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EoS has been in beta for a while now and there hasn't been any updates here or on the EoS website, so I'm just curious about the progress? :)

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Everyone is too busy playing multiplayer :)

Having said that, I am planning on putting together a single player AAR of the first 100 turns or so against the AI soon, to highlight some of the coolest features, such as "animated game history", trades, research, alliances, combat of course, etc. It will be against the AI but it's a pretty decent opponent. The other day Putin and Mao shot down my spy satellite after I nuke'd one of their towns :) Grrr...

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Hey all!

Watched the vids, and I have to say, this game is going to rule my life! I was in the camp of "simple, Empire-style gameplay" and am glad that this one didn't get bogged down with stuff that would hamper what looks to be clear, clean playing! Looks like a great game for all-night sessions or lunch breaks equally!

I do have a few questions:

1. I am pretty sure you said there was an AI for single play (although the game is clearly being developed with PBEM in mind) or am I wrong here?

2. I noticed, like other games in the genre (i.e. Advanced Tactics), maps are generated with roads and pre-existing cities. Can you decide how "civilized" you want the map to be? Also, are their engineer style units to built stuff like roads, forts, and airstrips, or is it basically using what pre-exists?

3. I am going to guess that the white circle around units is the range that they will engage nearby enemies (if told to do so), is that right? I think the We-Go element is really going to add a lot to the mix!

Best,

SoM

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1. Yes, the game includes AI for single play (and AI players can also take part in multiplayer games). There are three AI levels, weak, moderate and strong. From my playtests, the AI can get quite nasty at strong, and be difficult to nail down even at moderate. And the AI coding isn't even fully polished yet. While there is a TON of awesome multiplayer features (in-game voice chat and IM system, in-game lobby, in-game mod and scenario/map exchange etc.) the single player side definitely isn't left behind.

2. I have to pass on this one. From what I have seen in the editor you can set e.g. the mix of islands/continents and % of water, but I don't recall any setting specifically for city density etc. You can, of course, simply create your own maps, if you want something "specific". The editor even comes with the built-in ability to do real map overlays right in the editor, so for example it's very easy to do a World Map.

Yes to building airstrips (I think I've even built one in part 2 or 3 of the video). No to roads. Forts can be built in the sense of "fortifications"; you can order infantry units to do it, or they will do it automatically when left alone for some time.

3. There are several "circles" that can mean slightly different things: from engagement ranges (e.g. for artillery) to spotting ranges (e.g. for spy planes or satellites) to "safe return" ranges (for planes).

The WeGo element is definitely a blast and allows for some great multiplayer sessions. All players (including AI) are plotting their orders simultaneously, so you rarely have to wait on sometime. There is a timer, too, that you can enable. When you have submitted your orders and the others aren't ready, you can even unsubmit them, edit them, and resubmit them. There is a ton of little user-friendly details like that which make the gameplay clean and hassle-free in a way that I have rarely seen from other games so far (perhaps with the exception of Hubert's Strategic Command).

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Thanks Moon for your quick reply!

That last statement is an indicator that this game is going to be for me - I find the simplicity of play in the SC series to be top-notch, despite the fact that the games are actually quite complex. One thing that my friends at the Wargamer.com known about me is that I constantly stress the need for a UI that helps the player rather than hinders him or her. SC2 has such a UI and I'm confident from the vids that EoS will too!

Anxious about release day then! You guys work hard so that this can be out before my birthday (May 8)!

SoM

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Hey Guys. Sorry we were quiet for a while there. I just uploaded a new image of a world-map that will come with the game. You can check it out here:

http://www.empiresofsteel.com/assets/images/WorldMap.jpg

Depending on your browser settings, you may need to click on the image to see it in it's full 1 MB / 3400x1600 image-size. The map also wraps left-to-right, so you can sail from the Americas across the Pacific to East Asia. And "Panama" is a choke-point. You can only sail ships through the Panama canal if you control the city. (Hmmm, I should probably add a Suez canal choke-point as well.)

I should add that I drew some borders on that map - they match the borders you'd see on a "Risk" board. I'll probably re-do those borders to match modern-day national borders.

Adding to what Moon already said:

>>1. I am pretty sure you said there was an AI for single play (although the game is clearly being developed with PBEM in mind) or am I wrong here?<<

Yes, there are AI players - you don't need to get online and play against other people. There is no PBEM option at this point. Other people have suggested this option as well, but that won't be available at release.

