Wot I Think: Distant Worlds – Universe

By Adam Smith on May 30th, 2014 at 9:00 pm.

No tease before the jump here, let’s get straight to it. Distant Worlds: Universe is my favourite space strategy game. Not my favourite space strategy game released this week and not my favourite space strategy game released this year. It’s the definitive version of the best space strategy game I’ve ever played and I want to share the excitement with everyone, starting with an old friend. The transcript below explains all.

I was going to write a conventional Wot I Think, whatever the hell that means, but my good friend Admiral Adama happened to be visiting for a night of brandy and cheesestrings. I was saving my latest campaign when he arrived early and bustled through the door (he has his own key; we used to have ‘a thing’). He spied the screen and asked what the heck I was playing.

Adama: What the heck are you playing? Is that the new Battlestar Galactica game?

Me: There isn’t a new Battlestar Galactica game. This is Distant Worlds: Universe and it’s just about the hottest slice of space this side of an Eta Carinae family reunion.

Here we can see some ships that were constructed in a shipyard because the player needed some ships.

Adama: Or a Cylon deathfleet, right? Sure, sure. This Distant Worlds just looks like a lot of pokey little graphics crawling around on a screen though. Where’s the fun in that? Do I get to be a crater-faced space hero?

Me: That’s a good question and conveniently leads to one of the best things about this brilliant game. Help yourself to a cheesestring by the way, I’m going to be talking for a while here.
Notionally, Distant Worlds is about building an empire, moving your people from planet to planet and system to system in an attempt to dominate the other spacefaring civilisations of the universe. Domination can take many forms. Perhaps you’ll construct hundreds of fleets and bombard alien colonies from above, or maybe you’ll construct a trading powerhouse and control galactic economies. You can even be the Butlins of your local spiral arm by owning a chain of gorgeous cultured planets that attract shiploads of tourists.

But if you’d rather concentrate on space heroics, you can design a ship, using all the latest hyperdrive tech, weapons and shielding, and set out to explore far-off stars. You might find beacons that direct you toward derelict ships from the previous interstellar age, or giant insects and slugs that live in the void and want nothing more than to eat your crew. If you head out into the depths of the great unknown, you might even find evidence of machine species that herald the end of days for all sentient life.

Adama: Sounds like my kind of gig. But if I’m sailing the solar winds of an ancient star system, chugging supernova fumes and fighting the good fight, won’t my empire fall apart without a gruff, noble hand to guide it?

Me: Not likely. You’re only as necessary as you choose to be.

I'll take the alt text crap from here. It's time for the Adama administration.

Adama: I choose to be absolutely necessary at all times.

Me: I know that all too well, Admiral. You could take a hands-on approach and manage almost everything that happens. To start with, if you choose to control a pre-interstellar race, that’s easy enough. Choose which areas of research the science bods should focus their energies on and work toward building your first spaceships. There won’t be many parts to choose from and you’ll most likely start with construction and exploration vessels, the former to harness the resources of your local sun, moons and planets, and the latter to look for resource-rich asteroids in the vicinity.

Developing the tech to break away from your home system takes a while but within a couple of hours, you’ll have a web of colonies and connections, with ships zipping back and forth between them. The largest maps in the game have 1,400 stars and each could have a full system of planets and moons. It’s a big old world out there.

Adama: I’ve seen it.

Me: Not this one. The universe is randomly generated and can take different forms. Fancy playing on a map that has isolated ‘islands’ of systems so that civilisations have time to develop before harnessing the power to reach one another? The choice is yours. Perhaps you’d favour a spiral galaxy.

Adama: I’d favour a spot of that good brandy.

Me: Apologies. There’s a bottle of the tasty stuff hidden behind the bleach.

Adama: Clever. I’ll get on it. This all sounds a tad complicated. Not that I’d need help, but if I decided that I wanted to delegate some of the busy-work that comes with being a widely admired and respected leader of men, how would I go about it?

Me: Delegation is simplicity itself. I compare Distant Worlds to Crusader Kings II, that one with the incest and family feuds that you reckon is responsible for 94% of teen pregnancies.

Adama: Filthy game and not the kind of thing I’d like to see spreading into the sci-fi sphere. There’s no inter-species sholly-gogging here, I hope?

Me: Not quite. The game does have characters who go about their business but not on the same level as in CK II. I’m reminded of it because Distant Worlds similarly puts the player in the position of a ruler rather than an omniscient, omnipotent god. Take Civilization – who do you play in Civilization? You’re not a character, you’re an idea. In Distant Worlds your society will function without your input and you can choose precisely how much is automated.

All the things that you don’t care about can be handled by the computer, which is a blessing when you’re straddling a hundred systems and trying to keep your mind from collapsing in on itself. There are plenty of sliders to tinker with, so you can set the ‘character’ of the automation, deciding where your empire should direct its efforts. And you can switch settings on the fly as well.

What is this? Is this some lame anime now? Ha ha. So not cool.

Adama: Could be useful if I was the sort of person who had a mind capable of collapsing in on itself. Everything’s ship-shape here though. Did I tell you that Mensa invited me to be the new president? Of Mensa?

Me: No, and it didn’t happen. Even the greatest commander in the universe couldn’t hope to control everything though, not in a game as detailed, intricate and enormous as Distant Worlds. Thankfully there are private corporations to do a lot of the boring stuff.

You know how in some games you’ll have to direct every mining ship or woodcutting peasant to make sure the job gets done?

Adama: I only play games that are mostly about lasers and planetbusting torpedoes.

Me: You’ll just have to trust me on this. Micromanagement can be tedious and Distant Worlds cares about making best use of the time you choose to spend playing it.

Let’s say you find a moon with some basic but essential resources. You’re going to want to harvest those resources but that might require construction of a mining facility and a steady flow of ships to pick up the produce of that facility. The entire operation might span a dozen star systems and there could be pirates or unpleasant space monsters somewhere along the route.

Building the cargo ships and their armed escorts would take a fair bit of time, and setting up the route and monitoring it for problems could be a full-time job. And that’s precisely what it would be – a job. Not fun. Not something you’d want to spend time doing if nobody was paying you. Good news then, because the simulation will handle all of that for you.

As soon as the mining facility is in place, private corporations will send their own ships and create a loop. Your military will provide escorts, should you allow it do so through automation. If a huge pirate incursion takes place, other military ships will respond and everything will flash up at the side of the screen so that you can intervene at any point.

If you want to, you can set every level of automation to ‘full’, sit back and watch the history of a universe play out before your eyes.

I once piloted a ship the size of a city through an asteroid field. It was way more impressive than anything Han Solo has ever done. So manly.

Adama: What about these pirates? Can I shoot lasers and planetbusting torpedoes at them?

Me: Sure, why not? You can use them as well though, hiring them as a sort of private military. You can even play as a pirate faction if you want to. When setting up a new game you have access to all the content from the base game and expansions, and can choose which bits to include, which era of the galaxy to start in, which determines how far civilisations have spread and how much tech they have. You can even customise everything and plug in all the content at once but start from scratch, as a puny single planet species.

