Endless Space About To Begin, 4th July

By John Walker on June 27th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Space may be endless, but life isn't. Eh? EH?

My plan is to release a 7X game. eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate, eXasperation, eXboyfriend, eXit ab urso actus. But until my great day reaches us, you’ll have to put up with just the four Xs, and as soon as the 4th July. That’s the date that’s just been put on Endless Space, Amplitude’s scifi strategy that’s looking rather good.

The Steam-based beta was apparently a success, with over 20,000 people pitching in to getting it ship-shape (GEDDIT?). And it’s safe to say that Adam rather slightly perhaps kind of adored it when he played.

Americans, you can use this to celebrate the holiday! Non-Americans, you can, er, play this on that day.

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62 Comments »

  1. Anathem says:

    Hope releasing during the Steam Summer Sale doesn’t hurt their sales.

    • Duffin says:

      Possibly but the extra traffic coming through steam might be beneficial for them.

    • postmanmanman says:

      If you hadn’t heard… the sale apparently starts July 15th and goes through July 23rd this year. The dates were leaked by some indie dev on the SPUF, and then sort-of-corroborated by a few other slip-ups.

      I mean, I guess it’s not definite, but it’s sounding like that’s going to be the case.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Heh.. that falls right in the time I’m on vacation. Well, I suppose that might help save money depending on what goes for sale for how much.

  2. Malk_Content says:

    The existence of a Cold War diplomacy setting is perhaps the single greatest new feature I’ve come across. The ability to skirmish outside of owned space, eject non allies from your own territory forcefully and even take control of outposts before they develop into fully fledged colonies, all without going into a state of open war makes conflicts in the game that more interesting, especially in the beginning of the game. In a game like Civ if someone settles near me or is sending scouts to far into what I deem my territory I have to declare open war in order to push back, with Cold War you can start setting up boundaries without both sides having to go into full war production.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      I love said feature as well, but I don’t get what you mean about Civ. Erm, there have been borders that define your territory since III after all…?

      • Kong says:

        @Xardas: did you actually found more than one city and if you did, how close were they?

      • Malk_Content says:

        Sorry I didn’t really mean borders as in a game mechanic but more as “territory I want but haven’t gotten around to settling yet” or even “territory I don’t want others to get” In Civ if another player is eyeing up the same area as you before either of you have laid a solid claim to it (in Endless Space terms a solid claim is to have kept an outpost for 30 turns) the only way you can push them away and assert dominance is by going in to all out war.

  3. Martel says:

    Is July 4th early access or something? Steam says the release date is July 15th.

  4. Bluerps says:

    Pursued by a bear? An endless bear?

  5. bikkebakke says:

    I like geddit, it’s a nice program.

  6. Enzo says:

    Steam says that the game releases on the 15th.

    • dE says:

      Some hours after posting this, the Progress Page and the Steampage had been updated. Disregard this post.

      Steam hasn’t updated the Storepage yet:
      http://forums.amplitude-studios.com/showthread.php?6378-Endless-Space-Releases-on-July-4th


      I’m a bit wary of the release, there are still several bugs creeping up, the endgame performance isn’t that great and comes all inclusive with occasional “memory heap” crashes and the AI is rather terribad in some parts (like ship design or managing its economy).
      I also reckon some of the planned content (http://endless-space.amplitude-studios.com/Progress) will be supplied after the release.

      Still, don’t let that stop you. For the first couple of hours you won’t even notice the AI’s flaws and it looks and plays great. I just wish they hadn’t moved the release date forward and instead done a testing run on the final patch.
      From the current point of view, it’s awesome quality for a beta but not for a release. Let’s hope their release version fixes all of this. It probably will.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Personally I think the game is the best new 4X game since SotS 1. So I am not sure what there is not to like. Sure there are minor issues, but it plays great.

