Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

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Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Josephine » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:01 am UTC

I found this on the bay12games forums. I haven't played it yet for system requirements reasons, but here is the OP on the DF thread.
Spoiler:
Maggnus wrote:Recently I've stumbled upon an absolute jewel of a game called Aurora during my ongoing search for the best 4X game out there, and I think I have a winner. This game is an independent project by a man named Steve Walmsley; his income comes from online poker, and his spare time is consumed by developing and playing this game. The game is 100% free, immensely detailed, and absolutely brilliant.

The game is turn based with turns calculating anywhere from 5 seconds of the game to 30 days. There is a screen for the system map and a galactic map; most of the actual information is presented as columns and rows of text, but it is very well presented and not cumbersome at all. Don't let the graphics and interface turn you off because the game has incredible depth; after all there is a reason I called it the Dwarf Fortress of 4X Games.

It is a very open, almost sandbox like 4X game that takes place in a procedurally generated universe of his own creation. The universe has wonderful personality with orbiting planets, stars, moons, and asteroids; of course there are also ancient alien ruins and native life, from the hyper advanced and long gone precursors to modern earth like civilizations as well as other fledgling races just setting out to the stars.

Planets are very detailed with tectonics, atmosphere consisting of real gases, temperatures derived from the distance to the star, the axis of the planet, the warming or cooling effects of the atmosphere, and the reflectivity of the surface. Through terraforming you can actually alter the makeup of the atmosphere to better suit your life or you can land some terraforming ships on an enemy planet and suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere or pump it full of deadly chlorine. Some planets or other bodies contain any combination of dozens of minerals that are needed to run your industry and empire; they have an amount and an accessibility level that determines how fast you can mine them out.

Your empire is a living and breathing creature with civilians conducting their own business among the stars; they can form corporations and trade among both local and foreign colonies or transport population to where they want to go as well as founding their own colonies or mining operations.

Research and technology consists of major research projects for anything from improving industry to forming stargates or ICBMs as well as projects for designing and testing your own components, reactors, lasers, engines, turrets, missiles, etc. Research projects are headed by lead scientists of your choice, each with their own skills and personality, with research labs and additional researchers to back them up. Your colonies and ships can also be led by individuals with their own skills and personality.

Ships and defences are designed with the components and technology that you researched, and a great deal of thought must go into an effective design. You have to factor in the weight of the ship and how it will affect the engines and fuel, and keep an eye on the complexity making sure you have enough engineers and crew allocated to keep it running. Also, make sure those lasers have proper tracking systems, sensors, and power to keep them running at top efficiency, and don't forget that your 12000 speed turrets need fast enough tracking to keep up or those enemy missiles will fly right through.

Search the stars enough and you may make first contact! This may result in peaceful trade and alliance or you may be exchanging missile fire right from the get go. I can't say much about diplomacy and aliens since I've only come across one other species and all they did was decimate my ships with theirs that were 3 times as fast and 5 times as powerful (I think it may have been a precursor outpost).

Combat is also immensely detailed with targeting for individual systems on ships or projectiles. The game also looks at the spread of damage from your weapon of choice and how it affects the enemy's armor and individual components with missiles creating craters and lasers piercing through.

This is only short blurb about what the game has to offer, and since I am still very new to the game I'm sure it is full of holes and has some very important missing content. A better way to learn about the game would probably be to read some after action reports or just to try the game out for yourself, it is free after all.

Here is an AAR and some gameplay description that the creator posted on Wargamer:
http://www.wargamer.com/forums/tm.aspx?m=397359

Screenshots (go up one level to the gallery section of the forum for more):
http://aurora.pentarch.org/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=1292

A short biography of the creator (very interesting by the way):
http://aurora.pentarch.org/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1194

The forums:
http://aurora.pentarch.org/index.php

A whole ton of fiction and AARs for the game:
http://aurora.pentarch.org/viewforum.php?f=2

And the wiki where download information and tutorials reside:
http://aurorawiki.pentarch.org/index.php?title=Main_Page#Links


A few caveats: The minimum screen height of 1024 can be a problem for laptop screens, but this game has simply too much information present for a smaller screen to work. The installer (which is older than dirt) likes to shove a bunch of modifications into \system32. Installing it can be a pain, but it generally works well once it's up and running.
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Thadlerian » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:20 am UTC

My final exam was just yesterday. What do you know!