Adama: Like you chumps.

Me: Precisely. But you’re the one who was so desperate to make your way back here.

Adama: Touché. Brandy?

Me: Don’t mind if I do.

This looks like Jason Pollock got his hands on somebody's iPad. Where are the lasers?

Adama: Give me an elevator pitch. Why is this the best space strategy game ever made?

Me: Because it’s a proper working simulation of space travel, economics, resource management, diplomacy, combat, research, construction, exploration, migration, tourism and just about everything else that might be relevant. The existence of the private corporations alone makes it a hundred times smarter and credible as a simulated model than any other game of this type that I can think of. It does almost everything that every other game in the genre does but rather than focusing on the strategic game, it focuses on the simulation. While that may be dissatisfying to people who want a boardgame type experience, Distant Worlds is doing something that only a computer can do.

Adama: And that ‘something’ is to do with simulation I take it? Boy, when did simulation become your favourite word? Why don’t you marry a simulation? And was that a Mass Effect elevator you just pitched me in? Because, hoo man, that took a while. Ha ha.

Me: Shut up. The AI is excellent as well, which is kind of important considering it’s doing a lot of work in your empire as well as the others. You can really scrutinise how it works because it’s operating right in front of you, and you can tinker with its procedures. Good AI is rare. You’ve stopped listening, haven’t you?

Adama: What now?

Me: Should I even bother talking about the new set of modding tools that allow you to tweak and change all kinds of variable, and should lead to a bounty of great user-made downloads?

Adama: Maybe. Sure, whatever. How many lasers does it have?

Me: 1,400 star systems can have a whole lot of lasers in them. You can destroy an entire planet if that sort of thing tickles your fancy.

Adama: Are there cylons on the planet?

Me: There might be something very much like them.

Is this hot space action? SOMEBODY BLOW UP THE PLANET

Adama: Let’s do it. I’m sold. Maybe I could get into this kind of thing.

Me: I actually welled up last night when I zoomed out and saw how far my Voyager class ships were travelling. From one pale blue dot to a peaceful network that crossed eternities. The title is evocative, don’t you think, and even though the graphics are functional rather than fancy, the music and the sound of solitary engines in the vast loneliness capture something of the magnificence of travel and expansion.

It’s a game that really does impress with its scale and part of the cleverness of the automation is that it lets you sit back and enjoy the worlds you colonise or subdue. In fact, instead of watching Vato on repeat for six hours while we wreck another couple of bottles, why don’t we set a universe running and project it onto the wall? So many stories playing out before our eyes.

Adama: Hold on, hoss. Did you say you welled up watching these little ships moving around, with all the numbers and strategy things going on? That true?

Me: Uh-huh.

Adama: Don’t want to sound cold, but that’s some messed up behaviour right there.

Me: You’re the guy wearing an Admiral’s uniform from a TV show you starred in.

Edward: Woah, hey now, what? You’re the one who wants to marry this video machine game! Doesn’t it have any flaws?

Me: Complex and enormous as it is, the opening of each game can be a little predictable. Things only tend to become really interesting when civilisations meet. Of course, you can start a game with empires already in play but even though I class the pre-interstellar phase as the most boring part, I like to begin from the beginning.

It’s expensive too.

Edward: Money is no object. And if it were, I’d just pawn a few of my medals. Ha ha. Ha.

Me: Are you crying? Never mind. One other thing – among the 22 playable species, there’s a race of ‘strikingly attractive green-skinned humanoids’. They’re not all ladies, but the picture that represents them inevitably is of a lady. They’re my favourite to play as…

Edward: You old dog!

Me: …because they’re peaceful artistic types. But I’d much prefer it if the graphic for them was a green-skinned gent in a dapper coat and tails. Just to escape the Kirk-lovin’ cliche.

Edward: I could have out-ladied Kirk.

Me: Quite. Cheesestring, Edward?

Edward: Yes. I think I will have just one more. You know I will.

The sign says 'Rescue' because I can save you with a cuddle and a kiss. Signing out.

Me: Thanks for your time!

Edward: Eh?

Me: Sorry. Force of habit.

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131 Comments »

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  1. Antsy says:

    Sorry, but I was picturing Lorne Green through all of that. Except the Edward bits, i’m not mental.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Are we to infer from Adama’s lack of objection that it doesn’t have networked multiplayer?

    • Dozer says:

      Touché Smingleigh, touché!

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      Heh.

      Another pretender to the MOO2 crown, then, and MOO2 remains unmoved. How they managed to do so much more in the DOS-era than anybody has managed to do with a 4X since continues to amaze me.

      • Daemoneyes says:

        I feel it would be able to replace MoO2 if it was more accessible and less clunky.

        MoO2 is such a great game but not because its the most complex, it just feels good to play MoO2 because it has a certain flow. Drag a ship there, drag a citizen from science to farming, a solid but easy to understandable Tech menu, etc. And it has depth, despite being so easy to access.

        Distant Worlds is okay but it has several problems.
        1) its Fleet AI is dumb as fuck.
        For example it keeps sending single ships at space monsters in the starting phase, this effectively kills your ships one after the other and if you dont realize that fast enough you can keep feeding them till you basically screwed up the expansion phase.
        Almost the same happens later in war, the AI forms to small fleets which get annihilated one after the other because it sends them in small fleet after small fleet while the enemy sits there with 2-3 coalition fleets.
        And yes i tweaked the AI to increase the Fleet size and increase the size of ships it would take against enemys, still happens all the time.

        2) Message flood starts once your empire reaches a certain size
        Even in the lowest speed you get spammed with info and decisions to make way to fast, you hardly can even take your time to read up about something, be it diplo with someone or trying to find a new planet to colonize.
        Also they get repetitive as hell and really annoying once you get 300 creds from that certain race as gift for the fking 500 time you just want to annihilate them!

        3) Ship building is complex but the complexity gets more in the way then it does any good.
        I guess i am not the only one that just wants to say:
        20 lasers, 5 rockets, zortrium armor, mk5 shield and 2 landing shuttles, make it happen!
        No instead i have to add life support modules every x lasers and naturally i need to add item x to because they couldnt be bothered to leave that stupid stuff to the guys who build the ship, instead they annoy their leader and this can bring you into the salt mines easier then you think!
        Also they missed a great opportunity to further incorporate corporations, for example wouldnt it have been great if you put together what you want on a Ship and then you get several designs to choose from that are further developed from the corporations?
        Results could have been something like:
        Ares Corp: bulky looking design but the ship would get +10% more armor and cost 1% less
        Shiawase Corp: sleek and fast looking desing, ship gets +10% speed but costs 1% more

        Oh sry i am rambling again
        Still Distant Worlds is one of the better 4x atm but all hail to the king MoO2!

        • mmalove says:

          I’ve often said I love MOO1’s ship designer above all the modern ones. I think this is why. MOO’s ship designer had a fair bit of complexity, in that most systems included both their own costs and a power cost, which required a number of engine units to meet, which in turn had their own costs. So the complexity was there and created interesting tradeoffs/advantages to investing in different technologies, and engine upgrades were pretty significant, but it didn’t bog down the game.

