once I had some worlds settled, I went in and micromanaged their DEA orders. I never ran short on food, but I was short on minerals until the Deep Mining Extraction improvement was finally researched.

Here was the sweetest turn in the game so far for me, turn 49:



Once you've played a bit, you'll come to appreciate what it means to settle three new frontier worlds at one time. Wowzers.

Oh, and for once a POSITIVE tech message. Go figure.


As of Turn 87, playing Normal difficulty with stock Klackons, random events to normal (not low), in 2-arm large, with 8 opponents, I am at war with one weak species, full alliance with one senate member, on GOOD terms with the entire senate and one other race, have twice the planets of any other empire, calm fronts on all but one side, second best power rating, and looking like I have a good shot at winning my first game, despite fumbling around not knowing wtf I'm doing.


Pros:

* Diplomacy is a major plus. It suffers from lack of direct info to figure out why your rivals react the way they do sometimes, but that could be overcome with more experience. (It took me a long time to finesse my strategy in MOO1 on this same front, so... maybe it's meant to ba bit obscure).

* The DEA system is much simpler than it appears. You can micromanage your DEA's to good effect with no problems, at least in the early game. It starts to become too much after the initial colonization phase, though, but the automation controls seem POWERFUL. With practice, they should be up to the task.

* The planetary diversity is extremely wide, making replay value potentially infinite, IF the DEA management side of the game is streamlined enough to allow MOO1 style macromanagement. I have high hopes still.

* Space combat is much improved. You don't really get to control it like you did in MOO1/MOO2, but that's BETTER. It closes out countless loopholes, and gives you more of the feel of a space admiral, as opposed to a guy sitting at a computer exploiting game rules to max your results. Sure, you get less control, but you do have some: mainly in the ship designs and task force assembly, but some little bit also on the field of battle. I believe I'm going to like it.

* Ground combat is WAY better than anything that has come before in the MOO series.

* The info overload is more a matter of poor documentation and poor tutorials and reference materials than it is a matter of the game sucking. For example, when I went to the help screen to find out how to create a task force, there was no goal-driven help. There was no option "How to create a task force". There was a long listing of what each screen could do. I had to hunt through this mess by trial and error until I stumbled on the right screen. Whoever was in charge of writing the manual, the tutorials, and the rest of the instructions just plain did a piss poor job. (Sorry, whoever you are).


Cons:

* I am VERY disappointed in the research tree. It is worse than I could have imagined. In MOO1, you had six fields, and you got to pick which tech to research. In MOO3, you don't pick anything. You adjust the sliders to determine which fields get your priority attention, and that's it. That's IT. You don't choose anything, you don't strategize anything. You don't choose between short term gains (researching everything) or long term gambits (skipping cheaper techs to get to pricier ones slightly faster). And whomever it was at Orion Sector in their review who said the techs were so numerous, they all seemed meaningless... in my view, he's right on the button. Since you don't get to have any say in what is researched, at the specific tech level, then it hardly seems to matter what the techs are. You get randomly handed a different tech tree, but even that doesn't matter, since YOU don't have any input into it. The game researches everything that comes up in your tree. Period.

Even Civ's research method is better. There you only research one thing at a time, but YOU CHOOSE that thing. You get to decide the priority.

Now in one sense this is like the space combat. You can't fuddle with it, all you can do is stand back and give broad instructions, at the macro level. Well, I think it works for combat because you still have the full hands-on ship design and task force design. THAT gives you input into the outcome of the combat. You get no input into the outcome of research, so that whole part of the game is dead to me as far as experiencing it. It's on automatic; I can't do anything about it except to add more Research DEA's to make it go faster.

Blah.

It's not all bad. You DO have to make the most of whatever techs you have on hand, in your ship designs, but I miss the MOO1 tech method already, and I haven't had MOO3 for a whole day yet.

* Also very bad is some of the UI clumsiness. The colonization thing is just one example. The information presentations are good, but they are not flexible enough. And there's a lack of smooth transitions from place to place in some cases. You have to back out, then focus in again, rather than a direct route. ESPECIALLY BAD is the planet list screen, where trying to find the next colony to settle from a growing list of dozens gets longer and longer and longer as the game goes on.


