First impressions

First impressions

Joined: May 22nd, 2002, 7:37 am

February 22nd, 2003, 2:25 pm #1

Hi,

no, don't panic, I don't have MoO3 yet. But I finally gave in and submitted myself to the hype and read several reviews of the game and browsed some web forums, and like to share some thoughts about the game.

First, a word on hype and expectations: I have played both previous MoOs, but didn't know that a third is in production until Sirian posted about it (in RBCiv, IIRC). He wrote about his bad experience with the hype about games "soon" to be released, about his feelings of being let down, or even betrayed by Diablo 2, and I fully agreed. My disappointments about D2 and my anger about realizing this very late (upon the arrival of D2X) had been similar, and I too vowed not to submit myself to the pre-release hype of a game again.

And now I see this: A (beautiful) website with loads of empty pages ready for content. A huge discussion about what kind of strategy it shall contain, and how it should be collected. First posts about opening strategies, a guide to MoO newbies and the MoO philosophy. Discussion about succession games: Not only wether there will be any or not, no, but even who will lead them, who's on which team, and which game settings will be used. On other forums, I find advertisement about the RBMoo site and its community (Sirian is an excellent PR person for Realms Beyond, by the way!). Flags are being drawn and discussed. The only thing that hasn't been discussed yet is the nature if the Harvester race! If that's not pre-release hype, I don't know what is. Sure, it started later than for D2, for example, but MoO3 will have a hard time living up to the expectations you all are building up! Just a thought.

But being the hypocrite I am, I have no problems with contributing to the hype and would like to comment on the things I've read about the game.

One thing all reviewers stated was that the manual leaves much to be desired (and even seems to be based on a previous build of the game), and that the ingame descriptions are vague at best, especially on techs. I find that very annoying. I disliked this in Diablo, but considering that MoO3 is a strategy game which is all about numbers, why don't they give exact descriptions about game mechanics and effects of the various techs and settings? The review at Quarter to Three is quite interesting in this regard: They compare the MoO3 UI to civ-like games and note that the latter try to appeal to the casual gamer by having small icons, for example small shields for production power, to give the human brain a chance to visualize the abstract mechanisms inside, thus helping us to understand better what's going on. MoO3 instead has only numbers, and lots of them - so why are they so inconsistent when it comes to the effect of new techs? Sigh I hope that at least all numbers presented on the screens match those used in-game, unlike Diablo 2.

Usually, I prefer bad reviews of games/books/whatever over good ones, because most of the time I know what I want from the product and just like to know where it falls short. Because of this, I liked the Quarter to Three review - I don't think the author has enough patience to appreciate the game's complexity, but it raises some interesting points. For example, space vs. ground combat. While the former seems to be kept quite simple (and the QtT article complains that it's nearly impossible to see what ship is of what design, has what weapons/shields/whatever, hence making it hard to compare different designs - I really hope he's wrong about that!), the latter seems to be overloaded with options and complexity. I find this a bit strange, since I always thought space combat to be more important than ground combat in this kind of game, but we'll see. Another example is the AI. Most reviews praise the AI of your viceroys, which is all fine and dandy, but not much is said about the AI of your opponents. According to QtT, it's quite weak, but I guess with the complexity and the sheer length of one game it's a bit early to tell. After the (IMHO) quite impressive AI of civ3 (despite of all its stupid irrigation projects, worker hunts and other shortcomings), I want to have an equal good one for MoO3 - my enjoyment of the game stands and falls with that. If the AI cheats too much just to remain competetive, I won't like it, but no review tells us something about that.

Some speculations on succession games: The game seems to focus more on the overall picture of your empire than on giving orders every turn, see for example the development plans. I wonder how this effects succession games? You still can move fleets around and conduct diplomacy, but what if you don't agree with the long-term development plans of your predecessor? Since you can't switch off the viceroy AI, you can only indirectly affect certain production queues, so I guess it will be a different kind of SG than for civ3. (Says he who never played a SG before... ). Had there been SGs for the previous MoOs, by the way?

Lastly, don't be fooled by this post: I'm dying to get this game as much as anybody here. I just exercise some "practical pessimism": If the game is bad, I can say "See! I knew it!", and if it's good, it'll be high above my expectations and I can enjoy it even more.

-Kylearan
Quote
Like
Share

Drasca
Drasca

February 22nd, 2003, 7:36 pm #2

That reviewer sure got to the heart of some of my fears of Moo3 from all the preivews I've seen.

