27.8.07

DOSBox 0.72

The next month already the next release. Even before I updated the MOO2 related guide. Anyway, the default dosbox.conf settings should work on most new hardware now. Therefore just the autoexec part should be added. See the DOSBox Guide for details.

30.7.07

DOSBox 0.71 released

Try the latest version in their download section. The DOSBox Guide will be updated soon.

Monday, July 30th, 2007 - Qbix A bugfix release this time, but we couldn't resist adding a few new exciting features:
  • Added a new recompiling cpu core which is easier to port!

  • Added a x86_64 and a mipsel_32 recompiling core.

  • Fixed hangups on certain platforms after long gameplay of several games.

  • Fix several joystick bugs.

  • Improved cdrom support. (fixes for audio, iso and detection.)

  • Improved SVGA and VESA. (detection and display)

  • Fixed a few textmodes and improved ansi emulation a bit.

  • Fixed pcspeaker and certain types of soundeffects.

  • Added undocumented mousebackdoor.

  • Made mount and imgmount a bit easier to use. (ioctl by default, support
    for ~ and ~username, auto size guessing for images)

  • Fix a few compilation problems on various hosts and a general code
    cleanup.

  • Several small fixes that improve compatibility.
The compatibility should be the same as 0.70 aside from the games we fixed. (see the Changelog for details)

23.7.07

Master of Orion II Digital Download on Atari.com

Finally, Atari announces the Digital Download version of Master of Orion II. And I have to remove my earlier rant about their price. They had a technical problem this morning - the price of the download version of MOO3 was displayed.

Atari offers MOO2 for very fair $9.95.

30.6.07

Where is the modern Master of Orion?

This question was asked in the last issue of the German magazine GameStar. German readers might remember that GameStar itself made MOO2 very popular in Germany. In 1999, they offered MOO2 on their Bonus CD and one should keep in mind that the print-run was over 300.000 back in the days.

Here is the translation of his comment:


Where is the center?


Trusting the PC Games Charts the PC owners play Action titles, Real Time Strategy, Role Playing Games and additionally maybe Football. This is the misapprehension of the mainstream. Indeed, some of these genres are popular and are cultivated by the large producers exclusively. However, alongside niches are prospering.

There are sufficient people, who love genres, that barely exist any longer: Turn Based Strategy, Flight Simulators, Jump & Runs. The large companies don't want to serve these niches. Therefore small developers step into the breach and produce curd like UFO Extraterrestrials or Space Empires V - more or less failed clones of erstwhile genre masterpieces. They sell well nevertheless.


It is one of the huge mistakes of our industry that a strong middle segment is missing. There are the top games, that cost millions, and there is a miraculousness depth of cheap easy-to-play games. But good titles for niche genres do barely exist. Where is the next Battle Isle? Where is the modern Master of Orion? These two examples should attract attention. The written off genre of Graphical Adventures is currently the only one where this middle segment exists, where good games are produced on a monthly base. On the other hand, the Handheld Game Consoles: (ambitious!) round-based tactic like Advance Wars has sensational success on the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS.

There is no reason, why this shouldn't work on the PC.

Christian Schmidt
GameStar

(translated by siron)

18.5.07

Editor for AI-Races

At first, I have to thank Siron for allowing me to post on his blog. Here we go: thanks, Siron!

I just finished the work on a RaceEditor for the computer races which are defined in the racestuf.lbx.

For it is completely done in Java, you'll need the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 1.5 to use it. Not sure if it runs with JRE 1.4.

Just download the jarfile and put it into your orion2 directory. It works quite self-explaining. However, there is a help-button which explains a little more on how to use the editor.

A usable feature could be to define the mostly played races like UniTol, UniAqua etc. and play them not by creating a custom race but just by selecting one of the predefined races.

