I Really Wanted To Be Able To Play Stellaris

I have written far too many times over the years about my dislike of strategy games. Not because I find them at fault, and I certainly don’t have any criticism for those who enjoy them. Primarily because I’d love to be in their numbers – having a whole other genre to love, you’d have to be crazy to reject that notion. There would be so many classic games I could suddenly sink into, so many games in 2016 to look forward to, and maybe I’d even start enjoying doing my taxes too.

Having heard Adam raving about Stellaris, heard his amazing-sounding anecdotes of alien encounters and galaxy-wide adventures, and seen the huge excitement amongst strategy fans during its release, I thought: right, this is it. I’m going to get past this. I’m going to get into Stellaris. I lasted half an hour.

Oh my goodness.

So, yes, perhaps I was leaping head first into a deep end filled with spikes, but good grief, my head began to hurt. I opted for the full tutorial, obviously, with everything explained to me in explicit detail. I was going to bloody well learn something, and I was going to get past my fears and concerns and hang-ups. I’m not sure even the first tutorial pop-up managed to not get interrupted.

Stellaris, it turns out, doesn’t want new people. It wants people that already understand how to play Stellaris. I cannot think of any other reason why the interface should be so hell-bent on making it impossible to figure out how. Tips incessantly popped up over tips, following one instruction was almost always interrupted midway with a demand to do something else. Send a science ship to a planet, I was told. But where should I click to do that? Oh, where to click is stored in this other menu, over there! Right, okay, click on that – and a wall of text conceals the three instructions I need to follow. I obey the first, clicking on another window, and the explanatory window disappears. Every time. It’s not possible to follow multi-stage instructions in turn – you have to memorise them all at once and then carry them out, while guessing which piece of information wasn’t quite accurate. Send that science ship off and suddenly the entire solar system is a mad mess of orange lines – was that meant to happen? Oh, apparently yes, apparently sending a science ship to check out a single planet has it dart around the place looking at absolutely everything in the most fuel inefficient order imaginable.

Each instruction from the tutorial proper appears top-right, of which only the first paragraph is read out loud – as you try to follow the verbal guide while clicking on what it’s tell you to, it cuts itself off every single time and you have to look back to read the rest. But wait, no, you can’t read it because now something else has popped up! Or indeed hasn’t – oftentimes the only way to have it let you carry on following the tutorial is to tell another block of text to NEVER APPEAR AGAIN so you can get on with what you were trying to learn, that other fact eternally tossed into a black hole.

Within minutes I’m being told to carry out five or six different tasks at once, none of them meaningfully explained, all of them seeming to involve trying to click on a tiny, tiny ship and instructing it to go somewhere to do something via entirely unintuitive menu options and tiny obfuscatory buttons while not knowing if I’ve done the other tasks properly, still trying to work out what the bleeding heck the “tiles” on a planet are about (apparently planets in this universe are so astonishingly tiny they can only fit about twelve buildings), and never actually figuring out how to assign a worker to a building I’d created despite the game being absolutely determined that I must. I was exhausted.

And this is all after having had to pick a race and start a game via the most extraordinarily complicated set of options, of which none is explained. I went with the octopus-faced people, because octopuses are bloody brilliant, but I’ve no idea if that was a good thing or not. And should I have customised things? All the customisation options were terrifying, opaque, and I was at that point about to give up before the game had even started. So I went with default octopus-faced people. No idea what that means.

The whole experience felt like a parody of my mind’s views of strategy games. It was as if someone had set out to make a game as inaccessible and unwelcoming as possible, going to incredible lengths to make sure someone new to the genre could only be bewildered and demoralised. After half an hour – just half an hour – I couldn’t stand any more. It wasn’t about to become clear – it was only piling on more and more barely-explained guff, until I felt like I was being handed so many plates in an ever-more precarious pile towering above my head, and had no desire to watch them all come crashing down around me. So I quit out.

I’m so envious. I so want to experience the superb-sounding tales Adam relates of his time with the game. But maybe I’m genetically coded to be incompatible with these games, or maybe this is a genre that is so entrenched within its own established player-base that there’s no room nor desire for outsiders. The conflicting, overlapping, rapidly disappearing tutorial messages may as well have read, “Already know how to…” for the help they were. And so, yet again, I shall stare at strategy gaming from outside the misted up windows, wondering at how anyone was able to get inside in the first place.

This post was originally published to the RPS Supporter Program.


  1. Herzog says:

    Poor John. Did you ever try Crusader Kings 2 by the way? I also found it very obtuse and needed 10-15 hours to slowly get into it (still don’t fully all its systems) but I just let time run and see what happens. And just seeing all the random events happening and stories evolving was fun enough for me.

    • Hammer says:

      I’d agree that CK2, especially with the microcosm that is Ireland, is the easiest one to learn the system in and after that it’s variation on a wonderful, timesink of a theme I return to again and again.

      That said, every single time I try HoI, I last about 20 minutes.

    • Phantasma says:

      I’m not sure if CK2 would be a good suggestion for him.
      Even with 20 years of strategy games experience under my belt that interface was a very tall order to overcome.
      I can already think of a dozen comlaints John would be having right after booting it up.

      Don’t get me wrong, i love that game but i’m well aware that it is a very unforgiving beast, especially for newcomers to the genre.
      Sure we would like to experience others the fun we are having with these but it’s better to stay realistic.

      • jonfitt says:

        CK2 has a terribly obtuse interface, and a terrible excuse for tutorials. The only way I got into it was watching a CK2 introductory tutorial youtube video and following along.

        Even that wasn’t perfect because it was made before the tech system was changed, and the random events were of course different.

        I still don’t know how to correctly manage buildings and tech in CK2, and wars for me are a matter of assembling a bigger stack than the enemy. But I enjoy my time scheming plots and finagling claims on neighbouring lands by marrying the right people and arranging little ‘accidents’.

  2. Harlander says:

    It’s funny, I feel this way about Dark Souls (though I lasted a bit longer than half an hour)

    • Gothnak says:

      I’m with you on that one… Got through tutorial section of Demon Souls. Killed zombies on bridge, walked around corner, killed archers, walked around corner, killed by Knight. Started on bridge, killed zombies, walked around corner, while killing archers, fell down hole, died. Started on bridge, saw zombies, turned game off.

      • DingDongDaddio says:

        Turns out Super Mario Bros. is one of the worst games of all time because every time you fall in a pit those gosh darned Goombas come back EVERY TIME!

        • Gothnak says:

          If you knew me, you’d know I HATE Mario Bros too. Funnily enough Limbo and Braid were brilliant platform games for me.

  3. Gang of one says:

    The ‘outliner’ on the right side of the screen makes finding your stuff easier, as in all PDS games, but then the tutorial bot unhelpfully hides it whenever he pops up, grrrrr. After ~10hrs I’m finding it a bit easier to get a handle on than EU4 & CK2 and I don’t think I’ll ever really know what’s going on in Vic2.
    It looks very pretty even if you can’t work out what is going on.

  4. Philopoemen says:

    Don’t worry John, I’ve played Paradox games since comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic gushed over EU sooo many years ago now.

    And I found Stellaris’ “tutorial” confusing as hell. I end up ignoring it and doing my own thing, which is best way to play Paradox games – makes mistakes, learn what they are, rinse and repeat. My first empire was a shemozzle, but my second is doing okay.

    Its like golf – you’re only playing against yourself.

    That said, Stellaris seems to reward a colonist rush strategy, with adaptive and fast breeding making it completely viable.

  5. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – GQA.

  6. Minglefingler says:

    You really need to spend more than half an hour learning the game’s systems John, these games require more initial effort on the part of prospective players. The more you play it the more you’ll understand individual game elements until you have a handle on what you’re doing. This is much harder for your first strategy game, after that learning a new one is much more straightforward. The best thing to do is start a game accepting that it will be a learning experience, play around with and and don’t get frustrated which will be easier if you keep telling yourself that it’s a trial run. That’s how I got into Crusader Kings 2, I ended up having learning most of the mechanics on my first run through and doing pretty well despite numerous blunders.

    • John Walker says:

      You seem to have missed the issue. After just half an hour I had already failed to learn so much, and was being so ludicrously overwhelmed with new information I couldn’t take on, that there was no hope in continuing. The issue isn’t that I gave it so little time, it’s that it forced me out in so little time.

      • Minglefingler says:

        Not really. You will always be overwhelmed with information when you play one of these games for the first time, having no previous experience with the genre undoubedtly makes this worse. The reason I said to give it more time is that all of it slowly starts to make sense but you may have to play your first and possibly second game as a sort of spectator experimenting with various systems until you understand them. I don’t mean entire playthroughs by this, your first game could last a few hours until you you decide whether to start again if you’ve messed up or keep going if you’re having fun. The only way you’ll learn the game is by repeated exposure to it, fair enough if you don’t want to do that but when you start to get it you find that it is very rewarding to find things falling into place. I never enjoy playing a new strategy game for the first few hours, I get overwhelmed like you do but I’ve played enough of these to know that I shouldn’t let it bother me, it’s just how these things work and I’ll start to get to grips with it over a few hours without even realising how much I’m learning.

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          Serrit says:

          Saying “you’ll always be overwhelmed to begin with” sounds like just accepting something suboptimal (for certain users), rather than laying down the gauntlet for devs to do better if they want to expand their market.

          Now fair enough it’s usually very difficult to create well-designed tutorials that ease in new players, and Paradox may well be justified in spending that time delivering other things (or delivering them sooner) to their existing user base who are already familiar with the way these games tend to work.

          I didn’t read John as complaining that the game was bad for its non-beginner-friendly tutorial, just that it sadly doesn’t make the game accessible for newcomers usually put off by these sorts of games.

