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I got this game when it came on special. I'd heard plenty of bad things about it, but wanted to try it with an open mind. Played for a bit, and just getting frustrated at how simultaneously arcane and oversimplified it is. Do I just need to give it a bit more time to grow on me, or is this just a sign that like it was for many others, its never going to be a game I come back to?
This was my review of MoO3 to another user who hadn't played it. In short, I agree with you, I don't think it will grow on you (though as I write below, the game does have it's proponents - I think if you really want to like the game you have to install some of the user-made patches for it).

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Part of the reason MoO3 is so disliked by many people is the same old tale that the originals (MoO1 and MoO2) are classics of the genre and that the next in the series (MoO3) was just a huge disappointment relative to those when it was released - it was also released in a very buggy state. That the originals are so beloved makes MoO3 more hated.

But beyond that it has a very confusing interface where it is difficult to tell what the relevant information is and how you should act on it. The confusion extends to how much control you have over certain functions in your empire and the impact of your actions on certain types of events: research in particular seems to progress on its own and a lot of it is very unclear what benefit a particular research item gets you. People complained that the empire felt much like it was on auto-pilot all of the time and that auto-pilot is constantly trying to fly your empire into the ground - such that you spend more time fighting with the interface and the automatic decision making of the AI than making grand-impact decisions yourself. Also everything seemed to be in huge spreadsheets such that the game felt very dry and soulless. The game might have been not so bad in the former respect (fighting the automation) if the presentation of interacting with that automation was more interesting. But instead the game had menus, buried in menus, buried in menus.

I feel like it is trying to be MoO1 with control of the broad overview of the empire as opposed to MoO2 which has a greater emphasis on micromanaging the empire. But they just screwed up the implementation of their ideas and I find the game simply dull to play.

That said the game does have its proponents on GOG (you can see some of them in the forums here). Fan-patches have made the game a lot more playable and those that like the game contend that, once you get past the interface issues, there is a truly deep and nuanced 4X strategy game. I myself have been unwilling to find out. :)
Post edited November 05, 2012 by crazy_dave
As much as I like the concept behind Master of Orion 3, I disliked it so much. I actually started the series by playing MoO3 (don't ask me how I ended up doing that)

The issue was that the interface is simply horrible, to much information and unorganized data everywhere. Furthermore you had menus buried within menus, making it even worse to navigate the interface and find the menu that you are looking for.

The AI was also pretty horrible and buggy, if you create a game that focuses on macromanagement, then the AI should be good. The issue is that the AI is so poorly designed that it will run your empire into the ground.

Also my main gripe is that I felt like the whole game played by itself, I did not know what kind of actions influenced my empire or which factors play a role. I was unable to know if some of the decisions that I took were good or bad. I completely lost control of everything.

There are many more issues, although I would like to replay this game and get into it with some mods but I am still quite sceptical.
In my opinion, if a game requires fan intervention to make it even slightly bearable, then it's an overt failure of that game and the people who designed it originally.
It's partly down to the design team trying new ideas, of which only some of them actually panned out. It *does* have well-implemented systems along with the messed-up ones, though the interface issues can end up masking them. It doesn't help that the information presented in the game (descriptions of what various options do) is often misleading or downright wrong; if you want to understand how things actually interact with one another then you generally have to consult third-party sources.

Another part of the hate resulted from the creative director deciding to axe a whole lot of game elements that he didn't personally like (and made no secret of the fact that that was the only reason they were getting chopped), which also happened to be pretty much everything that gave the first two games their character, and this is in large part responsible for the flat/lifeless feeling that MOO3 suffers from.
Post edited February 02, 2013 by Garran
To like MoO3, at first you need its Tropical mod:
http://www.gog.com/forum/master_of_orion_series/tutorial_master_of_orion_3_tropical_mod_patched_confirmed_windows_7_x64
In the past I've really tried to like this game. Several times over like 5 years period I reinstalled it and tried to play it (also with mods/patches so that's not an issue). Failed all the time. Didn't bother to get it on GOG when it came out (got 1&2 as soon as the were released). Maybe in the future I will try again, but I doubt it.
The most annoying thing with MoO3 (other than that I bought it full price when it came out [it was on a massive sale just weeks after the release]) to me, really is that - there's a lot in there that could be so, so good. It has some really interesting ideas and there's hints and traces of a lot of complexity that could have taken the genre to something really new. I absolutely love the scale of the whole thing (a big galaxy really IS big), that there was a lot of ambition in the ideas and it what they tried to do. Like - migration. Like various religions that actually had various effects on the game, to a much higher degree and depth than civ3 (it's in the code, but was deactivated before release - as many other complex systems); see this introduction of what they had planned. Etc, etc.

