Journals

DEV DIARY GalCiv III v2.0 preview

Posted on Friday, January 13, 2017 By Draginol

I'm enjoying my time back on Galactic Civilizations.   The team is working on lots of neat things for the upcoming version 2.0 update which is due this month.

Here are a few highlights:

Administrators

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There's a new resource called administrators.  Your capital world provides N of them where N is based on the size of the map.  Building a starbase consumes one.  You can get more by researching government related techs but that means you're not researching weapons or economy techs. 

The practical effect is that it takes a little pressure off the idea that you have to spam out starbases and also gives some advantages to smaller empires who can now choose to use their starbases to improve morale and productivity in their home systems.

 

Better diplomacy

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When I play other games, I tend to cheese.  There have been patches made for games over the years to counter some of my cheese.  There's plenty of diplomacy cheese in GalCiv also and thanks to player feedback, I was able to b-line my way to it.

But it wasn't just cheese that I wanted to improve on.  I wanted the AI to do more trading and less "give me stuff please". So I worked on the diplomatic system to work harder on coming up with trades.  It'll probably be one of the first things players notice.  More AI talk with more interesting trades.

 

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One new system I spent some time on was the concept of redlining. 

When I inevitable have to work on contracts in my "day job" at Stardock/Mohawk/Oxide I do what is called redlining.  That is where I make marks on a proposal as to why I think we should pass on it or cross out things that won't work for us.

One of the first things I did when cheesing GalCiv was to use the old technique of manipulating the aliens to do things that weren't in their best interests.  Now, to be fair, most people don't do this kind of thing but once you do it, it's hard not to do it.

So in response, I implemented a redlining system that you code-geeks might find interesting:

I noticed that the game passes around the trade offer a lot:

VOID IAIOpponent::AppraiseTradeOffer(CDiplomacySystem::ActiveTradeInfo* pTradeOffer, CDiplomacySystem::ActiveTradeInfo* pOtherSideTradeOffer, ObjectID forPlayerID, ObjectID otherPlayerID)

See the pTradeOffer there?  It was the full detail of what was being offered and the AI looks at it in lots and lots of different ways.

So what I did is add a vector of redlines to it.  That is, the AI can be evaluating an offer and say "Hey, this tech is too valuable" or "Those guys are too tough" and add that redline to the trade offer.

Then, when it gets back to you, you see why they rejected it.  And in the process of implementing it, I went ahead and got rid of some of the things I was exploiting like how easy it was to get other people to do your dirty work (you can still do it but you  need to have a lot of persuasive ability or have a much better deal or both).

UI: This will be controversial

I don't expect this next change to be universally loved and I haven't gotten approval yet from the GalCiv III lead designer, Paul Boyer to check this in. 

But anyway, I really really REALLY hate the ship list thing.  That is, when I go to pick a ship to build, it gets filled with tons of auto-generated ship designs.  None of the filter options work for me (i.e. I don't like them).

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So instead, what I did was make it so that when you first load up the game, only your favored ships are shown and the other ones are folded up.  Then I made it so that if you click on the label (like Beam Ships) it'll unfold the other ships.   

Now, the trickier thing I had to do was when designing a ship.  I wanted my ships that I designed to automatically show up in the favored list.  It was annoying to design a ship and then have to go look for it.

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So now, when I design a ship and save it (in this case, I'll call it the Intrepid class).

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Ironically, this proved a lot tougher than you'd think because the ship design screen deals primarily with saving files where as the ship build list actually deals with UI handles (which don't exist when you design a ship since you haven't added that ship to a listbox list yet).

But it's done.

There's a lot of other stuff going into 2.0.  Today I'm working on late game AI stuff.

This free update is due this month.  Stay tuned!


DEV DIARY: GalCiv III December 21016

Posted on Saturday, December 17, 2016 By Frogboy

Galactic Civilizaions III - Vertical

By now you should have version 1.9 which is easily the biggest update to the game since its original release.