          And saying “just spend more time with it” isn’t always helpful – some people are time-poor and would find it difficult to justify spending time on this than all the other things they could be doing. Other people will genuinely get stressed out by UIs that throw all sorts of random shit at them and confuse them, such that trying to continue is psychosomatically unpleasant.

          • falconne says:

            I haven’t played Stellaris and it probably has some obvious UI improvements they can make, but saying it’s upto the developers to make a Paradox game as accessible as more mainstream games like Civ is like saying a gourmet restaurant can bring out a 5 course venison steak dinner at the same speed that McDonalds can bring out a Big Mac combo and that it’s up to the cooks to make it so.

            Not all games can appeal to everyone. Some people want complex strategy games and they accept that a lot of moving parts and emergent mechanics will create a large amount of data that can’t be presented as intuitively as in a less complex game. They put up with it, just like waiting longer for a fancy meal, because the pay off is higher.

        • Jarmo says:

          You say: “You will always be overwhelmed with information when you play one of these games for the first time”.

          This shouldn’t be so. This is unacceptable. It is the job of the game designers to make new players feel welcome, to drip-feed them information at a manageable pace. That’s who the tutorial is for, for goodness’ sake!

          The solution is not for the players to accept bad tutorials as inevitable, the solution is for the designers to actually do their jobs.

          John is not at fault here and he should not be expected to have done anything differently.

          • Minglefingler says:

            I didn’t say anywhere that John is at fault and I’m not saying that games like this don’t need better tutorials. What I am doing is looking at the situation as things are, not as they could or should be and offering John advice on how to get into the game whilst also mentioning that other people encounter the same problems and overcome them.

          • Catsiel says:

            I am brand new to 4x/grand strategy and to a Paradox strategy game, only playing RTS in the strategy genre previously and found Stellaris tutorial to be very useful. I’m now pretty obsessed with Stellaris.

            This isn’t the case of Paradox being at fault with their tutorial, this is simply someone trying to play a type of game they simply do not enjoy playing and learning.

            It would be the same if I attempted to play Football Manager, a game I have no interest in playing or learning. It would appear confusing and full of unwarranted information to me.

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        distantlurker says:


        I hate to be the one, but I’m just gonna put this out there.

        (((((please don’t read this bit, it’s unimportant, cut to after the bracket.

        I’ve posed about it before.

        Introduced mum (60), who wasn’t totally new to games (had enjoyed Civ, *loved* Sims) to MMO’s after she became unable to get out and about.

        The game was LotRO (She’s a big Tolkien fan).

        Oh, wow. I can’t tell you how eye-opening it was to see a pure, grade A, newbie approach an MMO. *so* *many* *things* we all just ‘know’ were totally new to her. It’s hard now even to remember, I’m sure if I asked her, she wouldn’t herself! but a few I think I do(?), (i) above an NPC.. what an NPC was, even, a quest giver; tab targeting, strafing, kiting; man the list goes on. Also, don’t even get me started on the Holy Trinity of classes ^^

        I really had to take a few moments to backtrack and try to even think how to explain these concepts. Concepts that are as; well, breathing! autonomic, to so many of us.))))


        Dude. You’re complaining about stuff happening over other stuff, and becoming overwhelmed.

        You know about the spacebar, right?

        That was sarcasm but seriously, I know for a fact the game’s told you about that 3 times in the first 30 minutes. Every time you hear a *boop*, game 1? You need to pause and look at *all* the chat, read all the supplied tips, press buttons/move ships accordingly and then unpause.

        Chill. Winston. This isn’t Game of War.

        • John Walker says:

          Yes, I was using the spacebar to pause, and the issues described remained the case.

          • Seafort says:

            The feeling of being overwhelmed is due to the feeling you don’t have control over the situation but you do with Spacebar.

            Like distantlurker has said, Pause, and just read what’s going on in the game. Nothing is going to happen when the game is paused. Just take your time and figure everything out in your own time.

            I’m new to the genre as well as I’ve never played CK or EU before but Stellaris was easily understandable to me when I took my time and read everything that was thrown at me. Just don’t try to rush and get to know the game at your own pace.

            Btw it’s going to take a bit longer than 30 mins to know the basics of these types of game.

          • C0llic says:

            That feeling of being overwhelmed, of having to scratch your head to unpick what’s going is one of the best bits of a new game like this for me, and I suspect for other people as well. It’s rewarding when you start to pull it together and understand what you’re doing, but you have to enjoy the process as well as the end result i think.

            Perhaps you aren’t built for them. I’d say if on starting a game like this you aren’t motivated and interested to play around and read a wiki to decipher what’s going on, they may not be the games for you.

            It was a pretty good tutorial, especially for a paradox game, but I can’t disagree with the issues you describe. I think it’s hard to break down a game like this easily for newcomers. This one is definitely on the less complex end of the scale though.

          • Hoot says:

            John, I understand how you feel. I bounced off Europa Universalis 4 many times before finally getting into it.

            Sadly, the only way to get past that initial bewilderment (whether the systems put in place to serve as a tutorial help or hinder you) is to just sit and play it. Click things, see what happens. Mouse over stuff until a tooltip pops up or better yet, watch someone on Youtube have a go then start your own game.

            Stellaris is by far the simplest Paradox game they have released. It shouldn’t be forcing a learned man like yourself out after half an hour.

          • vlonk says:

            Learning is an integral part of Paradox games and it is vitaly necessary that you just keep at it without loosing the will to accept your shortcomings.

            According to steam I almost played 500 hours of EUIV. I STILL do not get the trading system. One day I will maybe. But it doesn’t matter that much really. So my empire is mismanaged. I am loosing money that I could have gotten with smarter choices. So what? That did not stop me from conquering a fair share of europe or asia or anyone really.

            In this the game has its equal in Darksouls games which are daunting to pick up but very rewarding when you overcome the initial barriers.

          • Someoldguy says:

            One of my biggest issues with Stellaris is that the pause button won’t stay on. It pops up a message and may pause the game for you to read it, or not. If it pauses for you, the message probably gives you information you want to act upon nefore more stuff happens, but Oh NO! The game unpauses as soon as you close the popup. So you have to manually pause it again to get the thing done that you needed to do. Maddening.

      • klops says:

        I’d say that trying to understand much in a Paradox game after the tutorial is the main problem – at least for me it wouldn’t work in my first Paradox games (I haven’t played Stellaris so). Learn the most crucial things and return to others with wikis or forums when it is time to do so

        …or much later. In my first EUIII game I learned how to use casus bellis (the pretexts for a war, like nucular weapons in Iraq) after couple centuries and tens of hours of gameplay. Those are pretty important if you don’t want every country to hate you but the game continued despite that.

        This approach isn’t for everyone. Nevertheless, trying to get hold of it all, especially in your first game, has been useless for me in CKs and EUs. Just wear a goofy looking safety helmet and keep sploshing in to the deep, spiky end if you want to play the game.

        • Geewhizbatman says:

          Speaking of Wikis–Stellaris seemed designed understanding that is where people gather information. You can access it from within the game so you don’t need to alt-tab out. Not a tutorial explained thing–just a one of the big buttons available to press.

          As for bouncing off the game…eh? I mean–perhaps, John, you thought you’d enjoy it enough to want to try for longer than a half hour but it turned out not to be the case? I agree the tutorial isn’t the best, and even once it is done there are a number of things that just pretty much never get explained. Still, the issue sounds like you just don’t like the reality of the game enough to stick with it longer than a leisurely game of solitaire.

          With an action game it would unforgivable–with a RTS it would be frustrating…but Stellaris can run you up to 40 hours to reach the end of a universe. Stopping after 30 minutes of confusion sounds like your timetable isn’t suited for the game, especially because while Alec’s article was excellent–it made those stories sound rapid fire, when the reality is those are the condensing of a run to its most interesting stories. Rightfully leaving out the long swaths of time either figuring out a system or just looking at spreadsheets and deciding what you want to do next. Expecting it to click together in a half hour makes it sound like perhaps it just isn’t for you and less about the game just being far too obtuse. Enjoy watching the stories of The Blorg on youtube instead and decide if you want to go try again later.

          • Someoldguy says:

            40 hours? I’m more than 80 hours into my current one and probably going to quit before achieving victory because gobbling 40% of the galaxy’s planets is just too much of a chore.

      • vahnn says:

        I’ve been playing strat games for years, and have no experience with prior Paradox titles, so I’m not familiar with the mechanics or the quirks if the interface. And you’re right, the tutorial is atrocious.

        But if you want to learn it as badly as you say you do, you’ll just do it. Forget the tutorial. Watch a couple “10 tips for newbs” or “6 things i wish I’d known” videos. Then just start it up and do things. Doesn’t matter is the things you do are right are wrong. Just do them. Pause frequently and mouse over things and read what’s going on.

        Trying to keep track of all the disappearing and overlapping tutorials, which are ineffective even if you can see them all, is just a chore and a headache and makes everything feel too chaotic.

        Try a couple short videos. Waervyn’s World on Youtube always puts out a few quick introductory vids that help clarify interface elements or explain shortcuts, hotkeys, or other tricks that make it easier to do common things. I always look forward to his stuff when new strategy games come out.

      • arkhanist says:

        To be honest, a paradox game is not where I would recommend to start in the genre. I’m a veteran of 20+ years of strategy games (Master of Orion and Stars! being particular favourites as a teen) but I still struggle to get into them at the start. I can only imagine what it’s like when you’re starting from near scratch.

        I’ll suggest trying Civilization 5, sans DLC, simply because it’s a lot more polished and breaks you in a fair bit more gently with the whole 4X style in more digestible chunks rather than dump the whole thing on you at once. Plus the world is a bit more familiar and understandable, than some completely alien/fantasy setting.