Now maybe as I learn more, solutions to some of these issues will arise. Fine. These are my impressions after the first serious go at it. I hope this helps some of my fellow RB'ers get started.


- Sirian
Quote
Share

Occhi The Grateful Rube
Occhi The Grateful Rube

February 27th, 2003, 3:15 pm #5

This game is over my son's head. I will let him stick to Civ 3. That much your wonderful summaries have explained to me, I cannot thank you enough.
Quote
Share

Sirian
Sirian

February 27th, 2003, 3:23 pm #6

Over your son's head? OK, no problem. (How old is he, again? 28? No, j/k!) What about you? You going to give it a real shot? I know this isn't over your head, but... that's assuming when you're 100% sober. :P I think a good buzz would be just enough brain fuzz that "strategy" would be reduced to clicking Next Turn a whole lot. :P


- Sirian
Quote
Share

Joined: August 29th, 2001, 4:26 am

February 27th, 2003, 4:33 pm #7

To me the question is not whether the game will be over my head, but rather is it worth spending $100 (AU) on?? Do you believe that it will be worth spending so much money on for a poor uni student with very limited income? Or should I wait for Freelancer and get that instead? Decisions decisions....

Which reminds me, I'm born in two hours twenty years ago and I still haven't learned when it's time to sleep.

EDIT: Oh, and thank you Sirian for a fine report so far (removing several of the possible first-game frustrations)
Last edited by smegged on February 27th, 2003, 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Physicist
Physicist

February 27th, 2003, 4:43 pm #8

Once you've become at least somewhat comfortable moving between the various screens, and you have sent off your ships and handled any Senate-related diplo offers you want to make, it's time to go to your homeworld and decide how to spend your crucial early turns.

There are only two controls that matter in the early turns: the two sliders shown with pink arrows:



The upper slider is your Military Spending. This controls how quickly you build the items in your build list (additional scouts and colony ships). The lower slider is your Local Development control. This determines how much is spent on DEA construction.

Note, both of these are planetary controls, they affect only this planet. (You only have one planet to start, though).

Now, how do you know WHAT to set these sliders at? The two figures in the orange circle are the relevant numbers. The top is your "current treasury" and the bottom is your "projected treasury" for next round, based on what you do with the sliders. If you spend less now, you'll save more for later use. If you spend more now, you'll have less extra for later.

In classic MOO1 style, I wanted to spend all my early turns maxing productivity, so that I could get more total colony ships produced more quickly, even at the cost of slowing the first couple of them. (In Civ3 terms, building a granary early).

SO... what I did here (as you can see) is to put all the available resources on the lower slider. The "Ending Bank" figure is what I used to gauge. I stopped adding when the Ending Bank was about the same as the Starting Bank. That is, all of the income on this round would be spent on production this round, but no extra spending from the treasury. And it was all going into DEA construction for now.

I let the planetary Viceroy pick the DEA's it wanted, to see what it would pick, and watch the results. It chose to build extra industry and mining DEA's.

The Green arrow points to the subpanel that shows you the planet, region by region. Here you can micromanage the DEA's if you wish (and you need to at least once, IMO, to get a sense of how they work). If you go in there, you'll note that some areas are mountainous, others flat, some more fertile, some more barren. Some regions may have specials. This is the screen where you can determine how to get the most out of a given world by deciding which kinds of DEA's it will have, how many and in which regions.

Two special considerations: A government DEA on almost every world is a good idea, since these reduce unrest, improve planetary defenses (the enemy must capture all governmental DEA's to take a world) and you can build governmental specials like "system seat of government" that give bonuses and other effects. Secondly, you have to consider your race. If your race is prone to unrest, then you may need military and recreation DEA's on all your worlds just to maintain control. (Planets CAN secede from your empire, and even them just going into unrest or revolt is bad enough).

The yellow arrow in the shot above is where you go (after opening the Economics panel, of course) to manage your military queue: in this case, which ships to build.

