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Observations - 6/4/2014 8:49:53 PM   


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I am rather new to Distant Worlds, having heard about the game only a few months ago and deciding to wait until Universe (and the subsequent price drop for the game + all expansions) in order to get my hands on the game. I was rather skeptical, at first, given the state of the 4X genre.

Probably the first thing that hit me was the lack of DRM. I simply purchased the game (digital edition), clicked the download link it gave me, then entered in the CD Key. It was extremely nostalgic, in a good way, it reminded me a lot of how simple things used to be in the 90s. As good as Steam is, it is still an online service with all the pros and cons that come with the territory (this is also why I purchased directly from MatrixGames).

Now, I have played about halfway through an empire game, and halfway through a single pirate game. My impression is that it is probably the best recent Space 4X game I have played, I have genuinely had fun. There were some observations, issues, and bugs, which I will note below.

- The AI is wishy-washy

I noticed that, more often then not, the AI seems like it cannot decide weither it wants to do something, or not. Trade Embargos is a big one

- Planetkillers be gone!

While I did enjoy Space Empire V's great degress of space manipulation, one of the big benefits is that it was possible to undo something catastrophic, much as it was possible to blow up planets and even entire stars, it was also possible to piece them back together. This is absent in Distant Worlds, and while you can avoid some of the planetkiller madness by turning off the Shakturi storyline, there are still random planetkillers spawned. Would be nice if it were possible to turn those off like the Giant Kaltors

- Apathetic Fleet AI

It seems like the primary defensive strategy is to have the entire fleet divided peacemeal across the empire, while sending small fleets into enemy space. The Fleet AI has a bad habit of ignoring everything that happens outside of the system its stationed in, and results in enemy invasions being virtually unopposed because the AI could not will itself to send reinforcements. Note that this apathy also extends to the AI, which makes it rather easy to invade other empires provided you have a big/strong enough fleet

Would be nice if we could automate some fleet aspects while retaining manual control over others, for example, automate defense while manually controlling attacking fleets, which would make it a lot easier without having to constantly mouse across the galaxy every few minutes

- Salvaging

AI Exploration ships should probably make some attempt to investigate derelict ships. It seems like most of the derelict ships I found were either through the ship being near something else the ship was investigating (usually a planet or asteroid), or just so happen to be looking in the system when I see one. Should also be some kind of notification if it finds a damaged derelict as well

Salvaged ships are pretty awesome, although I find it is usually better to scrap the smaller ones since the tech bonus is worth more than the ships themselves

- Planetary Development Bonuses

It seems like there an issue with development bonuses. The development bonus from wonders will overwrite the development bonus from ruins and the development bonus of multiple wonders does not stack with eachother or the ruins. This might be intentional, but it should probably be stated somewhere, as your first instinct is likely going to be to stack wonders on your capital planet for amazing bonuses

- Colony Tax AI

An option to have it only tax colonies that are at maximum population or close to it (maybe 95% of population cap or higher?) would be nice

- Races

Some races seem to have better bonuses than others. This could be intentional or not, so I am not really going to expand on this unless asked. However, some of the other decisions made seem to be odd

Zenox, despite described as a feline race, is placed into the 'Rodent' racial group, there are other such oddities as well. Perhaps it would be better to divide the races differently? Or at least, rename the rodent racial group to something that would cause less confusion. Maybe 'Mammalian'?

Even discounting balance, some of the races do not seem to have any interesting bonuses, Atuuks, for example, while others seem to have bonuses that are not quite in line with the racial description, such as Zenox (not quite sure where that natural optimist bonus comes from)

Also, it has been often repeated on this forum, but it would be nice if it were possible to set policies for individual races instead of racial groups

- Galaxy Types

I really like the 'Variable cluster' galaxy type, but I feel that the density of stars in the 'empty' regions is perhaps a bit too low, as it could eventually run into problems with colonization range. Also, the spawning should be tweaked so that all races spawn in a cluster, as, generally, it is possible for empires to spawn in the 'empty space' with few stars which is a death sentence for that empire

- Components

It would be nice if components told you which ones had stacking bonuses, and which ones do not. While a careful eye could notice this, due to the laundry list of stats that are given to you, it might not be as obvious to other people

- Pirate Diplomacy, or lack therof

There really is not much you can do with pirates, diplomatically. By design it seems like the game is pushing you to exterminate pirates at all costs, while pirates futilly attempt to stop their influence and strength shrinking. Aside from protection agreements and missions there is no way to interact at all

Maybe some kind of empire-pirate alliance would be doable?

