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MOO3 Gameplay Tuning Phase

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  • MOO3 Gameplay Tuning Phase

    This was posted yesterday at Delphi forums by Bill Fisher:

    It's here at long last. We have all of the major pieces assembled, and we're playing through the game. Our focus has turned from designing the game to fine-tuning what we have and making sure we have a polished, smooth end-user experience. As we've always done, I'd like to share with everyone the philosophy behind what we're doing and what you're likely to see in the game as a result.
    We've been working closely with the folks at Infogrames to play the game and evaluate what's working and what's not. The good news is that we all agree on our evaluations. We've independently come to the conclusion that there's just too much going on at the start of the game and that we need to streamline the play experience. The better news is that we also have a pretty clear idea of how we're going to achieve that, and it's not too difficult to do. I'll give just a brief summary now, with the intent of bringing out more detailed information once we've had another week or so to fine-tune these plans.

    For starters, we realized that we've been designing a game that's really cool and deep at advanced levels of play. We've created AI-based helpers to build your ships, move your fleets, fight your battles, and manage your planets. That's incredibly helpful in a big game and addresses one of the biggest concerns that advanced players have mentioned about MOO2 and other similar games. But we've now come to the conclusion that we've actually done _too much_ for the players, and that the resulting lack of things to do is causing folks to feel a certain lack of control or lack of immersion during the early turns of the game. Fortunately, there are easy ways to deal with this that don't involve significant changes to the game design.

    Secondly, we've also found that a few of the cool-sounding elements of the design worked better on paper than they do in code. That happens sometimes. We've designed some really interesting systems that proved either hard to understand or hard to present effectively to the user. Those are being simplified or removed. These are not core systems, but rather elements of the game that are not absolutely critical to play. You still have ships, fleets, task forces, star lanes, lots of planets, diplomacy, and so on. For the most part, you won't even realize they're not in the game.

    Finally, we want to streamline the user interface. There's so much on the main screen that people are getting scared the first time they open up the game. That's not what we intended, and it doesn't have to be that way. We realized that the wonderful "everything at your fingertips" design was overly broad and showed too much at once, so we're moving some elements around, putting others in more logical places, and generally reducing the number of individual buttons on the main screen. You'll see mockups of a much more elegant screen design as soon as we can settle on the layout. Short version of the story is that we've been able to keep the breadth of control without overwhelming you with buttons.

    Rantz and Cory are very busy at the moment, working on the UI issues and making sure the programmers have a clear idea of where we're headed. Over the next few weeks, we'll be happy to answer questions and explain the latest refinements in more detail. Rest assured, though, that the core of the game hasn't changed. We're editing and refining what we have and making sure it's going to provide the best possible end-user experience. We all want the best game possible, and I'm very pleased that Infogrames wants that as well and is willing to extend our delivery date in order to make sure that happens. We all believe very much in the game and look forward to sharing it with you as soon as we can. Thanks again for your support and enthusiasm.

    Bill Fisher, Executive Producer

  • #2
    And something more:

    I understand your concerns, but I can assure you that MOO3 is still a very deep, involved galaxy-level strategy game and is certainly not being dumbed down to appease the "mass market."
    You still have hundreds of stars, potentially thousands of planets, ship design, diplomacy that's far deeper than anything else we've seen, and more.

    You still have, at last count, roughly 100 different interface screens with all sorts of cool information to explore.

    What we're doing is trimming the stuff that even hard-core gamers were finding confusing, overly complex, or simply not interesting enough. If it sounds like we're taking away everything in the game, I'm sorry for the confusion. We're not. There's still a huge amount of stuff in the game. What we're doing is taking the raw materials and refining them into a smoothly playing, properly paced gaming experience. In many cases, that simply means moving things around so they're either easier to find or more obvious to use.

    Bill Fisher, Executive Producer
    and more (this is new to me):

    Actually, I think we mentioned a while back that events were not going to be player-initiated. That's actually not a new change to the design. It's been that way for several months now. But I haven't read everything that's been announced, so it's possible that wasn't mentioned.
    Once again, we found player-controlled events to be a neat idea that didn't quite fit. There are still a variety of events, and they are in fact somewhat influenced by your playing style, but they're not initiated by humans like the "event cards" originally envisioned. I thought that would be cool, but in the end it was not to be.

    So yes, there will still be events (quite a few of them, actually), but no, they won't be player-initiated.

    Bill Fisher, Executive Producer
    So long EVENT engine.
    (never liked it anyway)


    • #3
      Is anyone else concerned at the loss of the IFPs? This idea was at the heart of what the game was trying to accomplish - "You can't do everything" - and having to come up with a means to make the game more of a macromanagement affair at this late stage can't be easy.
      "If you doubt that an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters would eventually produce the combined works of Shakespeare, consider: it only took 30 billion monkeys and no typewriters." - Unknown


      • #4
        If its true that the game is now slated to release in quarter three of this year, then I don't think QS will have problems implementing/removing some features, as the game isn't too late in the development process afterall.

        But I am not sure that I will miss IFPs anyhow. Guess we'll never really know.


        • #5
          Even without IFPs, I guess the player won't be able to micromanage everything - a single game would last forever. How the commands will be reworked in order to make the game immersive for both the micro and macro sides of everyfan's gameplay ? The changes are huge.
          The art of mastering:"la Maîtrise des caprices du subconscient avant tout".


          • #6
            I am very glad that the tuning phase will last until 3rd quarter (end of). They really are taking the time to ensure that all the importe\ant aspects of game play are addressed.

