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Suggestions UI MOO2

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Gazelem #1 Posted 07 September 2016 - 06:42 PM

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Hello everyone! I just purchased and played through two games of the new release. I played an embarrassing amount of MOOII back in the day and a little bit of the other two games so I wouldn't consider myself a veteran of the series, but I do hold MOOII as my personal gold standard for 4x games. In this post, I'd like to go over what I thought was good about MOOIV, some issues I had the UI and specifics of mechanics (easy fixes), and my thoughts on larger issues in the game (maybe not fixable). I suspect that I'm not bringing anything up that hasn't been said before, especially since I wasn't around for the beta pre-release, but hopefully something here is helpful for the dev team or modders.

 

The Good

 

Things that are the same

To start out, I think MOOIV is a good game and a good Master of Orion game. When I saw the first previews for the title I was pretty turned off; they gave me the impression that this would either be another MOOIII or a reboot that wasn't true to the source material. But the mostly positive reviews on steam, Total Biscuit's youtube review, and the art book sold me earlier this week and before long I dumped a few dozen hours into the game and am glad that I did. 

 

The most important compliment I can give to MOOIV is that it feels like a Master of Orion game. A lot of things have changed from my preferred installment, but enough was carried over that this game sits comfortably with the previous titles. I'm not exactly sure what to point to which achieved this--carrying over so much of the MOOII tech tree; doubling down on the archetypes that the races embody; preserving the underlying goofiness in some aspects of the game; high-quality artistic assets; similar pacing and gameplay beats--somewhere in that mess of design choices enough things clicked together and, at least in my opinion, the developers did a great job at preserving what makes the franchise aesthetically and mechanically stand out. 

 

Speaking of comparisons to the older titles, this one doesn't seem to be as easy as the previous games, which is a plus in my book. I played on hard for both games and lost both times (I'm a scrub, I know), once because the Terrans decided that my pacifist run made me too easy of a target (spoilers, they were right) and once because I lost to a tech victory. The AI can still use a lot of polish, but as things are I wasn't able to steamroll every other race by midgame like with MOII.

 

Things that are different

As to the differences, many of them I see as positives. Here's a not-at-all comprehensive list of  some of these positives, in no particular order:

  • The real-time combat could use a bit more depth and has a few bugs to iron out, but it's a better alternative than the hours-long slugging matches of late game MOOII tactical combat.
  • Being able to develop systems with the space factories gave you a lot more to do in the early game and the early fortifications are good deterrents to pirates and early-game aggressors.
  • Having spies generate independent of production prevents espionage spam.
  • The advanced colony ships are great and I'd like to see more technologies like it. 
  • Actually telling you when refinement would happen with weapons was a huge quality-of-life detail for me.
  • New victory conditions are cool and reward different playstyles. Now there's a point to creating an economic powerhouse or rushing research besides just to get a bigger and badder fleet.
  • I like only one doomstar. Doomstar spam was silly.
  • Planetary shields now actually matter. This is a good thing.
  • Pollution damaing the ecosystem is a really cool idea, even though I don't love how it's currently implemented.
  • You can decide to not defend a planet with an in-system fleet.
  • I also really like the idea of limiting the number of pops which can be assigned to a role--I mean, there is only so much arable land on a planet and we couldn't have 8 billion farmers here on Earth. 

 

There are other good things going on here as well, like the art direction or the victory conditions screen, but you all get the idea: I think this game did a lot very well. Which bring me to: 

 

The Not so Good: Minor tweaks and fixes

 

The biggest issues this game is currently suffering from are the UI and some odd design choices/overlooks. Some of these issues are fairly minor, while others are pretty inexcusable. Fortunately, all of these should be relatively easy fixes.

 

Research

This falls into the inexcusable category. The actual research screen is . . . okay. Why the research topics aren't visually placed into the categories the game gives them is a really odd choice. How MOII did itwas fine. It should also be more obvious when you'll need to choose between two technologies--I understood that's what the little vertical bar meant but I don't think a new player would. Knowing how many RP a tech will cost along with the time in turns would be nice, though not critical. However, we desperately need a list of all the technologies we've already researched or otherwise acquired and we need to not be allowed to research techs that we already possess. This is one of my largest gripes with the game currently.

