Master of Orion FAQ

Welcome to the Master of Orion (MOO) FAQ. This is version 1.3.1 of that guide. Thanks to all those who contributed. This document has undergone a good deal of editing since version 1.2, including a new editor, and the excision of the strategy guides (which can be found by selecting the link).

The original work and editing was done by:

Dave Chaloux


1. What is MOO?

2. Frequently asked questions

3. What bugs are known to exist?

1. What is MOO?

MOO is a game of interstellar exploration and conquest. At the start of the game, you have just 1 planet, some population, and a few starships. From that meager beginning, you have to explore the galaxy, create industry, colonize other worlds, research technology, conduct diplomacy (when you run into other alien races), deal with disasters, design and build your ever changing fleet of starships, and eventually either get elected Emperor of the galaxy or by military might subdue the other races. If all of this sounds quite complex, it is and that is the appeal of this game.

In defining what it is, some words about what it is not are also in order. It is not an arcade or action type game. All aspects of the game are conducted at your leisure and reflexes are not an issue. Also, although it does include ship to ship combat, this aspect of the game is not the primary focus. In fact, it is possible to push an auto button and the game will automatically play out the ship to ship combat. You will normally (but not always) use that button. If a more detailed tactical ship to ship combat game is desired, something like Rules of Engagement 2 might be a better choice.

MOO has a lot of replayability for a number of reasons. First, you can play any of 10 different races. Each race has its weak and strong points. For example, the Alkari race is a bird like species. They are excellent pilots and they are also good at researching propulsion type technology. The Darloks on the other hand are shape shifters and they are excellent spies good at inciting rebellion, conducting sabotage, and stealing other races technology. Second, each time you start a new game, the map is randomly generated. What fate hands you can make a large difference in your approach. For example, the presence of a nearby artifact world can help in researching technology. Third, you have control over the # of stars in the game and the number of alien races you are playing against. Finally, there is a difficulty setting which affects how rapidly new technology is discovered.

You should be aware that games can take a fair amount of time; as an extreme example, my first game took about 16 hours to complete. From my own experience, the average game takes about 4-6 hours. Because the game is so complex (and thus provides such a rich experience) it can be rather frustrating to learn at first. This guide in part is intended to help you through that learning stage. However, it does not stop there and it is hoped that even experienced players will find something of use here.

2. Frequently asked questions

2.A) Is there any speech? It mentions speech in the installation but I don't seem to get any.

Answer: There is no speech. The speech part of some soundcards is used for special effects but not for speech.

2.B) How do you move the center of the map?

Answer: Point at a blank part of the screen you want centered and then click the left mouse button. To move using the keyboard, see pg 4 of the Technical Supplement and Reference. If using the 1.2 patch, ALT-C will recenter the map on the currently selected planet.

2.C) What differences are there between the different difficulty levels?

The manual mentions that it affects opponents production rates, expansion rate, technology development, and willingness to ally with you. It is also supposed to affect the size of your initial fleet.

It definitely affects the cost of developing new technology. New technology costs:

Tech_level^2 * Difficulty_Factor * Race_Factor.

The Difficulty factor is:
20 - Simple
25 - Easy
30 - Average
35 - Hard
40 - Impossible

2.D) When does the council meet?

It first meets when two thirds of the planets have been colonized. It then meets every 25 years on the 24th, 49th, 74, and 99th years. (Example 2449).

It also bears mentioning that if you eliminate all races but one, the vote will no longer take place. You will have to play the game out to the bitter or not so bitter end. You then get the "Tyrant" ending.

Contributed by: Dave Chaloux

2.E) How do I change the ships icons that I get? I change races but the icons stay the same.

The icons that you get to use depend on the color of the flag you select at the beginning of the game.

2.F) What affect does power have in designing ships?

If you look at the Engine type popup, you will notice a column for number of engines of the selected type. If you select something new which requires power, then the number of engines will go up to provide the necessary power for the new item. Of course if new engines are required, the cost of the engines and space required for the new engines goes up in addition to the cost and size of the new item. So the power is integral part of building ships.

Contributed by: P. Michael Haffley

2.G) How powerful a machine do I need to run it?

You must have 2 Meg of memory. That said the following report was on the net.

I'm currently running MoO on a 286-12. The box says that you need at least a 386, but I took the chance and bought it and it runs fine on my 286. (I am planning on buying a 486 this month, so I figured I could always wait for the 486 if it wouldn't run at all on the 286)

The only problems I've had are mouse response problems. It would get to the point that it would take a second or two to respond to mouse button actions at times. I just downloaded the first patch, and that seems to have fixed it. It still takes a half second or maybe a bit less to respond, but it's not to bad. I think the delay is in the sound area, since the button graphics tend to respond in a timely manner, but there is a slight pause before there is sound or any other result besides the button being depressed.