        • iridescence says:

          Actually ship designing is one of my favorite parts of the game exactly because there are so many tradeoffs you have to make. If it was just a matter of ordering a ship with lots of lasers on it it would be a lot more dull. Of course because the AI is dumb as bricks in the way it designs its own ships some of the incentive to really optimize your deigns is lost but if DW ever gets multiplayer the true potential of the ship design system will be realized.

        • Elethio says:

          Aaah you’ve done it now, you mentioned “Ship Design” at which I have to reply “Stardrive” which has my favourite ship design (and Combat) of any 4X game, for those who are unfamiliar with how Stardrive tackles this feature, you are given a top down view of your (3D rendered) ship, your ship is divided into small squares and you can drag and drop various components to fill you design.
          How you fill your ship design (with various size components) has a further bearing on its performance, because each square acts as a “hit box” meaning you want to put armour on the outside and protect fragile stuff like reactors (which explode when destroyed).
          I will say that even with this dynamic ship design, the origional MoO ship design style still holds an appeal due to its simplicity, but it still a massive time sync – The hours spent tweaking the last fractions of space in a ship design!

          • Daemoneyes says:

            I liked the idea of the ship design in StarDrive but i didnt like its execution.
            Some Races were completely screwed by the early Hulls they had available and the weapons were to unbalanced.
            Also it did have a lot less options than Moo2 for unique designs and strategies.
            But again, it was a nice idea.
            So i still have some hopes for SD2.

  3. JonClaw says:

    Distant Worlds is a game with a similar difficulty curve to Dwarf Fortress, but with automation to lessen that curve.

    • novagoon says:

      lol

    • Zombat says:

      So its like Aurora with graphics?
      But is it less complex? (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing given just how micro detailed aurora is)

  4. Phendron says:

    How does it rank on a scale of Master of Orion 3 to Master of Orion 2?

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Looks like that DW:U managed to succeed where MoO3 failed. I’ll have to try DW again after all these years. Though honestly I find it hard to believe that someone managed to make a good AI for a 4X game… for all aspects of the game!

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      Clearly not all the way up to MOO2, since it doesn’t have multiplayer. Boo! May still buy it anyways, though, because I need a proper 4X space game to play other than MOO2 from time to time.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      “How does it rank on a scale of Sword of the Stars 2 to Sword of the Stars 1?”
      Heh, funny, that works too! :)

    • Daemoneyes says:

      MoO 2.5

  5. Wednesday says:

    Adama doesn’t feel very Adama-y

    I don’t think he’s getting his men today.

    Getting.His.Men

  6. Todd Hawks says:

    The largest map “only” has 1400 stars, not 14000.
    For me, in the beginning it helped a lot to start in pre-warp with automation turned OFF… otherwise so much stuff was happening at once that I lost track quickly and had no idea what I was doing and got the feeling that the game played itself.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Fun to note that the real Milky Way has 100 billion stars or more. 1400 is a big number if you’re modelling the societies around each one, but it’s a tiny fraction of the stars in our galaxy.

      • HyenaGrin says:

        That’s precisely why I like to play with something other than spiral/elliptical galaxies. With the other map types, like clusters and irregular, I can pretend it’s just a small part of a much vaster galaxy.

        Still, with the level of simulation and depth in the game, 1400 stars is incredible. It can slow down a bit in the later stages of the game though. Too many ships flying around. One of the drawbacks of having the economy simulated in real time.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          Oh yeah, I’m not saying that it isn’t a great achievement. Just that it’s interesting how much bigger the real galaxy is than anything humans can do so far.

      • KDR_11k says:

        You could claim that it ignores the ones that don’t contain anything of value.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          I imagine you could argue something like that, although I assume most systems would be minable if they had planets (interesting what you’d do with a system with no planets or rocks, unless you could dump in materials for a solar collector from another system). But yeah, for a race that can’t build its own habitats in space (but somehow can travel between stars) you’re stuck with the small sample of habitable planets, which could be around 1000 (or more or less by a long way).

    • BlueTemplar says:

      I remember how Spore amazed me when I realized how BIG its galaxy was! And some people somehow managed to find Earth and destroy ALL the evil race planets!

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        What a grind that must have been. Sorry to be negative, but Spore’s space stage clearly needed more tinkering before it left the prototype stage – in fact, thinking about it, this is what Spore should have been; enough automation so you could fly off and have adventures without having to go back and defeat space pirates on planets you left with fully upgraded planetary defences.

      • Daemoneyes says:

        Spore was probably the laziest peter molyneux ever made and it was easily one of the worst games ever.
        The Ages where bad rts and your creature design had zero impact on them.
        Once you reached Space and expanded, your Empire collapsed in itself once you reached a certain size.
        I played through it on one day and i couldnt by forced to ever play it again even with a shotgun to my head.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          Oh, it’s probably a bad game…(especially the parts between the cell and galactic stage) but I’ve found the whole experience quite unique and unforgettable… (mostly in a good way)

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          (I dunno if I’m spoiling the joke by saying this, but Spore was Will Wright, not Peter Molyneux)

          • Daemoneyes says:

            oh bugger, you are right.
            well anyway both are a recipe for disappointment ^^

  7. frightlever says:

    I bounced off Distant Worlds hard, several times, but the Timotheus manual guide finally got me to appreciate the complexity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still shit at it, but I keep starting over and improving. Since I re-started playing with the Steam version last Saturday I have about 30 hours played, and I have a job and a life and everything. Okay, I only have the job.

    • Tacroy says:

      Is this the manual guide you were referring to?

      • frightlever says:

        That’s the one! It’s a little too “humorous” at times but the information is there to get started.

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          Cardinal says:

          This is a great way to learn it I think, starting with *nothing* gives a better sense of achievement and exploration.
          Really looking forward to scaling this up to an empire…

    • Stardreamer says:

      Thank you, gentlemen, for the fine cavalcade of learning-words. I, too, have rebounded off the game on multiple occasions but the premise/promise is too much for my spacey soul to ever abandon. I shall meet you out among the stars. Adieu.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Cardinal says:

    Sounds really interesting – but that’s a high price by anyone’s reckoning.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      If the game works as well as Adam says, it’s not really. This kind of automation done well would be groundbreaking for 4X games.

      What IS expensive is those 4 hours of gameplay 70€ console games… and their PC-ported, DLC-infested brethren.

    • Premium User Badge

      AlwaysRight says:

      It’s roughly the same costs as Angry Birds on the PS4.

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      You definitely get your moneys worth in content and replayability

      but, that price is certainly a bar to entry.

      The last time that I can remember spending more than $30 on a game was San Andreas

    • tur1n says:

      It’s certainly too much if you’re on the fence about buying it.

      It sounds like it’s a great simulation, but is it a better game than Moo2?

