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Old 17 April 2019, 22:24   #1
Angus
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Steel Empire/Cyber Empires in depth video review

Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this, I wasn't sure... anyway, I've just done an (AGDB!) video review of a largely overlooked Amiga game, which I think is massively under-rated; Steel Empire. It's an action/strategy Mech game - have a look if you're interested. :-) [ Show youtube player ]
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Old 25 April 2019, 17:13   #2
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Old 26 April 2019, 20:56   #3
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A great game which I have fond memories of. Someday I hope I'll find the time to program an updated version of it
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Old 14 June 2019, 15:01   #4
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I was inspired by your video to try this game again, I never played it much back in the day but since you released your review I played through the campaign four times! My thoughts on the game:
  • The DOS version has much nicer graphics, but the sound is far superior on the Amiga (no speech like "Well done!" and "Hahahaha!" on the PC either ). I still prefer the PC's 256 colors VGA graphics.
  • I use a gamepad and Joy2Key to convert gamepad input to keyboard input.
    My settings are (for a XBbox 360 controller):
  • POV: Arrow Up - Numpad 8
  • POV: Arrow UpRight - Numpad 9
  • POV: Arrow Right - Numpad 6
  • POV: Arrow DownRight - numpad 3
  • POV: Arrow Down - Numpad 2
  • POV: Arrow DownLeft - Numpad 1
  • POV: Arrow Left - Numpad 4
  • POV: Arrow UpLeft - Numpad 7
  • Button 1 - Space
  • Button 2 - ,
  • Button 3 - Alt
  • Button 4 - M
  • Button 7 - .
  • Button 8 - Escape
  • As suggested in the review, I start with a four-bay factory and build four Mercury cyborgs. I use them to quickly move towards the nearest cities since they give the most credits. Along the way, I check each region they move through for the income value and if it's above ~10k, I build a capital there is funds allow it. Once I got enough money, I start building Mars cyborgs continuously and send them to the frontlines. Important frontline regions also get tier 1 fortresses. Mercury cyborgs that are not needed for fortress manning are used to build capitals in the remaining interior regions. Once money comes rolling in, I switch to Achilles production, and a little later to Hercules production. Every time I get 400k to spare, I install a factory upgrade, at least two so build time is reduced to one for the Hercules but often I go as far as five. If I start near volcanic regions, I try to take them all since they are very easy to protect and very hard for the AI to invade.
    I commonly wait until I have 8 cyborgs in my factory region before I send them to the frontlines, it makes managing troops easier and I always have a strong attacking force at hand. Late in the game, I build another factory in a region close to the frontlines that has enought space for the factory plus upgrades.
  • Fights early in the game are often decided by skill and not by number or cyborg strength. With a single Mars cyborg, you can defeat a far bigger and heavier attacking force if the AI controls them. Wait until an enemy cyborg is in range of your Neutrino cannon, start blasting at it, and once his returning fire reaches you, move away from hind and also sideways (so, diagonally back) and repeat the procedure. The nemy will be hit by most of your shots while you take no hits at all. Also watch out for enemy cyborgs that overheat, and quickly swoop in for the kill; this is especially useful in city fights where the enemy likes to blast through buildings.
  • The Mars cyborg is also good for early fortress rushing in temperate climate zones; use it's fast speed to go all the way to the edge of the map, then behind the fortress where the guns and missile turrets can't hit you, and blow through the wall. The trees should protect your from most of the missiles on the way.
  • The Titan cyborg is a beast but even with full upgrades it costs three turns to build it, so I never use it. In the same amount of time, you can build three Hercules with are far more useful.
  • I never build Crossbolts, they are useless for anything other than fortress sieges, and even then it seems far better to just use Achilles or heavier cyborgs to rush.
  • The end-game tends to drag on since the logistics become so cumbersome; you will spend most of the time moving your troops all the way from the factory to the frontlines, while the enemy is basically defeated and only attacks with single cyborgs every now and then. Some added gameplay element would be nice, like a rogue AI suddenly appearing like in Master of Orian II. It would help mix things up.
  • Another thing that might be a cool addition is a research feature; either for new cyborgs, or for upgrades like faster missiles, better heatsinks, or maybe initially you may only have four cyborgs per region and have to increase the limit to ten (or more!) through research. And, of course, the ability to custom-fit your cyborgs (three Neutrino cannons, anyone? )

An updated version of the game would indeed be cool, maybe with isometric graphics similar to Mech Assault.

