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Author Topic: Offworld Trading Company - M.U.L.E. inspired Capitalistic RTS without combat  (Read 4535 times)
Falconeer
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on: January 05, 2015, 08:08:22 PM




Quote
Offworld Trading Company is a real-time strategy game in which money, not firepower, is the player's weapon. Players found a company on Mars and compete against other companies looking to become the economic power on the planet.

Loosely inspired by such classics as M.U.L.E., Offworld Trading Company forces players to make tough choices on what resources to acquire, what goods to build and sell, how to interact with the planet's thriving underworld, and when and what stocks to acquire.

http://www.offworldgame.com/game

This is one not even on Steam Early Access yet but at least they are not Kickstarting it for once. Sure you can pay to get into the super secret (there's a NDA) prototype alpha build, but who wouldn't take your money these days if you really wanted to throw some at them?

What we have here is a Real Time Strategic game, for 2 to 8 players, that draws inspiration from boardgames, M.U.L.E., Railroad Tycoon and a bit of Age of Empires, and the lead designer is that Soren Johnson who worked on Civilization 3 and was lead designer of Civilization 4.

It's really hard to compare it to anything else present since they really made a point to make something new while taking ideas from a very glorios past, and the lack of videos (until the NDA drops) doesn't help. But it plays out as a race against other players to colonize the surface of Mars that is randomly generated with each match, and basically buy out stocks of their companies until you can fire them and take control. The "combat" in the game happens through resource generation and aggressive buying and selling with the left side of the screen constantly showing the fluctuating price of the 14 resources you can collect yourself or trade with other players. The catch is that the price is updated every 2 seconds and demand and offer obviously rule everything.

Interaction between players is guaranteed through the real-time paced price wars, and through some hostile actions you can purchase at the Black Market, stuff like bribing their miners to do a bad job, or sabotage their trains and blimps, or even sending spies in order to steal patents and technologies. Also, the hostile takeover part is definitely interesting since it's hard in a close match to try to win while at the same time keeping at bay everyone else who's trying to do the same. So many variables and so many more layers.. like you would expect from a clever economic boardgame from the last 10-15 years. Except this is in real time. There's a map, tiles, factories to build and little blimps carrying resources to keep care of making sure they take the shortest route, are energized, and stuff like that.

As I mentioned earlier I understand it's almost pointless to make a post about this now as it's virtually unaccessible (unless you really want to, in that case it's 20$) but I know there's enough fellow boardgame lovers here that could appreciate this and it will be on Steam in a few months and there's nothing wrong in trying to draw a bit of attention on what seems like an original project. Please note that I am playing the prototype myself and I can happily say that there IS a game, it's not like this is vaporware. Design is solid, programming is done, mechanics are in place and working, and multiplayer, although obviously in need of balancing and refining, is already hella fun. There's a sense of urgency in getting the best plots before your enemies do and develop shitty resources only to dump them on the market and destroy their profit while the game keeps going and your little factories and blimps keep chugging along. It steel needs a lot of work as a lot of graphics are missing, there's no music, interface is dry. But the game is there.

Here are the "Official Rules", presented as if it really were a boardgame.

Here's an interview with Soren Johnson that gives lots more info about the way they conceived and realized the game.

Quote
Offworld is an RTS game that uses tycoon game mechanics, instead of combat mechanics, to create conflict between players. We want people to understand that it is still a competitive RTS at the core Ė just one without guns.

Ingmar
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Reply #1 on: January 05, 2015, 08:14:41 PM

Hearing real-time is such a turnoff to me for a game like this, but I'll keep it on my radar.

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Falconeer
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Reply #2 on: January 05, 2015, 08:25:22 PM

I'd agree with you but after all real time was part of the magic of M.U.L.E. and what made it so special. There are some auctions between players here too and simultaneous action on a clock is quite mandatory.
Anyway, it's not in the game yet but they say people will be able to choose the speed of every match before you launch one, and I am looking forward myself to a much more relaxed pace. If it can be slowed down enough, it would probably not be too much of a hassle even for turn-based lovers.

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Reply #3 on: January 05, 2015, 11:31:24 PM

I'd love this as a single player game vs AI, or turn based and ideally a board game. Real time means best case scenario I'll buy it on Steam sale and play it once against a few f13ers then probably never again.

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Falconeer
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Reply #4 on: January 06, 2015, 04:32:07 AM

There is a single player campaign vs. AI, although I can't vouch for its quality since the development of that part is quite behind.

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Reply #5 on: January 06, 2015, 02:00:43 PM

I'd agree with you but after all real time was part of the magic of M.U.L.E. and what made it so special. There are some auctions between players here too and simultaneous action on a clock is quite mandatory.
Anyway, it's not in the game yet but they say people will be able to choose the speed of every match before you launch one, and I am looking forward myself to a much more relaxed pace. If it can be slowed down enough, it would probably not be too much of a hassle even for turn-based lovers.

