Fractured Hive: Endless Space AAR

Hello, and welcome to my AAR of a recent Endless Space game. Note that Endless Space is still in beta, so stuff in this AAR may not function the same way in the final game!

The details: I like close, fast games, so I set this up on a small, 2-spiral galaxy with 2 AI opponents on the normal difficulty. No pirates, because pirates are dumb.

I’m playing the Craver faction. Cravers are an insectoid race that were evolved and given technology by an ancient, now extinct, species called the Endless. Cravers have but one need: to consume. When the Cravers settle on a new planet, it provides +25% resources for the first 25 turns, returns to normal for the next 25 turns, and then -25% resources after that as they overconsume the world. Fighting the Cravers can be a demoralizing prospect because, in addition to their innate fighting advantages, conquering a Craver planet gives you worn out, weakened planets. The Cravers must continually take new worlds to keep their production high. In addition, the Cravers cannot be at peace with any other faction, the best possible relationship is a cold war. For the Cravers, you are either waiting to be eaten or are being eaten.

The twist is that all the players in the game are Cravers. That means there can be ONLY OMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM. And eventually the galaxy will be stripped of all nourishment.

Here’s the banquet:

My seat at the table, the star system Lahat:

The system details:

Next: Exploration, infrastructure, and research.

Oh yeah.

Stop it. Right now.

Don’t make me buy this. Please don’t make me buy this…

I like the ui.

The UI is so good! At least, the bits that seem done are. Really great icons design and layout, it’s very fast, very smooth feeling, and there’s very little in the way of unnecessary clicking or moving the mouse around - generally pretty good at holding to a simple left mouse/select rightmouse/back setup and there’s very little hunting for shit or tedious fiddling around. In a good way - it’s like the first of these games that seems like it was designed by someone who used a smartphone/tablet once. Some of it still has a bit of work to go (fleet management, some late game crowding of smaller panels), but overall, really impressive.

I was a little dubious of this at first… basically you can right click on any screen to back out to the previous one, but man does it work great now that I’m used to it.

Alright, let’s take a look again at my starting system, Lahat.

As you can see, the system has three planets, only one of which I can currently colonize, which already has three units of population (the blue head figures). Planets have two traits: environment and size. The environment determines how much of each resource (food, industry, dust, and science, collectively FIDS) the planet produces, while size determines how much total population the planet can hold (which acts as a multiplier on FIDS production). To reflect their hive-like society, the Cravers have the crowded planets trait, which grants them an additional max population for tiny, small and medium planets. Rougher environments, like the barren and desert seen here, require special technologies to colonize.

Endless space helps simplify colony management by keeping most decisions at the system level (see me talk more in-depth about system management here), but you do get to set one “exploitation” for each planet, which continually provides a boost of one of the FIDS. Because I want my population to grow quickly, I choose the exploitation that increases food production. Although there are only 4 exploitations, you can continually improve them through research throughout the game.

Speaking of which, let’s check out the research screen.

As you can see, research extends in four different directions. I call this the research flower, and each petal focuses on a different kind of technology—combat up top, advanced science to the right, colonization and exploration to the bottom, and diplomacy and logistics to the left. Each faction has some unique techs sprinkled throughout the tree, highlighted with an orange icon. Let’s zoom in a bit…

Here you can see three unique technologies in the left petal. These technologies help with food production and increasing the size of your fleets: with their unique technologies researched, the Cravers can field the largest fleets in the game.

I decide that I want faster fleets (to help with early game expansion),and queue up the technology and close the screen. It’s time to start eating the universe.

I start with a scout ship and a colony ship (represented by the small ship token near Lahat). If I had another colonizable planet in my home system, I might use my colony ship on it right now, to start with an early resource boost. But I do not, and so I must use my scout ship to find a new system to devour.

There are three ways to move in Endless Space. When a galaxy is generated, it creates a certain number of constellations, which are groups of stars that are all linked by pre-defined lanes ships can move along. Wormholes connect constellations to each other, and require a fairly early technology to navigate. Eventually, with a mid-game technology, your ships can travel through empty space.

Hoping to find a tasty planet nearby, I send my scout (a pre-built ship design called a “Forager”) to the lower left star…

Next: Colonization, heroes, and psychotropic mushrooms.

