Aurora – the 4x game to make Dwarf Fortress sweat.

So my disappointment with SotS2 led me down a path of 4x-fixation, and I’ve been dipping in and out of Aurora the past few weeks.

So what is it?

Yup. One of those games. I suppose it’s much like Football Manager, for people who prefer the trappings of sci-fi over the trappings of football for their favourite fun-spreadsheet. And of course, it’s ludicrously complicated (for example, if you want to put a component onto a spaceship design, you must research the requisite technology to design it, design the component, then research the design). Every minute detail is simulated, and I’m loving it even though I’ve not managed to survive more than 100 years (and that was due to that particular game being one where I hadn’t worked out many game mechanics and thus progressed incredibly slowly. More commonly, I’ve discovered evil aliens who’ve destroyed me within one or two decades of game-start.

Yikes, right? Also, it didn’t help that I didn’t understand that there was a separate combat window for my first five or so games, and despairing that my lovingly-designed combat ships wouldn’t do a damn thing when getting pummelled by alien attackers. Oh, and I keep forgetting that I can increase armour ratings in the ship design window, thus making an awful lot of extremely fragile combat vessels. Stupid old me.

So why is it so compulsive for me? Partially, it’s got to be the sci-fi trappings. For a start, there’s nothing I love more than an excellent sci-fi setting, and Aurora gives you that the same way that Dwarf Fortress gives you an excellent fantasy setting (i.e. giving you the building blocks, and being abstract enough for your mind to fill in the blanks). Secondly, just the mechanic of being turn-based (even if the turns are anywhere between 5 seconds to 30 days) makes a game more compulsive because they allow you to progress to some extent by just clicking a button, and the temptation to do that is almost omnipresent. Thirdly? Good progression. A game with researching and upgrading is always going to look favourable to me. I loves me some incremental progress. Lastly, the scenario you find yourself in is an interesting one that I don’t mind coming back to – Earth (assuming you start with the Sol system) has pretty scant resources, so you can’t just sit back there forever if you want to expand – you’ve got to find sources of all the minerals needed (especially Sorium for fuel. Pray to the the randomly-generated gods that there is a body in the Sol system that happens to have a decent amount of Sorium when you play) and exploit them.

So yeah – if you want a game with a vertical learning-curve, lots of potential, lots of content, and a terrible interface, give Dwarf Fortress a go. And Aurora. It’s good.

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4 thoughts on “Aurora – the 4x game to make Dwarf Fortress sweat.

  1. I recently disovered this game and tried to run through the tutorial on the website, but it didn’t match the game version I had (been outdated I guess) and their were no tutorials in english anywhere I could find!.
    Definitely one to put some time into though!

    1. Fiyenyaa

      Yeah, the tutorials are for a game version over a year old, if I remember correctly. Some of them are still useful as a rough guide, but they definitely don’t give you the detailed picture – and Aurora is all about the detailed picture. The way I’ve muddled through is by playing, and then searching for any subjects that puzzle me on the website/forum – it’s usually possible to find some kind of solution.

  2. hombreros

    After playing Aurora, there’s just not going back to the typical 4x space games anymore.

    Two days ago I started a game to pave a way to the stars for the workers of Soviet Union. It started great; system was surveyed, plenty of precious minerals, and several mining colonies were set up on various planets along with automated mines on passing comets, with mass drivers sending the minerals to earth on a regular basis. Within 15 years I built my first jump-capable ship. And within 15 years it also all came crashing down.

    After the first wormhole jump into another system in the history of mankind resulted in discovering a gigantic, 60 thousand ton ship with shields, which proceed to obliterate my two geological survey ships. Only my jump ship escaped, but the behemoth of a ship followed me to solarsystem. Most of the civilian ships were obliterated, while I managed to hide my cargo- and colonizatin fleets into asteroid fields.

    Earth was soon invaded by the aliens, and after one year of bitter warfare, where the red army made a gallant stand for Earth, fighting tooth and nail, were eventually reduced to dust from the brutal battles against overwhelming foe.

    After the last brigade fell, scorched earth protocol was put into effect.

    Every missile silo that werent destroyed by orbital bombardments launched their nuclear stockpiles at the alien ground forces. Massive nuclear bombardment destroyed them along with a good portion of my industry and population, it also destroyed earth itself; radiation, and massive amount of dust was sent into athmosphere, blummeting earth into merciless nuclear winter.

    For a moment it looked like earth was saved

    That was until second fleet of alien ships as detected moving towards earth.

    What little was left of my planetary defences, were wiped out. And earth was conquered.

    1. Fiyenyaa

      It’s stories like that which make me love games like Aurora. I think that there should be more games where you can permanently and catastrophically fail; something about that possibility seems to make things more worthwhile.
      Also, I should probably write something on this blog, eh? It’s been a while.

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