When I joined the GalCiv III team last month, I did a thorough inventory of the code base and decided to focus on 3 things:

1. The AI
2. The Performance
3. The memory use


## Results ##
The result was 1.9. I've seen a lot of feedback on it. Mostly good. There's some complaints that the galaxy sizes are a little smaller. This is true, I did make them a bit smaller but I made the number of stars and planets available much much higher. In response, we are going to restore the absolute largest sized galaxy. I just personally don't like the pacing and didn't think others would care if I made the absolute size smaller if I was giving them more planets to play on. Clearly I was mistaken. It's no sweat to increase the largest sizes.

 

## Whining ##
Some people have contacted us to complain about how much I've been complaining about the game and that I am hurting the game's reputation by complaining.

First, let me say that we are grateful that our fans love the game so much that they want to defend it from me.

Second, Galactic Civilizations has been part of my life for over 20 years. I wrote the OS/2 versions back in the 90s and designed GalCiv I and GalCiv II and wrote their AIs. So I do care very much about GalCiv.

Third, just because "other games" have bad AI doesn't excuse GalCiv III from having bad AI. It was unacceptable and had to be improved -- a lot. On larger maps, I would go as far as to say the AI was just plain broken. It couldn't effectively expand beyond a certain point.

The issue with non-expanding AIs is a scourge on the 4X game development community. It has to do with turn performance. The reason most of these 4X game AIs are terrible is because of perf concerns versus what is considered "good enough".

But we live in an age where people 4+ CPU cores. The AI should be doing your taxes while crushing you. So while the 1.9 AI doesn't do your taxes, it does make a lot of use of your CPU cores.

Those playing the game no doubt noticed the pretty massive perf differences. I didn't optimize anything. I just made the game use your hardware a lot better.

## Words and Deeds ##

I thought it pretty important that 1.9 get out before Christmas. Last month I wrote out a litany of complaints about the game. But talk is cheap. I wanted the players to know that we weren't just aware of things we could improve but that we could address them quickly.


## What's next? ##
There is more to do. Some of the memory optimizations resulted in some changes to the way lighting is handled so we need to make some aesthetic changes. Not a big deal but needs to be done.

I want to get the Administration feature in. Just not sure the best way to do it that doesn't require a ton of UI work.

 

## The upcoming expansion ##

The big expansion people have been waiting for is about 75% done now.

It will be handled as a DLC mainly because people threw a fit when we made the Ashes of the Singularity expansion a stand-alone and we don't want to go through that again. So we'll figure out some way to take what is, essentially, a new game and make it DLC.

Broadly speaking:
- Espionage
- Interactive Invasion system with real strategy involved
- New Economy (no more wheels, something much much better - micro managers can micro manage and macro managers can macro and once you see it, you will be mad for no one having come up with this obvious in hindsight system before)
- Civilization Builder (Make whatever civilization you want, assign ship designs, dialog, etc. to them and share them, the AI will use it all).
- Living galaxy (the lifeblood of the galaxy will be visible)
- Tons of other things
- New campaign (of course)
- New tech tree system

Like I said, it's basically a quasi-sequel disguised (and priced) as a DLC. We will be announcing it next month. Suffice to say, we think this expansion will raise the bar on what people will expect in their 4X games (not just space) and some of the features are things that will become expected in 4X I think as they are too obvious not to have them.

That's all for now.


GalCiv III v1.9 continued updates

Posted on Monday, December 05, 2016 By Draginol

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We have an opt-in of GalCiv III v1.9 already out.  We continue to update and respond to feedback on it.

Here are some changes I made:

  1. Diplomacy tech affect to diplomacy ability increased from 0.5 to 1
  2. InfluenceMinToClaim increased from 0.33 to 8
  3. InfluenceRadius root reduced from 3.25 (^0.325) to square root (^0.5)
  4. Eliminated the Influence Bell Durve target divsor
  5. Influence fall off is increased from -0.3 to –10
  6. Capital Influence per turn increased from 1.5 to 3
  7. Colony Influnece per turn reduced from 2 to 1
  8. Removed the faction ability bonus from the Diplomatic Office
  9. Removed all faction ability bonuses from starbase modules
  10. AI is much MUCH smarter about detecting cultural flipping strategies
  11. AI is much better about detecting fast alliance strategies
  12. Colonies now instantly update when you rush bulid to show the effect of the new building.
  13. Players start with no area of influence for the first turn
  14. Influence now grows more organically over time

There were some exploits (or ones I would use anyway) that I removed.  For instance, if you built enough cultural starbases, you could get an insanely high diplomacy score.  Same was true for early game trading and other diplomacy techs.

