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Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...



The What

Imperium Galactica was published in 1997. Here's how Tim Howgego's FAQ described it;

Tim Howgego posted:

Imperium Galactica was, in my opinion, a beautifully quirky space strategy game. Part galactic strategy, part real time combat, part colony building, part adventure story. Ambitious and not entirely successful.

Despite it's numerous flaws, I really like Imperium Galactica. It's definitely an acquired taste though - I bounced off it multiple times because of how difficult the game makes it to even understand what it's trying to do and be. The different genres, partially blended and partially sequential, are part of why it ends up with a UI that feels like it's being held together by spit and baling wire. Most of them also end up being fairly half-baked in their own right. The design makes little effort at times to let the player know what they're even supposed to be doing. I imagine it being put together by one of my favorite ridiculous cinematic characters:



David Battley as Mr. Turkentine in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) posted:

I've just decided to switch our Friday schedule to Monday, which means that the test we take each Friday on what we learned during the week will now take place on Monday before we've learned it. But since today is Tuesday, it doesn't matter in the slightest. Pencils ready!

This game doesn't play fair. The above quote is not at all an exaggeration of what it does to the player. I'm here to sarcastically strike back on behalf of strategy gamers everywhere, but also to find the fun that is hidden in this title - you just have to dig some to find it.

As for the story, well ... that you'll see as we go. The image at the top is from the original Hungarian version of the game. The voice acting was supposedly much better in that version. It's ... not a strong point in the English version, to put it very charitably. The tagline is 'The Galaxy Is Yours ... If You Can Handle It'.

The Why

Because it deserves the treatment. The aforementioned FAQ is solid and includes a complete walkthrough, but it's focused on Normal difficulty. The two complete YouTube LPs that I was able to find are also on Normal. There's more to explore, including mechanics misunderstood or not fully explicated in the FAQ and other materials that are out there. Imperium Galactica stands alone, often not in a good way, and it's never been done on SA.

The When

Weekly updates are being aimed for. The date of the week may vary with my other projects.

The How

Hard difficulty, and I'm also going to take the worst result in each of the early semi-randomized events. On the other side, I'm going to take the game's implicit demand that the player be able to know what's coming to it's extreme. I'm also going to abuse every exploit I am aware of, to crush the opposition as thoroughly, completely, and quickly as I can. This isn't my normal type of LP - I'll still discuss the narrative where appropriate - but trust me on this; Imperium Galactica is asking for it, and it fully, richly deserves it.

The Spoilers

Only in spoiler tags. If someone doesn't know what happens in this game, I'd like them to be able to experience it. But since it's more about the gameplay than the story, go ahead and tag them if you must spoil.

The Archives

Intro & Backstory (20:07)
Dante's Dilemma (25:39)
Settling In (26:36)
Oh Captain, My Captain (23:33)
Crisis on Achilles ... Again (19:10)
Many Questions, Fewer Answers (26:14)

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 17:46 on Nov 28, 2020

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Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...


Intro & Backstory (20:07)


And away we go. The galaxy, such as it is ... err, will be. Our intrepid hero will get properly started on his responsibilities, and actually gameplay will ensue in the next session. I have to wonder if the ship's computer here was an inspiration for the Madison character in Galaxy Quest.

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 13:21 on Oct 23, 2020

Torrannor
Apr 27, 2013

---FAGNER---
TEAM-MATE


Oh yes, this is so good. I loved this game as a kid, and I haven't found anything similar since then. The way the gameplay opens up the further you get into it is pretty unique, imho. I'm very excited to see you LPing this, Strategic Sage.

VictualSquid
Feb 29, 2012

Gently enveloping the target with indiscriminate love.


Huh, I was going to say that I enjoyed this game when it was new. Then I watched the video and noticed that I was confusing it with a different game with almost the same description, tagline, boxart and name.

Carpator Diei
Feb 26, 2011


This definitely looks like something interesting. Attempting to make a game that is just every sci-fi game genre at once is certainly ambitious.

my dad
Oct 17, 2012

this shall be humorous


This game is quite fun, and also incredibly ambitious for when it was made.

I look forward to seeing if your way of squeezing everything you can out of the early game is the same as mine.

Zurai
Feb 13, 2012


Oooh, I'm definitely keeping an eye on this. I'm not sure that I ever played this, although the name rings a pretty big bell, but it would have been right up my alley as a kid.

mrpwase
Apr 21, 2010

I HAVE GREAT AVATAR IDEAS
For the Many, Not the Few


I'm having some weird psychological break where whole swathes of childhood memory are coming back to me and I'm fairly certain I played this game a lot. I thought it was really weird at the time, don't think that opinion's going to change.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

my dad posted:

I look forward to seeing if your way of squeezing everything you can out of the early game is the same as mine.