 

Lack of ship information 

Is there a way to look at the layout of my ship from the galaxy screen? If there is, I couldn't find it. I also couldn't find any way to scan enemy ships (more thoroughly than seeing the weapons they have), either on the galaxy screen or in combat. Not being able to see what technology the enemy fleet or my fleet ends up being a huge issue, especially because:

 

What happened to ship refits?

At present, the ship designer is a little wonky, especially with how the AI updates your designs. However, two things about the designer need to be changed. First, why can't I spend production instead of money to refit my fleet? Once a fleet gets fairly large it becomes prohibitively expensive to throw credits at ship upgrades and it seems silly that I'm perfectly capable of pumping out a new destroyer from my shipyards but not retrofit an old destroyer. Also, you currently cannot upgrade ships out of the same design "line," meaning that if you have two cruiser designs you can't choose which design an old cruiser is upgraded to. I learned this the hard way when I deleted all of my old designs and made new ones, only to find that I couldn't upgrade any of my ships to those new designs.

 

Also, why am I limited to the number of ship designs? And why is there no "clear ship design" button? 

 

As a minor note, there also needs to be a way to scrap entire fleets. Currently you can only scrap ships of the same size and class. 

 

And what about morale?

So moral over 100% isn't a thing now? But . . . why? Why bother to get any of the moral structures anymore? 

 

Tooltips

We need more of these. Range indicators for individual weapons in the combat screen, a summary when you mouse over a ship in the galaxy screen, what the base production and food per worker is for different mineral levels and biomes when you are selecting planets to colonize, things like that. 

 

Dialogue

So the voice acting is mostly fine and often quite good, but there's not enough of it. I can only listen to the advisor tell me that my trackers have hunted down a new wisdom so many times before it really gets irritating. That said, I don't want to mute GNN and advisors entirely because they add personality to the game. Because recording a significantly larger library of lines probably isn't going to happen, I think that we should have a much wider variety of subtitles which get displayed when the advisors (and GNN and diplomats) are muted. 

 

Speaking of races

Getting the full cast together isn't a minor change, but the custom race creator is. There should be options in the custom race creator that aren't present in any of the premade races, at least covering the races from MOII that didn't make the cut. Where's my aquatic or transdimensional? Also, why no government forms? 

 

About the victory conditions

The variety is good, letting you know how close another race is to them is not. I didn't know that the Meklar were going for the tech victory until they won. I might have tried destroying their tech victory structures if I had known they were on the way to finishing it. 

 

Skipping turns

Is there a way to stop skipping turns beside having an empty queue, new research, new ship, or combat? If there is, I couldn't find it. 

 

Ship rally points and ending turns

The single most annoying thing I ran into was not being able to end my turn until I had given an order of some sort to every ship. Please remove that, there's no reason for it to be there. Also, let me set rally points, or even better, have a fleet designer where I can say how many of which ships I want and my colonies will make it. 

 

Tech exchange

Knowing what a tech does, or if I have a better version of it, in the diplomatic screen would be great. So would the RP cost of said tech. 

 

Trade deals

Why does it cost money to get into a trade deal? I understand not wanting it to just be free money, but I thought that MOII got around that fine by making ti take a while before trade deals actually yielded a profit. 

 

Buildings and build queues

Currently you can build buildings which don't do anything for the colony. Weather controllers on planets where you can't farm. Interplanetary administration on on-planet systems. There's no reason for that. Also, why is the production queue so short? I feel like this is an unnecessary restriction. 

 

Upgrading system improvements

Please let me upgrade my system improvements, at the very least from military bases to advanced military bases. Ideally there would be tiers of upgrades for the other structures as well. 

 

Ship combat behavior

So the slider to ideal ship distance in the combat screen and the throttles are a really good tool but are difficult to implement. Could we have (1) stances in the actual combat screen, maybe something as simple as "evasive, defensive, offensive," and (2) roles in the ship designer which would affect the default ship distance and throttle? For example, if I have a bunch of frigates with beam weapons and cruisers with missiles, I should be able to set the default behavior in the designer for the frigates to run out ahead and engage at close range and the cruisers to keep a distance and volley from afar. Maybe also a behavior for smaller ships to just act as screens and hug the fleet instead of engaging. 

