Pandora: First Contact Mod

By Ghostryder 06 Dec 2013 0

James Tanaleon has already written an excellent review of Pandora: First Contact (http://wargamer.com/article/3479/pc-game-review-pandora-first-contact) and there's not a lot for me to add, except to point out the significant differences the game has compared to other similar games on the market today. It's similarities with Brian Reynold's Alpha Centauri released in 1999 are unmistakable, yet it is its own game in many ways. From it's much improved GUI to full moddability, attractive graphics and immersive music, at its heart it's a tighter and more focused design.

My first 7 games ended in defeat. An ARR I'm asked? No ... that would be too embarrassing, and about the only strategy anyone could extract from it is ?what not to do.? (Sounds like me ? Ed.)

What is significant, however, is the fact that a strategy game has challenged me so much. That hasn't happened in ages. Okay, so the game has grabbed my attention, and it isn't long before I'm on the forums trying to garner information to help me be a better player. Then I stumble across an audio interview featuring Brian Reynolds talking about Alpha Centauri. Towards the end he's asked if we'd ever see a sequel. He answers, "Probably not." He points to licensing issues and cost. ?How about Kickstarter or the small Independents?? he is asked. Again, "Probably not." He explains that on their budget the results would not be very good.

I suspect there are even more reasons established developers are quick to dismiss such a game. Alpha Centauri came out at a time Fanatics still existed in Civilization games, and the factions still were pronounced in the ways they play. In today's world you do not find Fanatics, nor even Governments in a Civilization game. Religion exists in name only. Whether it's Political Correctness, marketability or, most likely in my view, a combination of both, that ground is far too risky.

And then in step Proxy Studio with Lorenz Ruhmann, Rok Breulj, Soheil Khaghani, Charlie Armour, Mikael Andersson and Daniel Griliopoulos. With their publisher, Slitherine and Matrix Games, and support we can now play a game that by all logic shouldn't exist.

When you choose a faction in a game like Civilization 5 it's defined by its name and a couple faction units. The units come early or late depending on the choice, but the units come and go in a matter of turns. When you choose a faction in Pandora: First Contact it plays and 'is' that faction from turn one until the final turn. Its strengths and weaknesses are part of it, as is the lore and background of the faction. The difference is best described as choosing Germany, but instead of getting a Panzer Tank in the Industrial Age, soon be made obsolete in the Modern Age, you are instead Fascists from turn one, and play that way to game's end.

That's significant. It can pull the player more into the game for one thing, and gives more meaning to their A.I. opponents. No longer is the player simply choosing an enemy because they are a neighbor, and a friend because they are on the other side of the map - but rather because they either are compatible or resistant to your faction?s ideological beliefs.

The aim of my mod is to visually enhance the factions even more to match their ideological playing style. An easy task for a skilled artist, but a very hard task for someone like me who has lower artistic skills. I've gotten positive feedback, but to me they really aren't turning out like I had them in my mind's eye because I lack the talent to pull that off. So I struggle and redo until I get as close as I can. With well over 100 hours spent I'm finally to a point where it's just a matter of editing and formatting the videos.

Although I animated a scene with a zoom in for every faction, I won't have that zoom in every expression. It would slow the diplomacy screen and get repetitive. So I'm setting it to only include that for the neutral stance scenes so it plays once when you first meet them. Otherwise they are very much formatted like the game's default.

This will be the first mod up, and then followed with a music mod to include some more tracks for variety. Who knows what will follow after that? I hope other talented modders take an interest because there is a real gem here.

 

The mod will be available at both the Wargamer (http://wargamer.com/forums/) and Matrix forums (http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/default.asp).

Video link of mods - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Us2bRJxI1A

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