My intention to create this editor was to push the AI a little, but it doesn't work. My Psilon has now +2 Research, LowG, Large HW, Artifacts HW, Lithovore and Democracy. But even this race doesnt research very fast … but it is amazing how fast you can go by playing such a race. And I have not talked about the modded Klackon ;-)

Just have a try. Comments and Suggestions are welcome, send them to

28.4.07

Classic Game Of The Week

The game blog Gamers with Jobs chooses MOO2 as Classic Game Of The Week:

[...]MOO2, as the game is affectionately known, rivaled, I dare say, Civilization itself as one of the defining turn-based strategy games of all time, and it is this week's Classic Game of the Week.

StarCraft 2 Rumor

A new South Korean source claims that, according to a leak, Blizzard will be announcing StarCraft 2 at the World Wide Invitational, on the 19th of May 2007.


Update May 19th: Confirmed!
And here we go:

After years of waiting, Blizzard Entertainment seconds ago announced that StarCraft 2 would be the new game! "Looks strikingly similar to SC1" according to IGN.


See also: http://www.starcraft2.com

14.4.07

Re: Master of Orion 2 Intro Cinematic

A video response to the Master of Orion 2 Intro Cinematic:



...and here the next MOO2 influenced generation, making fun of....hmmm what exactly?! ;)



Finally scored:

8.4.07

RAMDiskXP and 4X Comparison

There has been increased activity on Matthew's game blog in the recent weeks. You should check out his RamDiskXP guide. Furthermore he found a detailed 4X Comparison of Galactic Civilizations 2, Sword of the Stars and Space Empires V.

26.3.07

The Galactic Council

Blackscorn is a fresh member of our evergreen MOO2 online community (he joined this weekend). He made an interesting discovery on ebay last year and picked up this picture of the council room (click it to enlarge):




Blackscorn told me that some mom was selling it for her son who said he won it in 1996 as a prize at a game convention. It is signed by the creators/devs of MOO2 and dates back to 1996 (but it is still in a mint condition):



For now I can decipher the signatures of Jim Cowlishaw, Steve Barcia, Ronnie Gauny, Jim McIntyre, Kenneth Burd, Pat Owens, Kevin Albers, Shelly Hollen, Rob Corell and Russ Williams. I need a closer look for the other signatures. Is there anyone else out there with the same picture?

25.3.07

DOSBox 0.70

A new release of DOSBox was published a few weeks ago. Apparently, the new default settings of the dosbox.conf work quite nicely on new computers now. Lord Brazen proposes in this post the following fine tuning:

a) Change output from surface to overlay.
b) Change gus from true to false.
c) Change joysticktype from auto to none.
d) Change ipx from false to true. (for multiplayer games)

The other highlighted items were already my default settings. I don't have sufficient feedback yet, but I assume that you should adjust frameskip to 1 or 2 for old computers. Additionally, I am not sure how the auto core feature works for old computers. Feedback is appreciated.

I will update the DOSBox guide with the new dosbox.conf files in the next days.

13.2.07

Russian MOO2

Impressive! Grig de Griz found a way to implement cyrillic letters inside MOO2. He completed his russian translation of MOO2 (based on 1.31) a few weeks ago. Take a look:

For example, the Racestuf screen...


...and even the system names were translated!


Currently, the localization is still based on 1.31 but LordBrazen has already provided a modified 1.4patcher for the Russian 1.31. Probably, there might be a Russian 1.4 version pretty soon!

The current version can be downloaded here: http://www.mo3.fatal.ru/moo2tfiles.htm

There is also a MOO2 discussion forum on his site to discuss his mod and (forthcoming) MOO2 tools: http://www.mo3.fatal.ru/forum/forums.php?forum=19
(I have also added it to the sidebar.)

You should have no worries to install the files, they can coexist with the English 1.31/1.40 versions.

DOSbox Fine Tuning

LordBrazen posted some info regarding the new build DOSBox 0.66rc1 CVS on his blog. Additionally, he now recommends to use the setsound.exe (the MOO2 folder or CD should contain this executable) to configure the sound (instead of editing the DIG.INI). Though on my PC the sound is slightly choppy (especially during screen changes) with the proposed settings in the DOSbox guide. Shadowlord assumed in this forum post that this might be caused by the experimental auto cycle feature and frameskip. With his settings the sound seems better. Or is it just my imagination?