 

Also, let me target asteroids and kamikaze my ships. 

 

Speaking of combat, it seems awfully short

That might not actually be a bad thing, but I would like to option for more drawn out combat. That might be as easy a fix as making the ships slower (or the models smaller) and increasing the hull points of everything, or it might end up being a great deal more complicated than that. I don't know if there is an easy fix to this, but having encounters last more than a few minutes would be fun for me.

 

More random events and creatures would be nice

Hyperspace beasts, hyperspace fluxes, diplomatic marriages, space eels, primitives; bring 'em back and write some new ones. 

 

On to Bigger Issues

 

Starlanes and systems

I don't like them in conjunctions. I think one or the other would be fine, but put together these two mechanics bother me. 

 

Starlanes are good in that you can actually defend your space and have some limit to expansion. They are bad in that it can take forever to get to two systems that are very close on the galaxy map but which have no direct connection. Jump gates help solve this, though once I unlocked the technology I just wanted the starlanes gone altogether. 

 

Needing to spend a turn to go to a location within a system is also bothersome to me. Needing to explore each planet individually is especially silly since there is an early game technology which lets you scan an entire system on arrival and exchanging starmaps real most of the galaxy by mid game anyway. I don't think there is any real reason to need to explore every planet by itself in the early game. In addition, I don't like how I can throw ships half way across the galaxy, but it takes just as long to get from the jump gate to the planet as it did to transverse the lightyears between planets. While this is actually good science, it makes for really annoying gameplay during wars, especially when you defeat a fleet only to have it retreat to one of your other planets and bomb it. I would probably have movement within a system be free, but you can only be at one location with a fleet at a time.

 

Diplomacy

Yeah, it's wonky, but more than just tweaking the AI behavior and attitudes toward you, I'd like more diplomatic options. Freeing a subjugated race. Abandoning planets. Seizing technology. Forcing trade or open borders. More war demands and more ways to interact would be great.

 

Spying

It's currently too complicated. Having the limited spy pool means that you get big enough that you can't cover all of your planets. This might be intentional as a way to limit growth, but the benefits of more colonies far outweigh not having enough spies to cover them. Also, the offensive missions are a bit overwhelming and some of them seem fairly useless. I don't care to see how many pops or buildings a certain planet has most of the time, for example. I'd prefer to have a pool of defensive spies and pools of offensive spies for each race you are spying on, with categories of missions (steal tech, incite revolt, slander, etc.). 

 

What happened to freighter fleets?

I vastly preferred the freighter fleet system to what we have now. The Interplanetary administration seems like a poor substitute. I really liked having farm planets and production planets, and transferring pops through freighters meant that I actually did it fairly often. Also, having freighter fleets be actually fleets that your military needs to escort could give pirates a bigger role and races a way to scuffle without declaring war outright. 

 

Ship boarding

So this was one of my favorite things to do in MOII and I'm really sad that it's not implemented in MOOIV. It allowed you to compete when you were at a technological or numerical disadvantage and gave you the opportunity to reverse-engineer your enemeies' technology. It also made the troop bonuses and maluses more important. Speaking of combat:

 

More diversity of weapon effects

Because I used boarding in MOII it meant that I kept neutron blasters for a long time, sometimes even into the late game because they killed marines as well as doing hull damage. Graviton beams were great if your opponent didn't have advanced shields, while gauss cannons were good for keeping a distance. Granted, MOII didn't have that much depth in the combat system, but this game should have at least that much and I believe should strive for more. Have more variety in the weapon effects and stats, like weapon range, rate of fire, high versus low damage ranges, base chance to hit, and so on. 

 

Could we have a larger tech tree?

It felt a little small in my playthroughs and I feel like there is a lot of room to add interesting things, or put cut technologies back in. 

 

. . . and Antares? 

Or some other late-gate complication which can shake things up. 

 

General balance issues

I'm sure that balance is talked about a lot here, so I won't get into that. This post has gotten long enoug already.

 

 

If you've read this far, thank you for considering my thoughts on the game and let me know what you think. 



