Hi, I tried the demo this weekend with 2 friends of mine for a few hours.
I liked what I saw quite a lot, although it has some negative aspekts, also.
I'll try to sum up the features that I noticed, but as I said, I didn't play it for that long.
There is an empire-wide Research-Savings slider, which controls, how much money is spent for research.
On each planet there is a slider for Construction vs. Trade, which controls how much of the produktivity of your ppl is used for construction.
There are 2 more sliders for each planet, a terraforming and a infrastructure slider. These control how fast your terraforming/infrastructure-buildup progresses. These are especially important on newly colonized worlds.
You can build only ships and defense bases, the buildings you research are automatically build according to the infrastructure slider.
For each ship you chose a forward section (ie command), a middle secton (e.g. assault, tanker, armor) and an aft section (ie engines)
Those sections have to be researched before use.
On those sections there are fixed weapon mountpoints in different sizes, where you can install whatever fitting weapon you like.
There are three ship sizes, destroyer, cruiser and dreadnougt, however in the demo you can only have destroyers, as for as I saw.
The ships themselves are nicely designed, you can see the weapon mounts clearly, the ships look sleek and deadly.
Ship combat is in realtime
In combat you give your ships simple orders (eg. hold fire, engage hostiles) or you can control them by hand, controlling where they fly and even, which section of a target ship they target.
For planetary defense you can build up to 10 bases, which orbit your planet.
What I liked was that each race has a different way of travelling in space, I won't go into detail here, but I think that feature is very nice.
There are different tech categories (industy, biology, star drives, etc) which are arranged in a circle. When you enter the research screen you are inside this circle and see the differrent techs arranged around you. The techs are shown in a techtree growing upward. You can zoom in on the individual techs to see what they do and how long it will take to reseach them.
- Only one planet per system:
You fly to a solar system, and once it is explored, the previously shown sun changes into one planet, which you can colonize. I would have liked starsystems with multiple planets.
- Random events:
Perhaps I was just very unlucky, but I started of at a very bad location and had mostly uncolonizable planets around me, and the few I could colonize cost so much, that my economy/research took a mayor hit. Because of this, I had only three colonies, while of my two friends one had five good ones, the other for colonies.
Suddenly I had a combat, at my second best colony, although I had seen no enemy incomings. It was a meteor swarm. My two ships could not stop all meteors and my colony got destroyed.
A few turns later my other colony got a meteor swarm. I had 6 relatively good ships there and 2 orbital defence platforms, but I couldn't stop all meteors (the fracture and thus mulitply when you hit them). Again, colony destroyed.
I had just recolonized this colony, when it was again hit by a meteor swarm, again so numerous, that I could not stop them.
Now normally I'm not that touchy about random events, but at least the Antarans mostly hit the better players and not the weakest three times in a row
I hope they will build in some control mechanism in the final release for this.
To sum it up, I will definately watch that game develop, it is not perfect, but it is fun to play
That should cover everything that comes to mind atm. If you have further questions, feel free to ask.