Greetings and Salutations dear reader, we return for part two of our Q&A with Marcin of IdeaLcenter. Since PART 1 was published, I’ve had a chance to “play” again and, I will address some of what I’ve seen in this part of the Q&A. I can’t tell you everything because surprises must always be left for you to discover. Okay, let’s get to it.
Question: Welcome back Marcin, why don’t you tell us a little about the starmap and interstellar travel. Is travel different in M.O.R.E.?
Answer: Take a look at our star map. Have you seen something similar in other space strategy games? You can go to any point in space so long as it is in a ship’s range. You can have fleets between stars, go around enemy fortifications, and have a truly deep space battle. You can fly through nebulae, around pulsars, and visit trinary star systems. Because of this rich universe, we’ve introduced some functionality to help you find your place such as 3D coordinates, space sectors and limiting spheres. Also, while playing M.O.R.E., you have the feeling that you’re travelling through galaxies… that you have freedom instead of watching a map on a table.
Question: I see, that makes sense. Within your travels, do you come upon the usual staples of the space 4X genre? Like pirates, minor factions, space monsters, unique planets and random menaces?
Answer: Yes, of course. When you explore our galaxy, you’ll discover the things you mentioned. I think it’s standard in this kind of game and it will also be implemented with a bigger scope in M.O.R.E. You’ll be able to meet natives, pirates and space monsters, and encounter unique planets, stars, star systems and wormholes. We have also other surprises “out there in space” but, for now, we won’t reveal them.
Question: How about planetary discovery, anything interesting going on here? Any randomness?
Answer: We have four main types of planets: solid, tectonic, liquid and gas. Also all planets have one of four chemical compositions: carbon, iron, silicon and sulfur. This, along with five main types of temperature, gives you a total of 80 planet types. So, while there are huge numbers of planets in the M.O.R.E. galaxy, valuable ones will be rare. We have similar diversity in asteroid belts and stars. For now our galaxy is randomly generated, but in the future we also want to implement a true world/galaxy generator.
Question: How about galactic events?
Answer: There will be lots of galactic events. Some of them concern one race, planet or system. Some will influence all of space. For example, you’ll witness the Pom-Pas revolution (the Pom-Pas are the sentient slave race of the Brutas), a viral attack on the robotic Velmenese, etc. Just imagine what possibilities come with 20 alien races!
Question: Thinking back, I remember you telling me about multi-species planets, how does this work? Do they revolt? Do they impact your relations with other alien factions?
Answer: When you conquer an enemy colony and assimilate its population you’ll have a multi-species planet. Just like in Master of Orion 2. Right now, multi-species alien worlds don’t impact relations with other factions. Our game is already very complex without such additional features. Maybe we will create more interesting civilization processes in a future DLC. Of course, aliens from different races have unique properties. For example the Zientzielari scientists give you more Research Points than the Brutas scientists so it might be useful to keep other races alive. But… yes, they also might revolt.
Question: Let’s move on to NPCs. Are there any governors, heroes, admirals, or other notables?
Answer: We have 5 types of heroes: Warriors lead your star fleets, star ships and ground troops. Managers help administer your colonies. Diplomats help you in your dealings with aliens. Spymasters assist with espionage and sabotage. Finally, Science Geniuses increase the efficiency of your scientists. A new thing we added is the leader market where heroes choose their future employer. They will analyze your reputation, political system and other attributes which may be important to them. And, of course, money. After some turns, the heroes will decide where they want to go and, if you give them the best offer, you’ll be notified that you’ve just hired a new hero.
Question: Let’s talk planetary management. One of the biggest pitfalls of any 4X is micromanagement. How is it handled
Answer: We have a slightly different approach to space colonization than other 4x games. Colonization won’t be so easy and, even if you colonize a planet, it may be so expensive to maintain that it’s better to abandon it. So, you’ll want to have a few quality colonies rather than a large quantity of them. Also you’ll be able to group those colonies and manage them all at once. The final stage of getting rid of micromanagement hell is the creation of Dyson spheres. With this technology your planets and moons in a system will be destroyed, and a single Dyson Sphere object will be created instead.
Question: Oh, that’s interesting, but what about fleet management?
Answer: Much like with colonies, we value quality over quantity. Creating a fleet will cost you command points, so it won’t be possible to spread fleets all over the galaxy. Also, bigger fleets emit more radiation which makes them easier to detect.
Such dilemmas await our players. That’s not all, of course, but I’d like to be a little mysterious in this area. It’s the kind of freedom and reality we wanted to give our players and another feature which is only present in M.O.R.E.
Question: That’s a great lead into war. Why don’t we start with how war is waged? Any surprises in here?