Yeah if it's just every so often a timed auction it's one thing, but it sounds like the production etc. is all done in real-time too which makes me leery. We'll see though!

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Falconeer
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Reply #6 on: January 06, 2015, 04:21:19 PM

A very lenghty analysis (podcast, almost an hour long) of people discussing the game in its present state. Gives an idea of how different it is, and how interesting it is.

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Reply #7 on: January 06, 2015, 04:26:36 PM

A very lenghty analysis (podcast, almost an hour long) of people discussing the game in its present state. Gives an idea of how different it is, and how interesting it is.


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Falconeer
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Reply #8 on: January 16, 2015, 11:01:39 AM

I understand there's not really a point yet, but I got 5 codes to get this game for 20$ and for some stupid reason they will expire today. You get a Steam code.
I don't think anyone will be interested, but if you are, message me privately and I'll set you up. It is going to be more expensive when it'll hit Steam publically in a few months.

Quote
Offworld is progressing nicely, which means that we are ready to move forward to the next phase of the gameís development. Thus, the Founderís program is going to be closing soon, specifically on January 16th. After that, the game itself will not be available to new purchasers until it goes up on Steam. Right now is your last chance to buy and play the prototype and join the private forums.

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Reply #9 on: January 16, 2015, 09:09:49 PM


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Sophismata
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Reply #10 on: January 22, 2015, 01:52:43 AM

Let me know how it goes - it sounds like a lot of fun. Shame they closed off purchasing.

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Reply #11 on: January 22, 2015, 02:32:51 AM

The 20$ codes are still valid for a coupe of days. Let me know if you are interested.

It is surprisingly fun for me, even in its present stage, with tons of placeholder graphics and a broken single player campaign. It's hard if not impossible to find multiplayer games running though due to the very low numbers of people who know about the game, so that could be a good reason to wait for Steam Early Access.

lamaros
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Reply #12 on: January 22, 2015, 02:51:18 AM

The 20$ codes are still valid for a coupe of days. Let me know if you are interested.

It is surprisingly fun for me, even in its present stage, with tons of placeholder graphics and a broken single player campaign. It's hard if not impossible to find multiplayer games running though due to the very low numbers of people who know about the game, so that could be a good reason to wait for Steam Early Access.

I'd say I'm interested, but low player numbers and me in Aus means there would be nothing.

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Reply #13 on: January 22, 2015, 03:26:12 AM

Yeah, you could only play the AI in Skirmish matches or the unbalanced campaign and wait for Steam to open the flood gates. At that point, it would make more sense to wait although looks like (not confirmed) the final game will cost 35$.

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Reply #14 on: January 26, 2015, 11:47:09 PM

Thanks Falc. I'll wait for this one then - I don't mind paying the extra $ for a finished product.

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Reply #15 on: January 28, 2015, 10:28:00 AM

That's a keeper.

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Reply #16 on: January 28, 2015, 11:33:39 AM

This is hitting Steam Early Access on February 12th.

Announcement trailer.




Quote from: Soren Johnson
Although I have worked on Offworld Trading Company for over a year now, I still struggle to know how to first describe the game. Itís a game about making money. Itís a game about colonizing Mars. Itís a real-time strategy game, but you donít control units or directly attack other players. It feels like a board game but one which could never exist outside of a computer. Ultimately, itís all of these things and yet something else too: a strategy game full of simple and familiar elements that are combined in a way never before tried.

What makes Offworld special is that each playthrough is entirely unique. The randomly-generated terrain and resources ensure that each map is a new game board that rewards certain play styles. Further, the best players will adapt to how their opponents play:

Perhaps everyone else builds powerful Geothermal Plants, ensuring that the power market will always be over-supplied? Just skip power entirely and jump ahead into more lucrative resources like chemicals and glass.

Spot a market inefficiency, such as the price of water edging above the price of food? Turn off your farms, start selling the excess water instead, buy food directly at the lower price, and pocket the difference.

Someone claims the only remaining source of aluminum on the map? You can patent Slant Drilling and build a mine on an adjacent tile, trigger a fake aluminum surplus to buy some up when the price drops, or just hire pirates to steal from the blimps on their way to the playerís headquarters.

We have been playing competitive Offworld game internally for over a year now, and every strategy leads to a counter-strategy and then a counter-counter-strategy, until someone finally gets enough leverage to finish the game with a hostile takeover. Lessons from these games have informed my development of the AI, so that it use the same tricks and strategies I have both employed and witnessed. We added teamplay after it became our most-requested feature and were surprised at how well it worked. For single-player, we created a dynamic campaign mode that plays out very differently from the standard skirmish game, making long, multi-hour sessions possible.