EDIT: Screen is too small, nevermind. It can't be played then, can it?

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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby headprogrammingczar » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:52 pm UTC

I have been looking for a game like that for a long time. Shame about the awful state of the installer though, or I would try it out...
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby lowbart » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:23 pm UTC

nbonaparte wrote:A few caveats: The minimum screen height of 1024 can be a problem for laptop screens, but this game has simply too much information present for a smaller screen to work. The installer (which is older than dirt) likes to shove a bunch of modifications into \system32. Installing it can be a pain, but it generally works well once it's up and running.


Fuck! An awesome alternative to Space Empires that I would be able to run on my netbook (during geography lecture) and I get boned by the stupid 1024x600 native screen resolution. Is there any way around it?
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Josephine » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:25 pm UTC

lowbart wrote:
nbonaparte wrote:A few caveats: The minimum screen height of 1024 can be a problem for laptop screens, but this game has simply too much information present for a smaller screen to work. The installer (which is older than dirt) likes to shove a bunch of modifications into \system32. Installing it can be a pain, but it generally works well once it's up and running.


Fuck! An awesome alternative to Space Empires that I would be able to run on my netbook (during geography lecture) and I get boned by the stupid 1024x600 native screen resolution. Is there any way around it?

Only if you can get some sort if floating desktop setup working.
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby lowbart » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:18 pm UTC

Hm. I haven't been able to get any of those to work right, and my netbook's video card isn't actually capable of displaying a bigger height than my screen's maximum, so the built-in Windows workaround doesn't work either.

What's weird is that even on my desktop, some of those huge-ass Visual Basic 6 windows stretch past the side of the screen in 1280x1024, and one or two of them even go off the bottom in 1600x1200! Since Windows doesn't have any effective way to drag windows from any point on the window, I'm pretty much screwed.

But I read the forums and apparently the guy who programs the game (and has gone through 5 full versions now) has no interest in fixing it for anyone else, because he doesn't care about the community and his actual reason for designing and updating the game is "to facilitate writing after-action reports", which since he says they can get up to 1000 pages, I guess is some kind of what used to be fanfiction for the board game Aurora was originally based on until he had to change it to Aurora due to copyright disputes.

The issue of windows not fitting on the screen and not being movable (because the titlebar is only at the top) or resizable is one of my top 5 technology-related pet peeves of all time, so I'm pretty discouraged from playing this game. Which is too bad because it's exactly the type of 4X game I would like, since it trades off graphics for depth and intelligence. (The game handles a lot of things by itself but still in your vision, which are usually hidden or ignored or need micromanagement in other similar games. And you can make your own races, unlike GalCiv, and orbiting things actually orbit, unlike Space Empires).
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby HermanBlount » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:24 pm UTC

By "more complex" do you mean "the UI design is even more unintuitive" or "you can manipulate properties on a more granular level"? Dwarf Fortress needs a UI overhaul more than it needs added complexity. Not that it matters. I can't resist a 4X game, even if it's horribly tedious.
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:27 pm UTC

So this guy thought "You know, I'll take Stars!, destroy the simplicity of the interface, and change a couple technologies. SWEET!"

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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby New User » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:30 am UTC

HermanBlount wrote:By "more complex" do you mean "the UI design is even more unintuitive" or "you can manipulate properties on a more granular level"? Dwarf Fortress needs a UI overhaul more than it needs added complexity. Not that it matters. I can't resist a 4X game, even if it's horribly tedious.

