Darsnan

Upcoming Planetary TBS in the vein of Alpha Centauri

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Slitherine will be releasing a sci-fi planetary 4X TBS in the same vein as Alpha Centauri:

 

 

Pandora: First Contact is a science fiction turn-based strategy game on an epic scale. In the future, mankind has discovered a new, earth-like planet, capable of supporting life, it has been dubbed “Pandora”. This planet features a wide variety of eco-regions, from the frozen ice lands of the north, to vast deserts and lush tropical forests in the south. It is also far from desolate, hosting dangerous alien wildlife that are more than capable of wreaking havoc on the invading humans, from deadly swarms to agile predators, and there is even talk of a giant in the oceans!

 

In the rush, various factions have risen up in a battle to gain supremacy over this new world. As they strive to take control, each faction will research and develop numerous new technologies, discovering new weapons and industry, whilst opening trade agreements and forging alliances with other factions to gain a foothold. As they spread they will discover ancient ruins and artifacts from alien civilizations that will grant advantages over their rivals.

 

Utilizing a vast technology tree, factions will discover new technologies that will improve their colonies, with upgrades such as new buildings, operations, weapons, units and many more…

 

New weapons technologies even allow you to design your own units, choosing from a variety of different classes, weapons, and armor to maximize their strength and efficiency on the battlefield. Tailoring them to fight the war you have chosen!

 

Use powerful military operations such as drop pods for behind-the-lines attack or unleash hell with black hole generators that can destroy entire landscapes.

 

Expand your colonies with new cities, ensuring that you manage production whilst keeping the population happy. But remember the more you expand your borders the closer you get to other factions’ borders, so diplomacy must also be incorporated into your strategies.

 

It is important to remember that not all factions are peaceful and friendly so never let your guard down as you boldly discover this new and dangerous land, taking every opportunity that presents itself to gain the necessary advantage to control the planet!

 

 

 

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Features:

• Survive encounters with the planet's dangerous wild life. Agile predators in the steppes, deadly insect swarms in the jungle, or gigantic creatures lurking in the abyss of the oceans.

• Ruins and artefacts, the relics of an ancient alien civilization long forgotten, provide bonuses.

• Progress through a vast research tree spanning dozens of technologies that provide new buildings, units, weapons, and more.

• Negotiate trade or research pacts with other factions for mutual benefits. Forge alliances to stand united against common foes.

• Found new cities to expand the borders of your empire. Manage cities by selecting what structures they build or units they recruit and by assigning priorities to your colonists.

• Shape the landscape with terraforming: construct farms, mines, forts, or other improvements to increase the productivity of your colonies or to fortify positions.

• Command vast armies on the battlefield against enemy factions, making use of the variety of terrain types to gain an advantage.

• Design your own units, choosing from a variety of different classes, weapons and armour to maximize the strength of your forces.

• Unleash hell on your opponents with powerful military operations, ranging from drop pods behind enemy lines to black hole generators eradicating entire landscapes.

 

 

Here is a link, which also shares some screen shots:

 

http://www.slitherine.com/games/PandoraPC

 

"Design your own units": the Unit Workshop! Now heres hoping the AI understands and can use it as well!

 

D

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Sounds like a cross between the movie Avatar and the game Alpha Centauri, with Civ4 lookalike landscape.

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Its also looking like 1UPT. Be interesting to see if Slitherine is indeed going that route, and how they implement the AI accordingly.

 

D

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If you want to know for sure, you could always sign up for beta-testing. :)

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Hmm... Check out this page from Proxy Studios, and look at their previous game (Conquest: Divide and Conquer).

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It really is a shame that nobody capitalized on the SMAC franchise...

 

They're letting these imitators rake in all their business instead.

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It really is a shame that nobody capitalized on the SMAC franchise...

