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Subject: CE Online - sorry guys, but I don't "get it" rss

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Greg Gresik
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Bolingbrook
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I've played CE face to face (with 4 players, mainly) and enjoy the game as well as the interaction. I have only played with the AH version (i.e. 20 alien species - max of 4 players and nice bits).

Recently, I checked out the Cosmic Encounter online website.

While I realize that the site is actually run by two of the original designer's I just can't get into CE online. At first, I thought it was neat and well done, but over time I have the following "issues":

Not "real" CE
Yes, I realize that since the designer's run the site (and therefore the rules played by) that technically speaking it could be said that CE Online is the real game...but it's not. The game I want to play online is the game I've been playing. There are several rule changes that make this a problem.

First off, everyone has 4 planets (thus 16 ships) and only needs to take 4, not 5 to win.

Secondly, you cannot decide nor limit the aliens you play with (i.e. you can't use just the 20 from AH or just the ones from certain expansions, etc.) You have to use the ones that the site gives you - and you can only have more than 6 if you are a paying member (the paying is not really a big issue, but it is another hurdle)

Interaction??
While the website does allow for in game chat, with timers for everything it seems extraneous at best. Also, from my plays of CE, player interaction is a huge part of the game - and unfortunately, one of the most difficult aspects to replicate online. In a game that thrives on making deals, negotiating and reading players and their intentions, online play just isn't nearly as good.

Positives
Now, I realize that the two designers (of both the game and website) do frequent here on occasion and they are very nice guys. I also appreciate all the work and time they've put into the game and the website. Indeed there are several aspects of the website I simply love:

The music and sounds effects are fantastic. The mechanics of the game do flow fairly smoothly, considering the necessary pauses to allow artifacts to be played, etc. Bot play is solid - decent AI's. The GUI is also very easy to use and user friendly - played the first time without having to even pause for a help screen.

As I said, the website is a valiant attempt to recreate the experience of Cosmic Encounter online - I just feel that it comes up a little short - partly due to the limitations of not being F2F, but partly due to design weaknesses that could be fixed (assuming of course, that the designers want them fixed).

I realize that last comment leads down a "touchy" road (i.e. the designer as artist and his/her license to change the artwork to suit their desires vs. the request of the players). This is a similar line walked by George Lucas when he started changing parts of the Star Wars original trilogy due to technology that simply wasn't available at the time he made them. Were his changes good or bad? This is, for some, almost a religious debate, but suffice it to say that I would at least like the option for CE Online to be played as "improved" or in one of the "classic" vairations (with the "classic" rules).

I guess I would like the option to simply play the game I enjoy. But alas, this is not heaven, not is it Iowa - if it were either, I would have much more time to play games
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Jack Reda
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Herndon
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I don't get into online CE for pretty much the same reasons. I like CE partly because it is social, and I don't find the online version very social. And of course, the other reason I like CE is the expandability, and CEO is not there.

It is a nice interface, and I am happy that people are using it... it's only good for CE as a whole. Since I have a dozen or more versions of the board game, I'll mostly stick to that. Ole!
 
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Rik Van Horn
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CE played properly, is a face to face, laugh your ass off/in your face kind of game.
This type of interaction loses something when done online.
It's the same reason I won't play Diplomacy online. Typing your wheeling and dealing with other players is totally different when done in text.
 
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