This isn't exactly a CPU hog like actions games are, so lack of CPU power isn't crippling. You should have no problems at all on a 386-33.

Contributed by: Keith Hearn

2.H) What good is the planet button in the combat display?

It will tell you the weapons, factories, and population of a planet. Useful if you don't want to bomb it to dust. And useful to know when it's a lost cause and your fleets should bugout.

2.I) When bombing enemies the little film keeps continuing. Do I do more damage if I keep it going?

Answer: NO

2.J) How do you transport troops?

Click on the transport button. Take the arrow like cursor that appears and click on the place you want to send them. It will give you a slider asking how many to transport. Select the number you want and OK it. They will NOT appear on the map right away but will when you go to the next turn.

This is one of those things that should have been made much clearer in the manual.

2.K) Is there a good way to split half of a huge fleet?

You DON'T have to click 500 times to split 1000 ships. It will remove over 5% of your group of ships if it is a large group (over about 50 I think). This is hidden in the manual somewhere. If you want to send 500 out of 1000 ships start with 1000 ships and REMOVE 500 at 5%, if you want to send one ship out of that 1000 then start with 0 and click +1.

Contributed by: F. Rodgers

[Editors note: The percentage is now changed to 10% in large groups under 1.3]

2.L) How do I turn ships around in midflight?

You don't until you get the Hyperspace communications tech advance. Then you simply click on the fleet and give them a destination just like you would if they were orbitting a planet.

An exception to this is important in the 1.2 patch. If you have just given a fleet orders or if a fleet has just retreated, a new destination can be given even without hyperspace communications.

2.M) Could someone please make the combat algorythm more understandable?

Ok, I have been seeing a certain amount of confusion concerning starship battles in MOO, so I am going to attempt to explain the algorythm. If you are not mathematically inclined, don't panic, the combat is really quite simple.

Step 1) The computer compare's your ships ATTACK to the defenders DEFENSE rating. If you fire beams he defends at beam defense, while, naturally, he uses his missile defense against missiles. All attack bonuses and defense bonuses are added at this point. The resulting comparision is reduced to an ABSOULTE DIFFERENCE. Thus if you attack with a level 6 battle computer and he is defending at level 3 then your attack score is (+3).

Step 2) The computer generates a random number (sic) between 1 and 100 and compares it to your attack value (found on page 58 of the manual by using our attack score, computed in step 1). If the random number is greater or equal to your attack roll then you hit.

Step 3) The computer uses the SAME roll to computer raw damage. A roll of 100 indicates full damage, while your minimum attack roll indicates the weapon strikes for minimum damage. Rolls in between do more damage as they approach 100. For you mathematical types:

DAMAGE CAUSED = (MAX-MIN Damage) * (1-[ (100-ATTACK ROLL))        ])
                                      | ---------------------     |+ MIN Damage
                                      [ (100-Minimum attack score)]

EXAMPLE: I hit with a Hard beam (8-12) damage. I rolled a 70, while I needed a 20 to hit. Thus I strike for:
        (12-8)* (1- (100-30))
                     -------  + 8
        4 * (1-30/80) + 8 = 10.5 rounds to 10 damage.
Step 4) The computer subtracts the defender's shield level from your computer damage. Thus a 4 point laser hit does only 1 point of damage against class III shields. Weapons which halve opponent's shields, naturally, subtract only 1/2 their shield strength (rounded up, I THINK).

The computer iterates these 4 steps for every weapon on every firing ship in your attacking fleet.

So what does this mean?

I hope this helps to clear up some of the confusion regarding combat.

Contributed by: Pat Casey

2.N) Why did the Internal Security percentage change in 1.2?

Under versions prior to 1.2, the Internal Security percentage shown on the Race Screen was composed of any racial bonus, any internal security spending, and 1% per level of computer technology.

This was not wholly accurate, as the computer technology modifier is not 1% per level of your technology, but 1% per level of the difference between your technology level and the person attempting to spy on you.

Version 1.2 and beyond does not show your computer technology level.

2.O) Will there be a version 1.4?

At present, there is no word on whether or not there will be a 1.4. Given the bugs still in (or introduced in) version 1.3, I certainly hope there will be a 1.4

3. What bugs are known to exist?

Compared to many other games on the market, MOO is remarkably bug free. However, it does have a few. The good news is that a patch exists to fix the more serious ones. This patch is available in the following places:

The known bugs are as follows, and are categorized by the versions in which they appear.

3.A) Bugs present in version 1.0 of Master Of Orion

3.A.1) The program bombs out with a message similar to, "BACKGRND.LBX[xx] exceeds number of LBX entries". This problem happens on machines with 7 Megs or more of EMS memory. The patch fixes it. Another fix is to configure your machine to have less than 2 Megs of EMS memory available. There have been some reports of LBX problems in 1.2, but these should be fixed by 1.3.

