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Intergalactic War Game

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Matt201
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This is just a really rough idea atm, and any input you guys can share would be awesome!

Basically the board is divided into different regions (most of which contain a planet, while others may have asteroid fields/nebulae/etc. and others may just be empty space). Each planet on the board produces a set number of one of the 5 resources available, which the controlling player earns Federation Credits on. 11 of these planets (although that number is subject to change, obviously) are members of the Galactic Senate.

The main idea of the game is to have 2-5 (with a 5 player game being the most interesting/fun) players fighting to win. Each player picks a different faction, each of which have their own rules and victory conditions.

For example, one team is the Galactic Federation, who has the most power/influence and access to manpower. Unfortunately, they cannot simply take actions, they require policies to pass through the senate (more about that below). Another team is the Galactic Banking Association who cannot support a large standing army like the other teams, but have access to great wealth which they can use to bribe others and/or create mercenary armies. They also have the unique ability to create monopolies by owning all the planets that produce a single resource.

I'm not sure about other teams yet, but one has to be a 'rebel' faction that is openly at war with the Federation, and while no where near as powerful or rich, have perks of their own and are the only other team that can benefit directly from control of the senate.

Basically at the start of each turn, a player collects income from the planets they control, which they can then use to pay their standing armies, buy units to grow their army, and also form alliances and/or make agreements with players. They then chose whether to make attacks or fortifications, etc. (haven't thought of a combat mechanic yet). I'm also not sure whether to have a system whereby you can buy buildings (for example) to boost the production output of your planets (to simulate a growing economy so that the longer the game goes, the more money you make per turn in order to be able to afford and maintain bigger armies). Thoughts on whether this would make the game too complex?

So, the lynchpin of this game is the Senate mechanic, which works as follows. Of the territories on the board, 11 of them are Senate planets, each of which hold a "seat" on the senate. The player who holds that planet holds that seat. On each of their turns, the Federation Player can choose to play a "policy" card, that benefits them in some way (some examples might be adding extra units to their armies, gaining more wealth, restricting what other players are able to do, etc.) but in order for it to take affect, it must pass through the senate. Most require only a majority of votes to pass, while some stronger cards require a greater percentage (either 75% of votes, or some cases 100%). Obviously if the Federation owns a majority of the senate they will find it very easy to pass policy. It is the rebel factions job to gain these seats (to represent rebel sympathy and/or infiltration in the government), and in a 3-5 player game an outside party(s) can hold the balance of power. (They may vote for some policies, while reject others).
Another idea I was playing around with is the rebel faction having two ways to win. The easier way would be to take control of the senate (and therefore the government). The Federation can enact a policy to dissolve the senate and form into an Empire, which could have advantages/disadvantages in itself, but from that point on they can no longer enact policy (which is a gameplay mechanic rather than a reflection of a totalitarianism government taking over). The catch? They require 100% of the Senate, so it becomes a question for the player whether to dissolve the senate and close of that path to victory for the rebels, or do they keep it to continue passing policy? Dunno if that's a good addition or just too convoluted. Thoughts?

The Federation is without a doubt the strongest player on the board, but they need to enact policy to reach their full strength/potential.

The whole idea of this game is to have 5 teams with 5 different victory conditions, so each time you play you have to rethink your strategies.

Once again, any input would be great. Does the idea have any potential? What about the teams? How does each one win? What are some ideas for the other teams? Is the resources aspect relevant, or should you just get money per planet owned? What are some interesting policy cards you think might work?

Thanks guys

kemtox
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The Professor
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Beyond TI3

Matt,

kemtox's post is actually quite humorous, but all kidding aside, there are about a dozen 4X space games that have proven successful. Most notably, Eclipse has done quite well, so it may be worth conducting some research among the existing titles. One of the things that TI3 suffers from, is sheer size and play-time. For every person I've met who speak at length on the greatness of TI3, there are that many folks who never manage to get it to the gaming table but once a year. I would rather play a slightly less epic game much more often. I'm currently serving as a developer for a designer of a 4X game which uses both Eurogame mechanics and dice for a 90-min play which includes all of the components of a 4X game without the incredible downtime for the other players, or dedicating a half-day to the event.

As to your game, the inclusion of politics makes for a great mechanic as your players will need to remain engaged in the proceedings or find themselves subjected to a rule change they hadn't voted upon in the Senate. If the game uses resources, you can certainly exhaust those in the various passed laws. Additionally, laws may restrict (or permit) particular travel; types of ships (combat, non-combat, etc.); trade agreements; alliances and treaties; etc. You have many options open to you...some additional research might simply include reviewing the last 25 or 50 laws passed by Congress during the past 'x' years and you'll get a sense of what your Senate will be up to in the game.