Finally, the red circle in the upper right shows where the food and minerals numbers are. If the "produced" is less than the "need", you've got to import from other worlds. If a planet that needs imports gets blockaded by a rival fleet, that can be Very Bad(TM). Even worse, if your main farming planet gets blockaded, you could have several mining worlds starving (if you specialize). This is pretty much the only real down side to a specialized economy: it is more vulnerable to attack. IMO, it's probably worth it, though. After all, if you go with max independence for your worlds, all the games will play somewhat alike. If you specialize, each galaxy will offer new and unique challenges on balancing out your empire's needs with its production and available worlds.


Now, you always want to send your first colony ship outside the home system. That's because it's a star ship, with interstellar engines. You can build system colony ships cheaper than colony starships. And if you have any green worlds in your home system (besides home itself) you MAY want to settle those first. Not only are the local colony ships cheaper, but there is no travel time. The sooner you get green worlds started, the sooner your population increases, etc.



Sadly, building queues only three items deep? Who's idea was that? They ought to be hung by the ears.

I had one extra green world in my home system, so I erased the default to-build items and put a local colony ship first, then more colony starships.

These won't have ANYthing done on them to start, as I'm filling out DEA's at my best rate, but unlike MOO1 it doesn't take long to get your homeworld up to full speed, at which time you can put everything you have into colony ship building, at least for a while.


OK, so that was my first turn. I think it only took two hours.

* Sent my ships.
* Learned the User Interface (UI).
* Sent diplo offers.
* Maxed spending on DEA's.
* Changed the build queue to match my colonization policy.


Here's the SitRep from Turn 2:



This is a rare event: a senate bill of actual importance. I didn't realize how rare a bill like this would be, at the time.



I seconded the bill, and it was voted on and passed.


Hmm, now here's a curiosity:



That's my homeworld balance sheet on turn 2. Notice the Starting Bank. Hey, that's way more than I was told it would be. Apparently, these numbers DO lie a bit, in the sense that they project based on the current population and "grant status". If your pop is growing (insects grow a lot) apparently you get a happy surprise with an unforecasted surplus.

I don't yet know how, or to what degree, this will affect sound early decisions. Apparently, you can't even trust the numbers in some cases, you have to figure out trends and other factors, and be able to extrapolate what the real numbers will be, if you want to micromanage every shred of early growth improvement.

On turn 3, a DEA completed. The Sakkra actually signed that awax trade agreement. Oh, and I got the first of a kazillion "protests against new technology" that slowed research. I guess that's part of being an insect. I presume other races don't get several of those "bad news" tech notices each turn. Ha! Well, I knew I was taking on the worst researching race in the game, so I have nothing to complain about. Who needs research if you have 8x the next guy's population, right? Right!




OK, now to my chagrin, my colony ship did NOT settle upon arriving in the newly explored system. This began my second Frustrating Experience. (First had been trying to "get back out of this damn planet screen", if you recall from Chapter One).

ARRGH! HOW DO I GET THE DAMN COLONY SHIP TO SETTLE A WORLD?

Even when I thought I had it figured out, I didn't.

Here's the start of the answer: you need to use the planet screen under the Planet tab. There's a recessed panel there, called "Orders", that you have to use to control the colonization AI. See, you can't colonize anything directly. ONLY THE AI CAN DO IT. (As far as I can tell so far). If you know how to control the AI effectively, you can get what you want done. If you don't, you can't.



The orange arrow points to the orders tab.

Now, just go through the planet list and check "Send Colony Ship" to every planet you want to settle, right? BZZT! Wrong-o. Dead wrong. Beat your head on the wall until your eyes pop out kind of wrong. Not going to happen.

If you check mark multiple planets, it will send all new colony ships to the first one, until it has been settled. This could end up with several of your ships going to the same place. This is Very Bad(TM).

What you need to do is to check ONE planet at a time for "Send Colony Ship", and you have to do it in advance. That way when a new colony ship is built, your generals already have orders and it is dispatched immediately. If you wait until after the ship has been assigned to a task force, it WILL cost you at least one extra turn to found your colony, as you cannot combine (that I can tell) the "send ship to this star" order with the "colonize this planet" order. That can only be done (that I have seen) in advance.