>>2. I noticed, like other games in the genre (i.e. Advanced Tactics), maps are generated with roads and pre-existing cities. Can you decide how "civilized" you want the map to be? Also, are their engineer style units to built stuff like roads, forts, and airstrips, or is it basically using what pre-exists?<<

The random-map generator lets you choose the density/size of the landmasses. There are no options to control, say, the density of cities or how many roads are on the map. Infantry units can built airfields, and they automatically entrench if left in one location for a few turns. There are "forts", but they can't be built by units - they can be placed on the map inside the map editor.

>>3. I am going to guess that the white circle around units is the range that they will engage nearby enemies (if told to do so), is that right?<<

You can give your units "field orders" that control what they'll do when they discover enemy units. They can be things like "attack all enemy units" or "attack enemy ships".

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... I just uploaded a new image of a world-map that will come with the game. You can check it out here:

http://www.empiresofsteel.com/assets/images/WorldMap.jpg...

What?! No fish or oil-field off the Norwegian coast? I'm outraged! :D Just kidding, it looks great, Brit! Can't wait to dig into this one. Also, I assume we can modify the included map(s) to our hearths content? ;)

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Man, I hope this one is close! You had me at "shot down a satellite." ;)

I like the idea of auto-entrench, a nice touch! So I a, guessing there is no dedicated "engineer" unit. This seems fine to me, as the scale indicates that an infantry unit is probably an abstracted army with support personnel. Besides, this is not supposed to be one of those type games anyway!

I don't PBEM, but I would think this game is perfect for it! Don't hold it off on that account, but I would definately look into it for patch 1 or 2.

SoM

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Any possible release dates? I need to know when to let my World of Warcraft subscription lapse so I can concentrate on a real game!

It's getting there. We'll definitely let you know at least a month before release.

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It's getting there. We'll definitely let you know at least a month before release.

Ah well, I figured that Theatre of War 2 would be the next Battlefront release. Pity, I'm so stoked about Empires of Steel! Still, I'm happy to see that this one gets more time in the oven so that it is cooked to perfection!

Keep us updated though, it has been rather silent here and I would love to see some buzz, more vids, the AAR, perhaps a nice summary of the tech available, any information will just generate more interest!

SoM

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I hope this incorporates some things from Global Conquest and Command HQ. Loved those c64 games. Nothing like airdropping troops behind enemy lines.

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Hi there! I am a long-time lurker, looking forward to this game very much. (look at my join date, and my number of posts...I wasn't kidding about the long-time lurker part!!!!)

Here are some of the titles I currently have on my hard drive:

Advanced Tactics

Empire Deluxe

The Lost Admiral

Civilization IV (with all expansions)

Sins of a Solar Empire

I prefer turn-based, tactical combat, and remember fondly all of the old Talonsoft titles.

This game just looks sweet! I especially like the technology tree. If I may presume, I would like to provide just a little input into my personal preferences.

1) Don't make the technology too easy to acquire. I want my research to make a very real difference. If I shoot for better bombers, I want it very difficult to get better artillery, infantry, and ships at the same time, EVEN AT THE END OF A LONG GAME!

2) Like most 4X games, the early game starts pretty slowly. I like that. I LIKE a deliberate style of play. For a game like Empire Deluxe, the expansion is a heck of a lot slower than the unit creation, and this leads to dozens and dozens of units flying around, all heading for the periphery of the conquered area. This can be a micromanagement nightmare...so the development of the units need be kept slow. It should HURT when a unit is lost....conversely, a unit gaining experience should be a cause for celebration.

3) The gamemaps seem to pretty modestly sized. Can we get a feel for how many turns of movement it would take for a fast ship to circle the gameworld? If the world is too small, then what would be the benefit of a fast-moving unit?

4) Is there a provision for starting the world without the fog of war? One would think that when this universe is generated, with already having dirigibles and other "modern" units, that the general map and layout of the continents would already be known...the "New World" is no longer new. Now, I don't have any issues with not knowing what was ON these worlds, as far as cities, roads, resources, but the basic terrain shouldn't be a surprise to my destroyer. This will serve one big, big function. I will generally have a clue where to send my units!!! Searching for a landmass worked well for Cristoforo Columbus, here, not so much.

5) Please, please, please give some thought to what technology will do to the units. If I have an upgraded fighter, and go against a dirigible, let the results speak clearly. The ol' Civilization notion of a Ship of the Line beating a modern destroyer was (and remains) absurd. I want a bi-plane to have ZERO chance against a modern jet fighter. With that in mind, if the AI sees that it is badly out-gunned from a tech perspective, it needs to either abandon production of the badly out-classed units, or rapidly research the counter.

