Journals

CRUSADE DIARY 3: Galactic Citizens

Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 By Draginol

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Sliders. Knobs. Checkboxes. Such is the spread-sheet roots of strategy games. Let's fix that.

[[..]]

Going back 15 years to Galactic Civilizations I for Windows, players managed their economy like this:

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GalCiv I: Sliders.

 

In Galactic Civilizations I, you would set your tax rate. Your tax rate affected the approval rate on your planets.  You could then decide how much of your GDP the government would take control of with the spending slider.  From there, players would direct their civilization's output between Military, Social, and Research.

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In Galactic Civilizations III, we had changed it to the Production Wheel: Manufacturing, Wealth Generation, Research.

 

I actually don't have a problem with sliders to be honest.  But they have a serious user interface limitation: The more sliders you have, the more confusing the screen and the more difficult it is to communicate the results.

 

 

Let's talk about economics

Our economies are a lot more complicated than Money making, Research and Planet manufacturing and Fleet construction.  Obvious real-world examples would include food production, consumer goods,  social programs and international affairs.  In a space game, there are even priorities you might have: Mining, espionage, soldiers, Precursor archeology, and so on.  Imagine all that as sliders. Oye.

 

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What are Galactic Citizens?

Across your entire civilization, an individual of great potential will rise up and join your government.  When this happens you decide an area for he or she to specialize in.

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A new citizen has joined you. What will you do with them?

Now, there are some...provisos here that will make each game play a bit differently. 

  1. How often you get a free citizen is not dependent on the size of your civilization.  It is, by default, one citizen every 10 turns. So each citizen is pretty important. A 200 turn game will leave you with 20 natural citizens.  Use them wisely.
  2. The areas of specialization are based on what technology you have.  At the start of the game, if you are playing as the Terran Alliance, your options are a Leader or a Commander.
  3. You can choose to keep them safe in your capital providing a global bonus (great for large empires) or you can send them to a specific planet to really boost that planet's production in a given area (great for small empires) but also makes them vulnerable if they are assassinated or the planet is invaded (once they settle, they're not leaving).
  4. They level up over time. Thus, the order in which you specialize them matters.

 

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The govern screen with some citizens there. Leaders act as wild cards and can be placed in any category.

 

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Citizens can also be sent to planets to greatly boost it in a specific area.

 

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Citizens can't teleport. When sent to a planet, a VIP transport takes them from your capital world to the planet in question.

 

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Worried about micro-management? Don't. We also include easy ways to move citizens from your capital to your empire if necessary.

 

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Not just icons. Each citizen has a name and where they're from and a picture (and yea, we do this for all 12 races, Drengin females...you do not want to attend their march).

 

 

Citizen Specialties (so far)

 

 

Specialization

Strategic Benefit

Tactical Benefit

Special

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Leader

Provides 3% boost to target civilization priority.

Cannot leave the capital.

Can be moved around to any priority category.

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Administrator

Reduces all colony maint by 3%

Reduces target planet’s maintenance by 25%.

Increases administration resource by 1 plus 10%.

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General

Improves global planetary resistance by 3%.

Provides 5 legions to target planet for defense.

Can be converted into an invasion transport holding the General and his legions.

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Commander

Improves global starship HP by 3%

Increases planetary defense of orbiting ships by 25%.

Can be converted to a Flag Ship that is added to a target fleet to give it a combat boost.

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Spy

Improves global security by 3%

Can be sent to eliminate a spy on a planet.

Can be assigned missions targeting foreign powers.

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Worker

Increases global manufacturing by 3%

Can settle on a planet to boost its manufacturing by 25%

 

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Scientist

Increases global research by 3%

Can settle on a planet to boost its research by 25%

 

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Farmer

Increase global food production by 3%

Can settle on a planet boosting its food production by 25%

 

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Engineer

Increases global fleet production by 3%

Can settle on a planet boosting its fleet production by 25%

 

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Entrepreneur

Increases global wealth production by 3%

Can settle on a planet boosting its wealth production by 25%

 

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Celebrity

Provides a global 3% bonus to planetary goods and services.