      • Laurentius says:

        I’d say no, it’s not better. Thay are different games by the way but MoO2 is in my opinion very “tight” gaming experience while in Distant Worlds there is certain “clunkienes” and fleeting expereince, like watching simiulation of universe unfolds before your eyes is great but when you start doing things you are often taks with things that feel mundane and tiresome, which is in some part caused by “not that great” UI.

    • Daemoneyes says:

      Not worth the price, get it for 10 bucks on summer sale or something but till then get MoO2 from gog.

      • FecesOfDeath says:

        One can count on one hand the number of times Matrix and Slitherine put Distant Worlds on discount even if you include the one for Universe for those who bought the original and possibly the previous expansions, and this initial one on Steam. You may have to wait until the December holidays before you see another discount for DW:U, and even then I bet you won’t see it for less than 40 USD at most. You can always take the “SKIDROW” option before deciding to buy it.

        • Premium User Badge

          Cardinal says:

          Ended up going for it (ie. purchasing with money).
          Can’t say I regret it, captured my imagination so far and scratches *that* particular itch.
          Recommend the “Das Chrome” theme to shine up the UI.
          Also recommend the Timotheus walkthrough which helped me appreciate the little things.

  9. DiamondDog says:

    Did you just tell Admiral Adama to shut up?

    • Adam Smith says:

      We go way back. He’s cool with it.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        He’s cool with it, but later he shot you in the knee, and grew a moustache. Then he looked you straight in the eye, and offered a firm, manly handshake to cement the restoration of the bond between you, as he diffidently seduced the President.

        All while getting his men.

  10. Zenicetus says:

    Nice overview, but I missed hearing about some of the game mechanics:

    Is it TBS, RTS, RTS-with pause, or what? The videos look like RTS, which isn’t my favorite type of game but it’s okay if I can pause the action and the pace of the game is user-adjustable.

    How much player interaction is in those space battles? Is it all automated, or are you frantically clicking to give orders about focus-fire and so on?

    How is the diplomacy, compared to other 4X games?

    • Boosh says:

      Really the best way to get a good feel is to watch one of the many lets play series on Youtube. I highly recommend this series http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGB6RkFB7ZmNxjw-XsdpbmTfYStObtNFc

      • Zenicetus says:

        Thanks for that link. I’m up to video #5, and while I haven’t quite made the commitment yet, that’s a good series of videos that show how the game works.

        I’d recommend skipping the first one on game setup (because it’s not that different from other 4X games), and and jump to the ones where things get moving.

      • schlusenbach says:

        I watched some episodes from this playlist by Larry Monte: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWlTJHwNS1k&list=TLq5YcJvSKhGGK7bznTtAYeXaTupeyp59S

        He’s micromanaging everything in DW and that makes the gameplay quite slow, but I enjoyed watching the game unfold in this relaxed way.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Pausable real-time, with adjustable speeds. Battles will take care of themselves if you want them to – like everything else, you can design the ships and leave the military to build and manage fleets, or you can have your boffins design the ships and then manage the fleets. Or you can be completely hands off as far as the military goes, which is what I tend to to.

      Diplomacy is decent. Not hugely in-depth and perhaps a little easy to manipulate with gifts at times, but it’s good. And the interactions between ai societies are always interesting.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Thanks for the info, that sounds good.

        I admit I had an initial reaction against the graphics style, and the too-colorful UI. Why can’t more companies hire an actual art director like Amplitude instead of having graphics that look like they’re done by programmers who should stick to programming? Endless Space and the developing Endless Legend may not be heavyweight strategy games, but they’re sure easy on the eyes. Well, I can get used to anything if it’s fun to play. I guess I’ll pick it up soon.

      • drinniol says:

        “Diplomacy is decent. Not hugely in-depth and perhaps a little easy to manipulate with gifts at times, but it’s good.”

        A bit like politicians today then eh?

      • iridescence says:

        Actually not that easy to manipulate with gifts I’ve found because it scales with your income so late in the game when diplomacy becomes a real issue you’ll have to decide if 100,000 credits is really worth a slight opinion boost while the impoverished lesser developed AI empires will be sending you 100 credit gifts (I know it’s the thought that counts, guys…really).

        however there is a mild exploit with giving military refueling rights to people on the other side of the galaxy which really poses very little danger but still makes them like you better.

        Diplomacy on the whole isn’t brilliant or anything but does what it needs to do and you can totally win the game without ever declaring war on anyone if that’s your style (and you set up victory conditions appropriately).

        • frightlever says:

          Yeah, diplomacy is kinda poor. GalCiv2 is still the gold standard there I think, shame about the rest of that game.

    • HyenaGrin says:

      I used to prefer turn based space games until I realized how much more nuanced a real time game can be. I totally sympathize with your preference, but Distant Worlds really proved to me that if it’s done well, real time can beat the pants off of turn based. It really is the best space strategy game out there, taken as a whole.

  11. Boosh says:

    unique in the 4x space genre, and in my opinion stands head and shoulders above all others. It’s a very clever thing indeed and to me the only game of its type to make you feel like a leader of a civilization, not some poor sod who has to do everything from designing ships to intergalactic diplomacy and if you don’t progress, neither does the game. The fact you simply cannot control everything (quite literally for the civilian population/economy) makes this game feel alive. You delegate and guide, and if necessary intervene directly.

  12. johnnyr says:

    Really wish someone would do a good beginners guide for this game. It’s so daunting for a beginner to get into. Does such a thing exist?

    • Premium User Badge

      Hanban says:

      In the RPS forum there’s a DW thread where there’s a pretty good guide linked. The way the guide is written is questionable, but after having played a game using it I feel I understand a lot more of the game than I did when I tried it with automation on.

  13. sandineyes says:

    Well, this convinced me to buy. Hopefully I like this better than Endless Space. The way it was described sort of makes me think of a strategy version of X3:TC, except hopefully the AI doesn’t turn dumb as shit when you aren’t looking.

    • dE says:

      The AI is pretty decent and operates without cheating (to my knowledge). Heck you can see it operate your empire if you allow it to and it does seem to be pretty decent at it. It’s not perfect but certainly not Endless Space amounts of stupid.
      The player empire AI has a few shortcomings. Mostly with player orders. For example, if the AI sees a perfect place for a mining base, it will sent a construction ship. Now you see that place too and send a construction ship as well. The AI doesn’t cancel the ship it sent and it’s basically just two ships flying to one spot, one of them ending up without anything to do.

  14. dE says:

    As someone that likes to set things in motion and then watch them unfold, this is the perfect game for. It’s just so much fun to see everything in motion, ships zooming in and out of your systems, the small planet empire turning into a multi-system giant and everything is just perpetually in motion.

    I love leaning back and having the AI come up to me with sensible suggestions what to do and I just nod them off or decline their request. I know I could get down and dirty, plan individual ressources, design everything from private freighters to starbases – and occasionally I do that – but I like that aspect of being a governor, that doesn’t have to do everything on their own but instead can rely on an army of advisors. And the beauty of it: The game allows that just fine.
    I love building myself a fancy explorer ship and flying from system to system, trying to find odd events, ruins and ships – and my only gripe is that there could be more variety in them – but I enjoy exploring nonetheless. And again: The game supports that.

