Help me get into this game

Distant Worlds is a vast, pausable real-time, 4X space strategy game which models a "living galaxy" with incredible options for replayability and customizability. Experience the full depth and detail of large turn-based strategy games, but with the simplicity and ease of real-time, and on the scale of a massively-multiplayer online game. Now greatly enhanced with the new Universe release, which includes all four previous releases as well as the new Universe expansion!

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DaveDash
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Help me get into this game

Post by DaveDash »

I am a big strategy fan. Space 4X in particular, but I also love my Paradox games. I really enjoyed GalCiv2, SOTS1, and dabbled with Star Ruler, Sins, and so forth.

I kept hearing about this game and how great it was, how it ranks highly on many peoples list. So I bought it and checked it out.

I have a pretty good handle on the game, but, I really struggle to get into it.

Namely for two reasons:

1. The interface. I have been gaming a long time now, and played games that were not particular user friendly (such as the X series being one glaring example, spreadsheets in space). I am at the point now where I am tired of fighting against a game. Many devices we use today from our computers, to phones, to TVs have nice clean UI's and have a good user experience. Despite Endless Space having a lot less substance than this game, I find myself playing it more, because it feels so much smoother and nicer. I own my own application development company and I feel these days functionality needs to be carefully balanced with usability. This brings me to point number 2.

2. Performance. I have spent quite a lot of money on my computer, but this game is just clunky to run. I have tried many many things to get it to work smoothly, and I am left with the only choice of overclocking my computer (which will require even more money on cooling, and I have briefly tried the game at 3.6gHz and while better, it's still chunky). Yes I understand this game is rather processor intensive, but I run lots of simulation type games (From Paradox games, to Pride of Nations, to Combat Mission games) that are also processor intensive, and they run significantly better.
This point vastly sours my experience of this game some more.
Again, I have been gaming a long time now. I've spent years as a kid fiddling around with DOS commands to get enough base memory to play a game. I've had to beg steal and borrow to get a computer barely capable of running games during my younger years. Now that I am a professional working adult, I just don't want to have to deal with fighting against games any more. Again, I can't stress how important UX (User Experience) is for someone like me.

So what can I do? Do I need to wait for patches that improve performance? Is this game ever going to be optimised better? Do I just need to slug it out through a game to appreciate the full depth that this game has to offer? Or should I just wait for future Matrix titles that will hopefully leverage modern hardware better? Maybe I am just burnt out?

I really really want to get into this game. But every time I pick it up, I find myself quitting after an hour or so due to the reasons mentioned above.

EDIT: This game actually reminds me a hell of a lot like a Supreme Ruler Cold War in space. :)
Bingeling
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Bingeling »

I run the game on my 4 year old computer, and I think performance is OK. What kind of system do you run?

My computer currently sports the mighty 4 year old Q6600 quad, and 4G of the memory that came with it back then. And I have a recently fresh installed Win7 (rather than an old and messy Vista, but the Vista ran it OK too). And it is not overclocked.

Graphics is not important, of course, but it probably helps with a dedicated card of sorts.

Is it blistering fast? No. But what is slow? Opening the ship list takes some time when the game matures. That is the main waiting point for me. I have managed to have the game slow to a crawl and skipping shots by attacking with 174 destroyers. Don't do silly things like that.
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Darkspire
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Darkspire »

Im afraid there is not a lot you can do with the 'clunkyness' [:(] I had a 512mg single core 1800 playing DW + ROTS and it was just as 'clunky' as it is now on a 4gig dual core 2.20 playing DW+ROTS+L, only thing thats changed is the map sizes, I can play on the bigger maps but with the new build, so I could play Legends as well, there really is no improvement with the general operation of the program, think its what ever DW is coded in so yes processor speed would help but that would still boil down and point to the general execution of what ever DW was written in not being up to par, so unless the one man band that is Codeforce decides to rewrite DW from the bottom up with a new OS were stuck with it [:'(]

I am very similar as regards background in gaming, I bulit my first computer back in '79 [:D]

DW IMHO is a really great game, it has great depth and with the developer working closely with the community it will only get better. Unfortunately its a case of you can have the cake but cant eat it [8|] The general interface for the game is not up there with GCII and I dont think it will get better in the way that screens open or the general way the GUI works, but the developer has worked closely with the community and its general usage has vastly improved. The gameplay is there in spades and once you get into it you learn to live with the short comings of the interface.

