May 02, 2010

MOO love

I've been spending a lot of time playing Master of Orion. Yesterday I tried MOO2, and gave up after about ten minutes. I remember with MOO2 came out, and I bought it, and it never grabbed me then either.

MOO, though; it's the perfect blend of ease of play and complicated and interesting play. One of the strokes of genius Barcia included in it is the way that you don't get every research item each time you play. Sometimes you can get the ones you're missing by trading with the computer players, or better yet stealing it from them.

I ran into that today. I was playing the Meklars, against the Sakkra and the Psilons, and I got about half way through the game and hadn't gotten a single one of the "reduce pollution" technologies. Most of my planets were well developed and something like 60% of their economic output was in Eco to keep the pollution under control. I ended up restructuring my research to put most of the effort into Construction, as well as cranking up the espionage on the Psilons, and invading a couple of Psilon planets, in hopes of capturing something, anything, to try to get the pollution  under control.

The Psilons had another surprise for me. They were being nasty, and also starting to spread like weeds, and I decided they needed to be "trimmed back" a bit. So I sent a group of my latest, best warships to visit one of their better planets. And to my shock, my ship was hardly able to scratch the planet. I was using a low-level beam of some kind, and they had built up some pretty incredible planetary shields. Fortunately for me their missiles were crap, so the battle was a penny-ante attrition fight. I didn't particularly care to spend fifteen minutes pecking away at him, especially since I wasn't sure I'd be the winner. So I shut down production of that ship model and designed a new one. With heavy phasors, baby, and fusion bombs. That one worked a lot better.

I think the Meklars are my favorite race to play, though the Psilons are probably a close second. Among players of the game there's no consensus as to which race is the best one -- though there's general consensus that the Mrrshan are the worst. Certainly they're the least formidable when the computer plays them.

The Bulrathi bonus in ground combat can be a bit of a shock, or at least it was for me the first time I tried invading a Bulrathi planet, even though I had a technological advantage.

The Psilon research advantage, though, is really scary. The Darlok advantage in espionage is great. But the Meklar advantage in production is IMHO the best, because high production is the virtue from which all other virtues flow. In my most recent game, it didn't take me long to surpass the Psilons technologically, even though they had a lot of planets.

Depending on the situation, the Silicoids can be a real headache as an opponent. It depends on how long it takes before you find them. If it's quite a while (and generally that's what I prefer, myself) you'll discover that they have colonized every planet within reach and probably own a couple which are "rich" and maybe one "ultra rich".

On the other hand, that can be rather nice. Once the Silicoids have colonized a planet, you can conquer and invade even if you don't have the technology to colonize planets of that type. And the Silicoid breeding disadvantage can be a real handicap.

It was hard to play-balance the races and they didn't really do a very good job of it. I gather that in MOO2 they changed that quite a lot. But in MOO the races are enough different to keep them interesting, and not so out of balance as to make the game unreasonable.

As to the Humans? Bah! Waste off time. Who wants to be a human?


Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Gaming at 07:08 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 Stupid question:  is it possible to set up a CPU vs CPU match without a human player?

Posted by: metaphysician at May 02, 2010 08:08 PM (/YIPx)

2 No. There is always a human player. (Only one. The first MOO didn't have network play; that's one of the things they added in MOO2.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 02, 2010 08:15 PM (+rSRq)

3 I've been up until 3am for the past two weeks playing MOO every night. I swear I must have played this back in the 90s -- so many of the dialogues ring deeply buried bells -- but I honestly can't remember. I've been playing 5 opponents on a medium map, average difficulty, which makes for pretty cut-throat sessions. One fascinating series was when I had an accident event which turned my home planet "TOXIC." Then the planet revolted. I couldn't land troops on it to quell the revolt because I didn't have Toxic Colonization researched. Is anything known about the programming team behind this? Did they go on to greater fame and fortune? Because this game is amazing.

Posted by: bkw at May 03, 2010 03:19 PM (34O+x)

4 It's pretty much Steve Barcia, and he was responsible for several awesome games. But... as is often the case, the industry eventually crushed him. It tends to chew people up and spit them out.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 03, 2010 05:21 PM (+rSRq)

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