Long post incoming.
Lately I have been hyper obsessed with the hardcore end of the videogame spectrum. Specifically roguelikes, 4X and Space sims. So I will be writing about my experiences with that in this post.
First things first, the 4X
genre - Galactic Civilizations 3 [PC]
- I had read that Gal Civ 2 had been extremely good so I was quite excited to try this game out. Considering the name I was expecting it to be similar to Civilization series. And it is. However there are some differences, most obviously in scale.
One of the problems I had with Civilization V was that it didn't feel big enough for me. While there are some custom maps that are huge (not to mention the settings themselves) it's mostly a scaled down version of a continent. I wanted to play a 4X game that felt
massive. So looking at some of the screenshots for this game and reading from the devs that it would be huge made me spend some of my well earned (haha) money on it.
In the beginning, I went with normal sized map thinking that it was big enough but I started meeting other empires very early on. And then the first difference hit me in the face. For those uninitiated, you start with a planet on which you can build factories, entertainment centers, defenses and others on a hex-like grid that cover the planet. Those hexes aren't that big so you will have to suspend your disbelief into thinking of them as particular zones i.e industrial zone, commercial zone etc. Additionally, you start with a couple of ships including a colonizing ship which you can send to colonize viable planets around you. In terms of colonizing planets, not all planets can be colonized (since they are unsuitable for humans/race) and others are merely dead. Of those planets you can colonize however, there are various effects on those planets. Some are surrounded by clouds which increase defense but decrease population growth while others might be a paradise which will inspire everyone to travel there/want to live there. Finally, these planets have percentage rating for how good/bad they are.
So in the beginning, I start with colonizing planets and the planet closest to me is Mars however Mars has a pretty low percentage rating so I ignore it and colonize other planets. Eventually I started meeting other empires and the typical 4X experience starts. So far, so Civilization.
Except for the fact that ships from other empires could freely travel inside of my "borders". Every empire has their own color and borders and coming from Civilization I assumed they couldn't enter my space. I was wrong. They can and will.
"But of course, this is space. Difficult to control space borders.." I though to myself. I go on my merry way when I see a ship approaching Earth. I don't pay much attention to it. A couple of turns later I realize that an empire has colonized Mars right within my own borders! And it's right next to my own homeworld! Wow, I did not realize that was possible. Needless to say, I started sending a couple of military ships to my homeworld just in case something would happen.
Ultimately nothing happens. Mars just keeps building planetary facilities and no foreign empire ships go there. Now my own planets were happy/content with my rule and would apparently praise the Terran Empire because soon the population of Mars started revolting against their own government. I pay no heed to it and continue on my way. Then they rebel and decide to join my empire. Unfortunately, I stopped playing this particular game a bit later because I wanted to have a huge world.
First a short explanation about the map sizes. They range from Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Gigantic and Immense. Feeling adventurous (as much as one can with a 4X anyway), I go with Gigantic. Holy f$%, it's gigantic! 150+ turns in and I have only met one empire and when I fully zoom out I'm not even capable of seeing my own damn planets, much less the ships. Not to mention the toll it has on my computer. There is no way in hell that my computer can handle this in late-game. My computer will just burn from exhaustion.
But it's glorious.
Next up - Roguelike
I wanted to experiment with some proper roguelike games preferably ASCII style games. I started experimenting with Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead. Needless to say the controls messed me up so I just watched a couple of videos of it. It looks pretty cool gameplay wise. Instead of pushing further I went with Tales of Maj' Eyal (ToME) [PC]
and played it for a couple of hours. ToME is a fantasy roguelike with a huge amount of content. It's also a pretty customizable from giving you proper 2D graphics to ASCII style graphics as well as mouse support (which helps a lot in the beginning) and even turning off permadeath if you want to. I mentioned it has a huge amount of content. How much you might ask?
Well, it has 11 playable races, 26 classes, talent trees, huge amount of weapons, equipment, items, prodigies, talents and probably just everything ever made ever. Hell, on Steam it has 1385 achievements. The actual gameplay is pretty simple. You just attack things (by running into it or using range weapons), explore the world map and do quests while upgrading your character and abilities on the way. It's pretty fun. Obviously, considering how massive it is I have only touched the surface of the game. For me, it's been a great time killer in between other tasks. Say I'm at home, working on my research and want to take a 10 min break. I can pop this game up, kill a few enemies, clear a level or zone, upgrade my equipment if I find something, save it and go back to my research.
Next up Space Sim
. To be honest, I have never actually played a space sim before. I had heard of it, especially lately with all the hype in regards to Star Citizen
and Elite Dangerous
but I never understood the appeal to it beyond flying a "realistic" spaceship.
First up, the definition of a space sim is often summarized as a realistic simulation of space travel which often focuses on the spaceship. So, 6 degrees of movement and bunch of other things. However, many games focus on the fiction of "living in space". So there is still a focus on the ship but perhaps a bigger focus on utilizing your ship for multiple things i.e trade, bounty hunter, being a pirate, upgrading your ship, doing quests/missions etc.
