X4 Foundations

Dom

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#1
Releasing tomorrow (Nov 30th)


So, the X series was fantastic until the abortion that was Rebirth. I'm not touching this until I get confirmation that it isn't shit, but by god I hope they capture the same magic they did with X3/TC/AP.

For the uninitiated: The X series is pretty much the ultimate space sandbox. You can do whatever you want up to and including amassing fleets and building your own empire.

 

Agraza

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#2
Yea, if they don't phone it in I'll be interested.
 

Dom

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#3
Watching a stream of it. Neat thing he did was fly up to another ship and land on a landing pad on the ship, get up out of the captains chair and walk off of the ship and onto the landing bay of the ship he landed on. Looking around, he could see space the same as you would while flying around. The normal space gameplay was still progressing, including the ship he landed on eventually being attacked while he was still docked. All seamless.

Other things to note:

UI scaling and 21:9 support
Said he hadn't encountered any crashes or major bugs
Map system seems vastly improved, and I think you can manage your ships via it which was the major thing that X3 needed
Overall the gameplay looks much more like X3 than Rebirth
 

Denaut

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#4
The X series was just ok until Rebirth, which was a strange sideways step for them. They had somewhat correct ideas but failed to execute so spectacularly that it is hard to comprehend.

Their main problem is that programmers (specifically the CEO) are designing the game and it shows on every level. They like to make lots of little interesting mechanics that are fun to code, but don't have the foggiest grasp on how to actually put together a complete design for such a beast.

Thus they approach the game from the completely wrong angles and scales. What they need to do is design the game as if it were Total War. That is, you construct a campaign layer that is a simplified but interesting and meaningful 4x game alongside a fun and interesting combat/tactical game. Both layers need to be robust on their own, with interesting lower level / tactical decisions to make in the moment and a campaign layer to put it altogether and give consequences and continuity to those decisions.

Instead they create their games via this super mushy simulation style middle-out method that ends up with lots of stuff happening all over the place, but not with purpose or intent. This happens due to lack of goal setting and design direction that is critical to get all those little pieces working in the same direction. This is a classic "we know how to code things but not design them" way to make a game.

This frustrates me to no end because they clearly put tons of work and effort into so many technical things, and most of it is utterly wasted because it doesn't actually go anywhere so no one gives a shit. Rebirth was as bad as it was because it exemplified the faults of this approach. All they need is 1 good systems designer that they actually listen to in order to set things on course and stop them from wasting time and effort on nonsense.
 

Dom

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#5
The charm of the series for me was in how lacking in direction the gameplay was. You got out what you put into it, like any good sandbox. It's definitely not the right games for people that can't tolerate excessive jankiness or superficial mechanics. How you interact and influence that chaos of everything all happening at once is where you find your place in that universe. The frustrating part of the series for me was the lack of good tools to do the obvious things, like simplified outfitting and being able to control your ships on an RTS level.
 

krismunich

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#6
They stated that they "learned their lesson" from Rebirth. I am looking forward to this, it's been a while since a good sandbox SciFi game came out. NMS is too much focused on the planatary exploration for me.
 

Dom

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#7
The landing sequence I mentioned earlier can be seen here

 

Vandyn

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#8
I've always been into the X series (never played rebirth due to the horrible reviews). I put a lot of time into X3. As with any X game though their history with bugs at launch means I would wait until things are mostly patched before jumping in.
 

Sentagur

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#9
Actually very tempted to purchase this, the question is should i go for the collectors edition for the soundtrack and the 2 expansions.
 

Denaut

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#10
The charm of the series for me was in how lacking in direction the gameplay was. You got out what you put into it, like any good sandbox. It's definitely not the right games for people that can't tolerate excessive jankiness or superficial mechanics. How you interact and influence that chaos of everything all happening at once is where you find your place in that universe. The frustrating part of the series for me was the lack of good tools to do the obvious things, like simplified outfitting and being able to control your ships on an RTS level.
There is a difference between multiple or open ended goals and having any decision you make go nowhere. Like I said, because they work on a middle-out approach they have this in the middle layer, which actually shouldn't be a layer at all, but the glue that holds grand strategy and tactics together.