      • Kong says:

        What stopped me playing was the fleet spam. There is a command point cap for fleet size, but the AI may put 10 or more fleets into one sector. Getting rid of them takes a while and the AI has always triple that stashed away. It is a grind, just like Civ stacks back in the days.

        The first 10 hours of Endless Space played quite nice, not a lot of crashes. It is a shame that the lovely battlecard feature is only available if you watch the battle cinematics. That gets quite boring after a while.

  7. kaoswielder says:

    Combat is the only thing putting me off from buying this game. I am one of those who aim for tech or diplomatic victory but do not shy away from combat if need be. Which here is based on some random cards and luck and not on strategy as I’ve heard. I’ try a demo first before buying. Also to anyone speculating about Steam summer sale, I’ve heard that it is 28Jun this year. I’d trust the date when sale has actually started. Till then every rumor is as true or false as every other rumor.

    • dE says:

      Didn’t hear that right. The cards are not random, you research them or gain them through Hero Abilities. Once unlocked, they’re always there to be picked. There’s also the element of ship design, which plays the biggest role in determining the outcome of a battle. So… luck? Not so much.

      And summersale on 28th sounds about right, it’s been the last Thursday in June the first two summersales so it’s not that far fetched to assume it’ll be the last Thursday in June again.

      • kaoswielder says:

        So cards are how you battle right ? And besides picking them for each phase of battle there isnt much to do? That is kinda what worries me :(

        • kemeno says:

          I like the card based mechanic, sort of. I like that I can research special tactics and things like that. It’s more interaction with my fleet that you have in, say, GalCiv 2 (I haven’t played in a while, but I don’t remember much fleet-combat interaction there, if any).

          The counter-based play (some card types negate others) seemed a little silly to me while I was playing, though. It seems too much like dumb luck against an AI. It might be more fun against human opponents, not sure. Some sort of hand-based or limited pool of cards to pick/counterpick (instead of the blind rock-paper-scissors approach used now) would probably be a lot more fun and tie in more nicely with the heroes (which are also pretty cool, by the way).

        • dE says:

          It’s somewhat optimized for Multiplayer that way. The manual battles work as following:

          First it’s divided into phases on a clock. It automatically moves from phase to phase. Each phase is divided into three smaller turns, which govern which weapons shoot first and includes the travel time of projectile weapons.

          Prebattle
          Phase 1 Arrival
          Phase 2 Long Range
          Phase 3 Medium Range
          Phase 5 Short Range
          Phase 5 Results

          Shipmovement, Target selection and all these things are fully automated. You can only influence a battle, once it has started, with the help of cards. While this sounds really simple and basic at first, there are a lot of things to consider which make it much more interesting. The AI is lackluster and uses cards pretty much on a random basis. As I said in another post, the AI is pretty terribad at this point.

          Still it’s never quite random luck.
          Prebattle, you get a report on the other fleet and can see what they’re using against you. Let’s say an enemy is full on missiles. So going into the battle you reach the point where you pick a card. Do you boost defense against missiles? Or do you boost your own offence instead? Might be worth to go for an alphastrike and take out the enemy fleet before they can fire their missiles (Which take 1 turn to aim, 1 turn to fire and 1 turn to arrive). Or you put up a Barrier, rejecting a flat amount of damage.
          So the phase and its three turns play out and the next one starts. Both sides took damage. You could play a repair card. But maybe further boosting your offence could be the better decision?

          Now imagine that with the added element of mindgames against a human player (which I haven’t had the chance to do yet, been strictly playing a cooperative approach with friends). Would the other player pick a repair card? I could counter it, but well the other player knows that I know that the ships are damaged. I could try to sabotage but…

          I think it’s perfect for multiplayer, as it keeps battles short. Most of the legwork is done by scouting and observing ahead of time and building decent ship designs. The battles themselves are short but the cards allow for a surprisingly good amount of control over the battle. And thanks to retrofitting a massively overwhelming enemy fleet might become obsolete as you buff your own ships to counter his ships.
          Yes, it’s not the thrill of handpicking long battles but to be honest, some of the later battles in MOO2 became really quite silly.