As far as I know there are two general paths you can take. For those who know what they are, I'm taking the 'extreme' option. That's all I'll say for now.

Torranor posted:

I loved this game as a kid, and I haven't found anything similar since then. The way the gameplay opens up the further you get into it is pretty unique, imho. I'm very excited to see you LPing this, Strategic Sage.

Thanks! Looks like this is one we won't end up debating too much .

mrpwase posted:

I thought it was really weird at the time, don't think that opinion's going to change.

It still is. But perhaps you'll be able to decide whether you think it's good weird or bad weird as we proceed. .

Mathwyn
Oct 31, 2012

Ante up.




Ooh this will be interesting! After I watched the video I thought this looked familiar, and it turns out I read an unarchived SSLP of this a few years ago.

I'm keen to see this game in motion as you break it over your knee!

Koorisch
Mar 29, 2009


I happen to know there does exist a OpenIG version of this, it has much larger colony maps, allows you to see the live-action versions of many cutscenes and also there's a skirmish mode where you can play with any of the races with a random world start, not unlike that of Imperium Galactica 2.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

I have heard of OpenIG though I haven't tried it. It does sound interesting, though I'm more focusing the game as originally released here and I think larger colony maps is the kind of change that isn't actually beneficial to game balance (though I definitely understand why some kinds of players would prefer that).

Koorisch
Mar 29, 2009


Strategic Sage posted:

I have heard of OpenIG though I haven't tried it. It does sound interesting, though I'm more focusing the game as originally released here and I think larger colony maps is the kind of change that isn't actually beneficial to game balance (though I definitely understand why some kinds of players would prefer that).

It's a bit different, it has a bunch of really useful things added such as icons over the planets telling you what they need and making traffic jams no longer an issue in space.

It's also quite a bit harder though so it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

e: Also I didn't mean the worlds were larger, just the Colony Screen map so you don't have to constantly scroll around to see your colony.

Koorisch fucked around with this message at 21:51 on Oct 24, 2020

Falcorum
Oct 21, 2010


It also fixes the bug where you could steal enemy fleets.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Koorisch posted:

I didn't mean the worlds were larger, just the Colony Screen map so you don't have to constantly scroll around to see your colony.

Ahh, in that case it's a very nice QoL enhancement then.

Falcorum posted:

It also fixes the bug where you could steal enemy fleets.

That's one I don't know how to do.

Falcorum
Oct 21, 2010


Strategic Sage posted:

That's one I don't know how to do.

If I recall correctly, you just selected an enemy fleet on the map and went into the fleet designer/editor screen. It would show the enemy fleet there so you could remove their ships, tanks, etc to add to your own ship/etc pool. I mainly remember it being very easy to trigger accidentally, and ended up abusing this bug when I was younger to avoid dealing with some annoying enemies late in the game.

my dad
Oct 17, 2012

this shall be humorous


I played the Java remake, not the original game, but it's almost identical to the original as far as the actual gameplay goes (or so I've been told).

maninthesuit
Jul 13, 2017


I remember playing this game as a kid. Maybe it was a demo, maybe it was a chopped apart 'less than legal' version as I don't think it had any of the cutscenes.
Kid-me being stupid and not knowing what he was doing, I never got far. (Don't think I ever managed to fix up the wartorn planet before running out of money.)
I spent most of my time going through the menus to look at the ships and admiring the awesome spritework on the colony-screen.
It may be static and a bit lifeless with the empty roads, but I love how the buildings visually change when damaged or when they're being built. Just compare the buildings on Achilles with the ones on Naxos.

Kid-me also thought the free traders were Cardassians from Star Trek.

I bought this the day it came out on GOG and while I got much farther in on my last playthrough with the help of such skills as actually being able to read english, I still never actually finished.
So I'll be happy to watch this series.

SOLarian
Oct 29, 2012


Pillbug

This game looks weird. Never heard of it before, so looking forward to the LP.

Also:

Strategic Sage posted:

As for the story, well ... that you'll see as we go. The image at the top is from the original Hungarian version of the game. The voice acting was supposedly much better in that version. It's ... not a strong point in the English version, to put it very charitably. The tagline is 'The Galaxy Is Yours ... If You Can Handle It'.

