Surf Solar Sins: Diplomacy Beta on Pre-Order

By Jim Rossignol on December 9th, 2009 at 3:38 pm.


As much as I dislike the beta-access for pre-order trend, this is one case in which I’m sorely tempted to just slap down the cash. Sins Of A Solar Empire’s second expandy update thing, Diplomacy, will open its beta (currently in progress) to anyone who pre-orders via Impulse. It requires the original game and Entrenchment to play, but I have been playing the crap out of Entrenchment over the past few weeks. Diplomacy pretty much adds everything I’ve been lusting for in the 4xRTS, which means diplomatic tech tree, diplomatic ships, and a host of other non-violence options for your Solar Empire. The problem of course, is that I haven’t really got time to be playing another reinvigorated RTS. Anyone else’s finger hovering over the button?

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28 Comments »

  1. malkav11 says:

    To clarify, is it just the beta that needs both original Sins and Entrenchment? ’cause if the full thing requires Entrenchment, it seems to me like that kind of defeats the purpose of having separate mini-expansions.

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    It looks like Diplomacy will require Entrenchment. And you’re right, that seems plenty stupid.

    • GibletHead2000 says:

      From a marketing standpoint, I think so. From a gameplay standpoint… Hmm, not so sure. It must be pretty hard to balance an RTS anyway, and Sins does a really really good job of that. Having to balance the game if tech tree a but not b is there, plus b but not a, plus both, would be very hard I’d think.

      This would be an even bigger problem with future expansions, as the permuations grow very quickly. Rather unfortunately, they’ve announced that this will be the last one. *frownyface*

    • malkav11 says:

      I could swear that when they originally announced the plans to do these that there were going to be three (though I don’t recall what the last one was going to be) and that you could pick and choose based on what you were interested in adding.

      Although I guess I could still do that, as the defensive options of Entrenchment were mostly what I was interested in. And further, it’s a bit silly of me to even care considering I got really bored with Sins really fast in singleplayer / coop comp-stomp and have zero desire to play competitive multiplayer anything.

    • Matt says:

      @Malkav

      There were originally supposed to be 3. But the again, Diplomacy was supposed to be out last summer too. Ironclad bit off a bit more than they can chew and have since scaled things back.

  3. DMJ says:

    You mean… We will be able to talk to the space-ships?

  4. JonFitt says:

    I seem to remember mentions of three pack too. No idea what the third one was going to be. Maybe a single player campaign?

    On the “requires Entrenchment” front: if they’ve designed and balanced it as a cumulative expansion, assuming the Entrenchment additions exist, then this makes sense. I don’t see any problem there.

    There might be a few people who bought Sins and want Diplomacy but not Entrenchment, but they’ll be few on the ground. Most likely people who want a Sins expansion at this stage bought Entrenchment, and everyone else will get it in the inevitable Gold Edition.

  5. Railick says:

    They did say they were going to release 3 and that you wouldn’t have to have one to get t the other, the idea being if you wanted a certain part of your game expanded you only had to buy the part that interested you instead of getting the parts you don’t want in your game mixed in with the parts you do want. I guess they threw that out the window when they realized how hard it would be to manage the balance like was said above :P I’m really kind of surprised they even made this one at all.
    Some sort of single player story expansion would be nice but like was also said above I moved on for this game a long time ago. Personally what I’ve always wanted was some tweaking to the scale. The Frigates don’t look that much smaller when compared to capital ships it just doesn’t feel right to me. I’m sure someone has made a mod to this effect since then but it’s to late for me.

    Shadowcat “It hammers at my retinas like an evil woodpecker of pure energy”

  6. Gumbomasta says:

    Push the button, Jim. You know you want to… Save it for the downtime and dive in.

  7. Malibu Stacey says:

    Casting issues of balance aside, it’d likely be a total nightmare for the devs to patch 4 (or 7 when the 3rd expansion is released) different permutations of the same game each time they find something they need to address.

  8. goodgimp says:

    I had Diplomacy pre-ordered long ago, the Beta access was just a bonus. I haven’t played too much with it yet, though. Similar to Stardock, Ironclad starts their “betas” in an earlier stage than most companies. The framework of the new tech tree is in place, envoy ships are in the game, but there’s still a lot that needs to be fleshed out, especially on the AI side.

  9. PC Monster says:

    Bought and paid for – w00t! I may have a fiddle with this later on tonight if I’ve got time.

  10. Alexander Norris says:

    Do you need to have the expansions installed in order to play with people who have the expansions installed, or do they just get access to tech stuff that you don’t get? I ask, since I bought Sins for $10 during the Thanksgiving sale and might fancy some online games of it, but don’t want to have to plonk down $20 on expansions just so my client is compatible with everyone else’s.

  11. Vinraith says:

    Ugh, why am I not surprised? Would it have been too much to ask, considering that diplomacy in the base game is unusably FUBAR, to at least patch it into usefulness before “expanding” it and charging for the fix? Entrenchment seemed like a perfectly reasonable micro-expansion content-wise, this one might be as well but it’s also addressing one of the most fundamental problems with the game, and people shouldn’t have to pay extra to get their “RT4X” game with a working diplomacy sysytem.

    • goodgimp says:

      There’s as much content here as Entrenchment had. The idea was always to release a set of mini-expansions digitally (originally 3, now stopping at 2) and then bundle them together and sell as a full expansion pack at retail.

