GalCiv Journal: June 2017 [Summer updates coming!]

Posted on Thursday, June 1, 2017


We are working on version 2.3 for Crusade and the base game simultaneously. We don't have a final date but I expect you will start seeing opt-ins very soon.

I want to make you guys aware of some important changes happening on Steam that will affect you.

Review Scores

Some of you may have noticed I've been harping about the Steam user review scores.

If you're noticing an ever increasing disconnect between your opinion of a game and the user review score of a game, it's because the discovery algorithm heavily penalizes any game with <80% user reviews (And <70% means the game is basically invisible via discovery). 

This puts immense power into the user's hands for good and for ill. It also puts a tremendous level of influence on the 0.7% of the user base who reviews.

Other games (not naming names) put a considerable amount of effort into optimizing their review scores. That's why you will see (via SteamSpy) games with fewer players than GalCiv III actually have 5X as many reviews (and a >90% review score).

Recently, Steam changed the review system such that those customers who pre-purchased GalCiv III during the Founders programs don't have their reviews count towards the review score. In the future, we'll be handling our founders programs differently, but in the mean time. it's a bit of a bummer for GalCiv III and in particular Crusade.

Understanding Steam's review system

Speaking of Crusade, it's review score average from Metacritic is 88 ( the highest of any space 4X game in recent years (and our highest since Twilight of the Arnor). However, it's Steam user review score is only 71%.

We can have a vigorous debate on what sort of score a game "deserves". However, from a Steam discoverability standpoint, it's all based on it's *relative* score.

Thus, GalCiv III, for instance, actually has a 39% RELATIVE Steam score. That is, games are rated on the curve. 

GalCiv III's Steam user score is 76% and its Metacritic score is 81. But its relative score is 39. So unless you think GalCiv III is a 2 out of 5 game, its Steam user review score should be much higher.

I personally believe that the *natural* review score of most games would fall between a 5 and an 8. Look at IMBD ratings as an example of how most movies score.

In other words, I don't think GalCiv III's score is too low, I think most games on Steam have too high a score versus what they would get naturally. This isn't to imply that developers are cheating but rather selection bias is very strong.

However, what this means is that unless the review score for GalCiv III perks up, it's going to remain largely invisible on Steam which affects its sales and that you, dear reader, have the power to make that score go up or down. 

In either case, I would rather the score be more derived on the reviews from the community than by 0.7% of the overall userbase.

So I am outright asking, whether it's an up vote or a down vote, please take a few minutes to review GalCiv III:

Bear in mind that on Steam 2.5 stars = 82% user review score (I kind of wish they'd implement a star system like that so that people reviewing it were grading games based on whether they think the score on the game is accurate or not).


Crusade vs. GalCiv III

We have finally concluded how the base game will evolve in a universe that GalCiv III: Crusade exists.

The first question we had to answer was what are the distinctly unique features unique to GalCiv III that were changed/removed from Crusade?

  1. The production wheel (easily)
  2. Planetary production wheels
  3. Planetary focus check boxes

The second question was which path was the best to take to reach that? The answer is that we need to start with the Crusade code base and port it back to the base game. 

As many have noted, GalCiv III: Crusade isn't really an "expansion pack" in the traditional sense. It's more of a sequel. I wasn't around to work on GalCiv III so you can look at Crusade as what my version of GalCiv III, having come from Twilight of the Arnor, would have been. 

We'd like to hear from you in the comments on what other sorts of things in the BASE game you'd want to keep that were changed in Crusade.

What's next for GalCiv III

From a story perspective, there are TWO more campaigns in the future:

Dark Avatar

Originally, the Crusade expansion was going to include Apocalypse but I nixed it for a variety of reasons one being the most obvious: It's the conclusion of the GalCiv III storyline and we, and many of our customers, believe that GalCiv III should have another major expansion to deal with politics, elections, protectorates, etc. and that would be where Apocalypse would go.

Dark Avatar, by contrast, would be updating the Dark Avatar campaign from GalCiv II. Dark Avatar was widely considered the best of the GalCiv II campaigns.

Those two campaigns would round up the GalCiv story line to this point:

  1. Rise of the Terran Alliance
  2. Altarian Prophecy
  3. Dark Avatar (which will combine Dread Lords + Dark Avatar + Twilight together)
  4. Return [base GalCiv III]
  5. Apocalypse [Concluding GalCiv III]

So that's all for now!

Thanks for your continuing support!


Originally posted by Brad on the Steam forums.