Either way, the first game I tried out within the Space sim genre is Galaxy on Fire 2 HD [iOS]
. To be honest, it went way beyond my expectations. First, it was on the Iphone so I wasn't expecting it to be anything near as deep and beautiful it actually is. Great graphics, fun controls, multiple sectors and zones to explore, a bunch of quests, mining, factions, fully voiced cutscenes for the main storyline, upgrading your ship with different modules (such as different types of weapons, lasers, shields etc) and buying other ships. Best of all, it's for free (up until a point anyways) !
Now each zone isn't that big and there is repetition (a common problem with the genre it seems) but it's great fun.
This took me on a buying spree for space sims both old and new on iOS and PC. Honestly, I am pretty broke now.
After that I went back to 4X - Distant Worlds - Universe [PC]
. *Mind Blown*. Jesus Christ, this game ! This is probably the largest 4X game ever constructed. Hell it's probably the largest non-procedurally game ever made. Forget about Galactic Civilizations 3. This game blows it out of the water.http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-27e42tp5fGY/U-aVx9l3_vI/AAAAAAAAIWM/Fwx72op8BOI/s1600/Terran+Federation.jpg
I have linked a picture of a single game above. Note that this isn't even the entire map. Oh, and every highlighted green dot you see are ships and all the other colored dots are systems. Yes, systems
not stars. Oh and finally this is pretty early game so the majority of the empires haven't even been discovered. Although the dark yellow colored one to the right is an empire. Furthermore, every thing runs in real-time.
Also, a super cool feature in DW;U is that you will have a select number of empires per game however you are still capable of finding intelligent life on some of those planets. Depending on what you do those pockets of intelligent life can actually evolve to become a new empire WHILE you are playing the game.
Beyond that you can have disasters and diseases strike, ancient alien lifeforms invading the universe and more.
When I was playing the game last time, the entire universe had erupted into a Universal War with multiple different factions. I was fighting 5 wars in 4 different locations WHILE I was invading 4 planets with hundreds of thousands of troops WHILE some of my sectors were being raided by pirates when finally that ancient alien lifeform started invading the galaxy. It was pure chaotic clusterf&ck.
And it was beautiful.
What's especially beautiful is that you can customize ALL of it. Don't want disasters or diseases to start annihilating your worlds, turn it off. Don't want to be invaded by that ancient alien life form, turn it off. Don't like those damn pirates, turn them off (or make their numbers few and their strength weak). Don't want intelligent life forms, disable their ability to become an empire. Do you want to create a scenario where one mega empire is in the middle of the universe and surround it with multiple smaller weaker empires to see what happens you can do that.
Hell, you can even just make the game play itself and let the AI take charge of EVERYTHING while you take a small exploration ship and start exploring/colonizing planets.
Brilliant, brilliant game.
Despite the fact that I bought a bunch of space-related games (like 5 games because logic
) I really wanted to try a "real" space sim. I considered whether I was a moron (I am) or if I have some problems (I do) and bought Elite Dangerous [PC]
I know that Elite Dangerous has problems and repetition in the gameplay and a host of other things. But wow, flying Sidewinder for the first time was just extraordinary
. Note that I was playing on my 12.6 inch laptop with a mouse and a keyboard not nearly in full graphical setting but despite that it actually felt like being in spaceship. Or at least as one would imagine it to be. I remember moving the mouse to the right and suddenly the ship starts rotating to the right. So now I am upside down and I actually feel upside down
The game has a variety of tutorials in the beginning of the game. I only did 4 tutorials and it took me 90 minutes ! Honestly if I had recorded it it would've been the single most infuriating video ever constructed for experienced space sim gamers but for me it was an mindblowing experience.
This is also when I realized the difference in a realistic space sim and a arcade style space sim. Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is clearly a arcade style space sim. The difference is in the level of realism in regards to the ship and how it operates. Elite Dangerous apparently places a lot of focus on scientific accuracy (to an extent) where as GoF2HD is more for the fun.
And it completely changes the experience. An arcade style space sim is a game where everyone can jump in, have fun and be good. A realistic space sim feels like it's way more skill based.
I only played it for 90 minutes yesterday and those experiences was just amazing. Like when I was docking the first time. All the space stations rotate to give the space station some artificial gravity (according to the dev) and there is a small slit like opening to get inside. Needless to say it's a difficult thing to do the first time.
So I take my ship and after some tense minutes I manage to position my ship in front of this slit. However, it keeps rotating. So I start rotating with the space station and for a brief couple of seconds we match our rotation but I can see out of the corner of my eye how space is rotating but we aren't.
Like a amateur version of the docking scene from Interstellar.
That moment was just brilliant.
Maybe in the future Elite Dangerous will start to bore me but wow, currently I'll just enjoy this experience. Can't wait to get back to it.Tl:DR Obsessed with hardcore games. Played Distant Worlds Universe and Elite Dangerous. Got my mind blown.