Thus the procedure I worked out was to mark one planet at a time, and as soon as SitRep said a colony task force was dispacthed to that location, immediate unmark that world and mark the next one I wanted.

So much for the AI REDUCING micromagagement! If you want to colonize specific worlds, you have to spend three times the effort micromanaging the AI than you used to in MOO1 with the "Go here and settle" one click no-fuss method.

In fact, this lack of direct ability to order a TF to colonize is one of the worst things I've seen on my first night. It's completely senseless that you have to jump through these hoops, IMHO. But... at least you can. At least there IS a way, and it took me two hours before I figured it out.


My third Great Arrgh Moment came when I built my first combat starship. I COULD NOT FIND THE DAMN THING. I knew it was in reserves but I wanted to make it active, and there's no way to do that from the Shipyard. I spent literally half an hour hunting through every panel as if I had lost my car keys in real life and turned the house upside down to find them. I looked under the couch cushions six times, and I even looked in the fridge!

Finally I found it. You have to do it at the system level, or at the galactic level via system control. See, your reserves can pop ANYwhere you want, IF you have the correct "Mobilization Center" improvement built. Anyhow, here is the system level location:



At the gal level, you single-click on a star, if it has the ability assemble a TF, the option will be white, if not it's gray.


Once I had some worlds settled, I went in and micromanaged their DEA orders. I never ran short on food, but I was short on minerals until the Deep Mining Extraction improvement was finally researched.

Here was the sweetest turn in the game so far for me, turn 49:



Once you've played a bit, you'll come to appreciate what it means to settle three new frontier worlds at one time. Wowzers.

Oh, and for once a POSITIVE tech message. Go figure.


As of Turn 87, playing Normal difficulty with stock Klackons, random events to normal (not low), in 2-arm large, with 8 opponents, I am at war with one weak species, full alliance with one senate member, on GOOD terms with the entire senate and one other race, have twice the planets of any other empire, calm fronts on all but one side, second best power rating, and looking like I have a good shot at winning my first game, despite fumbling around not knowing wtf I'm doing.


Pros:

* Diplomacy is a major plus. It suffers from lack of direct info to figure out why your rivals react the way they do sometimes, but that could be overcome with more experience. (It took me a long time to finesse my strategy in MOO1 on this same front, so... maybe it's meant to ba bit obscure).

* The DEA system is much simpler than it appears. You can micromanage your DEA's to good effect with no problems, at least in the early game. It starts to become too much after the initial colonization phase, though, but the automation controls seem POWERFUL. With practice, they should be up to the task.

* The planetary diversity is extremely wide, making replay value potentially infinite, IF the DEA management side of the game is streamlined enough to allow MOO1 style macromanagement. I have high hopes still.

* Space combat is much improved. You don't really get to control it like you did in MOO1/MOO2, but that's BETTER. It closes out countless loopholes, and gives you more of the feel of a space admiral, as opposed to a guy sitting at a computer exploiting game rules to max your results. Sure, you get less control, but you do have some: mainly in the ship designs and task force assembly, but some little bit also on the field of battle. I believe I'm going to like it.

* Ground combat is WAY better than anything that has come before in the MOO series.

* The info overload is more a matter of poor documentation and poor tutorials and reference materials than it is a matter of the game sucking. For example, when I went to the help screen to find out how to create a task force, there was no goal-driven help. There was no option "How to create a task force". There was a long listing of what each screen could do. I had to hunt through this mess by trial and error until I stumbled on the right screen. Whoever was in charge of writing the manual, the tutorials, and the rest of the instructions just plain did a piss poor job. (Sorry, whoever you are).


Cons:

* I am VERY disappointed in the research tree. It is worse than I could have imagined. In MOO1, you had six fields, and you got to pick which tech to research. In MOO3, you don't pick anything. You adjust the sliders to determine which fields get your priority attention, and that's it. That's IT. You don't choose anything, you don't strategize anything. You don't choose between short term gains (researching everything) or long term gambits (skipping cheaper techs to get to pricier ones slightly faster). And whomever it was at Orion Sector in their review who said the techs were so numerous, they all seemed meaningless... in my view, he's right on the button. Since you don't get to have any say in what is researched, at the specific tech level, then it hardly seems to matter what the techs are. You get randomly handed a different tech tree, but even that doesn't matter, since YOU don't have any input into it. The game researches everything that comes up in your tree. Period.