Just like with the old 8bit / DOS games really, great game but really wish the graphics were better, you learnt to live it, with DW is great game but the interface is lacking, you learn to live it [:'(]

Darkspire
serg3d1
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by serg3d1 »

I have exactly those problem as DaveDash. I have high-end laptop with 4 cores, 16 GB RAM and high-end videocard, and still the game crawl in the mid game. And I even suspect why - poor use of hardware acceleration in graphics and game running in the single thread. Both are unforgivable sins for game developers, if true.
And to 1. and 2. problems of DaveDash I would add another:
3. Automation presets are nonsensical
With default AI automation setting all I can do is to watch the game play itself. The game AI may have fun, but I'm not.
Turning off some of the automations produce some effects which are difficult to estimate from the maximization of fun point of view. It seems it require considerable work to find most interesting setting for automation.
That should have been work of game designers/testers, not players to find balanced automation setting.

I really wanted to like this game, but for now I just can't force myself to start it. It looks more like work, not fun.
I'll probably wait for the next patch, if nothing else 4X come out before....
Bingeling
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Bingeling »

I don't see how a 2d game needs to run hardware acceleration on graphics.

I find it strange that your computer struggle with the game, though, when mine never did to the degree of sending the game to a crawl.

In the past I have experienced to run out of memory when the game is too large, though (4g ram and 32 bit OS at the time).

What would I recommend as automation settings?

Keep things on auto except:

Diplomacy of all kinds, and attack targets on suggest.
Colonization on suggest, to help you pay attention to that part.
Ships and base building on suggest.
Fleets of all kind on manual.
Consider intelligence agents on suggest.

When it comes to attacks during war, think twice on whether you want to follow the advice.

As long as you have Legends, I would pay attention to these additional ways of influence:

Left side buttons. Potential colonies, scenic locations, research locations. Click a candidate here, and notice the buttons at the selection panel at the bottom. Things like "Colonize", "Build high-tech research station". This queues up the closest constructor for the task (except colonizing which orders a new colony ship). You can of course also find planets by random browsing the map, or other ways of searching.

My usual manual override is building a fuel mine near a new colony. Early game fuel is caslon, which has a blue-ish symbol. My habit is to click in the outskirts of systems which gives a quick outline with all resources. I look for caslon, and go to the closest system that has a source (hopefully in the colony system itself). I random click the gas planets looking for the caslon one, and use the button in the lower left to queue up the building of a gas mine.

Spend your time controlling the fleets and keeping your empire safe. If you have some automated military ships flying around, you can also go to an attack location, and use a button down left (top right corner of that box?) and find the closest military ship. Tell the necessary forces to attack the pirate, and push "a" afterwards to send them on their way when done.

Also, if you struggle with performance, try to keep the game on the small side. Reduce the number of stars, and now you can also shrink the galaxy if you want it small and compact.
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feelotraveller
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by feelotraveller »

I play with a 2gig ram, 2ghz dual core laptop and it runs okay for me.  Okay it heats up a bit, but within tolerable limits.  Memory issues have always been solved for me by saving quitting and rebooting but the early game has no problem.  Limiting the number of ships in play also helps.
 
Turning off other applications I don't need made a reasonable difference.  Turning the nebulae displays off/to low made a large difference.  Use the zoom button rather than mouse wheel especially when going to places with lots of ships/bases.
 
You get used to the interface.  In fact, in general, it is quite good.  There are so many options that it takes a while to figure them out; this is also true for the gameplay/automation options.  But that is what interests me.  If you want to play a game without depth, well...
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Darkspire
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Darkspire »

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
You get used to the interface.  In fact, in general, it is quite good.  There are so many options that it takes a while to figure them out; this is also true for the gameplay/automation options.  But that is what interests me.  If you want to play a game without depth, well...

