So last week I griped about a video game called Stellaris (link here). Today I’m finishing up on all the ways that a great game that’s lost its luster could become great again.
Or Simplify Diplomacy. Last week I lobbied pretty hard to have the complicated diplomacy system improved. The thing is, I don’t actually want verisimilitude when I do diplomacy in a 4X game. I only need to know a few things about them: power/weakness, farness/nearness, do they like me, what do they have, what do they want, are we at peace, and how can I change those last four? I don’t know if I need a bunch of buttons telling me what I can’t do.
What I’d like are political packages which read “Make the Imarians Hate Me Less,” “The Rurthar Want Terraforming Gases and We Aren’t Using Ours,” “Special Project: Do Science with The Beldross,” or “The Yamacera are Dicks; Let’s Spend 400 Influence and 1,000 Energy to Steal a World of Theirs.” I need, “These Guys Hate Your Fucking Guts And Will Never Join Your Alliance” to “Here’s The Ludicrous Price Tag That Will Make These Guys Wanna Put Their Fungal Dicks in Your Small Intestines While Barry White Plays In The Background.”
I only need to know how they feel about me on a scale of one to five. If I’m going to do something that will move allies into the negative on me, those better be big things. I mean big. It should be rare enough that you feel comfortable with throwing a pop-up on the screen asking if I’m sure every time I’m about to do one of those things. I should be able to choose and move toward changing those numbers by doing big things.
If you’ve never heard of Stellaris, it’s Civilization meets Spaceward Ho!, which I will assume is a comprehensive description suitable for everyone. It’s everything me and the guys ever dreamed of in a space game. You get to colonize planets, do some diplomacy, and build big fleets that have beautiful battles in space. You even get to make some moral decisions and do some research…y’know, Star Trek stuff. It’s great and we loved it.
But the luster has worn off quickly. The lifetime of a video game is pretty short and despite being excellent, Stellaris only had an average run with us. This isn’t an open letter to the devs or anything because I don’t know anything about game development. It’s not a list of bitches about the game because nothing is less productive than that. It’s nothing more than a vague plan offered for free with an offer for a red hat as a $25.00 upsell that simply reads “Make Stellaris Great Again.”
Quit animating every ship. It’s beautiful when I’ve got a fleet of 15 guys who shoot lasers and missiles in an asynchronous display of attempted murder by hard vacuum. I see the shots glance off of shields. But eventually I’ll have to destroy every other civilization in the galaxy and I’re going to need a pretty big fleet for that. Probably bigger than everyone else’s.
There’s a fleet cap of 1000 points worth of ships, but it’s only a guideline. After 1k points, I simply pay higher upkeep on ships above that limit. That means even more massive massive fleets, which I’ll get to later. The system can’t handle those numbers and significant fleet actions begin causing the game to slow down, space out, or just plain freeze up.