Even Civ's research method is better. There you only research one thing at a time, but YOU CHOOSE that thing. You get to decide the priority.

Now in one sense this is like the space combat. You can't fuddle with it, all you can do is stand back and give broad instructions, at the macro level. Well, I think it works for combat because you still have the full hands-on ship design and task force design. THAT gives you input into the outcome of the combat. You get no input into the outcome of research, so that whole part of the game is dead to me as far as experiencing it. It's on automatic; I can't do anything about it except to add more Research DEA's to make it go faster.

Blah.

It's not all bad. You DO have to make the most of whatever techs you have on hand, in your ship designs, but I miss the MOO1 tech method already, and I haven't had MOO3 for a whole day yet.

* Also very bad is some of the UI clumsiness. The colonization thing is just one example. The information presentations are good, but they are not flexible enough. And there's a lack of smooth transitions from place to place in some cases. You have to back out, then focus in again, rather than a direct route. ESPECIALLY BAD is the planet list screen, where trying to find the next colony to settle from a growing list of dozens gets longer and longer and longer as the game goes on.


Now maybe as I learn more, solutions to some of these issues will arise. Fine. These are my impressions after the first serious go at it. I hope this helps some of my fellow RB'ers get started.


- Sirian
Sirian,

Thank you very much for this guide. I am still waiting for the game to be delivered to me, so I lack any "first hand" experience (actually, I lack any MoO experience), but I am already learing much from your guide. For sure it will help enormously when I finally will start my first game.

- Physicist
Quote
Share

Zed
Zed

February 27th, 2003, 5:20 pm #9

Once you've become at least somewhat comfortable moving between the various screens, and you have sent off your ships and handled any Senate-related diplo offers you want to make, it's time to go to your homeworld and decide how to spend your crucial early turns.

There are only two controls that matter in the early turns: the two sliders shown with pink arrows:



The upper slider is your Military Spending. This controls how quickly you build the items in your build list (additional scouts and colony ships). The lower slider is your Local Development control. This determines how much is spent on DEA construction.

Note, both of these are planetary controls, they affect only this planet. (You only have one planet to start, though).

Now, how do you know WHAT to set these sliders at? The two figures in the orange circle are the relevant numbers. The top is your "current treasury" and the bottom is your "projected treasury" for next round, based on what you do with the sliders. If you spend less now, you'll save more for later use. If you spend more now, you'll have less extra for later.

In classic MOO1 style, I wanted to spend all my early turns maxing productivity, so that I could get more total colony ships produced more quickly, even at the cost of slowing the first couple of them. (In Civ3 terms, building a granary early).

SO... what I did here (as you can see) is to put all the available resources on the lower slider. The "Ending Bank" figure is what I used to gauge. I stopped adding when the Ending Bank was about the same as the Starting Bank. That is, all of the income on this round would be spent on production this round, but no extra spending from the treasury. And it was all going into DEA construction for now.

I let the planetary Viceroy pick the DEA's it wanted, to see what it would pick, and watch the results. It chose to build extra industry and mining DEA's.

The Green arrow points to the subpanel that shows you the planet, region by region. Here you can micromanage the DEA's if you wish (and you need to at least once, IMO, to get a sense of how they work). If you go in there, you'll note that some areas are mountainous, others flat, some more fertile, some more barren. Some regions may have specials. This is the screen where you can determine how to get the most out of a given world by deciding which kinds of DEA's it will have, how many and in which regions.

Two special considerations: A government DEA on almost every world is a good idea, since these reduce unrest, improve planetary defenses (the enemy must capture all governmental DEA's to take a world) and you can build governmental specials like "system seat of government" that give bonuses and other effects. Secondly, you have to consider your race. If your race is prone to unrest, then you may need military and recreation DEA's on all your worlds just to maintain control. (Planets CAN secede from your empire, and even them just going into unrest or revolt is bad enough).