As an empire, I wanted to keep one pirate clan around. The benefits are certainly there, the empire gets a powerful 'private' army that can patrol supply lines, raid enemies the empire is at war with, smuggle resources to and from, and set up far-flung outposts and mining operations. As a pirate, entering such an agreement might be desirable as a survival mechanism, a safe source of income and a fallback point. There would be disadvantages on both sides, as well, Empires would have to deal with increased corruption due to the proliferation of pirate bases/fortresses, while the Pirate would lose some of its soverignty, being unable to go after allies/vassals of the empire

- Criminal Network

Maybe a tad too easy to get? I mean, the advantages of getting an entire planet are enormous for a pirate, considering that the pirates biggest weakness is lack of steady income

- Pirate Income

I noticed that, for the most part, protection agreements with empires generally netted pitiful amounts of money, and were very unreliable as empires usually loved cancelling them, the only reason they were even desirable at all is that it would enable you to wander around the empire's space without being attacked

Defense missions from AI colonies are far too overpowered early game. There is absolutly no threat to those colonies early game so you never have to send any ships to defend them, and the amounts of money they pay are enormous, up to 30,000 a mission. They are an excellent source of initial startup capital

Smuggling, Trade, and Tourism is about where it should be

- Pirate/Pirate Diplomacy is simple

I have had a few oddities where a pirate cancelled a truce, attacked a few of my mining bases, then was smashed and lost all of their stations to my counterattacks, yet, due to the 'You attacked me!' negative modifier, they are never willing to sign a truce and are willing to fight to the bitter end. Pirates whom got hammered should be more willing to sign truces so that they could lick their wounds

- Bugs with Pirate Planet and System Control

Pirates cannot build normal planetary structures on owned colonies unless it goes into the colonization screen. The button is there but clicking on it does nothing

Pirate Automation will not build troops under any circumstances, even if the empire settings are changed

Pirate AI will not levy taxes on colonies it owns. Unlike Troop AI, changing the empire settings does work here but the default AI will be hamstrung a bit

While Pirates can happily disrespect empire system ownership to build where they want, empires cannot disrespect pirate soverignty in regards to pirate owned systems

Pirate-built wonders do not count towards the wonder cap. I built a Boskara highspeed shipyard as a pirate and roughly a few years later an empire started building a highspeed shipyard of its own, even though I still had mine

Pirates should be able to explore ruins on planets that they own

The Galaxy Editor does not properly edit pirates. It removes the 'pirate flag' overlay in the upper left hand corner, and editing the pirate flag does not update the pirate flag shown in the galaxy map.

As an empire, I found a ruin that triggered a pirate attack. The pirate ship that spawned came from a pirate clan I had a protection agreement, even though there was only one pirate I had a protection agreement with and there were numerous other pirates in the game without such protection agreements

< Message edited by Nanaki -- 6/5/2014 3:43:55 PM >


I ate the batter of the bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles
Post #: 1
RE: Observations - 6/4/2014 9:21:38 PM   


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Joined: 8/12/2010
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On AI: It makes decisions from their relation to your empire, and if relations bounce, so does the AI's actions. This is improved in the latest patch that came as beta today.

Fleet AI: Leave it to the AI empires ;-)

Planetkillers: Gone if you disable both the original and shakturi storylines.

Colony tax: Effect change in the beta-patch of today.

Pirate diplomacy: Best done with guns blazing.

(in reply to Nanaki)
Post #: 2
RE: Observations - 6/4/2014 9:40:15 PM   


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Well, I doubt relations bounced that much, as I was playing the role of an insular empire not interested in galactic affairs. My only relationship with the rest of the galaxy was trade.

As for disabling the original storyline, well, I am not sure what else is in there. I might want to keep the random derelicts and derelict fields, for example. I have no problem with them, just the planetkillers.

Pirate Diplomacy: For most pirate clans, yes, but I do like the idea of having a pirate clan for things such as trade.


I ate the batter of the bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles

(in reply to Bingeling)
Post #: 3
RE: Observations - 6/4/2014 9:42:04 PM   


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On the subject of Galaxy types and how it affects colonization range:

i wondered about this as well, and asked today. Here is the deal: colonization range ONLY affects colony ships. You can invade any colony anywhere on the galaxy map and once you complete the ground battle, the planet will be yours.
So you can't colonize past the colonization range, but you can invade and take control beyond that distance.