 

IIRC SMACX wasn't necessarily commercially successful, so I'm sure Firaxis and the companies which closely watched the financial returns at this time regarding this genre (sci-fi planetary 4X TBS) decided in the end to steer clear of this niche in the gaming industry. However considering that its now been 12+ years since anything at all has appeared in this niche, why I think its ripe for the taking for any game which shows originality in this area. So heres hoping Pandora is succesful in this niche! :b:

 

D

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IIRC SMACX wasn't necessarily commercially successful, so I'm sure Firaxis and the companies which closely watched the financial returns at this time regarding this genre (sci-fi planetary 4X TBS) decided in the end to steer clear of this niche in the gaming industry. However considering that its now been 12+ years since anything at all has appeared in this niche, why I think its ripe for the taking for any game which shows originality in this area. So heres hoping Pandora is succesful in this niche! :b:

 

I think that might have been more to do with SMACX than with the genre itself. For instance, I didn't even know that SMACX existed for over a year after it came out. Or maybe people were just getting all of their sci-fi fix from Starcraft, which came out at roughly the same time (albeit it's an RTS, not TBS).

 

I don't know enough about Pandora to say whether it'll be successful or not, but I know there's certainly a large group of people who've been sitting on their hands for 12 years waiting for SMAC2 who would immediately jump on a direct sequel.

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I know there's certainly a large group of people who've been sitting on their hands for 12 years waiting for SMAC2 who would immediately jump on a direct sequel.

 

I think your preaching to the choir, there. :D

 

Question: how do you you see a sequel playing out? Personally speaking, instead of seeing a direct sequel, just forget the whole PlanetMind/ Alpha Cerntauri thing and go a different route (like say an experimental spaceship creates wormhole to another solar system, but has no way of getting back, or something like that).

 

D

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The game I've been waiting over a decade to play is Sid Meier's Colonization... but in space.

 

Basically, a resource-management intensive early space exploration/colonization game where you play as a charter corporation setting up one of the earlier interstellar colonies in the vicinity of our solar system (using the real stars around us). The other players are also corporations setting up their own colonies on other worlds. In time, the players become economic competitors competing for Earth marketshare for imported goods from the colonies. Later on, you can fund exploration further and further from earth (as most systems have no usable planets for full colonization, even if they do have plenty of minerals & other goods for market) - as well as fund the colonization & development of the suitable worlds out there. Given sufficient time (and sparked by changes on Earth and/or relations between Earth and her colonies), your colonies can fight for true independence. Independence could either be the endgoal of the game or, alternatively, merely a bonus (with an alternative victory method being economic success that might be better achieved by remaining unified with earth).

 

Always wanted to play that and saw SMAC, when it came out, as a potential entre point to that game someday being developed.

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Basically, a resource-management intensive early space exploration/colonization game where you play as a charter corporation setting up one of the earlier interstellar colonies in the vicinity of our solar system (using the real stars around us). The other players are also corporations setting up their own colonies on other worlds. In time, the players become economic competitors competing for Earth marketshare for imported goods from the colonies.

 

You mean like Cyberstorm 2 was? Here is a link:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CyberStorm_2:_Corporate_Wars

 

That was a neat little game (and was what I was playing right before SMAC came out). It had the distinction of being able to be played as either a TBS or RTS. The really bad thing about the game was that it had about twelve canned scenarios for you to play, and that was about it. So no matter what Corporation you played, you had the same set of missions to play in order to win. Got real boring real quick!

 

Anyways, I digress a little there.

 

The game I've been waiting over a decade to play is Sid Meier's Colonization... but in space.... Later on, you can fund exploration further and further from earth (as most systems have no usable planets for full colonization, even if they do have plenty of minerals & other goods for market) - as well as fund the colonization & development of the suitable worlds out there. Given sufficient time (and sparked by changes on Earth and/or relations between Earth and her colonies), your colonies can fight for true independence. Independence could either be the endgoal of the game or, alternatively, merely a bonus (with an alternative victory method being economic success that might be better achieved by remaining unified with earth).

