The game had a flaw, though. The AI opponents would mass up hundreds of zergling-like very weak ships, and they would EACH get a turn in combat. So my 4 dreadnoughts would wipe 4 of their ships, then 296 enemies would fire individually and miss onto my mega-shields...then they'd be down to 292 after my turn...then 292 misses...and I'd leave the game for 3 hours until the battle finished.
Yet still, many players happily spend 8 picks so they don't have to choose between planetary missile base and automated factories.
There were tons of way to get cheap wins in the game. I vaguely recall there being tech (possibly from the Orions), that allowed you to cloak your ship. Enemies could not even target you while cloaked. There was another tech that allowed you to get two turns (for each the enemy had). With a single ship, you could attack, then cloak, and avoid all damage.
It's a bit more Douglas Adams than George Lucas: apologies former citizens, you and your corrosive world needs to be vaporised to work around zoning regulations as part of the empire's galactic terraforming project.
Another fun way to play the early/mid game was to try to advance up the tech tree by scrapping captured higher tech ships. You needed large fleets of disposable ships with lots of room for boarding parties, tractor beams to pin enemies, and if possible weapons with radiation damage to kill the enemy crew before boarding. It was particularly fun and frustrating trying to capture ancient-tech antaran ships in the early/mid game (the game designers were wise enough to equip antaran ships with the quantum detonator tech giving them a very high chance to self destruct nuke their ship's drive when you tried to board them)
Time Warp Facilitator. I installed it on each of my Doom Stars, along with a Stellar Converter that could vaporize pretty much any ship with one shot.
One of my favorite games of all time.
I've won in every possible combination: fully industrial feudals military, super rich charismatic weakling diplo win, techno-antares, custom ship building.
The game has an amazing amount of design flaws for today's standard, but what a game. I think the only rival in complexity and replayability is Heroes of Might & Magic 3, one where I've put in 3x the time and each time I play it I discover something new.
I was actually thinking of HOMM as I was reading this thread, although I was thinking about it because of the subthread on AI. The AI in HOMM3 was surprisingly good for it's time, with very few times where I would ever see it 'stuck' or otherwise play in a way that was unfair or overly 'brain dead'.
Yeah, the game (and the original) has a number of flaws that can make winning pretty easy. I've adjusted my play to intentionally avoid them. You can also mitigate the problem by playing on the hardest levels, which lets the enemies cheat shamelessly.
But when I want an easy win in MOO2, what I tend to do is to amass a large enough force that I can start just destroying planets. Because the number of ships you can have depends on the number of planets you have, and the AI is stupid, you can bring even the most overpowered enemy to its knees by avoiding direct fights with their forces and destroying their planets. Each planet that gets destroyed results in multiple enemy ships that go away because they can no longer be supported.
The best way to play either of the MOOs, though, is against real life human players. They aren't stupid.
I honestly despise games that do this. I understand why they do though: writing a difficult AI can be quite hard to do.
 Well, technically it was a single-tasking operating system, but there were hacks like TSR programs (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminate_and_stay_resident_pr...) that people used to run multiple programs at once. So that was an additional wrinkle you had to deal with.
One game I respect is AI War, which fully embraced that AI must cheat and didn't even pretend that the AI played by the same rules. Instead, they gave insight into the rules the AI did play by, and made manipulation of the AI's constraints part of the game.
My love for MOO and MOO2 is great, but doesn't blind me to the fact that the AI is dismal.
I think cheater AI is probably a perfectly good strategy; its just the implementation is never done that well, and it ends up cheating in a fashion that isn't actually interesting.
Alternatively, the cheater AI could simply be given an aesthetic reason to validate cheating, instead of trying to pretend its a normal player -- eg AI war simply defines the AI as an overwhelming force; so overwhelming that it doesn't actually pay much attention to your activity, and that's the only reason you're not dead (your goal is to continue growing without letting the AI noticing).
Total War and other 4X games generally have you playing where the AI is also generally unintelligent, but feels more fair, because everyone is in various starting states of strength. The cheating AI gets a set of arbitrarily strong units, justified because its simply a strong country 10x the size of yours. And then the amount of blatant, uninteresting, cheating that has to occur is much more limited -- if the AI is not sufficiently challenging, then it's generally simpler to increase his relative size, or resources, or production facilities, or whatever. What the AI does after that, after the game has started, becomes less important, so what cheating occurs becomes negligible from the perspective of the player. A 50% cheating bonus to production time doesn't mean much when he already started with a 500% bonus in resources and production.