        Or possibly even one of the newer ones in the ANNO series, though you might find them too slow.

        Veterans love super-complex examples of the genre, because that figuring out how the systems work, how to bend them to your will and beat the AI at its own game is well, what draws many to it in the first place. The deeper and more mechanisms at play – and the longer it takes to figure them out, over multiple games – the more to discover! So if lovers of the genre praise it to the high heavens, it’s almost axiomatic it’s not going to be newbie friendly – and that applies to all of Paradox’s output that I can think of.

        It’s a bit like dropping a non-masochist learner driver into iRacing say, and expecting them to have fun.

        Ultimately of course, not everyone loves every genre. I can’t see myself ever enjoying MOBA’s for example; and that’s ok. I can vicariously enjoy other’s enjoyment of it, and quietly get on playing the games I do enjoy – of which there seem to be an ever growing stack of in my steam backlog… So don’t sweat it if it’s just not your cup of tea, in the end.

      • jonfitt says:

        The only way I found into Crusader Kings 2 was by watching someone else play on YouTube and explain what they were doing step by step. Same for EU4.

        The problem with any tutorial is it tries to tell you about everything that comes up, but in Paradox games (confession I’m talking about experience of CK2 and EU4) you really need someone to tell you what’s actually important and why. The why is really important to understanding those games.

  7. teije says:

    It’s okay – most of us have genres that we find impenetrable. For me, it would be RTS and MOBA.

    Stellaris is actually the most accessible and has the best UI of all Paradox’s grand strategy titles. But their UI frankly sucks in general. Like any genre, prior experience certainly helps in picking it up quickly, since so many of the “conventions” are consistent.

    Hopefully if you stuck with it longer you would have have “gotten it” as it is a wonderful game.

  8. X_kot says:

    I think I got along better with Stellaris than other Paradox games in the past because I watched several YT videos before I started. This seems to be the way forward for tutorials: video streamers pave the way for us.

  9. Haldurson says:

    I had almost the same exact experience with the game. After about a half-hour or so, I felt utterly intimidated, I closed the game, and started playing the original MoO.

    There’s something to be said for simple, elegant designs that get you right into the game quickly. As much as I thought I might like a really deep, complex experience, in the amount of time that it takes to come up to speed and feel competent and not at all awkward in one game, I can play 5 or 6 games of something else and feel thoroughly engaged, and have that strategy itch scratched.
    I never even got to the point where I could colonize another world in my game before I gave up.

    Don’t get me wrong — I do INTEND to pick it up again. I’m not sure though that I will.

  10. caff says:

    I’m the same. I don’t think it’s because I’ve become brainwashed into having the attention span of a gnat by Youtube or some nonsense, but it’s purely information overload (and my mind drifting to other worries in life).

    Committing to a two hour tutorial where you learn what each critical but tiny button does on the interface absolutely kills a game for me. Yet, I know underneath all that is an epic game that I would love if only I put a lot of effort in.

    Black & White was the last strategy game I got into, but it wasn’t a particularly brilliant game. However, it did introduce concepts gently and without an overbearing interface. So kudos to that.

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    Haywardan says:

    I found Stellaris pretty easy to pick up. I was worried it’d be too obtuse, but I suppose I am familiar with Civ and Alpha Centauri.

    I was worried it’d be obtuse because Crusader Kings II has laughingly rebuffed every attempt I’ve made to come to grips with it. Nothing is adequately explained, and when you think you understand it, it doesn’t work in practice. The military tutorials in particular – only one time in 10 can I get my little angry men to do what I want. I’d love to experience those emergent stories that everyone talks about, but the majesty of history’s grand sweep is somewhat dimmed when you spend 10 minutes futilely trying to get your soldiers off a boat.

    • Rich says:

      Same here. I haven’t had any interesting emergent experiences in Stellaris yet, but I have found it fairly easy to pick up. I think it’ll take quite a while for me to get good at it though.

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        Same as the pair of you. CK2 remains utterly impenetrable to me, despite having sunk 15 hours into it. Stellaris, on the other hand, I’ve found quite easy to understand what’s going on so far (although only five hours in).

        • The Great Wayne says:

          15 hours ? Hah ! You fool, that’s the amount of time you should spend watching tutorial videos to start understanding the beauty of CK2.

          Joke appart, I do love CK2, and at this point you’ll have to spend a few hours watching videos to grasp its most fundamental concepts, then the rest will unravel itself while you play. It’s partly because of no hand-holding from the game, and the fact that the title has evolved a lot since its creation, and its tutorial.

          To be fair, it’d be very, very hard to do a proper ingame tutorial for this kind of game.

          On the contrary I’ve found Stellaris to be both easy and streamlined to learn, for it has sacrificed a lot of its grand strategy legacy to the 4X genre, at least in its current state (I’m pretty sure 4 years from now it’ll be much more complex and will require video tutorial digging from newcomers tho, if history speaks).

          Complaining about paradox grand strategy titles learning curve is like complaining about dwarf fortress learning curve (which I do hate. Love the concept, hate the execution, but you don’t hear me raging about it). Yes, it’s hard to learn, hard to play, hard to master. Deal with it or play something else, it’s not like there isn’t a world of other, simpler games out there.

  12. Nauallis says:

    I can’t say that I blame you, John. I purchased and played Stellaris last night, got about thirty minutes or an hour or so in (haven’t founded any colonies) and I too started to get overwhelmed by the piling up notifications. It was easy enough to forget about spacebar pausing the game. And that spacebar works from anywhere, allowing planning and “play” to continue while paused. I didn’t expect that – I’ve recently been playing Defense Grid 2, which brings up a group of menus when the game is paused, making it impossible to plan out a defensive layout while paused.

    I don’t agree with some others here insisting that “bad tutorials” are Paradox’s problem or that it’s reasonable to expect to have your hand held through every aspect of the game. The games that I’ve read as comparisons for Stellaris are Alpha Centauri and Master of Orion 1&2. AC had a barebones tutorial, if I recall correctly – “This is a colony pod, use it to found a new colony. This is a former unit. Use it to terraform, etc.” Master of Orion didn’t have a tutorial – it might have had a manual, if you got a boxed version and took the time to read it.

    Besides which, I think that there’s a certain amount personal responsibility required when trying a new game. Minglefinger has some great points about this in an above thread – it’s fine to approach a game with preconceptions about how it will play and how the mechanics operate. But it’s stupid to keep applying those preconceptions if they aren’t being met, and it’s even more stupid to blame the developer for not meeting those preconceptions.

    This same argument is, I think, ongoing with the Dark Souls games. Maybe From Software should make an easy mode so that the rest of us ragequitters can get through the game (and nobody understands the storyline anyway, so what exactly are people trying to experience by making it easier?). The people who have taken the time to learn the games tell everyone else to suck it up. And it’s not like the Dark Souls games aren’t popular – they’ve made enough money to put out 4, arguably 5 games in the series.

    I am going to try more Stellaris tonight. After an hour I still don’t know how it works, and I’m not overwhelmed enough to stop. I have been very enthused by Adam’s Wot I Think, and my own hype. I do respect your decision and understand why you feel the way you do.

  13. Yachmenev says:

    I can somewhat identify. It took me about 10h to get the basics about Crusader Kings 2. After 10h I had learned enough to succesfully unite Ireland with my family as the leaders.

    It was hard, exhausting and I still haven’t gotten back to that game after that.

    But I still like the game for what it does, even though it was too timeconsuming and complex for me. I enjoy that such a hardcore complex strategy game could be made for a specific audience, and be really succesful, without comprimising the developers vision for the game.

    I like that such a thing can be achieved, because I don’t think the gaming marked would be less diverse and less interesting if all games tried to cater to me, and my idea of what a game should be, and how much time I’m prepared to spend with it.

    I don’t play grand strategy games. I much more enjoy more streamlined, accessible and fastpaced strategy games like Civilization. And I’m perfectly content with that. I’ve got my set of games, and the ones who like the complex grand strategy games have theirs.

    Eve Online is a similiar example for me. It was to punishing and timeconsuming for me, so I play singleplayer RPG’s instead. But I still love that Eve is so succesful, and I enjoy reading about it from a distance. For that game to appeal to me, I think it would have destroyed the game for many others. And I’m not sure that I want that.

    • Homoim says:

      Civilization is also really bad at this in my opinion. I’ve spent so many hours playing Civ 4, I’ve spent a fair number on Civ 5, & bought New Earth when it came out (regret!).

      I like strategy games, but what is up the unintuitive complexity & complete lack of consistency. Age of Empires was brilliant compared to this,you needed stone to build a barracks so you just get more workers to collect it, you never had clubmen & battleships side-by-side…

      I spent so long learning Civilization & it still completely baffles me, it’s such an unrefined game. The culture, growth, food, happiness, all those resources are far too complex. You get a resource & you wonder if it affects all your towns or only one, because some do & some don’t, some elements work one way & others work another way. One resource reduces your other resource, heck there are multiple kinds of resource like claims & oil…

      It’s just really horrible design, it isn’t intuitive & they didn’t make any proper effort to refine the game to its important elements. There is a reason other games don’t copy that model, a game is all about following a simple set of core rules that a player understands through simple tooltips & visual queues, complexity should be layered on top of that.

      Civilization tries to do too much, like a 14 year old trying to write the coolest novel ever “the cool gladiator ran past on his white tiger & sniped, while mid-jump, the armored helicopter out of the sky in a massive explosion which sliced through the Evilus Maximus’s head like something that slices easily, meanwhile the beautiful princess bounced her big breasts in joy-“. I don’t understand how Civilization ever became semi-mainstream.