 

orlanth made a sci-fi based Colonization mod along these lines:

 

http://www.weplayciv.com/forums/showthread.php?2101-MOD-Colonization-2071&highlight=Colonization

 

Sounds pretty neat. Now we just need that 40W bulb to go off in some marketing exec's head to realize these are good ideas for games in a market niche that hasn't been addressed in a long long time! :doitnow!:

 

D

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Hmm... I'll have to try out that 2071 game - though it seems to suffer from being a literal reskin of Colonization rather than really allowing you to traverse between planets & solar systems.

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... - though it seems to suffer from being a literal reskin of Colonization rather than really allowing you to traverse between planets & solar systems.

 

:sadnod:

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I think your preaching to the choir, there. :D

 

Question: how do you you see a sequel playing out? Personally speaking, instead of seeing a direct sequel, just forget the whole PlanetMind/ Alpha Cerntauri thing and go a different route (like say an experimental spaceship creates wormhole to another solar system, but has no way of getting back, or something like that).

 

D

 

Don't know if you saw over at Buncle's site, me and a couple others were discussing SMAC2. I emailed EA and they got back to me to discuss the license. In short, they would be happy to discuss the opportunity of me (my game's company) making a sequel using the engine I'm developing for A New World. But only if the game is a success, and not till 6 months after I release ANW.

 

Note this is a complete turnaround from 3 years ago when I tried to talk to EA on behalf of scient. They came me the jerking over of a lifetime for two months then said no. This time however, was talking with a development manager within a week.

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Don't know if you saw over at Buncle's site, me and a couple others were discussing SMAC2. I emailed EA and they got back to me to discuss the license. In short, they would be happy to discuss the opportunity of me (my game's company) making a sequel using the engine I'm developing for A New World. But only if the game is a success, and not till 6 months after I release ANW.

 

Now that is pretty awesome! And I do hope you have that conversation with them after ANW is succesful! :b:

 

D

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Don't know if you saw over at Buncle's site, me and a couple others were discussing SMAC2. I emailed EA and they got back to me to discuss the license. In short, they would be happy to discuss the opportunity of me (my game's company) making a sequel using the engine I'm developing for A New World. But only if the game is a success, and not till 6 months after I release ANW.

 

But... that's still quite some time! :crying:;)

Do you have a link to the discussion?

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The game I've been waiting over a decade to play is Sid Meier's Colonization... but in space.

...

Always wanted to play that and saw SMAC, when it came out, as a potential entre point to that game someday being developed.

 

One of my good friends recently showed me a game similar to the criteria you listed called "Endless Space."

 

It's basically Civ on an inter-planetary scale in space. Got to tinker with it for a few minutes but didn't really see much of it. Might be worth checking out.

Edited by Alexander

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Take a look at Light of Altair (www.saintxi.com/) it goes in the right direction, could have a better tech tree and some different things to do, but in concept it's pretty good. It's basically a colony management game with some RTS elements, the combat side is mostly "whoever has the biggest army wins" although to a small degree this is also down to the tech that you've researched.

 

The company did have a follow up game too Moon Base Eridani which from what I understand is meant to be more focused on the colony itself, rather than the bigger picture of space colonisation, but it's been in development for quite some time now and may have been canned.

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One of my good friends recently showed me a game similar to the criteria you listed called "Endless Space."

 

It's basically Civ on an inter-planetary scale in space. Got to tinker with it for a few minutes but didn't really see much of it. Might be worth checking out.

 

Played it. It's a little one-dimensional right now, though I hear they'll keep updating it.

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Played it. It's a little one-dimensional right now, though I hear they'll keep updating it.

 

Hope so. I only got a glimpse at it.

