Thanks for response . Played again but didn't feel much better . Here are some why's.
1. the Ai keeps sending my fleets on million mile missions? Why? The pirates are here. Yet the main fleet sailed off 4 colonies away and so wasn't around when the bad guys showed up. Obviously needs a setting change. But fleet SHOULD NOT just run off.
2. Every new ship built went and attacked a monster that destroyed them. Not in a fleet but 1 by 1. Not very smart. So now I see this automation needs turning off.
3. Couldn't find the fleet. New ships were being built and the fleet, that was supposed to be defending home base had gone off somewhere and all the newly builts were traveling miles and miles to join the fleet that wasn't at home. Happened more than once.
And it was not intuitive to set fleets. No answering acknowledgement when you click map space. You have to watch the ships and see if they begin turning in vaguely the right direction.
4. My advisers said "cancel contract with privates. " OKey dokey - pirates attacked! Why advise to cancel contract when our fleet is not powerful to stop the pirate attack that will follow? Again, more than one time this happened.
5. Clunky interface. Not the worst i've used but not good either.
Added to the poor graphics and the uninspiring combat this one is unlikely to get fired up again.
i actually think the best bits are the civilian automation. Its a good idea. And works well. Good idea for a monster game.Take the headache out of the supply.
Anyway, I'm sure its just a matter of taste. Too many people love it for it be the game's fault. But I was disappointed seeing how old the game is now. I expected an updated DW. Something clean, easy to use interface and something better graphically.
Live and learn - Should have waited . My own fault.
Thank you for your replies.
1. it depends on which mission the AI send the fleet, it could be trying to wage a war with it or attack some distant pirates to be able to farm some rare / needed resources. also the AI's act independantly, it won't create a fleet and let it sit at your base because it knows that the other AI has planned an attack, its if as you commanded the fleet, you also don't know when an attack happeneds.
2. it depends, in most cases it sends at least 2 ships to an enemy, look in the options menue (game options) and click on "empire settings", there is an "attack overmatch" which means you can tell the AI how many ships are usually wanted to attack one enemy. maybe you tinkered with this setting and that is the reason. another reason could've been that there wasn't enough ships around and the thread of the space creature was imminent and blocking civilian ships from doing their duties, so it send the available ship to it, got slaughtered and then tried to build another ship to fill the slot. it can't or rather won't so many ships if you don't have the cash for it.
3. there are several ways to find and form a fleet. if you want to select a fleet you can either use the fleet selection button on the right & left side of the detail screen (or press the corresponding hotkey), press the fleet number (if you did ctrl + #, # = number), or you can use the fleet overview screen which not only allows you do give fleets various commands like refuel, retrofit, load troops etc. ... it also allows you to select and "go to fleet". furthermore there is a minimap in this window which shows you where the fleet is.
regarding the (fleet) responsiveness of the ships, if you rightclick or give them a command in general then they won't respond, there is no huge soundasset which confirms your command (could maybe be added), but in the detail screen directly below the name it always shows the current mission! of course if you are paused (or in a menue, which pauses the game) then the command will only register and show up as the current mission if you unpause the game.
4. they might have advised you to cancel the contract because it was making you bankrupt and the AI wanted to stop you falling into the red deep end. also the AI doesn't know if the pirates will attack directly after that, they don't do that always, you are NOT the only target of the empire...in your case it was only bad luck that they immedeately attacked you. maybe because they didn't had anything else to do, were raiders and / or needed some money in general so they wanted to get something valuable from you. it also depends on which pirates you should have a protection agreement. you don't usually have to pay smugglers to protect you, they usuallyaren't made for raids or the likes. now mercaneries, raiders and balanced pirates are worth paying if they are near you. mercenaries might not always be behind your booty if no mission was ordered, so maybe not alwaysy pay them but raiders you should always pay the fee because they live from raiding others, including you!