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Old 24 June 2019, 14:12   #5
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Wow, nice break down, Cherno. It's good to see there is still love for this game. I like to use the Titans myself, sure they take three turns, but once you gear up your production you can have several rolling off the the factory floor every turn, but yeah, Hercules are like the Sherman M4 of the game. It would be brilliant if somebody could add some tweaks to the game after all this time. I recall Sven (Dark Angel) the guy who coded the WHDLoad slave telling me that he thought the game had been programmed in a sensible and logical manner - not his words, but to that effect.
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Old 25 June 2019, 21:06   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angus View Post
Wow, nice break down, Cherno. It's good to see there is still love for this game. I like to use the Titans myself, sure they take three turns, but once you gear up your production you can have several rolling off the the factory floor every turn, but yeah, Hercules are like the Sherman M4 of the game. It would be brilliant if somebody could add some tweaks to the game after all this time. I recall Sven (Dark Angel) the guy who coded the WHDLoad slave telling me that he thought the game had been programmed in a sensible and logical manner - not his words, but to that effect.
I thought about creating a straight remake of this game, keeping the core gameplay and even the graphics intact but adding some minor features that improve user friendliness (such as auto-repair, giving units and factories movement goals so they move on their own each turn towards a goal, and a better view of units in regions so you can see at a glance what is in there without having to use the move command. What's great about this game is that it has a very solid foundation that is simple yet allows for different gameplay styles. For the moment, I am occupied with my Hired Guns total conversion for GZDoom, though. Who knows what the future brings?
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Old 28 June 2019, 12:35   #7
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Hey!! I know some people that are going to be pretty interested in your Hired Guns work. People were so disappointed that the AGA version was never released. <br>

<br>Regarding Steel Empire I will keep my fingers crossed. :-) Maybe a planetary sytem campaign where you had several planets to capture (small ice worlds, volcanic Mercury style, moon type world). With some logistics/strategy involved to efficiently secure the system. :-) Optional 3D view! :-)

p.s. Isn't there an alliance option in the game? I couldn't find it, unless it is briefly offered when 2 sides move into adjacent countries?

p.p.s. I think you can check your own forces with the spy option, can't you?
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Old 28 June 2019, 14:30   #8
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A random world gernerator would be nice, like in games such as Civilization. A little bit harder to do if not using hex tiles but doable. Single-biome planets are also a great idea, or even a planet completely covered by a single, massive city. I don't think there is an alliance option, the manual doesn't say anything about it. Friendly forces can be checked with the option but I find it cumbersome to use it just to see what's in a terrority. It would be better if small icons and numbers on the map itself (or even when the cursor is over a territory) would immedetialy tell me how many and what cyborgs are present, and what their status is
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Old 28 June 2019, 23:49   #9
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Yes, that makes sense.

I just thought I remembered a message saying something like:

"Your opponent has received your request for an alliance, time will tell if he honours it."

Maybe I'm thinking of Full Metal Planete. :-)
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Old 06 August 2019, 19:56   #10
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Just for fun, I created a voxel version of the Mars cyborg in MagicaVoxel.