6) How many turns does the average game take? I would hope 300 or more. I would also like NO MORE than 25% of all available techs to be ABLE to be researched over a long time. If you have to double or triple research times, even better. Please don't use the same research times for all levels of research. For example: The first upgrade to biplanes may take 50 research points. The second should take a MULTIPLE of that...not another 50! As your empire grows, so should the requirements for research, geometrically.

7) Basic infantry should be cheap and plentiful, but with a cap, based on the number of cities you control. Many games use this mechanism, and I like it. This forces expansion, and stops players from "turtling."

Enough for now. This games shows pretty good promise, as is. Thanks for letting me ramble.

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I'm gonna have to say DennisS, that I kinda disagree with some points.

1. Some of us like fast tech games and want to be able to play quickly and tech up fast. I think the best way to deal with this is to have a "tech modifier" slider, like Sword of the Stars so that both of us can be happy. IMHO I like to have my units changing and more options opening all the time (I also like to have smaller maps, so the fighting is down and dirty). So not all of us want tech to crawl, but I see no reason why this can't be easily modified via a slider when setting up the game.

3. The maps look like a good range of large and small (have you seen the Earth map, it looks rather large) and the ones used on the YouTube vids looks rather smaller. I think this will be pretty customizable.

4. I'm guessing FoW will be customizable.

6. I sort of disagree here as well. 300 turns is fine, but I think the game should be able to be played over long sessions as easily as it can be played over short ones. EoS, like Empire, looks very "beer and pretzels" and I think overcomplication is just not what we need, when so many super complicated wargames already exist.

But, I want this to be an academic discussion, because I am hoping the development is far enough along that all these things have been decided and are pretty fixed. I'm really excited about this one, and I hope that release date news will be coming down the pipe very soon!

SoM

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Hi Dennis.

3) The gamemaps seem to pretty modestly sized. Can we get a feel for how many turns of movement it would take for a fast ship to circle the gameworld? If the world is too small, then what would be the benefit of a fast-moving unit?

The game maps can be anywhere from 1000x1000 (measured in pixels) to 4000x3200. I guess that's a 13x change in the size of the map area. With the exception of advanced-technology aircraft, there aren't any units that can move across the map quickly. I think the fastest naval unit moves at (around) 130. With map-wrapping turned off, moving from one corner to the far corner of the largest map (4000x3200) would be a distance of 5120 pixels. I guess it would take 40 turns (ignoring the fact that the ship would have to sail around landmasses). That's the worst-case scenario.

4) Is there a provision for starting the world without the fog of war? One would think that when this universe is generated, with already having dirigibles and other "modern" units, that the general map and layout of the continents would already be known...the "New World" is no longer new. Now, I don't have any issues with not knowing what was ON these worlds, as far as cities, roads, resources, but the basic terrain shouldn't be a surprise to my destroyer. This will serve one big, big function. I will generally have a clue where to send my units!!! Searching for a landmass worked well for Cristoforo Columbus, here, not so much.

Yes, that option is in there. You can start the game with no knowledge of the map. You can also start with all players seeing the world-map. It seemed silly to have a WorldMap, and be playing (say) a world-war game and not know what the world looked like in the 20th century. And "Scenarios" (which can be created by anyone) allow players to customize exactly which parts of the map are known by each player at the beginning of the game.

5) Please, please, please give some thought to what technology will do to the units. If I have an upgraded fighter, and go against a dirigible, let the results speak clearly. The ol' Civilization notion of a Ship of the Line beating a modern destroyer was (and remains) absurd. I want a bi-plane to have ZERO chance against a modern jet fighter. With that in mind, if the AI sees that it is badly out-gunned from a tech perspective, it needs to either abandon production of the badly out-classed units, or rapidly research the counter.

Yeah, I remember reading about the old "spearman defeats tank" problem in the Civilization games. One negative aspect of having certain units always win is that it increases the importance of technology (to the detriment of any player falling behind in tech research). Unfortunately, right now, there is no technology that automatically wins against another lesser technology. I had originally thought that, because technology was limited to the 20th century, that there wouldn't really be a big need to have an "automatically wins" logic built into the system because there could only be a several decade gap between nations (as opposed to the Civilization example of spearmen versus tanks, which is several millenia). But, your example of a biplane versus modern jets is a good point.