  14. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Do you have a device that Civilization: Revolution is available on, John? It may not have anything like the depth of a full-blown 4X, but it would probably be a decent introduction since it’s designed to be accessible to people who don’t ordinarily play strategy games (sorry, console gamers, but it’s true), and a campaign can be played through in an evening rather than over the course of a week or two.

    • John Walker says:

      I shall take a look at the Android version – thank you.

      • Catsplosion says:

        I take it patience and curiosity are not your strong suits?

        If you arent able to use your own initiative and curiosity to figure out how the game works (whilst pausing the game at the start or setting it to slow so that you have more time to learn) then this simply isn’t the genre for you. The entire 4x genre is based on experimenting for the sake of experimenting with a lot of complex factors at play that you clearly aren’t going to know from the get-go.

        It’s like playing your first game of chess (maybe go would be a better analogy) and expecting to understand every aspect of the game from the get go.

        Stellaris gives you some basic foundation information and then expects you to use what you’ve learnt from that to figure out how to learn and improve. It’s taught you what the pieces on the board do and expects you to improve through trial and error.

        If it told you what the best race to pick was and what to place on each planet there would be no point in playing the game! This isn’t black-ops. The fun is in figuring it out. It even helped with these options by giving you default species to play as with the first 2 being human colonies.

        I’d like to point out this is technically my first ‘proper’ 4x game after being told numerous times by a friend that I would enjoy the genre and whilst slightly intimidated by the knowledge that I knew this was a statistic/information heavy genre I still managed to pick it up within 30 minutes using the tutorial, slow speed and pauses when needed.

        If you want an introduction to the genre I suggest the ‘4x-lites’ such as the Civilization series or the Total War series.

        • Captain Joyless says:

          And the award for Condescension goes to…

          • Catsplosion says:

            I’d like a physical copy please so I can place it on my shelf next to my not giving a fuck trophy.

          • Dare_Wreck says:

            I actually didn’t read any condescension in Catsplosion’s reply. I could be mistaken, but I think he was honestly trying to help John and others in his position.

        • TrenchFoot says:

          Unless you actually know the writer personally, starting with: “I take it patience and curiosity are not your strong suits?” is insulting. Why would you say something like this?

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        Hey John – it looks like only the sequel is available on Android, which was less well-received than the original (I haven’t played either, but James is right that it was designed as My First Strategy Game and by all accounts was really quite lovely!). Maybe you can borrow a friend’s PS3/360?

  15. Rizlar says:

    Might have been mentioned in one of the many comments above, but since so much criticism is based around the tutorial messages, may I just point out that you can close them but not click ‘don’t show me again’. Seemed like a really good approach to me, you can close a bunch of guff you really don’t want to look at right now without losing that information for good, once you have read and understood a tip you can make sure it doesn’t pop up in the future.

    Anyways, I’m sure Stellaris is far from new user friendly, just wanted to point out one thing I thought it did well.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      How do you do that? I see the big obvious “close and never open again” button, but nothing else that obviously looks clickable.

      • Gnoupi says:

        That’s because the not obvious thing (but usual for Paradox games) is that those particular messages are tied to the screen you are watching. They disappear when you close it (or change tab) and reopen the next time

        There are two kinds of tutorial messages, the ones which are giving you more concrete directions (the fact that they are integrated to the main game is new, in other games they were separated), and those context-related messages.

        But yeah, seeing “why” it happens doesn’t make it really excuseable.

        • Rizlar says:

          Thanks, couldn’t remember if there was a button or what, just my experience of triggering lots of tutorials, immediately closing them and coming back to them later.

  16. Gothnak says:

    I remember playing CK2 for the first time. I decided to be a duke of a single province in Norway. It made it pretty super simple, i lasted about 20 years until the King of Norway went to war, i supported them and then got usurped. In that time, i started having no idea what i was doing, made loads of mistakes and learnt a lot. So many moments where i went ‘oh, THAT’s how that works’.

    Then i started a new game as Scotland, took the whole of Ireland and most of Portugal and Brittany.

    So, yeah, expect to fail for a few (or 10) hours until it clicks. It’s not a great way to learn a game, but it is worth it in the end.

  17. HappyCerberus says:

    I’m confused, the tutorial messages are at most few lines of text.

    Why do you need to start clicking immediately when the tutorial opens?

    Why not read it, understand what it is telling you and then do the thing?

    Grand strategies are not real-time strategies. Many times I have spent more than an hour, paused, simply analyzing the situation, figuring out my next move.

    And most importantly, the biggest lessons come with failing.

    • syndrome says:

      attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

      • Otterley says:

        You say ADHD, but it sounds like you mean short attention span. Anyway, neither seem applicable to John, considering the patience he has for puzzle games.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I think a lot of the problem is that Stellaris has been set up with multiplayer in mind, so even those messages that do pause the game only do so until you close the popup. You often need to close the popup before you go hunting through the menus to do the task, so the clock starts running again until you’ve learned to frantically spacebar before another popup appears telling you something else. The tutorial does work, but it could be a whole lot better.

  18. TheButler83 says:

    This article feels rather close minded to me. I can’t hold with the idea that the devs should make games more accessible as a matter of course, as that leads to the dumbing down of genres.

    I wonder if half the problem is a desire to play a stretegy game to be successful so stumbling around a bit lost is a turnoff. Perhaps an acceptance that it is ok to be hopeless at something has been lost. From sports to board games you would expect to be poor at them until you had practised and learnt the rules. I wouldn’t blame baseball for seemingly being obscure and hidden behind numbers and acronyms, i’d blame myself for not having the time or patience to master them.

    • John Walker says:

      I find it really sad when accessibility and simplicity are conflated like this.

      There is a way everything in Stellaris works. Accurately and effectively communicating how things work to the player makes the game more accessible, but in no way makes it more simple, or “dumbs down” its content.

      I would argue pretty strongly that observing that something is poorly communicated to the player isn’t being “closed minded”!

      And (once again), this isn’t about not knowing the best way to do something, and then learning through failure. It’s about not knowing how to operate the game itself at the most surface level!

      • syndrome says:

        John, with all due respect, I think you’re not supposed to criticize one particular airplane model if you’re the one who’s not able to figure out the piloting controls in general.

        No, it’s not their fault you thought this game will read your mind.

        I had zero issues with Stellaris since launch. And as a member of their target audience, I had very high expectations, yet I’m satisfied with 1.0 considering the amount of work (and decades of genre development) they managed to pull off this elegantly.

        Why would you believe their job was to deliver your frame of mind and to learn you what to expect of the genre and its interface, is beyond me.

        This is not a shooting game, it’s a grand strategy, which is typically presented with spreadsheets and numerous walls of text and data. Why would you expect anything that you deem accessible. Why do you think it’s even possible? And why would your opinion on your own lack of knowledge make a worthy comment, especially if this is not an objective review?

        • Yugie says:

          I don’t think how you’re going about it is being very fair to the criticism made, especially when Paradox employees have talked on stream about Stellaris being a more accessible game than the others. I’ve had very little trouble navigating the game because I’ve had prior experience with other Paradox games and watched a bunch of the streams, but I can see how a newbie might get confused and frustrated with the information overload.

          Your claim that game was not designed with accessibility in mind does not defeat critcism as to it’s lack of accessibility. It might be weighed less, especially in niche titles, but that doesn’t negate it all. Absent a compelling reason as to why it’s okay for the game to be unable to convey the basic controls of the game, that argument doesn;t hold much weight.

          Arguing that because a person doesn’t understand how a game conveys it’s information, they should not complain about it seems rather silly when the complaint is about how they can’t understand how the game conveys it’s information.
          I’m not a cook, I would royally screw up if you ever asked me to cook something fancy, but I can certainly tell when someone else has made terrible tasting food.

          Is it possible to ‘fix’ the accessibility issues grand strategy games have? I don’t know, but Paradox certainly seem to be trying to some extent. (for instance, HoI’s planning lines certainly help with readability and clarity.)

          I didn’t go through the tutorial, so I’ll take your word for it John.(Especially given the tutorials in the other Paradox games) But how did you manage to get confused when your ship zigzagged all over after pressing the Survey System button with a Survey button under it? I thought that bit was fairly self-evident, though I accept that a lot of the interface isn’t communicated very well.

          • left1000 says:

            I honestly think this is paradox’s BEST tutorial yet. CK2 and EU4 are about one hundred times as confusing to get into. Stellaris starts you off smaller, with less options, less things to do, Stellaris also draws on a larger genre of tropes that players might have knowledge of (but john didn’t).

            That said civ5 might have a better tutorial, has John ever tried to play civ5?

            On the flipside John might try getting into 4x with distant worlds:universe… in distant worlds:universe you can have the ai control your empire while you’re also controlling it. Choosing in the options how much of your own game you want to play and how much you want to watch. Maybe that would help keep the pace of the game going without needing player comprehension?

            I will definitely agree that Stellaris’ tutorial already assumes a player has played 4x games before. That’s what Stellaris’ aim I think was. To sell their game to every 4x player out there who isn’t a fan of grand strategy games, thereby doubling their market base. Judging by steam charts, I think their plan succeeded. They haven’t though it seems from this article broken into the wider market of everyone.

          • syndrome says:

            “I’m not a cook, I would royally screw up if you ever asked me to cook something fancy, but I can certainly tell when someone else has made terrible tasting food.”

            Simply no. This is not even close to the analogy you’re trying to make. You can’t just accuse a cook of being a lousy one, simply because someone in the fucking restaurant had burned his tongue while eating soup.

            It’s not the soup or the cook’s fault, it’s just, well… the guest had no patience nor intellect to address his own issues with gluttony. So he expected it to be less hot because that’s how it “should’ve been.” Ok, so I ask you by whose standards?

            Since when is mediocrity a standard?