Yes the OP was on about performance but not in the respect that the game runs slow but 'clunky'.
Example: Do a tech trade with another race, say four items and some money, maybe throw in a map, click on 'Do you accept this trade?' clunk, clunk, clunk 'We accept' Now thats a good example of 'clunky', the way the screen and windows update while DW works out the result of the transaction. No matter how good the machine it will still operate like that.

Darkspire
DaveDash
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by DaveDash »

ORIGINAL: Darkspire

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
You get used to the interface.  In fact, in general, it is quite good.  There are so many options that it takes a while to figure them out; this is also true for the gameplay/automation options.  But that is what interests me.  If you want to play a game without depth, well...


Yes the OP was on about performance but not in the respect that the game runs slow but 'clunky'.
Example: Do a tech trade with another race, say four items and some money, maybe throw in a map, click on 'Do you accept this trade?' clunk, clunk, clunk 'We accept' Now thats a good example of 'clunky', the way the screen and windows update while DW works out the result of the transaction. No matter how good the machine it will still operate like that.

Darkspire

Yes this is what I am referring to.

The game runs fine on my machine and is certainly playable, its just clunky.

The zooming is clunky, certain overlays kill fps, information takes many screens to access on some cases, loading times for essential screens are slow.

While for some gamers this is not a bother, for me, I've been there done that over many years of gaming and don't want to fight against the game to get it to do my bidding. The poster above who says it feels like work is exactly right.

After a while of struggling against the interface I close the game and open up any one of the other deep strategy games that I have that has no such performance issues.

Now I understand that this game has come a long way since its release. But to me it feels terribly legacy, like I am playing a game built in the 1990s. Packed full of great functionality but lacking the UX to make the most of that functionality.

Key features common in games today such as:
1. Key resources displayed in the main UI window. Why can't the game tally up my total key resources? Caslon, Steel, CF, etc. Pride of Nations does this, and displays the other resources under a commerce window, instead of having to hunt through space ports and planets to see what's what.
2. Build queues and progress bars. Its quite difficult trying to see what is being built where at times. I don't want to have to keep checking the ships and bases screen as that's quite an unoptimised screen and takes me out of the flow of the game.
3. Red Markers on the map to indicate previous combats.
4. I find the galaxy map needs a zoom function.
5. Selecting things such as planets can be a pain. Have spaceports build away from planets or have the planet label selectable and off to the side.

Etc.

As for automation I actually think its fairly good.

This game has great functionality. But as someone who deals with programmers a lot, I see a lot of them pile on functionality and sacrifice usability. I'm sure for this niche gaming market functionality probably is king, but I think that's a dying trend.

We need games to be optimised better so it doesn't feel like work, and we need UIs to be optimised better so it doesnt feel like work.

My 2 cents.

Thanks for not flaming me. :)



Bingeling
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Bingeling »

I have played games for a long time too, and don't mind the little waits much. Opening the ship list is the one that bites me, and I usually start by opening construction yards, as that got a button and gives a shorter list (and hopefully a shorter wait).

I think some setting may cure the worst zooming issues. It does not become a flashy, fancy zoom fest, but I don't feel zooming has much issues. It may help, though, that my style is to have "zoom to selected", so I always zoom straight in and out. Scrolling seems to be worse than zooming, but I don't usually scroll much either, I select and click the lower left selection panel to center on target.

I miss resource tracking myself. I would like to have for instance:

A situations where colonies/space ports have an idea on what is a surplus, a decent level, a shortage, and a critical shortage of each resource. Add to this a way to select a resource, and have each colony flag its status by some symbol/color. When I find a rare source, I would love an easy way to track its "progress" in moving through my empire. I would like an easier way to see if strategic resources are present at the fringes of my empire. This could be on the main map, or the galaxy map.

Freighters say in their selection text what they transport (at least a few items, they may carry a lot). What you have to visit the ship list to see (double click it), is how much it carries, and whether it is going somewhere to pick up, or whether it got the items in cargo and is on the way to delivery. As far as I know, I can at watching a freighter prepare to dock at a planet not know whether a freighter is in a pickup or delivery run (unless checking cargo, or happening to know what the colony produces).