Games like MoO and Civ make the mistake of having everyone start at the same state, even when its just you vs the AI(s), because they don't treat the two differently -- there is only one setup, one goal, one victory condition, regardless of the number of human players. That is, they don't admit to the weakness of their AI, and try instead to make up for it "under the hood"; and when you as the player catch this cheating, and it's never that hard to, you feel inexplicably stupid to have ever thought you were playing a fair match, and losing/winning to fair rules. The same as when you catch a human cheating.
Most other 4X games are defined as you vs the AI, and there's little to no multiplayer in the first place, so the idea doesn't trivially translate, but you vs the AI should probably be treated differently than a legitimate multiplayer map anyways -- as a campaign setup or a skirmish map.
In practice a fleet of 8 of these can take on anything the AI will ever field, losses will be extremely rare. Be careful with planets if you want to capture them, it's very easy to kill them by accident.
Once I can build those I didn't even worry about the council.
I always dreamed of recreating this in the browser with an online multiplayer component, but the battle system was always flawed in my opinion.
The first computer my brother and I ever had access to was a Wang, I have no idea what operating system it ran. I was 6 or 7 at the time. I'm pretty sure that's the machine we used to play this game, as well as our own instance of Trade Wars, when we weren't logged into Argus BBS over the 1200 baud.
OK, so this game we played. It was like a explore and conquer game, there was a list of worlds I think they were named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc. You could choose to send different types of ships to try to capture and control the various worlds, in which case it would contribute to your overall production. I recall there was a way to send spies as well, that would relay information about what kind of units were present on an enemy territory. I recall it being similar in some ways to Galactic Empire, except it was purely turn based, there was no real time component.
I can't for the life of me remember the name of the game. I'm half convinced I dreamed the whole thing up. Any chance this rings a bell for anyone?
This article has some screenshots: https://breakintochat.com/blog/2016/02/02/jon-radoff-creator...
Man.... now I just have to track down a binary!
I'm not exactly advocating it as a game, I played the first six or seven "ages" and was shocked to see that the game still exists, 84 ages and 20 years later.
It's telling that Stellaris's combat system offers less control than MOO's and that it has no spying. Another good example is the approach for diplomacy - the latest DLC won't have a UN victory condition like MOO but it will have the ability to issue Resolutions.
These days I would enjoy a 4X empire building game that focused on the absolutely highest level issues I imagine a ruler of a galactic empire would focus on. That is, managing the empire and maybe space fleets at the highest level, not issuing orders to individual ships or planets. Maybe dropping down to a particular theater of conflict or diplomatic crisis if the situation calls for it. And at the same time, making it enjoyable, of course!
Nothing kills my enjoyment faster than old-school micromanagement. R&D, ship building and handling, resource gathering -- my serfs should be doing that, not me, the emperor. I'm no longer a teenager with lots of spare time :)
For a certain kind of self-actualized casual gaming, it might actually work. You have to trust / live with the bad choices of your automatons, yet also remember to tell them when you want to change direction.
When the game has relatively few options that can be played to a high depth, like Chess, of course, it's easy to write such a competent AI with a brute-force approach. But that's usually not how 4X games are structured: there are a ton of decisions involving overlapping timers and resource bonuses and force committments, and so the top-end strategy revolves around leveraging everything in a just-so way to accelerate growth and minimize losses.
The move towards lower micro and symmetric balancing in newer games has the upside of downplaying much of this; your advantage, where you get one, is much less likely to come from careful micro employed to replicate a 50% advantage in a single scenario hundreds of times, and AI benefits as well. But it also loses some of the charm of weirdly unbalanced 90's strategy.
Basically, it's a game emphasizing and focusing on roleplay. The early game is absolutely brilliant. But it has way too strict rules and there aren't many meaningful (combat or diplomatic) interactions with the AI past mid-game once you've exhausted most events * .
The war AI is a joke once you've grown enough, and diplomacy offers very few options - maybe the latest DLC will help with that.
So you are left with either slowly conquering the galaxy (because the wargoal system is stupid, I'll get to that), or basically doing very little - diplo is only slightly more fleshed out than MoO, Federations only make sense for some Empires and don't do much yet - and waiting until the Crisis, which is bugged enough that it's no longer that much of a threat.