I need to win the lotto so I have time to play this game.


Yep, it’s so natural and fast now. The other thing I love is the left-click-drag throwing you can do - no need for edge scrolling or wasd/arrow keys, you just click pretty much anywhere and nudge the mouse and it smoothly bumps over a way in the direction you gestured to. So much stuff that seems aimed directly at reducing the general fatigue of playing - you can be extremely imprecise most of the time, and do very little physically, and pretty much the right thing will happen.

Little things like the way the comms screen displays one leader in focus only with all relationships relative to them, is so much better than the ball-o-twine approach shitfit you see most other games use. Or the (hundreds) of icons they designed, several of which will be for vaguely the same thing, but in a tiny sub-postage stamp manage to very simply convey what class and type of thing it is you’re looking at. Or the way that ‘big’ or ‘tiny’ or whatever class planets are all represented visually with high quality art rather than as all identical or pixels different from each other.

It’s always such a problem in these games - essentially you have something that fundamentally operates like a big db/spreadsheet, and is at some level ideally viewed as one, but the more you represent it as such the more like work it seems. There are just so many really good attempts at making visual systems in this that work as well or better than it would to just run the numbers - definitely feels like this is the first serious crack a proper designer/artist has had at these problems rather than, you know, powergamer minmax buttoncollector senior. It still manages to improve the speed / ease of use of its own spreadsheet view though, with just about anything you could see or do on a planet screen being able to be viewed, added to or modified without changing screens, and all major screens are accessible from each other at any time. Of course the other part is that all of this works fast as shit, even in the deepest level views there’s no lag to load graphics and all the transitions are just fast enough to convey something happening without pointlessly delaying what you’re doing.

Of course then the bits that aren’t quite as smooth as that stick out massively, but I’m confident that if they could get this far they can smooth the rest out.

Fuck me. Now this is how to communicate project status.

LAST ACHIEVEMENT: Medium Pirate Model & Planet Evolutions
NEXT ACHIEVEMENT: Warfare Technology Icons

LAST ACHIEVEMENT: Three Final Faction Designs
NEXT ACHIEVEMENT: Custom Factions Design


NEXT ACHIEVEMENT: Faction, Economy and AI Balancing

NEXT ACHIEVEMENT: Multiplayer Sync and 8 Playable Factions

NEXT ACHIEVEMENT: Faction Intro Sequences

LAST ACHIEVEMENT: 1st Additional Track
NEXT ACHIEVEMENT: Additional Tracks

LAST ACHIEVEMENT: Advanced AI Behavior

Shit, now I want to throw money at them just for being so transparent.

When we last left my fledgling empire, a scout was nearing a nearby system, looking for future munchables. What it found… WAS THIS:

Awesome! I can’t colonize most of these yet, but the asteroids will eventually be great for industry, and the jungle planet is ready to be settled right now. If you look closely, you’ll see that in addition to the size and type, Jeia II has two more elements, “hadopelagic life” and “bluecap mold.” These are an anomaly and a resource, respectively. Anomalies can provide positive or negative effects to planets (in this case it’s good, with a bonus to food and science), while resources enable special equipment for ships and systems, give a bonus for their planet, and if you have 4 or more, provide a special empire-wide bonus. So what is bluecap mold? Let’s take a closer look…

Oh, so it’s a fungal drug that acts as a marketing tool for Au Bon Pain and a replacement for Rogain. Awesome. Bring in the settlers!

With Jeia II settled, it’s time to hire my first hero. Heroes are special characters you can hire to head your colonies or lead your fleets, with dramatic positive bonuses. Heroes dribble into a recruitable pool at set turns (which can be affected by research), and each one is more expensive to hire then the last. Let’s see who’s available to me right now…

Hmmm… Seems familiar. In any case, Galdos AI has the corporate and pilot classes (each hero has two classes), which means she’s good leading offensive fleets or administrating dust and science-generating colonies. Heroes level up and develop new skills as long as you have them, so it’s good to get one early. I go ahead and put Galdos in command of Lahat and continue exploring the galaxy. I know there are two more factions of Cravers out there… and I’m getting hungry.

Next: Ship design, cold war, hot war, and combat.