Hope that helps.

Cheers,
Joe

firstcultural
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Joe is right on point. Now

Joe is right on point. Now that you have an idea of what the game's about, I'd think about the following questions on how the game should play:
- game length
- number of rules pages
- will it work with less than 5 players?

Matt201
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firstcultural wrote: - will

firstcultural wrote:

- will it work with less than 5 players?

Obviously the game would be optimized for 5 players, but I don't see why it wouldn't work with as little as 3 (2 players would technically be playable, the game would not be "balanced", particularly if one player is the Federation.

larienna
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The best 4X space strategy

The best 4X space strategy game is Master of Orion 2 period (Yes it's a video game).

Now I tried to search for a board game alternative for many years and never actually found one which is good enough for me.

Most of the time, you will be forced to accept a dumbed down game that makes compromise and focus only on a part of the whole cake. For example: Empires of the void focus more on combat and capturing/liberating planets. Galactic Emperor focus more on resource management. Twilight Imprium focus more on war like axis and allies. Eclipse focus more on development. Space empire 4X is a pure war game. But there is no game out there that has it all.

Normally you have 2 large camp: Twilight imperium which is more americanish, and eclipse which is more euroish. They both have good mechanics on each side, but in the end, I hate both.

In eclipse, conflict between players starts when the game ends, so it becomes only a resource management game. They have a nice ship customization mechanic that looks nice until a player place 2 level 3 engine with only missiles allowing to warp anywhere on the galaxy and wipe any opposition before the first round of battle starts.

Twilight Imperium is completely illogical and manage the map like it was a regular war game map. Allowing planets to have cannons that shot ships in adjacent systems which should be light years away. Since they use the axis and allies combat system, you need to use the Fighter padding technique to protect larger ships. All kind of rules which simply pisses me off.

So I decided to state that there is simply no board game that could replace Master of Orion and just stopped looking for one.

larienna
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There might be 1 space game

There might be 1 space game what I could be interested to try is a starwars themed in space combat game similar to twilight imperium component wise.

In that case, there is no exploration and colonization, it's only combat between rebels and the empire. So it solve most of the issues listed above.

They could do something multiplayer by using the same technique as in 1812, 2 vs 3 players for a US vs Canada conflict.

phonyamerican
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Larriena, I feel similarly

Larriena, I feel similarly about Heroes of Might and Magic pc games.
I think the HOMM series, in particular HOMM3, is the game other fantasy battle board games attempt to be. HOMM3 removes the economic accounting and battle stat tracking from the player's mind so that they can focus on strategy.

larienna
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Of course they are very few

Of course they are very few game that focus on everything in equal proportion. My best Fantasy 4X game is Master of Magic. But I agree that most of the player's works is spent on managing cities which should not be the focus of the game (it should be magic).

In Warlock master of the arcane, they simplified the city management and improved the military aspect making the time spent between both similar, but the magic aspect is still lacking.

So I guess when you are designing such board games you need to ask your self which part of it is more important to you and focus only on those aspect because you will not be able to implement everything.

The Professor
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larienna, Thanks for

larienna,

Thanks for posting here and articulating several of those items which have disappointed you vis-a-vis 4x space games. During the past several months, I researched and reviewed nearly two dozen titles from the genre, and I too felt as though none of the games, even the much adored and epic TI3, hit the mark.

I'm Lead Developer on a 4x space game for an independent designer, who has visited but posted few times out here (I need to encourage him on this area). The game has multiple paths to victory, and while combat is inherent in any good 4x game (hence, eXterminate), it's not any more pronounced than any other, non-martial aspect of the game.

Thanks for the video game reference, as my research failed to take into account the genre in a way which one could incorporate the best elements into a board game.

Cheers,
Joe

larienna
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I am happy that my insight

I am happy that my insight could actually help. I barely scratched the surface. I could probably write a book for the design flaws/dislikes of space strategy game, especially the "Endless Space" video game which has more holes in it's design than a "Sieve". The only notable novel element is the combat system.

Then you have war between game camp. My idea would be to use idea from various games and combined together. But when you make the suggestion, people on forum becomes angry. For example, I prefered the movement system in TI3 and suggested using it in eclipse to avaoid paper weight ships. The opposition and insults were huge.

The other problem is that there is so many games out there in the same genre that ar slight variations of other games, that trying to make one just increase the junk pile.