3.A.2) The Diplomat Bug: Sometimes the game will lock you out from access to all diplomatic functions. This is normal after a counsel vote electing someone else emperor. However, it occurs in other situations where it should not. The patch also fixes this problem. It can easily be worked around by saving and restoring the game. It is apparently linked to someone accepting tribute.

3.A.3) Sometimes mouse response time become very slow. It stays slow until you turn off all sound. This has reportedly been fixed in version 1.3.

3.A.4) The Gaia bug: One of the high technology discoveries is supposed to allow for incredibly fertile plants. When you get the discovery you are supposed to crank up the ECO bar and the planets are converted. They never convert. This fixed in later versions.

3.A.5) The to many ships bug: If you have over 32768 ships (16 bit signed integer) then your number of ships goes negative. This is fixed in later versions.

3.A.6) The Doc check bug: Has anyone else noticed this - I was playing MOO when the copy protection screen came up. It said that the picture was between pages 27 and 27. No problem, I look up page 27 and see that it appears TWICE on the list of choices! Uh oh, which one...

I chose the first one, and failed.

The second go around was normal and I passed.

Contributed by: James Borynec

[Editor: I have heard no reports since 1.2 of this problem]

3.A.7) The colony ship bug: When you have many different types of ships on a planet, AND a colony ship it will NOT ask you if you want to colonise every turn, and you have to move and come back OR move off all the other ships. This bug is not consistant but it has happened enough to be annoying early on but now that I know the game I only have extra colony ships when I am waiting for greater tech range and want to grab planets fast.

Contributed by: F. Rodgers

[editor: This bug occurs when you turn down the initial request to colonize the planet. This was clear in the original context. I have heard no report of this bug in some time and I think the patch fixes it.]

3.A.8) The Orion terraforming bug: This bug was first brought to my attention by Pat Casey and I have also seen it. In my case I was running the 1008 patch. If you capture Orion and then terraform it you can really start cranking out the Research Points. In my game I was up at 180 max population because of +80 terraforming. I then got the soil enrichment technology. Of course this is way out of order (tech 16 vs tech 38) and the game did not handle it very well on Orion. I spent the credits to supposedly up the population but it did the opposite. I went from 180 population to something like 125. I did not notice this happening on any other world.

In Pat's case this happened with Atmospheric terraforming and the affect was even more drastic dropping the max population to 50!

This was fixed in 1.2, only to run into the Max Population Bug (see 3.B).

3.A.9) The base maintenance bug: Several people have mentioned that if you get a large number of bases, your base maintenance cost can sky rocket. You might go from a maintenance cost of 5% to 80% or 90% in one year. This has only been reported with really large numbers of bases like 150 or so on a planet. Moral of the story is make sure you don't forget about a planet that is cranking out bases. It might completely hose your economy all at once. Also, since there is no way to scrap bases you end up having to go back to a save file. This is fixed in all versions beyond 1.2.

3.A.10) The 1999 limit on Factories bug: It is possible with Maximum Terraforming + Gaia to get planets with populations of 300. With Robotic controls VII it should be possible to get 2100 factories. With Meklars and their + 2 on controls they could get up to 2700 factories. However, the game limits you to a max of 1999 and when you reach it does not adjust industry spending appropriately. This is fixed in 1.2 and beyond.

3.B) Bugs from version 1.2 of Master of Orion

3.B.1 The Maximum Planet Terraforming bug: Some planets (including Orion) would stay set on Terraforming even after reaching 300 million in population. Increased spending could result in reversion to the base value for the world's population, or even wiping out the colony. This is fixed in 1.3.

3.B.2) The Divide By Zero bug: Under some circumstances (which seemed to be a combination of machine configurations and the bug), the program would crash with a Divide By Zero (in enormous letters) during ship combat. This is apparently fixed in 1.3.

3.B.3) The Espionage Report bug: Under 1.2, you would never get any reports of enemy spies being captured at the espionage report screen. This is fixed in 1.3.

3.B.4) The Lockup bug: Under 1.2, depending on the galaxy and the system, the

computer would lockup. This is supposedly fixed in 1.3 [It has been reported to

exist in 1.3]

3.C) Bugs in version 1.3 of Master of Orion

3.C.1) The Biological Weapon Bug: Bringing ships with Biological weapons into a system will reduce the population, even if the ships retreat immediately or are destroyed before ever coming near the planet. Found in multiple versions (other symptoms include biological attacks even when the Bombing option is cancelled if bio weapons are present).

3.C.2) The Missile Fire Bug: Planetary missiles which should be destroying incoming fleets do no damage (under some circumstances) when fired manually. However, when the Automatic Combat is selected, the missile weapons work as they should.