Can settle on a planet providing a 25% boost to planetary goods and services.

 

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Diplomat

Provides a global 3% boost to influence.

Can settle on a planet and boost that planet’s influence by 25%.

Can be converted into an Emissary and sent to a target civilization boosting your relations.

 

 

 

A living civilization

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If you're a Galactic Civilizations player you might be thinking "This is going to require a lot of changes to existing balance."  And you would be right.  Take a very close look at the screenshot below.

 

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Still early game and lots of new resources to play with

 

Look at the top of the previous screenshot.  Notice how many resources there are?  Your citizens are your principle lever for deciding what matters (and what doesn't) in your civilization.  But how you will likely use your citizens will change from game to game because of the new resource system and their connection to what improvements you can build, what planets you can colonize, what your starbases can and can't do.  Resources accumulate (unlike in GalCiv III) and they result in a vibrant galaxy for your citizens to play in.

Next week: Resources!


CRUSADE DIARY 2: The Civilization Builder

Posted on Thursday, February 09, 2017 By Draginol

Galactic Civilizations games have had ship building in them for almost 20 years.  And ever since, people have used it to create all kinds of amazing designs from robots to their favorite Sci-Fi ships.

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Ship designer from Galactic Civilizations II

With Galactic Civilizations III, players were able to share their designs with millions of other players via Steam Workshop.  Suddenly, players could download and play with almost any type of ship imaginable.

As much as players loved being able to design and share their ship designs, there was one thing they kept requesting over and over: the ability to assign ship designs to a Civilization and have them use it.  This way, if they wanted to create a race of giant robots, they could.  Or if they wanted to play their favorite sci-fi race (or play against it) they could.

In Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade their wish is fulfilled!

Civilization Builder

First, video. Paul Boyer and I sat down with the Civ Builder the other day. I wanted to show off the laser space sharks and aquatic race we built. Check out this exclusive video to see what we created.

Now, let's walk through the new Civilization Builder, screen by screen. From the main menu there is a new button - Civilization Builder.

 

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The Civ Builder exists outside the game.

 

Once inside, the player is greeted with a series of screens that lets them configure a completely new civilization.  With the Steam Workshop, you can download new logos, alien portraits, alien backgrounds, alien images, etc. 

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Players can put together a completely new alien race using assets shared by other users.

Once you have decided what your alien civilization looks like, you can move on to what their strengths and weaknesses are.

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The trait screen lets you assign the civilization various strengths and weaknesses. Many of these abilities give them unique gameplay features.

 

From there, you can decide what their ships will look like.

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Ship Visual Style

There are dozens of different color combos you can play with, along with a host of different textures and materials.  You can give your ship style a gritty, beat up look or a...well, completely outrageous look.

Once you finish deciding what visual style your ships will have, you can move on to assigning ship designs to each class of ship.

 

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Here you can assign a ship design to all of the auto-generated ships which is what the AI will use as well.

Here, you control every default ship in the game.  In the above example, I have assigned my colony ship to be a giant robot fish because...of course!

But let's say you don't like the choices we provide (and yes, we're going to include giant robot fish).  You can click a button and go onto Steam and browse the tens of thousands of ship designs that have been made by players already.

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Fans have created virtually every kind of ship you can imagine. 

Picking a cool ship design, it is instantly in the game.  The GalCiv ship designer is essentially a giant set of blocks that you can use to create anything. For the past two years, players have been busy making lots of ships.

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Downloaded ship design is mixed with the color and materials chosen earlier.

This is then repeated for each of the ship categories in the game. 

Next up, players will want to give their civilization some personality.

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Personality Editor

On the Personality screen, players can decide how the AI will use this player.  They can also set up what the AI will say in various common scenarios.  If that's not enough, the player can directly access that civilization's XML file to go crazy with how they will react in different situations.

Once you are done, you can save your Civilization and even upload it to Steam (if you use other people's designs, we ask that you get their permission).  Once uploaded to Steam, other players can download the entire civilization, ships and all, in a single click and play as that civilization or play against them.

