Use Pandora Engine to make Alpha Centauri 2

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Earthmichael
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Use Pandora Engine to make Alpha Centauri 2

Post by Earthmichael » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:22 pm

What do you need for a sequel for a great game (like Alpha Centauri)?

1. Modern compatibility
a. Latest OS, i.e. Windows 8
b. Latest network standards
c. Latest central processors, i.e. taking advantage of multicore processors for increased speed
d. Latest graphics processors for graphics acceleration

If all you did was modern compatibility, you could re-release a great game and get a good number of new sales. This is the primary mission of Great Old Games, gog.com. They release old games with updates so that they will work on modern platforms. In many cases, all they accomplish is 1a, but it means the game can still run on a modern computer. Many times networking and advanced graphics is not supported, and they still get many sales.

2. Modern graphics

I admit, I am old school. I am 55 years old. I don’t need great graphics to enjoy a game; I am more impressed by great strategy. But even I am still impressed by excellent graphics. And most new players simply will not look at a game unless the graphics meets a minimum modern standard. Ideally, a game will have options to allow graphics to be tiered, so that people with fast graphics cards can get the full visual impact, but people with lesser graphics can turn off some eyecandies, and still get good graphics without the game being too slow.

3. Bugs fixed

Players expect the game to be relatively bug free, especially for an older game where all bugs have been noted with work-arounds and fixes.

4. Enhanced play while still keeping the fundamentals that made the game great

a. Fundamentals are critically important. Those who kept the fundamentals had sequels that were very successful. See Warcraft, Warcraft II, Warcraft III, Starcraft, Starcraft II as good examples of this.
b. Those who changed the fundamentals failed. See Master of Orion II -> Master of Orion III as a classic failure because the fundamentals were too changed. Also, Heroes of Might and Magic III -> Heroes of Might and Magic IV is another good example of failure. It also shows how a franchise can recover, with Heroes of Might and Magic V going back to the fundamentals of Heroes of Might and Magic III, and being extremely successful.
c. Fans will keep you straight on this if you just ask them and trust their input. Look for those who have posted strategy guides and other strategic input, or who are active in forums for the game you are making a sequel. Contact these people and solicit their input for the design stage for the sequel. Don’t just post a general call; look for those who are contributed good advice in the previous game, and/or are still active in playing and posting strategy, and invite them to help with the design of the sequel. They will likely help for free, because they love the game. It will save you a lot of recoding time if you get good design concepts at the beginning. And of course those are the people who want for the alpha and beta test of the sequel as well.


If you follow this advice on a game that was very popular, the sequel is very likely to achieve the same or greater level of popularity. Remember, it is easier to have a successful sequel to a successful game, since you start with a loyal fan base. But if you don’t keep the fundamentals that made the previous game great, you will lose that fan base very quickly. I personally pre-ordered Master of Orion III based on how much I loved Master of Orion II. I resold the game within two weeks of receiving it and wrote a scathing review, because they had discarded the fundamentals, and created a game that was tedious to play.

Develop Alpha Centauri 2 using the Pandora Engine

With all of this said, I would like to encourage the Pandora developers to think about using their technology to develop Alpha Centauri 2. What I am thinking here is start by taking the exact game system of Alpha Centauri with expansions (SMAX), tech tree, society grid, factions, buildings, units, secret projects, etc., and adapting SMAX to the Pandora graphics engine and networking. A few things would need minor rework, such as changes caused by moving from a square to a hexagonal grid. This would have an effect on city radius; for example, city radius would drop from 21 squares to 19 hexagons. I think this is a perfectly acceptable change.

I am not saying to drop Pandora. I think Pandora can serve the needs of those gamers who want a simpler game than SMAX. But I think the effort put into the Pandora technology can be leveraged to provide a second game that is nearly guaranteed to be successful by leveraging the Pandora technology to produce Alpha Centauri 2. The main thing is to resist changing the game any more than is needed to update the OS, graphics, and networking, and to get input from the loyal SMAX players, like myself, to discussing any change that is being considered. If you do that, you will pick up at least 90% of the players who purchased the GOG version of Alpha Centauri, and will likely pick up many new players as well who want the challenge of the best Civilization game of all time!

New players may get started with buy Pandora, and then when they want a greater challenge, they buy Alpha Centauri 2. They are already familiar with the Pandora game engine, and now get the amazingly complex and fun Alpha Centauri ruleset!

Giskler
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Re: Use Pandora Engine to make Alpha Centauri 2

Post by Giskler » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:00 pm

Electronic Arts owns the rights to Alpha Centauri so that's never going to happen. You can't just develop sequels to games you don't own the rights to.

Surgi4ek
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Re: Use Pandora Engine to make Alpha Centauri 2

Post by Surgi4ek » Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:54 pm

2 Earthmichael
Image

2 Giskler
Total Annihilation and then Supreme Commander and then Planet Annihilation

Giskler
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Re: Use Pandora Engine to make Alpha Centauri 2

Post by Giskler » Wed Jun 19, 2013 4:26 pm

There's spiritual successors and there's sequels. Pandora is in essence already a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri.

Sorry, but this is a pipe dream and there's no way they're going to do it.

Earthmichael
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Re: Use Pandora Engine to make Alpha Centauri 2

Post by Earthmichael » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:17 pm

Why wouldn't EA want to do it? It seems like it is all gravy to them. The only income that they can get from Alpha Centauri now is from GOG, which can't be that much.

I would think that EA would jump at the chance to publish Alpha Centauri 2.

Has anyone actually contacted them and asked?

Giskler
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Re: Use Pandora Engine to make Alpha Centauri 2

Post by Giskler » Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:56 am

EA has actually registered Alpha Centauri as a trademark in 2011 so chances are good they have something planned already.

Earthmichael
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Re: Use Pandora Engine to make Alpha Centauri 2

Post by Earthmichael » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:25 pm

Sounds like a really opportune time for a technology negotiation!

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