Omega_Weapon #2 Posted 07 September 2016 - 10:47 PM

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I really liked the turn based combat system from MOO 2 specifically because it was so in depth and gave you a huge amount of influence over the battle. Smaller or weaker fleets could be victorious if the right tactics were used. I guess I could live with this pause-able real time hybrid combat system if it had real depth and options for fine control, but it is nowhere near that point so far. I also really miss fleet commanders and planetary leaders, as well as ship crews that gained experience. Other than those issues, I thought the rest of you points were spot on and ring quite true. Its a good start, but if feels like the game is only half finished at best.

St_Turkey #3 Posted 08 September 2016 - 04:29 AM

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View PostGazelem, on 07 September 2016 - 06:42 PM, said:

Research

This falls into the inexcusable category. The actual research screen is . . . okay. Why the research topics aren't visually placed into the categories the game gives them is a really odd choice. How MOII did itwas fine. It should also be more obvious when you'll need to choose between two technologies--I understood that's what the little vertical bar meant but I don't think a new player would. Knowing how many RP a tech will cost along with the time in turns would be nice, though not critical. However, we desperately need a list of all the technologies we've already researched or otherwise acquired and we need to not be allowed to research techs that we already possess. This is one of my largest gripes with the game currently.

 

I find it quite excusable since this is how Civilization does it (mostly), and to a large part, so did MoO 2.  MoO 2 actually DOWNGRADED Research to a simpler method from MoO 1.  In MoO 1 the options in Research were random, and instead of dedicated to one specific Research type for your empire, you split your Research across different types.  Meaning you could progress Weapons at a different rate then Engines, but they could all progress.  I found this desirable, and would provide a reason to have them separated out like you said.  However, this engine is built, so that concept is not employable at this time.

 

However, I do not see any reason to show on the Tech selection screen the technologies you have already researched when the Tech Tree already does a fine job differentiating this.  When you trade a Tech in CtS, you do not trade the entire research that goes with it, you just trade the practical engineering aspects of it.  This is why you cannot trade a Tech that doesn't provide options.  I am on the fence of this being a good thing or a bad thing, but it does encourage all races doing the research footwork.

 

View PostGazelem, on 07 September 2016 - 06:42 PM, said:

Lack of ship information

Is there a way to look at the layout of my ship from the galaxy screen? If there is, I couldn't find it. I also couldn't find any way to scan enemy ships (more thoroughly than seeing the weapons they have), either on the galaxy screen or in combat. Not being able to see what technology the enemy fleet or my fleet ends up being a huge issue.

 

 Sad to say, this would be a new thing for Master of Orion, I'm sure.  When you ran up against an enemy fleet in Strategic Space in MoO or MoO 2, all you knew were the sizes of the ships.  Only combat would tell you what you were facing.  You didn't even get an idea of fleet strength aside from numbers!  Your own ships could only be identified by name or by delving deeper and knowing what ships had what.  So, the system currently in place is actually better than what we had before.

 

Now, your points about refitting your ships and changing design names of the ship, I understand.  But I prefer this system.  I only have to maintain one set.  And I can change all of my Frigates at the drop of the hat instead of having numerous themes of Frigates and trying to remember what they all did.  MoO and MoO 2 only gave you 6-8 designs, period, and that included the Colony Ships in which you had to maintain the design from armor, to shields, to drive, to colony base type!

 

View PostGazelem, on 07 September 2016 - 06:42 PM, said:

 

Starlanes and systems

I don't like them in conjunctions. I think one or the other would be fine, but put together these two mechanics bother me.

 

Starlanes are good in that you can actually defend your space and have some limit to expansion. They are bad in that it can take forever to get to two systems that are very close on the galaxy map but which have no direct connection. Jump gates help solve this, though once I unlocked the technology I just wanted the starlanes gone altogether.

 

Needing to spend a turn to go to a location within a system is also bothersome to me. Needing to explore each planet individually is especially silly since there is an early game technology which lets you scan an entire system on arrival and exchanging starmaps real most of the galaxy by mid game anyway. I don't think there is any real reason to need to explore every planet by itself in the early game. In addition, I don't like how I can throw ships half way across the galaxy, but it takes just as long to get from the jump gate to the planet as it did to transverse the lightyears between planets. While this is actually good science, it makes for really annoying gameplay during wars, especially when you defeat a fleet only to have it retreat to one of your other planets and bomb it. I would probably have movement within a system be free, but you can only be at one location with a fleet at a time.