    In one game, I enjoyed blowing up planets. Turns out, I got myself a nice little private Star Wars on my hands with half my empire splitting off to form it’s own, being dissatisfied with my government. Yeah, there goes my superb tech advantage against a bunch of rebels that have planet destroyers – just like I do. I lost against myself.

    In another game I tried to be nice to everyone but everyone got scared because I kept building such massive armies. Until they basically all formed up and blasted me out of the stars. Teaches me for being nice.

    In yet another game I got quite far ahead. Any empire that gave me lip was removed from the game shortly after. Then a certain something happened. Can’t we all just be friends?

    I love how every stage of the game just opens up to yet another, more complex stage of the game. In the beginning, you only need to pay attention to your one system. Then a couple of systems, then the whole galaxy and diplomatic relations, pirates, spies, involuntary blockades (ooops), scheming shenanigans, finding super tech and trying to grab it before everyone else can… yeah I love this game.

    There’s one other caveat:
    If you suffer from really annoying micro stuttering early on, sign up for the Beta Update in Steam. The new Beta Patch fixes the annoying 3-5 second freezes every 10 seconds.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Aw man. I wish I had time to play this, but between CK2, EU4 and the smaller games that I’d like to play, I just don’t have any gaming time lef … huh. That’s weird. A bunch of money just left my wallet of it’s own accord… and now Steam says it’s installing this game. Oh well. I guess, I can squeeze it in somehow.

  16. Detocroix says:

    Considering how indepth this game is, how deep and impressive and grand everything is, and how private sector AI / state AI is the big thing, I find it quite sad the private sector is kept as faceless drones… This is absolutely one of my favorite games, but I would have paid leg and arm for actual private sector AI corporations having names, logos and agendas (even simplified) and ability to even slightly interact with them.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      If you haven’t seen it yet, you may find Limit Theory to your liking (once it’s released).

      Among many other things, the developer is putting considerable effort into individual and factional AI, and factions can be of many private corporate types.

  17. Lanfranc says:

    I’ve been semi-looking at Distant Worlds for a while now, but I’m a bit wary about the setting and background of the universe (or “lore” as the kids call it these days). From what little I could find, aliens species for instance mostly seem like just space-cat, space-spider, space-bear, space-guy-with-giant-foreheads, etc.…

    Can anyone shed some more light on that part?

    • vecordae says:

      Lore-wise (from what I can understand): A hojillian years ago, your race once ruled the galaxy. But then a thing happened and you forgot how to “do space.” However, all that sweet tech you developed is still around in one form or another and is mostly in the hands of various semi-nomadic pirate clans. Well, you and your chums figure out how to get ships back into the black eventually and set about exploring your local solar system. Between developing your infrastructure and sending construction ships on the long, likely one-way voyage to a distant planet in your home system, you’ll likely uncover some ancient ruins that have, engraved in stone most like, instructions on how to build a warp drive. You lab-rush through the discovery and begin your journey as an interstellar collective. Along the way you’ll be contacted by ancient good guys and get involved in some space drama.

      Then you win, blink at the pale blue cast of dawn seeping through the blinds, and think to yourself. “Well…might as well start up another game.”

      • Silent_Thunder says:

        Alternately you can turn off the Good Guys vs Bad Guys Space Drama storyline, and allow the game to end in the usual manner of 4x victory options, which are great once the novelty of the scripted MegaWar wears off.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    I love the idea of automation. I hate it when games make you place every individual mine when you have tens of star systems in play, and having different groups in play inside your empire would make it feel more alive, and give more of a sense of ruling a society rather than something colder and more algorithmic. I also like the idea that not all races will be conquest-bent, and you have lots of different things to try.

    EDIT: Hmm, £37. I suppose it’s Matrix Games pricing…

    • BTAxis says:

      And that’s fairly cheap in comparison how much it cost to buy the first game and all its expansions before this all-in-one game showed up.

      • rexx.sabotage says:

        what I can’t ascertain is if I am buying one game with a handful of expansions or if am I buying a series of games.

        • dE says:

          One game with all of it’s current expansions, basically rolled into a(n) “GOTY Universe Edition”. Prior to the Universe Edition, you had to buy Distant Worlds and then buy all the expansions seperately. With the universe edition, you get everything rolled into one for a decent price (in comparison to what’d you pay for Distant worlds + all expansions seperately).

          Of course no one knows yet how they’re going to handle potential future expansions.

          • BTAxis says:

            I believe there won’t be any. This edition of DW is the final one (not counting free updates); the developers are going to work on DW2 after this.

      • Tacroy says:

        I bought the Steam version, and although I very much love the game so far I’m not totally sure it was worth the price. At 3/4 the price it would be a definite no-brainer, but this price point is just a bit too high.

        • Crumpled Stiltskin says:

          Considering you already bought it, its not too high for you. I bet the more you play it the more it will seem worth it.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Simbosan says:

    Well, I don’t do RTS and I don’t do strategy, I’m down with Adama. I like blowin shit up, up close and personal. But this review makes me think ‘maybe I should have another go and see if this works for me’

    Wishlisted on Steam, if they come up with a better discount, I might give this a go

    • Tacroy says:

      Well that’s the thing, the game can be so thoroughly automated you can just build yourself a badass fleet of ships stuffed to the gills with bleeding (and burning and exploding) edge technology, then feck off for a couple of decades kicking ass and taking names.

      Admittedly, the controls for doing that are more Command and Conquer than they are Escape Velocity, but it’s still pretty fun to go out and personally kick butt.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      If you’re in it more for spacefleet combat, you might want to consider Sword of the Stars 1… (avoid Sword of the Stars 2)

  20. biggergun says:

    At the moment I’m leading the New Roman Empire (I know), colonizing the lower right corner of a huge spiral galaxy. I’ve had three long wars with some space canine people, and finally subjucated them just recently, preparing for a period of peace, trade and general prosperity. But no, a pirate syndicate I used to have an amicable relationship with had recently grown beyond proportion, even acquiring their own planet (there should be laws against that). I might’ve let them be, but their cruisers have been harassing my northern trade routes non-stop, and northern trade routes are mostly shipbuilding stuff – chrome, steel, polymer, the likes. It’s important. So I’ve been preparing an expedition against them, which is a giant bother – not nearly enough resupply stations on that frontier for a fleet the size I need. Moreover, some space lizards in a completely opposite region of my space have been blockading a couple of my planets and repeatedly refused to withdraw. Now I hope my new secet line of assault cruisers is ready before this thing escalates from minor border skirmishes and trade sanctions into an official all-out war. To make things worse, when it does, I’ll most likely win, but not deciesively, and still go completely broke in the process.

    God, I love this game. As much as I admire Paradox strategies, this is even better.

  21. vecordae says:

    This game’s greatest failing is that it does not provide a way to automate my real life job so I can spend more time playing it instead.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Rizlar says:

    But is it any good?

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      Yes, please tell us how much you like the game on a scale of 1 to 10. And please make your rating a 7.

