As you probably saw earlier this month, Non-Fiction Gaming was running this way and that at PAX Australia 2015 to chat with developers and gamers alike.
We were invited to speak with Wargaming.net, specifically Randall King and Max Chuvalov (We interviewed Max last year about World of Warships) about Master of Orion and World of Warships.
Wargaming purchased the rights to the Master of Orion property in 2013 during an Atari bankruptcy auction.
As Master of Orion is in early stages of development we were told that we couldn’t record any parts of the game. However there is a lot on the table in terms of what they could show us. This is a shame because some of the races and the world map looked awesome.
I’ve taken some images from other sites to give you an idea, but be warned this is all Pre-Alpha and could change without notice.
The main thing you’ll be interested to know (if you’re a fan of the original) is that Wargaming is keen to preserve the feel of the original while bringing the series into the current generation.
8 Races to Choose From
Each race has a very unique look and will interact with you in different ways. Randy mentioned they each have a benefit, with Humans being the Diplomats for example, they’re quite good at currying favour and getting smaller NPC planets to assist you.
The Races are: Alkari, Human, Sakkra, Klackon, Darlok, Mrrshan, Psilon, Bulrathi, Meklar, Silicoid.
Fans of the series will remember most of these. The cute cat people ‘Mrrshan’ and the Noble Honour-bound birds of ‘Alkari’ are back with a massive facelift.
Manage Your Galactic Empire
There are 14 different classes for a planet and on these planets you can build homes or mining operations for your citizens. Those familiar to Civilization should find the process somewhat familiar.
Master of Orion will let you select a basic goal for each planet: Production, Research, or Growth. Alternately you can get down into the nitty gritty and micromanage a finely tuned colony. Beginners and newcomers to the series may find it easier to focus on the bigger picture to begin with.
This bigger picture comes in the form of an auto-build function, which can be used to set a priority so you don’t have to keep checking and making choices. You can always check out your empire screen to see information on how many resources are working on research, production, and food; information on morale and striking population; and taxation.
On top of the empire screen, a new planet screen has been added that has in depth information on every planet that you have investigated that has not been colonized. You can mark planets for later colonisation, as well as view the planet on a galaxy map.
Randomly Generated Planets
The planets are randomly generated with the 14 different classes I mentioned before and 3 types of gravity.
One class of planet may have an eco-system ideal for food (growth) while others may contain valuable resources. Expect to see a range of planets including, volcanic, desert, forested, and radiated.
Depending on the class of the planet, when players colonize it for a small video will play generated to match the planet’s features and the race you’re playing as.
Massive Tech Tree To Unlock
The game will feature an extensive tech tree with up to 75 different techs to discover across 4 branches. The four branches are: Government & Diplomacy, Physics & Science, Biology & Population Promotion, Engineering & Military Development.
If there’s a particular tech you’re wanting to aim for you can select it and the game will highlight the research path. This may also let you tell the game which path to keep unlocking once you’ve accrued enough tech points.
Some technologies will require multiple branches to come together.
Smaller NPC Colonies
Similar to the City-States in Civilization V, Master of Orion will have NPC colonies scattered throughout the galaxy for you to find. These colonies aren’t populated by the ‘Main 8 Races’ and instead ask for assistance or assign the player quests.
Getting these NPC colonies on your side could confer bonuses such as access to resources or technology. Just make sure the other ‘Players’ don’t charm them away from you.
Are your people happy? A happy worker is a busy worker.
Morale is influenced by a range of issues affecting your empire, one of the main ones you’ll need to keep an eye on is taxation. Raise taxes too high to fund the war effort and you’ll find that workers will stop creating resources. Push them too hard and you’ll have a planet uprising on your hands.
As a Master of Orion you’ll want to strike a balance, you can boost morale by creating spiritual buildings or entertainment areas for the populace.
Not some kind of galactic fruit (though that would be awesome) a Seed in Master of Orion will dictate the map/setup of the game you’re playing. You can share this string of characters with a friend if you’ve found an awesome one or if you want to start again and try and new strategy.
The new game has a revamped victory system. There are five ways that you can achieve victory:
Conquest: Take control of the galaxy by making sure you’re the last one standing. Win through military force.
Technology: Want to be the smartest of the bunch? A Technology win means you’ve researched every piece of tech available, once you’ve completed each tree, there’s a final piece of tech that wins you the game.
Economic: Once you’ve unlocked the interstellar stock exchange (which I’m calling the ISX) you can work on becoming the leading economic power.
Diplomatic: After meeting all the races, a galactic council is formed, and a leader is periodically voted on.You’d better start campaigning early if you’re looking to get enough people on your side to win those votes.
Excellence: Excellence stands out as a victory mode, as it should. Excellence is an average of your score across the other victory tracks. This option (that can be turned on or off at the game setup) will end the game at a certain turn limit. The player with the highest score wins.
More to Come
The new Master of Orion looks great, which makes it such a shame that Wargaming didn’t want us to show you more. Plus they were pretty busy so our time was limited for the presentation and interviews.
Those left disappointed by Civilisation Beyond Earth should be keeping an eye on this. As we discussed with Randy afterwards, Master of Orion will scratch the itch of, “Just One More Turn” games that see you manage an empire.
If you are interested, you can check out the website for pre-order information, which also has a digital collector’s edition that includes the original trilogy as well as early access for the new title.