My fears for Moo3:

Taking the player out of the game.
--Not being able to directly control, and tweak production.
--No tangible sense discerning what's what?: Individual enemy ship design information (I suppose using 1 ship fleets might help?), Corrolation of research & tech benefits (Ability to beeline techs, anyone?), effectiveness of your ship designs, Determining Colony Base production potential-- and making sense of numbers.

And right now, I am still not sure if the player has control over ship-to-ship combat, whether player control intensive strategies like attaining power by being pirates--board and capture of enemy ships, for sale and gain of technologies--will be viable.

I want my micromanagement available!

I fear and have bias against automation. Moo3 streamlines a lot by using automated AI's to make decisions for you. While streamlining by automation is efficient at particulars, it means taking away from user-control and the variety of actions, and personalization the user can make. Certainly there are more possible wrong actions the user can make, but that doesn't mean the user is so random to always make wrong choices. It may start with trial and error, but humans tend to learn a variety of patterns logical and chaotic, as well from each other on what will or will not be effective. Yes. I am biased against streamlining. A human player in Moo may starve his population, while an AI refuses to do so, but that is the human player's option to make, and such counter-intuitive options can make for great strategies for the creative human. Trying to choose between streamlinging by automation and user-control is a choice between efficiency and creativity. I hope Moo3 makes both options available.

Looking at the above paragraph, I take note that automation is not the same as streamlining. Streamlining can be great, Moo2 could've done well to store user-created build lists. The level of automation in Moo3 downright scares me.

-Drasca
Quote
Share

Zed
Zed

February 22nd, 2003, 9:47 pm #3

I would far rather the computer make some not-quite-optimal decisions on my behalf than be overwhelmed in minutiae. The latter is exactly what would happen if there were less AI involvement, and as it is there's still a lot to do in the game, with the option to turn off parts of the AI if you're feeling uninvolved.

The bigger issue for me would be not knowing with some precision what the effect is of any actions that I am undertaking, so that I can learn how to optimize my actions. The vagueness of the manual, online documentation, tech tree, and so forth seems disturbing to me, though at least most reviewers are saying it's engrossing anyway. My other concern is the supposed lack of anything resembling a short game of MOO3.

Still, I would take the QtT review with a very large grain of salt. Apparently the reviewer seems to like trashing games, as someone over at OSMoo did a bit of research on him and found only two positive reviews that this guy gave. Ever. Including reviews of lots of very popular games. Kylarean was probably right as well when he said the reviewer didn't really have the patience necessary to really give the game a fair shake. It seems like he started up a game on easy, played around with it for a few hours, hitting next turn a lot without really trying to make his mark on the game (due to not taking time to seriously try to understand it) and eventually won just by virtue of playing on the easiest setting. Maybe that's not what happened, but that's the impression I got while reading his review.
Quote
Share

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

February 23rd, 2003, 12:46 am #4

Hi,

no, don't panic, I don't have MoO3 yet. But I finally gave in and submitted myself to the hype and read several reviews of the game and browsed some web forums, and like to share some thoughts about the game.

First, a word on hype and expectations: I have played both previous MoOs, but didn't know that a third is in production until Sirian posted about it (in RBCiv, IIRC). He wrote about his bad experience with the hype about games "soon" to be released, about his feelings of being let down, or even betrayed by Diablo 2, and I fully agreed. My disappointments about D2 and my anger about realizing this very late (upon the arrival of D2X) had been similar, and I too vowed not to submit myself to the pre-release hype of a game again.

And now I see this: A (beautiful) website with loads of empty pages ready for content. A huge discussion about what kind of strategy it shall contain, and how it should be collected. First posts about opening strategies, a guide to MoO newbies and the MoO philosophy. Discussion about succession games: Not only wether there will be any or not, no, but even who will lead them, who's on which team, and which game settings will be used. On other forums, I find advertisement about the RBMoo site and its community (Sirian is an excellent PR person for Realms Beyond, by the way!). Flags are being drawn and discussed. The only thing that hasn't been discussed yet is the nature if the Harvester race! If that's not pre-release hype, I don't know what is. Sure, it started later than for D2, for example, but MoO3 will have a hard time living up to the expectations you all are building up! Just a thought.

But being the hypocrite I am, I have no problems with contributing to the hype and would like to comment on the things I've read about the game.

