Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Polaris Sector is a sci-fi 4X game that offers exciting exploration, detailed resource management, unique research mechanics and intense tactical combat.
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Daniele
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Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by Daniele » Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:37 pm

For someone 4x games aren't in a good shape:
“Fundamentally, 4X games are stagnating because they are ultimately games about progress that nevertheless have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject. Their version of progress is almost universally boring.”
(From: Rock, Paper, Shotgun)

Here at Slitherine we are pretty sure that 4X games still have a lot to say. We also believe that Polaris Sector can bring a breath of fresh air to the genre.

What's your view about it?
Discuss here and let us know your thoughts!

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by ErissN6 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:17 pm

It looks promising, far more than next MoO...
What I like it crafting my own race, before throwing it in the universe.
The player seems being able to design his race.
And even more the AI races seem not already defined! If I correctly understood, the game creates them each game using a generator program of the game!
Yeah, it seems it could become what next MoO was deserving to be..

I'm waiting for the game being freed from Steam.

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by anguille » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:36 am

First, i think it's important to say that the 4x games are very much alive and i wouldn't say they are in a bad shape at all....we just have to see the amount of games that are being released this year, which is great thing. The good thing is that space 4x are many, the bad thing is that historical 4x are few (only Oriental Empires this year to fight agains CIV games and Legion 2 is still just a dream). Maybe the real problem is that we have too many of them?

It's an interesting question and i think it's important that sometimes an article like this brings in the reflection. First i'd like to say that my interest is focused on the 3 first Xs, the last isn't my thing (extermination) in this specific type of games, thus i always want other type of victories, diplomatic being my favorite one and this is where the game below shines imho.

I started my 4x experience with MOO. Like the writer, i've spent hours/weeks/months on the game. First it has imho a perfect design (simple and efficient) and the second very important part, everything was new. When playing, i didn't know what to expect, what the races would say, what Orion was, how the game would end. As i said before, the diplomatic aspects are hugely important to me and i think that the first MOO has the best model of all...it always seems realistic to me...in the new MOO for example and many CIV games, the demands from the AI are just ridiculous. I've never had has much diplomatic negotiations as in the first MOO. One aspect that could be improved is the inner life of ones society (politics, idiology, religion). Some games have a little of it but many have nothing...this could be something interesting to work on....the fact that you get the feeling that you have citizens who have opionions and feelings...a living society.

The new MOO does not seem to bring anything new to the genre. I have it and it's nice, but there's no surprises at all for now...i know everything already. Horizon brought in different quests and two of them lead you to the end game....this was excellent because you need to explore the galaxy and the planets to continue this small stories...this was new to me and is the reason why i've played the game so much. A new 4x game has to bring real surprises, something new (be it a story, unexpected events, new untouched scenario). If it's just brand new graphics and so forth, i may just play the games i already have. Some games really bring in new things like Endless Legends and others....so there is innovation.

I will get Polaris Sector but i am not sure yet what is really new here...something that really makes me want to continue playing. I hope to be surprised.

Right now, the most promising games for this year are Oriental Empires, Endless Space 2 and Stellaris, imho. New subject, random events, random races...evolving nations.

Short Movies can make a good difference in increasing the immersion of the player during the game (MOO, Imperium Galactica I & II, Horizon)

I agree with this citation:
Each new 4X needs to find a story to tell about conquest, survival, exploration, discovery, or all of the above
PS: what i do think however is that the Android Market does not have enough 4x to play with at the moment (Legion, Imperium Galactica II, Birth of the Empires are among the few exceptions).

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by Bromstarzan » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:16 am

I just started playing 4X games, currently enjoying FreeOrion, but also looking forward to Polaris Sector!
So no, 4X is on the rise in my homeworld! :mrgreen:

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by Firefox440 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:24 am

Is the 4x genre stagnating?
Not really. All years are two or three new titles. The unique problem can be some titles published very unfinished and titles which they can not be modded. When a 4x game can not be modded, it is forgotten by the players in less of a year.

About Polaris Sector. I would compare it with a mix from the old SW Rebellion and Imperium Galactica. In fact the unique difference with Imperium Galactica can be the ground combat. But by this reason Imperium Galactica games were very great, however, they could not be modded and people forgot them fast.

About compare Polaris Sector with other incoming new games. Well, Polaris Sector is easy, simple, there are not long screens with too information which nobody understand. The research part is long, you can customized your space units, conquer new planets, colonize many others from different type. Remembering the words from a beta tester few days ago, " I think I can play Polaris Sector for many hours and several times.", this is Polaris Sector. A game with a very good gameplay where you can play for hours without be tired easily.

