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Gaming Non-Star Trek Gaming

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Old May 29 2014, 02:18 PM   #1
Robert Maxwell
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Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

First of all, this game is now available on Steam, discounted to $49.79. I know, that doesn't sound like much of a discount, but bear in mind this contains the original game plus all four of its expansions.

If you've never heard of it, Distant Worlds is a pausable real-time 4X grand strategy game set in space. The closest comparison one could make is that it's Master of Orion 3 done right. Its real-time nature might make one think of Sins of a Solar Empire but this is a game of vastly larger scope.

If you are looking for lots of depth, customization, and replayability, this may be the game for you. You can modify most aspects of the game, entering "sandbox mode" and tweaking pretty much anything you want. There are multiple Star Trek mods, including The Picard Era, which transplants the 24th century TNG/DS9 setting into the game. (That one is a lot of fun, by the way.) There are other good mods, too. The game is fully automatable, which sounds like a bizarre way to do things, however it enables you to use it essentially as a space opera simulator. Of course, you can actually play it as a game, and the automation is very flexible: you can choose to automate tasks you don't want to bother with and focus on whatever aspects you do want to manage.

Feature list from the Steam page:

  • Truly Epic-Scale Galaxies: play in galaxies with up to 1400 star systems and 50,000 planets, moons and asteroids. Vast nebula clouds spiral out from the galactic core, shaping the distribution of star clusters in the galaxy
  • Private Enterprise: the private citizens of your empire automatically take care of mundane tasks like mining resources, transporting cargo, migration between colonies, tourism and much more. This frees you from micro-management and instead allows you to focus on a macro-scale
  • Diplomacy: interact with other empires, discussing treaties, making trade offers or just giving them a piece of your mind. Talk to pirate factions, tapping into their underground information, or paying them to do your dirty work for you...
  • Choose your Playstyle: Start with a single planet and sub-light ships, or as an established space-faring civilization with warp drives. Play as a Standard empire or as a Pirate faction, with many adjustable victory conditions and gameplay choices depending on your actions.
  • Intelligent Automation: automate the various tasks in your empire, so that you can focus on the areas that you enjoy most. Or have your advisors make suggestions in different areas like colonization, defence or diplomacy – helping you learn the best tactics and strategies
  • Explore: explore the vast galaxy, discovering valuable resources, potential colonies for your empire and making contact with other empires. Uncover secrets that lift the veil on the galaxy’s mysterious past...
  • Colonize: send out colony ships to found new worlds for your empire. Develop your new colonies by keeping them well-supplied with a steady stream of valuable resources
  • Defend: patrol the outlying areas of your empire to protect from raiding pirates or dangerous space monsters. Construct defensive bases at your colonies. Build up your fleets to defend against enemy empires. Recruit troops to invade enemy colonies and conquer the galaxy!
  • Espionage: covertly seek out information about other empires, or even disrupt their progress with acts of sabotage
  • Research: develop new technologies for use in building your own unique ships and star bases
  • Characters: including Leaders, Admirals, Generals, Ambassadors, Governors, Agents and Scientists, all with defined skills and traits and the opportunity to advance and improve
  • Design and Build: A very flexible system allows you to design and build the ships and star bases in your empire. Construct mighty military ships ranging from escorts to carriers and dreadnoughts at your space ports, or build mining stations, research installations or secret monitoring facilities at remote locations throughout the galaxy
  • Built-in Game Editor: fine-tune your own galaxy, adding or removing star systems, planets, asteroid fields, ships, star bases, space monsters or anything else. Modify the attributes of any empire in your game
  • Extensive Help: exhaustive, built-in, context-sensitive help is always only a single key-press away. Press F1 at any time for a detailed explanation of the current game screen, your currently selected item, etc
  • Tutorials: in-game tutorials familiarize you with all of the game elements and tools
This is not to say the game is without its negatives. The aforementioned tutorial isn't really much help at all. This is a game you have to learn by playing. If you've ever played any of the Paradox grand strategy games (Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, etc.) then that gives you some idea of what you're in for. There is absolutely a learning curve.

