Alan Emrich interview (cont.)

Will all the familiar races be present in the game? What about The Guardian and the Antarrans?

Yes, the Antarans will be present. At least whatís left of them. (Go to www.moo3.com/backstory.htm for the details.) Not only will Orion sport a new Guardian, but also its own (well, the Orion Senateís) fleet.

As for "all the familiar races," no. Some are toast and some new ones have been added. Again, that backstory link will tell the whole story.

Explain the concept of "Imperial Focus."

Imperial Focus is the Leaderís ability to get things done during a single one-to-two year Game Turn. During a turn a Leader can only focus on so many issues. To simulate this, each player has only so much Imperial Focus each turn. With it, he or she reviews the current standing orders throughout the Empire and spends Imperial Focus Points (IFPs) only when he or she wants to change the status quo. With Imperial Focus, the player can choose to do anything but cannot do everything.

So, with a small Empire of a single world, the player (through its Leader; Leaders are just pawns used by players) can rightly focus on matters appropriate to that scale of activity. In other words, micro-manage and try to optimize the heck out of that single planet. For those managing an Empire of 30+ stars, however, it is much more efficient to issue Imperial Edicts and have them ripple throughout the realm than to try to fiddle with every individual slider bar and pop open every single build queue and make each change separately. Macro-management tools have been built into MOO3 allowing a player to shotgun their Imperial Focus energy for maximum efficiency. An entire Civil Service exists to implement policy.

Imperial Focus offers several design advantages. In addition to keeping players properly focused on their role, it will also help keep turns moving along. This will be a great asset to those who enjoy multi-player play and even solitaire players who want to spend hours rather than days to see the end of the game. Imperial Focus is also a malleable number. Certain races, Events, Leaders, etc. can increase or decrease a playerís available Imperial Focus Points. It adds play balance, too, as the best overall manager has the edge each turn, not just the most time-taking, horrendously optimizing micro-manager. Everything is important, but you canít do everything, so the best players are those who can deduce which things are the most important in their current circumstances. I believe it takes far more skill to do that than to do rote micro-management in an effort to achieve a tiny bit of optimization.

Thanks to Imperial Focus, each race, government, religion, etc. becomes truly unique and fleshed out as the tendencies they engender are reflected upon the types of Leaders that emerge within a civilization and the status quo for it that they engender. (A status quo that the players use as their departure point for asserting their own leadership). In other words, youíve got to play the hand youíre dealt. Positions are no long as generic as they were in previous Master of Orion games. When you can get into the mindset of, say, a Klackon Oligarchy, youíll be better able to lead it. Yes, you must become "one" with your people, but then you must lead them to their greater destiny.

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