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And here is a high level gameplay video of the Beta:

 

[video=youtube;taI2-M7T4I8]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=taI2-M7T4I8

 

Some thoughts on the video:

 

1. Alien Ruins: wonder if there will be an in-depth backstory regarding this aspect at all?

 

2. City assignation of population to tasks, and the overall tax slider: sort of reminds me of Deadlock in this regards.

 

3. Terraforming: at 2:05 of the video the Former goes from land to the sea - shades of Panzer General in this regards?

 

4. Pollution via clouds turning green: meh.

 

5. Unit Workshop: they touched upon different items having pluses and minuses, but didn't really elaborate too much. My concern is whether the AIs will be able to understand how to use the Workshop in the various environments that are available in the world builder.

 

6. Drop Troops: the AIs in SMAC and Civ don't get Drop Troops, so I'm wondering how well the AIs in Pandora will be able to utilize these units.

 

 

D

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And here is a review over at GrE:

 

There’s always one a year for me. A quiet release on the strategy market that manages to capture my withered heart, causing the necrotic lump to jitter with delight. It was Endless Space last year. The year before, Frozen Synapse. In 2013, though? Well, it’s looking like Pandora: First Contact. Here’s a spiel and some collected thoughts on my time with the beta thus far.

 

I’ve been trying to think of how to sell Proxy Studios’ sci-fi strategy, and flashy comparisons feel a touch disingenuous. It has elements reaching back to Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, but Pandora is faster and its emphases deploy differently. Pandora feels like Civilization V in a way, but the proffered setting and general mood pushes it away beyond the calls of “enhanced mod.” It sits at a safe, equidistant position between the two, but makes me recall things like Outpost 2: Divided Destiny and Gametek’s beautiful underdog Dark Colony.

So, if you’re not already familiar with Pandora: First Contact, it’s a science-fiction turn-based strategy set upon, indeed, Pandora — humanity’s first habitable world found out beyond the Oort cloud, one now enduring an ongoing colonial race between several factions. Those with a love for Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri will immediately recognize something there, and the choice of factions in Pandora do resemble the various civil and military propensities that separated groups in the 1999 opus. Fresh-faced players arrive on this strange planet and begin forging territorial boundaries, industrial hubs and the means to wage war. Unlike Alpha Centauri, Pandora: First Contact is primarily a game — at least at this point — of conquest, subjugation and annexation atop a solid and relatively dynamic economic and development model.

 

Opening with a Colonizer — a large tracked hauler that establishes a city once you’ve found a suitable location — and a single squad of Colonial Infantry, grabbing a foothold in the countryside begins with exploration, selecting an initial research option and curating a production queue. We know this kick-off. Pandora is a comfortable fit for the Civilization fans, especially in the early game. Hexes have various material attributes; minerals and food are the two initially important stats to assess each hex on, but there are unique land formations that offer bonuses or feature negative effects. As expected, mountains offer sight and attack bonuses, but locations featuring Xenite Flowers offer bonuses to productivity. Forests decrease pollution caused by over-development. Isogen Fields tout mineral bonuses countered by toxicity. Research plays into much of the territory development, with breakthroughs in cultivation allowing crops to be planted on less-than-adequate landscapes.

There’s an unavoidable chance to get one’s David Attenborough on, too. Contact with other lifeforms will come in the form of strange alien creatures; ones stalking the land, flapping through the sky and lurking beneath the lapping waters of Pandora. While initially not a particularly huge threat, on higher difficulties the strange xeno-creatures can cause serious havoc to early colonies. Alien life can also grow to gargantuan proportions, which keeps things interesting.

 

From there, it’s a case of building an economy, expanding territory through a variety of means, designing and producing new units on the back of technological advancements. There are three distinct technological ages for players to research their way through, which obviously bear more exciting and expensive fruit. Going from recon ATVs to heavily-armored walkers, nukes and orbital infantry drop-pods is as you’d expect. Alpha Centauri fans might be a touch disappointed at the present lack of diversity in growth and inter-factional relationships, but I still think Pandora is a breath of fresh air because we simply don’t get this kind of detail deployed in such a fashion.