There are also the drastic performance issues some players have mid-late game, or how the economy revamp (a good idea in theory, tiles needed to go) didn't reduce micromanagement, but arguably increased it. Again, early game Stellaris is awesome, but later... not so much.
As for the wargoal system, unless you're playing a genocidal (FP/DE) race which almost removes diplomacy, you're limited to wars with very limited goals with 10-year ceasefires * . There's no way to break those ceasefires, despite it not making any roleplay sense.
By comparison, in MoO sometimes an AI race will attack one of your planets without declaring war, and sometimes I just have to take in the chin, because I'm nowhere near strong enough to fight. At which point I might begin methodically planning revenge while being nice-nice diplomatically.
This is actually something that can also happen the other way around, with the player being the aggressor. AFAIK, there are no fixed rules in the MoO code for that - this is just an emergent property.
Stellaris, despite the large number of fixed events and mechanics can't support that kind of interaction, because the mechanics are implemented way too strictly, and you can't just send out ships without formally declaring war with fixed pre-set goals limited by Influence and if you did have a war, you'd always have the large diplomatic malus with the faction and no good way to try to appease the AI.
* Events are basically fixed storylines choices written by Paradox, where every choice makes a small difference. Compare GalCiv which also had that mechanic, but GalCiv's choices are far less detailed and GalCiv had a moral scale mechanic which wouldn't have been a good fit for Stellaris
* Well, there's the Vasselize-Annex method, which is almost as slow because it costs a lot of Influence.
In theory it means a loss isn't catastrophic, but in practice if they can beat you once they can beat you again, your only real hope is to find allies--and when you're weak it's unlikely you'll find allies.
I should have also mentioned that Stellaris has some DLCs which are de facto mandatory, which is just the way Paradox does things. Utopia is all but officially required. Apoc I guess I should have bought. Leviathans is IMHO very useful too. Not sure if anything else can be called mandatory?
TBH other than Utopia all the "big" Stellaris DLCs have felt rather lackluster to me. I'd much rather have Distant Stars or Ancient Relics or even the Lithoids species pack than Apocalypse or Megacorp. Of course I've bought them all except for the Humaniods pack anyway on sale because I absolutely love Stellaris and have put a massive amount of time into it. Even with all of its flaws and quirks it and KSP are still my favorite PC games.
Computers solve this issue and let us expand these grand entertainment fantasies into massive endeavors. I think about this for Civ a lot in particular: There's nothing stopping you from implementing the whole game on paper. But... imagine calculating resource yields for each of your 10 cities on every turn, and then applying them to game pieces, building, etc. Not to mention tracking 6 different victory conditions, and dealing with the geo-politics? It would be really hard and time-consuming.
It further excites me that as computers continue to grow and technologies advance to predictions, quantum, etc., there's a lot of room for games to grow in complexity and increase the amount of 'throughput' a player can push out. When humans have control over things beyond their physical limits, we tend to do some pretty cool stuff!
XCOM (the original) to this day remains one of my favorite turn-based games. How you grew attached to your troopers! The remake is pretty good, too.
How do you find Stellaris, by the way? I'm tempted by it but at the same time these days I simply don't have time for time-consuming, micro-managed 4X games that feel more like work than fun.
pretty much covers Stellaris. It might have been salvageable if the world were interesting, but despite all the ways they let you customize your faction I never feel any attachment to them, to say nothing about the AI-controlled factions. Other games may have only a few factions but they all feel genuinely unique and different.
I've beaten it on impossible with nearly all races although I generally prefer to play with 4 races, medium galaxy on the hard setting.
edit: Okay, it's in https://gitlab.com/KilgoreTroutMaskReplicant/1oom/blob/maste... Don't know why that'd be in a separate file, but okay. And they're Linux-only.
At least it seems that the original Kilgore version provides Windows binaries.
edit: $2 right now
You need to cover the maintenance costs of your buildings, but any surplus that goes into your treasury becomes nearly worthless -- the things you can spend gold on are garbage compared to science / happiness.
I still play it quite regularly. I have an old Mac mini in a back room that I keep explicitly for that purpose. When the original machine gave up the ghost, I shelled out a couple of hundred bucks for a "new" obsolete mac mini just to be able to keep playing.
And I will do it again when this one dies. Such a great game. I also play Civ II on this machine occasionally.
Part of the magic is how simple the game play is relative to more modern games.
