Feature Requests for any upcoming Expansion(s)

Posted on Friday, January 19, 2018

So, hi everyone! I'm new. Just got into GalCiv3 recently. And I know this is all probably super presumptuous of me (I'm only on my 2nd game in the main game mode so far) but I've been thinking a lot about this game over the last few weeks and wanted to pitch in my two billion credits (what I assume b.c. stands for?) in for some feature requests on anything that might be in development for the game going forward.

Currently, I've got most of the DLC, so I'm up to date on most of the features of the game I think. And after a lot of hours dropped into the game over the last few weeks, I've gotten to understand most of the systems (I think, anyway) that are in place.

So here's a short list of stuff I'd like to see:

1) Flavor/Flair/Polish - Planets should get their names when they're colonized by factions, and all planets in a system should be re-nameable.

It's pretty obvious that there was some kind of backer based naming going on with the planets in the game from some of what I've seen thus far. In my current game as the Iridium Corporation the Altarians have colonized the "Yoloswagulus" System. Which is pretty funny. But it's also weird because it was *always* the Yoloswagulus system. Which doesn't exactly make much sense.

I think it'd be pretty cool if it had just been "TV-377" or even good ol' "Yoloswagulus" until it got colonized by the AI, then, upon being colonized, got its mark put upon it from the faction in question. Somehow I doubt it was the Altarians and their mystic nobility that came up with that name, nor do I think they'd be OK with it. It's a bit immersion antithetical.

If there were faction dependent colony name lists, so they'd add their unique names to planets they put colonies on, it would help make the game's evolving narrative feel a lot more alive. Just a simple thought there (and the Snathi could get the weird meta joke ones, like Yoloswagulus, since that seems to fit when they've got citizens named "Boss Cuddler" and "Prince Biscuit" and all.)

On this note too, I'd really appreciate it if I could rename dead planets. Or at least, if I rename a star, all dead planets in that system will get the name of the star followed by the numerical designation. This is just for personal RP purposes, I guess. But I like to find the theme with a civ and rename planets and stuff according to their concept (EX: right now as the Iridium Corp. all my colonies are named after "corporate" or financial concepts, like Marketplace, Shareprice, Reserve, et cetera). But I can't rename dead planets, and so I'll have the Buyout colony in the Merger system with dead planets Yoloswagulus II and III. It's just a bit irksome. Not much. Just a tad.

2) At least enough "official" Civs for the largest map size without repeats, and without the Old School Terrans.

I like using the official and animated Civs for the most part thus far. I've messed around a bit with the creator and made one to test out its features, and it's nice and robust. But it does pale in comparison to the much nicer, animated official civs. And I'd love to play a ludicrous sized map with only official civs that are all animated and alive and balanced. But right now, even after the Snathi, Mercenaries and Crusader DLC I still can't do that. And I don't want to add the oldschool terrans since they're from the past and a bit immersion antithetical. So what, we need like? Three or four more, I think? Here's hoping we get a Malevolent variation on the Terrans and three more!

3) Some element of tactical control on fleet battles.

So, currently, even though an immense amount of time can be spent customizing and building up fleets, using legions to invade a planet has much more going on in terms of tactics for the player to sink their teeth into.

In a fleet battle the ships just go at each other and shoot each other up. The player can't do anything about what they do other than direct the composition of the ships themselves. But when you invade with legions you get a whole host of options on what you can do. From an enhancer tactic like orbital bombardment, information warfare, or biological warfare, to picking the particular tiles and approach vectors your legions are going to head to first, and potentially accomplishing different objectives, like destroying different parts of the planets infrastructure.

This is . . . a bit backwards, I think. There needs to be some element of player choice when a fleet encounters another fleet. Even if it's just a rock/paper/scissors tactical command at the end of the day which causes the fleet to assume different battle lines, use different ship types more prevalently, or to be more defensive or aggressive.

I say this mostly because as it is, fleet battles are completely lopsided. Either you have enough ships that are good enough to smash the enemy fleet, they have enough to do the same to you, or you don't and you're at best sacrificing ships to chip away at a doom stack while you mass a different armada elsewhere to push back against them.

It would be a lot more interesting if you can issue at least one general strategy and maybe consider one particular tactic per battle.

General strategies would be a list of three options, different depending on whether you were attacking or defending, that roughly fall into three strategies based on and which synergize with the three weapon categories, and which ultimately change three factors of a fleet: the general formation of the fleet, the optimal range at which they try to maintain distance relative with the enemy, and when they release fighters/drones from bays. Right now, I've got three core formation concepts myself with an offense/defense variant for each, and I'm sure other people can come up with more:

Hammer Formation - If I'm sending in laser based ships, it's important that they close in with the enemy as soon as possible, and put extra energy into their tactical speed at the outset. But more importantly, is that this means I need my strongest ships, in terms of HP and defense, in the front and a bit spread out to take the first hits of the enemy fleet, while the smaller and weaker ships follow behind so that they can work as a force multiplier after the bigger lead ships start duking it out with the enemy and their targeting solutions are locked in. On a 2D field, this formation would probably resemble a hammer, with the stronger wider bulkier leading formation, with a narrow composition of weaker ships making up the tailing head of the fleet. This would be a formation that would begin engagements with longer range weapons for the lead ships while they still try to keep moving in close and use their laser weapons as their primary preferred armament, and would hold off on releasing fighters until after the lead ships engage.

