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Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/7/2014 11:35:58 PM   
aster

 

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Hi all...

New player here, just having a tough time getting into Distant Worlds (I have the full Universe compilation). For the record, I love complex strategy games with many different layers and a relatively deliberate pace - one of my recent favorites have been Victoria II for example. But Distant Worlds really has not grabbed me.

At first I tried playing in a "normal" sized galaxy. However, I like to personalize stuff in games like this, i.e. naming planets and ships and stations, and kind use imagination to create a storyline of my empire beyond the narrative the game offers. But the scale just seemed too large for that - simply too many ships and settlements, etc, to keep anything personalized... it quickly just all starts to blur together. The rudimentary graphics don't help in that regard. While I don't need anything fancy by any means, sometimes more visual cues are nice to tell things apart and give them some individual character.

So now I've tried starting over in a small galaxy, thinking the more intimate scale might give things more personality. So far it feels like more of the same - manipulating a series of spreadsheets and directing little blips around on a map. Not the immersion and epic feel I was hoping for.

Am I approaching this game in the wrong fashion? Any suggestions for getting more out of it and/or enhancing the experience? I don't want to give up on it yet because on paper it's got so much potential and the developers have obviously poured a lot of love into the system, but my early conclusion is that it just sort of feels generic and unsatisfying.

Thanks in advance.
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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/8/2014 12:01:29 AM   
Tehlongone


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You tried setting habitable planets to rare on a large galaxy?

I just rename the good planets I find and take things slow. I like to RP my experience and create fleets that I then spend most of my time babysitting taking care to slowly grow or maintain my empire. I like the game.

Yet if you like things small and personal then this game is not perfect for that, it can still give a good experience but as I see it it's at it's best and most epic when you go big scale.

(in reply to aster)
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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/8/2014 12:09:27 AM   
aster

 

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Thanks for the insight. And I'm not opposed to changing my approach and playstyle, that's sorta what I'm trying to figure out - how to make the game the most satisfying? Can you some examples of when the game is "at its best" as you say?

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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/8/2014 2:16:55 AM   
rch33z

 

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Try increasing the difficulty with the various options when creating a new galaxy. Even with average settings, distant worlds isn't that hard of a 4x game but it can get significantly harder depending on what you choose at the start. Starting pre-warp (I always start pre-warp now) and increasing the number of pirates can make the beginning and mid game somewhat of a struggle, though they can become frustrating to some people because of the constant attacks. The AI is better than it used to be, in the game I am playing now I just lost several young colonies and a number of fleets to a massive raid from multiple pirates attacking on one front while two angry empires attacked me on another. Increasing the aggression of empires and other stuff like that can make a game where you aren't simply "directing little blips around", but fighting for survival in intense battles depending on how good you are at managing your empire and things.

Sometimes for immersion I will create creatively named space colonies (resorts) and colleges (research centers) and whatnot, I don't have too much trouble immersing myself in my empire. I also name my mining ships, freighters passenger ships creative things sometimes like space liners and whatnot. I think the game is a nice mix of immersion, replayability and automation as opposed to games like space empires that while still an amazing game can become a micromanaging nightmare.

The modding scene may very well change later as well. It would be nice if one day components and technology trees could be added and all kinds of stuff like that, someone with enough time and creativity could mod this game to epic proportions then.

There was an old game called starships unlimited I used to play all the time, distant worlds may in fact be based on it for all I know because they are so much alike. I've always like this sort of open style of 4x games so distant worlds was naturally enjoyable for me. If you want to be in awe of just how much game can be packed into 2MB check out starships unlimited sometime, if you can find it.

< Message edited by rch33z -- 11/8/2014 3:19:57 AM >

(in reply to aster)
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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/8/2014 3:09:32 AM   
aster

 

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Cool, and yeah, starting as a Pre-warp empire sounds appealing in the sense that I'd feel more a sense of attachment to my starting situation, etc. Not to mention to learn some of the basic economics on a small scale.