I also changed it so that you start out with zilch on-map influence on the first turn. It quickly grows but I wanted to be able to convey to players that influence is not a right but something earned.  If you don’t build stuff to increase your influence, it won’t grow far.

I fixed a pet peeve of mine. When I build something on a planet, I want to see the stats update right then. 

The next thing on my list is the small empire / administrative resource that will control not just how many starbases you have but a lot of other things. I am trying to get that in today.


Better AI through humanity!

Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 By Frogboy

One of the best ways we can improve the AI is to get more ship designs into the game that the AI can evaluate.

These should be ships with weapons, defenses, etc. already on them.

in your \documents\my games\galciv3\designs  you will find your ship designs.

What we are looking for are designs for the each race (Drengin, etc.).  No mods. 

We can then put these ship designs in with the main game and the AI will use them if they are better than the default ones (Which they probably are).

Just ZIP the ships you want to share and link the dropbox in this thread and I'll check them out for inclusion!

Thanks!


GalCiv III v1.9 Changelog

Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 By Frogboy

[[RELEASED]]

 
 
This is an opt-in patch:

To enable the patch, please do the following:

  • Select Galactic Civilization III in your Steam Library list
  • Right-click and select Properties
  • Select the BETAS tab
  • From the dropdown, select opt-in and click Close (if you don't see this option, restart Steam)
  • Steam should pull down the changed files; if you ever want to go back, do the same as above but select default

Please note: The opt-in is an early preview of the next update and you might experience bugs or other issues. We encourage players who try the opt-in to report any issues to the support forum or via support ticket so we can address them.

Optimization

  • Memory: introduced new texture compression for planetary and ship textures to greatly reduce memory usage and dramatically improve startup times.
  • Removed legacy stopwatch code from the sound system
  • Moved old profiling junk
  • Reduced CPU usage of the particles and main graphics threads
  • Removed redundant debug output
  • Multithreaded the texture loading at the start of game to improve performance.

AI

  • AI builds scout ships later in the game to keep exploring very large galaxies
  • Dramatically reduced AI >normal economic bonuses (no longer needs them)
  • Re-designed the way the AI expands into the galaxy with colony ships so that its expansion no longer stalls on large maps
  • Dramatically reduced the amount of time an AI will interact with a player if they are not within ship range
  • AI doesn't try to bribe other players to go to war unless they and the other players have a decent military already
  • AI will no longer give tech gifts to players with a different ideology (i.e. no more Drengin giving you tech if you're a nice person)
  • AI now scales the number of similar ship projects based on number of colonies rather than a flat number
  • AI pumps up colony ship production priority if there are a lot of nice planets laying around
  • AI pumps out fewer Constructors in general
  • Re-designed the way the AI determines which planets should get a shipyard to be more (way more) intelligent
  • Updated AI's handling of adjacency bonuses to be more intelligent
  • AI values planet quality more when picking planets to colonize 
  • AI somewhat more heuristic on tech research
  • AI somewhat quicker to war
  • Auto Surveying Survey Ships will now survey extra anomalies if the ship has extra movement points.