(in reply to Bingeling)
Post #: 4
RE: Observations - 6/6/2014 1:32:41 AM   


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Out of curiousity, is it possible to change your 'capital station' as a pirate? Its rather annoying having all your characters spawn on the worthless starter station when I have a large station orbiting an owned planet.


I ate the batter of the bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles

(in reply to Hassell)
Post #: 5
RE: Observations - 6/6/2014 4:48:18 PM   


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Sorry for the double post, but I found more things...

- Criminal Network costs absolutly nothing, it states 150,000, but it deducts no money at all from your cash balance
- Civilian Bases will not attack space creatures until the creatures start attacking them, by then it is usually too late
- Early game AI Research Orders seem off. You would expect a pre-warp empire to focus immediately on a warp drive and colonization, but it only does this occasionally, which can result in some empires getting enormously ahead due to picking the 'correct' research


I ate the batter of the bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles

(in reply to Nanaki)
Post #: 6
RE: Observations - 6/8/2014 11:21:59 PM   


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- Pirate Bases/Fortresses seem very easy to get rid of... as a Pirate Smuggler, all it took was 3 human militias and a single infantry unit to wipe out one of my fortresses (as a Zenox), and this is with the supposed smuggler +70% bonus to facility defense. I have a hunch that either that is not working directly, or the bonus applies to something else
- There is no way to acquire the Super Beam/Super Area weapons as a pirate, you cannot discover them in ruins and their research costs are set to an obscenely high number that you have zero chance of ever stealing them using espionage
- Make sure to build SSTs, or else the AI is going to build them for you, and usually place them in really horrible spots
- Again, is there a way to change your home base as a pirate?
- Is there a way to scrap unwanted, high-tech stations for their research points?


I ate the batter of the bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles

(in reply to Nanaki)
Post #: 7
RE: Observations - 6/9/2014 12:45:02 AM   


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- Pirate/Pirate Diplomacy is simple

I have had a few oddities where a pirate cancelled a truce, attacked a few of my mining bases, then was smashed and lost all of their stations to my counterattacks, yet, due to the 'You attacked me!' negative modifier, they are never willing to sign a truce and are willing to fight to the bitter end. Pirates whom got hammered should be more willing to sign truces so that they could lick their wounds

Yes and its not just pirate diplomacy. Diplomacy in this game is very strange and counter intuitive. If you are big and powerful everybody hates you *because* you are big and powerful, it doesn't make them fearful of you, it doesn't make them want to make deals with you for protection, they just want to send their pathetic fleets to die at your hands.

In RL being big and powerful means smaller nations suck up to you for mutual benefit, tiptoe around you and form power blocs. In DW it means they mindlessly hate and attack you and the smaller they are, the more eager they are to die.

The only exception is empires that are comparable to you in strength which is hilarious because in RL these are the only ones who would dare to openly insult or attack you.

(in reply to Nanaki)
Post #: 8
RE: Observations - 6/9/2014 12:50:33 AM   


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Awesome post, Nanaki. I don't have that much experience with playing as pirates, but your other observations match with mine. Particularly regarding the pirate diplomacy, from the empires point of view. There is no significant diplomatic relation other than simple buy/sell. You can't even declare war on them :) If they only took a little at a time. The occasional freighter. Then I wouldn't mind so much.

(in reply to Nanaki)
Post #: 9
RE: Observations - 6/18/2014 1:44:55 PM   


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So, having had more game time under my belt... especially as a pirate which lets me get additional perspective on things...

- Corporate Nationalism is terrible, even when used properly

I seen the Humans in my current game go from third most powerful government and having Way of the Ancients, to just a two-bit power simply because they kept hemmoraging colonies switching back and forth between Corporate Nationalism and Way of the Ancients. I honestly think Human AI would probably be improved if you took away corporate nationalism from it.

- The AI is really, really, really bad at keeping overextension in check

I saw the Quameno snap up over ~110 worlds, with a military strength of less than 30K, they even snapped up most of the human worlds that went independant, yet none of the empires, not even the humans whom lost those colonies, seemed to care. Now they are the dominant galactic power in my game.

- I watched a ~100 world empire break in half

The Kaidan Nation, whom also had ~100 worlds and the strongest military in the galaxy, broke in half. The rebels were Naxxilian-led yet they still called themselves the Kaidan Union.