 

I honestly think that the one movement in system is a balancing point.  In MoO 2, you didn't move in system and any fleet in system could fight you no matter which colony you attacked.  While it sucks when you send them to the wrong place accidentally, I do prefer this balancing mechanism, personally.  When I've seen a Fleet retreat, it doesn't retreat to an enemy planet, it runs to friendly or a lane in a friendly direction.

 

In order for it to be "free", things like scanning a planet or engaging in combat would not be free.  There has to be a cost involved, and it is actually an easier thing to program a flat restriction than to consider such variables as "Movement + Action" in System Space.

 

Though, the random mapping of starlanes COULD be better.  I have seen some stars you had to do a 6 turn jump one way and back 4 turns to reach a place they started from to reach a star that would have been 2 turns on Fission Drives.  Random map generation can really screw with ya if the parameters are not set right.  But hey, we see that in nature, too.  Sometimes you can't go up the cliff face, but have to go around.

 

View PostGazelem, on 07 September 2016 - 06:42 PM, said:

 Ship boarding

So this was one of my favorite things to do in MOII and I'm really sad that it's not implemented in MOOIV. It allowed you to compete when you were at a technological or numerical disadvantage and gave you the opportunity to reverse-engineer your enemeies' technology. It also made the troop bonuses and maluses more important. Speaking of combat:

 

While not my favorite, I do miss this a little bit.  It would also provide benefits for the Ground Combat bonused races, too.  Though, it was a little broken in MoO 2 when I could defeat the Guardian with Assault Shuttles (he blew up if successfully boarded) earlier than I could just gun him down.

 

View PostGazelem, on 07 September 2016 - 06:42 PM, said:

 Could we have a larger tech tree?

It felt a little small in my playthroughs and I feel like there is a lot of room to add interesting things, or put cut technologies back in.

 

It doesn't need to be larger, it just needs a little reformatting.  The size is about right, and they have actually added to it since when I started the EA in May or June.  Shuffling of the techs around, adding some and changing others are what I think are needed.  You still need to be aggressive in your Research to reach a Research win in 500 Turns as it is on Normal speed.



Archont4000 #4 Posted 08 September 2016 - 09:44 AM

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"You still need to be aggressive in your Research to reach a Research win in 500 Turns as it is on Normal speed."

I always play on slow research, and this time I am using very slow, to have at least some battles with smaller ships. But I get to the end of tech tree way before turn 500, and some AIs have better research pace than me, since I usually play production/combat race.

 

PS. I play on extreme difficulty

 



CptSkyhawk #5 Posted 15 September 2016 - 07:00 AM

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View PostArchont4000, on 08 September 2016 - 09:44 AM, said:

"You still need to be aggressive in your Research to reach a Research win in 500 Turns as it is on Normal speed."

I always play on slow research, and this time I am using very slow, to have at least some battles with smaller ships. But I get to the end of tech tree way before turn 500, and some AIs have better research pace than me, since I usually play production/combat race.

 

PS. I play on extreme difficulty

 

 

Not sure how you are hitting end of tech tree that fast, tbh.  I play a research-oriented race and am crushing the enemy on research, but I am at turn 560 on that game and still have three techs to finish.  I know I wasn't super economical at the start of that game, as it was my first game, but seems odd to be having that issue.  I do agree that there should be more research, though!  



EmperorFredd #6 Posted 15 September 2016 - 01:06 PM

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What if when you hit the end of the tree, you can go back and research the options you passed on?

St_Turkey #7 Posted 15 September 2016 - 05:47 PM

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View PostEmperorFredd, on 15 September 2016 - 01:06 PM, said:

What if when you hit the end of the tree, you can go back and research the options you passed on?

 

And interesting thought, and one I would agree with.  Just have the cost be at the "advanced" ones.

 

Of course, review must be made as some of the techs are made pointless by techs that are not optional, such as fusion beams vs fusion bombs.  but situations like Cloning Center versus the early antidote is something to look at for a retry..







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