The AI deal is something that you have a point in, however if you play a game enough you will find paterns in the computer AI in turn based games aswell, atleast that is my experience so far. I havent played GC2 so I dont know in this game, but in my mind you quickly figure out how to outsmart the comp. My experience is that a experienced human player vs a "supposed to be impossible" computer player is that the computer is ultra agressive making it tough in the beginning but as soon as you survived to a critical point you will tear the computer.
I have played MOO2 singleplayer alot. I still play it today now and then but for me singleplayer is like training ground for multiplayer games. If there is no "real deal" there is no reason for training and figuring out good build/tech orders.
The pacing problem is probably the major issue in my mind. I play HOMM3 with friends over LAN now and then but playing more than 3 humans can be quite frustraiting because the long waits. We have "solved" this by playing a game of HOMM3 and Chaos overlords simultaniously
I have actually thought about diffrent solutions and possiblities to fix pacing in TBS games.
In my mind all players must make their moves simultaniously, its really the only way if you want to play with many humans in the game. This might mean that single and multi is played very diffrent but thats better than making a fun singleplayer game and check boxning multiplayer that noone will play online because it takes an hour to wait for your turn if you play with more that 2-3 ppl.
Multiplayer needs faster pacing and if that means changing combat into slowmoving realtime combat and removing some unnecessary but cool features like choosing look of your spaceship hull, or streamlining the workflow its still better.
Right now there is not a single popular space 4x game that has even decent multiplayer online support. There must be a market for that.
In a game like MOO2 each army could be moving slowly at each other in realtime and the weapon, aiming computer, special equipment should decide who gets to fire first and that the ships would fire automaticly when in range, but you can click ships and choose who they should fire at and with which canon, moving direction and so on.
I read that HOMM5 will have one gametype where you can control ghosts when your turn is over, so you will have something to do while waiting for the other players.
One other solution that could work in the beginning in some TBS games is to allow players to play on diffrent turns. Like when Im done at turn 5 I start playing turn 6 even when your are still playing turn 5. This would only work when there is no possiblity that I can interact with something that you can interact with before you are at turn 6 aswell. I don't know if this would work for a game such as GC as I havent played it. Playing 2-3 turns ahead of other players would ofcourse be a risk, but you could always move back to the turn the last player is still playing to fix misstakes, but as soon as all players have clicked end turn 1 time that turn would be closed.
If you really want to force pacing you could give every turn a certain time before it is closed and when you jump to the next turn time is added from the previous turn, this way people would play fast to have extra time when they need to spend extra time managing something that requires more time. Combat could take place (in realtime) in the turns so you have ongoing battles in windows that you can maximize and minimize.
Some people would complain that its not a TBS game anymore but a hybrid might be the only way to make it work online really well.
I'm looking forward to HOMM5 too, and to a multiplayer version of GC2. Since MOO3 was more or less a disaster in my mind there has been a lack of 4x games with multiplayer options for very long now.
Ah great, on some forums people attack you for misspelling because you don't agree with their point of view