- Pirate Smuggler AI is stupid

I am having to rebuild my smuggler fleet from scratch because they refuse to retrofit or repair their ships, and too stupid to avoid planets with scanners with their obsolete rust-buckets. There is no way to manually retrofit them and thus I can do nothing but helplessly watch as they suicide like lemmings. Although, it is odd that an empire will shoot at smugglers fulfilling missions they themselves issued.

- Ship AI is stupid

At the rate things are going, I pretty much have no use for the auto-retreat function because the AI likes to use gravitic weapons and, any retreat setting other than 'never' will have the ships fleeing for the closest spaceport against even small combatants. Note that they will flee in the middle of battle. I kinda wished ships only retreated if a certain percentage of their components were damaged, instead of just one or two.

- AIs are extremely aggressive against pirates, even with no reason to be

I tried to play the peaceful smuggler game as a pirate, never raided a colony once, and made a huge amount of cash by setting up pirate bases on independants and fulfilling every smuggling contract in the galaxy. Unfortunately, the empires seem to not appreciate this and will throw their entire navies at you. My current tally of 'ships destroyed' is over 1300 and only going up. I have had to retreat from pirate bases despite deliberately setting them up in resource-poor systems and nebulae hoping that the AI would not take much interest in them. So far, a combination of massive technology stealing, copious defenses and salvaging derelict fleets is probably the only reason I am not overunned

Seems like the entire pirate game is a bit too heavily focused on the raiding and boarding aspect and not enough on the smuggling aspect

- Technocracy is far too strong

I always see the AI Quameno dominating or doing well in my games. Technocracy has very strong upsides and virtually nothing in the way of downsides.

- Thoughts on the various races

Ackdarian: Strong, gets the highest military ship size bonus in the game, bonus to colony construction, and very powerful ship maintenance/research bonus. Probably their only bad side is that their racial tech is not very good, but still saves you an enormous amount of RP
Atuuk: Weakest, their only bonus is a mediocre happinness bonus (+30%) and they have absolutly no redeeming features, even their colonies build slower
Boskara: Not sure, I am unfamiliar how war weariness works in this game, but the Shakturi Firestorm is an amazing weapon if you fight like the Covenant and prefer to glass planets as opposed to occupying them, since the Shakturi Firestorm enables you to build ships that can both fight off enemy defenses than burn the planet to a crisp
Dhayut: Worse racial bonuses than similar races, but one of the strongest racial techs in the game, the only downside is that im not sure the upgrades to that racial tech are worth it. You gain only an additional 50% speed but energy consumption doubles, might actually be betetr to stick to the initial tech if your worry is fuel efficiency
Gizurian: Decent. They provide ship maintenance bonus, high reproduction rates, hive mind, and, IIRC they will never generate a new leader which is awesome if you start with a really decent leader.
Haakonish: Very Strong, very similar to Ackdarians, except instead of a research focus they get an espionage focus instead. Their ship size bonus is also slightly weaker, but they get a special government and a much better racial tech. With Mercantile guild they can spam ships almost as well as Gizurians. The best jack of all trades race in the game, their espionage is strong, they can build lots of big ships, and even their research gets a boost with higher chances of scientists appearing
Human: Bad, their racial bonuses are not shabby but, to realize how bad they are, they only get an extra intelligence agent and a terrible special government while Haakonish get the extra intelligence agent, bigger ships, amazing fuel cells, and a decent special government
Ikkuro: Strong, ship maintenance, colony income, and troop maintenance, combined with RP discount on colonization techs, faster colony construction speed, and one of the best racial techs in the game. While not as amazing as Haakonish they are on par with Ackdarians
Ketarov: Strong, but a one trick pony. Aside from their espionage, they have no bonuses worth anything. However, their espionage is very, very, very strong. On top of the +50% bonus, they also get 3 extra intelligence agents which gets them a max of 9 intelligence agents total. They can wreck a lot of havoc with that. If you are a pirate, it might not be a bad idea to just exterminate these guys because otherwise they will incessantly harrass you with sabotage
Kiadan: Mediocre. Similar to humans in that they have decent racial bonuses, but no bonuses aside from that. Only thing that puts them above humans is Shadowghost ECM which is really, really good. But considering you can steal racial techs it might be better to just play another race and steal their techs.
Mortalen: Not sure, nice racial tech though.
Naxxilian: If you want the troop maintenance bonus, just capture a planet with this race dominant and build troops. Aside frmo that, they just have +10% tourism which is not that great.
Quameno: Strongest. +40% Research combined with Technocracy is just plain overpowered. They also have Novacore which is extremely strong early-game and while it is eventually surpassed by Hyperfusion, it still remains more fuel efficient (2 fuel points per 1000 energy points vs 2.5)
Securans: Mediocre. Strongest happiness bonus combined with a small tourism bonus and an insane reproduction rate. I am suprised they do not have an espionage bonus, even a small one. Its is sort of odd that they are just simply better than the other two happiness races, Atuuk and Shandar, but still fairly mediocre.
Shandar: Bad. Not Atuuk levels of terrible but their only unique feature is the spaceport armor bonus, which I am not even sure works.
Sluken: Not sure, but I really like the Starburner, they also get faster troop regeneration which is also unique to them.
Teekan: Ok-Decent. Bonuses to mining, trading, and colony income which, alongisde merchant guild, lets them print money. Only downside is that they get a military ship size penalty. An interesting strategy might involve turning their civilian fleet into armed merchant ships, setting their AI accordingly, than have the merchant ships do most of the fighting. With extra civvie ship size you might even be able to build ships on par with military ships.
Ugnari: OK-Decent. While, on first glance, they are watered down Teekans, unlike Teekans they do not get a penalty to military ships and they get a very nice racial tech, Raptor Targeting. A good pick if you want a merchant-focused race but not overly so like the Teekans.
Wekkarus: Not sure. Never used/experianced wave weapons, and on paper they are money-focused but without Merchant Guild or any trading bonus. I never see them do much in my games.
Zenox: OK-Decent, If you want proof that Technocracy is overpowered, this is it, aside from technocracy the Zenox are not that great, a small ship maintenace, happiness bonus, historical locations and megatron Z4. Megatron Z4 is probably the best of those bonuses, it is absolutly amazing early game but late-game Meridian shields probably are either better or worse, depending on weither you like shield regen or shield capacity. Historical location knowlege is useless because historical locations are extremely easy to find as soon as you get long range scanners