            IFP's gone? Alan Emrich was the major backer of IFP's. With him at the helm (and with his experiences as a board/computer game player) I am sure he will have other ways to deal with the issues that caused the game to have IFP's.


            • #7
              No need maybe?

              It seems to me that the IFP idea isn't really needed anymore.
              Once they decided to "simplify" the game a bit IFPs were no longer necessary. There is still a tremendous amount of info in the game still no doubt, but with the load toned down a bit there is no need for the "safety belt" to keep everyone from getting bogged down in all of the details. (After all that was what the IFP system was for [alright it was also to make the game more interesting, revolutionary and replayable]) So once they found out that the IFP idea just wasn't jelling with the rest of the game, and they had no reason to really try to keep it in, they cut it out.
              Then since there is still a tremendous amount of info in the game (or so I hear) and that info and all of the work that goes with knowing it can still be turned over to AI which was made EXTRA-Intelligent because of the now-defunct IFPs, the player who doesn't try to micro-manage everything but acts as if the IFPs still "existed" will actually enjoy the game more than the person who tries to control everything. He also will have more time to think about his overall strategy, making him a much more deadly player.

              Now I know I am only a sixteen-year-old idiot so if I have fallen into some kind of heresy... let me know about it.
              Chaos, panic and disorder... my work here is done.


              • #8
                I prefer IFPs to be gone... mainly because my thinking tends to go against the "can't mentality"

                I dislike "You can't do everything" and much prefer "You don't HAVE to do everything"


                • #9
                  Originally posted by COND0010
                  I am very glad that the tuning phase will last until 3rd quarter (end of). They really are taking the time to ensure that all the importe\ant aspects of game play are addressed.

                  IFP's gone? Alan Emrich was the major backer of IFP's. With him at the helm (and with his experiences as a board/computer game player) I am sure he will have other ways to deal with the issues that caused the game to have IFP's.
                  From the things I have heard, Alan is no longer at the helm - Rantz is. Alan seems to be there now for name value alone.

                  Now, this is not the bad thing it might have been - it is like having #5 substituting in for #1 out of a field of 1,000. Your starting pitcher is not always the best at the end game. Still, if it were up to me, I would have Alan in there. But, I am neither management nor part owner.

                  Someone else asked if anyone else missed IFP's. I certainly do not. I think that they were simply one available mechanism whose implementation turned out to be harder than they thought.

                  And to be blunt, spending an IFP to see / affect a space battle is one of the more profoundly dumb things I have ever heard. I mean, this may be a "5x" game but the reason most will want it / buy it is the fun of the combat.



                  • #10
                    *imagines an add for moo3 in september*

                    RANTZ's Master of Orion 3 now available

                    <Kassiopeia> you don't keep the virgins in your lair at a sodomising distance from your beasts or male prisoners. If you devirginised them yourself, though, that's another story. If they devirginised each other, then, I hope you had that webcam running.
                    Play Bumps! No, wait, play Slings!


                    • #11
                      I didn't even know that they were going to try tagging MoO3 with a particular designer's name. Seems sort of silly to me though, in some ways.

                      I mean, its not like their was such an association on either of the other two MoOs. Almost makes me think that it is something that a marketting person decided that the game absolutely needed and nobody could convince otherwise.



                      • #12
                        No more IFP.


                        That was my biggest worry about MOO3. I don't want Alan telling me how much I can micromanage and that I have to depend on the AI governors. I don't mind having the oportunity to use tools to manage things but being forced by a rule that was a refugee from a hex game for grognards was making me very nervous about the game.

                        Now I can aticipate the game in peace.


                        • #13
                          As for me, I am sad IFPs are gone for 2 reasons:
                          1) We won't know if it could have worked.
                          2) It would have led to more choices, and faster games. It was also more realistic. You cannot manage everything in real life. Or are all those real-world bureaucrats, advisors, ministers, generals absolutely useless?
                          We could have had to choose between attacking efficiently the opponent or quenching a revolt but not both.

                          But I am quite happy events are no longer triggered by players.
                          Clash of Civilization team member
                          (a civ-like game whose goal is low micromanagement and good AI)
                          web site and forum here on apolyton)


                          • #14
                            As for me, I am sad IFPs are gone for 2 reasons:
                            1) We won't know if it could have worked.
                            They seem to have dropped it for gameplay reasons and on feedback from testing. I would guess it wasn't working.

                            I suppose I would guess that anyway.

                            2) It would have led to more choices, and faster games.
                            All signs show it to be LIMITING choices in the interest of faster MULTIPLAY. How much interest would that have to those most interested in the singleplayer game?

                            If they do the job right on the governors players will now have the ability to choose for themselves what level of managment they want to engage in. That sounds good to me.

                            I am wondering about the tech tree though. It sounds like its dumbed down. If I wan'ted to play Spaceward Ho I would install it.

                            I admit that what I want is an upgrade of MOO 2. Competent governors. Better diplomacy. Enhanced spying. Trade. Improved graphic.

                            No Darloks! They were my running dogs.


                            • #15
                              I don't know why you guys are so sad about IFPs going out... It just seems kind of strange to me that a game developer would force me to adopt a particular style or play a certain way. Why not let the player choose for himself?

                              IMHO SE IV Gold was pretty much the pinnacle of what you can do with the 4x model, and in my mind it was perfect but for some AI issues and somewhat dated graphics. If MOO3 is just an SEIV rehash with better graphics and AI that's actually INTELLIGENT I'd be happy.