Pre-Warp did turn out to be a bit of a novelty. I think it could have done with being fleshed out a bit more. but probably would have required additional game features to really make it work, such as alternates to warp drives (near-light drives, jump gates, etc), generation ships (non-warp colonisation that can reach outside the starting system), long range communication with other races, domed colonies on normally non-habitable planets and the possibility to have more than one empire inhabiting a starting planet (requiring you to either conquer your rival or convince them to merge with you).
Perhaps that would be asking too much, but certainly there could have been more variety with a deeper tech tree and alternatives to the "head for the magic ruin" start.
Pirates were amusing to play briefly but nowhere near as satisfying as playing a normal empire and the novelty wore off quickly. They can't really become a normal empire, they just get half way with planetary control and so you never evolve much past the usual pirate routine of building, threatening and raiding. It seems the concept would work better in a different type of game, more focused on small scale ship combat. Pirates lack variety and personality, something not helped by the generic pirate pictures and that bug that makes raiding pirates always use the race 0 troop image (though spawned pirate defenders seem to use the right image). I do like that they have their own ship builds and (potentially) ship images, but after playing several games that is about the only change to pirates I actually like. Whatever I set them as I find they detract from the empire game to such an extent now that on pre-warp games I regularly just turn them off (if they aren't hassling me and taking up too much of my time they are ruining rival empires and making my job far too easy). It has been a long time now since I actually bothered playing as a pirate.
I do like other additions for Shadows however. The new troops, improved invasions, new techs and design templates are all welcome additions and while the pre-warp game is lacking I do like the idea of starting with nothing built.
< Message edited by Fenrisfil -- 9/30/2013 9:59:28 PM >