Pandor: First Contact - Just Announced Space 4X from Slitherine and Matrix


I’m almost 100% sure terraforming is just farms, mines etc. No SMAC style world shaping.


Based on this video it appears you are likely right. That’s unfortunate - I admit that it is not really what I expect when I see the word “terraforming.”


This can be a fun game even without terraforming.
Still sad to see it gone, though - if only we had computers as powerful as those in the nineties so it wouldn’t be neccessary in all the modern remakes to cut features from 15 year old games.
Ah well, what can you do?



Agreed. It just makes it more likely that it is Civ 5 with a science fiction wrapper than a true successor to Alpha Centauri.


Honest question: how often did you guys use terraforming? I barely did. The bonuses you got (rainfall, height) were slight compared to the other things you could be doing with your formers. I once tried to raise hills in such a fashion so as to cut off rainfall from my neighbor, but was unable to do so without a declaration of war, making it essentially pointless (I may be misremembering though). By the time that this became the optimal use of my formers the game was too far along for it to really matter. (But I’m open to the fact that I’m missing on some strategies.)

That said, the 3D nature of the map, with artillery bonuses and rainfall patterns and so on was definitely very cool.


I mentioned earlier, I did not really use it too much either. That being said, there were a few games I remember all the more for it being quite important (I recall one in particular where I was desperately trying to keep up with the rising ocean by terraforming the coasts.

My bigger concern (and this is a personal issue for me, it’s not anything the game developers are doing wrong) is that I very rapidly got my hopes up that this could be a remake of Alpha Centauri. The more deviations there are (like not having terraforming), the more I’m concerned that it is instead just a vague Alpha Centauriish theme on a Civ 5 wrapper. (Like that one fantasy game that came out not to long ago whose name I forget, but that was basically “Civ V lite, the fantasy theme”).

There’s nothing wrong with that - it’s not like the developer is doing something wrong or immoral by not recreating Alpha Centauri exactly. As I mentioned, it would just be my personal preference that they do so. :)

I think you nailed it. Even if you didn’t use the actual terraforming much, it was just another piece in the overall gestalt of the game that made it so damn awesome.


I think the coolness factor (I can actually raise and lower the land!) is definitely worth more than I initially gave credit for. That said, while I understand (and share) the desire for a new Alpha Centauri they have to do something different (and better) to make it worthwhile. I mean, SMAC and SMAX are on GoG and hold up pretty well, IMHO. I’m not saying that map height and terraforming should get the axe, but I don’t think snarky replies about computing power really accomplish much, either (sorry rezaf). I know this is the internet and all, but still.

(Was Warlock: Master of the Arcane the game you’re thinking of?)


Yep, Warlock was the one I was thinking of.

I don’t know how well SMAC and SMACX hold up - I haven’t played them in a long time. I would be more than happy to have the same game with: (i) better AI; (ii) slightly less wonky unit development; and (iii) better graphics and resolution (bring it into the modern era).

(I know, it is blasphemy to suggest that graphics matter for a strategy game.)


I can totally get behind the graphics. I love Civ5’s slick presentation, and I also enjoy the silly fighting animations. I’m totally for bringing SMAC to the modern era in that sense. What do you mean by (ii)? The fact that I always seemed to use the same weapons (chaos and shard, I think) and skipped the ones in between? And better AI is of course always welcome. The flip side of that, though, is that making the game simpler is one of the most cost-effective ways of doing so (e.g. removing terraforming, though maybe that’s not the best example).

Honestly I’m not sure on where I stand w.r.t. graphics in strategy games. I’m totally fine with Eador: Genesis and the no-animations-at-all approach (maybe just because that game sucked me in) and I can even stand a round of Master of Magic every once in a while. But I’m not sure I could really go for, say, Warcraft III again. Maybe I just don’t go for that sort of cartoony 3D.


I still play SMACX PBEM. It’s fun :)


I recall two things about the unit builder. First, I recall it being very tedious to manage from a UI perspective, once you got a bunch of builds. Second, I remember that if you used it, you would end up mauling the AI (this runs into my “better AI” comment as well), because the AI was not good at countering anything.


Nothing to be sorry about, and of course I wasn’t thinking I’d accomplish anything with the snarky remark - it was just that.
Sorry to say, but I’m just sometimes bitter about basically ALL modern remakes/reimagenings of classic games ending up short on features compared to their role models that came out what’s closing in on 20 years ago. If guys could make it work in games that ran with 4 megabytes of RAM and shipped on a few floppy discs, why is it impossible today?
I WAS serious when I wrote this game can be fun without terraforming - the Civ-series never REALLY had terraforming beyond some very limited implementation (in Civ2, iirc) and I agree that engaging in terraforming wasn’t part of a winning strategy in most AC games I played. But I still used it very frequently (to do things like get more rainfall for a city surrounded by arid terrain or to lift a lake above ground level so I could build a city there) and thus WILL miss it especially in a game that closely resembles AC otherwise. Sue me.



Fair enough. I was mainly just joshing you for the same sort of complaints you see folks make in any genre. “I shot him in the head! How is he not dead???” But it’s a fair expectation these days that many decision decisions should also have a narrative component.



I’m still in the middle of my first game, but I’m enjoying it so far. For some reason I never got into Alpha Centauri even though I love the Civ series in general. I own it on GOG so I should take it for a spin once I finish up playing and reviewing Pandora. I am glad Pandora didn’t go the 1 unit per hex route. I like the production model - mine for minerals which go into a global pool. Then cities draw upon those resources to fund production. Food is globally shared, which makes sense for a game in this time period. Things are different enough from a Civ type game to make it feel fresh.


Couldn’t disagree more.

The game is up for sale at the Matrix site, so I’m assuming the NDA is no longer in effect.

If you said that this looks like a modern SMAC, you win a cookie. The problem I have with it is that it copies SMAC too slavishly, right down to the names of units, the factions, and just about everything else. Other than the graphics, SMAC does everything better. Everything shows a lack of imagination, imo, from the victory conditions, to the faction descriptions. The only way this game differs, as others mentioned, is a wider variety of flora and fauna. Dialogue is goofy, and the A.I. is questionable. In several games an AI faction would declare war when first encountered for no discernable reason, and then sit on it’s hands.

I don’t want to say this is a bad game, because it’s not, in spite of a couple of bugs that may or may not have been squashed (beta testers received their final build last Sunday, so I don’t know how much has been done to fix the release version). It’s just bland, generic, and, as long as you can still play SMAC on a modern system, unnecessary.


I do like those who try to improve on other games, it’s a worthy cause. If it’s worth the money, that’s another question, but it is hardly unnecessary.


Other than the graphics I don’t see an attempt to improve the original, just to copy it.


So they lifted more than just the UI from Civ5?


tgb123 - Why do you say the AI is questionable? I’m still in my first game so I don’t have much experience yet, but I haven’t seen anything too dumb. At the default difficulty I am getting a run for my money through 100 turns.


Based on the diplomacy issue I raised. Honestly, this game never held my interest long enough for me to get 100 turns in. I’d start a new game and quit out of boredom after half an hour.