I have been monitoring a curious game development – a MoO clone which is “communitized” through a Reddit subreddit. It’s been under development for a year plus, and I’ve read the various Dev Diary posts put out and waited for the guy (a lone wolf developer, apparently a Java expert) and a couple of weeks ago the developer made the Alpha available. The word “Alpha” scared me quite a bit but I went ahead and downloaded it.
THIS IS THE GAME ! This is Master of Orion 1, updated graphically but not design wise, and it works FANTASTIC !
All the best design elements are in here and retained. Research tree is semi randomized, with a few guaranteed selections. Each planet is managed abstractly, via INDustry ie factories, ECOlogical effects, DEFensive shields and missile bases, TECHnology research, and of course ship building. You have six design slots for ships, not unlimited, introducing the conundrum of keeping your existing fleet or scrapping some for a new design. Tech levels and miniaturization are there, so by late game you might be able to squeeze huge old weapons into tiny ships for fun combat possibilities. Each race is good at something and they all make a big difference to one aspect of the game; although, the production and research advantaged races still tend to be best.
Now, suppose the developer gives up and never updates this FANTASTIC project again. You will still have quite a fun game to run through on your PC. No hooks into Steam, other remote servers, or any of that. It really is 1993 all over again in the best sense of the word, along with 2020 in terms of graphics and supported hardware/middleware. The only thing I had a lot of trouble with was setting a shortcut to the game; I couldn’t seem to get one to link to a JAR file stored in a local folder. I eventually settled on having a desktop link, the only one I’ll permit on my machine.
Things I wish I had bothered to read/remember before starting the game :
- Manual Page 35 –
To win in Master of Orion, the High Council must declare you to be High Master of the Galaxy by a 2/3rds majority vote. The High Council is formed once more than half the galaxy has been colonized, and each race has 1 vote for ever 100 units of population it controls. You can win by conquering 2/3rds of the population yourself. However, more diplomatic players can also win by having enough allies to provide the 2/3rds majority vote needed.
- Because of the victory conditions, ie settle 50% of the map, the late game becomes a real slog if you set it up like I usually like to – large maps with few other empires. Do you think it’s impossible to become bored with a game like this ? I did. Then I played War Worlds, and I found myself bored. The same thing can happen here, but this is also curable with development effort. AI optimization is not finished but it’s on the developer’s roadmap.
- There is no “Empire border” in Master of Orion. ROTP will display a range indicator as to where your ships can reach, but this is not meant to be a border. The indicator disappears once you research Thorium Cells (meaning your ships have unlimited range).
- F2 and F3 are the legacy keys to move from one planet to another. Given this, you can play 90% of the game with a keyboard if you want. I’m a keyboard fan, but the mouse support remains strong too.
I am trying to decide if I want to do the old school playthrough thing again with this – write out a series of blog posts on how the game went. Nowadays all the Damn Kids will do video playthroughs, but I seem to be a blogger. For Life.
In any event, head to the /r/rotp subbreddit and get involved. Or just get the current alpha by following this link.