The bone-dry sci-fi of Stellaris, a game that doesn't even work


#264

This is well thought out, thanks for the reply.

The things that I remember about Moo2 were the unique aliens and the space battles. So I guess I fall into the space-battle enjoyment side of things over the empire micromanaging side of things. So I kind of like how Stellaris offloads some of that via the sector system (granted, it’s not perfect) but then the space battles are almost meaningless. Yes, a certain build can help but it’s ultimately about numbers - numbers always win no matter how rubbish the ships are in my experience (two full campaigns and many aborted ones).

But I remember in Moo2 my smaller fleet would consistently out fight enemy hordes. On the harder difficulties, it was the only way to survive let alone win. I find that fun (and moo2 had a lot of personality - for example getting to Orion first was a big deal, you felt the loss of a hero, and I would find ways to guarantee their safety. In stellaris I never put a “lifeboat” option on my fleets. If Admiral X dies, Admiral Y will be fine).


#265

Huh, what makes you say that? There’s been 9 major updates, two minor expansions, one very large expansion with a second on the way (I’m not including the cosmetic stuff like the Plantoids and Humanoid packs). That seems like quite a bit to me for a game that released a year and a half ago.


#266

To be honest, that remark of mine was a feeling and a guess. Who knows what are the internal priorities of Paradox. There are rumours of a major “secret” project underway, the one Jon Shafer bounced off quite hard. So I am happy to admit that I may be completely wrong in that respect.

I do visit very regularly Stellaris forums - like at least once a day - and, oh boy, if you read those forums too much you end up definitely not wanting to play the game. Here the negative feedback dominates, or at least in this thread, and certainly Tom deeply disliked Stellaris. But what is written here and pointed out is quite articulate.


#267

See my response to @LeeAbe, @KevinC.

My “guess” wasn’t so much motivated by the total accumulated number of DLC and patches. The cosmetic updates may have been for some time in the pipeline. And a great deal of the content of the patch notes involves mostly scripting. There’s little, and that’s an impression got by looking from the gallery, work done on the “fundamentals”.

It takes them way longer time to roll improvements to the UI, graphics or the AI (most notably, the sector AI which). Stellaris UI is in some parts screaming for a major overhaul, for instance (the Traditions screen and that massive drop down menu to access like 50% of the game screens are a bit kludgy).

Of course, perhaps the above could also apply to HoI or EU.


#268

I was just curious because I had the opposite impression! Stellaris seems to get the lion’s share of the spotlight and marketing muscle and it seems to sell quite well (nearly double HOI4, which released around the same time).

I obviously have nothing concrete to go off of either, just my own guess. :)


#269

Yes, a certain build can help but it’s ultimately about numbers - numbers always win no matter how rubbish the ships are in my experience (two full campaigns and many aborted ones).

I think that Stellaris just brought home to the space genre a well established historical fact which is best summarised by Horatio Nelson’s dictum: “Only numbers annihilate”. The only mechanism that has historically kept in check mass is deception and friction. Not surprisingly, both of the latter concepts loom large in present day thinking on strategy and tactics.

Deception, in the sense of misleading an opponent with superior numbers or firepower to deploy these assets in an ineffective manner, is not really possible in Stellaris against the AI. The AI knows where your fleets are all the time. There’s no real way to force an opponent to become overextended because redeploying fleets is very simple. Surprise in Stellaris is most often achieved by means of the assymetric FTL system: something which has been deprecated.

Friction doesn’t exist at all. Every ship gets right what is supposed to do every time. No ship component turns ever to be faulty. There’s no misjumps or any other hazards affecting the strength of your fleets. It does not seem to ever be anything like a “critical hit” in the combat system.

I think the redesign slated for Stellaris 2.0 will try to address some of these shortcomings in a staged manner.

But I remember in Moo2 my smaller fleet would consistently out fight enemy hordes. On the harder difficulties, it was the only way to survive let alone win. I find that fun (and moo2 had a lot of personality - for example getting to Orion first was a big deal, you felt the loss of a hero, and I would find ways to guarantee their safety. In stellaris I never put a “lifeboat” option on my fleets. If Admiral X dies, Admiral Y will be fine).

That was you, looking for the synergies between ship components that the AI hadn’t been told existed :-) That’s a puzzle aspect in ship design and fleet composition which I also find very rewarding, and that I don’t feel like I get to experience very directly in Stellaris.


#270

Well, we put the spotlight on Stellaris probably because we like it more than HOI4 :)

If we measure performance of games in terms of sales, @KevinC, certainly Stellaris has done much better than HOI4. If we measure it as in critical acclaim, I think that HOI4 did better. And last, if we measure it in terms of “disappointment of expectations” I think Stellaris set the expectations very high.

My expectations of HOI4 were very low: I was bracing myself for a hot mess of an unplayable overwhelming yet bland war game and that’s exactly what I got by my reckoning :-)


#271

I don’t disagree! Just to be clear, I was only speaking at to why I believe Paradox isn’t short-changing Stellaris in regards to dev resources. My impression is that they market it a little harder than their other games and their sales figures look pretty good compared to HOI4 which also is humming along in terms of development.


#272

On a second thought, the “signs” I was taking as “under resourcing” could just be me not accepting that the challenges posed by Stellaris are actually very hard. So progress needs to be slow.


#273

Yeah, and a space 4X just isn’t something that have previous experience with. At least when EU4 and HOI4, they have the average of having done three previous games in each series. There’s a lot of institutional knowledge there that I don’t think they had when it came to Stellaris.

The FTL travel that they are revamping right now is a great example. SOTS did different FTL mechanics per race to terrific effect so I’m sure the idea sounded great, but it just wasn’t very good in practice (at least with how the rest of Stellaris is set up). That’s something that they just don’t have to deal with in their historical games since they’ve already hashed that all out long ago.


#274

Martin A. openly recognised that borrowing that from SOTS without at the same time, design the races around their mode of propulsion, and then balance the whole thing, was a bad idea.

I think it was brave to come forward like that.

Commenting on the changes themselves I’d say that equalising things for every race seems to me as a bad idea. On Stellaris 2.0 namesake novels the sentient races reacted in very different ways to FTL travel, that was used to great effect as a plot device. I would like to see some sort of “soft” assymetry like that being introduced, to give more diversity to procedurally generated races. Perhaps via racial traits?

Also, the effect the changes on the FTL mechanics on warfare is something I await with interest. Not so much because I think the chosen path will fix the issues (perceived and real) with the current system, but as I think it is quite an experiment in game design… Martin has exposed to us a lot of detail which usually one wouldn’t have access unless being able to walk into Paradox offices and sit through one of their development meetings.


#275

Dude, Stellaris is incredible. The updates they’ve implemented have fleshed it out, and it’s just incredible. The author doesn’t even have the respect for the developers to give their new features a try, or revise their review. What a turd.


#276

Cheese_McScringle has thrown down the gauntlet! Your move, @tomchick!


#277

If that is his real name.


#278

I’d wager cold hard cash that it’s Carlos Danger’s sockpuppet.


#279

Also, even though the review was not updated, Tom did stream the game again after a big update, IIRC, and came to the conclusion that he still found it incredibly boring.


#280

“Please re-review this! We just put out a patch that does ABC!” was always my least favorite pitch. That one batted a solid .000.


#281

They should issue a patch which renames it Stellaris: NEXT


#282

It’s Stellaris, Jim, but not as we know it.

Seriously though, wow! If they pull this off what an accomplishment.


#283

I would complain about taking resources away from the PC version, but they are also doing a huge amount of work there. I guess it shows a lot of confidence in the long-term vision of the game, even as they are in the middle of open-heart surgery.