It might help if I give an example. A common mid-level goal in both X3 and XR is to buy a capital ship. They are expensive, so you have to earn a decent bit of money, and the game helpfully provides a bunch of ways to do this. You can trade, run missions, farm for things to sell, turn pirate to cap ships and sell them, and a couple of other things. This is the part that works the best, even if it can get a little grindy and repetitive.

However, the game falls apart when you consider anything else. Ok, I bought a shiny new battleship and now what? I guess I can use it to kill tougher ships? But there is really no ultimate goal that your shiny new cap ship helps you achieve. You could camp a Xenon sector with it... but why? Xenon ships just keep spawning, and you just keep blowing them up to absolutely no end what-so-ever. So what the hell was the point? At best it helps you earn money faster. But all that ends up doing is speeding up the disappointment cycle; Set a mid-tier goal, achieve that goal, feel hollow because it was the end, set another mid-tier goal (build a station), feel even more hollow because building a station doesn't really go anywhere either, realize you are just completely wasting your time.

This is the problem at the high-level but it goes both ways. The low level combat/tactical layer is too simple, shallow, and full of tedious micromanagement to imbue purpose in those mid-tier goals as well. In theory, the mid-tier goal cycle should facilitate building an effective combined arms (in terms of trading or combat) fleet. Think the way you would approach Total War or Homeworld. You should want to build a balanced mix of different types of ships or units to defeat an opposing army or fleet. Just bringing all cap ships, spear men, or fighters is a bad idea because you are too vulnerable to counter-play. It should be interesting to think about the purpose of this fleet. To consider aspects of the composition, type, and power of your adversary and to make all kinds of fleet management decisions (which ships to buy, how to combine them, what kinds of standing order they have, etc).

But that layer of the game works nothing like that. Even in X3, out of hundreds of ships, there are like a half dozen "best for purpose" ships (Universal Trader, Large Hauler, Player Ship, etc) and the rest are a waste of time and money. This is especially true for combat. In both games the extent of fleet combat is to park as many of the best battleship you can afford in a sector (either IS or OoS) and then just leave them. None of the stuff relevant to other tactical combat games even remotely matters, especially not fighters which have always just been garbage at everything on top of being super micro-management heavy. It doesn't even begin to approach the minimum level of design consideration it should.

And that is what I mean when I say the game is clearly designed by programmers. They've worked super hard on that technical middle layer game loop, with all its pointless simulation and purposeless stuff, without considering what kinds of decisions that middle layer should exist to enable. They focus far to heavily on the means without considering the ends.
 
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Argarth

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#11
So, the X series was fantastic until the abortion that was Rebirth. I'm not touching this until I get confirmation that it isn't shit, but by god I hope they capture the same magic they did with X3/TC/AP.
I was going to say "Amen" but I'll probably just buy it anyway, simply because there really is nothing else like it.

The thought of sitting in the dark with the headphones on, and zoning into the X Universe in Ultra-wide, is going to be just too tempting to resist.
 

Dom

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#12
There is a difference between multiple or open ended goals and having any decision you make go nowhere. Like I said, because they work on a middle-out approach they have this in the middle layer, which actually shouldn't be a layer at all, but the glue that holds grand strategy and tactics together.

It might help if I give an example. A common mid-level goal in both X3 and XR is to buy a capital ship. They are expensive, so you have to earn a decent bit of money, and the game helpfully provides a bunch of ways to do this. You can trade, run missions, farm for things to sell, turn pirate to cap ships and sell them, and a couple of other things. This is the part that works the best, even if it can get a little grindy and repetitive.