Agreed. I just tried Dwarf Fortress this week. I can see that it's quite a game, but the UI is unbearable. I doubt I'll play it much because of that, which is a shame because I'm into the concept. Maybe I should give this Aurora a look-see. But what's this I hear about problems with the installer? I mean, specifically what kind of problems arise from using it?

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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Josephine » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:55 am UTC

New User wrote: I just tried Dwarf Fortress this week. I can see that it's quite a game, but the UI is unbearable. I doubt I'll play it much because of that, which is a shame because I'm into the concept.

i urge you, keep trying. Climb the learning curve cliff. you won't regret it.
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Soralin » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:52 pm UTC

I haven't had much of a problem with Aurora's UI yet, although I didn't have much of a problem with Dwarf Fortress either, so I may not be a good judge of that. It's mainly just learning what everything is, and what it all does. Although I haven't done much yet other than read through part of the tutorial, and design and build a couple of survey ships, including designing a couple of the components for them, and assigned a couple of captains with some survey skill to them, and had them go around and scan a bunch of places in the system for resources.

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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby CogDissident » Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:37 am UTC

If you like the concept of a 4x game with complexity, try Distant Worlds instead. Same concept, but far less useless spreadsheeting. And the entire game has such good player AI that your ships can run themselves effectively.

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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Soralin » Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:10 pm UTC

After playing this game for a while, I'd put in a recommendation for trying it out. :)

Let's see, Earth has run out of it's supply of about half of the types of minerals, but I have automated mines on a couple of comets and an asteroid in the Sol system that are producing resources and sending them via mass driver back to Earth, I have some mining ships off in another system at a comet, and I discovered a nice planet with a lot of resources that was fairly easily terraformable, although a bit further away from sol system then would be preferable. Already had an atmosphere with some oxygen in it, although not quite enough to breath unaided, just needed to add some more to bring the partial up enough, and then some greenhouse gasses since it was a bit on the cold since, and it's now habitable without additional infrastructure needing to be shipped in, and I have a bunch of mines and some construction factories that I had shipped from Earth, along with over 10 million colonists now to operate them, and it's doing quite well.

I've discovered a few ruins of civilizations on planets, a couple of which still had active mines loaded up with missiles in orbit around them. Which my geological survey ship discovered by running into them and promptly exploding, but I was able to bring in a small ship I built with some sensors and weaponry, that was able to clear out the rest of them. Got a xenoarcheolgist team in there, and some engineering brigades to salvage them, found a bunch of automated mines, construction facilities, did manage to find a deep space survey sensor that got me some nice new sensor tech, and some terraforming installations and some better terriforming tech, and put those to use, as well as some genetics research and genetic modification centers. On one of them, I discovered a big stockpile of mercassium, which was very useful, since I had been running low on it.

I discovered an alien empire a ways off, well, actually I discovered two of them, which appeared to be at war with each other, from what I could tell by the nuclear detonations and wrecks of ships floating around the place. They were in systems right next to each other, connected by a single jump point as I discovered. Well, not being one to pass by on an opportunity, I made some salvage ships and sent them off there to profit from all of those nice wrecks floating around, and salvage what tech and resources I could from them. Well, I did manage to get a few ships salvaged and their contents safely returned, although eventually they noticed me, and apparently neither of them took very kindly to the salvage, freighter, and jumpships I had flying through their own systems, or the fact that I was making off with the remnants of all of their ships, which eventually lead to most of my salvage expedition being attacked and destroyed, by both of them. I had a freighter and a commercial jumpship survive unnoticed, but last I checked, they were guarding the jump point that went back in the direction to my systems (as I discovered when I popped a ship through and had it blasted). So I had them move a bit further off into some empty spot of space in the system, and had them shut down their engines, so they wouldn't be noticed by any passive thermal sensors. They should be unlikely to be noticed by passive sensors for now, so long as they don't get caught by some ship going by with active sensors on. They're still there now, and they'll probably stay there for a while until I can mount a rescue or an assault or have my diplomatic teams get the aliens to cancel their shoot-on-sight orders. :)

I also did manage to build up a nice little military fleet of missile ships, and anti-missile ships and some sensor and jump tender, and ammo storage ships. I had run into a few instances where my exploring ships had been blasted away in a few systems, mostly by automated defending ships left over by precursors and the like, ships without actual empires. And so it was time to fight back. :) First system I went to, I just found half a dozen fairly small ships, that went down quickly to a salvo of missiles, and I discovered a small planetoid they were guarding, that had a deep space sensor station on it, which I took over for myself, along with what i could salvage from the ships themselves.