5. yes the UI is clunky but if you get used to it then it becomes quite decent if you know your way around. and i LIKE / LOVE the graphics, the 2D art is nice and if you don't like some ship or planet graphics then use a mod. i modded my game heavily, haree87's extended mod is a must-have and i used DAS24680 chrome resource & UI mod, some parts of GEM UI mods. some sound mods, hd environments 1.2 and switched some weapon graphics from the kitchensink compilation where i selected myself the ones i wanted to use. it is REALLY easy to use mods, all the files are just .PNG files (well the graphic assets are) and so if you place the graphic files in a theme-folder (read mod-folder) like in M&B and it mirrors the games folder structure for its graphics then the game will automatically use your mod graphics (sounds more complicated than it actually is, the folder structure is quite intuitive like: images/ui/messages contains message graphics..who would've thought x'D). i personally love to play as the humans and take either shipset I or shipset II of kalthaniell's mod: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=2845072
<-- look at these and tell me they don't look great! and they are only .PNG files you have to paste into your game folder and its done. there is so much you can easily mod by just pasting some files or a folder into the game.
combat uninspiring? lol...well it isn't turn-based where you have to enter every command, it is more of a grand-strategy game and therefore doesn't have so many direct orders but there are some there. you can control your ships and how the act / react, you can predefine some general behaviors of you ships and then even select behaviors in the ship designs. if you want you can micromanage and control your ships / fleets, its quite enjoyable. what "inspiring" did you expect about the combat? it isn't tbs and it isn't total war like as you have it in sword of the stars which by the way has only its combat and the random tech tree and its unique engines per race as outstanding feature, everything else about this game is quite bad. there is no better 4x space game out there.
of course you won't see it with so many automations and when you are just a voyeur. as i started up distant worlds for the first time i automated almost everything, watched the whole spectacle 2-3 minutes and then uninstalled the game and i thought to myself "this crap looks like a space sim where i have no real control over it." <-- or at least it felt to me that way. i watched some videos about it and stumbled upon das24680 lets play of the game, i got hooked the first few videos and watched all of his lets play which went for hours. i didn't watch it because i had to force myself to play this again, i watched it because the prospect of playing in a truly VAST and LIVING galaxy was too sweet to just pass it on. after watching some of his lets plays i started / tried the game again and i deactivated most of the automations, things like fleet formation, research, diplomacy, treaties, ship construction and colonization i all disabled. sometimes i think this game has too much options to automate, sure you could automate all and play as a fleet admiral, the options are great for RP, but for new players which might try out the game first time might have too many automations, forcing them to play hands-off and not really enjoying this game.
for a beginner i think the only things which they should really automate are: ship design, taxes, population policies, intelligence missions, troop recruitment and maybe character locations. <-- this are the things i THINK new players should automate and leave the rest either on manually or some like pirate missions, treaties, sanctions and colony facility building on suggest. that's it...you can force players to dislike the game or feel detached by having them believe to be in need of too much automation. just disable the other auotmations, "colonization"...oh wow...i have never played an 4x game before what does that mean? !!!SARCASM!!! this game is NOT for casual players, period...it is too complex and the graphics aren't far cry / CoD like, the average casual gamer doesn't care about gameplay but pewpew -booom---*happy*. the people who usually buy this have experience in previous 4x (space) games and will know what to research and what to colonize and how much units to produce....will these decisions be optimal and efficient? NO! hell after 2.5 years i run my economy in the ground from time to time...sh*t happends...that's part of the fun. everyone who doesn't understand this should play dwarf fortress for once and experience what FUN means :P.
now the only things i automate are the population policies and the ship design, because i don't want to bother to design / upgrade every ship there is, and there are MANY. however the ship design automation is awesome, mid to lategame i pick me the destroyers, cruisers and capital ships and select them to manually upgrade. so the AI has still ship design automated but lets my destroyers, cruisers and capital ships alone and i can be creative. some automations are more intrusive and let your feel like more of a voyeur than a true player, but i wouldn't recommend having too many automations on.