Posts Tagged ‘4X’

The 4X Genre Has Grown Stagnant, Here’s How To Fix It

When Civilization II came out, I spent an entire summer playing it for several hours a day. The only check on my binging was the fact that my parents would eventually come home and force me to pretend, for a few hours at least, that I cared about things other than Civilization II.

I was a senior in college when Civilization IV arrived. I’d barely played strategy games at all for the previous four years, and “senioritis” brought with it a case of intense nostalgia. I bought it in the spring before graduation. It was still consuming my days and nights when the leaves fell later that year.

That was probably the last time my enjoyment of a 4X game was pure and uncomplicated. Lately, I’ve been wondering where that joy has gone, and why so few games seem to add anything essential to those old experiences.

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Master of Orion Trailer Gives First Look At Combat

Master of Orion [official site], a remake of the 4X game which came out in 1993, was announced by World of Tanks developers Wargaming.net at this year’s E3 with a very short teaser. Now they’ve released the first video of the game in action. If you’d like to see two very awkward robots talk you through what’s coming in the new game, the video’s below.

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4X Argy-Bargy: Run A Thieves Guild In Antihero

Sorry for the weird cropping!

Space war, fantasy war, and history war – those are your three standard settings for a 4X game. You can fight aliens, fight elves, or fight Kaiser Wilhelm II. Pssh.

Treat your exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating eyes to another peek at Antihero [official site], an upcoming 4X strategy game about running a thieves guild in Dickensian Notlondon (I’d forgotten it exists, so maybe you did too). Before I pulled the thistle crown of RPS Senior Scottish Correspondent from Cara’s QUITTER fingers, I served as RPS East End Guvnah, and I can confirm it’s awfully accurate to a life of dodging, weaving, ducking, and diving.

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Galactic Inheritors: A Space 4X From HoI 3 & CK2 Designer

Petting ambassadors is consider a terrible faux pas.

Declaring war is rarely as simple as pressing a big red WAR button. You’ll want your citizens on your side, ideally, though of course propagating a few choice lies can build and exploit prejudice. Space 4X strategy Galactic Inheritors [official site] makes the media an important part of warfare. It’s made by Crispon Games, a studio founded by Chris King, a designer on games including Crusader Kings II and Hearts of Iron III, and fellow former Paradox chap Pontus Åberg. While the only 4X I’ve spent real time with is Castlemaine, I like the sound of some of its ideas.

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4X 4 Real: AI War Devs Announce Stars Beyond Reach

Hexes mandatory.

If you’ve pressed your ear to Arcen Games’ door, read their lips through their window, rummaged through their bins and taped together shredded documents, planted microphones to record their nocturnal mutterings, or browsed their forums, you might know that the AI War and The Last Federation developers have been working on a 4X strategy game. They’ve super-properly formally announced the game now, ditching its working title for the super-definitely final name of Stars Beyond Reach (it’s set planetside, see). As well as regular 4X stuff, it has a few interesting ideas about language and combat. The game doesn’t have units, for starters.

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Sorcerer King: Stardock’s Surprise New 4X Strategy

'Things are heating up around here,' says the fire demon. No one likes that guy.

Oh, those Stardock scamps! Skipping the post-announcement, pre-release build-up of people muttering how they hope new Stardock games are less buggy than Elemental’s initial release, they’ve jumped straight to release with their latest. Or Early Access release, anyway. Yesterday Stardock both announced and released Sorcerer King. It’s a 4X strategy, as you might expect and hope from Stardock, with the twist of pitting players against a Left 4 Dead-ish AI director. Rather than fighting similar AI civilisations doing similar things, it’s an asymmetric war against the mighty Sorcerer King.

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Freeware Garden: Star Commander

Starry-eyed pilots killing each other in outer space in traditional turn-based battles.

Having distilled the core elements of 4X strategizing into a sleek and easy to get into game, and thus having done away with lengthy tutorials and hefty pdf manuals, I am happy to declare that Star Commander has achieved an uncommon straightforwardness.

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At The Gates Delayed, Still Far Away From The Gates

'At The Gates' is my euphimism for needing a poo.

At The Gates is the Kickstarted strategy game from Civilization V designer Jon Shafer. It’s been delayed into 2015. In a backer update, Shafer spoke openly about the reasons for the delay.

“Most of the planned big gameplay features are in, but what does it all add up to while you’re playing? Sure, you can explore the map, survey and harvest resources, migrate from one place to another – but why? What the heck are we trying to do here anyways?”

Also it’s all your fault
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Interview: Aurora, The 4X Sci-Fi Dwarf Fortress

Not pictured: me, screaming endlessly.

I’m halfway through a tutorial on Aurora’s vast wiki. It’s 3375 words long, and it’s talking me through how to create a new galaxy in the 4X science fiction strategy game. I’m at the point of choosing my ‘Main Empire Theme’, and there are over 60. Canadian? Tolkein? Ancient Egypt? Demonic Realm? I scroll through and settle on Welsh. I skip ahead and hit Create Game.

At which point a galaxy forms, with suns, planets and moons, and then that galaxy’s races are born and placed, and then I’m in. I look at my own race, the Terrans. My xenophobia stat is 75. My ideal temperature is 14.00. One of my leaders is called Cadlywydd Gofod Isabella Walters.

Aurora is most commonly described as ‘Dwarf Fortress in space’, and this is why. I spoke to Steve Walmsley, who has been working on Aurora in his spare time for the past nine years. He talked to me about his boardgame inspirations, enabling roleplay and After Action Reports, and what the future holds for his game.
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Interview: Ultima Ratio Regum, A Generated 4X Roguelike

Even the menu image is generated each time.

Ultima Ratio Regum is a “a semi-roguelike game inspired by Jorge Borges, Umberto Eco, Neal Stephenson, Shadow of the Colossus, Europa Universalis and Civilization.”