            Besides, to every hype there is antihype, and this is what creates journalistic friction; controversy if you will; and therefore serves as an attention generator. This in turn spurs endless debates on when and where some game has failed to entertain us, and sociopathic claims on how exactly this hurts our feelings, but noone ever tries to provide a working example or to point out a real-world solution to the universal problem of perfect accessibility in games.

            Just think about it, maybe it’ll come to you that games have stretched too far from their simple beginnings, and maybe, just maybe, one does not simply read Shakespeare just to find it overly accessible as well. Maybe we, as designers/developers, are ought to leave that something, that personal je ne sais quoi to be rediscovered by the viewer/player? The truth is in the eye of the beholder etc..

            Perhaps what you’re dissappointed about isn’t the game or its interface, but something else entirely? Your own lack of imagination, patience, humility, adaptiveness, curiosity? Some twisted perception that life should be easier might in fact be wrong, do you suppose that you shouldn’t have to learn new things all the time? Or if you _do_ like to learn all the time, why is this a chore then? Are you REALLY fighting Stellaris UI that much? Or is it that you feel that you’re not really in control, because you can’t seem to grasp the concept BEHIND the interface, in actuality, so you have to memorize something that doesn’t suit you, thus you can’t perform as fluently as you would like to.

            I am sorry, but when I take into account the sheer complexity and ambition of this game, it delivers a crowned pinnacle in the long history of 4X / grand strategy UIs. It learns from its predecessors, it learns about and adapts to the fanbase of its predecessors. A GUI that can scale with the game, that is as informative as it’s intuitive, much more streamlined, nice to look at, and doesn’t patronize too much. If you ask me: it’s a job well done.

            Thank you for filling in the space I intentionally left blank.

          • Malibu Stacey says:

            I’m not a cook, I would royally screw up if you ever asked me to cook something fancy, but I can certainly tell when someone else has made terrible tasting food.

            …said Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSc., SSc. before he headed out for dinner in the Officer’s Club.

      • MysticLuster says:

        I’m really curious to know what you’re talking about here. Could you give any kind of description on what kinds of things you think weren’t explained properly? From your original post, the things mentioned seemed pretty easy to grasp. Locating the science ship? At least in my game, I had 5 ships sitting in front of me to start with and a quick mousing-over showed me that there were 3 Corvettes, 1 Science Ship and 1 Construction Ship. Maybe the issue was with your zoom level, not being able to see the ships? Zooming has been a staple with large-scale games for ages, scrolling with the mouse wheel (or looking at keybindings to see if there’s a keyboard button.)

        You also mentioned that you didn’t like that you would start reading the tutorial message, then you’d click on something halfway through and be presented with another message and be unable to get back to what you wanted. A few things about this have already been mentioned, so I’ll be succinct. Firstly, I believe the first time the tutorial gives you an instruction, it tells you that you can retrieve the current objectives by looking at the Situation Report (Quest Log, basically.) Also, maybe try not clicking on anything until you’ve read the entire message, if you don’t already understand what it’s telling you to do. I agree that everything is not spelled out in just a few words, it’s important to read all the information provided to get a better grasp of things.

        Until I have a better grasp of the specific things you had difficulty with, the best I can tell you is that Tooltips are lifesavers. There are several systems, such as the planet-management system that you mentioned (moving and placing colonists on planet tiles,) that are not spelled out completely in a tutorial message. However, the big rule of thumb for games like this is that if you want to know more about an object or button, click on it or mouse over it. It will either give you a more detailed screen when clicked on, or will give you an explanatory tooltip when moused over, or both. For example, if you don’t know what to do with the planet tiles, you click on one and it gives you a button to Build on it. You click Build and it gives you a list of building choices with the resources provided by each building. If you don’t understand the resources, you mouse over the resources and it gives you a description of what they are for. I mean, yeah, they COULD just give you a 5-minute verbal explanation of everything you can do on the planet, which MIGHT help you understand the information in the onslaught of data… but probably not. Some people would probably prefer it, to be sure. However, I think the majority of strategy gamers are used to seeing tooltips and actually reading the information always available in the game instead of just listening to a verbal description. I get that, as someone who’s not a strategy gamer, you’re not used to the same thing. However, I also find it kind of silly to be mad at the game for being the kind of game that it is. It has nothing to do with not wanting to invite new players to try the genre, it just has to do with the way the genre is played. Not liking a 4x strategy game because it has lots of obtuse data that you actually have to look at lots of tooltips and explanations for is like being mad at a fighting game for being fast-paced, just because you prefer to take your time in games.

        • Yugie says:

          Firstly, I’d ask that you don’t insert halfway through a discussion/ argument an insult about a person’s lack of imagination, patience etc. It’s not really nice or sensible to assume things about people from the one interaction you’ve had with them online, and doesn’t help with making your point either.

          TO add to John’s point about accurately and effectively communicating information:I understood and was okay with most of the UI, but there are areas in which more information could be given. I get that point defense is good against missiles, but I have a hard time gauging it’s effect in a fight. The closest I get to seeing this is a % of hits on point defense, but sometimes this doesn’t even come up when I’m fighting a heavily missile based comp. So how much damage mitigation are the point defense modules doing, is it being effective? My only indicators to that is a vague guess of how many ships I’ve saved and the outcome of the fight.

          I’d argue that it is generally a decent effort and gets many things right. But that’s not the same thing as being perfect now is it? If you don’t point out the flaws and criticise the problem they’ll never even have the opportunity to get fixed. It’s not like Paradox don’t understand this. They’ve acknowledged that their post battle information could be more helpful, that a diplomatic map would help, that the alerts could stand to have more information in it.
          What you’d call anti-hype I’d call criticism which can help improve the game. Should the devs be completely beholden to this? No, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a balance to be struck.
          John hasn’t just ranted off a list of complaints without suggesting some basic ideas for fixing it, other people have chimed in as well in how the tutorial could be improved, or where areas of confusion could be cleared up. If this was a UI and tutorial system which got everything right, I would concede that the claims are baseless. But this isn’t the case. Things can and should be improved.

          I’d also suggest you try out the stellaris tutorial for yourself and put yourself in the position of a newbie. After trying the tutorial I can understand why he’s frustrated. It teaches you to do things inefficiently . Where you could simply click on the science ship and right click and choose from a dropdown menu, it asks you to use the fleet interface. To understand why the survey button surveys all systems the tooltip explains in smaller green text how actually using the button works. The tutorial messages are closed the moment you click to explore the thing it’s telling you to explore. It’s annoying and makes it harder to cross reference what you’re learning with the advice given. Do all of John’s points stick? Not so far as I’ve tried it out. But then, I’ve had the benefit of having played a bunch of paradox games and watched plenty of streams on Stellaris. I can see how all the little problems can mount up to create a frustrating experience.

          • Catsiel says:

            I’m a total 4x/grand strategy/paradox strategy newbie, I followed the tutorial, which I found to be fantastic- the fact it’s not a separate mode where you have to follow specific instructions but instead a little robot popping up explaining any interface you open and giving you some small tasks to introduce you to the mechanics.

            I’m now 20 hours into my first campaign and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m part of a federation and we recently went to war with a nation and his two vassals and ended up vassalising all three of them for ourselves.

      • Daemoroth says:

        John, no offense, but you complain that the game doesn’t explain everything enough, yet you’ve already complained that you half-read tips then click somewhere else and the tip you didn’t finish reading goes away.

        How would it help if the game added an explanation to every single element when you don’t even read the existing explanations in full?

        There is some responsibility on the player to take part in the learning process. Your complaints seem to stem from you glossing over explanations then skipping ahead, and then becoming frustrated at the game as a result.

        Slow down, relax, read the explanations, understand them, then move on. As I always joke with a friend of mine who often has the same “I skipped the message, what am I supposed to do?” questions: If all else fails, read instructions.

      • Wisq says:

        You’re right that accessibility and simplicity are not synonymous. But being complex and accessible at the same time is going to have a cost — in addition to the development effort of having made the game deep and complex in the first place, they now have to playtest it with a broad audience, see what confuses them, find better ways to explain that, repeat, repeat, iterate, etc.

        The result is that, between accessibility, complexity, and low(er) development cost, a small company with limited resources is going to have to choose two. And since low accessibility tends to limit sales and make their product fairly niche, most of them are going to opt for low complexity instead. And that is how much of the game-playing public has come to conflate “accessible” with “shallow” and “excessively simple”.

        Bigger companies like Firaxis can manage all three at once. But if a smaller company can only manage to make something either accessible or complex, I’d rather they make it complex — even if it potentially means I need to do more research, outside the game itself (e.g. wikis, YouTube, etc.), to learn how to actually play it.

  19. pistachio says:

    I had the same with CK2 even though I am a die-hard EU IV fan.

    Trouble with Stellaris is that nothing interesting happens if you only play reactive. At least in EU IV you get eased into the features by just responding to the alerts. Stopped playing Stellaris too, for different reasons, I’ll get back into it when it’s more fleshed out (trading, more different resources, non-homogenous universe etc).

  20. kael13 says:

    I had watched a bunch of content on YouTube, i.e. Paradox’s Blorg playthrough, so I had a bit of an inkling on how to navigate the UI and the best way to control ships – I didn’t really have any problems playing the game come release. Don’t forget that you can hit spacebar to pause and take as much time as you like.

    I’ll concede though, that the UI is effing tiny, especially on a high-res monitor. The text feels eye-strain inducing. And you’re right about the half-read tutorials. What a daft idea. It saved them some cash I suppose, but it’s not helpful for new players.

