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About BlueTemplar

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  1. Episode 350: Aging Gracefully

    Gah, Firefox crash ate my post... I don't have the courage to write it all again, I'll do an "abbreviated version" : Counter-example for "cutting edge games don't age gracefully" : Homeworld 1 Also Homeworld 2, most beautiful game ever Now Remastered on GoG : With HUGE update 2.0 : Also BattleZone 98 : "Stack of Doom" through the Civilizations : Too many units? Too much fiddling? Economy in Civ4, trying to make an "old-school wargame" not playing well with touchscreen-adapted interface in Sword of the Stars : Ground Pounders :
  2. Episode 304: Star Drive 2

    I wonder why in this podcast were mentioned games like Galactic Civilizations 2, Endless Space, Endless Legend, Sins of a Solar Empire that fail to have either a detailed unit design system or detailed tactical combat (or neither). At least you've cited Master of Orion 2 (for obvious reasons) and Distant Worlds, but where's the mention of actual ship design and real-time tactical combat focused games like Sword of the Stars 1 (and 2) and Space Empires 5 (and 4)? (and Star Ruler 1&2 as well...) Or even Alpha Centauri... These games I just cited also generally aren't really good in the diplomacy part (because their focus is on warfare). It's funny that you talk about ethics in a combat-focused 4X game... isn't it a bit like talking about the ethics of killing people in a first-person shooter? I wonder if the game being "funny" and a bit "self-aware" didn't actually work pretty well in that aspect, as the contrast between the tone and what was actually happening made yourself wonder about the ethics of genociding or enslaving whole species... As for the "tolerance" mechanic - I feel it serves more the purpose of preventing tech brokering, which is generally a big issue in 4X games that allow it. I feel empire management is well made in SD2 (though there's a lack of tools - but the game is rather small scale, so it's not much an issue until mid-late game). If you feel that it doesn't really change anything you're probably not playing at a high enough difficulty level. Opteris have a very different set of constraints than Humans for instance. That's also where game re-playability comes from, it feels a lot like Endless Space actually in this aspect (and in the game mechanics employed). Colonizing everything might not be a good strategy considering that after a while it will just slow down your research too much. SD2 does seem to be lacking a mechanic allowing you to destroy planets (or making them uninhabitable) for "scorched ground tactics" or to diplomatically tell the AI not to settle there. I'm pretty sure that like in almost all the other 4X games, AI factions barely pay any maintenance costs (it's just really hard to make an AI that doesn't kill itself with maintenance costs otherwise - as they tend to have much bigger military - as again, they aren't generally smart enough to use a few units well). I'd say that ground combat is closer to X-Com than to HoMM, because you have single units with equipment. Also, can you give *any* example of 4X doing tactical ground combat well? It's hard to even find a 4X doing tactical ground combat, and the ones that tried (I'm thinking about Space Empires 5) generally failed badly. So I'd say that ground combat in SD2 is actually very well made, it's just lacking a bit in content that will hopefully come out with updates, expansions, and modding. Many games that came out after Civ4 (2005) have the "surrender" mechanic, I'd say that those that don't are actually pretty rare. Which ones did you have in mind? Space Empires (4 & 5) also has this "Mega Evil Empire" mechanic, where if you get big enough, every other empire will just start declaring war on you...
  3. Episode 302: The 4X Genre

    It's funny how the hosts start by complaining about how stale 4X has become, then proceed to cite all the innovative games that are coming trough right now (or in the works) : Endless Legend, Last Federation, Star Ruler 2, At the Gates... - Social interaction you get by playing 4X in MP. The slower the game, the more social interaction you get - especially in the Play By E-Mail games where one turn can take a week, which allows for some insane backstage diplomacy sometimes... - Larger start location differences are problematic for fairness reasons. It's better to have different game mechanics depending on empires. - Games with random techs : Sword of the Stars 1 (and 2 where lots of people complain about it adding too much complexity), Pandora with its (somewhat) randomized tech tree, MoO2 with the "uncreative" trait, StarDrive 2 with it's random racial techs (and all the random techs from events). The issue is that empire games are all about the (exponential) rise of the empire. People don't like the "collapse" part of empires, so developers tend to tone it down (if they even include it). Sword of the Stars 2 is a good example of these kind of mechanics being problematic (though it might have worked if the GUI allowed for easier morale management). Or the Civ4 Revolutions mod where it tends to hamper AI empires more than anything. It's also about the game losing focus if you introduce this kind of mechanic. "Good strategy" and AI are separate issues. (Again, there's a such thing as 4X multiplayer.) Like basically everyone else. Even MP games are rarely finished once you get to the cleanup phase. Weird, Endless Legend has been touted as very visually innovative (well, Game of Thrones intro ripoff, but no other game dared). Unless you're talking about hexes - well they're just the best way we have to tile a plane - blame mathemathics. Another similarity might come from them all using a similar set of (DirectX 11 ?) 3D technologies.
  4. Episode 299: Earliest Access

    Well, as the article I linked mentions, these terms are originally much older, created probably somewhere between 1945 and 1980 at IBM's (and apply generally to not only video games, but software in general, and even hardware, originally).
  5. Episode 299: Earliest Access

    Hello! 1.) I've noticed a while ago that the meaning of "alpha" and "beta" slipped. If I'm not mistaken, before the transition from alpha to beta meant that the software was feature complete (and you could open the software to external testing) ; and from beta to release meant that most of the bugs were removed (because post-release patching was rare as it had to be done by shipping disks and manually installing the patches). Then with the popularization of the Internet people could then download patches and install them themselves. So, automatically, companies started to pay less attention to QA. (Another answer to that in the game industry were expansion packs that allowed them to also patch people that didn't have Internet access.) Now we are at the situation where for most people the patching is done automatically (by Steam for instance), so the general software state at release is even worse. All the while a semantic drift happened where beta became release (or the infamous UberEnt gamma), alpha became beta, and pre-alpha became alpha. 2.) I'd say that the players are between two extreme viewpoints : - The first where what matters to you the most is the process : you get the most fun from the game's evolution and interaction with the community. So the earlier you can get into the game, the better. This is obviously very time-consuming. - The second where you want a finished, polished, final product. In this case you could say Early Access only ends when the game isn't being patched anymore and new content released. Of course this doesn't work too well with games relying mostly on multiplayer. 3.) I feel that a lot of this discussion comes down to ethics : Doing early access is a choice that will impact other people (for instance those that keep saying they don't want to buy early access but still do it). Likewise, exploiting human psychology with "pay not to wait" and "pay to win" mechanics is also a choice. (we're all responsible human beings, we won't fall into this kind of trap, right? right??) Of course these two examples certainly aren't on the same level on the scale of taking advantage of the weaknesses of other people, but as long as you're aware of what you're doing where do you draw the line? And are you willing to become less "competitive" than other people that are doing these things but either aren't aware of the implications or just don't care? 4.) At many points you were saying, "If only we knew how people are behaving" with regards to this thing or another. I think in many cases this information is actually available, it's even often easy to browse on websites like these : 5.) Hmm, "At the Gates of the Offworld Trading Company!" ? 6.) About Let's Plays not existing 5 years ago... they did! In 2004, fraps was already at version 2.1 : YouTube was created in 2005 Xfire added video recording in january 2008 and broadcasting in september 2008 : Recorded video of Civilization 4, uploaded in 2011 here : Other videos :