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Thursday, May 9, 2002
Master of Orion III Preview at GameSpot
10:37 AM | Richard Porcher | Comment on this story

For those who simply cannot get enough, GameSpot is hosting yet another preview of the long awaited Master of Orion III, the third installment in the award-winning series. The preview focuses on the reasons for the delay in shipping the game, from this summer to fall, and the kinds of changes that have been made and are still going on.

Of most substance seems to be the elimination of the "focus point" system, a means by which the player was limited in how much could be done each turn. The new model focuses more on the consequences of becoming too large and taking too long to accomplish things, and actually rewards players with smaller, leaner empires.

Here is a small sample of the preview:

The centerpiece of Master of Orion III's ambitious design was the concept of "imperial focus points," which was meant to address the pacing problem large-scale strategy games often have late in the game, when there's too much for a player to manage comfortably. In a real government, we'd expect a bureaucracy to develop to deal with the management headache of an ever-growing empire. Focus points meant that a player could only have so much influence on the game, and the bureaucracy—an extensive system of automation—would handle the rest. Unfortunately, the result was that the players would spend as much time considering how to manage an empire as actually managing it.

The good news is that the developers have found a way to keep the essence of the focus point system and get rid of the artificial limits on how much a player can control. The AI developed to run your empire is still in the game, and players can rely on it more or less according to taste. You can set broad, empire-wide policies for the AI to follow, specify a production focus for a given planet or system, let the AI handle space combat, or handle any given element yourself. The design is more open to different styles of play, and it still tries to cut down on the need for late-game micromanagement.

Master of Orion debuted in 1994 to critical acclaim, and was followed by the equally successful Master of Orion II, considered to be one of the all-time best galactic empire-building games. Master of Orion III , a far more ambitious title, is now slated for release this fall, and will be published for the Mac by MacSoft.

GameSpot: Master of Orion III Preview
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