  21. Flamepreacher says:

    I’d hate to come into this game cold like John, he is 100 percent right about how the tutorial talks over itself and can actually make what you need to do very obtuse. Luckily I’ve spent enough time with CK2 to get where it was heading despite it. However for a paradox game its definitely a step in the right direction, just needs some refining so as not to put people off what is a fantastic game.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      the tutorial talks over itself

      Oh god do you mean it’s one of those tutorials where the narrator is saying one thing in your ear but there’s a text box saying something else entirely? Because I want to strangle everyone who does that.

      • mike2R says:

        Actually I thought the tutorial was pretty well behaved in that respect. But parts of it are tied into opening up various windows and tabs. I guess what is happening is that some early game event happens that triggers the tutorial, and the player does what it says before it has finished, and what they do triggers the next part of the tutorial over the top.

        As long as you wait for it to finish before doing anything you should be fine. Though I agree its obnoxious behavior (memories of rage-unintalling the Witcher 2 here) and it would be better if the game actively prevented it from happening.

  22. trjp says:

    I have same issue – that tutorials want to ram too-much-information at me and think that talking to me like I’m 5-years-old makes that easier as they pile-up the information overload.

    I think the only real solution to this is “just play the fucking game” and “work-it-out as you go”. In many cases this is less frustrating and in most cases it’s a damned-sight more fun.

    Another option is watch a playthrough – find someone who’s not reading-out every bit of text (Youtubers – stop fucking doing that, we can all read!!) and who’s pleasant to listen to and just go along with that (or even follow it!!)

    In the ideal world this is backed by a system like SC2’s whereby allsorts of tutorials and information is available in the background which you can access at your leisure (now or in the future – which is excellent!)

    All of this is a legacy of developers working-on playing too many similar games and forgetting what it’s like for people who are ‘new’ to the game – most in-game tutorials are fucking terrible (even ones where time has clearly been spent)

    Example: Endless Space has a slick-as-hell UI but awful ‘read walls of text’ tutorial. Endless Legend integrates it much more but falls into all the same holes that the Civs did of just ‘talking you to death’ instead of letting you have some fun.

    • Baines says:

      It may also be an issue of games changing repeatedly during development.

      You *could* spend a long time making a carefully detailed and user-friendly tutorial that explains every mechanic and every property about every unit… But how much is the game changing during those months of tutorial creation? With some games, you could soldier through… For example, the dirt-basics of an FPS aren’t going to change much and it isn’t insanely difficult to keep updating information on a fighting game. But a large scale strategy game is a complex and large beast, where even central concepts can repeatedly change midway development.

      So you end up with quickly written and easily changeable pop-up text boxes, with no real “teach the person to play” tutorials. Any attempt at a “teach the person to play” is itself going to be barebones, missing large chunks of information that the player really needs to eventually know, and might not even work properly.

  23. Drakomis says:

    I have a feeling that this author of this review has never played games of this genre before, and if he claims to have had, has never fully understood the mechanics behind it. I further get the impression that with the introduction already stating his dislike for the genre, he wasn’t giving the game any hope nor chance to succeed. With that summed up, it is of my opinion that this review is stated by someone who is new to the genre, or outright has bias against the genre and/or game and complains about nothing for the attention of his/her post.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Did you mean to comment on this article or another one?
      This isn’t a review, and the entire first paragraph is about how John doesn’t generally get on with strategy games.

    • John Walker says:

      Did you get that feeling because I wrote that it was the case in the words you read?

      This wasn’t a review.

  24. BluePencil says:

    I certainly agree that where and how the tutorial messages pop up is a disaster: you have to banish them in order to get a key piece of the interface (the outliner which lists your ships etc) back again.

    However, I did find it easy enough to pick up. And, although strategy is my favourite genre, I bounce off EU4 and Hearts of Iron every time I try. I have spent a lot of time in CK2 but have never really got anywhere, but the weird thing is I can still enjoy it.

    As for “trying to click on incredibly tiny ships” I do rather think it was clear you can click on the banner that floats with the ship rather than trying to click on the ships themselves. It had honestly never occurred to me to try and click on the graphic of the ship and this isn’t because I’ve played other Paradox games as they don’t display things the way Stellaris does.

  25. 2late2die says:

    As much as I love Paradox strategy games they’re not a good intro to the genre because they’re not very newbie friendly… well not at all actually. I have plenty of experience with all sorts of 4X strategy games and I still needed a YouTube tutorial to figure out CK2. Stellaris is not as bad, but you’re right about the tutorials – they’re done poorly. Most of the stuff I had to figure out for myself, and there’s still things I don’t understand and most likely will need to read/watch some tutorials to figure them out.

    I think maybe a Civ game (4 or 5) would be a better introduction to the genre. Although not sure how the in-game tutorials for those games are – I’ve been playing them so long I never bother with the tutorials anymore. But on the other hand I’m sure there are scores of community tutorials for either of those games with step-by-step instructions and explanations and most likely videos that you can just follow along.

  26. Llewelyn_MT says:

    @John: I wouldn’t just blame yourself. Stellaris has an absolutely godawful UI. People responsible for this abomination should be sent to a Russian labor camp on Siberia, or worse, be forced to use it forever.

    If you want to start out in 4X try something better, like Endless Legend that has absolutely model UI. It’s by no standard simple though. For space strategy I’d suggest Endless Space, which is a pretty good place for newcommers, or Civ 5, that’s both well designed and has a familiar theme.

    In Short, Stellaris is both complicated, bugged, and awfully designed. Try something else instead.

    4X 4 LIFE!

    • hungrycookpot says:

      Are you for real? Where are you guys getting this, and have you ever played a single other 4X? Stellaris has a CRAZY streamlined UI for the depth it offers, I am struggling to think of a single change I could make to improve the control scheme or information displayed…

      • Premium User Badge

        Malarious says:

        Right? The Stellaris UI isn’t bad… the issues I have with it are more related to ergonomics than not letting me display the info I want or interact with it the way I want. The Stellaris UI is at about the same level as Endless Legend, and everyone praised that game for having a wonderful user interface.

        I think the issue is, when you haven’t played any games in the same genre, your brain just can’t compartmentalize the relevant information. You don’t know what info you can ignore for now which means either you carefully try to hold everything in your head (which is impossible for a novice) or your eyes glass over and you just start clicking through and ignoring everything.

        Strategy game veterans make tons of assumptions about how systems work. When we start to learn a new game, we have a huge database to reference and draw from. I don’t think I’ve played a tutorial in years, largely because there’s nothing truly new under the sun — everything is derivative, and chances are I’ve played the game that feature x is cribbing from, so I don’t need it explained to me.

        • Yugie says:

          It does a decent job sure, but nowhere to improve? Paradox’s latest post on their ‘roadmap’ for development for the game points out that the End of Battle summary is not very helpful, and has even done a mockup of what they could replace it with. The sector UI has some problems( my pet peeve at the moment is not being able to press the + button because i have ships in the system, though pressing the system itself works) And a lot of the pop-ups could do with more info. Or at least, to another screen containing more info. Its nice that I know my trade deal with the Space Penguins ended, but what the heck were we trading again?

      • C0llic says:

        He’s right and he’s wrong. The UI is littered with unnecessary clicks and UI elements that look like they should work but are either non nonfunctional, or put you into a screen so you can click to do what you wanted, instead of providing the shortcut you would think they logically would.

        The mechanics are quite streamlined, but UI does still need a bit of work. I fully expect most of the glaring and bizarre inconsistencies to be fixed in the first major content patch, though.

  27. Phantasma says:

    Perservere John!

    Stellaris is the most userfriendly of their games to date and right now would be the perfect time for getting into it.

    Right now the AI is still more than a bit hapless, so until they patch it you’d definitely have it easier. And the game is freshly out so no heaps of expansions that would have made it more and more complex.

    My biggest advice i could give you is: The space bar is your friend.
    As soon something puzzles you and/or more than one notification pops up, hammer it hard, hammer it often. Then you have all the time you need to figure things out.
    Key in this games is to fragment the presented information in bite-sized junks and the realtime with pause approach of Paradox games works surprisingly well for that.

    That and i completey ignored that shortcut panel on the right, because those are usually rubbish and only a token effort in other games… which was a big mistake.
    Not this time though, now i’m managing 80% of my empire through just that panel. Click your planets and ships there and you won’t have to hunt for them on the strategic map.

  28. Syneval says:

    I’m not sure how to take this article … except from my own experience.

    Stellaris is the first paradox game I tried. I’m absolutely not into strategy as a rule (the last 4x I played was Alpha Centauri on release), but the hype train was strong for this one.

    Started a game on huge, normal. Disabled the tutorial. Made liberal use of space bar. After a few hours I had a decent multi world mini empire running, so I decided to restart and go for real.

    I’m now 25 hours in on my second game, huge, normal. I have an empire of 65 planets, a strong alliance, several 20k fleets and personally own almost the entire south quadrant of my spiral galaxy.

    So I’d hardly call the game unfriendly to beginners … Just ignore the tutorial, read the tooltips, and don’t be afraid of pausing!

  29. Sorbicol says:

    My previous attempt to play a Paradox Grand Strategy title – Crusader Kings 2 – had me bounce off the interface so hard I ended up in orbit around Jupiter. I had no idea what I was meant to be doing and, for me personally, it just switched me off from the game and went and played something else instead. Life’s too short bluntly.

    However I was interested in Stellaris from the beginning – both because I love the 4x genre, and that those first glimpses of Stellaris demonstrated a game with a truly galactic sense of scale behind it, something that with the possible exception of Sword of the Stars, I haven’t really encountered before.