          • kaoswielder says:

            How and in what way does ship design affect the battle and how deep is the design part ? On a somewhat similar note, another similar game called Legend of Pegasus is coming in July as well. You guys might wanna keep an eye on that.

          • dE says:

            The design part is the deciding factor in the battle. Your design governs almost everything, from hitpoints to defence, to what weapons you use.
            The basic weapons are beam, kinetic and missiles and you research ever stronger versions of them. Same goes for defence. You pick defence versus the three weapon types. Support modules are a more complex thing. They provide specific boosts and work in conjunction with other modules. Some modules give percentages, others provide flat bonuses. Some allow better ship repair, some boost invasion speed. Some modules increase the space available on a ship at an increased production cost.

            There are other things to consider as well… strategic ressources for example. If you have a monopoly on one, it provides special for your fleet. Heroes further improve your fleets and unlock special ability cards (like a gravity well). Last but not least, ships gain experience. Still, design remains by far the strongest influence.

            Since there are no active components though, it lacks the depth of let’s say MOO2.

          • Eskatos says:

            Just a quick note: there’s no way to alpha strike to prevent missiles being fired. They’ll keep going and hit whether the shooter is destroyed or not.

          • dE says:

            Yes. But they don’t fire in the first turn on a phase. Beams and Kinetics do.

          • Malk_Content says:

            @kaos

            I’ll give you an in game example of how important ship design and card choices are in this game and how strategic they can be.

            I was in open war with an industrial power house of an Empire, they could produce highly armoured and well armed ships like no tomorrow. I was losing the war purely because I could not keep up with producing like quality ships. So after awhile of barely holding my ground, mainly due to my pulling all my heroes of governing duty and putting them in charge of fleets for a defence bonus, I had an idea. In the ship designer I made a ship with no armour, no beam or kinetic weapons (those are most effective in mid to short range) and loaded them up with torpedoes instead, stopping at the point that would put me over being able to produce 1 a turn on my manufacturing systems.

            Now I was able to start pushing back, as although my new Berserker ships would without fail go down in flames before their salvoes of torpedoes reached the enemy and took out at least as many as I had lost, normally 2-3 more. This was aided by my card choice. I didn’t have to know what my opponent would choose, that was irrelevant, but I didn’t know what cards would cause me to not take out enough of his ships should he choose them and I didn’t pick the counter. So in always picking the counter cards I was able to keep my suicide runs being successful.

            Now my economy didn’t need to be as good as his, which is a hard thing to improve when you also need to be producing ships all the time, but only 75% as good. It worked, allowed me to establish a foothold and improve my colonies and by the time I started coming up against vessels loaded with flak defences I was able out produce him. We made peace 20 turns later when I was able to start bombarding his home world.

    • kaoswielder says:

      Thanks for all the replies and insight guys :)

  8. Flappybat says:

    It feels a bit unfair to criticise it when the game is so well made but it just doesn’t feel like it has the ambition to deliver on some of the key pillars of a 4X game. If empire building is inferior to Civilization, combat inferior to Sword Of The Stars and diplomacy and trade the typical bare bones few buttons in a menu the game adds up to a polished, well designed but unengaging experience.

    Whenever I start up the beta I get through a dozen turns and think of how I would rather be playing Civ or SOTS.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      I’m not sure it’s entirely unfair, it has some lovely bits of design and all, but it really does lack depth in any area. I haven’t had the chance to try it properly yet but I imagine this is a game that’s built to shine in multiplayer, where all the streamlining helps make single session games much less of a logistical impossibility.

      As a single player game though it reminds me of Gal Civ 2, everyone loves its slick presentation but basic rock-paper-scissors fleet design, a tendancy for “the same but 1+ damage” tech trees and a certain homogeneity between races makes it feel bland very quickly. The little breaks in the formula are welcome and certainly make it better than Gal Civ 2, but they’re too few and far between for me.