MoO II was even better, IMO, with more depth. The ability to create your own race alone is huge.
We don't talk about MoO III.
Then the MoO reboot happened...terrible at release, but it got overhauled at some point and it actually made the game enjoyable.
I haven't managed to get into MOO2 yet but it's on my bucket list for 202x. If it can yield any semblance of the awe I've had for MOO1 then I'm in for a real treat!
I actually liked MoM better than MoO II except for the interface, which was intermediate betwen MoO and MoO II. It's also unfortunate it had so many bugs at release, though MoO II has gone through many patches, so it's not immune from that either.
Then later on you get death knights and it’s all over. They are ridiculously powerful!
Another one I love is to pick Myrran and fill the rest with death books. Start with trolls and work your way up to war trolls. Cast death channel on elite war trolls and you have some truly formidable units!
Or go with halflings and life magic. Cast heroism on slingers and just laugh at the enemy as you pelt the heck out of them!
MoM has millions of different strategies to try and they’re all very interesting!
Flying ships with catapults and invisibility = game winner.
I'm assuming this is Master of Magic? Never played it.
Ironically, the closest was Master of the Orion 2, which had nice features - I most liked that I could capture enemy population instead of extermination, converting them to be my citizens and creating a diverse empire (long before it was cool!!) - but it kinda lacked the sense of surrounding mystery, great black dread, where the snarks lurk to prey on my tiny empire of three sols....
So I guess rocks as food and breeding is THE strategy in moo2
Having played a lot of board and computer games, what I'm hoping for these days might be called "Dynamicland, but for games." At present we have to choose between real-world sociality and the power of computing for simulation; why not both? If I can play multiplayer MOO with my grandkids while looking at each other, rather than screens, I'll be happy.
Highly recommend if you like strategy games and haven't played it. I like it so much that I've tried writing a clone a few times (but the latest attempt got sidetracked and turned into a game about interplanetary rail networks.)
Now can you offer further explanation of this "interplanetary rail" thing? Is it Galaxy Express 999 style?
Screenshots on my twitter: https://twitter.com/LiterallyOwls/status/1218418806520979456
As it happens, I've been playing the original MOO again for the last couple of weeks!
Later when I became a programmer I was also fascinated by the fact that there were several "community patches" - patches that enhanced gameplay (larger galaxy sizes etc.), added new artwork and such without the availability of the source code - people reverse engineered the game and wrote binary patches that would contribute a lot to overall gameplay. To this day I can't fully understand how they did it - i get the theory, but not what tools they used, and how they got the motivation to do machine level changes to the game. Overall, good memories.
1) Jimmy can go deep on some extremely obscure corners of the industry (e.g. interactive fiction movements that maybe only a few dozen academic acolytes are even aware of).
2) The occasional deep tangent. For example, I don't think a month-long mini-biography of Edward Mannock was really necessary to appreciate the Amiga game _Wings_. But then again, I loved that tangent, so it's the kind of weirdness that I can personally embrace. I'm guessing the Analog Antiquarian is going to end up ultimately absorbing that energy anyway.
It compiles in IntelliJ and is very fun to play and mod.
IV is probably the apex of the series, much deeper and more complex. That's when you shift from 1 resource to 3. Ship combat has more depth as well.
I think V got a little too into the graphics and missed the mark on the mechanics, although the weapon mount system is pretty interesting.
edit: SE4 is currently $2 on GOG
I'll set up an XP VM and extract it and upload it. It's shareware, so I don't see the problem with repackaging it and distributing it unaltered. I thought I might have a copy where I'd done that but I guess not. edit: from https://archive.org/details/SpaceEmpire to https://www.dropbox.com/s/rac1gouedkjqxve/se3.7z?dl=0
To be honest - I think the shareware game actually has better play than the full version. Having a fairly shallow tech tree, limited to light cruiser sized ships and no super OP weapons, without any of the stellar manipulation or planetbase/battlecruiser tier endgame ships is actually a pretty fun ruleset for casual play. It's a more arcadey game than SE4 (with just one "construction point" instead of 3 materials) and cruising around with big fleets having pew pew battles of massive task groups and crushing each other's planets really suits it well.
I dunno if the guy who wrote it is still attached to it at all. Apparently Strategy First bought Malfador in 2006?
