Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Rob Zacny

Episode 294: Fifty Shades of Grey Goo

7 posts in this topic

I was looking forward to the episode on Grey Goo, but wow. It starts off with the guys on the podcast completely getting wrong what UaW is, what EaW is, what SWGB was. Sounded like they hadn't played any of these games. How they started off describing GG fits UaW as well. Paired down with a concentration on very asymmetrical factions with a lot of character. Not that I really like UaW, but at least played it and the others, so there's a sense of context. Problem with it was that it was too paired down with factions that were a little too out there. It also had a very low unit cap (was made for console and had all these effects coming from buildings that were constantly on-screen and would probably contribute to lag if there were more units). I've been worried GG was going to continue in that direction. The game that was built on the AoE2 engine was Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds, not Empire at War and was made by Ensemble (AoE2).


One UaW faction had conduits to power buildings that had to connect things, but the humans in Grey Goo sound restricted more like ED faction in Earth 2060. I think they could build a new hub center anywhere though as the faction in UaW can. Can the humans in GG really not expand with a new central hub or expand by building conduits outward? I remember reading a review once of SunAge where the reviewer thought that the game brought a completely new idea with having to connect buildings to power conduit structures in order to expand, but that actually existed back in Dominion: Storm over Gift 3. Often ideas in RTSs that seem new one will find go way back if they play even the sort of obscure, forgotten games. I often end up really enjoying the RTSs that were considered failures despite their problems. That's where one will often really see those unique ideas for the first time.


Just played Praetorians again three days ago. Going to have to go back and finish the cast as it quickly got me distracted with wanting to post again after not having done so for a long time (hopefully not a rant though). It seemed so off to start with as there didn't seem to be the great sense of context that there is in the wargaming episodes. That said, I have or do play almost every RTS as trying each and every one became almost an obsession, and play them generally in order of release so there's a sense of context despite really just doing this over that past several years (the name RTS Novice came from the idea for a blog on this). It also helps not ruin the experience of playing an old game for the first time--something that also comes up in the episode.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking forward to the episode on Grey Goo, but wow. It starts off with the guys on the podcast completely getting wrong what UaW is, what EaW is, what SWGB was.

 

You know, those abbreviations do not help others understand what those things are.

 

Anyway it's strange 3MA ignored Tom Chick's favorite strategy of the year - Infested Planet. It's single player oriented RTS relying on asymmetric gameplay with interesting mix of macro and micro. It has challenges, customizable difficulty and does not feature any of those hardcore multiplayer of yours. It's not ambitious but it can satisfy your clickfest thirst. Maybe this Gr*y Goo of yours is bigger and better. Infested Planet is still looks to me as perfect "my first strategy" game as well as hardcore puzzle challenge later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking forward to the episode on Grey Goo, but wow. It starts off with the guys on the podcast completely getting wrong what UaW is, what EaW is, what SWGB was. Sounded like they hadn't played any of these games. How they started off describing GG fits UaW as well. Paired down with a concentration on very asymmetrical factions with a lot of character. Not that I really like UaW, but at least played it and the others, so there's a sense of context. Problem with it was that it was too paired down with factions that were a little too out there. It also had a very low unit cap (was made for console and had all these effects coming from buildings that were constantly on-screen and would probably contribute to lag if there were more units). I've been worried GG was going to continue in that direction. The game that was built on the AoE2 engine was Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds, not Empire at War and was made by Ensemble (AoE2).

 

Agreed, that fundamental confusion between a 2002 Age of Empires 2 reskin and a 2006 2.5D space RTS (plus a really mediocre ground-based component) with a turn-based campaign mode is a really inauspicious start for an episode that spends a lot of time talking about what makes a Petroglyph game. So much of what Rob, T.J., and Shawn praise as innovations (or at least newfound strengths) in Grey Goo were present almost a decade ago in Star Wars: Empire at War, especially the distinctive art design, the engaging campaign missions, and the factions differentiated more by unit tuning than by type. If you include the expansion, which added the "corruption" faction, there is even the third faction that plays a completely different game with completely different momentum from the other two traditionally opposed factions, although Tyber Zann was moronic as both fiction and mechanic even when compared to the conspicuously unsexy concept of "grey goo." As far as I can see it, even though I haven't played Grey Goo, the narrative is more properly Petroglyph finding its footing again after losing its way, rather than them finally hitting their stride, which is more what seems to be repeated through the podcast.

 

Honestly, I have a lot of fondness for Empire at War and think of it as probably the best strategy-focused adaptation of the Star Wars universe. The space battles are dynamic and impactful, incorporating lessons from Homeworld and the first Dawn of War, while still sitting firmly in the Westwood idiom, and the campaign mode is at least as solid as the first few Total War games while being its own thing. The ground battles are slapdash and forgettable, but at least part of that is that you can't follow up the grandeur of space with three dozen stormtroopers wandering through some empty fields and keep the latter from suffering enormously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never played Empire at War, but what people always told me about that game was that the AI was way too passive. Bad AI is a perennial complaint about strategy games, so I've never known how much stock to put into it, but at least with people I've spoken with that's always been the reason it was never listed as one of the great RTS's.

 

I was worried about Grey Goo because of course the first review I read was Tom Chick's. Encouraging to see that people are generally more favorable to the game as everything I've seen has looked good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always wanted to like UaW, it had such incredibly strange and interesting faction dynamics, but the game just seemed like it was seriously constrained by the infrastructure and the hardware they tied themselves to.

I don't have any similar sentiments about Grey Goo, or really any reason to, of course. Presently, I think the game is pretty terrific, though i'm experiencing some odd performance related troubles and intermittently unreliable multiplayer connectivity.

 

Surprised to say that i'm also actually really enjoying the campaign, i haven't personally found an RTS campaign to be worth playing in a long time.

 

Can the humans in GG really not expand with a new central hub or expand by building conduits outward?


Yeah, they actually can't. The Beta are setup to be able to quickly expand and entrench almost anywhere on the map, and the goo are similarly incredibly mobile, but not even being tied down by any structures, all while the humans can never expand beyond their base core. They can't establish secondary bases, and expansion via their conduits usually ends up being blocked by terrain features. As it would happen though, speaking as a shameless turtler, they're the faction i'm finding the most enjoyable to play. Their ability to shift defensive towers around via teleportation, nevermind the strength of those towers, makes their bases incredibly tough nuts to crack. They can end up starved for resources in the late game though, having to reach further and further away from that base for resources, building extractors they have no easy way to defend from harassers. (Their artillery drones can ground fire to setup mines, but that's about it for out-of-base static defenses.)

(Edit: I misinterpreted that mine laying function, they time out pretty quickly. Seems mostly for target-leading micro in fights.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish I was able to enjoy Grey Goo more than I do. Unfortunately I'm pretty awful at the game, and it largely has to do with the fact that I'm unable to train myself to look at the right side of the screen to check for the minimap so I'm running very blind in the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0