However, the game falls apart when you consider anything else. Ok, I bought a shiny new battleship and now what? I guess I can use it to kill tougher ships? But there is really no ultimate goal that your shiny new cap ship helps you achieve. You could camp a Xenon sector with it... but why? Xenon ships just keep spawning, and you just keep blowing them up to absolutely no end what-so-ever. So what the hell was the point? At best it helps you earn money faster. But all that ends up doing is speeding up the disappointment cycle; Set a mid-tier goal, achieve that goal, feel hollow because it was the end, set another mid-tier goal (build a station), feel even more hollow because building a station doesn't really go anywhere either, realize you are just completely wasting your time.

This is the problem at the high-level but it goes both ways. The low level combat/tactical layer is too simple, shallow, and full of tedious micromanagement to imbue purpose in those mid-tier goals as well. In theory, the mid-tier goal cycle should facilitate building an effective combined arms (in terms of trading or combat) fleet. Think the way you would approach Total War or Homeworld. You should want to build a balanced mix of different types of ships or units to defeat an opposing army or fleet. Just bringing all cap ships, spear men, or fighters is a bad idea because you are too vulnerable to counter-play. It should be interesting to think about the purpose of this fleet. To consider aspects of the composition, type, and power of your adversary and to make all kinds of fleet management decisions (which ships to buy, how to combine them, what kinds of standing order they have, etc).

But that layer of the game works nothing like that. Even in X3, out of hundreds of ships, there are like a half dozen "best for purpose" ships (Universal Trader, Large Hauler, Player Ship, etc) and the rest are a waste of time and money. This is especially true for combat. In both games the extent of fleet combat is to park as many of the best battleship you can afford in a sector (either IS or OoS) and then just leave them. None of the stuff relevant to other tactical combat games even remotely matters, especially not fighters which have always just been garbage at everything on top of being super micro-management heavy. It doesn't even begin to approach the minimum level of design consideration it should.

And that is what I mean when I say the game is clearly designed by programmers. They've worked super hard on that technical middle layer game loop, with all its pointless simulation and purposeless stuff, without considering what kinds of decisions that middle layer should exist to enable. They focus far to heavily on the means without considering the ends.
Total War games don't really wind up in any better a situation. You conquer one settlement to enable you to build more units to conquer another settlement and so on and the only actual goal you end up with is painting the minimap your colour. The combat is repetitive and most battles just play out the same as the previous ones, using the same units. Anything else is just personal goals such as "fuck those greenskins, they need to die" and so on. Most games that aren't story based or linear are exactly like this. Just a superficial gameplay loops full of shit for you to play with within your own chosen goals, otherwise known as a sandbox. The X series might stand out a bit more in this weakness because it's janky as fuck and doesn't have the artistic layer or polished presentation that bigger budget games have.

I agree that the ships end up being superficial when it comes to their roles. The various types should have strategic values other than whether they're better suited for OOS or IS combat. Hopefully they did something about this alongside the new fleet control systems.

If Egosoft was a larger team, I'd agree that they should focus on more polished systems rather than just a pure sandbox, but they're a really small studio and I'd rather them focus on being really good at one thing, than to spread themselves too thin like they did with Rebirth (even without the obvious retarded console port attempts)
 

Tuco

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#13
I agree completely with Denaut Denaut .

A key strategy in developing sandbox games is to start out with likely player goals and build both the features to support them and to provide some structure, benefit and completion criteria for them.


I wonder what it's like for the X4 team (and ED to a lesser extent) to have a playable game that's getting 1% the interest of the giant pile of unreleased, p2w crap that is Star Citizen.
 

spronk

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#14
cohhcarnage has been streaming all morning on twitch, looks pretty cool and deep and sci-fi
 

Denaut

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#15
Total War games don't really wind up in any better a situation. You conquer one settlement to enable you to build more units to conquer another settlement and so on and the only actual goal you end up with is painting the minimap your colour. The combat is repetitive and most battles just play out the same as the previous ones, using the same units. Anything else is just personal goals such as "fuck those greenskins, they need to die" and so on. Most games that aren't story based or linear are exactly like this. Just a superficial gameplay loops full of shit for you to play with within your own chosen goals, otherwise known as a sandbox. The X series might stand out a bit more in this weakness because it's janky as fuck and doesn't have the artistic layer or polished presentation that bigger budget games have.

