To any fan of the strategy genre, and maybe more so to the fan of the space strategy genre, Stellaris can not be an unknown name.
Made by Paragon, known for medieval and 20th century Grand Strategy titles, they decided to wet their toes in space and compete with the Juggernaut called Master of Orion. When you tell the words “Master of Orion” to a space strategy fan, you can see their eyes widen, their opinion of you improving, and memories or endless nights conquering civilizations flooding their hippocampus!
(I know the hippocampus is only the catalyst for long term memory… but I got you to wake up!)
Well the launch was not stellar (I DID NOT MEAN TO DO THIS! I SWEAR!). A lot of missed features, some problems with AI, or with the interface, and A LOT of comments on forums about Paradox being like this with all their games and slowly getting them patched up and beautiful! (now where did I hear that before???? Oh right… Egosoft fan boys).
But this is unfair of me! I do not know Paradox, but if the past month is ANY indication of how Paradox behaves, then fuck Egosoft! Paradox are putting their money where their mouth is! (weird expression… why and who would ever put money in their mouth? First of all money are amongst the dirtiest object ever, and secondly GROSS!)
Patch 1.1, codename Clarke (what a fantastic Idea, naming all your major patches after science fiction authors! – am I gushing too much??) brought many things and I was pleasantly surprised. This was an “OK, this is good, good solid effort, meaningful patch! Well done, chaps!”
Then came a move I would never have imagined! Merni, a Paradox employee and AI programmer, asked on Twitter for people to make a forum post about something they want to see fixed and to link it to her. You can possibly imagine what happened then! AVALANCHE!
So she does something I consider just unbelievable (DAMN IT! I am gushing… shit!). She openes up a Google Doc and simply tells people to go and start writing!
And they did… The longest the doc ever got was 24 pages, then it was cleaned up by the community to 17 pages, and finally by Merni to 11 to only contain the most pertinent and non-duplicate-like-thing…
At this point, I cannot help BUT feel like this is brilliant. Amazingly inspired use of crowd sourcing, and amazing GUTS to allow ANYONE to say WHATEVER they want (and who amongst you would EVER have the guts to let the INTERNET tell you how it REALLY feels???) and then also have the mental fortitude to make something useful out of that!
Yeah I’m in love. I tip my hat, I bow in respect, I applaud in appreciation and all my credibility as any kind of fair and unbiased news providing resource has disappeared! Believe it or not, this is not an endorsed piece… who the fuck knows I exist to go to the trouble of paying me in the first place!
So I go in and start playing, hard! I try to do a YouTube playthrough playing with two different races at the same time, one in pre-recorded 30min episodes, and another in live streaming of about 2 hours each.
And I hit a major major snag! Some background here is needed!
Traditional space strategy games like Master of Orion (I completely and utterly refuse to ever use the acronym for Master of Orion some life-forms have been using!!! It’s disrespectful!!) have started you off with one planet, and then you expand with colony ships, and then with colony ships and combat and finally only with combat until you will by having most of the map under your control. By that time however, you have … maybe… 200 planet under your control. And I mean literally under YOUR control. You have to manage and micromanage every building and every building-queue on every single planet you own! End-game sessions have been… a test of perseverance equal to the 1000 origami crane legend!
Stellaris dared to think differently, and as I have no experience with other grand strategy games of theirs, I have no idea if that is something that exists in their other games or not. Regardless, it is a good solution!
You are the emperor/president/Junta general. You are not a control freak that wants to micromanage every little detail, because guys like that end up burning out or never escape middle management!So you employ Governors in separate Sectors that consist of multiple planets and systems. Like Obama is the President and sets general direction, but Texas and California have their own governors with many cities in their state. In fact, when you think of it like that, it is remarkable how little we have seen this in space games!!!!! The inspiration was literally already present!
Sectors are not working well right now. They just have issues. And they are bad. In fact they are so bad, that I quit in frustration! It is recorded for all to see again and again, in my last live streaming! (Yes, that is a link to my own video… it’s mine, so why should I feel ashamed – and why do I feel a slight shame???) The video ends with me declaring that I quit!
Not much gushing going on there. I suppose because of the promise of the game, becaus of the scope, of the good indication of the Clarke patch, and that amazing Merni social experiment, I loved the game! And when you love something, and you find it fighting you and hindering you in this one way of play, you are disappointed. But you are disappointed by something that you love, and that hurts.
Thinking calmly about if of course there is a solution and I indeed found it, just don’t fucking play with slaves at this stage of the game moron! But I did have to take five days off to cool down.
And then… this happened!
Patch 1.2, codenamed Asimov, has been released today! I’m excited again! No, the Sector AI is still not completely fixed, not in how I want it to be fixed. But playing with a non-slave race now will be even more fun! Major defects were addressed, changes made, features introduced, traits redesigned, policies added behaviours changed… IT’S FULL OF STARS!
Anyone not familiar with the game will be lost at what they are reading in these patch notes, but even if you are not familiar, simply try to imagine this: reading the list of items introduced/fixed in this patch is so long and so unknown because the game is so big, so diverse and so complex (but not complicated! there is a clear distinction between complex and complicated and complex does not have to be complicated!)
If you know the game, I can do no better job than AsaTJ, the proclaimed “Secretary of Patch Notes”, in this here reddit thread, to analyse and explain in an amazing way what it means! So I will not even try (well ok… I will try, but that will be in video form and it will be in my YouTube Channel so go watch me there… when I have it ready!)
So I will start a new game, use no slaves and see if I can lose myself in a galaxy far far away…