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This is the universe of Master of Orion III, MacSofts (MOO III) new turn-based strategy game from developer Quicksilver Software. It features hundreds of worlds to explore, enormous technology trees for your fledgling empire to progress through, starships you can design yourself, 15 known races and plenty of political maneuvering.
If Theres a Bright Center to the Universe Check out your planets locations in the galaxy.
What we really wanted was a living empire, explains Quicksilver president Bill Fisher. Think about Star Wars: In the movie, attention is focused on the people who make up this complex, galaxy-spanning empire. Its not a dry, lifeless entity. The decisions made by fallible, corruptible, mortal individuals are what drive it.
In Master of Orion III, you are one of those individuals.
The Fifth X
Fisher adds that this is what Quicksilver means when they talk about the fifth X in the game. A typical strategy game features four ex- phases: exploration, expansion, exploitation and extermination. In MOO III, however, the fifth X is experience, as in how you experience the game as it unfolds.
Each empire has a leader, Fisher explains, and you see that leaders picture when you examine the details about that empire. So instead of having just a faceless artificial intelligence (AI) make decisions for you, youve got a person with a name.
This leader has a personality, skills and weaknesses, he adds. You need to look at them and understand them so you can make the most of what your empire has to offer.
Planetary Data. Examine the vital stats of the planets in each system youve explored.
This foreign affairs aspect sets MOO III apart from other strategy games simply because it is so robust. In the beginning of the game, your empire controls one star system and you must send a task force of scout ships to explore nearby systems. Depending on the random placement of the empires at the start of the game, you may be completely isolated, or you may already be a member of the Orion Senate, in which case you can interact with other imperial leaders and forge alliances, impose sanctions, declare war, exchange technologies and conduct a host of other diplomatic functions. Managing your relationships with them is a crucial part of the game because a racial faux pas, such as trying to strike a friendly deal with a Cynoid empire when youre a Meklar leader, can lead to disastrous results.
(Dont know tell a Cynoid from a Meklar? Dont worry read Of Orions, Antarans and Galactic Wars for a full rundown on all the known races in the game, as well as a history of the Orion Sector.)
Three Ways to Win
As a member of the Senate, you can propose new laws, vote on laws proposed by other empires and vote for a new president when each new election happens. All these actions affect other imperial leaders views of you and your people. The New Orions, who are a formidable power in the galaxy when the game begins, have one of their own in the presidential seat, but you can try to secure the position for yourself and win the game in the process.
Becoming president is actually one of three ways to win MOO III. You can also try to conquer defeat all of the other empires, or you can look for the mysterious Antaran Xs hidden on various planets.
Note: Master of Orion III is no longer available from MacSoft, however you may still be able to find it at your local retail store.
Instead of using your starships for combat and colonization, you can also deploy them to search for these mysterious technologies, which are part of the games rich backstory (see history to learn more). If you can find all five or steal them from empires that have already done the searching you win the game.
The Ambassador Will See You Now. Interact with aliens from a wide variety of cultures.
I think story is a critical part of a good strategy title, says Fisher. The MOO universe started out with a great foundation and we kinda took the ball and ran with it, building a complete timeline of the Orion Sector from the earliest times through the present.
Play it Your Way
So what kind of galactic leader do you think youd make? One who sweats the small stuff and needs to conduct plenty of planetary inspections, or the type who looks out the viewport a lot and muses about the big picture? No matter which style suits your personality, MOO III allows you to play your way, thanks to the robust AI at the heart of the game.
For example, every planet you colonize has a viceroy who conducts business based on the big-picture decisions you make. You can view each planets details and modify them to your liking, or you can trust his judgment. So if you decide to emphasize military spending in the budget window, your viceroys will adjust their planets efforts accordingly.
Building a Better Hyperspace Engine. Watch your empires technology evolve.
To track everything that happens between turns, you merely need to look at the situation report screen. There youll find reports from your advisors telling you about potential unrest on your planets, shipbuilding thats complete, captured spies (both your own and the enemys), and more. Hyperlinks allow you to quickly move to the appropriate screens and look at matters more closely, if you wish.
There are many personality types in strategy gaming, says Fisher. There are explorers, builders, conquerors, and diplomats, to name a few. Me, Im a builder. I like to be left along to build a huge, successful empire with lots of cool stuff and a galaxy-spanning economic base.
What type are you?
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