As for space ports. If you build them yourself (select colony and right click), they will be built at your mouse cursor location. Having the game in pause so the target don't move is recommended. I always prefer to have it on top of the colony, though, since a space port can be a quite powerful defensive platform, and that is to point from which you can defend in all directions the best.
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JosEPhII
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by JosEPhII »

@DaveDash,

Have you posted this in the Tech Support/"Bug" forum/threads?

And maybe give some practical advice to Elliot on your views for optimization?

JosEPh
"old and slow.....Watch out!"
DaveDash
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by DaveDash »

ORIGINAL: JosEPh_II

@DaveDash,

Have you posted this in the Tech Support/"Bug" forum/threads?

And maybe give some practical advice to Elliot on your views for optimization?

JosEPh

That is the very first thing I did.

But picture this.

You have Supreme Ruler Cold War and Distant Worlds on your computer. Both games are extremely similar in look, feel, and scope. Both use a 2D map, both have thousands of automated units on the map, both have engaging strategy and diplomacy. One game runs rather poorly and has a difficult interface to navigate, one does not.

Which one do you think you're going to spend most of your time playing?

This is the challenging I bring forward to the developers of this game, because I really want to like it. I want to be engaged by it, and I think that optimisation of the engine should be something that takes more than just a back seat to functionality.

Combat too could do with some work. I find it bland, I'd like to see better fleet formations, longer engagement ranges, more size variation in ships, instead a gaggle of what look like bees to me circling around one another.
When one pictures space battles they picture massive volleys of missiles, swarms of drones, and railguns/cutting lasers shooting at each other across vast distances.

The tech tree also seems to be very heavily combat focused, why not more social, industrial, diplomacy related techs? We have these wonderful mechanics in the game to pursue peaceful "builder" type routes to victory, but hardly any technology focus on those areas.

I would love it if there is another expansion coming for Elliot (who I presume the developer is) to just spend a bit of time playing Alpha Centuari (faction/tech tree immersion), GalCiv2 (tech tree), Star Ruler (combat, ship building), Sins of a Solar Empire (combat), Endless Space (UI) and see what's out there to get some good inspiration for the next expansion, or his next space title. Some of these games aren't AAA titles that are unachievable on a smaller budget.

Unfortunately I do not know a lot about programming so I cannot offer insights into how to optimise this game. All I do know is that it runs rather poorly in comparison to a lot of other comparable games (and by comparable I mean other games that have thousands of units automated at once on a real time engine, not FPS games or some other apples to oranges comparison). I do also understand the heavy constraints imposed upon a small development team, and they have to best make do with what they have.
From a design standpoint however even things like having the civilian side more abstracted (who plays with civilian ships turned on anyway?). Bigger more powerful expensive ships with more weapons platforms, as to reduce sheer numbers (hundreds as opposed to thousands late game).

Clearly there are a lot of people out there that really like this game, and my thoughts on performance are probably not the majority, so I am not holding out for my wishes to be granted. However, I do want to give some constructive feedback on how I feel about this game, and why I struggle to get into it.
I do think it has the potential to be an amazing title, and capture a wider audience, if there was a heavier focus on some of the things I have mentioned.
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Pipewrench
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Pipewrench »

DaveDash

Respectfully...

Stop throwing mud.

You have 7 posts under your belt and Elliot even addressed your concerns. I am running an I5 R850 Toshiba laptop with no problems from start to finish. If you continue I will have no choice but to regard you as a troll and ask for moderation. Your paradox games await you.
“We are limited only by our imagination and our will to act.”
– Ron Garan
DaveDash
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by DaveDash »

ORIGINAL: pipewrench

DaveDash

Respectfully...

Stop throwing mud.

You have 7 posts under your belt and Elliot even addressed your concerns. I am running an I5 R850 Toshiba laptop with no problems from start to finish. If you continue I will have no choice but to regard you as a troll and ask for moderation. Your paradox games await you.

If this is the reception one gets from the community at offering constructive feedback (notice I gave examples of how I thought things could be improved, so not quite mud throwing) then maybe that's not such a bad idea.

Spending 10 minutes googling "Distant Worlds Lag" or "Distant Worlds Performance" and you will find out that this is not just a mud slinging issue.

