Now I know Stellaris just from 1.9 to 2.2 is a totally different experience, so I'm not gonna say Stellaris will never be the game I'd truly want. But I've heard many times the PDX team set out to create a '4X game' instead of a ''space game' Well, I want to ask, waht the heck would a space game be divorced from 4x tropes?
Like….the game I would want would have way WAY less control over society . In anything resembling a free society, buildings would be built at random. You go to Mars and past the initial colony setup, people would build social infrastructure like bars and holo-theaters and temples, over time, sorta like factories in Victoria.
And you would NOT go for habitable planets, because well, without technology to overcome biochemical barriers, you're colonists would asphyxiate or their germs would cause mass extinctions. Optimal route would be to build research stations over habitable planets and build orbital habitats and asteroid colonies.
And the timescale is all wrong. It should be 12 month turns for a year or maybe 52 week turns for a year. That way instead of a 200 year time scale, which is nothing in galactic colonization, it would take those 200 years and make it into 1400, which makes more sense in the time scales. And it would be the same number of turns.
The first part of the game would be almost entirely set in your home system with various other nation state factions, all colonizing your home system, and occasionally sending probes and such to nearby stars at subliminal speed. In the first part of the game, you're goal is to wrangle your competitors and unruly, Independence seeking colonists, all with different ethics and government types. Reason for this I think the Fallen Empires with but a few systems is actually a sound idea, but there needs to be a mechanic reason to support that, in that most empires are going to play tall economically and a have a core of systems they actually develop, and other far less profitable systems they hold onto for strategic reasons. At least in the first part of the game, the setup is very very hard sci fi, and continues steadily into into science fantasy/Clarketech as the game progresses.
You'd also have to be very VERY worried about controlling population growth. Pops have a shelf life like leaders, so they slowly die off. The thing is, while you can support a population of trillions (population, not pops) if you don't keep the growth rate down and decreasing as you go on, you will run into a Malthusian bottleneck and experience a population crash. You can go from thriving to apocalypse in three generations. Fortunately, unless you do something rash, the issue most empires have is getting their pops to have enough children to replace them. Clones have integration problems, aliens bring with them disease and and xenophobe attraction like you wouldn't believe, uplifted animals can sour on their uplifters, and left on it's own, the pops that do propagate are authoritarians and fanatic spiritualists. Materialists tend to die off over time, although with life extension that tends to balance out. That is for K species like humans. R species are simpler to play because without much family structure instinct, population controls can enacted with far less blowback.
Invasions of of other empires will be VERY hard until the late game. People mostly expand to A: protect primitives or B, get strategic resources that cannot be found elsewhere: black holes Nuetron Stars, minable dark matter, antimatter. And even with primitives, you don't need to claim a system, only build an observation post and they are under your protections.Economic victory is mostly about getting to the point where you can trade regularly with your neighbors
Would that be more of a space game? Cause it'd have harder sci fi and exploiting is a double edged sword and population is absolutely a doubled edged sword?
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