      Ironclad’s a pretty small developer, trying to maintain so many code branches would be a nightmare:

      -Sins Stand-alone
      -Sins + Entrenchment
      -Sins + Entrenchment + Diplomacy
      -Sins + Diplomacy

  12. Railick says:

    The diplomacy system works in Sins of a Solar Empire as it stands it is just . . . you know not REALLY a diplomacy system. It is more a quest systme with faction adjustments for rewards. It has the same amount of diplomacy as Ever Quest did when it first came out (in that if you got the Freeport guards 10 Orc Belts they’d like you more)

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s a broken quest system, actually. Half the objectives are either strategically impossible or actively not in the interests of the power requesting them. It’s functionally impossible to maintain an alliance, and consequently the whole thing is best left turned off. This, of course, makes a game that was already basically just an RTS game with an unusual scale into something to which the term “RT4X” can only be applied with a mocking sneer.

    • dadioflex says:

      “This, of course, makes a game that was already basically just an RTS game with an unusual scale into something to which the term “RT4X” can only be applied with a mocking sneer.”

      Great line!

  13. Railick says:

    I’ve never had any trouble maintaining an alliance with any one race (it is much harder to maintain alliances with both races while they fight each other and is really down to luck of the draw. If you get easy missions where you just have to tribute it is fine but if they want you to destroy something of the other nation it is obviously going to start a war between the two of you ;P) So yes as I alluded to above it is a quest system with faction adjustments but it isn’t broken, just NOT diplomacy at all.

    I would like to see something similiar to what they’ve got in Paradox games which are real time as well.

    • Vinraith says:

      Maybe they’ve tweaked the quest parameters since last I played, it has been about a year and a half. I certainly hope so.

      Not that it really matters anyway, Sword of the Stars has completely subverted any desire to ever play Sins again, being as it’s basically a turn based version of the game I wanted Sins to be.

  14. We Fly Spitfires says:

    I didn’t know there was another expansion coming. I’m so excited!

  15. Sunjammer says:

    Why would you NOT want Entrenchment? It hugely improves the game!

    My #1 critique of Sins (outside of core things about the game that can grate, such as, you know, how long it takes to play) has been the absolutely hilariously bad diplomacy, and it’s good to see they’re fixing it. Downloading the beta as i type this.

  16. Railick says:

    The worst thing about Sins is the fact that once you win the game you still have to WIN the game. In other words once you have a fleet built that can’t be stopped you still have to grind through solar system after solar system destroying everything and there is no chance of the computer coming back and winning from behind (Or the other player or you if playing multiplayer) So more or less it’s just another tank rush game only slowed down in the extreme so that it takes forever to finish the tank rush :P I don’t know if the first mini-expanison fixed that or just made it even worse by slowing down the game even more but I don’t see how adding diplomacy would effect that either.

  17. Sunjammer says:

    Well i enjoyed that. But I’m not sure it’s worth much outside of larger games. 1v1 Sins’ is still sort of a waste of time. This update makes larger games including AI players much more attractive though, considering you can finally make demands of *them*, to the point of making them your bitches and force them to attack on your behalf.

    Like Railick says, the momentum is still enormous. Once the ball starts rolling it can take superhuman effort to stop it. Entrenchment did fix a lot of it by making counters much more effective however; I’ve seen vast poorly made up armies fall apart at the seams facing only a properly equipped starbase and mine field. Defense is a big part of the game now. If you like turtling, it’s a good game. Now you can sort of turtle and win economically by manipulating other players, which is a nice change.

  18. Munken says:

    Nice stealth Fuck Buttons reference there Jim. Good to know it isn’t just Kieron trying to cram pop music in where it possibly doesn’t belong.

  19. Peace of Eight says:

    I’m utterly baffled by the apparent success of Sins. The fully patched and expanded Sword of the Stars is a far, far better game. The demo of Sins left me alternately yawning at the stale ideas and snickering at the child-like clumsiness of its implementation. Get SotS Ultimate with Argos Naval Yard; you’ll be much happier.

  20. Railick says:

    1) It looks great at first glance and in screen shots. Looks down right amazing with the ability to zoom in and out from galaxy scale down to being zoomed into a ships window in a few seconds. This kind of thing looks great in videos and trailers (Of course the actual usage of it is kind of limited just like Supreme Commander you’re either going to be zoomed out a lot just looking at the little icons or zoomed in missing the big picture)
    2) It has the Stardock name attached to it. When this game came out Stardock was riding high on their rep from games like Galactic Civilizations 2, this was before the whole Demigod ordeal and before Frogboy said he hated his own customers in an official Stardock blog :P lol
    3)When this was released there were not any other games like it out there. Sword and the Stars may have been out but it is a turn based game. It was unique in the market and I think that drew a lot of attention.
    4)It was released without any sort of copy protection which a lot of people in the internet for whatever reason love. (Personally I don’t care what it has) This combined with number 2 just drew in all sorts of customers IMO
    5)The game got a ton of good press before it was released. I knew about it coming out before it was released (Which is rare for me I normally don’t see any adds for anything any where) Plus it got good reviews when it came out as well.

    So in summation I don’t think Sins of a Solar Empire’s success had anything to do with game play itself and had more to do with the hype surrounding it and the reputations of the company involved.

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