You'll also see I made a post first thing in the Tech Support forum to remediate my issues before hitting the complain button.

I also do appreciate and understand tremendous work has been put into the UI since release of the base game. I imagine that was from community based constructive feedback. How silly of me however to realise that one has to have 300 posts to have a valid opinion.
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Pipewrench
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Pipewrench »

If you have a problem with performance please take this over to technical support .If you see that these issues have been discussed then I know you understand that code force is aware of your concerns.

If you have certain ideas that you feel might help with game play please post in the wishlist forum.














“We are limited only by our imagination and our will to act.”
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jpwrunyan
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by jpwrunyan »

ORIGINAL: Bingeling

I don't see how a 2d game needs to run hardware acceleration on graphics.

And... stop.
Are you serious? I am guessing you aren't a programmer. I'm going to assume you are not and try to explain. Using the GPU to process graphics of any kind, which is what it is meant to do, is faster than the equivalent process run on the CPU. The GPU doesn't care if the graphics it is processing are 2d, 3d, 4d, or Calabi-Yau shapes. It all ends up just painting a pixel on your monitor using basic math and, in the case of 3d graphics, linear algebra. Furthermore the CPU absolutely MUST run all the non-graphics logic, like AI, that the GPU is incapable of.

I cannot think of a good analogy, but won't let that stop me from making one anyway. Using a screwdriver to hammer nails instead of using the perfectly good hammer in your toolbox means you are not only hammering nails slower than you should be but are wasting time you could be spending screwing more screws.

It's the EXACT same problem that, until recently (approx. one year ago), Adobe Flash player had. I think I asked this somewhere before, but are there any tools for C# for sending code to the GPU?
jpinard
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by jpinard »

ORIGINAL: DaveDash

ORIGINAL: JosEPh_II

@DaveDash,

Have you posted this in the Tech Support/"Bug" forum/threads?

And maybe give some practical advice to Elliot on your views for optimization?

JosEPh

That is the very first thing I did.

But picture this.

You have Supreme Ruler Cold War and Distant Worlds on your computer. Both games are extremely similar in look, feel, and scope. Both use a 2D map, both have thousands of automated units on the map, both have engaging strategy and diplomacy. One game runs rather poorly and has a difficult interface to navigate, one does not.

Which one do you think you're going to spend most of your time playing?

This is the challenging I bring forward to the developers of this game, because I really want to like it. I want to be engaged by it, and I think that optimisation of the engine should be something that takes more than just a back seat to functionality.

Combat too could do with some work. I find it bland, I'd like to see better fleet formations, longer engagement ranges, more size variation in ships, instead a gaggle of what look like bees to me circling around one another.
When one pictures space battles they picture massive volleys of missiles, swarms of drones, and railguns/cutting lasers shooting at each other across vast distances.

The tech tree also seems to be very heavily combat focused, why not more social, industrial, diplomacy related techs? We have these wonderful mechanics in the game to pursue peaceful "builder" type routes to victory, but hardly any technology focus on those areas.

I would love it if there is another expansion coming for Elliot (who I presume the developer is) to just spend a bit of time playing Alpha Centuari (faction/tech tree immersion), GalCiv2 (tech tree), Star Ruler (combat, ship building), Sins of a Solar Empire (combat), Endless Space (UI) and see what's out there to get some good inspiration for the next expansion, or his next space title. Some of these games aren't AAA titles that are unachievable on a smaller budget.

Unfortunately I do not know a lot about programming so I cannot offer insights into how to optimise this game. All I do know is that it runs rather poorly in comparison to a lot of other comparable games (and by comparable I mean other games that have thousands of units automated at once on a real time engine, not FPS games or some other apples to oranges comparison). I do also understand the heavy constraints imposed upon a small development team, and they have to best make do with what they have.
From a design standpoint however even things like having the civilian side more abstracted (who plays with civilian ships turned on anyway?). Bigger more powerful expensive ships with more weapons platforms, as to reduce sheer numbers (hundreds as opposed to thousands late game).