Any idea why the hungarian version has a german tagline?

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

LOL. I clearly was wrong about it being from the Hungarian version then. Shows what I know about languages. I do know it was originally Hungarian, but obviously I was wrong about the box art there.

Carnafex
Sep 6, 2006
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.

God I love this game so much, it what got me into the 4X genre.
Something else the OpenIG version fixes is an bug where there was actually a limit on how many buildings you could phyiscally place for a player. Like at end game you would have enough planets to run into this limit, and you could no longer build anything unless you blew up something else. That was... fustratingly weird.

The cheat though was great, just type it in and then you could select anything in a fleet or planet and press delete. Ahh, xeno scum, you'll learn to fear my mighty weapon of click/delete!

Rhjamiz
Oct 28, 2007



Curious to see this one!

SOLarian
Oct 29, 2012


Pillbug

Strategic Sage posted:

LOL. I clearly was wrong about it being from the Hungarian version then. Shows what I know about languages. I do know it was originally Hungarian, but obviously I was wrong about the box art there.

Oh, I thought there might be some story behind that. No worries,stuff like that happens.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

This should be a lot of fun if we keep this mix of people new to the game and people who already know it well around. Next episode tomorrow.

Poil
Mar 17, 2007



I played the sequel a little but never managed to even get my skills up to poor.

Had no idea the first game was so different.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...


Dante's Dilemma (25:39)


My opening approach takes the road less traveled - and one that frankly would probably result in me being burned in effigy or worse from a purely narrative point of view. Colony management, overall game structure, and our first taste of fleet combat feature here. Quite a bit of exposition as well, but we've got the basic elements mostly out of the way now.

my dad
Oct 17, 2012

this shall be humorous


Apparently, the galaxy stuff doesn't actually start happening until your second promotion, at least in the original, though I played under the assumption that it happens from the start in the remake. I rushed the early game by demolishing stuff to supercharge my economy, and rushing the missions, but I actually would have been better off stalling the missions as much as possible (while still supercharging my economy). It also turns out that having way too much housing can also slow down your growth, though I don't know the exact math for it.

idhrendur
Aug 20, 2016



You're now further than I ever got with this game.

Torrannor
Apr 27, 2013

---FAGNER---
TEAM-MATE


Good update, and devoting such a large share of the video to colony/empire management gives LP watchers a good impression of whether fighting space/ground battles or caring for all your worlds will devour more time in the game, especially as you get promoted further. I never considered demolishing buildings, especially not the space port and research facility. I'm very curious to see whether you build a new one to equip your fleets, or wait for... expansion... to get another one. But of course, the basic thinking behind your decision is obvious, population growth roughly compounds, so this seems like a really clever way to massively improve your finances early game. I'll have to try that out next time.

As for the combat side, I never play without range indicators, but to each their own. I don't think hyperdrives can be destroyed, otherwise the ship would be stranded in space and would have to be disbanded? You can only change out hyperdrives by equipping another one, I think the ships get blown up before the hyperdrive can be lost.

But still, I like the overall capital ship equipment system, even if there are some balance issues. I find it especially interesting how shields are handled, but we'll get to that later.

I love that the message of the colonel denying you reinforcements kinda abruptly ends, nearly cutting off his last word. It was like this in the German version that I played as a kid as well, so this must be intentional. A nice little detail.


Edit: Yes, rushing promotions can backfire a lot, as I found out once. I'll talk about that a bit more later in the LP. Also, is this really a Hungarian game (too lazy to google)? Because the buildings that have their energy turned off display "aus" i.e. the German translation of "off". Coupled with the German writing on the box art, this makes me wonder. If you're curious:

"Das Universum Gehört Ihnen... Wenn Sie Es Packen Können" roughly translates to "The universe is yours... if you can seize it."

Torrannor fucked around with this message at 20:08 on Oct 31, 2020

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

my dad posted:

the galaxy stuff doesn't actually start happening until your second promotion, at least in the original, though I played under the assumption that it happens from the start in the remake.

You're the first source I've seen claim this. I don't know where the truth lies as I haven't tested this - it wouldn't have occurred to me that the first phase doesn't apply for the galaxy 'level' and testing the hypothesis would involve tedious replaying of a significant stretch of the game repeatedly.

my dad posted:

It also turns out that having way too much housing can also slow down your growth, though I don't know the exact math for it.