Surprisingly, even with all it's flaws in design and theme and losing the game in the end, the space strategy game I had most fun playing is "Empires of the void" Surprising ! Considering there is a lot of things that I would change.

Read my comments on BGG for TI3 and you might get some insight on why I hate the game so much. Not sure I did the same for Eclipe as the hatred came gradually after playing the game.

If you need more insight just ask.

The Professor
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Feedback and Opinions are Important

Eric,

I'm always searching for reasoned, vitriolic comments. While I've read my share of opinions with no shred of rationale, it's heartening to read comments with substance. Just to share a few of my issues with Eclipse and TI3, despite the numerous fan boys, will prove illustrative.

First, the use of "Victory Points" (VP) has become so ubiquitous, that most designers have failed to even attempt a connection to the theme. In Eclipse, you "discover" values which work ostensibly as VPs in the game, while TI3 allows one to select one if the 10 Roles and earn VPs. As a designer and developer, I cringe at the idea.

Second, and this applies more to Eclipse...the set-up is a nightmare, despite the clever accounting principle which underscores the player's mat. I'm a hex and counter war gamer and if it's in front of me, I own it and I can use it. In Eclipse, you have 40+ cubes, and you're constantly moving them from the board to the "map" - not the best design feature.

Finally, for TI3, it's a function of scope. In its attempt to handle so many 4x activities, it's so unwieldy that it rarely hits the table. I strongly advocate to my designers to shoot for a 90-min to 2-hr time frame. Better a game that is accessible to new and seasoned players than one that causes dread by even veteran gamers.

I do appreciate the reference to the "Orion" game, as I read the wiki in its entirety last night, and found more than 11 different points of similarity with the game currently under development. As I mentioned to you, I'm amenable to extending a play-test invitation later this year. Even after more than three years and 150 hours of play-testing, a critical review is worth more than a dozen play-tests.

It's interesting that despite my initial attraction to BGDF, I've been disappointed with the reception many designers have received here, while a more robust conversation takes place at BGG. This would otherwise make sense as the "go to" site, but I've viewed far to many (0) responses next to members' topics.

That's it for now...I'll check out your other comments on BGG.

Cheers,
Joe

larienna
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I tried to make a list of 4X

I tried to make a list of 4X space games I played and commented. Here is the list, if you have problems finding it I can copy paste teh content.

Space Empires: 4X
Stellar Conquest
Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) (By the way, I played all editions)
Eclipse
Empires of the Void
Imperium Galacticum

There are other games that I looked at or commented but never actually played. So I just removed them from the list.

I think I should dress up a list of good things that I found in those games so that it can serve as inspiration for other games.

Not sure if I'll have a chance to playtest your game, but by reading hte rules it can give me a good idea. Still, I though eclipse was awesome, but some mechanics where but not the entire game.

Enjoy

Troy Boy
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Hey Matt, Good post. I

Hey Matt,

Good post.

I think the design has some merit but maybe try a simple version first. Unless you can get a team together it might be difficult.

One thing about the federation. Will their laws only help themselves? I would imagine some players would 'bite the bullet' to vote for a law, so that it also helps themselves.

Personally I think it would be cool if all players could propose new policies, but thats just me.

kos
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Focus on the strengths

Matt,

I think you have some good ideas around the assymetric win conditions and the politics/voting aspect of the game. However to stop the game length blowing out, you would need to significantly simplify the other aspects (resource management, combat).

For example, if I was making a game like that I'd have no more than 1 resource (in addition to money), and probably have deterministic combat resolution.

The senate concept reminds me of Republic of Rome, which is a good game but suffers from dragging on too long. In the Senate phase of ROR, players can propose and vote on laws, where your voting power is based on the Influence rating of the characters you control (somewhat akin to your idea of having votes based on planets you control).

Here are some of the laws you can pass in ROR, which might inspire you with ideas for your game:

- elect officers of the Senate (who then get special bonuses/abilities until they get voted out)
- assign governors to provinces (who earn extra money, but lose the ability to vote in the senate)
- recruit armies (the armies in ROR are collectively owned by the Senate, not owned by an individual)
- send armies to war (the enemies are barbarians, not controlled by an individual)

Regards,
kos

larienna
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If you want to focus on the

If you want to focus on the political aspect, it's fine, but simplify other parts of the game. For example, a fleet of ship could be a single token. Again like I said above, you cannot have a game that focus on everything.

For assymetric powers system take a look at: Dune, T.I. Rex, Dune Express, Dune Dice game.

Matt201
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By and large it's a war game.