I agree that the ships end up being superficial when it comes to their roles. The various types should have strategic values other than whether they're better suited for OOS or IS combat. Hopefully they did something about this alongside the new fleet control systems.

If Egosoft was a larger team, I'd agree that they should focus on more polished systems rather than just a pure sandbox, but they're a really small studio and I'd rather them focus on being really good at one thing, than to spread themselves too thin like they did with Rebirth (even without the obvious retarded console port attempts)
Way to be extremely wrong.

At least "paint the map blue" is a fucking long-term goal, the X games can't even be asked to have that. 4x have similar late-game "you've won but need to keep playing" issues. That is true for TW, but also for MoO2, and pretty much all of the Civilization games. If anything the Warhammer Total Wars suffer from this syndrome the least.

You are also wrong about the character of Total War battles, at least on the higher difficulty levels that force you to engage with the systems more. Older TW games were much more limited from being pinned to history and realism but Warhammer has really shown how good the concept is when the tactical design space is opened up via the fantasy theme.

Your army composition changes drastically depending on your tech level, the enemy's tech level, and especially which faction your enemy is. All of these considerations are quite important when putting together an army composition. Your lord and tech path can drastically affect the army composition, making some units, strategies, and compositions more efficient or useful. There are also siege battles, which are probably the weakest part of WH but they do require you to at least make some considerations as to which army and how many stacks you bring. All of these elements evolve over the course of a campaign.

TW also has stakes where X doesn't. You don't kill the Greenskins because you want to, you kill them because you have to. They either are an obstacle you have to overcome in pursuit of some larger goal or represent a clear and present danger to your campaign's very existence.

Almost all games have game loops, but what makes the good ones compelling and the X ones not is that the good ones aren't superficial. They contain meaningful decisions that require you to consider options and project out the consequences to your failure or success of some higher purpose.

X fails because it lacks all of that. The core elements of the entire game (ships, combat, economy) are all superficial so it doesn't matter what you pick, but you err when you project the superficiality of those decisions onto other games where they are meaningful. Faction, building, and army composition choice in TW games is not superficial.

And their studio size is not an excuse at all, bad design knows no team size. If anything, doing actual design work on the game it would improve efficiency. Lord knows they might stop wasting time on retarded shit like coding, debugging, and fixing individual mining drone AI.

Egosoft suffers from what I like to call "One Req Problems". That is, they suffer from problems that could all be fixed by hiring one good systems designer that knew what they were doing and letting them do their job. Bethesda games are notoriously full of one req problems. Egosoft's main issues aren't the lack of manpower, but the lack of design competence.
 

Kiroy

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#16
pilot just one ship in this one?
 

Denaut

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#18
*sigh*

Been watching some streams and am currently watching ObsidianAnt play. They have clearly learned absolutely nothing in terms of game design and all the problems I outlined above are still there.

He is currently doing the "Dogfight" combat loop where you just turn in the same direction and lean on the fire button for like 4 minutes until bullet sponge dies, then repeat on the next bullet sponge until finished. Mega-fucking yawn. It reminded me that I didn't even cover how terribly done what I would consider the 3rd gameplay layer is (direct combat).

I mean, the game isn't a completely broken barely functional mess like last time, and the new map looks neat. The fact that these streams are getting so much praise because the game will actually work at launch seems a bit extreme.

Pretty sure this is going to be a super hard pass for me.
 

Utnayan

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#19
What's the difference between this and Elite Dangerous?
 

Denaut

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I haven't played much ED, because it bored me to absolute tears right away, but I think the main difference is the single player 4x-like aspects of the game. They are woefully underdeveloped for the reasons I already talked about but in theory you can buy ships and put together fleets that can operate on their own. Or purchase stations that build wares for the economy loop and generate cash for yourself. Stuff like that.