Erm, confession time. This was one of the first games I ever ""cracked"", in a stunning triumph of sysadminery for 8 year old me or whatever. Malfador originally used the "send me a check in the mail" business model. then it suddenly popped up on a publisher's site - called Crystal Interactive or similar. They offered a "30 day free trial" that (in hindsight, surprisingly) actually worked and installed a legit key, then presumably was going to pull it when the trial expired. I pinned down where it was writing the key with registry editor and exported the key, then just used it with the normal game. I actually found that og .reg file a few months ago, it is probably the single earliest file that I've got saved.
(I also learned to use the "Executor by ARDI" macos 7 emulator so I could play escape velocity by Ambrosia Software on my windows PC. Executor had a 30 day trial... but you could delete the registry key and reinstall and use it forever. hackerman! )
(Executor is actually a very interesting "hybrid emulator" that attempted to replace the MacOS rom/mac toolkit with a windows native reimplmentation in native C and is now open source if you'd like to take a look - https://github.com/ctm/executor )
To this day I don't know if Crystal Interactive was legit or not - was that a legit indie publisher providing a framework for licensing and CC services (a not-trivial burden in the years before Steam) or did they pirate these games themselves and resell them? The registration had the legitimate username "REGISTERED USER", and they disappeared into the ether very rapidly, like within 6 months every trace of them on the internet was gone.
I'd gladly buy a copy, but I don't think there's a way to get it anymore either. I thiiiink you might be able to track down a copy of the Space Empires Collection disc? That one was registered out of the box.
Malfador eventually ended up with Strategy First, who was a legit indie publisher and sold their stuff for a lot of years. Again, it looks like Strategy First bought them in 2006, but he continued developing more stuff after that.
Space Empires Starfury is actually an interesting Escape Velocity/Starfleet Command kind of crossover. It is the tactical mode for SE V turned into an open world game. From what I remember it plays better than the actual SE V. Again, weapon mounts are cool, the actual gameplay sucks and is way too slow. Even SE 4 really needs a "move ships faster" mode. https://archive.org/details/SpaceEmpiresStarfury
FYI if anyone else ever played Warlords 3: Darklords Rising, that game is now available on GOG too.
Also while I was looking on Archive I found this Turkish clone (lol) of SE3 from 2003 with an Apple II aesthetic? Crazy. https://archive.org/details/MiniSpaceEmpires
DW:U is the only 4x game that I would unequivocally say is as good as the original MOO2.
It's a bit niche next to Civilization, or Battle-Royale-FPS-of-the-week, but it's not quite at the level of flight simulators.
But today we can have much deeper, more detailed world models. CK2 is awesome because it populates a simple civ-world of obtainable and upgradeable cities with thousands of simulated courtiers to meaningfully interact with, EU4 because it so carefully maps out all the socioeconomic forces that shaped the world when political interactions first started to become truly global.
If you add similar details to a sci-fi setting it just feels arbitrarily burdensome. There's no way you could connect with, say of a dozen of fungoid admirals in the way you connect with a Hanoverian Capet general who learned to respect eastern religions on an aborted crusade and is now wed to a close relative of a recently ousted Czar. A similar amount of details added to a generic space alien would have zero upside, you could just as well name the stats A through Z.
The rare exception was Alpha Centauri whose designer apparently understood that problem and focused on world building content instead of trying to out-4X all earlier 4Xs.
What I could imagine to also work in a generic 4X space setting is a game that makes ship designs the main characters in the spotlight: don't just have that customary complex ship editor, give the individual designs an identity by accumulating RPG-like bonuses over time so that an outdated but properly "leveled-up" design can remain a viable option over more modern contenders. You might want to keep those space-B52s flying when generations of experience make the damage control teams so much more effective, production lines run at 10x efficiency and all your modern gun batteries have been tailored to the confines of its surprisingly versatile weapons bay anyways. SMAC already had prototype cost, but that was seriously lacking flavor. Stellaris has the occasional event driven per ship bonus (iirc?) but that's too micro to be engaging. Blueprints for a series of ships could be just the right level of granularity.
Which is where the licenses tie-in, less as officially sanctioned and more as popular user mods! Set your 4X in the world of Dune! Or of Warhammer 40,000! Star Wars, Trek, Battlestar Galactica! Babylon Five! And so forth.