 

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My Fish Civilization in game. They're hungry!

 

Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade will be released in Spring of 2017 on Steam and GOG.   You can follow it on Steam by going to its Steam page.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!


Galactic Civilizations: Ship Designer

Posted on Friday, February 03, 2017 By Draginol

Ship design has been part of Galactic Civilizations games for many years.  However, with Galactic Civilizations III, the designer has reached the point where user creations are starting to rival what you would see in movies.

The ship designs we included are wholly original creations based on the lore that's been developed over the past 25 years.

The ship designer itself lets people put together thousands of parts to create whatever they want.

A new design

For the serious designer, they start from scratch.  This blank screen with a collection of parts is the starting point.

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In the beginning...

 

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As you add parts, you will see red dots where you connect other parts to it.

 

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In the hands of a clod like me, I can design something like this in minutes.  The controls in the bottom right let me resize, rotate, animate, etc.

 

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In the hands of someone with some skill, you can get something like this such as this Babylon 5 inspired Starfury like ship.  Because ships are hard surfaces, it's relatively easy for someone to create pretty much any ship.  Organic ships tend to be a lot tougher to make.   But most ships are ultimately a series of wings and cylinders.

What is part of the game?

Obviously, we don't include any of these designs, even inspired ones, with the game.  The point of the ship designer and the fans who share their ship designs is to create their own stories in their heads. 

There is a cottage industry of people who compare different ships sizes, write fan fiction regarding their favorite ships.

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Ship size comparison on deviantART.

Anyway, the point being, what people create and share with our tools is up to them.  Galactic Civilizations has always been about creating your own sandbox universe to play in.  It asks the question: What happens after we leave Earth? What is next? And leaves the answers up to the player.

If you have any questions, feel free to post in the comments.


CRUSADE DIARY 1: Introducing Galactic Civilizations III: CRUSADE

Posted on Thursday, February 02, 2017 By Draginol

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Explore. Expand. Exploit. Exterminate.  This is where the term "4X" originates. 

The granddaddy of our genre is, of course, Sid Meier's Civilization. Where Sid Meier's Civilization leverages our common history from the dawn of agriculture to the moment we leave the Earth, Galactic Civilizations begins at the moment we leave our home world.

In Galactic Civilizations, players create their own histories.  Each game is a different possibility. 

When we released Galactic Civilizations III, we began taking notes on what players wanted to see in future updates or expansions to it.  Many of the features ended up in updates which culminated in the recently released 2.0.  Other features would take a great deal of time and thought to do. 

The biggest, most important features have come together in Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade.

Those features are:

  1. A Civilization Builder for creating and sharing full-fledged civilizations including ships, techs, custom diplomacy behaviors, etc.
  2. An economy based on citizenship that allowed players to macro or micro manage their civilizations based on their preferences in a way that didn't penalize either play style that eliminates sliders and dials.
  3. Espionage for spying and sabotaging your opponents.
  4. Interactive Invasions that make invading a planet a game unto itself.
  5. A better UX for managing large and small empires alike.

These aren't the only features in Crusade of course.  Far from it.  It doesn't even touch on the Crusade campaign, the new alien civilizations, the new graphics engine, the new resource system, the combat changes, the continued evolution of the AI (I am happy to say that the free update to GalCiv III in v2.0 now surpasses the AI in GalCiv II -- sorry it took so long, I'll be happy to discuss AI coding in another diary entry).

The Schedule

Each week between now and the release of Crusade, we will be posting Development Diary highlighting a major element of the expansion.  Here is a sneak preview of the first three:

 

CRUSADE DIARY 2: The Civilization Builder

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February 9, we will walk through how you can build your own civilization to play as or to play against including how to assign specific ships for different roles, share your creations, create diplomacy behavior and more.

 

CRUSADE DIARY 3: Galactic Citizens

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February 16, Take a tour of the all new citizen based economy. Gone are sliders and dials and in their place are your people.  Much strategy (and AI coding) goes around how to get the most out of your most valuable asset: Your people.