    I’m about 10 hours into Stellaris now, and despite the really obscure, illogical and sometimes downright bizarre systems paradox have littered the game with, I’m really enjoying it. The way I got into it was simply the Paradox ‘All Hail Blorg’ series of you tube videos. Now there are a lot of them and they probably represent a 30 hour investment of watching someone else play a game. There’s no way I would have spent that much time doing so if the game had already been released but as it there as a marketing tool, I fell for it hook, line and sinker and went ahead and pre-ordered. It has, however, done that crutial step of getting me into the game.

    The in game tutorial is abysmal. Quite why they decided it would be a good idea to resurrect Microsoft’s Paperclip is beyond me. Walking into this game blind is not something I would advise anyone to do, but for whatever reason, watching lets play videos for these sorts of games seems to work for me. It got me into Cities:Skylines as well, and at some point I will start to check out CK2 videos as well and see if I can finally crack that game too. Assuming I’m not playing Civ VI by then of course……

    • anHorse says:

      Yeah what an awful tutorial, explaining exactly what each thing you click on does

      I’d learn so much more if only it didn’t tell me stuff

  30. derbefrier says:

    Here I was thinking the tutorials were pretty good this time around. They do tend to pile up but it’s easy to hit the space bar and go through them one at a time, plus they will keep popping up unless you click on the don’t show again box so you can always go back to them later.

    Compared to CK2 learning the basics in stellaris was cake. I still don’t understand ck2 after 10 hours but I feel I had a pretty decent grasp on stellaris after half that time.

    Really with games like this you just gotta accept the first 5 or so hours are going to spent learning the game. I just startedy first “real” game of stellaris over the weekend after bumbling though my first game learning the instructions and outs and have been having a blast. Stick with it John this is one of those genres that requires a bit of an invest before the payoff but it’s worth it if you have the patience go with it.

  31. CidL says:

    Yeah, same here John. Managed a couple of hours, really desperately wanting to like it but having almost no idea what was going on half the time, bored a lot of the time, and eventually just gave up. Not being able to keep the tutorial box on screen while doing the thing it was telling me to was a nightmare. And I’ve played Christ knows how many hours of EU4 so it’s clearly not just strategy virgins that can struggle with it.

    As an example of its hopelessness at explaining anything, I kept sending my science ship to another system to survey it, and the sodding thing would simply never go, always came back. It took absolutely ages before I realised it was encountering some hostile force along the way and fleeing back to where it came from. Maybe I was blind to the game telling me that, but man was that frustrating, especially when I looked at the enemy ships and realised they were about 50 times more powerful than anything I could build yet, and there was nowhere else I could reach that didn’t involve going through that system.

    Anyway, I agree with the article, but I will hopefully decide to come back to this in six months to see if it’s been improved by mods.

    • aoanla says:

      Um. If a ship encounters a hostile force and flees, then there’s a notification that pops up to tell you that… the ship encountered a hostile force.

      Now, it’s much more difficult to work out how to stop it from fleeing hostile forces by default (it’s the ship stance option, which I don’t think the tutorial ever mentions), but at least the fact that it does that is actually pointed out!

  32. gourley4p says:

    Space bar = Pause. It will change your life.

    • DEspresso says:

      Instructions unclear- Opened drinking establishment on Space Station and named it Pause

  33. RimRider says:

    Half an hour!?!?

    That’s like completing 5 minutes of your very first driving lesson, before chucking it in, saying, “Sod that driving malarkey, it’s just too difficult!”

    And that’s coming from someone who was in the EXACT same boat as you. Someone looking for a new genre to sink some serious time into. I only heard about Stellaris a day before its release and thought, perfect – this it my chance. I bought it, did a shitload of reading, watched a few early-game videos, played a bit, made mistakes, learned, started again, played a little bit further, made less mistakes, learned, repeat 3 or 4 more times.

    I’m on my 6th game now, and only just made contact with my first alien civ (not including the clouds and crystals/pirates). I’m learning new stuff every game, that I adapt from my next game. Eventually, I’ll finish a game, but I’m in no rush. The learning curve is huge, but it sure is an enjoyable journey getting to the top of it!

    • RimRider says:

      I wanted to add that I also encountered most or all of the annoyances you did, but I learned how to deal with them and just glad I persevered.

      Hopefully that will all be addressed in the first patch, though…

  34. Carra says:

    I’m having a blast with Stellaris, after 1 week I have 18 hours on my counter. I suppose it helps that it’s similar to Civilization and Crusader Kings 2/EU4.

    Yeah, they’re not easy game. For EU4, I had to read the 200 pages long tutorial. For this game, I often have to look things up on their wiki or fora. But it’s, fine, I’m having fun.

  35. Chirez says:

    I get the feeling there’s a relatively simple solution to genre problems like this, which is a buddy system. You need a strategy gaming buddy, John. Get Adam on Skype or, ideally, sitting on your shoulder to explain those little things that keep you from getting to the meat. Let the enthusiasm infect you, or just spend the entire time complaining. Either way you’ll get more out of it than you will alone. You could even record it and call it work.

    It’s not necessary with genres you love, but for a title you know you’re going to find tough, get someone else to chew it for you.

    • BluePencil says:

      I would definitely watch a video series of John wailing at his guide that it’s hopeless.

  36. mhaedros says:

    To be honest a Paradox grand strategy game really is the worst imaginable way into strategy as a genre; first you take Manhattan and so on. If you truly want to learn the way of the strategist I would recommend starting somewhere less grand, my personal recommendation is Total War (specifically Rome or Medieval 2 due to exploitable AI, but highly moddable so you can exploit the AI in Tolkienland or Viking-era Britain if that’s your preference). I myself started with Medieval 2 and then slowly moved into more complicated games, starting with CK2 (which I hated and still dislike), then EU4 (which I love deeply) and now Stellaris. Learning to balance an empire in Total War means there’s one less part you need to learn in EU4, and once you know EU4, Stellaris is a piece of cake. (plus the TW tutorials really are a lot better).

    • CidL says:

      “once you know EU4, Stellaris is a piece of cake”

      Not for me. I just felt that Stellaris dumped me right in it from the off. I didn’t feel the same way about EU4, and I love that game.

      • mhaedros says:

        Hmm, maybe I exagerated a bit then. I DID use the full tutorial for my first game, which lasted 7 hours or so, but only to get a grasp on the new mechanics (relatively new to 4x). The getting-used to process is of course very individual, even if one is familiar with earlier Paradox games.

  37. RobearGWJ says:

    John, Paradox has some of the richest, deepest grand strategy games out there, with fantastic replayability and incredible depth. And no other strategy game focuses as much on storytelling as they do (and much of it is *emergent* storytelling, which is even more rare as a game focus). It’s to be expected you’re going to bounce off it at first (and second, and third).

    Once you get one of their games, though, you’re set to enjoy all of them. Open the first chest and you can get all the other treasures that are waiting for you.

    So what to do? I agree with the people who have noted that there are “Let’s Play” and similar videos for this. Spend some time with one or two of those, the ones that cater to beginners, and you’ll find things are much easier. Also remember, this is a “set and forget” game, like most Paradox strategy games. It’s not like Civ where you constantly make changes and tweaks; instead, you set up a subsystem and leave it alone until events force you to pay attention to it again. The space bar helps.
    Also, don’t forget the old school stuff. Pause the game at the start and explore all the menus to get an idea where things are. Click on a ship and click/right click on other stuff to see what happens (seriously, finding this out is something you can do in the first 30 seconds of any game, it should not be something you need to wait to have handed to you). Click and right click on planets and bases and such. Hover over numbers in the side and top bars. Do all that stuff before you even start and you’ll have a leg up.
    I hope you keep trying it; it’s a fun system and a relatively easy way to get into the system that powers their bigger, deeper, more complex games. Good luck!

  38. Maxheadroom says:

    John’s whole post reminded me a lot of my experience with Sword of the Stars 2.

    I’m no expert on strategy games but i’m no newcomer either and that just bewildered me. Little things like not being able to right-click drag etc. Also it had NO tutorial whatsoever.

    None of which was helped by it having one of the worst launches ever and barely functioned at at all at release

  39. cpt_freakout says:

    Unlike a lot of commenters here, I don’t think you should suffer or work to get the game beyond reading a manual (yeah, yeah I know they barely exist anymore, but there’s quick guides and short – emphasis on short – videos that replace them). If you’re not in the mood, then leave it be.

    I was very overwhelmed, like you, and for the first 10 minutes I really didn’t know what I was doing or why. Fast track many hours later, and I still struggle to find the “Leaders” tab, don’t know what certain things mean, and am sort of blundering my way through the research trees. However, it’s one of the games I’ve enjoyed the most lately, and I’m loving every minute. What I did, and this might also work for you, is I simply ignored the tutorial. Last 4x I played was Civ 4 (and a replay of Alpha Centauri like a year ago), so I’m not really up to speed with the whole Paradox thing. However, the logic behind the interconnected systems of Stellaris is relatively straightforward, and I’m positive the tutorial hinders any chance at understanding them meaningfully. If you have the patience, and more importantly, the time, you can approach the game experimentally and just figure out things on your own, step by step. I did that, and it stopped overwhelming me. Like I said, I haven’t yet figured out several things, but most of it makes sense now, and my first game is still going without my empire having been subjected or blown away.

    You wanna know what that Science ship does? Just click on whatever and watch it do it. What does it mean in the long-term? You’ll figure it out just by doing it, so maybe it doesn’t matter. Are fortresses worth it? I still don’t know, there hasn’t been a war in my territory yet and I’ve played the diplomatic game of pleasing my neighbors as best as I possibly can without being unfair to myself. Why would I want to upgrade a Construction ship? Eventually, you know why, because you need to do something and the stupid thing is useless. This approach will not give you any immediate certainty, if that’s what you’re looking for, but it will definitely give you control over things in the long run, and maybe you’ll enjoy yourself much more in the process.