  23. Makaze says:

    I really wanted to like Distant Worlds, really I did. But I just can’t stand the AI running thing and being completely idiotic at times.

    Corporate employee: There are 3 gas giants just full of Casion in our home system, perhaps we should build mining stations there sir.

    Corporate executive: No! Don’t be a pussy! We should build a mining station in that gas cloud. You know, the one half way across the sector… no not that one. The one in between the systems with pirate bases you idiot. And never mind if it gets destroyed. We’ll just rebuild it.

    Corporate employee: Sounds like we may want some escorts sir. I hear there’s a crippling gold shortage that’s preventing the government from finishing their latest batch of frigates. Should I dispatch a mining ship to the asteroid field in our home system made of nearly solid gold?

    Corporate executive: Don’t be silly. I need that ship sent to the Widowmaker system to get me wine. I’m feeling rather parched. Besides I’m sure my brother over in the navy has things well in hand.

    Brother: Quickly, dispatch ships to that empty system! It’s of vital strategic importance. And slow those escorts down, I don’t want them arriving in time to actually get involved in any fighting you know.

    • Tacroy says:

      You know that all construction ships are state owned, right? You can just grab a stray constructor by the neck and tell it to do as you say.

      As far as I can tell, private ships are always either freighters that move extracted materials from one place to another, or mining ships that go somewhere and extract stuff on their own.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      So… don’t?

      Even as a joke, your conversation is nothing like what happens in the game. For starters, the constructors building the mining stations aren’t corporate. They’re yours to control (or leave automated).

      You can control everything, nothing, or anything in between. The only exception are civilian ships (just freighters and such). Hell, you can even make state owned mining ships if you need some resource the civilians aren’t bringing (like that planet of gold (which isn’t even that great a resource in this game, frankly, so I see why they’d ignore it for a time)).

      Try that noob manual control starting guide and you’ll see your mistake: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3508583

      (sorry for the author’s…um… “humor”. There’s lovely info in there, though.)

      • Malarious says:

        There are some pretty good reasons to build stations out further from your home system, too — namely, the ability to refuel ships for longer voyages. If y our military ships are set to automate, they will warp in and defend your mining stations anyway.

      • Makaze says:

        Nothing like what happens in game? So… that game I played 2 days ago where exactly that happened… didn’t happen? Gotcha, thanks for letting me know it was all just a dream brought on by improper digestion of a bit of underdone beef and a dab of mustard.

        I realize that gold is not that valuable in the overall scheme of things. It’s fairly common. But when it’s the one thing preventing you from making any ships I’d say its value increases dramatically. The fact that the AI can’t see this and act accordingly is a pretty big flaw in the premise that I can trust the automation to handle things. Clearly I can’t. Gotta have that wine from that 11% source yo, need to get my drink on. I have noticed this gets better at scale. Don’t get me wrong the AI is still retarded on an individual ship basis at times, it’s just that you don’t particularly care since you have hundreds of other ships and at least one of them will probably be doing approximately the right thing even if it is through sheer weight of numbers. But in an intentionally small game it’s cripplingly apparent.

        I also realize that constructors are under my control and that I can manually order them to do things. But again, the fact that I absolutely constantly have to in order to prevent them from gallivanting halfway across the known universe to build largely useless stations in the most pirate and space monster infested backalley of the universe is a testament to how the automation cannot be trusted.

        And when that’s the whole point of the game, the supposedly stellar automation, that bothers me. Without that standout feature it’s a rather mediocre 4x space game at best. The research, ship building, and virtually everything else are to be extremely generous… meh.

        • iridescence says:

          Could you Please let me know which game you think does ship building, space economy, and universe scale better? I’d really like to play it. For what it’s worth I’m with you about the retardedness of the automation. I use it as little as possible. That definitely is not the standout feature of this game in my opinion. In fact the AI in general I’d say is one of its weakest parts.

        • thebigJ_A says:

          Well, since private corps don’t build gas mines… no, what you described did not happen.

          Sorry, I meant “It’s nothing like what happens in the game if you know what you’re doing” Not understanding what’s happening and/or why is exactly why you should play with all the automation *off* when you’re learning. And start early, ideally pre-warp.

          (Who ever said the automation was the point of the game?)

    • Rythe says:

      To be fair, I bounced off the automation hard too.

      Part of it is that the interface leaves more than a bit to be desired, so I’m sure I’m missing things, but there’s a lot that could simply be not pants in this game.

      Fleet automation has to the worst. It created one fleet of 4 ships and then figured it’s job was done. So I created the second fleet and manually added all ships to both from then on. I guess that insulted its honor because when I decided I needed a third fleet, the fleet automation deleted the damn thing on me immediately and every time.

      And no, ship adviser, I do not need 20 scout ships sucking up my revenue. Stop asking and being dumb.

      Then there’s the ship design automation that refused to create a dessy design with warp precurser technology, so my main military units were trying to slow boat it around the system while the civilian freighters were zipping around in flashes of light. Trying to force the update caused the it to make a dessy design too big for my tech level so I couldn’t build the damn things anymore. To add insult to injury, even the unbuildable update didn’t have a warp drive installed.

      Then there’s the personnel manager that moved ship captains into small, early model ships and then forgot about them so they died inglorious deaths on ancient, almost useful skiffs while the shiny new model titans lumbered on to victory without them. Or immediately moved scientists into stations that hadn’t even been constructed yet, so when the pirates mass warped in and blew the framework to space dust, the brightest minds in my empire often went with them. (Especially problematic at game start when you don’t /have/ a fleet to protect the fledgling station with)

      I’m not even that enamored by the tech tree and ship design options anymore. It’s all pretty much standard.

      And I will forever downgrade any and all 4X games which doesn’t let you build a spacedock in a system you haven’t colonized yet. Which is damn near all of them, including Distant Worlds. Building resupply points deep in the black, you know, where they might be most useful, should not be a crazy, game breaking concept.

      Oh, and I was particularly amused when I landed a massive army on a world to crush the pirate presence on it, only to have the pirates turn the world to their faction five seconds later. So my massive army that was suppose to crush them suddenly became their massive army that would ensure said crushing would not happen any time soon. (Short of massive orbital bombardment, which I hadn’t researched yet, so…not any time soon.)

      On the other hand, I was particularly not amused when the mining facility and colonizing automation kept sucking my empire’s coffers dry so I couldn’t build a decent new space station to protect a not-so-new colony.

      So, no, I can’t trust the automation. And I even question the civilian freighter transport priorities at this point.

      Except for the bit of AI that built ground troops for me.

      That one gets a blue star.

      • thebigJ_A says:

        You need to set the game options to not enforce boundaries if you want to build stuff just anywhere in the universe.

        Options!

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        I’m not entirely surprised that the automated tasks could be done better by a human. Not that I’m disparaging the game, just that smart AI is hard.

  24. HyenaGrin says:

    This really is the best of all space strategy games. I have played far more than I’d like to admit, and this one really delivers on everything it sets out to do, and it does it all several degrees better than it probably needed to in order to be a good game.