1.1.07

A Few Thoughts About 2006

First of all: Happy MOO Year!

Though in this post I want to look at 2006 once again:

Traffic
Our two MOO2 blogs, this one and lordbrazen.blogspot.com, finally achieved google page rank 3 in the last months of 2006:



I am hopeful that this achievement will even further increase our traffic in this year. Generally, I was already surprised about the traffic in 2006. I started to track this website in November 2005 with statcounter.com (see the counter in the sidebar) and visualized them with the so called ClustrMaps. In the last the few days I tried to animate these maps with the EasyGif Animator (shareware). Here is the result:



This is my first gif file. I would be very thankful, if anyone can propose a better tool which is able to compress the file without loss of too much quality.
Thanks to all visitors. There is far more traffic than I ever expected.

4X Turn Based Strategy
2006 was also the reincarnation of the Space Based 4X Turn Based Strategy genre. Who expected this after MOO3 was such a disappointment? Galactic Civilizations 2, Sword of the Stars and Space Empires V were released in 2006.

Galactic Civilizations 2 is surely a good game. But most of us MOO2 fans were disappointed that tactical combat was excluded. Additionally, a game without multiplayer is IMO boring after a few months. Besides the last point GalCiv2 is an ideal MOO2 successor for those MOO2 fans who preferred strategical combat (i.e., without ship design and battles). But who actually preferred that option? I guess less than one percent of us. There is some hope that tactical combat and multiplayer will be included in GalCiv3. There is even the possibility of an MP extension for GalCiv2 but I doubt that this will be happen.

More of us MP players were interested in Sword of the Stars (SOTS) since it includes tactical combat and MP. Several players considered themselves already as SOTS fanboys. But the demo was a disappointment. To put it mildly: The UI is at least controversial. These both posts on the quarter of three board lists a lot of good points: #262 and #267.

But the answer of the SOTS Dev Martin Cirulis was rather harsh: #290, actually the worst PR I can imagine. Most forum members were upset by his comment so it was no surprise at all that the host of the Quarter To Three forum, the freelancer Tom Chick, wrote a negative SOTS review.
Was that review biased because of this issue? I remember some guys in our community claimed that Tom Chick was spot on, but Martin Cirulis had his own version.

To sum it up: In the current state the game looks more like a riddle than a strategy game and because of the above mentioned quarrel I am afraid we won't see UI improvements in a forthcoming SOTS2.

Regarding Space Empires V: I have to admit that I have tested the demo just for a short while. Gusset wrote in our community forum that the tactical combat is restricted for singleplayer. AFAIK the Play by Web option is currently the most popular multiplayer mode and tactical combat won't make much sense there. There is also a TCP/IP mode but unfortunately it is still too bugged. But keep in mind that the publishers are well known for their support. I hope that Gusset, who has already tried some MP games, keeps us informed.

The year 2006 gave us three potential substitutes for our beloved MOO2. But my favorite is still MOO2 which has IMO the smartest UI and best balance between strategical and tactical elements. Actually, some reviewers called GalCiv2 the new MOO2 (and it had lots of good reviews). But when you look at the evaluations of the customers, you will see that MOO2 has still an edge. You may have noticed that I added some Amazon links recently (in this post and see also the bottom of the sidebar). Just scroll over them and the average customer review score will appear:



After 10 years MOO2 has still an amazing average of 5/5. GalCiv2 and Space Empires V have good but not overwhelming scores with 3.5/5, just slightly ahead of SOTS (3/5) and please let us forget MOO3.

Blog Upgrade
Additionally, I have upgraded my blog yesterday to the new Blogger (it merged with my google account now). Whatever that means exactly, you will have noticed that the old posts are now labeled. This tagging feature seems quite useful, for example try the labels:

DOSbox
Video
Battle Contest
10 years MOO2
Strategy
MOO2 formulae

Quite easy now to find posts that are related to a specific topic. I will probably add the labels to the sidebar soon.

Nevertheless, I am also a bit sceptical about this upgrade since there are some autoformats involved. Please inform me when you see any bugs after this upgrade.