Why MOO3 sucked.

2004-01-15 00:56

Okay, let’s ignore the problems with copy protection… No wait, let’s not. The copy protection was a major component of what moved Master Of Orion 3 from “mediocre” to “awful”. Quite simply, it took me a good extra five or six hours of work to even get the game to run.

That I would put in that much work for a game suggests high expectations. MOO2, after all, was a really incredible game.

MOO3 was boring. I don’t know what it was; it had all sorts of interesting potential, after all, and it could have been a great deal of fun… But it had a weird cross between tedious micromanagement and total powerlessness that I was unable to get past.

Contrast, say, Galactic Civilizations (by Stardock). This game is is pleasant and interesting. It’s a lot friendlier, too. I’m not sure what the difference is, but I think it comes down to a more cohesive developer vision. MOO3 feels like second system effect; it’s huge, and it tries to do everything all at once, with the result that it’s very hard to see the game in there. GalCiv picked a part of the “space empire” game genre to work on, and did a good job of it.

This isn’t to say they’re the only ones. For instance, Space Empires IV is pretty neat too. (It’s by Malfador Machinations.)

What do these games have in common? A small development team, and not that large a budget. What else do they have in common? Both are apparently commercial successes, in that the companies making them are still in business selling them.

It is of particular interest to note that, of these three games, the two I’m willing to recommend are the two that didn’t use copy protection. Why? Probably because they’re confident enough of the value they offer not to bother. By contrast, Infogrames (now “Atari”) used draconian anti-copying mechanisms, so extreme they are physically incompatible with many CD drives. Why? One assumes they didn’t have any faith in the product’s ability to inspire buyers.

I’m starting to think that copy protection schemes are a good indicator of a program I won’t want to play.

I’ve definitely learned to prefer small teams I’ve never heard of to large companies. Even small teams I’ve heard of can be good; Troika games is pretty decent. (On the other hand, Temple of Elemental Evil was gutted by Atari’s last-minute fuckups and their love for horrifically unusable copy protection.)

Peter Seebach



  1. SE4 is a good game; for that matter, SE3 (which there is still a lot of support around for) is a good game as well - not nearly as graphic intensive as today's games seem to need to be, but a good game with interest and challenge nonetheless.

    — melancthon · 2004-01-15 07:46 · #

  2. I have loved MOO2 for years. I eagerly awaited MOO3. Until it hard crashed my machine. To the tune of a windows re-install. I was back at the store the same day I bought it. The sales staff, whom had just endured three months of "do you got it yet?" from me, was surprized.

    — Tirani · 2004-12-20 13:46 · #

  3. fuck you all i hate you and hope you burn in fuckin hell assholes. the game is cool but i want to see your blood on your faces

    — yo mama · 2008-05-31 19:14 · #

  4. Ahh, a Moo3 fanboy. The ones who lost their minds when they couldnt cope with the reality of what came out after wasting months( years? ) to hype it.

    Hitting myself with a brick is more plesurable as playing this game. After having a lot of fun with Master of Orion 1 and 2 playing this game is like watching a beloved pet die.

    — Muzolf · 2008-12-01 07:44 · #