The yellow arrow in the shot above is where you go (after opening the Economics panel, of course) to manage your military queue: in this case, which ships to build.

Finally, the red circle in the upper right shows where the food and minerals numbers are. If the "produced" is less than the "need", you've got to import from other worlds. If a planet that needs imports gets blockaded by a rival fleet, that can be Very Bad(TM). Even worse, if your main farming planet gets blockaded, you could have several mining worlds starving (if you specialize). This is pretty much the only real down side to a specialized economy: it is more vulnerable to attack. IMO, it's probably worth it, though. After all, if you go with max independence for your worlds, all the games will play somewhat alike. If you specialize, each galaxy will offer new and unique challenges on balancing out your empire's needs with its production and available worlds.


Now, you always want to send your first colony ship outside the home system. That's because it's a star ship, with interstellar engines. You can build system colony ships cheaper than colony starships. And if you have any green worlds in your home system (besides home itself) you MAY want to settle those first. Not only are the local colony ships cheaper, but there is no travel time. The sooner you get green worlds started, the sooner your population increases, etc.



Sadly, building queues only three items deep? Who's idea was that? They ought to be hung by the ears.

I had one extra green world in my home system, so I erased the default to-build items and put a local colony ship first, then more colony starships.

These won't have ANYthing done on them to start, as I'm filling out DEA's at my best rate, but unlike MOO1 it doesn't take long to get your homeworld up to full speed, at which time you can put everything you have into colony ship building, at least for a while.


OK, so that was my first turn. I think it only took two hours.

* Sent my ships.
* Learned the User Interface (UI).
* Sent diplo offers.
* Maxed spending on DEA's.
* Changed the build queue to match my colonization policy.


Here's the SitRep from Turn 2:



This is a rare event: a senate bill of actual importance. I didn't realize how rare a bill like this would be, at the time.



I seconded the bill, and it was voted on and passed.


Hmm, now here's a curiosity:



That's my homeworld balance sheet on turn 2. Notice the Starting Bank. Hey, that's way more than I was told it would be. Apparently, these numbers DO lie a bit, in the sense that they project based on the current population and "grant status". If your pop is growing (insects grow a lot) apparently you get a happy surprise with an unforecasted surplus.

I don't yet know how, or to what degree, this will affect sound early decisions. Apparently, you can't even trust the numbers in some cases, you have to figure out trends and other factors, and be able to extrapolate what the real numbers will be, if you want to micromanage every shred of early growth improvement.

On turn 3, a DEA completed. The Sakkra actually signed that awax trade agreement. Oh, and I got the first of a kazillion "protests against new technology" that slowed research. I guess that's part of being an insect. I presume other races don't get several of those "bad news" tech notices each turn. Ha! Well, I knew I was taking on the worst researching race in the game, so I have nothing to complain about. Who needs research if you have 8x the next guy's population, right? Right!




OK, now to my chagrin, my colony ship did NOT settle upon arriving in the newly explored system. This began my second Frustrating Experience. (First had been trying to "get back out of this damn planet screen", if you recall from Chapter One).

ARRGH! HOW DO I GET THE DAMN COLONY SHIP TO SETTLE A WORLD?

Even when I thought I had it figured out, I didn't.

Here's the start of the answer: you need to use the planet screen under the Planet tab. There's a recessed panel there, called "Orders", that you have to use to control the colonization AI. See, you can't colonize anything directly. ONLY THE AI CAN DO IT. (As far as I can tell so far). If you know how to control the AI effectively, you can get what you want done. If you don't, you can't.



The orange arrow points to the orders tab.

Now, just go through the planet list and check "Send Colony Ship" to every planet you want to settle, right? BZZT! Wrong-o. Dead wrong. Beat your head on the wall until your eyes pop out kind of wrong. Not going to happen.

If you check mark multiple planets, it will send all new colony ships to the first one, until it has been settled. This could end up with several of your ships going to the same place. This is Very Bad(TM).