 

CRUSADE DIARY 4: Spies and Saboteurs

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February 23, The galaxy is a dangerous place.  One of the vocations your citizens can take is to be trained to be spies and sent on dangerous missions. We will walk you through how espionage works, its consequences and the importance of knowing who is doing what and when.

 

 

 

Lone Star

 

The Sabre

Civilization Builder

FAQ

Q: Will Crusade be a stand-alone expansion?

A: No.  It will be released as an add-on to Galactic Civilizations III (DLC).

Q: When will it be released?

A: Our target date is Spring.

Q: How much will it cost?

A: $19.99

Q: Will there be a public beta?

A: No.

Q: How will I be able to get it when released?

A: It'll be on Steam, GOG, direct and elsewhere as a DLC to Galactic Civilizations III.


Galactic Civilizations III: Season 1 Episode 1

Posted on Monday, January 23, 2017 By Draginol

Greetings!  Welcome to the first season of Galactic Civilizations III AARs.   Long ago, I used to write stories regarding Galactic Civilizations II.  With the release of Galactic Civilizations III 2.0, I am proud to bring you a new generation of stories based on Stardock's epic 4X strategy game.

This is just one story...your story will be completely different.

We have detected something...

Just beyond Jupiter's orbit, something was noticed.  Something massive but previously undetected.

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The Imagineer is sent out to investigate.  Scientists determine that it is some sort of relic from a long lost, space-faring civilization.

[[..]]

The United Planets meets

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The recently constructed international Shipyard has already produced the Discovery which was originally slated for Mars.    Now, a new ship, called the Andromeda, is quickly constructed and sent out to begin investigating other interstellar phenomenon.

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This hodge-podge ship is equipped with the new Hyperdrive engine along with a primitive laser system to clearing debris, a set of Stinger missiles and a railgun all designed with the idea of breaking apart asteroids and comets.  With new excitement, the Andromeda is told to head towards Alpha Centauri.

 

First Contact

A little over a year later, the Andromeda makes first contact with an alien civilization.

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Are they hostile? We have no way to communicate with them.

 

A new world

Meanwhile, the Imaingeer, following a signal sent from the artifact found outside of Jupiter, has found a new planet.  Was there something here before?  The Discovery, rather than going to Mars, is refitted with Hyperdrive.

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The planet is named Lacroix in honor of Professor Dennis Lacroix of the Hubble IV research center.  It was he that invented the technology to trace these subspace signals.

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The Discovery, now called the Terran Alliance Ship Discovery, is now outfitted with Hyperdrive.  It is huge beyond imagination. 

With 45,000 citizens on board the massive craft, it is the ideal size to start out a new world.

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A few months later, the Discovery detaches its massive colony pods that provide the base of the new colony. 

Lacroix is a beautiful planet and to the delight of the scientists on board, the planet contains the artifact that was communicating with the massive Jupiter artifact.

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The artifact is a thinking machine of some kind.  Its artificial intelligence is simple but deeply rooted to this world.  Does it feel pain? Is it aware? The question at hand is what should we do with it?

The military wants it moved to Earth.  The scientific community wants open access to it.  After a great deal of debate, it is determined that since tax payers funded the Discovery, private companies should have to pay to access it.

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Scientists from around the world (Earth) begin to migrate to Lacroix to study this ancient technology.

The Second Contact

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The Andromeda (now renamed the TAS Andromeda) has encountered a second alien civilization.  We still cannot communicate with them.

Meanwhile, the Terran Alliance has constructed their first major extra-earth space station.  Called Athena, it  has been placed near the alien relic for study.

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The relic seems to be some sort of machine, similar to the one on Lacroix but far more alien in nature.  Very little is understood about it at this point.

Back on Earth, Professor Dawkins has researched a way for  us to talk to other civilizations.

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The Interstellar club

With the Universal Translator now installed on board the TAS Andromeda, humans quickly make contact with several other civilizations.  Our little corner of the galaxy is quite busy.