Sword Formation - The 100% opposite of the hammer. It puts the weaker ships up front as a screen, to draw fire and likely die while the heavier ships hang back and spread out in the "hilt" of the sword. This wears down the enemy with weak disposable ships as they try to close in on the stronger rear ships, which then finish them off. Likely the the perfect counter to the hammer on defense, but the exact wrong choice on offense. This formation again optimizes for laser weapons, but it gets out fighters ASAP to lead the tip of the sword.

Sickle Formation - The ships spread out in a line that forms a "U" shape, but much wider, like crescent moon or a sickle. Smaller and weaker ships are on the flanks and move forward, while the strong core remains in the center-rear. They try to stay in relative formation and focus on kinetic ranges for the core ships as the optimal firing range, with wings engaging at whatever range their best weapon is. The idea is for the flanks to engage slightly before the center does, and distract just long enough for the core to catch up and reinforce them before they're totally destroyed. It's a generally balanced formation meant to optimize the potential HP of your fleet, with a bit of favoritism for your bigger ships. The bigger ships in the center try to maintain distance with the enemy fleet if possible, and fighters are released immediately to form the front of the flanks if possible.

Bow Formation - The opposite of the sickle. The fleet is still arranged in a curved, wide line, but it's now an upside down, wide "U", with the weaker and smaller ships forming a line of reinforcement behind them (the "string" of the bow shape). Again, the idea is to maintain  kinetic range distance with the enemy fleet and maximize HP on all ships by presenting as many ships as possible at once to the enemy fleet, while also presenting as many guns as possible. The main difference here is that this presents the stronger ships to the enemy first, with the weaker ships engaging slightly after contact, but still a lot of ships are meant to engage at basically the same time. Fighters could be released at roughly the same time as first contact with the enemy fleet. The bow should beat the sickle when defending against it.

Brick Formation - The most basic formation really, all ship are arrayed in a wall formation and kept even and equidistant with each other and do not break formation even as the engagement continues. They engage at the optimal ranges of their best weapons, but it's really meant to be for missile weapons so that the enemy faces an absolute deluge of missiles from all directions at once before they can close in with closer weapons. With mixed weapon types though, this means that as the enemy gets closer, they engage in more fire from more sources, but not all at once. This is also meant to be a fleet that fires as it reverses, moving forward at the start to get into missile range, but then keeping this distance if at all possible, while unloading more an more missiles and staying in formation. Fighters are held back in this formation until you start to lose ships, then they're released to fill in gaps in the lines and maintain the integrity of the wall.

Pike Formation - The kind of opposite of brick. Basically, this is again a wall formation with a very fixed, spread out line, yet the shorter range weaker/smaller ships form spikes along the main line that jut out so that instead of enemies taking fire from more sources as they close in, they take fire from all sources at the same exact time (the shorter range craft are further out from the main wall in such a way that as they would engage in laser or kinetic fire, the missiles would already be hitting). It would resemble more of a pike line, with ships jutting out, but again, in a strict formation. Fighters would be released whenever it is coordinated so that they would hit at the same time as the missiles and other attacks.


 . . . and so on. I'm sure there are other potential formations people could come up with. So maybe the real solution is to make, a formation designer in addition to the ship designer?

I don't know, but I do know that having some amount of formation choice going into a fight seems like it's the next real step to making combat interesting in the game. It could especially make admirals more important, as you would probably only have one or two options based on the the majority of ship's core weapons in the fleet, but with an admiral you could use different options instead and see how they work out.

4) Some new ship/fleet strategy commands - Interception/Overwatch

Basically, I want to be able to set a fleet on "overwatch." They already have the sentry command, where they will wait in position until a different faction's fleet enters their sensor range, and then "wake up." They also have a guard command where they can be set to hold a position. But what's needed is the option to intercept another fleet if they move through a range of space on the enemy's turn. This would allow a fleet to be able to intercept an enemy fleet within a zone of control that they may otherwise just skirt around to attack a shipyard or a planet or something. And if they have enough speed, this means they can hit weaker and soft targets basically with impunity.

So there needs to be a defensive option to counter this, and interception orders are the only thing that makes sense. For balance purposes, the interception range probably shouldn't be equal to a fleet's max movement range normally (that might be a bonus from an admiral or something though), but probably half their remaining movement. That would give a fleet a smaller zone of interception than their potential zone of movement on their own turn, and still allow for stuff like moving past an enemy controlled space with a really fast ship or fleet of your own, but it would also allow for much stronger core system defense networks.