What you need to do is to check ONE planet at a time for "Send Colony Ship", and you have to do it in advance. That way when a new colony ship is built, your generals already have orders and it is dispatched immediately. If you wait until after the ship has been assigned to a task force, it WILL cost you at least one extra turn to found your colony, as you cannot combine (that I can tell) the "send ship to this star" order with the "colonize this planet" order. That can only be done (that I have seen) in advance.

Thus the procedure I worked out was to mark one planet at a time, and as soon as SitRep said a colony task force was dispacthed to that location, immediate unmark that world and mark the next one I wanted.

So much for the AI REDUCING micromagagement! If you want to colonize specific worlds, you have to spend three times the effort micromanaging the AI than you used to in MOO1 with the "Go here and settle" one click no-fuss method.

In fact, this lack of direct ability to order a TF to colonize is one of the worst things I've seen on my first night. It's completely senseless that you have to jump through these hoops, IMHO. But... at least you can. At least there IS a way, and it took me two hours before I figured it out.


My third Great Arrgh Moment came when I built my first combat starship. I COULD NOT FIND THE DAMN THING. I knew it was in reserves but I wanted to make it active, and there's no way to do that from the Shipyard. I spent literally half an hour hunting through every panel as if I had lost my car keys in real life and turned the house upside down to find them. I looked under the couch cushions six times, and I even looked in the fridge!

Finally I found it. You have to do it at the system level, or at the galactic level via system control. See, your reserves can pop ANYwhere you want, IF you have the correct "Mobilization Center" improvement built. Anyhow, here is the system level location:



At the gal level, you single-click on a star, if it has the ability assemble a TF, the option will be white, if not it's gray.


Once I had some worlds settled, I went in and micromanaged their DEA orders. I never ran short on food, but I was short on minerals until the Deep Mining Extraction improvement was finally researched.

Here was the sweetest turn in the game so far for me, turn 49:



Once you've played a bit, you'll come to appreciate what it means to settle three new frontier worlds at one time. Wowzers.

Oh, and for once a POSITIVE tech message. Go figure.


As of Turn 87, playing Normal difficulty with stock Klackons, random events to normal (not low), in 2-arm large, with 8 opponents, I am at war with one weak species, full alliance with one senate member, on GOOD terms with the entire senate and one other race, have twice the planets of any other empire, calm fronts on all but one side, second best power rating, and looking like I have a good shot at winning my first game, despite fumbling around not knowing wtf I'm doing.


Pros:

* Diplomacy is a major plus. It suffers from lack of direct info to figure out why your rivals react the way they do sometimes, but that could be overcome with more experience. (It took me a long time to finesse my strategy in MOO1 on this same front, so... maybe it's meant to ba bit obscure).

* The DEA system is much simpler than it appears. You can micromanage your DEA's to good effect with no problems, at least in the early game. It starts to become too much after the initial colonization phase, though, but the automation controls seem POWERFUL. With practice, they should be up to the task.

* The planetary diversity is extremely wide, making replay value potentially infinite, IF the DEA management side of the game is streamlined enough to allow MOO1 style macromanagement. I have high hopes still.

* Space combat is much improved. You don't really get to control it like you did in MOO1/MOO2, but that's BETTER. It closes out countless loopholes, and gives you more of the feel of a space admiral, as opposed to a guy sitting at a computer exploiting game rules to max your results. Sure, you get less control, but you do have some: mainly in the ship designs and task force assembly, but some little bit also on the field of battle. I believe I'm going to like it.

* Ground combat is WAY better than anything that has come before in the MOO series.

* The info overload is more a matter of poor documentation and poor tutorials and reference materials than it is a matter of the game sucking. For example, when I went to the help screen to find out how to create a task force, there was no goal-driven help. There was no option "How to create a task force". There was a long listing of what each screen could do. I had to hunt through this mess by trial and error until I stumbled on the right screen. Whoever was in charge of writing the manual, the tutorials, and the rest of the instructions just plain did a piss poor job. (Sorry, whoever you are).