We are now taking our next step forward, releasing Offworld on Steam Early Access to expose our game to the oxygen of player feedback. Since last summer, weíve run a small, private Founderís Program that put the game into the hands of about a thousand fans who were willing to buy the game based simply on its promise and our reputation. So far, their feedback has been invaluable, and I will be forever grateful to the many who were willing to take a chance on us and our game. However, we need a much larger player base to be able to truly understand our game Ė enough players to poke at the holes in the AI, to be able to find each other for pick-up games, to help us discover if there are a few degenerate strategies that drown out the rest of the design. In time, players always understand games better than their designers, and if we are to make Offworld the best game it can be, we need to start that process as soon as possible.

I was very excited when I first learned about Steamís Early Access program because it provides the infrastructure for making games the way I believe they should be made, by connecting developers and players as early as possible. I speak from experience; with Civilization 3, we had no player feedback outside of Firaxis and our publisherís testing department, which led to some poorly-tuned mechanics and simply bad ideas in the initial release. Afterwards, I spent months and months digging through the forums, developing direct contact with the gameís most outspoken critics, and reworking the core design through a series of major patches. Eventually, we were happy with the final product, but I wish we had that feedback before we released the game instead of afterwards. Determined to fix that problem for Civ 4, we launch a private testing program by inviting notable members of the Civ community to start playing the game over a year and a half before release. Our ability to act early on the feedback these players provided was the primary reason that Civ 4 received universal acclaim upon release.

Thus, Early Access is a tremendous tool for small developers like Mohawk who want to learn more about their games without worrying about the infrastructure, maintenance, or distribution required to execute a widespread public beta program. To be clear, we are not launching Offworld on Early Access for financial reasons; we have enough money already to fund us through our planned release date early next year. We are going to Early Access because we are serious about making the best strategy game of the year, and the only way to do so is to find out what is wrong with our game right now when there is still time to do something about it.

I hope youíll join us. Pre-order now at http://www.offworldgame.com/store, and weíll see you online February 12th!

EDIT: Added trailer.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2015, 12:13:47 PM by Falconeer »

Falconeer
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Reply #17 on: February 12, 2015, 08:11:50 PM

Early access is available on Steam now. Go check it out!

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Reply #18 on: February 13, 2015, 12:16:47 AM

Was all excited about this, until I noticed this: Publisher: Stardock Entertainment   

Sigh.
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Reply #19 on: February 13, 2015, 12:25:43 AM

*Double sigh*
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Reply #20 on: February 13, 2015, 07:56:23 AM


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Falconeer
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Reply #21 on: February 13, 2015, 11:25:20 AM

But but... they are only publishing!

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Reply #22 on: May 04, 2016, 03:38:07 AM

This is finally out of Early Access, and getting a lot of positive comments from people interested in such a niche product. It is one of a kind, and it has progressed a lot since beta. The single player campaign is pretty cool now, but it's the multiplayer that is a killer. Although, to be honest, I find it much more pleasant with people you know, where you constantly mock each other over the many cutthroat decisions (in a way that really reminds me of M.U.L.E. or board games), than with mute strangers from the internet that seems to be more efficient than a supercomputer.

It is also worth saying that, to my dismay, it turned out not similar to M.U.L.E. at all except for the theme and a very nice reference to Dani Bunten, but it is still a very good and unique game and as I said really awesome if played with friends. Too bad it's ridiculously expensive.

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Reply #23 on: June 05, 2016, 03:05:44 PM

I just don't do RTS anymore, especially not multiplayer. But I have to ask, ridiculously expensive? For a niche product that was lovingly crafted and which seems to have deliberately avoided all of the annoying crass forms of monetization such as advertising, dlc, pay-to-win, etc., and it seems to be re-playable many times, what would you call a reasonable price that the developers could still hope to scratch out a meagre living on? Or did I miss something?

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Reply #24 on: June 05, 2016, 03:49:28 PM

I see where you are coming from. I think my comment was based on the competition and prices that arose in the last five years or so due to Steam. In general, I don't find that price offensive exactly for the reasons you mentioned. I am afraid it will keep a lot of people out though. One always wonder. Would you make more money selling your game at 10$ (to a lot of people) or 40$ (to less people, but how many less)? I have no idea.

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Reply #25 on: June 05, 2016, 09:26:38 PM

It's almost like a question that you could have in a game.
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Reply #26 on: June 02, 2019, 06:13:55 PM

This game is like a cousin to me so forgive me for the necro about something that no one else seems to care about (like my cousin's wedding?).

But anyway, a little while ago they made the Multiplayer portion of this game available for free on Steam. There aren't many games going, but you can play with your friends (or me) as if it were a boardgame. You also get the tutorial (!) for free.

Offworld Trading Company was and is a very unique and original game. It could be hard to find the fun unless you are into economics, and/or RTS, and/or Euro Board Games, but there's nothing else like it that I know of and it's a shame that it came and went like that. It deserves the FREE download. That poor cousin of mine.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/271240/Offworld_Trading_Company__Free_Multiplayer/

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