  40. Zankman says:

    A question and a friendly tip/suggestion due to it helping me get started as well:

    1. Stellaris is not a “strategy game” per say; When people say “strategy game”, they think of RTS – Starcraft, Warcraft, C&C…

    Stellaris is obviously a Grand Strategy and/or 4X, which is quite noticeably a different beast entirely in terms of scale, scope and systems involved; Just like “wargames”, it is technically, yes, a “strategy game” but there are many, many differences.

    Do you only have issues with GS/4X games or does it also extend to RTS in general?

    2. Anyway, if you want to get involved with the Grand Strategy/4X genre, I recommend trying out an older game (available on Steam) called Knights of Honor.

    It has nice graphics, an optional real-time combat system, nice music and, albeit somewhat simple and rudimentary diplomacy, it is still a great game – with a helpful tutorial and good UI.

    In terms of overall content and depth of systems within the game, it is a fantastic “entry point” to the Grand Strategy genre as it has just enough depth to keep you interested in the long term while not overwhelming you in the beginning.

    As per usual, a tip for your first game: Start in the earliest Age and start with Ireland/one of the three Irish counties (this applies to all Grand Strategy games… Yeah, even Stellaris).

  41. BathroomCitizen says:

    I know it’s not the same kind of genre, John, but have you ever tried Dominions 4?

    It’s the kind of game that’s quite easy to get into – if you can get past the terrible mid ’90s pixelly graphics – and nearly impossible to master because of its depth.

    And it’s got a somewhat stupid AI, so you can stomp it pretty easily while trying to get to ropes with the game. Then the real game begins in multiplayer where, yes, you’ll get stomped pretty badly. But that’s a story for another time.

  42. frymaster says:


    I suppose the difference is, with most complex games – the original Witcher, say, or Dishonored, or an RTS – they start you off with a limited set of functionality, let you get used to that, then layer the complexity on top as you progress.

    4X games don’t seem to do that. Basically everything is on by default, and the “tutorial” is a guide to how everything works that *takes place at the start of a proper game*, meaning they basically have to introduce everything before the end of the first turn (or thereabouts). The Civ series has the same problem, for that matter.

    Maybe what it needs is a very small “story”-based campaign running mainly on rails where you lead a civilisation from pre-starflight out to the stars and fight a couple of skirmishes and make a friend or two? Rather than the random starting of a normal game, a ruthlessly curated basically-on-rails experience where the interface is enabled over the course of half an hour of X, X, X and Xing. The prologue campaign from Rome:Total War springs to mind, though I suspect there are many more examples.

  43. yogibbear says:

    I had the complete opposite experience to you John. I tried CKII ages ago for ~10hrs and completely bounced off it infuriated at not knowing if just marrying people off and plotting to kill people was the entire game or not and just got bored.

    Here I am now 40 HRs into my first game of stellaris with half the medium sized galaxy under my control and absolutely loving all the different aspects to the game. Have already vassalised 5 different AIs with 12 more to conquer/alliance/vassalize/whatever to win. Have had zero issues with the tutorial information and the closest I usually get to anything 4X would be say XCOM 2 and the like, which is to say not close at all. I absolutely love the ability to SHIFT+CLICK to queue up science research orders or construction build orders and have maxed out all my sectors that are slowly growing. Some of the mini quest style things that pop up all over the place and screw with your grand plans are really good forcing you to focus back inwards a few times. But yeah the game is certainly AMAZING. I just don’t see what was confusing about it? And anyway shouldn’t it be slightly confusing the first go around anyway? Like if you went out into space, should there be a “here’s how to win” explanation? Shouldn’t we celebrate games that try to do something a bit different?

    My two tips would be:
    1. Pause the game, whenever you have a decision to think about. E.g. where to expand, what to research, someone dies and needs recruiting, construction queue completion, science research completion, hostile detected, etc.
    2. Have the RHS screen always up that lists all your planets and ships and armies to click on there to find them rather than move around the map, and have the detailed view checkbox on the bottom right activated. (This then hides zero information from you about why/what/where/how you can do stuff).

  44. Cooper says:

    I’d recommend Offworld Trading Company. I have similar issues to you, but the tutorial is pretty brilliant (and has a lot of character to it, mopcking the politics of its very mechanics…)

    I want to love strategy games more than I do, but so many of them are seemingly willfully impenetrable.

    For some reason I felt a real desire to sit and play a full strategy game last week, so I bought Offworld Trading Company.

    I was all ready to bang my head against it and give up, but, my, is the tutorial quite lovely.

    The very basics of it are quick to learn, it’s the intricacies of how to use the tools to do well that I’m still learning. But it’s UI is fantastic (pretty much all you need to know is always on screen).

    Lovely game, much more welcoming than the hardcore-ish economic simuolator aspects of the game suggest…

  45. Bobtree says:

    I clicked on a John Walker article. Oops.

    • Don Reba says:

      Turns out, he doesn’t take well to challenging games. Who knew?

  46. Sangrael says:

    To the masses of us that have been playing 4X since the original MoO, Stellaris is a welcome blend of the old with additional new complexity. If you want to play an “easy” 4X I would recommend the current reincarnation of MoO available on Steam EA. It’s definitely old school and pretty simple to wrap your head around. If you’re not good with math you shouldn’t try out Calculus as your first real foray.

  47. Katxa says:

    Irony is, this is without doubt the best effort Paradox has made in a tutorial until now.

    It’s much better than CK2 and EUIV mini-tutos and tutorial scenaries, and resembles more of a “typical-comercial” tutorial.

    Problem is…it is not good. But this is a problem also with the game in general. Game still lacks a lot of info, more UI options and a polished tuto with links that go to the right info and don’t leave you in the middle of space without knowing what to do or where to look.

    I have to turn off the annoying tuto and i’m just playing and learning as my game progress, looking for some more info in the wiki or the forums. At the end, despite the effort, it’s still like the other Paradox Games: you need a good investment in time and a good effort to properly play.

    I’m liking the game. Sadly, it needs more updates (=DLCs) for the UI, diplomacy, detailed info on your incomes and expenses, better events system (we have build…what? where?), a better AI and more win options. Right now it’s just a 7,5-8, or so (mmm totally subjective lol)

    • BluePencil says:

      “what? Where?”

      When those little alerts pop up at the top, often accompanied by some sort of speech message, if you click on them it takes you to where the thing has occurred.

      When an event happens that occurred in a particular place and triggers one of those panels that pops up right in the middle of the screen, on the top right of the alert box is a little yellow camera icon. Click that and you go to where it is happening.

      Something that wrong=-footed me that I didn’t mention in my post up-thread: I knew the game had a map of the entire galaxy and I thought it was simply a matter of zooming out. But I began the game and zooming out didn’t work. I only found the galaxy map pretty much by accident. I mean, once you’ve found out you wonder how you could have been so madly stupid but there is a lot on-screen and I guess I managed to completely fail to look at the bottom centre of the screen.

      • Katxa says:

        Yes, i’m aware of the popups and the message, but the camera just leaves you in the system of the event and the message is “queue finished” on X planet’s surface or X station. You still need to enter planet’s surface, for instance, and try to guess/remember what is new. Nothing in the game tells you what you just have finished.

        Also, message only comes when queue is empty. Build a new module for a station and 2 ships, by example, and you’ll only get a message when the last ship is finished (again, just “queue finished” on X station)

        That’s very poor for a game like this and needs to be improved a lot. I really miss the event logs from EUIV or CK2. Stellaris seem, in general, very poor giving you detailed info for your empire.

        And lol about galaxy map thing. First time i was trying the same as you, zooming out and thinking what i am doing wrong? xD

  48. anonzp says:

    real life must be so, so difficult for some of you people.

    • Sarfrin says:

      It’s true, I have yet to conquer another civilisation in real life. :(

  49. quietone says:

    This is an article I could have written word by word. And, just like John, it is frustrating when you really want to get into these games.

  50. syndrome says:

    Listen all.

    I loved Donkey Kong, Galaxian, Missile Command, Super Mario Bros, and HECK EVEN DOOM and QUAKE and what-have-you SKYRIM WITHOUT SUBTITLES, but I cannot dig this new wave.

    Games like Stellaris make my head spin.

    Why oh why, must I _READ_ in a game. I can shoot, and jump, and dodge, and blast my way through any game and any genre, I can even think to some extent, but alas I cannot read.

    Why is anyone making a game that makes you read for crying out loud? We’re ought not to read, we need more shooty shooty bang bang, not clicky clicky read read.


    Because if they don’t do it for us (and we are in the tens of millions), they will SURELY DIE ABANDONED, right?

    • Hanban says:

      The fact that some of the commenters here cannot even fathom that 4x games can be difficult to get into baffles me. The concescending tone in many of the posts, such as yours, is also so terribly childish.

      Clearly there are people who have struggled with the tutorial. This is even echoed in the comments section. Chill the fuck out, man. Nobody is taking Stellaris away because its tutorial could be better.

    • Hobbes says:

      If the tutorial doesn’t work for you (and it didn’t for me), then I’d suggest watching various youtube let’s plays from people like Quill and the Blorg Spacefriends, that tends to get you a much better idea of how to handle the opening few hours than the tutorial will. There’s also a lot to be said for hitting the space bar (pause) and simply exploring the interface at your own leisure, poking all the buttons and seeing what each of them -do-.

      • mmalove says:

        Excellent advice. I found the tutorial to this game pretty handy, but I’ve played enough 4x to grasp the basic concepts that I’m going to be doing. But contrarily, I’ve found myself terribly lost in other games – Dominions, EU3, FortressCraft, etc – where the tutorials were lacking or non-existent, and a Let’s Play made the difference between finding hundreds of hours of enjoyment, or the game sitting untouched on the virtual shelf.