In addition, by default the game uses your desktop resolution and does not offer any font scaling. You can get around this by editing the startup.ini file to change the game's resolution on startup to something that makes the text more visible. This is, unfortunately, the only "fix." Likewise, the graphics are more functional than flashy. Don't expect lots of neat 3D effects or anything like that. This is an oldschool-style 2D game.

Here's a video that demonstrates the game for a few minutes:



You don't really get a sense for the combat there, so here's a combat video:



As you can see, these aren't very sexy graphics. They do the job, but this isn't a game about looking fancy.

I have no idea how many 4X fans we have around here, but in spite of the game's shortcomings I highly recommend it. It has a depth and scope that's hard to match in its genre, the customization possibilities are immense, and if you can get past the slightly clunky and somewhat dated UI, there is a great game in here.

By the way, if you already own the original game (and possibly expansions), you can get a discount on Universe, the latest expansion. More details at the Matrix Games site. You have to jump through a few hoops but you can get Universe for as little as $9.99 if you do it.

Just thought I would pass this along to anyone who might be interested. Enjoy!
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Old May 29 2014, 07:10 PM   #2
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

Any way to get the game without going through Steam?
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Old May 29 2014, 09:18 PM   #3
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

Yup. You can get it right here. Note that the Universe edition contains the latest expansion (Universe) plus the base game and all previous expansions.
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Old May 29 2014, 09:38 PM   #4
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

I'm still playing Galactic Civilizations II, since I prefer turn based 4x, though this sounds interesting. I still need to either get a new machine or get my other machine running again though.
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Old May 29 2014, 10:41 PM   #5
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

So what is the pace of the game like? If you're not paused are we talking arcade clickfest or do you still have time to actually think things through in different parts of your empire?
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Old May 29 2014, 11:12 PM   #6
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

It has adjustable speeds. I'd say the lower speeds are plenty manageable.
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Old May 29 2014, 11:23 PM   #7
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
Yup. You can get it right here. Note that the Universe edition contains the latest expansion (Universe) plus the base game and all previous expansions.
Thanks. Is it worth learning to play it before installing the trek mods over it?
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Old May 29 2014, 11:32 PM   #8
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

The Trek mods don't really change the mechanics significantly so I'd say dive right in with those, if you want.

I don't know for certain if the Trek mods work with Universe yet. They were written for the Shadows expansion. I suspect that if not, updated versions will be forthcoming. The Universe version is proving to be pretty popular especially since it's on Steam.
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Old June 5 2014, 08:11 AM   #9
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

Dammit. Thanks. Thanks alot. I haven't gotten a freakin thing done in the last 3 days. I just spend my time watching the screen and sometimes telling the system, "yes, attack them, no, don't attack that. Build more of those. research this".


Arggggghh.
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Old June 5 2014, 02:49 PM   #10
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

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Old June 5 2014, 05:54 PM   #11
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

It is that engrossing? I am more an explorer and trader than planetary economy manager. Do I still want to play this with the Trek mods in?
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Old June 5 2014, 08:39 PM   #12
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

You can automate basically anything you want, including the economic side.

A popular way to play is to put one fleet (or one ship) under manual control and automating everything else. That way, you can have fun exploring while your empire runs itself.
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Old June 6 2014, 01:55 AM   #13
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

Is there a way to save the sequence of research I've setup for use in each new game? Seems a pain in the ass to have to set every one of the items up each time.

(Yeah, I prefer to customize the research rather than letting the computer assign things.)
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Old June 6 2014, 03:56 AM   #14
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

Not that I know of, no.
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Old July 16 2014, 03:01 AM   #15
Ronald Held
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Re: Distant Worlds: A pausable real-time 4X game

I just got a copy 2009. Should I play the tutorials then fold in a Trek mod or the other way around.
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