For end, Polaris Sector can be modded moslty at 90%. The unique part which you will not be able edit, it is probably the exe. All the others parts can be edited and it is more than most of the games which I know. In the same point, with Photoshop and notepad, you can edit all. Create your own empire in a different universe is not difficult. :D

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by BattlevonWar » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:25 pm

Played the New MOO extensively. Lack of a forum or multiplayer will sink the ship there. It has qualities of MOO2 and MOO3 as far as I can remember. It's quite beautiful and reminiscent but I am displeased. I wonder if they will remedy things. Perhaps if an independent few step up.

Real Time Combat is an argument but it's not so bad. The version out now is incomplete and lots of players on steam. I checked out Polaris hoping it would be something wargamers backed. A game that doesn't have a following well

simply gets shelved unless the AI is extraordinary, i.e. Civilization (let's see if MOO matches that that or ways to streamline Multiplayer to less than hour and half the duration of 90% of MP Games)

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by Solaristics » Mon Mar 14, 2016 5:30 pm

I've been playing 4X games since they were invented, and I've pretty much given up on the genre because of the lack of learning and innovation. I've got less and less gameplay out of the ones I've bought in the last couple of years, to the point now I just don't buy them. I've got my eye on Polaris and Paradox's upcoming title, but I'm going to wait until I see some genuine reports of innovation and a feeling the basics are done right.

When I say lack of learning, I mean that I don't get the sense designers are learning from the mistakes of other designers. There is a lot of reinvention of the wheel. On the flip side, there seems a lot of reproduction of 4X tropes without an appeal to what these games are actually trying to simulate. Few of these games understand the fundamental mechanisms that drive historical developments of nations and empires, such as geopolitics. Also, why do they have money in them as a commodity? A sovereign state can print as much money as it wants, the price being inflation and a fall in exchange rates. It would feel very satisfying running an empire that is modelled on real world principles, rather than on playground politics and household economics.

With respect to innovation, there needs to be some bold breaking of the 4X rules to reinvigorate the genre. They all feel very samey to me now. Sure, I've got 30 years of gaming out of the genre, but it feels very timid and stagnant to me now. I guess I'm waiting for the next big thing in strategy gaming.

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by vyshka » Wed Mar 23, 2016 4:13 pm

Daniele wrote:For someone 4x games aren't in a good shape:
“Fundamentally, 4X games are stagnating because they are ultimately games about progress that nevertheless have nothing whatsoever to say on the subject. Their version of progress is almost universally boring.”
(From: Rock, Paper, Shotgun)

Here at Slitherine we are pretty sure that 4X games still have a lot to say. We also believe that Polaris Sector can bring a breath of fresh air to the genre.

What's your view about it?
Discuss here and let us know your thoughts!
I don't think the viewpoints are mutually exclusive. I'd think that the reason he is making his argument is that he believes there is a lot that can still be done in the genre, but the titles that have been coming out by and large stick to the path of what has been done before. I think a good example of someone trying something different would be Distant Worlds, while Pandora would probably fall into what he is complaining about.

I'd be curious to hear what your thoughts on what areas Polaris Sector is innovating in. Most of what I've read from people playing so far has been that it is a good solid game, but it mostly sticks to what has been done before.

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by Energico » Wed Mar 23, 2016 8:43 pm

I'd echo what some of the posters here are saying in that it's both yes and no. While there are plenty of titles that have come out recently and are coming out soon, a lot of them do seem to stick to the well-worn grooves that the original games established. Many of them feel very basic and seem to just be new skins on old ideas. In terms of the Space 4xs, I feel that innovation has been severely lacking in the genre up until this year, as many of them seem like basic Gal Civ clones, which I'm sure is based off of older games. Gal Civ itself has lost my interest, as I feel that 3 wasn't that much different than 2, which I already had some issues with.