One thing all reviewers stated was that the manual leaves much to be desired (and even seems to be based on a previous build of the game), and that the ingame descriptions are vague at best, especially on techs. I find that very annoying. I disliked this in Diablo, but considering that MoO3 is a strategy game which is all about numbers, why don't they give exact descriptions about game mechanics and effects of the various techs and settings? The review at Quarter to Three is quite interesting in this regard: They compare the MoO3 UI to civ-like games and note that the latter try to appeal to the casual gamer by having small icons, for example small shields for production power, to give the human brain a chance to visualize the abstract mechanisms inside, thus helping us to understand better what's going on. MoO3 instead has only numbers, and lots of them - so why are they so inconsistent when it comes to the effect of new techs? Sigh I hope that at least all numbers presented on the screens match those used in-game, unlike Diablo 2.

Usually, I prefer bad reviews of games/books/whatever over good ones, because most of the time I know what I want from the product and just like to know where it falls short. Because of this, I liked the Quarter to Three review - I don't think the author has enough patience to appreciate the game's complexity, but it raises some interesting points. For example, space vs. ground combat. While the former seems to be kept quite simple (and the QtT article complains that it's nearly impossible to see what ship is of what design, has what weapons/shields/whatever, hence making it hard to compare different designs - I really hope he's wrong about that!), the latter seems to be overloaded with options and complexity. I find this a bit strange, since I always thought space combat to be more important than ground combat in this kind of game, but we'll see. Another example is the AI. Most reviews praise the AI of your viceroys, which is all fine and dandy, but not much is said about the AI of your opponents. According to QtT, it's quite weak, but I guess with the complexity and the sheer length of one game it's a bit early to tell. After the (IMHO) quite impressive AI of civ3 (despite of all its stupid irrigation projects, worker hunts and other shortcomings), I want to have an equal good one for MoO3 - my enjoyment of the game stands and falls with that. If the AI cheats too much just to remain competetive, I won't like it, but no review tells us something about that.

Some speculations on succession games: The game seems to focus more on the overall picture of your empire than on giving orders every turn, see for example the development plans. I wonder how this effects succession games? You still can move fleets around and conduct diplomacy, but what if you don't agree with the long-term development plans of your predecessor? Since you can't switch off the viceroy AI, you can only indirectly affect certain production queues, so I guess it will be a different kind of SG than for civ3. (Says he who never played a SG before... ). Had there been SGs for the previous MoOs, by the way?

Lastly, don't be fooled by this post: I'm dying to get this game as much as anybody here. I just exercise some "practical pessimism": If the game is bad, I can say "See! I knew it!", and if it's good, it'll be high above my expectations and I can enjoy it even more.

-Kylearan
> Sirian is an excellent PR person for Realms Beyond

Got any links handy?

I swear, I am going for FPS games if MoO bombs.

KoP
Quote
Like
Share

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

February 23rd, 2003, 2:34 am #5

Hi,

no, don't panic, I don't have MoO3 yet. But I finally gave in and submitted myself to the hype and read several reviews of the game and browsed some web forums, and like to share some thoughts about the game.

First, a word on hype and expectations: I have played both previous MoOs, but didn't know that a third is in production until Sirian posted about it (in RBCiv, IIRC). He wrote about his bad experience with the hype about games "soon" to be released, about his feelings of being let down, or even betrayed by Diablo 2, and I fully agreed. My disappointments about D2 and my anger about realizing this very late (upon the arrival of D2X) had been similar, and I too vowed not to submit myself to the pre-release hype of a game again.

And now I see this: A (beautiful) website with loads of empty pages ready for content. A huge discussion about what kind of strategy it shall contain, and how it should be collected. First posts about opening strategies, a guide to MoO newbies and the MoO philosophy. Discussion about succession games: Not only wether there will be any or not, no, but even who will lead them, who's on which team, and which game settings will be used. On other forums, I find advertisement about the RBMoo site and its community (Sirian is an excellent PR person for Realms Beyond, by the way!). Flags are being drawn and discussed. The only thing that hasn't been discussed yet is the nature if the Harvester race! If that's not pre-release hype, I don't know what is. Sure, it started later than for D2, for example, but MoO3 will have a hard time living up to the expectations you all are building up! Just a thought.

But being the hypocrite I am, I have no problems with contributing to the hype and would like to comment on the things I've read about the game.