> give the individual designs an identity by accumulating RPG-like bonuses over time so that an outdated but properly "leveled-up" design can remain a viable option over more modern contenders
I'm pretty sure everything from the recent Civs back to the original Starcraft tracked unit advancement. But usually it doesn't translate to RPG levels of immersion. I think Starships Unlimited, an early 2000s indie space 4X, did this fairly well.
Most of those depict a single conflict, hardly a match for the 4X playbook.
> I'm pretty sure everything from the recent Civs back to the original Starcraft tracked unit advancement.
And in some of the Civs (4 or 5) it was so powerful that some of the modern units were comparatively worthless unless they had "skills" that they could only get by inheritance on the individual unit upgrade path. You'd have a clear separation between core units nurtured through the ages all the way from antiquity and gunfodder whose job was to keep the core units alive. That was all rule-gamey and zero flavor. Also too micro in my opinion and single units are still not important enough to be considered protagonists of the story.
Space 4X already come with a ship designer ever since the original MOO. But it's often just busywork to illustrate the tech progress a little. I think that this is a place that could be extended without feeling pointlessly micro or suffer from faceless genericity, if done right: so research has discovered positron phaser torpedo projectors (aka random generic technobabble). The technology apparently has an efficiency sweet spot at 50m bore length. Should the development branch design a new hull around those dimensions or do we create a less efficient module that fits our venerable, cheap Bounty-class frigate that gives crews +10 morale because of that popular holovid show set aboard the lead ship of the class? (aka random flavor event hull class bonus). And all the specialty role ships that have been derived from that hull? It would be an interesting game mechanic because you can't fall into a default pattern like "always go for the biggest, longest range weapons and avoid battles where the enemy might come into close range": even the most module-conservative player would occasionally have to cut compatibility introduce a fully new generation. An echo chamber, where the player is mostly interacting with consequences of her own decisions. Decisions that are not necessarily better or worse in terms of running but that are meaningful because they shape your future options. That's what I expect from all games that aren't just about eye candy or reaction time. I like the idea better the more I think about it.
This could actually be a very nice Stellaris DLC, a boatload of chance event microcontent and a total overhaul of a game mechanic that can be rewritten in total isolation of the others. If only Paradox were into making DLC! (just kidding there of course)
Hasn't really hurt Battletech over 35 years of endless game releases over various media. But that's not a 4x setting, and neither is Starcraft. In my happy Moo2 treats, the duo of unit design and turn based tactical battles was the one thing that made anything relatable, the tech tree in this case.
Master of Orion, if I am being honest, feels like it has had much greater legs as a piece of abandonware and through re-release than it ever did in the initial run. I never even heard of it until many years later, when I found homeoftheunderdogs and abandonia because my computer was too old for what was then available in the bargain bin at Walmart.
A 4x game on land automatically has to represent terrain. That immediately brings our intuitive associations to the fore: mountains are impassable, hills are good for mining and defense, and you need ships to cross water.
A 4x game "in space" has to do without native terrain, and certainly without terrain that is automatically intuitive. The Plasma Storm Nebula is a creation (or not) out of whole cloth, with no natural rules beyond what the game designers impart.
That's a more complicated design space, and at the same time it's not immediately, emotionally engaging for the player in the same way that playing on Earth is.
It does a lot to capture the magic of exploring space as a growing empire, especially through the special encounters and branching scenarios which go to some pretty wild places. I also love the huge variety of gameplay experiences offered depending on the attributes of the species you choose to play as.
"Less than 24 hours after release [...] Stellaris had sold over 200,000 units On 21 June 2016, it was announced that the game had sold over 500,000 units"
Compare this to, say, Divinity 2, a popular-but-not-A-list-hit game which sold a million copies in a similar time period.
XCOM-2 sold half a million copies on Steam alone in its first week.
Remakes (or games very similar to MOO 1) are Dominus Galaxia and Remnants of the Precursors.
Have you played it recently, or just at launch? At some point, they did a pretty big overhaul and made a lot of improvements.
I still prefer Stellaris because it has more depth, but MOO is certainly playable.
I went back to Stellaris after about 2 hours with new MOO.
It also reminds me of the original X-COM UFO Defense UI, which I think also holds up incredibly well decades later.
I had a ritual when I was 13 or so: when I got home on the last day of school before vacation, I would play Master of Orion nonstop until 3 or 4 am.
I still enjoy this game and play it a few times every couple of years.
Too bad he had turned a fascist and Putin's fanboy who viciously supports Crimea annexation and war with the Ukraine...