But one thing I'm unclear on - what is the difference between starting a new game in one of the premade settings "Legends" "Age of Shadows" "Return of the Shakturi" or starting a Custom game? I had been starting with Legends but there's no option to begin in Pre-warp stage, i.e. you have to instead start the Custom game and calibrate all the sliders yourself. Basically I don't want to miss out on any intended narrative for the story that might be included in these "preset" galaxy periods. Again, the documentation I have aren't clear on whether this is the case.

EDIT: Never mind for the most part, I see it gives you the option to include those events in custom setup.

Still would be interested in hearing any playstyle or strategic approaches folks use to enhance the game...

< Message edited by aster -- 11/8/2014 6:13:11 AM >

(in reply to rch33z)
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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/8/2014 9:26:23 AM   
Bingeling

 

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As you probably figured out the "age of shadows" and friends are just presets for a game you can create with custom settings. There is one original distant worlds storyline, one return of the shakturi storyline, and some events related to pre warp start that is the shadows storyline. In addition there are some optional disasters and events that may be required for some things to happen.

My main issue in the game is getting started with a new one. Once I get started, I never rename anything, but grow fond of the good colonies that fund my empire, and hope that some AI empire will do something that annoy me. The game can create stories beyond single ships and colonies.

You will find that there are many ways to play this game. You can play pretty fast games with the storylines, or you can play very slow games with no storylines where you have to make your own. Players will differ in what they micro manage and how much they try to optimize stuff.

(in reply to aster)
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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/9/2014 8:11:34 PM   
rch33z

 

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That's mainly why I like starting pre-warp, I get to design my ships and economy from the ground up. Keep in mind that you don't get any hyperdrives at all in the beginning, so its best to pack as much engine on your ships as possible. First ship I make is an explorer with around 45-50 cruise speed or so, and send him to check the ruin locations for warp tech so I can get started on that immediately. Putting all or mostly all your research into energy is also a good idea until you get warp tech, I like to keep it like that until I get gerax hyperdrives then go mostly hightech for colonization and research/economy wonders. Also you'll want to just pay off any pirates that are nearby and constantly messing with you (pirates are much stronger when starting pre-warp), their asking price depends on your income.

I micromanage everything, the only thing that happens automatically in my games is some automated defense fleets. So I spend a lot of time just looking around, designing ships and stuff, needless to say I play very slowly and pause a lot but its what is fun for me. I especially design a bunch of ships, sometimes having different variations in one category such as 2 different types of each mining station (one luxuries and one without), a handful of different frigates, cruisers, troopships, etc for various purposes. So part of the fun for me also is trying to make the most efficient ships and fleets, sometimes they're near perfect and sometimes they fail horribly.

Anyways, I hope you can enjoy the game, its really fun if you get into it. I admit sometimes in late game I just get bored of seeing the same things, this is usually the point where I declare war on the whole galaxy and start lowering the iron curtain. Even then, it can become difficult depending on the circumstances and I have to actually get to that point first, some games are harder than others. The game I'm playing now, the pirates are absolutely relentless and have multiple OP capital ships harassing me and destroying my stuff as quick as I put it up. It takes one of my larger fleets to bring one of them down or attempt to capture it, I've already failed several times and lost a good fleet admiral and more than a dozen warships. Even still my economy basically beats the entire galaxy economy by itself, which may be why I'm being focused down.

< Message edited by rch33z -- 11/9/2014 9:20:47 PM >

(in reply to Bingeling)
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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/9/2014 10:22:29 PM   
aster

 

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Thanks for the great advice rch33z. I'm about to start another try at a PreWarp campaign, we'll see how it goes. I'm using Timotheus' "The New Guy Newbie Guide to Fully Non Automatic Manual Play" as a basic guideline, at least at the very beginning. It seems like it might be a little outdated (?) but at least helps me understand how to stay on the right track.

One quick question on your post - you mention "putting all or mostly all your research into energy", but I didn't notice a way to actually change the proportions of points that get sent to each tech area. Do you just mean to build stations with the appropriate labs (i.e. in this case energy labs)? Or is there a set of sliders I'm missing that lets you customize which field gets emphasized?