      But I think I tend to be overly critical of 4X games, I’ve found Gal Civ 2, Sins of a Solar Empire, and this one all a little dissapointing after all the gushing reviews. That said I loved the original SoTS and found MoO 3 massive fun, so maybe I’ve just got very specific tastes.

      • Flappybat says:

        Swords is very slow in multiplayer but the depth of tactical options really makes up for it. The tech tree was also a lot more interesting with each player able to go in vastly different directions.

      • Tharios says:

        I’m…well, I’m kind of astonished. MoO 3 had to be in the top 5 most unenjoyable games I’ve ever played. I haven’t reviewed my list in quite some time.

        Seems in this context I’ll be enjoying Endless Space…well, endlessly. I could be wrong about that, but not about MoO 3 being a poorly gilded and disappointing shadow of MoO 2.

        But, to each their own, I suppose.

  9. Bhazor says:

    0:36

    Wow. That character design is wild, I mean I know this is a sci-fi game but it should still have some grounding in reality. I mean a character with a crew cut and a five o’clock shadow? Outlandish.

    I can see why they gave that portrait a five second pitch and just ignored the far more impressive mods they squeezed in at the end.

  10. Hunchback says:

    Is it just me, or the trailer music is heavily battle star galactica influenced?

  11. xMrSunshine says:

    When the final beat hit on the trailer, I hit the continue button on Steam to proceed to pay 30€ for this game.

    Looks awesome and even if I don’t like the game, I feel like these guys have something great going on and I’d like to see them keep going.

  12. MythArcana says:

    Goodbye Steam-based game. If it’s not released on the dev’s site or GG, then it’s on my ignore list.

    • Brun says:

      Must be fun missing out on so many games.

      • Vinraith says:

        There’s not exactly a shortage of brilliant non-Steamworks games out there.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Hardly, but looking at my desktop, I can’t help but notice that 2 of the three games I have recently been playing the most use Steamworks. And the third one is a MMO (EVE).

    • Xardas Kane says:

      I honestly pity you, I’m not even trying to be mean here. You must be missing out on so many great games, and for what? I personally haven’t had any problems with Steam.

      • Brun says:

        Based on his prior comments, I believe his problems with Steam are philosophical, rather than technical.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          That puzzles me. This is business, it’s just a store for games. It works well, nothing is stopping you from playing your games , and there are often great sales to boot. I just don’t see one logical reason to stay away from Steam, and I am saying this as someone who hated the thing when it launched with Half Life 2.

          • solymer89 says:

            Here’s a logical reason, at any time and for any reason, steam can lock you from all those games you’ve purchased and played over the years. Also, there is no physical ownership on the users end in regards to Steam. I had many issues with this back in 08 after I purchased The Last Remnant only to find out I needed this thing called Steam to play it. Then I found out I had to be online all the time to even access and play this single player game I purchased from an actual brick and mortal store.

            Fact is, folks are being bedazzled by how convenient Steam is and all their sales, but the reality is, you don’t own any of those games you payed full price for. You only own a right to play those games. I say all this with my thirty plus games I’ve downloaded on Steam since that fateful day in 08…..

          • Brun says:

            I had to be online all the time

            Wat. Steam doesn’t require you to be online all the time.

            at any time and for any reason, steam can lock you from all those games you’ve purchased and played over the years

            While there have been instances of this happening since Steam released, none of them happened “for any reason.” The persons it happened to were almost always doing something shady. Even the false alarms – people who weren’t actually doing shady things – were doing things that many people found questionable.

            reality is, you don’t own any of those games you payed full price for. You only own a right to play those games.

            This, I think, is the real issue most of the last holdouts have with Steam. But, take a closer look at the EULA that games make you accept on install and you’ll find that this is the case for almost every “big” game, even those that don’t use Steam. There’s nothing new or unique about it – all Steam did was make it more visible by putting your games behind a login prompt.