Clearly there are a lot of people out there that really like this game, and my thoughts on performance are probably not the majority, so I am not holding out for my wishes to be granted. However, I do want to give some constructive feedback on how I feel about this game, and why I struggle to get into it.
I do think it has the potential to be an amazing title, and capture a wider audience, if there was a heavier focus on some of the things I have mentioned.

The game runs a tad slower because there's so much more going on and the game is not cheating the simulation aspect. You really can't compare any turn-based game vs. Distant Worlds and have a legitimate performance argument. That is wholy unrealistic as is comparing Distant Worlds to Supreme Ruler <== terrible game.

I have no issues with performance even with the largest galaxies and max aliens. But that might be because I have my rig I overclocked to 4.9 GHz with 16 Gig of RAM. This game for the most part is single-threaded, so higher core clock speed is better. But the most important aspect to remember is the amount of stuff going on that isn't fudged.

That being said, there is a graphic performance issue with fleet stances and the irony is... another game does the exact same thing when you have a simple overlay on: Ship Simulator Extremes - when you turn on the radar overlays the graphics just slow to a crawl.

Now I do think Pipewrench was a little trigger-happy, but he's a great guy and wants to protect this series. I have a feeling the next expansion is going to do a lot for everyone beyond the added content. [;)]
serg3d1
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by serg3d1 »

Because someone asked for technical advices here I'm telling what I think is needed. Here and not in tech support forum, because in tech support forum they are likely be ignored.
1. Separate game into at least three threads: One gameplay loop, one UI loop and one graphics loop.
2. Use 3D rendered alpha-textured rectangles (sprites) with identity projection matrix - it's a lot faster than 2D overlays
2a. Incorporate dialog windows into 3D engine, that could be some work but it's worth it.
That would be enough to make game fly, with any amount of ships, stars, fleets etc.
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Darkspire
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Darkspire »

ORIGINAL: jpinard

Now I do think Pipewrench was a little trigger-happy, but he's a great guy and wants to protect this series. I have a feeling the next expansion is going to do a lot for everyone beyond the added content.

Think he must be having a bad day [:D]

In all fairness though, the 'clunky' interface and the fonts are the two most griped over things with DW that ive seen over the last few years, they need fixing [8|]

Darkspire
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Bleek
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Bleek »

ORIGINAL: DaveDash

The game runs fine on my machine and is certainly playable, its just clunky.

*SNIP*

I'm not going to flame you because some of what you say is factual and correct.

I'm no programmer but I appreciate for one man to do ALL this on his own is a major accolade! However, with a few more resources at their disposal the clunky performance could be addressed, in this day and age we really shouldn't be waiting for menus to load and certain simple overlays shouldn't grind performance as it does. That said this game was started many years ago and probably conceived way before that too.

I've not checked but I believe the performance issues come from this game being purely 2D and using the weakest part of the GPU processing, in hindsight it would have been better to render everything in '3D' (D3D or OpenGL) but using single polygon structures so they actually appeared flat as the game does now and overlays wouldn't cause any issues at all. Utilising a modern GPU in 3D (what it was designed for) would reap a substantial performance increase.

But it's easy to say that now when we're years past the point and too far in. I'm positive DW2 will use a 'modern' engine that utilizes the GPU appropriately and reaps the performance boost as a result.

Now on the flipside if it was a large publishing house with many, many people working on it with a large budget I'd be complaining about the issues.

I think we forgive DW for being clunky and old fashioned because it's like nothing else out there and really is an engrossing 4X experience. [:)]
I've been beta testing myself for decades.
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Bleek
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RE: Help me get into this game

Post by Bleek »

ORIGINAL: pipewrench

DaveDash

Respectfully...

Stop throwing mud.

You have 7 posts under your belt and Elliot even addressed your concerns. I am running an I5 R850 Toshiba laptop with no problems from start to finish. If you continue I will have no choice but to regard you as a troll and ask for moderation. Your paradox games await you.

I respectfully disagree with you. [;)]

I have over 4GHz, 16GB ram and a 7850 graphics card - a potent system! And yet, this game grinds and is clunky.

However as per my above post, we forgive it because it's unique, in-depth and a great experience. [:)]
I've been beta testing myself for decades.
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