Answer: Hmm… we have something new in every facet of the game – even war. For example, attacking a colony can have 3 phases. The first phase – and this is new – will be long-range bombardment. So imagine that your fleet is located in the outskirts of a system. It can block freighter movements and bombard colonies from far away. Thanks to this, it can destroy colonies while still out of range of the defender’s fire. A defender may have a strong point-defense weapon, so such bombardment won’t always be successful, but if he doesn’t, the defender may be forced to take the fight to the invading fleet, leading to regular deep-space battles. The second phase is a battle in colony orbit. This stage includes planetary weapons or defenses in planetary orbit like starbases, ground cannons, missile bases etc. The third stage is a standard ground invasion.
Question: Interesting, but what about fleet-to-fleet combat? Anything new here?
Answer: You’ll have a full 3D battlefield. M.O.R.E. has 20 races with over 50 ship modules from which you’ll be able to create your ships. This gives you over 1000 potential ship modules. Is that enough new for you? If not, let me add that when you destroy a shield generator the ship will be without shields. We are still creating the main part of this game, but when it is done, you should have a very interesting tactical space battle simulator.
Question: I see, so then what happens with invasions?
Answer: You’ll be able to send ground forces – troops, tanks and mechs – by shuttle or teleporter. You can also bombard planets from close range with 4 main types of bombs (guided, mass destruction, chemical and electronic warfare bombs), take over colonies with telepathic forces or destroy the colonies entirely using very powerful beam weapons. It may sound complicated, but I think Master of Orion fans will find this very familiar. Also this part of game will be heavily expanded in the first DLC.
Question: Why do you feel compelled to have ground combat in your game? So much of what you’re doing isn’t standard, it seems out of place to include this kind of “standard” feature if you’re not going to innovate on it.
Answer: Yes, we have many non-standard solutions in M.O.R.E. but we’ve decided to keep some good solutions, too. One of them is simple and fast ground combat. Maybe it’s not looking too good right now, but we’ve already innovated a little on ground combat.
Question: The level of detail when it comes to invasions is nice, but that sounds like it would get awfully tedious the 20th or 30th time you have to go through it. Does M.O.R.E. have some way to expedite that? Like Death Stars or Space Cannons of some kind?
Answer: Sure. A Drop All option will release every bomb at immediately. A Full Invasion will calculate a full scale invasion at once. Mind Control Planet and Destroy Planet functions are also fast options. So a ground battle shouldn’t take any longer than it did in MoO2.
Question: All of these combat scenarios are fascinating, but how does going to war affect your empire? War can be waged diplomatically and economically, as well. Is there an option for that in M.O.R.E.?
Answer: Starting a war will, of course, have a large impact on your empire. For example attacking your opponent without casus belli may lower your trustworthiness among other empires, which will have a massive impact on diplomatic relations. We have features like neutral zones and embargoes and you can influence other empires – for example you could force them to start wars with each other. Your diplomatic behavior influences how others see your empire, so, as you can see, starting and conducting a war in M.O.R.E. isn’t without risks.
Question: Okay, let’s talk AI now. M.O.R.E. has a lot of complex systems and AI is the weakest component of many 4X games. How do you plan to address that?
Answer: As you previously noticed, it’s not possible to develop a game without working on the AI in some way so we are working on some parts of it. However, our main effort in this area will start after we release the beta version of our game. We will be working on AI until we are satisfied and see that only small changes need to be done. Also we’ve designed our AI in a way that should be easy to upgrade. So we hope that with every new DLC we will also upgrade the game’s AI.
Question: Wow, that’s a little different, but what if your ideas don’t pan out? Do you have a backup plan?
Answer: You can’t have backup plan when you are creating a game. We will create a great, good, average, bad or horrible game. There isn’t any other possibility. So, we are doing what we can to create something which we will want to play ourselves in the future. I feel confident that we will.
Question: Let’s move on to the gameplay. Will there be a campaign or campaigns in the game? How about pre-made scenarios or the ability to craft your own? Modding?
Answer: We will have a campaign, but it will start in the first DLC and continue in subsequent DLC. M.O.R.E. will include a galaxy generator and a ship design section… so that’s quite a bit for a strategy game, right? As for mods, it will be possible to mod some parts of the game. For example, it should be quite easy to mod interfaces or ship designs. Due to our limited budget, we will add those features in DLC.
Question: Great, let’s talk about future plans and DLC. What are they?
Answer: After releasing M.O.R.E., we will start working on the first DLC: Ground Combat. We have ideas for 6 DLC total – from which we want to create at least 3 – but we will see what the future brings. After this, or simultaneously, we want to create another strategy game. But we hope that this time it will go faster, as our team gained a lot of experience creating M.O.R.E.