Cons:

* I am VERY disappointed in the research tree. It is worse than I could have imagined. In MOO1, you had six fields, and you got to pick which tech to research. In MOO3, you don't pick anything. You adjust the sliders to determine which fields get your priority attention, and that's it. That's IT. You don't choose anything, you don't strategize anything. You don't choose between short term gains (researching everything) or long term gambits (skipping cheaper techs to get to pricier ones slightly faster). And whomever it was at Orion Sector in their review who said the techs were so numerous, they all seemed meaningless... in my view, he's right on the button. Since you don't get to have any say in what is researched, at the specific tech level, then it hardly seems to matter what the techs are. You get randomly handed a different tech tree, but even that doesn't matter, since YOU don't have any input into it. The game researches everything that comes up in your tree. Period.

Even Civ's research method is better. There you only research one thing at a time, but YOU CHOOSE that thing. You get to decide the priority.

Now in one sense this is like the space combat. You can't fuddle with it, all you can do is stand back and give broad instructions, at the macro level. Well, I think it works for combat because you still have the full hands-on ship design and task force design. THAT gives you input into the outcome of the combat. You get no input into the outcome of research, so that whole part of the game is dead to me as far as experiencing it. It's on automatic; I can't do anything about it except to add more Research DEA's to make it go faster.

Blah.

It's not all bad. You DO have to make the most of whatever techs you have on hand, in your ship designs, but I miss the MOO1 tech method already, and I haven't had MOO3 for a whole day yet.

* Also very bad is some of the UI clumsiness. The colonization thing is just one example. The information presentations are good, but they are not flexible enough. And there's a lack of smooth transitions from place to place in some cases. You have to back out, then focus in again, rather than a direct route. ESPECIALLY BAD is the planet list screen, where trying to find the next colony to settle from a growing list of dozens gets longer and longer and longer as the game goes on.


Now maybe as I learn more, solutions to some of these issues will arise. Fine. These are my impressions after the first serious go at it. I hope this helps some of my fellow RB'ers get started.


- Sirian
Quoted from a post at Orion Sector:

Ah, your first colony ship. The beginning of your complete and utter domination of this sector. Now how do you get the bloody thing to land?

Here’s the manual way. Once your colony ship (or system colony ship) reaches the system where the target planet is waiting, go into the system view (double-click the star from the galaxy view). Single-click the planet where you wish to establish a colony, and then click on the “Forces” tab. The panel will display all ships currently in the system. Select the (system) colony ship’s icon. A new button will light up: “Colonize Planet.” Click there. The colony ship has now been assigned a target, and in the next turn you will see a message in the SitRep stating that a colony ship has landed on.

Here’s the slightly less manual way. You’ve created your colony ship task force and sent it off to a target system, where a juicy world awaits. As mentioned before, you can use the “Forces” panel on a planet to “Send Colony”. When your colony ship arrives and stops at a system where a planet has been tagged by the Send Colony button, the colony ship will receive new orders, and on the following turn will colonize the selected planet.

Here’s the almost completely automated way. Before the colony ship is built, do the “Send Colony” thing as mentioned above. The moment the next colony ship is finished, it will automatically receive orders to go to a planet thus marked, assign itself to a task force, launch, arrive, land, and colonize. Say, that’s neat! Note, however, that if you’ve targeted multiple worlds with the Send Colony function, the next colony ship will target the best of those worlds; this does not always translate into the nearest of those worlds. So be forewarned.

Here’s the completely automated way. It’s just like above, except that, in the Empire control tab, you’ve turned Auto-Colonization (the first setting) on. This tells the AI to send colony ships out automatically to planets that it deems worthwhile. You don’t have to use the Send Colony button at all. You let the AI build ships for you. And the viceroy will manage the planet when it’s colonized. Can’t get much easier than that...

Here's the whole post:
http://forum.orionsector.com/viewtopic.php?t=359
Quote
Share

Zed
Zed

February 27th, 2003, 5:24 pm #10

It sounds like the best way in the early game is to use the forces tab on the planets you want to colonize to set those planets to be automatically colonized by col ships entering the system, and move your colony ships manually. Then, later, when your empire expands to the point where this is too much work, turn on aurocolonize and let the AI figure it out. If you have several planets building colony ships, it probably matters less if they jiggle around a bit suboptimally due to "puppet strings" before arriving at the right planets.
Quote
Share