I'm confident this is not the case at least in the version I am playing (GOG's implemenation of the original). After reading your thoughts here I loaded up a save from my prep game in which I worked out my approach, and one of the planets at a certain point has more than 7x the housing capacity as population with no deleterious impact on growth. There are some vagaries with growth including what I perceive to be random/bugged drops, but I think I understand the relationship with how much housing you have - I will be getting into more of that as time progresses.

idhrendur posted:

You're now further than I ever got with this game.

I'm curious to hear your perspective on it when we get further in

Torranor posted:

is this really a Hungarian game (too lazy to google)?

Yes. Developer Digital Reality was based in Budapest. There must be something behind these uses of German, but that's a story I'm not familiar with. Possibly something to do with broadening the target audience regionally? Dunno.

Regarding your spoiler ...

I won't need a space port until I get promoted and get another one for free

Good point on the hyperdrives - the way it works AFAIK is that you can't lose the initial hyperdrive which actually isn't added-on gear but comes 'standard', but you can lose any upgrades you've installed. Another item I definitely won't have to worry about for some time. You're also definitely right that there will come a point where completely rushing promotions isn't a good idea - but I'm going to cut it as close as I can to win as quickly (in game time) as I can manage. Some small delays will be tolerated later on that front.

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 00:13 on Nov 1, 2020

Poil
Mar 17, 2007



They could have translated the game to German first and then later from German to English. Maybe they did the German translation first, copy&pasted the file and then overwrote the English translation and missed a few spots. Or something more obvious and likely.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...


Settling In (26:36)


More pirates, more building up the colonial infrastructure, and at the end I look at ways you can lose within the first few days if you are aggressively stupid and/or incompetent. About a week of game-time passes in this session; the first phase will finish up in the next episode, and we'll take our first step further into the larger galactic picture, as it were.

maninthesuit
Jul 13, 2017


Feeding your destroyer all the kills has lead to some close calls and I'm amazed and impressed that you haven't lost any fighters yet. I'm also not sure how much it matters in the end though. I guess it depends on if crew experience carries over when you get promoted to something bigger.

Moving on to the subject of the voice-acting. It's never really bothered me which is probably due to a number of factors. First and foremost, it's an older game so I'm set to expect a less professional performance and sound quality. The second is that it isn't really in your face about it. This is not an fmv-game, but a game with fmv parts in it. The messages are kept on a small portion of the screen, so the compression isn't as noticeable and the sets, costumes and visual acting can get away with being simpler without looking too bad. Actually, I didn't even notice the lip-synching being off until I read here that the game wasn't originally in English to begin with and started looking for it.

A lot of the clips do feel like it's random people at the office being dressed up, put in front of a microphone and reading the script for the first time. To their credit, some of the voice-actors do try. I'm going to look on youtube if I can find any clips of the original for comparison. The colonel for example sort of emotes though he never really seems to quite have the kind of...I dunno. Seriousness, authorativeness? Not really sure what I'm going for here. Picard rather than guy who sounds like my dad? (Sidenote, is it just me, or did he seem more upset about the loss of a trader than a whole planet?)
The two traders we've seen are day and night as well. The first one was Obi-wan being too sleepy to worry about his imminent demise. The second put in more urgency and the pirate ship flying by was a good touch, but I think the complete lack of background noise kept the scene from reaching its full potential. (alarms, pew-pew lasers or an explosion with a screen-shake would have done wonders there.)

And then you have the ones who are so bad they roll right back around to being funny. Like the wife who sounds like she's bored and really doesn't want to record a message, and the very smart son. Though I actually like those two's terrible performance in light of future very spoilery events.

Torrannor
Apr 27, 2013

---FAGNER---
TEAM-MATE


I think some of your earlier ideas are very much worth trying out, but that much amount of colony micromanagement would quickly lead me to quit the game.

I'm fairly sure that you had control of the lone pirate vessel defending against the other two, you could have sent it flying away to guarantee that your destroyer gets the kill. I'm honestly also unsure whether it's really worth it to feed the destroyer those kills, but I did only two full playthroughs of this game, both times on normal, so maybe this is required on hard.

I never saw those early loss scenes, it's cool that you are showing them off.

By the way, are we ruling over humans or insects? 6000 people growing by 60 people every 6 hours is... slightly unrealistic.

Libluini
May 18, 2012

Did I predict the future?


Grimey Drawer

Torrannor posted:

By the way, are we ruling over humans or insects? 6000 people growing by 60 people every 6 hours is... slightly unrealistic.

In poo poo like this, I always assume "growth" also includes immigration from other parts of the empire.