Personally for me, I crave depth. I've been deep into Aurora 4x recently, which I highly recommend for anyone want something even deeper than Distant Worlds. It has deep ship design, deep combat mechanics, deepish terraforming, and generally does a good job of making you feel like a fledgling empire expanding into space. DW:U is also a great title, although I haven't spent a huge amount of time with it, mostly because I'm bad at it. I absolutely enjoy the automation aspects of it, as large empires can certainly get tedious after awhile, particularly when you're just starting out. Deep economies are also important I feel, makes you feel like you're running something more advanced than "build money buildings/mines, build stuff, ???, profit!" But the game I've been most looking forward to is Stellaris. I trust Paradox as a company, first and foremost, but I also really want to see how their late game ideas turn out, as I honestly believe this is one of the biggest problems with most 4xs, at least in the single player. Once your empire becomes secure enough by whatever means, there's essentially no threat down the road that will topple you, or even really hurt you. Sure, the AI might build a large empire to compete, but not only is that not often, I'd also say that unless they are buffed to extremes, they generally will still lose to you eventually. So, I'm interested in how the AI revolts, extra galactic invaders, the separatists mechanics, and other potential late-game events play out, as stories of empires facing massive, complex crises at their peaks/later years are all over our own history and in science fiction, so it makes sense that that is included in the games.

I just bought Polaris Sector today, as I was intrigued by the espionage and technology ideas. The modability is also very key, as that really does allow games to live long and prosper.(Sorry) As I play it, I'll have my opinions on it, but it definitely looks like a game that helps the genre move in the right direction, as I found the new MOO to be quite underwhelming other than graphics perhaps.

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by Rosseau » Thu Mar 24, 2016 12:18 am

The latest eXplorminate review of Polaris Sector indirectly sheds some light on what is good and also lacking in 4x games today. There is certainly no shortage of them.

After playing Sid's Beyond Earth and especially GalCiv III, I would personally say 4x is definitely stagnating :wink:

I will watch the upcoming Paradox Stellaris carefully, but am not confident it can outdue Distant Worlds Series. At least until the first year's worth of patches and DLC :wink:

The Sword of the Stars series was a pretty creative effort in its day, and I am confident there are devs out there right now with some interesting new concepts, especially on the indie side.

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by Qwixt » Thu Mar 24, 2016 1:37 am

Rosseau wrote: I will watch the upcoming Paradox Stellaris carefully, but am not confident it can outdue Distant Worlds Series. At least until the first year's worth of patches and DLC :wink:
I view Stellaris as the same old paradox grand strategy in a new skin. I will still most likely get it at some point.

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Re: Is the 4x genre stagnating? Join the discussion.

Post by Eyegore » Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:54 pm

there's a lot of reasons I believe the 4x gendre is at a standstill--and the first up would be the Lore. Or Lack thereof. Every...and I mean every 4x game from Moo onward has put in DEFAULT space Opera races be they talking cats, mice, hampsters or some form of fish. Worse, the races are defined by narrow stat points in regards to "like this planet, hates this planet-has slow/has reproduction/dumb /smart.

These are great in cartoons, Star Trek and Starwar movies--but are the first to get replaced by a mod in a 4x game--usually the very first mod out no less. If your a Dev, and players immediately replace your races that should be telling you something...and that something isn't "better modding options." Space Opera is adventure--and 4x isn't an adventure game. They never have worked. never will.

You should be creating races and a universe so interesting we aren't compelled to replace it. It can be done with some effort. Back in 90s a great game called Emperor of the fading Suns was released. It broke evey 4x rule in the book. Planets were entire war maps of hexes that needed to be conquered by ground units---wargame style---and though the game was basically buggy, had a nightmare GUI, bad AI, it was modded to no end---mainly dealing with unit imbalances,bugs and so on---but with all the mods over the years NONE fiddled with the races. They were that good. In fact the game had a zillion bad points going for it but was played because of those races and the World.

Secondly would be having too abstract designs. This also kills LORE. Having a planet narrowly defined by 1 race with various stats misses the boat on what could be an additional strategy layer----let's have sub races not unlike Earth itself---Chinese, Koreon, indian, Black, white...etc paired with various ethics and religions. You may be planet leader but you must juggle the various wants and demands of all this---limited by your ability--that is precisely how Paradox is entering the gendre with ethics akin to a EU game included and like CK2 you can only directly control x number of planets and then have to devy out the rest to various factions under you realm. And they have their own agenda you must manage.

That's some interesting stuff that the 4x gendre has been starved for from the start.

Thirdly lets not cut short the Exterminate portion of the game like so many want to. The combat HAS to be the most enduring because one will soon get bored going through the motions of expanded and building, repeating over and over---and the one thing that CAN hold the player's interests is the combat...if it is as deep and fun as a wargame. Dumb it down to an RTS most powerful win, Cards, or worse, Gal Civ style and you just removed the one thing that might keep a player going to the next turn.

Every title has fallen flat in these areas---and until devs get that- the gendre will burn out to nothing.

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