By and large it's a war game. You pass policy by conquest, and really the only political aspect comes in when you have to convince third parties to vote a particular way (as 9 times out of 10 the rebel faction will be flat out opposed to any policy being suggested).

Resources are only for flavour and only act as a way to gain income. In fact, the only reason resources exist at all (as opposed to just gaining income directly from controlled planets) is to open up gameplay ideas such as specific factions being able to create monopolies on resources to make even more money.

To carry that on, income only exists to ensure your army remains in proportion to your size. it costs money to raise regiments, and at the beginning of each turn you have to pay for each regiment of your standing army. As the game goes on, you would have to simulate a growing economy (either through policy somehow or just having the price of resources increase) but I feel this is a more elegant, or at least "real" mechanic than simply- you get 'x' amount of men due to condition 'y'.

Troy Boy wrote:
Hey Matt,
One thing about the federation. Will their laws only help themselves? I would imagine some players would 'bite the bullet' to vote for a law, so that it also helps themselves.

I actually really like this idea. I think this will end up being the case where policy will benefit all players, even not necessarily in the same way.

Troy Boy
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I really liked the way

I really liked the way Diplomacy managed the income in the game.

If you want multiple resources you could do something like this:

Have a Red, Blue, and Green resource type.

If you own one of any color you get 1 army or Fleet of ships (whatever you want your military to be)

If a certain factions monopolizes Red resources, when they own 3 Red it will allow them to have 4 standing armies/fleets.

If at the start of a turn you find yourself with more armies/fleets then Resources you start losing armies till they are equal.

This way you dont have to gain paper money only to give it back again as an upkeep cost.

larienna
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I don't know if this can

I don't know if this can help, but I had an interesting idea once for a political mechanic in a space 4X game. It has some similarities with Junta.

You have political cards which each has a special ability and an influence value. In order to win by politics, your total influence value (in play or in hand) needs to exceed value X. It could be possible that controled planets also added to influence.

Now the council leader drew a number of cards equal to the nb of players + 1 and decide to give a card to each player. Some are stronger than others in influence and special powers.

Then anytime during the game, players had a choice to use the special power of their cards, but doing so would reveal the value on the card allowing other players to guess who is in the lead. If you don't use your cards, or only use weaker ones, then you are not revealing your position. While if you play strong cards, people are going to see you as a threath.

Council leader could change through the game making new leader not awared of what was the previous card distribution.

The Professor
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similar to TI3, right?

larienna,

The political idea stems, in part, from TI3 as each planet can provide either it's resource or influence level, right? I really liked that idea from TI3, and certainly appreciate your spin on it. We've incorporated Galactic laws which require Political Will to pass through the Senate. Who knows, in time, we may make a 4x game you like... : )

Cheers,
Joe

larienna
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Not exactly. I was thinking

Not exactly. I was thinking to combine military victory with political victory where the political part was the partly hidden information. Planets would give a value and politics cards would give a value. Both are added together for victory

The political aspect would also act as a game clock. Because my idea was that a plyer wins the game when he controls 2/3 or 3/4 of the galaxy because at 2/3, it means that the leading player is at least twice more powerful than the 2nd player, and more powerful than all other players combined. So he deserves to win.

But the game could continue indefinitely if no leader emmerge, so the political aspect incroduce new influence cards where they values added up to planets controlled. So that eventually, a player would exceed the required target number by both control of planets and political influence.

Since political cards enter the game each turn, eventually there will be too much points in play forcing the game to end.

I am always open to trying new 4x space game and giving my comments. Are you living near montreal? I a pretty busy right now, so I might not be available before summer. Else just send the rules and I'll take a loot at it.

The Professor
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Now, I understand!

larienna,

Now, I completely understand your take on the political and military victories in your idea.

I live near Washington D.C., but my colleague for whom I'm serving as his Developer, Kris (or questccg) lives in Montreal. He's the Designer of the game "Tradewars - Homeworld" which has made an appearance here on the forum. I've established several play-tests in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Since he's in Montreal, you should contact him and try out the game.

Cheers,
Joe

larienna
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I know Kris, I met him once.

I know Kris, I met him once. I can still comment your rules if you want. Do you have a web site, bgg entry or some picture of the project yet?

The Professor
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Appreciate the feedback

larienna,

We would certainly appreciate the feedback on the rules. I need to have the designer visit, post, and get to know the other members of the BGDF community. As to a website, I've only my company's website, which is for our thematic card holders for another game, not this one.. I'll have to talk to the designer about creating a page on BGG...great idea.