Also, nice LP! I have this game sitting around in my Steam-library, waiting for my Stellaris-addiction to falter so I can play it.

The game reminds me a lot of other games I've played, like Utopia for example. Hell, the very next game I'm LPing is a lot like this too, just with space combat more simplified and going all-in on colony building.

OutofSight
May 4, 2017


Strategic Sage posted:


Yes. Developer Digital Reality was based in Budapest. [...]


Woah.
Didn't they make another space strategy called "Haegemonia" later? That would explain why somehow the ambitious mechanics feel ...familiar despite never having played this game.
Maybe Haegemonia did not have the same scope, but they tried some neat stuff with the hero skills, tech system and space spies.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Libluini posted:

ell, the very next game I'm LPing is a lot like this too,

LOL. Like you're every going to get to LPing another game besides MOO3. I mean, cool, that sounds fun, yeah, go for it. Yep, totally what I meant to say.

Torranor posted:

By the way, are we ruling over humans or insects? 6000 people growing by 60 people every 6 hours is... slightly unrealistic.

Libluini posted:

I always assume "growth" also includes immigration from other parts of the empire.

Later game events will demonstrate that the immigration theory ultimately isn't the answer. And yeah, population growth is crazy but so are a great many other things, such as how fast we build structures of planetary scope, and ... more that will be coming soon. Since you mentioned you've played through the game a couple times Torranor, you'll be quite aware that the events in the storyline and the time taken to accomplish them is ... not exactly sane either. I just assume time is compressed for the sake of whatever. This will come up in the next episode if I remember to talk about it.

OutofSight posted:

Didn't they make another space strategy called "Haegemonia" later?

Yep!

Torranor posted:

I'm fairly sure that you had control of the lone pirate vessel defending against the other two, you could have sent it flying away to guarantee that your destroyer gets the kill. I'm honestly also unsure whether it's really worth it to feed the destroyer those kills, but I did only two full playthroughs of this game, both times on normal, so maybe this is required on hard.

Pirate issue didn't occur to me. Hard difficulty isn't nearly *that* hard though - I think the typical gamer going through on Hard wouldn't do more than retreat their fighters to keep them from getting destroyed, and wouldn't bother delving into the colony micromanagement as much as I have either - just build stuff and check taxes every few days or whatever. This run though victory is not enough for me; I want to shatter, annihilate, and humiliate the game, which means extracting nearly every advantage I can. From my POV it's not that much more micromanagement since you're required to manually place every.single.building on every.single.colony regardless - and similar later fleet activities that we'll get into when it's time.

maininthesuit posted:

some close calls and I'm amazed and impressed that you haven't lost any fighters yet. I'm also not sure how much it matters in the end though.

Doesn't matter that much, but there's a window of time when it will matter. On the fighters, waste not want not. I have plans for them.

maninthesuit posted:

it's an older game so I'm set to expect a less professional performance and sound quality. The second is that it isn't really in your face about it. This is not an fmv-game, but a game with fmv parts in it.

Good thoughts on the VA. I've always thought the colonel was good, definitely by comparison to the competition by a long shot. As for the rest ... I probably shouldn't say more just yet .

my dad
Oct 17, 2012

this shall be humorous


OutofSight posted:

Woah.
Didn't they make another space strategy called "Haegemonia" later? That would explain why somehow the ambitious mechanics feel ...familiar despite never having played this game.
Maybe Haegemonia did not have the same scope, but they tried some neat stuff with the hero skills, tech system and space spies.

Yup! My favorite sci-fi strategy game even after all these years, shame about the instability on modern systems.

Torrannor
Apr 27, 2013

---FAGNER---
TEAM-MATE


Oh, they did Haegemonia, too? Now that I think about it, there are some similarities between the games. I'm also a big fan of that game.

As for keeping fighters alive, there are some situations early on where your ability to get new ships is pretty limited, big losses at that stage can leave you in a position where you can't possibly win against upcoming story mission fights. So I also always made sure not to lose any of my fighters.

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maninthesuit
Jul 13, 2017


So I found this link to a video of someone playing the first part of the game's Hungarian (I think) version.

click here

What's interesting is that it has a lot more fmv than the english Gog-version seems to have. The initial briefing in my version is completely done with the 3d cg models, but in the video it cuts to a full-screen fmv with the actors. (including Dante who goes from blonde to darker-haired.)
The player skips the cutscene at that point I believe, but skipping forward through the video I come across more pieces of full-screen fmv with live actors.

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