Balance

  • Starbase minimum distance reduced from 5 to 3 tiles.
  • AI tends to focus more on tech (generally) than previously.
  • AI will build survey ships late in game.
  • AI provided with a much wider variety of ship designs to choose from with the various strategies.
  • AI weights units much more closely than previously in order to not make one virtually impossible to build.
  • Opposing culture diplomatic penalty reduced from 1.25 to 1.1 if AI is benevolent.
  • Opposing culture diplomatic penalty increased from 1.25 to 2 if AI is merciless.
  • Opposing culture diplomatic penalty increased from 1.25 to 2 if AI is cruel.
  • Close to victory diplomatic penalties increased from 1 to 5.
  • Ripe for conquest diplomacy penalty reduced from 0.75 to 0.1 if AI is benevolent.
  • Ripe for conquest diplomacy penalty increased from 0.75 to 1.25 if AI is aggressive.
  • Minimum planet class to be a manufacturing world reduced from 7 to 4.
  • Max number of colony ships the AI will construct at once increased from 2 to 3.
  • Max slider focus reduced from 95% to 75% (to deal with coercion penalty).
  • Coercion forgiveness eliminated (there is always some coercion if you move off from center).
  • Maximum coercion reduced from 50% to 35%.
  • Colony Capital production points reduced from 5 to 1.
  • Civilization Capital production points reduced from 5 to 1.
  • Influence Radius root increased from 1.75 to 4 (i.e. influence ZOC will start out much much smaller now).
  • Tech inflation penalty significantly reduced.
  • Penalty for switching a constructor to a colony ship increased from 50% to 75% (yea, you know who you are).
  • Pirates moved further away from starting location.
  • Increased the variance for the various settings (minors, pirates, etc.).
  • Modified the governor script to provide a bit more flexibility based on planet bonuses when building improvements.
  • Colony capital maintenance eliminated.
  • Colony capital hub provides a 2 (was 1) level bonus to adjacent buildings if they are population or manufacturing or research.
  • Civ capital hub provides a 3 level bonus (was 1).
  • Reduced maint. slightly on research buildings.
  • Rare habitable planets decreased from 30% to 25%.
  • Nebula and black holes and anomalies made much less common on all settings.
  • Occasional planet frequency amount doubled from 1X to 2X.
  • Common stars modifier increased from 0.9 to 1.
  • Common planet frequency amount increased from 0.75X to 3X (this also fixes a bug where common was less than occasional).
  • Abundant stars increased from 1X to 1.5X.
  • Planet Frequency increased from 0.25X to 3.5X (also fixes bug).
  • Tiny map base objects increased from 32 to 120 (i.e. tiny maps will be a lot more filled).
  • Small map base object count increased from 64 to 150.
  • Medium map Base object count increased from 110 to 200.
  • Large map base object count increased from 155 to 300 (i.e. over twice as many stars/planets/etc. in a particular size).
  • Huge map base object count increased from 250 to 350.
  • INSANE map object count INCREASED from 1200 to 1400!
  • Sensor cost components reduced slightly.
  • Cargo module cost reduced from 27 to 10 (cheaper colony ships -- but remember, planets now rely more on population for their production).
  • Tiny hull cost reduced from 11 to 10.
  • Small hull cost reduced from 25 to 20.
  • Medium hull HP increased from 100 to 120.
  • Large hull cost increased from 128 to 300.
  • Large hull HP increased from 250 to 600.
  • Large hull storage increased from 100 to 120.
  • Large hull logistics cost increased from 7 to 10.
  • Huge hull cost increased from 432 to 500.
  • Huge hull HP increased from 500 to 800.
  • Huge hull storage increased from 250 to 300.
  • Huge hull logistics increased from 10 to 16.
  • Cargo hull cost reduced from 42 to 24.
  • Cargo hull HP reduced from 10 to 1.
  • Cargo hull logistics increased from 5 to 6.

Improvements/Bugs Fixes

  • Added author fields for maps, factions and ships.
  • Starbases will now notify the you that they need to be upgraded after being initially built.  
  • Fixed double counting of trade routes for AI diplomacy purposes.
  • Fixed late game crashes related to textures on large maps.
  • Fixed an infrequent crash on loading large maps.
  • Fixed bug that could cause the AI to see tiles in the opposite map position of where they were exploring.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the AI to reduce the priority weighting on colony ship production based on the # of targetable planets.
  • If a player faction is set to random in the prefs.ini file, the quick-start tooltip will no longer display an invalid faction.
  • Fixed an issue where if you changed the planetary spending wheel, the displayed. manufacturing time for improvements wasn't being updated at the same time.
  • Clicking available projects tabs no longer resets the improvement cursor.
  • Add ESC to close Ship Designer and Diplomacy screens.
  • Starbases no longer incorrectly show the upgrade option when none avail.
  • Fixed a crash related to the AI defying the UP.\

If you want to read my Dev Diary full of me complaining and whining and how I worked on the update visit here: http://forums.galciv3.com/480761/ and here: http://forums.galciv3.com/480723 

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