Overall - speaking of the thread's theme - this just seems like a missed opportunity on the developers' part, with all the detail and love poured into this game, that they didn't spend a modicum more on atmosphere and personality. A series of small things would have helped. Variation in character portraits instead of the same generic (and gender) image - when I just see the same guy for the 15th time it pulls you out of any sense of attachment. Flavor text for each of the tech tree discoveries. A little more "soul" (again, just flavor text) in the diplomatic interactions. I could go on. They do so much else right, but this area is lacking, and combined with the steep learning curve I think probably turned off a decent % of 4X fans from investing the time required to actually learn the game. As this thread indicates, I'm having to put forth effort to "make" myself like this thing (jury's still out) - I'm willing to because it also has a ton of promise, but as a member of the target audience it should not take this much coaxing!

(in reply to rch33z)
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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/9/2014 11:35:21 PM   
aster

 

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Also, another customization question....

What file(s) allow us to change individual ship names and stuff like pirate faction names? Especially for the former, where the format is usually an adjective followed by a noun, as in "Hasty Splendour" or "Growling Horizon". It doesn't look like Shipnames.txt has specification for the adj/noun structure, so I'm trying to figure out how to change this - being able to make a long list of my own adjectives and another for my nouns, to mutiply the # of possible custom ship names as the default game does.

For the life of me I can't find anything like that anywhere...

And then sometimes ships are named with a template of "Glory of Sol" or "Starseeker of Deneb" or similar. Again, how to customize these? Thanks in advance.


< Message edited by aster -- 11/10/2014 12:49:45 AM >

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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/11/2014 4:47:53 AM   
rch33z

 

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Some people do this differently, but (early game at least) most all of my labs are on my homeworld spaceport with the only exceptions being single lab research stations used to claim research bonus spots, as far as I can tell putting more labs on bonus spots makes no difference other than the added 20k or whatever from the lab. This way it makes it easy to allocate research how I want it just by redesigning and refrofitting my home space port. Until I get gerax hyperdrives researched, I usually start out with only 1 or 2 weapons and hightech labs and then add enough energy labs to overshoot my total potential a little bit. After this I generally favor high tech research until I get any wonders I want from that tree, with sufficient research in other areas to stay competitive with the AI ships. So in a nutshell, changing around your research is just a matter of changing the amount of labs you have.

Yes, there are some things like what you mention that would add some nice flavor to the game, I get the impression that they didn't initially make distant worlds to be mod friendly but are trying to make it more so. A lot of little small things like that could easily be made better or expanded upon if people were able to mod it, take KSP for example, that game is barely even in alpha and the modding community around it has all but turned it into 5 different games by now with just about anything you can imagine added in.

Even though I'm talking about modding though, I don't have a clue about how you would change the default ship names. After reading around it seems like its a file called designs.txt, I would post a link but annoyingly this forum won't let me post links yet.

< Message edited by rch33z -- 11/11/2014 5:51:13 AM >

(in reply to aster)
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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/16/2014 3:01:35 PM   
LoBaron


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quote:

ORIGINAL: aster
Overall - speaking of the thread's theme - this just seems like a missed opportunity on the developers' part, with all the detail and love poured into this game, that they didn't spend a modicum more on atmosphere and personality. A series of small things would have helped. Variation in character portraits instead of the same generic (and gender) image - when I just see the same guy for the 15th time it pulls you out of any sense of attachment. Flavor text for each of the tech tree discoveries. A little more "soul" (again, just flavor text) in the diplomatic interactions. I could go on. They do so much else right, but this area is lacking, and combined with the steep learning curve I think probably turned off a decent % of 4X fans from investing the time required to actually learn the game. As this thread indicates, I'm having to put forth effort to "make" myself like this thing (jury's still out) - I'm willing to because it also has a ton of promise, but as a member of the target audience it should not take this much coaxing!


I pretty much have the same problem with DW.

I love the basic concept of the game too much to let go, but - contrary to for example the old MOO or Civ series - I never easily got the 'this is my empire I care for and I am responsible for' mentality with all the good and bad emotions attached to it and to the other races. I always feel kinda detached from the game, it is too cold and sterile.

Maybe it is the scale that contributes to this, but I think DW simply misses certain elements that are required for immersion. All those small things that help make you feel in charge of a galactic empire and not in command of a spreadsheet. If there was ever a complete overhaul thats what should be focused on.