    So. That said. Its flaws are really in the little things, and by little things I mostly mean presentation. Things like races only having one character portrait to represent every gender, every character class, does begin to grate. I’d rather them not show a portrait at all, than show me the same portrait for every character I have. The artwork they do have is hardly gallery-quality either, so I am hoping at some point they will scrap what they’ve got, commission someone talented to do multiple pieces of artwork for all the races, and then we’ll finally have some variety.

    Also I kind of wish that the colonization tech tree was custom for each home planet type. It’s a little awkward that all the races pretty much develop colonization in the order that humans would. So a race accustomed to volcanic planets, you would think their next step would be something like desert planets, not.. continents and marsh worlds.

    Ultimately these are niggling issues in an almost perfect game, though.

  25. Phier says:

    This was the first space 4x game I’ve played that I thought was better than moo2 in just about all ways. If you like this kind of game, you will like Distant Worlds. Its only downside was being on Matrix games I only heard of it after 3 expansions, which I bought at full price at the time. Worth it.

  26. Laurentius says:

    I love games that simiulate things so that part of me loves Distant Worlds. Yes, it’s right thing to point CK2 as game on some level similiar to Distant Wolrds. It’s just that I love what DW is doing but I don’t love the way it is doing it. CK2 way of doing it is far, far better. Automating things is great but in no small part that thanks to that manually managing things is clunky and mundane, geting right information about your empire is also problematic, forcing you to a lot of clicking or even almost non-existatnt. Diplomacy is lukewarm, with many options just missing and tech tree is kinda boring in comparison to MoO2 or even Endless Space. To summarize I absolutly love to see galactic and my empire at work in Distant Worlds but I don’t love it as much when I have to step up and actually start doing something in it.

  27. Guy Montag says:

    I think I just made a big mistake starting my first game ever in the pre-warp, against the pirates setting. Pirates are, without a doubt, the worst thing about this game. At least, I hope. They only play half the role of the mafia they want to be, the part where they take your money or beat you up. No one I’ve paid has offered me even marginal protection, which means each one I’ve met has to be paid off as well, as they can expand faster than I can. If you’ve automated treaties (which I haven’t, but), the moment the automation ends one of their ‘contracts’ and they get pissed off and start attacking you after a time (this needn’t be the automation’s fault, though, you cancelling the contract works just as well). At this point, the only way to stop them from keeping me completely in the red is to, roughly once a month (mere moments at 4x speed), renew my payments moments after they decide they’re going to stop ‘protecting me’.

    I don’t… I got so irked by this that I just had to come back to the article that got me to play and gripe. Goodness. I really hope they aren’t in every start, or that I can turn them off, since that’s not fun, it’s a forgone conclusion at odds with what seems to be pretty nice complexities as far as the rest of gameplay is going.

    • iridescence says:

      No, actually pirates in this game are a very cool feature and can believe it or not be very helpful to the player. Turning them off will cut out a large portion of game play you just have to deal with them properly.

      The protection fee at the beginning of a pre-warp game is a business expense. It is NOT optional unless you enjoy watching everything you own getting blown up. Paying it won’t hurt you, in a very short time you’ll be making way more cash than that. You also shouldn’t even consider cancelling it until you have a decent military and shouldn’t build up a decent military until you have developed your tech and colony because the best military you can build at the beginning of the game will still be pirate target practice.

      So that’s the bad part of pirates but go to the diplomacy screen with your branch of the space Mafia. You can get them to smuggle resources to your colonies when you are short of them, you can buy contact details of other empires from them for cheap, you can get them to protect your vulnerable outposts from others of their kind. If you have a good spy you might even be able to steal their maps and lots of tech from them which will be much more advanced than what you start with. Believe it or not you are probably making the game actually harder for yourself by turning pirates off. Easy mode is just to set them to ‘very weak’ but even on normal you will wipe the floor with them later in the game.

      • Danny252 says:

        Although the pirates start with a tech advantage over you and can pick you off, you can very quickly start outclassing them. If you dive straight for shields and armor, your ships will start being able to stand up to them fairly well. I’ll also armor/shield up my mining stations – the early pirate incursions with one or two ships really don’t like those, and will run away quite quickly. For larger incursions, I generally will pause and pay a protection fee, to save my lovely mining stations – even if they cancel a month later, their ships will have left by then, and you save money.

        After getting to a stage where my ships no longer explode the second you look at them, I beeline for Ion Cannons. Even though your ships will still be weak, half a dozen ion-armed escorts swarming them will prevent them from being able to manoeuvre and fire back – the attackers will essentially panic at this point, with any still mobile ships leaving as soon as possible, whilst you can pick away at the disabled ones.

        It’s probably also worth noting that the pirates don’t really have a strong source of income – mining platforms are the only stable thing they have, whilst most other effects rely on payments from you (protection, smuggling, mercenary missions), which you can often avoid. There’s also the quite expensive one off payments for locations of X, Y and Z, and nine times out of ten, I would say to ignore these – either you’ll be too undeveloped to care about the discoveries, or will be at the stage where you can find the things yourself. 20,000 credits for an independent colony’s location is quite a rip off when you can build a 2,000 credit exploration ship!

        • iridescence says:

          Yes, when you get a few techs under your belt if you focus on military you can often at least fight off the pirates but I was talking at the very beginning of a pre warp game when you have complete garbage not paying the protection is suicidal. I agree the colony locations are a rip off but getting in contact with other empires early is well worth a couple of thousand credits (primarily because it’s much easier to tech steal from them then the pirates).

          I’ve never used ion cannons. I usually start with rail guns and missiles then switch to blasters and torps later on. Are ions better do you find?

  28. Alas Away says:

    I’m spending 46 euro on this thing now, damn you. Please be worth it.

  29. Shadowcat says:

    “sholly-gogging” ?

  30. BlackAlpha says:

    It’s my favorite 4X space game too. It’s not a perfect game, but in my opinion it is the best 4X space game currently out there. I also think it will probably remain at the top for the years to come because the other 4X space games are usually not as ambitious and/or they don’t use some of Distant Worlds’ revolutionary features. Star Drive is a good example of that, it clearly lacked ambition.

    But honestly, if you want to create the next big 4X space game, simply copy Distant Worlds and use a better graphics engine. It’s a recipe for instant success and fame… But no, people don’t like to create awesome games and get rich.

    • iridescence says:

      `But honestly, if you want to create the next big 4X space game, simply copy Distant Worlds and use a better graphics engine. It’s a recipe for instant success and fame… But no, people don’t like to create awesome games and get rich.`

      And invent a computer powerful enough to run such a game? As is DW can lag towards the end on a big map (and my rig can run most things alright) I’d hate to imagine running it with more modern graphics being rendered. Maybe in a few years though? While I’m dreaming can they throw in Oculus Rift support?

      • BlackAlpha says:

        The lag is due to the CPU being used extensively or maybe the code itself has bottlenecks, not sure. Regardless, your GPU is being mostly unused. So there’s a lot of room for improvement in the graphics department without introducing more lag for the player.