Overall, I do feel that many of the races could use a few tweaks. While some imbalances are to be expected, there are a few obvious ones that could be tweaked.


I ate the batter of the bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles

(in reply to Tormodino)
Post #: 10
RE: Observations - 6/18/2014 2:34:22 PM   


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For being described as the ultimate powerhouse, I have never noticed the Quameno doing particularly well in AI hands. I think the reproducers were nerfed a bit after I did the majority of my runs, though.

When automating the game for the long haul, I use the Gizurean, since they seem a pretty sure bet to survive.

(in reply to Nanaki)
Post #: 11
RE: Observations - 6/18/2014 3:09:03 PM   


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Personal experiance has the Quameno doing enormously well in most games, and I think in my first game they started off in the middle of nowhere on an Irregular Cluster map which is probably what hurt them. Given, they grab -lots- of planets and can field a lot of high tech ships. In terms of reproduction, the differences between most races is not that great, it is not until you get to races like Securan, Atuuk and Gizurean that reproductive rate differences start to matter a lot.

Given, race is only a single factor, though, I think location is probably the most important factor, start in a good sector, especially one with a special government nearby (Way of Darkness/Way of the Ancients) and you can do enormously well. Given, Quameno/Zenox gain much less benefit from such special governments considering that their racial government is already OP and the special governments are not that much an improvement, wheras races that do not start with a decent starting government (Ackdarian) can become powerhouses by acquiring them.

Theres also the factor in that some bonuses you can inherit. For example, if Ketarovs make up 20% of your empire than you will get +50% better spies, and the only thing you do not get is the number of intelligence agent bonuses. Ship Maintenace, Research, Espionage, Colony Income, and Mining income bonuses are acquirable global bonuses. Happiness, colony construction speed, and War Weariness (I could be wrong, I do not fully understand how that works) are only applied to colonies where that race is the majority, and troop strength, troop maintenance and possibly troop regeneration only applies to troops of that race, IIRC. The rest of the bonuses are, to my knowlege not inheritable in any way. For example, the Haakonish's +15% military ship size, +1 extra intelligence agent are not acquirable by any other race. That is why I put extra emphasis on certain bonuses and not others, you can get most bonsues just by acquiring planets of the bonus you want, but there are a handful of bonuses you can only get by picking that race. Troop bonuses are even easier to acquire since you only need a single planet to churn out troops.


I ate the batter of the bulge at Hans' Haus of Luftwaffles

(in reply to Bingeling)
Post #: 12
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