The Last Federation - New From Arcen (Chris Park)

Also, this guy has done a bunch of good space-faring LPs before (like for Distant Worlds) and has two posted on TLF.

The ideas in this thing are amazing. Way too early in my fiddling with it to tell how well they pay off in gameplay.

I’m enjoying it thus far. There are a lot of nice touches, from being able to set the combat and strategic map difficulties independently, to the various types of diplomacy you’ll have to involve yourself in, to simply being able to dim all the ordnance on screen in a battle, because that stuff gets really busy.

Right now I’m engaged in a hot space-threeway (of diplomacy), to try to keep the species that hates me bottled up. The easiest decision to make was to put the Robot species into space, as their planet is a utopia, meaning they don’t want to steal anyone else’s stuff. However, that also means you have to come up with a really compelling reason for them to help you do anything that might involve knocking over some tables. So for that I put the beasts in space. They’re largely isolationists, but would fight their own shadows and that could come in handy. Finally I put the Bugs into space, simply because they were the remaining race in that side of the galaxy and I didn’t want an obvious weak link to be picked on.

The leading party in robot parliament is the Criminal Party, (finally! honest politicians…), who are mostly interested in fighting piracy. Behind them are the trade party and I’d really like those guys to win the next election, to smooth the part where I asked them to share tech with a bunch of space wasps. The spacebugs are interesting to deal with, because their leadership is their Queen and she’s not open to conventional bribes, because what do you get the giant space bug who has everything? Then the warlike civ have a “Primary” who you can bribe or work with to gain “leverage.” You do have to be careful over-committing to one leader though, because they can be challenged to a duel at any time by anyone one rung down the ladder. This also means if you don’t like the current leader you can build leverage with one of the “Secondaries” and then challenge the leader to a duel yourself to manoeuvre your guy into the big chair. Just don’t lose that duel on ironman mode.

The combat side of the game is decent, with decisions to be made about what to fire, where to fire it and how to aim it. The way I have my flagship set up right now is with an enormous shotgun that I usually fire on auto-targeting to clear up fighters, missiles and lines of defence satellites, a conventional blaster to damage shields and a high power single shot weapon to hit ships when I’ve taken down their shields. In the extended capability side I have a massive shield buff as an “oh shit” button, a swarm of crappy fighters I can launch, mostly as cannon fodder, and then my favourite - a computer virus I can broadcast that gives me control over nearby small and medium enemy craft.

The combat screen gets really cluttered with rockets, missiles and energy weapons flashing about, mixed in with tiny fighters and cutters, making it hard to pick out the smaller targets. It also has a problem for me in that even with allies on board you never feel like you’re controlling anything but your own boat. Even when one of your race’s ancient pieces of tech is on the map, all you do is park nearby until it activates and then it’s not under your control any more.

On the plus side, managing the energy on your ship is easy and makes sense, calling to mind the older Star Trek games as you balance your weapons, engines and shields to get just the right combination of survivability, maneuverability and punch for the situation. The game also manages it quite well itself - for example, if you’re not shooting in a turn then the AI will balance your weapon energy across shields and engines for that turn so that you’re not constantly fiddling with it. I’m looking forward to seeing how the fighting develops as the galaxy matures and new tech becomes available, allowing for more customisation of your ship.

I’m also looking forward to the possibilities of getting into a fight with two races who dislike you, but hate each other more, to see if they ignore me and fight each other.

Another thing I like - and one of the things that drew my eye before release - is the ledger of events. I was drawn by the possibility to read back through the game’s history at any point, figuring it would really help AARs, and it’s better than I expected or hoped. Not only is it a list of events in chronological order, but you can click on any event for details. If it’s a triggered story event, then you’ll be able to read through the text again, while fights will pop out a box showing you not only who was involved, but how many ships you killed, how many were killed by your allies and even how often you used your ships special abilities.

I’ve learned to tamp down the hope with arcen games, as I always really like their idea, but feel their execution is lacking. I’m genuinely pleased with this one so far though.

I like it too, although I’m not as far along as you. I really wish you could purchase or trade for techs - perhaps that could be patched in at some point. According to the official forums, research and thievery are the only ways to acquire them. I also read there are about 400 different actions that could become available in the course of a game. Yikes.

You had to manually elevate the robots to spacefaring? Huh. It must pick which race you start with randomly, because for me they were the guys I stole my ship from. Vaporizing a couple of their flagships on the way out did not exactly endear me to them, so between that and having passed out their space tech to the biggest threats in the galaxy I’m at -252 with them and have this feeling I’m gonna need to arrange their extermination and/or enslavement. A peaceful Federation of every current species in the galaxy still counts if you genocide a few species along the way, right?

I popped back into the thread today looking for detailed impressions, so Mr. Bismarck your post was much appreciated. I went from never having heard of this game two days ago to a purchase thanks in part to this description.

A quickie patch has been posted, and more on its way, according to Chris Park on TLF forum:

Version 1.001 is a small release that fixes a few bugs that slipped past all 165ish of us who were testing (hey, it’s a huge game) and which adds support for screen resolutions larger than 1920x1080.

Starting next week we’re going to be releasing at least one new free feature every week for at least a few months, if not longer. A quest, a new weapon or ability, a new ship, a new action… something. We’ll vary it up, and make it fun. I’m really excited about expanding the game even further, as large as it already is.

Park, who has always been quite open about gross sales of his games, talks about TLF sales on day one:

Looking at the numbers, after less than 1 day we are about 10% of the way to breaking even on the creation of the game, which I’m pleased with. By this time tomorrow, TLF will likely have outsold the entirety of all Bionic Dues sales to date. That game just never really got discovered as it seemed to deserve to, but I’m really glad TLF is connecting with folks so well.

Knock on wood, hopefully this continues; it’s been a rough year. Or years, depending on how you look at it. And I could definitely use a reprieve from some of the finance-related stress.

This game is chaos and I am really loving it. I kinda have no idea what I’m doing, but there’s so much to do.

Brian I also this morning listened to the podcast you had last year with Chris talking about the game, which was then it alpha. It was a good show and worth a listen if anyone is curious about the game. Although obviously the combat has changed since then, as he said at the time that it was real time.

Real time combat would have made this a non-starter for me, as I never liked the combat in A.I. Wars. And malkav11, in the custom game setup screen you can choose which race you escape from and starts off pissed. It also changes the starting weaponry on your ship. Or, if you like, you can randomize it.

Ohhh, thanks for listening! :)

Also, my first video of the game, of which there will be more because this game is deceptively massive -

I didn’t even know you had a youtube channel. :p

Hah, been putting videos on my site for well over a year now, which means YOU’VE NOT VISITED MY SITE IN AT LEAST THAT LONG YOU SON OF A BITCH. ;)

Don’t make me try and cheer you up with a certain special pastry picture…

Oh don’t you fucking dare…

My favorited link to SGJ is direct to the forums! :p

Ok so I watched the youtube video, and I think that the picture of a dog at a computer with the saying I don’t know what I am doing, would be fitting at this time.

It sure looks prettier than their last game.

It’s quite chaotic, but there’s something really…amazing going on here.

I just noticed the game is 25% off right now on Steam, until the 25th.

Its tempting me! I saw that it was mentioned there are seperate difficulty levels for the grand strategy section and the space combat section, I like that.

Yup, which is smart because the combat can be awesomely brutal.

Go buy it. I can’t stop playing the damn thing, even as I try to figure out how to make enough money to buy this damn senate into my federation FFFFFF

Btw, if you buy the game from the Humble widget at the Arcen games website the developers get a bigger cut, and you get a steam key anyway.

Its at the bottom of this page (not the Steam widget near the top).