After that, I went to check out another system in which I had lost a ship, and encountered quite a large swarm of small fast ships. Fortunately, I had briefly encountered them before in another system, right before they blew up my ship, and had one my active sensor designs made to optimally detect ships that small (and I made it a really massive sensor and stuck it on a dedicated sensor ship, the sensor was slightly more massive than the ships it was made to detect in fact. :)). So I was able to notice them, and fire at them with my nice long range missiles while they were still quite a ways out, and ended up destroying all of the swarm that came at me before they reached me, although depleting half of my missiles in the process. There was also another huge ship in the system, that had put up shields that could regenerate very quickly from what I could see. So I decided to engage, and lob all of my missiles at it as fast as they could fire, to break through the shields and do some damage. Well, it did break through it's shields, but it was evidently a carrier ship, since as soon as it was attacked, it launched out a swarm of ships after me, as I discovered after I had already launched out most of my missiles. So I decided that retreat might be a good idea at that point, but the ships that were coming after me were a lot faster than i was, and I had depleted the last of my missiles shooting a few of them down. Well, not quite the last of my missiles. I still had some small, fast, low damage, short range missiles I had designed for anti-missile defense, shooting down incoming missiles. So, I loaded those into the missile tubes, and when they got close enough, fired it at them. It took quite a few more of them to take a ship down, but eventually, after firing out enough of them, I had managed to disable or destroy all of the ships that were following me. I had done quite a bit of damage to the carrier past it's shield, but it was probably mostly to armor, or at least I didn't take out any engines or other components that would be noticeable from where I was. Although at that point, I was basically running out of anything to throw at them, so I retreated back and out of the system.

Missiles seem quite good, mainly from their very long range, although the main downside seems to be that they're really limited in number, and expensive in time and resources to build (and anti-missile missiles seem to be good at taking other larger missiles out, as I found out first-hand, the encounter after the swarm). I built a bunch more ordnance factories on Earth, and researched some increased production rates for them, but even after all that, I seems it'd still take about 1.25 years to produce enough missiles to completely rearm my small fleet, which is quite a while. And take over 1/3 the cost of my main fleet in resources. So I've been doing more research into beam weapons, lasers for now, and I'm going to design some ships with them to augment my attack force, and assist in anti-missile defense.

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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:58 pm UTC

Perhaps it would be better if I just removed the last two posts.

Perhaps not.

Either way, knock it off.
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Patashu » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:02 pm UTC

lowbart wrote:Hm. I haven't been able to get any of those to work right, and my netbook's video card isn't actually capable of displaying a bigger height than my screen's maximum, so the built-in Windows workaround doesn't work either.

What's weird is that even on my desktop, some of those huge-ass Visual Basic 6 windows stretch past the side of the screen in 1280x1024, and one or two of them even go off the bottom in 1600x1200! Since Windows doesn't have any effective way to drag windows from any point on the window, I'm pretty much screwed.

Right click the window (either on the task bar or by the title bar), select move, hammer arrow keys. Your mouse snaps to the titlebar of the window and moves it.

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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Jul 16, 2010 5:12 pm UTC

So I was right. The thread is better now.

Let's keep it that way, shall we?
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Re: Aurora: the 4X game more complex than Dwarf Fortress.

Postby Cryopyre » Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:54 am UTC

I love 4x space games and I love Dwarf Fortress. Do you think this will work on Windows 7?
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