My first impression after seeing impact load: I have to install a piece of spy ware to get updates?
Impulse is significantly better than most of the digital distribution platforms out there right now. You don't need to have it running to play the game, so you only need to run it when you need to update and can keep it off the rest of the time.
I agree it's annoying when an application decides that it should run at start-up, but Impulse at least has the courtesy to have an option to disable that. It's under "preferences", and is one of the first check-boxes on the list.
1: Took me an hour to play through the tutorials, and afterwards, many questions were left unanswered.
Agreed; the tutorial isn't very good. The steep learning curve and lack of supporting material is a big problem for this game.
and after bribing the pirates to the point that little bar (I have no idea what it does) was all the way over
The bar is a timer until the next pirate raid, and is unaffected by the amount of bounty you place. Bounty is depleted every time the "victim" loses a unit, so placing bounty when the timer is low is completely pointless since it will deplete before the next raid launches. The general strategy is to place either nothing on the pirates or bid high at the exact moment the raid is about to launch. It's a winner take all bid, so either go all-in or fold.
I highly recommend that beginners turn pirates off while they learn the game. The raids are a little on the strong side when you're still figuring out the game, and they distract from learning the basics of empire and fleet management.
I got attacked by a capital ship that ate 10 missile frigates AND The pirates, simultaneously, who came out of nowhere
Unless you're right next to the pirate base, nothing comes out of nowhere. Everything in this game moves relatively slowly, and it's all about planning and staying one step ahead. Using scouts, you can spot enemies coming long before they arrive, and be prepared to repel them. Intel is a huge deal.
Because you know, both the enemy and the pirates can ignore those warp lines
No they can't. Keep in mind that unless you research the prerequisite tech, you cannot see them using the phase lane.
The only way to invade a planet without using phase lanes is with the Vasari superweapon - not something you see every day.
and garrisoning your fleet at a nexus planet does no good if they just want to rush by.
The AI will never pass through a planet you own, they'll always attack a front-line world (though human players are much more opportunistic). If they were attacking a world, then they must have found an alternate approach.
The best way to defend yourself is with scouts; keep a wide net and try to find the enemy as early as possible. Keep tabs on his position at all times and have your forces proactively in place to defend when he arrives (or better yet, attack him when he least expects it and throw off his momentum).
This reminds me of an old DOS game where you'd build an army and wax the enemies land with an army of 1 knight as they'd never had the ability to catch up
These kinds of antics are very hard to pull off. Structures and planets are quite tough and you need to commit substantial forces to bring them down. It can take 3-4 minutes for a typical capital ship to bombard a planet into submission, giving you plenty of time to counter-attack even if you don't see them coming with your scouts.
It's also nice there appears to be no decent planetary defenses...
The starbase and repair platforms are both great. The phase jump inhibitor makes for a great ambush. The turret and hanger aren't as useful, and you're usually better off just leaving a frigate factory in position and building extra defenders to supplement your starbase if it gets attacked.
3: Went online to see what I was doing wrong. I have to learn this degree of complexity required just to play the AI?
There are a million and one guides about different aspects of this game, and some of those guides can get very deep into the game's mechanics. You probably only need a small fraction of that info to get started against the normal difficulty AI. Unfortunately, I still haven't seen a good "beginner's tutorial" that covers the basics succinctly.
Seriously, you get 4 planets, and we really some massive a slider bar menu
Even the smallest scenario has 8 gravity wells. Large scenarios can have hundreds. That empire tree gets very useful on the larger scenarios, though I agree it's not as worthwhile on the smaller ones.
I think that must be a resolution issue, because the empire tree is very non-intrusive for me.
and your AI appears to play flawlessly from the get-go with no easy setting, what do you expect?
Difficulty is a nasty subject. I wholloped the normal difficulty on my first try, other people can't bring down the easy AI (there is an easy difficulty) for lover money. Actually getting an AI that scales appropriately for all players is extraordinarily difficult, and compounds the game's learning curve. Once you figure the game out, the weaknesses of the lower difficulty AI's become apparent.
I assure you that the AI is anything but flawless; it's actually slow, has poor spending priorities, and very easy to surprise. At lower difficulties, it's very much pulling its punches and moving quite slowly. However, it will eventually stop pulling and will deliver that punch, and if you aren't ready then you will lose at that point.
I have to agree, you don't deserve this game. Do us all a favor, leave it in the fucking trash, forget your username and password for this site, don't come around here again and have a great day.
Lose the trash talk. Some people seriously do have a hard time with the game's difficulty curve.