      • tormos says:

        also make distant worlds at all interesting or fun to play

      • Zenicetus says:

        BlackAlpha is probably right about the CPU load vs. GPU. What this game could use isn’t “awesome graphics,” but a complete redesign by a talented art director without going overboard. The graphics and UI design in Endless Space aren’t exactly GPU-crushing. They’re just designed by someone who isn’t an amateur, or a programmer doing art on the side.

        When I saw what this game looked like in the trailer, and the tutorials linked above, I just assumed it was something that came out 10 or 15 years ago, and then expansioned up to the current release without an overhaul. Seeing that it was actually released in 2010 was a surprise. For the money they’re charging, they should put some of it aside and hire an art director for the next expansion.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          Yeah, it’s not particularly hard to push 2D sprites onto the graphics card. It also makes things way, way faster. No doubt if you have a lot of AI doing things that’s gonna be harder to optimise, though.

  31. Bo_Flodin says:

    “You can even be the Butlins of your local spiral arm by owning a chain of gorgeous cultured planets that attract shiploads of tourists.”

    This leads me to belive that one can play this peaceful, am I correct?

    • hungrycookpot says:

      Peaceful in the sense that you will need a sizable defense fleet to protect your colonies and mining stations from space crayfish and pirates, but I believe you can win the game through culture and tourism instead of force yeah. Haven’t gotten deep enough to say but I don’t believe there are any religious options in game, just culture and diplomacy.

  32. realityflaw says:

    Does this newest of iterations still require IE and WMP installed to function?

  33. Hensler says:

    Strange question for a 10 year old show, but are there BSG spoilers in this interview with Adama? I’ve been slowly working my way through the series on Netflix in my spare time. The first two seasons were wonderful, the third was weird, and I’ve just about given up on season 4 after a few episodes – but damn if I’m not going to keep watching to see how much of a trainwreck the ending turns out to be. Plus, who the hell is the Final-iest #5 of the Final Five Cylons? *sigh*

  34. zer0sum says:

    If you’re into MOO2, check out the new StarDrive 2 footage

    • frightlever says:

      Or maybe the dev could fix Stardrive 1.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      I will never spend another cent in Stardrive. I bought stardrive 1 in early access, played it a couple hours, and thought “hey, this could be a great 4x! Needs another 6 months of development. That was about a year and a half ago, and afaik, nothing has changed. The game is still half finished, not worth playing a full campaign for a busy man, and now the dev has abandoned the project and run off with my money to start a second game which may or may not ever reach a releasable state.

      Even if he does finish Stardrive 2 and it becomes one of the great space 4x’s of this generation (which I can’t see, he’s not doing too much that anyone else hasn’t done) I will just obtain it elsewhere. The way I see it, he still owes me a game.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      From what I’ve understood, the developer basically decided that StarDrive 1 is a lost cause, and fixing it would take too much effort, so he decided to concentrate his efforts in making StarDrive 2 instead. That’s why all owners of StarDrive 1 are going to get a -33% discount on StarDrive 2.

  35. frightlever says:

    Anyway, who is Jason Pollock? Should that be Jackson Pollock?

  36. LionsPhil says:

    Obligatory mention of Stars! for 4X with automation done well.

  37. PAK-9 says:

    I’m a big 4x fan and I’d love to try this, but £40 is a lot of money for a game that I might end up not enjoying (most likely due to not putting all the time in to learn the game properly). They could really do with a demo.

  38. Mezmorki says:

    I’ve played a little of DW around the second expansion time … and as much as I love 4X games and are the hunt for the best, I just don’t get the allure of DW. As a “simulation” I think it’s a pretty remarkable accomplishment – there’s a staggering amount of life and activity going on in the game.

    Unfortunately this doesn’t translate into a very good “game” experience for me. UI and technical issues aside, I want to play s 4X game with a sense of purpose and depth and where it delivers at the right level of abstraction that I actually wrap my head around and manage everything. I want a game that creates depth out of tough tangible choices, not overwhelming complex detail.

    People laud the automation in DW – yet the fact that automating vast parts of your empire is necessary raises alarm bells for me. I want to be hands on, and I want a game to be streamlined and have a sense of purpose. It’s awesome that you could automate everything except for 1 tiny ship that you control yourself … but I’d rather play something else at that point.

  39. Rythe says:

    After thinking about it a bit more, here’s Wot I Think –

    Distant Worlds is an adequate offering cobbled together from a massive number or rough edges.

    The much praised automation appears to be little more than a massive web of very shallow busywork. Freighters move resources from where they’re produced to where they might be used, but there’s no great intelligence to it. It feels very snapshot sort of decision making, to the point where I’ve seen herd mentality like behavior (ten freighters suddenly head off in the same direction while other needs, like various fuel stockpiles, suffer).

    System defense is much the same. /All/ your free ships go and intercept a lone scout vessel, which leaves real targets vulnerable long enough for enemy AI to decide to go after them.

    Personnel are slotted somewhere and then forgotten. Etc. Etc.

    The graphics/aesthetics and interface basically tell the whole story. It’s adequate, but lacks any real polish and is often mired in code monkey mentality – where only a computer science type can really grasp or appreciate it. And none of it has seen much refinement or playtesting.

    It works, so it must be ‘good enough’.

    Distant Worlds does a lot of things that I want in my ideal 4X game, so I can see why some people would really glom to it. But the game just doesn’t do those things well enough for any particular part to be interesting or even for the sum of those parts to be very enjoyable. And then it mires the whole thing in bland clutter and motion to provide the illusion of deeper things going on.

    I stayed away a long time because of the steep price tag, and even with the Steam bundle, it’s still not worth the money.

    Edit – Made a silly mistake thinking about another comment thread, but while I’m on it – Star Drive and Sword of the Stars are two franchises for which I’ve lost all faith in the developers. Distant Worlds is on that same trajectory given the state of the game after 4 or so years.

    • Mezmorki says:

      @ Rythe
      You articulated more exactly what my issues are with the game (hinted at in the post above yours). It feels like complexity for complexity’s sake wrapped up in an interface that makes it appear even more complex. But complexity (and it’s analog variety) isn’t the same thing as depth in a game. With the high levels of automation and notion of “sitting back to watch it all unfold” I wonder how much depth, in a real strategic sort of way, is really in the game.

      People attracted to the game seem more enamored by how much “stuff” is going in the game and are (oddly IMHO) all to happy to automate things and watch it all unfold. Doesn’t seem at all what I’m looking for in a space game. And paradoxically it’s almost the antitheses of that holy grail game MoO2 – which is a MUCH tighter and more concise game, and yet that’s what creates the game’s depth and interest.

    • Mezmorki says:

      BTW – The 4X game I’ve liked the most in the past decade is Armada 2526 (with Supernova Expansion). It’s sadly panned by most people, but I think it’s the worthiest successor to MoO2 in terms of capturing the same sense of pacing, level of detail, strategy, and discrete tough choices.

      The gold edition is on sale on Steam all this week for $5.99.