I've been meaning to write this for a few months now but haven't gotten around to it until now.
I bought Distant Worlds a little over a year ago and, being initially very impressed with it, bought the Shakturi expansion soon after. However, I started to get frustrated with some of it's problems and gave it up. When the Legends expansion came out, I figured I'd give it a shot, thinking it was going to solve these issues. Unfortunately, it did not.
Here are my main problems with Distant Worlds:
1) Difficulty. There's already a whole posting on this and I'm a bit frustrated this hasn't been addressed. I even was told by a developer that they'd increase the difficulty if it wasn't sufficient (this was when before Legends was released; I had said that I didn't think the additional difficulty levels were enough). However, I am still waiting.
Basically, more difficulty levels are needed and they need to do more than simply increasing the money the AI makes. They need to increase his research abilities, mining abilities, construction abilities, and possibly even give attack / defense bonuses at higher levels. Something that will keep them challenging into the later game.
2) AI Behavior. This is a big one for me. It's the main reason I have stopped playing. The AI does in no way shape or form act coherently. Bribery and Shakturi Alliance aside, I have never seen the AI become friendly towards me to the point of wanting to ally. They've wanted to make a trade pact, on occasion, but that's the extent. Again, unless you actually give them money or really good trade arrangements, they never become on good terms with you. However, it's very easy for them to become angry at you!
To make matters worse, the AI acts incredibly erratically! In my last game, I had a trade agreement with a race (the ape race, forgot the name) and he was just passing me money. Why? I have no idea! It made no sense why a simple trade partner would give me money. But regardless, things were going well with them. Over the course of some time (not too long, though), this stopped happening. All of a sudden, he just declares war on me! Why, you ask? Because he "covets my resources."
A race who starts becoming friendly with you should naturally start become more friendly with you. Unless you do something that would upset them, they should want to be closer with you over a longer period of time.
This sort of thing has happened multiple times now. It's very frustrating when all races are seen as enemies and none as potential allies. The main reason for this I've noticed is simple. The covet resources and same system negative factors are far stronger than any positive factors that exist in the game. And they increase very quickly. So, basically, any nearby alien race will become your enemy over time. Even if things are going well initially.
This is a huge turnoff for me as it takes away from immersion. In a 4x game, there are friends and there are enemies. GalCiv II does this best, I feel. Depending on your alignment and other factors, races will naturally start liking you or disliking you. Your actions will also determine this but, without any action on your part, those tendencies will occur.
Distant Worlds could easily implement a similar system with races and government styles. Unfortunately, all it has now is an initial value that doesn't change and, thus, makes little difference in the long run.
Also, why no music when dealing with each race? That adds so much to immersion and feel of a race. I can still remember the sound of the Ur-Quan from Star Control II and, hearing that, knew it was ready for a fight.
3) Diplomacy and Trading. It's very frustrating not being able to trade things with the AI. Everything should be listed as able to be traded. The AI might not trade for it, but it should be available on your list. Planets, ships, stations, technology...
Also, the extremely high cost of some things is ridiculous. Same system facilities (i.e. contested stations) are extremely overpriced. And wanting another race to start or stop a war is even more overpriced! It's so high, it's ridiculous.
These are my main gripes with Distant Worlds. And, for me, they are incredibly important (especially #1 and #2). Without a challenging and immersive game, no matter how well done other factors are, I'll lose interest. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.
This game is so well done on so many levels that it's a pity that these things are overlooked. It's for these reasons that I stopped playing and probably won't pick it back up unless they are addressed.
< Message edited by MartialDoctor -- 5/13/2012 4:22:35 AM >