One thing all reviewers stated was that the manual leaves much to be desired (and even seems to be based on a previous build of the game), and that the ingame descriptions are vague at best, especially on techs. I find that very annoying. I disliked this in Diablo, but considering that MoO3 is a strategy game which is all about numbers, why don't they give exact descriptions about game mechanics and effects of the various techs and settings? The review at Quarter to Three is quite interesting in this regard: They compare the MoO3 UI to civ-like games and note that the latter try to appeal to the casual gamer by having small icons, for example small shields for production power, to give the human brain a chance to visualize the abstract mechanisms inside, thus helping us to understand better what's going on. MoO3 instead has only numbers, and lots of them - so why are they so inconsistent when it comes to the effect of new techs? Sigh I hope that at least all numbers presented on the screens match those used in-game, unlike Diablo 2.

Usually, I prefer bad reviews of games/books/whatever over good ones, because most of the time I know what I want from the product and just like to know where it falls short. Because of this, I liked the Quarter to Three review - I don't think the author has enough patience to appreciate the game's complexity, but it raises some interesting points. For example, space vs. ground combat. While the former seems to be kept quite simple (and the QtT article complains that it's nearly impossible to see what ship is of what design, has what weapons/shields/whatever, hence making it hard to compare different designs - I really hope he's wrong about that!), the latter seems to be overloaded with options and complexity. I find this a bit strange, since I always thought space combat to be more important than ground combat in this kind of game, but we'll see. Another example is the AI. Most reviews praise the AI of your viceroys, which is all fine and dandy, but not much is said about the AI of your opponents. According to QtT, it's quite weak, but I guess with the complexity and the sheer length of one game it's a bit early to tell. After the (IMHO) quite impressive AI of civ3 (despite of all its stupid irrigation projects, worker hunts and other shortcomings), I want to have an equal good one for MoO3 - my enjoyment of the game stands and falls with that. If the AI cheats too much just to remain competetive, I won't like it, but no review tells us something about that.

Some speculations on succession games: The game seems to focus more on the overall picture of your empire than on giving orders every turn, see for example the development plans. I wonder how this effects succession games? You still can move fleets around and conduct diplomacy, but what if you don't agree with the long-term development plans of your predecessor? Since you can't switch off the viceroy AI, you can only indirectly affect certain production queues, so I guess it will be a different kind of SG than for civ3. (Says he who never played a SG before... ). Had there been SGs for the previous MoOs, by the way?

Lastly, don't be fooled by this post: I'm dying to get this game as much as anybody here. I just exercise some "practical pessimism": If the game is bad, I can say "See! I knew it!", and if it's good, it'll be high above my expectations and I can enjoy it even more.

-Kylearan
Until the game comes out, there is very little we can do to judge the game. Reviewers will always have a slant one way or another. Some like TBS, some don't.
Any game is never going to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Yes, I know everyone here knows this but I decided to say it anyway. If people here don't end up enjoying the game, they move on, no big thing. ::cough, DS, NWN, cough::

As far as lack of documentation. To me, that is minor. Everyone knows the better documenation comes out after the game is published anyway. Yes, it would be nice to know EXACTLY how much more damage those MIGHTY METOER MISSLES FROM HELL(tm) do, but the info will come out eventually. All it does is increase the learning curve a bit.

Long games? Yes it looks that way. I will be one of the first to say that may be a problem, but I'll tackle it best I can...even if it means only joining a few select games.

Ground combat/space combat? Space combat is supposedly somewhat RTS or can be handled by the AI. Ground combat, complex and undocumented. Again, something that will be figured out over time.

Finally, I'm sure there will be issues that simply can't be ironed out. It's possible the community as a whole will feel the same way about a particular issue. Will it be addressed in a patch? Who knows. I believe Civ3 took a few patches to get everything to at least competitive?

Anyway, all I'm really trying to say is let us just wait for the game, then take it from there. Bad reviews or not, most of us will end up purchasing it anyway. If it ends up being a dud, so be it. I'll move on. However, I don't think there will be enough bad points to ruin the experience. Anything poorly done will be just something else I'll learn to have to strategize around.

And yes, I am very much looking forward to next week.
Last edited by Brackard on February 23rd, 2003, 2:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Joined: May 22nd, 2002, 7:37 am

February 23rd, 2003, 10:24 am #6

> Sirian is an excellent PR person for Realms Beyond

Got any links handy?

I swear, I am going for FPS games if MoO bombs.