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The first aliens we met are called the Torian Regime.  They, in turn, put us in contact with the Altarian Republic and the Irridium Corporation who apparently have ties with a company that provides intergalactic mercenaries for hire.

The Soren Corporation on Earth leases the International Shipyard to construct Earth's very first interstellar trade ship.  Dubbed "The Adam Smith" it has been tasked to bring ginger to the Torians who seem to crave it.

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Seven months later, the Adam Smith arrives at the planet Toria, home of the Torian Regime.

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Toria is doing some interesting things such as mining nearby asteroids which had not been a fiscal priority of Earth's.  They are also focusing much more on research than Earth is which creates something up an uproar during the Fall election.

Post-Election controversy and the Precursor worlds

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For the first time, the member nations of the Terran Alliance agree to change the spending priorities across the globe.  The United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and United China make sweeping changes to their economy in order to boost research. 

In some countries, coercion is used to reach the targeted goals.  But overall, research output is increased from 22 to 35 on the "meta patent" scale.

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The main driver for the sudden interest in technology has to do with the two alien worlds that are of a quality far beyond any that we've seen but whose atmosphere is full of lead due to industrial waste that was placed in them long ago by the Precursor civilization.

Because Earth was late to the interstellar club, it lacks the colonies that some of the older civilizations have.  Thus, a priority is placed on researching technology that will allow humans to clean up these worlds and colonize them.

However, this prioritization on planetary colonization is considered to be risky by members of the intelligence community.  Earthy, they point out, is defenseless.  The Terran Alliance does not even have an armed interstellar craft unless you count the excavation equipment on board the Andromeda.    Others, however, point out that no other civilizations appear to be creating militaries (as far as they can tell).   For now, it is full-steam ahead on environmental engineering...

"They were wrong!"

The sensor probe near the border of the Drengin Empire went silent at 11:34am GTM August 5, 2243.   That afternoon, a subspace message from Lord Kona, leader of the Drengin Empire informed us that they intended to make Earth a colony of the Drengin Empire.  The unarmed Terran Alliance was at war.

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All research worldwide quickly began to focus on defensive related technology.

 

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This "Drengin Empire" destroyed a mining outpost near Lacroix (which had cost 500 billion credits to construct).  Its only weaponry appeared to be a particle beam and its defenses were intestellar chaff.  Our weaponry would not focus on missiles for the near term.

Using the trace amounts of anti-matter that had been collected, the Terran Alliance created the Fury Prototype.

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All focus being placed on producing a defense force of Furies.

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Our starbase was destroyed but on its way out, a single nuke took out 3 of the enemy ships.  The Drengin would hopefully learn something that the humans would not go down without a fight.

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The Fury program also takes the battle back at the Drengin.  Lightly armed, the Furies have point defenses to counter the Drengin's missile system. 

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The Drengin respond with the Slarv, a bigger ship that has deflector shields to counter our particle beams and in this case, a prototype mass driver which bypasses our chaff.

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In response, we created the Redeemer.  The Furies had kept the Drengin at bay for a time but the Redeemer would be our new home defense platform.

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Now it was time for turn about.  The Terran Alliance sent the TAS Retribution and the TAS Justice into Drengin space to destroy their asteroid mining bases.

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While we cultivated friendships in trade, the Drengin paid the Yor to attack us.

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The malevolent Yor, synesthetic beings of unknown origin had launched a sneak attack against Mars.

 

Desperate times

The Yor exterminated all humans on Mars.  Over 15 million humans vaporized.  Worse, they destroyed the Athena research station that was investigating the very relic that had taken humans into the stars.

Panic gripped earth.

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Earth was surrounded.

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The Peace Treaty of 2245

The Drengin and Yor agreed to forestall their cleansing of Earth in exchange for all of the technology of the Terran Alliance along with recognition that Mars was now part of the Yor Singularity.

Aftermath

In time, the Terran Alliance became a minor power in the Orion arm and a reliable servant of the mighty Drengin Empire.  

While other civilizations looked at Terran Alliance as a "minor race", humans were proud of their accomplishments and were recognized as the velvet that covered the Drengin Empire's iron fist.

 

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