          • solymer89 says:

            Yes, true, you don’t need to be online all the time, just have an active connection when you start up which in my mind is almost the same as requiring an active connection all the time. I only brought up the idea that you don’t have absolute control over your library because anything can happen in this regard. I’m not saying Valve has gone around locking accounts and cackling like witches, just saying, the ability is there, whereas a single player game I purchase and have a CD for, I will always be able to play at any time for any reason.

            I’ve gotten over the idea that I need a tangible product in my hand to satisfy my purchase, as evidenced by all the games I’ve purchased and downloaded with Steam. I like the fact that so much of the middle-manning is being removed from the production to the sales aspect. I still miss my box art and worthwhile game booklets that always used to come with any new game. It is a tough call either way, its not so cut and dry is all I’m really trying to say.

          • Brun says:

            Yes, true, you don’t need to be online all the time, just have an active connection when you start up

            There are widely varying reports on whether this issue actually exists – it seems to for some and not for others.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Yes, Steam can lock you out. And a hurricane can destroy your room and all games in it. Neither has happened to me so far, I’ve never had any problems with Steam whatsoever.

            I am not going to talk about how “one-time online activation” suddenly turned into “always-on”. I’m just going to say that yet again, someone hates Steam, without me seeing any logic. I honestly just don’t see your point.

          • RegisteredUser says:

            I agree that the “all eggs in one basket” concept of steam is scary; I also agree with the online aspect being an issue. There may be the offline mode, but you can’t exactly set a game to “just run god dammit” anytime you want to play it(what I mean: I want to be able to play a steam game offline while running a steam game update download at the same time e.g.), you have to do the whole song and dance and bother with stuff.
            Its not always-online, but still pretty bad.
            And it _IS_ often used as copy-protection as well, so it does restrict your offline, independent, anytime use.

            The only reason I’ve given in to steam at all is that half my list of games is stuff from the Humble Indie Bundles, the Valve games like CS:S and L4D2 are long term supported, online only games in the first place and the steam sales made them incredibly cheap to own(<= 10 EUR for each).

            I do not see steam as problematic as a store to sell and deliver games. It is one of the best at doing exactly that and I laud and encourage their actual business side there.

            I see it as problematic because it also contains and encourages DRM and copy protection(no matter how mild).

    • Tharios says:

      If you think it’s bad now…wait til 2020…there will be no discs or physical copies for any games, ever, anywhere…not even for consoles. So, you’ll pretty much never play a new game again, and your “principles” on the matter will be meaningless and forgotten.

      I don’t like it either, honestly, but the majority of people either do like it, or are indifferent, and therefore it will not change back. Maybe instead those who dislike it can try to find and suggest ways of making it something they’re more comfortable with by moving forward instead of going back to “the old way”.

      Just a thought, if you really believe what you believe, anyway.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        He didn’t argue against digital delivery, just Steam if I understand correctly.

        Not sure what he meant with GG.

  13. Vinraith says:

    Can any of the beta folks comment on the state of the AI?

    Are there any plans for a non-Steamworks version after the beta?

    • Makaze says:

      It’s OK, not great, at present. But like the rest of the game is far and away better than you’d expect.

      It tends to stick with a particular weapon/armor setup and so you can pretty well shellack them militarily by building towards that if you’re only fighting one. It gets somewhat harder fighting multiples that can have different weapon setups. It seems to be much better with some races than others, I’ve seen some monstrous AI Sower empires for example (which kind of makes sense). I have a feeling it will improve as time goes on.

      It’s a freaking genius compared to the Civ 5 tactical AI which I just had the displeasure of becoming reacquainted with last night.

    • dE says:

      /edit: Grain of salt:
      We didn’t have the chance to test the final patch. So all of this might be moot at release.

      Like I replied above, the AI needs work. It’s good enough in some parts and pretty bad in other parts.
      There are currently two areas which really need work. If you want to go into detail, check the official forums. There are plenty of topics about AI at the moment.