KoP
Hi,

KoP:
Look here, 3rd posting, for an example of some Realms Beyond PR activity.

Drasca:
I second your bias against automation. I realize that MoO3's complexity needs some kind of automation (streamlining?), but I find it very annoying that QS seems to be so inconsistent about it. You can switch off some helper AIs, but not all (viceroys); you can manually insert some things into the build queues, but some things can only be built by the viceroys - argh. I don't like people who think to know better what's good for me.

Yes, I think inconsistency is what scares me most: Level of detail (all the numbers vs. no exact tech description) is another example. I hope QS did a better job when it comes to actual game mechanics, race balance etc.

Zed:
At first I worried about the lack of a "short game of MOO", too, but then I realized that civ3 has the same problem, and I'm surprised how many "short" games of civ3 I have played over the past year.
But I'm somewhat surprised about the size of the smallest galaxy; but maybe the game mechanics don't allow fewer stars without becoming unbalanced.

Brackard:
Yes, of course you are right: The lack of documentation will eventually be overcome by the community's research efforts, but...that's so... unnecessairy. Especially for a game with a steep learning curve. I really like to know why all game designers try to hide the details from the gamer. Some years ago, book publishers noticed that (popular science) books with mathematical formulas won't sell as good as books without formulas, so more and more books left them out and used descriptions in natural language instead - which is much longer and much more inaccurate. Maybe game designers believe the same: "improves spying" instead of "+5 spying" to make the game more appealing for the non-intelligent gamer. Bah. I hate this.

But of course you're right: I don't want to be unfair, so let's wait for the actual game. I was just a bit disappointed after reading all the reviews. Unfortunately, the store where I've preordered the game now says "March, 3rd" for the US version...

-Kylearan

Last edited by Kylearan on February 23rd, 2003, 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

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

February 24th, 2003, 3:11 am #7

Can I use that in part or whole inside here?

http://www.realmsbeyond.net/moo/moosville_welcome.html

Anyway, I am sick of seeing the title "TBA Games". Lets crunch out a name for our Epics style games we all like, else I would just pick one at random - Not A Good Thing!

KoP
Get the url right ;p
Last edited by KingOfPain on February 24th, 2003, 3:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

Sirian
Sirian

February 24th, 2003, 10:12 am #8

You can use any or all of it, if you like, although at this point some of those comments are already obsolete. Lore-weaver's later installments were heavier on strategy and lighter on customization advice.

I made what I consider a better RBMoo pitch in the multiplayer forum over there, under the clans/teams thread. I've been active at OSMoo and some at Poly, and mostly avoiding IGMoo. I have the sense that OSMoo will be the game's "LL" while IGMoo is the "D2SF", though I could be mistaken. Most of you here know I was always an LL sort, and only went to the D2SF (or DSF for that matter) about as many times as could be counted on one person's hands.

As for tourney names... the one I suggested was shot down. I don't have any alternatives, nor have I favored any suggestions forwarded by anyone else. If there's no consensus on alternate names, then "Orion Epics" or "Epics of Orion" will do, I suppose. Then, instead of "Epic One, Epic Two" we abbreviate to "EO One, EO Two" or "RBO One, RBO Two".


- Sirian
Quote
Share

Sirian
Sirian

February 24th, 2003, 5:12 pm #9

Can I use that in part or whole inside here?

http://www.realmsbeyond.net/moo/moosville_welcome.html

Anyway, I am sick of seeing the title "TBA Games". Lets crunch out a name for our Epics style games we all like, else I would just pick one at random - Not A Good Thing!

KoP
Get the url right ;p
I never pretended to be an RB Ambassador or PR Agent. I went to hang out at OSMoo for my own purposes. I've reconsidered my participation there, as of this morning. It's a nice place, but I don't make a good fit there at this time. That probably won't be true for most of the rest of you, so don't let my choice affect yours.

- Sirian
Quote
Share

Ozymandous
Ozymandous

February 24th, 2003, 5:36 pm #10

Most of the MoO forums suck, quite frankly. IGMOO is a zoo, and Apolyton's MOO forums aren't much better (that place has ALWAYS been a pit of negative energy!), and OSMOO is ok, but I still think the crew here is better.

At least here people tend to either buy a game or not, and if they don't buy or like a game they don't necessarily stick around to bad-mouth it constantly.

The only problem with RB is that most everyone has a real job to do so traffic isn't as high (which stinks when you're stuck at work with nothing going on!).
Quote
Share