Question: With many other MoO Clones and 3 huge entries in space strategy gaming (Stellaris, MoO Reboot, and Endless Space 2) coming out over the next 12 months, do you feel it will be tough to get exposure for M.O.R.E.?
Answer: We don’t know how people will react to M.O.R.E., but it’s a game made by a very small team with a tiny budget, trying to create a groundbreaking experience. Our team thinks that we don’t have to be ashamed of it, and M.O.R.E. can safely be compared to a AAA title in every aspect. Right now, maybe some of our ship models need to be upgraded, but we hope that before releasing the final product we will polish them, too. Anyway… even if our game will be for someone more interested in Indie games, we hope that, at least, thanks to great gameplay, those people will appreciate our game.
Question: So, what do you have in store for your Kickstarter supporters? What about your fans/buyers?
Answer: In our store you still can buy M.O.R.E. at a discount price. Later, after the official Alpha release, our discount will end as we hope that no one will have any doubts that we will finish this game. Also we hope that impressions from playing M.O.R.E. will be positive, so people will know that something huge is near release. So, for some time you still have the opportunity to support us and gain interesting rewards, like for example a gold edition, which will include all future M.O.R.E. DLC, or special rewards where you can support us a little more and receive “All-Life” game keys for every game we will ever publish. We hope it will be a great investment, helping us to release this game and reward our backers with periodically received game keys for… let say 100 years. And yes – we don’t want to do anything other than create games in the future.
Question: Alright, how about support? What’s the plan for supporting the game?
Answer: Good strategies live long. That’s why we plan to support this game for years with multiple, smaller patches and one big DLC every year. So, if all the planned DLC is released, it means at least 6 years of support. Also, you won’t see M.O.R.E. 2 for at least 10 years – we are focused on polishing and fixing M.O.R.E.
Question: What part of the game has you most excited?
Answer: I was thinking a while about this question, but… I really can’t answer it. All parts of M.O.R.E. were designed to be awesome, and in our opinion, so far, they are. If we saw one part of our game better than others, it would mean that all other parts can be better. If we can’t point to the one best part it means that, so far, we’ve accomplished our goals.
Question: Have I left anything out you’d like to mention?
Answer: Yes. At first we want to say “thank you” to our backers for their support and patience. And also we want to say that we can not wait until the release of first playable versions of M.O.R.E., which we hope to see by the end of 2015. We hope that M.O.R.E. will fulfill your hopes and ours.
Question: Thank you for that. Here at eXplorminate, we like to ask our interviewees what games they are currently playing.
Answer: I don’t play anything but M.O.R.E. Truly. I was playing many games from the late ‘80s until 2012 but now, unfortunately I don’t have time for playing. If I’m not able to work, I try to spend some time outside or with my family. Sometimes, when I need to relax I watch TV or movies… but games? Very rare.
Then this happened.
Marcin: It may be odd, but since we are talking I would like to ask you a question too. Yes, a question for you. I know that you are a journalist and your job is to tell how things look, so I don’t want you to advertise M.O.R.E. but if you could answer honestly.
Nate: Sure, why not.
Marcin: Did M.O.R.E. seem similar to any other space strategy game you saw or have played before?
Nate: Yes and no. M.O.R.E. is a space 4X, and that means that it shares some common elements with other space 4X games. Having said that, I really like the unique UI as well as some of the planetary management ideas. The UI is immersive and the micromanagement optimization might really help the late game.
Marcin: And one more question, if we keep going on our current level, if our AI is good, do you think we have a chance to create a groundbreaking game? Not another average or even good 4X space strategy, but something… MORE?
Nate: Yes, I do. M.O.R.E. has enough innovation to make the hardiest and saltiest members of the 4X gaming community take notice, but success will depend on 3 things:
1) AI and how it plays the game. Many people like myself hardly play MP games, so we are left with the AI as opponents. Often the AI in 4X games is less than stellar, and that’s putting it mildly. Having a good AI opponent is important, but hard to program. Good luck!
2) Bugs, or more like the lack of bugs, at release. No one wants to buy a game and then wait for it to be patched into working order several months later. I usually don’t pay for the right to be a beta tester.
3) Optimization, because it’s a massive game with a lot of options, and not everyone will have the best computer money can buy. No one wants their gaming rig to slow down to a crawl because of memory leaks and un-optimized code.
I think this is a great place to conclude the Q&A. We have learned many things and got to see some new gameplay footage. Oh, right, I did, but you didn’t. Marcin invited me to a second (end of October) playthrough, and things have changed since early Summer. If you want to see the new additions, hang in there. IdeaLCenter is working on an Alpha release.
I’d like to thank Marcin, IdealCenter and the rest of the eXplorminate staff and our fans. It took a while to get this done, but it’s been worth it.