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Old 06 August 2019, 23:38   #11
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Added a little walkcycle

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Old 07 August 2019, 00:42   #12
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Nice!
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Old 08 August 2019, 01:53   #13
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A had so much fun creating the Mars that I spent the day building voxel models of the other cyborgs as well

My favourites are the Mercury, Hercules and Behemoth

When I started working on the Cyclops, I feared that it would end up looking like the infamous Urbanmech from BattleTech... And it indeed does look like a trashcan with legs, and the autocannon muzzle could only be hinted at and makes it look even worse

When viewed from above, these cyborgs exactly match their top-down sprites from the game (Only the feet were occasionally positioned slightly different).
***********************************************
Mercury - Cyclops - Dragon

***********************************************
Mars - Crossbolt - Achilles

***********************************************
Hercules - Behemoth - Titan

***********************************************
Mercury - Cyclops - Dragon

***********************************************
Mars - Crossbolt - Achilles

***********************************************
Hercules - Behemoth - Titan

Last edited by Cherno; 12 August 2019 at 13:17.
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Old 08 August 2019, 04:10   #14
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This one's been on my list of games to try for a while now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherno View Post
The DOS version has much nicer graphics, but the sound is far superior on the Amiga (no speech like "Well done!" and "Hahahaha!" on the PC either ). I still prefer the PC's 256 colors VGA graphics.
Would anyone know what is the minimum memory requirements of the PC version?

I noticed in some of the screenshots that the PC version uses ~120 colours, while the Amiga OCS/ECS version is ~16.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherno View Post
I use a gamepad and Joy2Key to convert gamepad input to keyboard input.
My settings are (for a XBbox 360 controller):
Appreciate you sharing that.
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Old 08 August 2019, 13:42   #15
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According to Mobygames, the game requires at least 640 KB of RAM.
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Old 08 August 2019, 22:07   #16
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[ramble]
For a remake, it would like to see something like pilots for each cyborg. Since these seem to be robotic units, maybe the pilots are actually controlling the machines from the headquarters like drone jockeys. they are not directly in harm's way since they are not sitting inside the cyborgs, but they will get damaged when their vehicle is heavily damaged or destroyed due to the bio-feedback that allows them to pilot these extremely complex machines. Totally not inspired by Shadowrun's riggers and deckers! Depending on the damage received, the pilots will have to rest a few turns, but over time they can gain experience and increase their stats, such as gunnery and sensors, and maybe also get special abilities. A player would probably load a saved game once an experienced pilot is killed so I'd just make them unkillable but introduce the rest period after receiving damage as a way to make players care.

Another thing that would be cool is a neutral facction, namely the militia of the planet. These forces have no cyborgs on their own and rely on cheap masses of tanks and artillery. Still, they can be a potent threat in the beginning of the game and in regions where they can play to their strengths, i.e. cities. Maybe once in a while, a conquered region rebels and you have to fight some rag-tag insurgency with your 2nd tier garrison forces. Or you spent some money to incite a riot in an enemy's valuable region

Maybe as a random event, an ancient Ogre Mark VII tank (from Steve Jackson's Ogre boardgame) rolls out of some disused military depot and starts wreaking havok on the map... Something like this would fir in perfectly with the game's scenario.

[/ramble]

Just some random thoughts
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Old 15 August 2019, 23:43   #17
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Just found out that there was a game called Mech Wars or Mech Lords in development which got killed by a lawsuit.

https://twitter.com/dosnostalgic/sta...98224374165507

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Old 17 November 2019, 16:41   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherno View Post
A had so much fun creating the Mars that I spent the day building voxel models of the other cyborgs as well

My favourites are the Mercury, Hercules and Behemoth


***********************************************
Mercury - Cyclops - Dragon

***********************************************
Mars - Crossbolt - Achilles

***********************************************
Hercules - Behemoth - Titan




Wow, Cherno! I only just caught up with this thread, you're a talented dude! :-)
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Old 17 November 2019, 20:29   #19
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Thanks! Keep an eye on this thread because there is more to come!
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Old 17 November 2019, 21:09   #20
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Will do!


I read your "ramble" - maybe the basic tank units, could disregard the cap on normal cyborgs per engagement, so although they are not top line fighting vehicles you could defend somewhere with enough of them to be a real nuisance - and also beef up your cyborgs force with extra numbers?



Maybe the absence of one cyborg allowing the presence of 2 or 3 lesser units?
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