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tachidi

4X: in a seeking of the fifth "X"


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During the last years, there were quite enough questions about 4X games, global strategies in TBS genre. A lot of people with nostalgia about such games as [i]moo[/i], [i]stars![/i], [i]ascendancy[/i], [i]space empires[/i], [i]alpha centauri[/i] etc, said that the genre is slowly going into agony and diying, modern games don’t give those feelings, that the founding fathers had.
In additional, we can notice, that this genre gradually becomes more casual. This thing can be quite clear evident even in a such games, as [i]sins of a solar empire[/i], [i]civ5[/i], [i]galciv2[/i] etc, which were released in the near past.
Perhaps, it’s coz that several generations of players have changed already, and therefore, changed their game views and values. In a rush for the graphics, new technologies, bright picture and low threshold of entry, often pay far less attention to the depth of gameplay and the implementation of the genre.

Seeking a way out of this crisis of a genre, in recent years, we can some new ways, which a based on “socialization” of such games and moving them into online sphere. And not only into usual multiplayer, designed for several players, but into full-fledged mmo-projects, including hundreds or thousands of gamers.
For example, in the browser-based games, a few years ago were popular some projects as ferion.com, the-game.ru, weewar, diplomacy and some others. But nowadays, they are quite obsolete in a visual and concept key and need new solutions.

So, in your opinion: is this genre really dead or it’s still alive? What ways or solutions can be used to resolve their problems and have such games at least some chances as mmo-projects? In a browser way?
And here the small poll about gamers preferences in such genre.

Tnx for ur participating. :)

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There are a few 4X games being made (Gratuitous Space Battles for one). Civilization V is the main one of this genera that most people would know of in recent times. But there is definitely a dearth of them at the moment (so not dead, just got a nasty cough [img]http://public.gamedev.net/public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif[/img] ). However, I remember a few years ago people were saying that FPS were on the way out. But that didn't happen. All genera will go through high and low points. I don't think it is the end of the genera by a long shot.

I think the problem is that it has always been a niche genera with not a huge following. Also there hasn't been any real gimmicks in the genera that have grabbed mainstream public attention.

What the 4X genera needs is a game that is easy to new players to grasp (but deep strategy still) that is promoted well and has a few interesting game play twists, hooks or gimmicks that grab public attention.

These gimmicks could be theam, style, game rules or anything. It is a bit of a hit and miss, but if they get it right, it will revitalise the genera.

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Hint: designing a good 4X game is difficult.
The genre is at the high end of videogame complexity thanks to the high expected game length and player commitment and there are intrinsic problems of user interface crowding, micromanagement overload, boring or false decisions, disruptive randomness, and so on.
The limited number of people who could succeed at making a complex 4X game tend to do something more fashionable and popular; for the most part less capable and/or not very motivated people make shorter, smaller and simpler games, or motivated amateurs fail at an overly ambitious 4X project.

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I understand all this complexities. Indeed, TBS genre has rather limited and specific auditory of gamers. And in such situation, we have to choose between the more hardcore players and more casual, when the bias into the one side or another threatens to collapse.

However, now I’m watching quite interesting trends related with online sphere. I’ve noticed, that quite a lot of players like politics and diplomacy, social interaction. I think, it’s exactly those things, focus on which would have extended the possibilities of the TBS genre and would be interesting to both of players categories – not only for hardcore gamers.

How do u think, is there an opportunity for such online projects of this king (i mean even more web-based ) to give some impetus to the development of the genre?

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Turn based strategies were never popular. It was always a niche. As a kid I was the only one playing Civilization, all other kids played various arcade games. Nothing really changed :)

"modern games don’t give those feelings" of course they don't and they won't. We were young back then, these feelings won't come back. This has nothing to do with games.

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[quote]Turn based strategies were never popular. It was always a niche.[/quote]
Of course, it's niche. But the size of audience of this niche can be changed, koz it's also depends from different factors.

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[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1298068633' post='4776107']"modern games don’t give those feelings" of course they don't and they won't. We were young back then, these feelings won't come back. This has nothing to do with games.[/quote]

I disagree with this. I'm no longer a child, (at least not physcially ;) ) , but games with interesting and fun gameplay features bring those feelings back to me on occasion.

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[quote name='forsandifs' timestamp='1298232462' post='4776773']
[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1298068633' post='4776107']"modern games don’t give those feelings" of course they don't and they won't. We were young back then, these feelings won't come back. This has nothing to do with games.[/quote]

I disagree with this. I'm no longer a child, (at least not physcially ;) ) , but games with interesting and fun gameplay features bring those feelings back to me on occasion.
[/quote]On occasion and only if you play excellent games. Before it was always and even if you played half crappy games. That's the difference :)

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[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1298237797' post='4776803']
[quote name='forsandifs' timestamp='1298232462' post='4776773']
[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1298068633' post='4776107']"modern games don’t give those feelings" of course they don't and they won't. We were young back then, these feelings won't come back. This has nothing to do with games.[/quote]

I disagree with this. I'm no longer a child, (at least not physcially ;) ) , but games with interesting and fun gameplay features bring those feelings back to me on occasion.
[/quote]On occasion and only if you play excellent games. Before it was always and even if you played half crappy games. That's the difference :)
[/quote]

Well, yes, only if I play excellent games. And I agree the feeling was much more frequent when I was a child, however I think that is a direct result of the "interesting" caveat I mentioned.

The younger we are and the younger the games market is, the more likely it is that a game will be able to provide us with an interesting/innovative experience that will help to bring that feeling back. Nowadays its harder for games to innovate, for example there was a time when 3D was an amazing innovation, now its commonplace. Further, with age, having played so many games in the accumulation of time, we have another factor making it more difficult for us to find something new and interesting.

Having said that, the conditons required to bring back those feelings remain the same: do something interesting and fun. Its just harder to do that as time goes by, which makes a game that does that deserving of the title of excellent.

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You might consider playing board games instead of computer games. There's a lot of really great "4X-y" board games out there that produce a similar experience, but in a more social environment. (Try "Twilight Imperium III" for the ultimate 4X-like experience in table-top format, but there are plenty of others.)

Aside: If MoO3 taught us anything, it's that complexity does not make a game more fun. I'm all in favor of keeping it simple.

Aside #2: Your poll did not list "strategy" as one of the obvious options. Too many games have to little strategy and that turns me off. If i don't know what i can possibly do to influence my personal victory, i'm bored already.

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