The UI in Pandora is slick and uncomplicated, replete with nice iconography. While this doesn’t fall into Paradox territory regarding mechanical complexity and the endless cascading of information, there is enough information at a glance regarding the colonies and the war effort to keep things at a decent clip. Control-wise, it’s as good as you’re likely to find and expect in the genre. A lot of left-clicking to select, a bit of shift-clicking to form and direct stacks, with the trusty right-click to hurl your machines and men across the velts of this hostile and exotic world.

 

Here I am, unlocking new tech to use in the custom unit creation workshop. I’m building my initial alien-busting troopers, the Colonial Firebrand detachments with their carapace-roasting flamethrowers and their upgraded armor. I’m sending them into steaming alien jungles to secure the perimeter against chittering xeno-creatures and the pulsating biological nightmare nest that spawned them. They are my tracked missile batteries crunching up into the surrounding mountains to form pickets against enemy aggressors. These are my shock troops in their drop-pods. Excuse the grotesque nature of my giddiness, but we need more planetary-based sci-fi TBS games.

Here’s what I truly love about Pandora, though. The atmosphere. I don’t know what it is about the French, but they have absolutely killed the competition in the strategy department with their ambiance. I know, I know, it’s a nebulous and almost fruitlessly subjective thing to convey, but a combination of color, music and the slivers of flavor text accompanying research and development breakthroughs does absolute wonders for a style of game often devoid of a rich audio-visual strata. Maybe I’m just easier to please with science fiction. Maybe I’m making too finer or loftier point of it because, as much as Civilization V is a fine-looking game, I’m one of the few who doesn’t find it a particularly captivating experience. Here, we’re marching squads of custom sniper marines through alien jungles, buffed by guerrilla warfare research combat attributes. Flocks of alien Sciters soaring overhead. The tasteful animations of the units themselves.

 

But one thing especially captures the imagination in Pandora, and I believe it’s one of the game’s most subtle yet impressive additions: the pollution. Unchecked industrial development leads to a scarified and increasingly toxic environment. Negative attributes, including morale, bloom as smog and the byproduct of feeding an ever-increasing maw of colonists and the war effort hangs in the air and seeps from the dirt. While every strategy game of this ilk has the visual joy of expansionism, Pandora’s wink-wink comes in the form of a damaged earth and a damaged sky, which makes the comfortable cliché of our present real-world predicament seem all that more obvious. A pristine world, once fought over, is packaged with a slew of sacrifices. Prepare for a long environmental clean-up after nuclear war, especially.

The only parts where Pandora is somewhat lacking is in the diplomacy field. As it stands, the AI is easy to pacify even at its most warmongering. Ceasefires are too easily accepted, making blitzing on neighbors somewhat of a smash-and-grab with tea and apologies to follow. Early days, and with the promise of more diplomatic elements to come – such as inciting insurrections and a raft of other skulduggerous actions — I hope Proxy Studios makes good on its plans.

 

We must keep in mind that this is still in beta and changes are coming thick and fast, but for the moment, Pandora is doing all the right things.

 

I’m a huge sucker for a sprawling sci-fi strategy romp. We’re coming into an age where there’s a space-based 4x strategy game for all occasions and seasons. The aforementioned Endless Space, the new Stardrive. We’ve got the tantalizing Predestination and M.O.R.E., as well as an enigmatic Imperium Galactica game on the horizon. Pandora is the only one focused on colonizing a single planet and dealing with friend, foe, flora and fauna. Fresh, my friends. Fresh indeed. And, at least until Battle Worlds: Kronos comes along or there’s a resurgence of interest in the Massive Assault franchise, Proxy Studios can enjoy being the only folks on the block touting low-level operational-to-grand sci-fi strategy. Pandora: First Contact is certainly on my list.

 

The article also has a few screenies, so here is a link:

 

http://gamesareevil.com/2013/04/tactues-kind-trouble-paradise/

 

" Excuse the grotesque nature of my giddiness, but we need more planetary-based sci-fi TBS games. " Amen, brother, amen.

 

D

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