Ultima Ratio Regum so far procedurally generates a solar system, a planet and its continents, ziggurats, the riddles and block-pushing puzzles that allow you to explore those ziggurats, and the positions of the vines covering the blocks you’re pushing. It’s beautiful.

Ultima Ratio Regum is one of a few ambitious, long-term projects which I think represent the most exciting things about indie game development, about PC games, and about what technology can do for the games of tomorrow. I emailed Mark Johnson, the game’s solo developer, to talk about all of the above.
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Starface: Endless Space – Free DLC & Sale

Amplitude have consistently done things the right way, as far as I’m aware. They began well by making a superb space strategy game, Endless Space, which is a fundamental part of the development process. When they finished the game, they allowed the people who bought it to play, although those people did have to register the game on Steam which caused some grumbling. You’re probably thinking they slipped up by charging outrageous amounts for inconsequential DLC but you’d be wrong. The fourth expansion has just landed and it’s as free as the last three. This one adds new random events, anomalies and heroes, and allows further tinkering with gas giants. The game will be discounted by 50% until March 18th.

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Who Will Master The Worlds Of Magic?

Wastelands Interactive, developers of such strategic wargames as Strategic War In Europe, reckon Worlds of Magic will be “a genuine spiritual successor of Simtex’s 4X Master of Magic”, and bless my boots if the picture above doesn’t resemble the introduction to Simtek’s aged wonder-work. These chaps have done their homework, that much is clear, but will their Worlds have a similarly splendid intro, with the most memorable vocal performance in a game, save for the vendor selling frozen treats in Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe? I don’t know. I do have a feature list though and I’ve posted that below, along with Master of Magic’s intro.

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Space, Auditory: Endless Space Interview

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Endless Space pre-release and I’ve been dabbling and preparing to tell you wot I think of the launch version. In the meantime, I fired up my interstellar communicator and beamed some messages to the development team, specifically Mathieu Girard CEO of Amplitude Studios. Across the infinite void I fired these queries and across the infinite void, answers came. Peruse them below.

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Endless Space Begins

I find the concept of endless space more daunting than inspiring.

Endless Space, the 4X spacy strategy is now out on Steam, and has a launch trailer with lots of pretty explosions. It also explains that in the end, it’s a game about dust. I am bemused by the role that dust appears to play in fiction. From Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, to CCP’s EVE spin-off, it’s hard to think of a more innocuous object to take such an important role. Where are the stories about fluff? And lint? Where are my games about loose bits of thread? I have been sidetracked. You can see the launch trailer below.

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Endless Space About To Begin, 4th July

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

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

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A Better Beta: Infinite Joy In Endless Space

Maybe the joy isn’t quite infinite and maybe the space isn’t endless in the sense that might be imagined on first exposure to the title, but turn-based space conquest game Endless Space is already the second great entry in my 2012 feast of strategy gaming. If Crusader Kings II was a roasted hog with a side order of roasted hog, washed down with a keg of mead containing roasted hogs as booze-croutons, Endless Space is a vacuum-packed futurepill of a meal: nutritious, filled with flavour, perfectly formed. And it’s only just reached beta.

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Orion’s Belter: Endless Space

The amount of developers that seem happy to revive our favourite things from times gone by is something recently discussed in the breezy parapets of Castle Shotgun. A few days later a game appeared on Steam, taking preorders that gave access to its alpha. That game is Endless Space and if it were a farmyard animal it would be plodding around a field saying ‘MOO’ quite a lot. It’s a space-based 4X game and although I need to spend more time with it before I say too many more words, it’s already caused me to miss one night’s sleep and that just doesn’t happen enough anymore. Trailer and brief excited key-tapping below.

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Further Expansion: Distant Worlds – Legends

Maybe they're just very small worlds

I conceal my love for Distant Worlds quite well by never actually mentioning the game but I do love it, very much. If I actually owned a physical copy rather than a digital download, I’d probably give it a hug occasionally. Now, the gigantically scaled but manageable space strategy behemoth has received a second expansion pack, following last year’s Return of the Shakturi. The core appeal of the game is its representation of a living universe, with the masses of information made vibrant by effective visuals and customisable automation levels. It’s easy to build an empire and then sit back and watch it function in meticulous detail. The Legends expansion should add to that appeal. Details below.

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Sword Of The Stars II Closed Beta Imminent

the lords of winter are actually very contented,but thanks for your concern

Quickly! Kerberos’ gargantually betitled 4X sci-fi strategy sequel, Sword of the Stars II: The Lords of Winter, is due out at the end of this very month and Paradox are now accepting applicants for the closed beta. You’ll need to go here to register your interest, providing intimate details of your life, such as how many hours a day you can spend directing squadrons of swords through the aether. Applications close on October 12th and the lucky few should discover if they made the cut by the 13th. I never found the time to play the original very much but I’m quite the fan of conquering space so perhaps I shall become acquainted with these Lords of Winter.

Wot I Think: Star Ruler

Space is roomy
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, yes, we do know when long-zoom 4X indie spectacle Star Ruler was originally available to buy. However, anyone who has followed the game can tell you that what you get for your money now is a different beast to what you got at that nascent time. What could be regarded as the actual launch is now here. We are all familiar with the terror of unfinished games and the horror of 0-day patches. It is easy to believe the entire global computing infrastructure has been put in place so that developers could ship as soon as they got tired and wanted a holiday. Star Ruler did turn up in that sort of unsatisfactory state, but the developers admitted that and they put out a representative demo as well. Since then, their support of the product has been exemplary. While I may not agree with everything they’ve done, the fact that they continue to listen and improve the game is exactly what we so often demand and so rarely receive. But the play’s the thing, so here’s wot I think.

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