Problem is, of course, that all the good ideas are buried in what is, as a game, an absolute disaster. There's enough in there to make it clear a lot of quite complex things happen - only you can't actually do much with all that is happening and everything is needlessly obtuse and complex. The game manages to both give you too much data and not enough at the same time. That it is like that wasn't really that surprising with all the hiccups during development. I'd wish someone would take some those ideas - including the focus on macro level decisions - and try again. A little less ambitious, trying a little less for realism and more for fun (that's a big part of the problem). And not necessarily as a MoO game, but as a separate series.
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Mnemon: The most annoying thing with MoO3 (other than that I bought it full price when it came out [it was on a massive sale just weeks after the release]) to me, really is that - there's a lot in there that could be so, so good. It has some really interesting ideas and there's hints and traces of a lot of complexity that could have taken the genre to something really new. I absolutely love the scale of the whole thing (a big galaxy really IS big), that there was a lot of ambition in the ideas and it what they tried to do. Like - migration. Like various religions that actually had various effects on the game, to a much higher degree and depth than civ3 (it's in the code, but was deactivated before release - as many other complex systems); see this introduction of what they had planned. Etc, etc.

Problem is, of course, that all the good ideas are buried in what is, as a game, an absolute disaster. There's enough in there to make it clear a lot of quite complex things happen - only you can't actually do much with all that is happening and everything is needlessly obtuse and complex. The game manages to both give you too much data and not enough at the same time. That it is like that wasn't really that surprising with all the hiccups during development. I'd wish someone would take some those ideas - including the focus on macro level decisions - and try again. A little less ambitious, trying a little less for realism and more for fun (that's a big part of the problem). And not necessarily as a MoO game, but as a separate series.
I agree: a lot of the design goals were lofty (some have since been implemented in other strategy games), but that the execution of them were either terrible or they were simply absent in the final release. I think many of them could fit into a MoO-style game, but they would have to be done right. :)
Post edited February 24, 2013 by crazy_dave
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Mnemon: The most annoying thing with MoO3 (other than that I bought it full price when it came out [it was on a massive sale just weeks after the release]) to me, really is that - there's a lot in there that could be so, so good. It has some really interesting ideas and there's hints and traces of a lot of complexity that could have taken the genre to something really new. I absolutely love the scale of the whole thing (a big galaxy really IS big), that there was a lot of ambition in the ideas and it what they tried to do. Like - migration. Like various religions that actually had various effects on the game, to a much higher degree and depth than civ3 (it's in the code, but was deactivated before release - as many other complex systems); see this introduction of what they had planned. Etc, etc.

Problem is, of course, that all the good ideas are buried in what is, as a game, an absolute disaster. There's enough in there to make it clear a lot of quite complex things happen - only you can't actually do much with all that is happening and everything is needlessly obtuse and complex. The game manages to both give you too much data and not enough at the same time. That it is like that wasn't really that surprising with all the hiccups during development. I'd wish someone would take some those ideas - including the focus on macro level decisions - and try again. A little less ambitious, trying a little less for realism and more for fun (that's a big part of the problem). And not necessarily as a MoO game, but as a separate series.
I think this game was a victim of "Get'er done". The game as it came out wasn't completed, or mainstreamed. I'd blame this more on the publishers than the devs. Who knows, had they not been rushed to get the game out to the public, MOO3 might be remembered as a turning point in the design of 4x games.

Sadly, the developers weren't allowed to properly finish the game, so, we get a confusing mess.
All people around talk about UI horror... As for me, I didn't find it SO horrible, it's BEARABLE. The worst thing I found in this game is space combat, rather ugly comparing with other parts of game. All the rest, combined with mods, makes MoO3 very decent series follower IMO.
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Zophos: All people around talk about UI horror... As for me, I didn't find it SO horrible, it's BEARABLE. The worst thing I found in this game is space combat, rather ugly comparing with other parts of game. All the rest, combined with mods, makes MoO3 very decent series follower IMO.
I am a HUGE fan of MoO2 but never really played MoO1 at all.

The features that MoO2 had that made it so enjoyable to me were, Race customization, Ship Design actually mattered in combat, and research choices had a BIG impact on the game as a whole.

I loved the fact that you could have Armor Piercing weapons and run into someone who got Heavy Armor just to mess you up hehe.

The only thing I found kind of annoying was in mainly 3 things. Ship Drives, Shields and Armor. Mainly the fact that lets say you skipped shields all the way upto Class V (5). Your spies would still take the trouble to steal classes 1 and 3 if your opponent had it instead of realizing that getting those was completely pointless. Same thing for Armors, they would steal crappier than what you already had or ship drives.

This was my only real complaint about this game at all and when you think about how big it can be that is a huge compliment to the developers. Especially since I believe those could have been fixed without to much trouble if they decided to, although perhaps it was left that way deliberately on purpose for balance.

Sadly MoO3 made me regret wasting my 10 bucks and my time on it and to either repurpose that CD as a coaster or a frizbee lol.
When I was 18, I was enchanted with MoO2. Now I see MoO2 as the end-of-turn click-fest with rather not so entertaining ship design and ship battles...