I am aware that there are mods out there trying to improve, but even Beyond Extended Universe just maxes out what is possible within the game limitations, and thats not enough.

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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/17/2014 4:40:12 PM   
Jeeves


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I don't understand the complaints. This is not a role playing game. It's really all about management, and could be used as a training tool for managers. The combat is a sideshow, taking up less than 5 percent of game time for me. I guess I just like managing things, and consider the so called spreadsheet orientation essential to playing the game...

Lonnie Courtney Clay


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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/17/2014 6:45:25 PM   
Cauldyth

 

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I'm okay with the relatively low level of flavour in the game, as I quite enjoy filling in the blanks with my imagination. It also means I can mentally craft completely different backstories from the same game setup. Game lore says the Terrapins are an ex-slave race, yadda yadda yadda, but I can just as easily configure them to be something else entirely, without things like diplomacy dialogue constantly dragging the pre-canned lore back into it.

It gets to something much more fundamental for me, which is that I believe the stories in 4X games should be emergent, not pre-canned. The game mechanics themselves should produce interesting stories and situations just by their nature, the game shouldn't rely on the designer forcing some sort of artificial framework on top of it.

That's why I really hate quests in 4X games. If that's how the designer has to keep players interested from one moment to the next, then I consider that a failing of the game. The mechanics should produce interesting short-term goals for the player, the goals shouldn't come from artificial errands. Distant Worlds provides an amazing simulation of a living galaxy, and really only pays lip service to balance. It's through the imbalances that the interesting emergent scenarios develop, and they're different every time you play.


< Message edited by Cauldyth -- 11/17/2014 7:47:08 PM >

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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/17/2014 10:15:33 PM   
LoBaron


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Jeeves
This is not a role playing game.


Oh but it is. Like every other 4x game. The player roleplays the race, the emperor, the governement, the fleet admiral, you name it.

Ever wondered why there are characters in DW which develop certain attributes? Why every race has its´ story?

If you need confirmation of what I say then take a look at the mod section of the forums. Easily 50% of all mods there address the rolplaying aspect of the game as primary.

quote:

It's really all about management, and could be used as a training tool for managers.


To act as such a tool it lacks complexity. It is satisfyingly deep for a 4x, but it obeys quite a simple ruleset. In certain ways it is less complex than comparable games, well hidden behind its immense scale. Which is no fault at all to avoid misunderstandings.

quote:

The combat is a sideshow, taking up less than 5 percent of game time for me. I guess I just like managing things, and consider the so called spreadsheet orientation essential to playing the game...


I like managing things too. Thats why I enjoy playing complex strategy games against human opponents. If I am interested in challenging logistical problems I go play WitP, not DW.

DW is a work of art. No doubt. But when it comes to character, immersion, and atmosphere it lacks and is surpassed by quite a number of games occupying the same niche.

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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/29/2014 1:10:22 PM   
tylertoo

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: LoBaron

DW is a work of art. No doubt. But when it comes to character, immersion, and atmosphere it lacks and is surpassed by quite a number of games occupying the same niche.


LoBaron (or anyone else), can you suggest some others? I'm craving something with more personality/atmosphere yet also allows you to manage a space empire.

To Aster's original question: one way I've found to become more immersed in DW is to write out an AAR for myself, taking notes and screenshots. I study everything more that way and become more invested, and suddenly everything seems more alive, simply because I know it better. It's probably all in my head, and this approach definitely requires more effort, but it works for me.


< Message edited by tylertoo -- 11/29/2014 2:11:27 PM >

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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 11/30/2014 5:56:33 PM   
Shark7


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One thing you might try:

Select a single captain or admiral character, and take control of 1 ship or fleet while leaving everything else on automatic. Play the small picture and let the AI handle the big stuff. It will completely change your perspective on the game. And it can be quite fun trying to carry out the will of the empire while also having the limitations of being only a small cog in the gearbox.

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RE: Any tips for making this game actually fun? - 12/5/2014 9:24:10 AM   
synpax

 

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I really like this game as is. I like it a LOT. The problem is it is Crashy McCrashPants.

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