Gratuitous Space Battles getting a campaign

What we’ve all been waiting for since playing the demo of Gratuitous Space Battles (or longer if you played Strange Adventures in Infinite Space) is a campaign wrapper– and it’s coming according to the developers blog!  Though it doesn’t look like it’s currently planned, the best thing about it is that GSB could work multiplayer.  Unlike Master of Orion 2 and the like, the campaign wrapper for GSB would be playable as a multiplayer game because you don’t control the battles themselves: only the set up.

The main issue with all turn-based strategy games is that battles (even CIV) take so long that players that are not involved are off playing some other game by the time it gets back to their turn.  Dominions and Ultracorps (and many other games) solved this by having tick based turns, i.e.: you put your orders in and at a set time, all player’s orders are executed and the new turn begins.   Without this, multiplayer turn-based strategy games with battles simply doesn’t work due to time constraints.  The way GSB has been developed, players can execute their turns, submit and after the next turn starts, they can watch each of their battles unfold.  I may be getting ahead of myself here, as a large grain of salty skepticism needs to be applied to any Space 4X game since MOO3’s cascade of space pysse into my open mouth– the GSB campaign could suck a giant turd straight from the ass of Prosthetic Vogon Jeltz.  That said, I’m going to get the full version of GSB to push some cash to the developers who may have our best interest in mind–and you should too.

Distant Worlds! (?)

To begin, let it be known throughout the lands that I’m extremely skeptical of any Space Strategy games these days.*

Matrix Games has recently put out two space strategy games, Distant Worlds by Code Force and Armada 2526.  Distant Worlds is another go at the RTS/4X genre muddle and has most piqued my interest since it’s release in March. Yet, not enough to actually buy it.  It has ship design, a MASSIVE galactic map and pretty sweet graphics for it’s suite of earth animal-influenced  alien races.   Here are a couple videos that may pique your interest as well– and if it’s enough to actually buy it… please let us know.

Moving your fleet around and fighting

Exploration (with a shot of the massive galactic map)

*After Master of Orion 3’s cascade of space piss into my open mouth a few years back, I  lost hope in the genre as, almost by design, the games kept getting worse and worse from the high point of Master of Orion in 1993, Ascendancy in 1995 and Emperor of the Fading Suns in 1996.  Since the heyday, we’ve had the mediocrity of Sword of the Stars, a mess of what are really RTS games that, while OK for RTS games, fail to really hit the mark with the 4X turnbased crowd (Homeworld, Hegemony and Sins of Solar Empire) as well as the excellent but multiplayer-only Ultracorps.

What’s more, the game series that is considered the current king of Turn Based 4x Space strategy games: Galactic Civilization is such an incredible rip-off of Civilization 3/4 that I consider it simply a graphics swap rather than a new game.  The galaxy in Galactic Civilizations, like Civ 4, is just a big flat map with planets (cities) that you move your units on.   Sometimes in Galactic Civilization there are asteroid fields (forests) that slow down your movement.  What’s worse it’s not a ‘globe’ like Civ so managing a big empire, multiple fronts on a big flat map is even more tedious than Civ. That said, please note that it is with a mountainous level of distrust that I even mention any current 4X space games on this blog in light of the simple question: are they better than the original Master of Orion? If not– why would anyone bother? Better graphics? who cares.  Better interface? Really? Is that even possible? Seriously: you can have the best 4X game, plus it’s almost good sequel, for 6$.  Keep that in mind with this and any subsequent posts on this subject.