      1) Shipdesign
      This is the part where the AI falls flat. There’s a large amount of issues here. For example, never fully using the space available on ships. It doesn’t use support modules and It also fails to implement current technology properly, always mixing lowest tier weapons with high tier weapons. Part of bad ship design… well fleet design is the urge to put colony administrators on starships and pilots in charge of running a colony.
      Let’s not forget that the AI doesn’t retrofit older ships either. So mid to late game, some of your spacebattles against the AI end up being 1000 Military Power versus 30.000 Military Power (not exagerated)

      2) Economy
      The AI doesn’t understand improvements. Or rather when to use which improvements on a system. Instead it will build all of them (with few exceptions). Since improvements come with a constant maintenance cost, that’s not too smart. So there’s a planet with a full population? The AI doesn’t care, it has all Food Improvements running and never bothers cancelling all the now pointless improvements. Sounds simple but drags the economy down to idiotic levels where it loses more than it would make otherwise.
      Otherwise. Which brings me to AI Cheating, the AI cheats and quite massively so. They have massive boosts on all resources. Which leads to late game fleet spam. At some points it starts pumping out ships like mad. Armadas that would all but crush and destroy the player – if the ship design weren’t so lackluster that they can’t scratch player fleets.

      Minor AI Issues:
      The diplomatic AI is a bit idiotic as well. Sometimes they will demand you supply them with… nothing and will give… nothing in return and end up quite happy because you went along with it.

      The tactical AI doesn’t understand the concept of defence. It will often focus its defence on a single planet with a massive stack of (not so much) doom. Planets to the left and right are left undefended.

      • kaoswielder says:

        That cheating by AI is one of the things what annoys me greatly. I’ve seen it in Armada 2556 and before that in AoE 2 and even before that. This not only stops me from deciding how to win the game (I usually go for tech or dip victory) but makes the end-game annoying when screen size fleets are duking it out. Hope it gets toned down or fixed in the final release or in patches later. Any official word if there will be a demo ?

    • Vinraith says:

      Thanks for the detailed answers!

      It sounds like my default position, which has been “wait and see,” is still the way to go. Hopefully this stuff will get resolved in due course and the game will live up to its potential, but in its present state I think I’d find it more frustrating than fun.

      I’m also still hoping for a non-Steamworks release, though that may be in vain.

    • Zenicetus says:

      “OK, but not great” seems about right to me, too. I still tend to screw up my own games with poor economic management and over-expansion, rather than being trounced by the AI, but there have been occasional surprises. While the AI is still somewhat limited (especially in Diplomacy), the dev team seems to have a handle on where things need improving. dE’s list of problems above is accurate, but at least these don’t seem like the kind of things that can’t be fixed.

      I think there’s a limit to how much one can expect from AI in this kind of game anyway. All I ask is that it offer a reasonable challenge, and be fun to play. So far, I’m pretty well hooked on the game, although I don’t know (yet) if it will have enough depth to keep me interested for the long-term.

      As for a change from Steamworks after the beta, I doubt that will happen since they’re using it to run the multiplayer component of the game.

  14. smg77 says:

    There is no logical reason to hate on Steam any longer. Especially not when you compare it to a service like Origin that deserves every bit of scorn it gets.

    • Brun says:

      I don’t really have a problem with Origin. It’s basically just a Steam clone – the biggest issue I had with it was that it causes additional market fragmentation (which is not needed), but even that hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be because EA is basically selling only their exclusive titles there. So people will go to Origin to buy EA titles and Steam for everything else.

  15. shadow9d9 says:

    How is the multiplayer in this? There hasn’t been a good multiplayer turn based game since Civ 4 or maybe total war 2:shogun.

  16. Universal Quitter says:

    But President Whitmore said the 4th of July was gonna be a world holiday…maybe he was just being foolhardy.

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