As to the art, we've lost an artist due to a family emergency, and as they say, "when one door closes, another opens." We picked-up a new artist, but I'm also soliciting another artist via BGG. Unfortunately, at this stage of development, we don't have any artwork for the game, save hand-drawings by the designer.

As to the rules, which are on the 5th revision...once he's comfortable, I'll reach out and send a copy for your review.

Cheers,
Joe

larienna
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Sorry, I thought you were the

Sorry, I thought you were the designer.

As for art, it depends how you want to publish your game. Prototyping does not really require art. If you kick strt, you'll need to find an artist.

As for the BGG page, if you have a solid game, and you are considering to publish, kickstart or start producing you game within a year, it could be worth making a page to start generating interest and hype for your game.

Playtesters will also be able to comment directly on BGG.

firstcultural
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A graphic designer / user

A graphic designer / user interface designer could be useful later in the prototyping stage, however. Good design can make it easier to grasp all the info on the board and make playtesting smoother.

The Professor
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Great Posts

Larienna,

Actually, I'm the Developer and co-Designer, and I respect the "co-" part if my title : )

I'll dis cuss with the Designer and start a page.

Firstculture,

I absolutely agree...we'really at the point where we've play-tested it quite a bit and now it's time to get it out to others.

Cheers,
Joe

lewpuls
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4X not suitable for tabletop

The upshot of many of these comments is that it's just about impossible to shoehorn all 4 X's into a tabletop game. You need a computer to track some of the stuff. and you're doomed to a very long game.

I tend to focus on the wargame with economic and technological factors when I design a space game. I usually skip the explore in favor of a setup by the players along with variances in the map. I also skip the exploit, because that usually involves a lot of detail that does not, in my mind, contribute to the game when more than one person is involved. (Yes, I played lots of MOO2, but that's a single-player game.)

Some things just don't work well on the tabletop compared to the computer, and I think 4X is one of them. Also my motto is "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Another form, about Japanese gardening, is "Your garden is not complete until there is nothing else that you can remove."

Also, 4X has flaws internally: if someone gets lucky in exploration, or if someone gets really good in exploitation, then when the war really gets going that side already has a nearly overwhelming advantage (strategic wars are also economic wars). At worst (in something like Starz, an old computer game), it becomes an economic snowball game - which I dislike.

When I read that there'd be 5 resources, I saw an economic game that could snowball. And that would also be quite complex. Would having 5 resources help make the game more interesting? Perhaps as a puzzle, but not as a game.

The Professor
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We're drawn to it...

Dr. P.,

Great post! I have the same issue with some of the designers for whom I'm serving as their developer. They want the game to do everything, so it doesn't do anything particularly well. I had worked with a designer for WWI Zeppelin game...underneath the hydrogen cells and accounting for Sea Fog, Mist, and Clouds, there was a really cool game. Unfortunately, it was list in the minutia of tables and charts across 50 pages of rules.

Anyway, as to my subject...we're drawn to 4X games, or more specifically, we're drawn to making, hopefully, better 4X games. I've lamented here and elsewhere that Eclipse works for some, but for me it's far too fiddly and the economics of it is a bit broken. Throw in random technology and the wheels fly off for me. As for TI3, it's massive and all encompassing...some might even say epic. Thus, that which makes it so, contributes to its biggest failure. As some have remarked about large war games, you don't play them as much as you enlist.

Finding the right balance of clever mechanics, engaging theme, and an amenable time frame seems illusive, yet we try...

Cheers,
Joe

larienna
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Quote: At worst (in something

Quote:
At worst (in something like Starz, an old computer game), it becomes an economic snowball game - which I dislike.

I think you pointed out the main problem of 4x games mostly due to the fact that technological progress is proportional to empire size, so if a player is in the lead, it will become eventually a run away leader.

In moo2 you had this situation where battles were sometimes close in early game, but at some point, eiter you started to kick ass or either your ass was getting kicked. And once you reached that point, there was no turning back possible. So the climax curve is really bad.

This is why one of the idea suggested for a Master of mgaic style game is that the wizard progression (equivalent of technology) is not proportional to empire size allowing small and large empire having wizards of same strength. Giving a chance for smaller kingdoms to compete against bigger ones.

I do agree that 4X games might be more suitable as solitaire game. And if I were to make a multi player space game, I would probably skip or thin down the exploration and some other aspects.

-Eberhardt-
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The Professor wrote:They want

The Professor wrote:
They want the game to do everything, so it doesn't do anything particularly well.

Joe

You mention 4x games a lot recently and as one of my projects is not 4x rather 3x will that cause a issue?

Sorry to hijack the thread just wanted to get your input.

Thx
Jon

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