6) How many turns does the average game take? I would hope 300 or more. I would also like NO MORE than 25% of all available techs to be ABLE to be researched over a long time. If you have to double or triple research times, even better. Please don't use the same research times for all levels of research. For example: The first upgrade to biplanes may take 50 research points. The second should take a MULTIPLE of that...not another 50! As your empire grows, so should the requirements for research, geometrically.

Yeah, getting the technology research to work-out in all game problems is tricky. Technology research depends mostly on research funding (money). But, money depends on the number of cities a player controls. This can lead to a situation where a small map (because fewer cities = less money = less research per turn, and smaller distances = shorter game) doesn't get very far in technology research, whereas a large map (because more cities = more money = more research per turn, and longer distances = longer game) gets all the technology research done before the game is over.

I think the best way to deal with this is to have a "tech modifier" slider, like Sword of the Stars so that both of us can be happy.

That's actually a very good suggestion. I've never played "Sword of the Stars", so I didn't know about that game-dynamic. It would be a good way to balance-out the small and large maps, and one that wouldn't require hardly any change to the code.

7) Basic infantry should be cheap and plentiful, but with a cap, based on the number of cities you control. Many games use this mechanism, and I like it. This forces expansion, and stops players from "turtling."

Turtling? Is that when players hide away, building up a big military and then suddenly explode apparently "out of nowhere"? Anyway, militaries are constrained by resources. All units require food, and most require oil, so players can't have unlimited numbers of units.

But, I want this to be an academic discussion, because I am hoping the development is far enough along that all these things have been decided and are pretty fixed. I'm really excited about this one, and I hope that release date news will be coming down the pipe very soon!

Yes, son of montfort is right - this is mostly an academic discussion at this point. No big changes to the gameplay are going to be made. I did think the tech-slider idea was a good one though - and small enough of a change to the code that it can be done before release.

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I'm gonna have to say DennisS, that I kinda disagree with some points.

1. Some of us like fast tech games and want to be able to play quickly and tech up fast. I think the best way to deal with this is to have a "tech modifier" slider, like Sword of the Stars so that both of us can be happy. IMHO I like to have my units changing and more options opening all the time (I also like to have smaller maps, so the fighting is down and dirty). So not all of us want tech to crawl, but I see no reason why this can't be easily modified via a slider when setting up the game.

3. The maps look like a good range of large and small (have you seen the Earth map, it looks rather large) and the ones used on the YouTube vids looks rather smaller. I think this will be pretty customizable.

4. I'm guessing FoW will be customizable.

6. I sort of disagree here as well. 300 turns is fine, but I think the game should be able to be played over long sessions as easily as it can be played over short ones. EoS, like Empire, looks very "beer and pretzels" and I think overcomplication is just not what we need, when so many super complicated wargames already exist.

But, I want this to be an academic discussion, because I am hoping the development is far enough along that all these things have been decided and are pretty fixed. I'm really excited about this one, and I hope that release date news will be coming down the pipe very soon!

SoM

I agree with just about everything you said. If you want short, fast games, then not having access to the higher techs would be very frustrating. I understand that.

I did see the map of the planet, and it looks sufficiently large enough for me to allow for longer games. Life is good!

Edit: Brit, thanks for responding so quickly! Your post was excellent, and well-considered. Consider me a fan, with at LEAST one confirmed sale.

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Hey guys!

Yeah, I am pretty happy with the options here. I find myself, more and more, playing games that are quick, fun, down and dirty, and randomly generated (to avoid getting bored). I've been spending tons of time with Rogue-Likes, such as Dwarf Fortress and the newest version of Dungeon Crawl. Why am I talking about this? Well, because part of the draw of the old Empire is having a game that changed each time you played, gave you plenty to do and plan, ran quickly but lasted as long as you needed - and lasted only long enough that, if you lost, you didn't feel like you gave up weeks for nothing. Exploration and customization are the two key words!

I am posting a URL with a link to a picture of Sword of the Stars's game setup screen from an AAR that I was writing. In the bottom right corner you see two sliders, one for economic efficiency and one for research efficiency. These basically controlled the speed of the research and economy as a modifier, with 100% being "default." A good idea, but remember that changing this can effect game balance, so one needs to have caution.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3630/3328303386_37499dd40a_o.jpg

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Ahem... no new developer diaries... release info... or that AAR? Either that is a bad sign or a very good sign (too busy getting this done to post)! Come'on guys, throw us a bone!

<tosses smoke bomb and disappears into the night>

SoM

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