The fact Sins 2 is getting made is some of the best news I've had in quite a few months!
I played a tonne of the original Sins Trinity when it released back in the day before all the digital stores became so widespread. If I remember correctly, it came in a cool CD box, with a cardboard "sheeve" with some really cool artwork on, and had a fairly chunk manual as well?
Anyway... nostalgia aside. I fired up Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion last night to refresh myself about what I liked (and did not like) about the original Sins. Firstly, I should mention I primarily played Sins vs AI, on large maps that would take several sessions to compete.
So, I thought the core gameplay was absolutely fantastic, so I'd recommend keeping it very much the same (but with more) rather than radically changing things (the orbital paths changing phase lanes thing concerns me). Also, I liked the ability to really to configure basically every aspect of the game before starting, like game speed, research speed, pirates, allies, and various other configurable things, so I'm guessing this orbital paths will just be another option? Although my concern is it will take lots of dev time to balance it (as it's a very unique system).
Secondly, the UI of the original sins had some great aspects. I loved that when you zoomed out, the systems and ship 3D graphics were replaced with 2D icons, and you could seamlessly zoom in and out too targeted icons and it would just transition beautifully, it meant panning was rarely required. I see this is still the case in the new Sins, so that's good news for me! I loved the outliner in the original Sins, and also liked how configurable it was through the options menu. Most of the time, it did what I wanted it to do without me having to do any fiddly guff. I cannot say the same so far for Sins 2's outliner. Having played Sins 2 for an hour last night, I was sttruggling to understand the outliner at all. I had ships all over the map, but the outliner simply showed planets only. I had created a couple fleets and they didn't just automagically appear in the outliner. I dunno, but it felt really janky to me compared to Sins 1 (I realize this is vague, I didn't do extensive testing and make notes, but it just felt "jank" to me).
Another thing I really liked about the original Sins UI was that it was thematic (some might say "crusty" or "old school" nowadays) but it still holds up today for immersing you in the experience. I cannot say the same for this new "Sleek" modernistic UI which is in Sins II currently (I know it's pre-alpha!). But yea, this new UI is boring looking, generic and lame-o compared to Sins 1.... The research system is "flat" now as well, as in, it's a flat list with no "dependencies" between techs (pre-requisites I mean) and it just looks arse compared to the original Sins. Now admittedly, some of the original Sins research techs could feel a bit cookie cutter (like +x% to laser damage 0/2), but the way it was laid out was much clearer and more thematic compared to this "flat" style in Sins 2 (pre-alpha).
Erm... what else... Oh, Sins 1 UI had 1 major problem - the UI assets are rasterized and not vectorized, and are only supplied in a single size, so on anything above 1080p the UI appears eye strainingly small, so you have to scale the interface, which causes it all to go blurry as hell... I presume this won't be the case in Sins 2, however it's implemented (p.s. any chance you could provide a Sins Rebellion update that provides upscaled UI elements for modern UHD+ monitors? )
Performance wise, this new engine seems to run like the dogs bollocks, very smooth, zippy and I didn't see any artifacts in my 1 hour playing (2080ti, 10700k, 32gb RAM).
So for me, my feedback summed up is:
- Don't go for this "metro"/"modernistic" generic UI, make it thematic (see what Starcraft 2 did)
- Make the research a tree again
- Make the outliner at least have functional parity with Sins 1
- Make it so the outliner doesn't require lots of fiddle in game
- Make the UI vectorized/3D, or provide multiple scaled rasterized assets for different screen densities
- Don't "redo", instead iterate/improve (see Starcraft 2 vs Starcraft 1)