5) New ship types: Interdiction/stealth.

But this idea also leads to an obvious concept for a new ship type: Interdiction support ships (or potentially, interdiction support stations). Basically a ship type that creates a strong artificial gravity well that, when activated, pulls in ships trying to pass by in hyperspace into its space for an engagement. It's an absolute way to guarantee that enemy ships cannot get past a defensive line of your choice, but it probably means some kind of trade-off or set-up, like you can't turn on interdiction and move a fleet with an interdiction support ship in it in the same turn.

And this idea leans into the next one, which gets into how should know where to place interdiction and interception fleets: sensor jamming. As in, on the main map screen, not just in an actual battle scenario (where it mostly seems like the jamming support feature is being used in the game currently). So that, basically the stronger your jamming arrays a fleet has, stronger (i.e. closer) the enemy fleet has to be before they can see you. This naturally leads to the idea of jamming modules and potentially, an composite type of hull that is already difficult to detect through most sensor arrays and thus, stealth ships.

Obviously, stealth ships that you can't see until they're right up on you should be expensive and resource intensive, but possible to make. It'd add a lot more to the strategic combat layer of the game, especially if sensor strength improved the more fleets/stations/planets were layered on top of each other in a sector of space, so that stealth ships would have a natural advantage in the fringes of the battle space, but probably couldn't sneak up on core planets unless space stations and patrol fleets were taken out first.

6) Mercenary Contracts

The mercenaries DLC is fun and the ships are a lot of fun to play with, but they suffer from game pace problems. Mainly, they're awesome to get early, but the return on investment for early ships shows a huge drop off in utility as the game goes on. I.E. getting the H12 Super on like, within 10 turns is awesome, because it means you can now scout the whole galaxy way before anyone else and get a jump on early colonization, but once you actually finish that, you're looking at holding onto a scout ship whose value diminishes more and more as your sensor tech catches up and exceeds him.

The same thing goes with all of the battle craft. If you hire them as early as possible, they have a lot of utility. Especially since it means you can probably get a jump on a larger hull size ship before you unlock it yourself. But once you DO get there, you're probably going to be making comparable ships to the mercs in short order. But THOSE ships you can keep upgrading over time, while the Mercs slowly stagnate and get worse over time.

The solution might be to make the mercs be more . . . mercenary. That, upon paying for them, you do NOT have permanent control of them, but are only getting them for a contracted number of turns. At the end of that period, they leave your service, and go back into the pool to be bought again, BUT depending on the EXP you gained with them they can improve their ships one or two tiers.

Rehiring a merc should come with a discount (you're a valued customer), merc contracts should be potentially something you can buy or trade for in diplomacy if someone else has a merc you need right now.

All-in-all, I think this would make mercs more interesting and potentially relevant as the game goes on, rather than just having them be an early-mid-game booster.

7) Diplomatic Sessions at the U.P.

In general the U.P. sessions are completely undersold. They occur semi-rarely and you get warnings that they're coming up, so the game signals these meetings as "big deals." But then you get to them and they're completely underwhelming. A single screen with no lead-in that has you voting instantly on a single issue that you can really not do anything to politic around and have no way of determining how people are going to vote, really.

It would be a lot stronger if U.P. sessions were two-three week events that took place in multiple stages that covered multiple votes as the game goes on. With the first meeting setting up the agenda for the session, then letting at least a week(turn) passing before the vote could take place.

This way, after the proposal is mentioned, players can chat with AI in the diplomacy menus to figure out which way they're thinking of voting, and then maybe make some trades with them to get them to vote a particular way or not. Other players/AI could do the same on their turns, and so you might see votes going a certain way based on the larger galactic powers at play, and it could lead to a stronger rational for why certain factions would abstain and leave when the vote occurs - that's the result when two different allies pay off the same leader to vote in opposite directions.

This would add a touch more drama and panache and play to the votes. But they also need something to hype them up when they occur. A quick intro film of the G.P. meeting location or something.

8) Diplomatic Events

As the game already has events that trigger during various scenarios (most commonly when colonizing planets) events aren't that big an idea to add.

But I learned in my first playthrough that Diplomacy in this game is WAY too easy a victory condition to achieve. Or at least, it's easily the fasted to achieve in Single Player. And double most definitely as the Terran alliance and their likeability trait.

Once the malevolent faction or factions gets taken out (because so far in my games, that's what happens each time) when there are more pragmatic players in  he game (and there are more pragmatic factions than any other, so this is statistically likely) because the malevolent guys start too many wars and eventually lose to multiple other factions allying to destroy them then you just send a few diplomats, wait a turn, move to agree to that last ally or two or three in one turn, and BOOM. You win. 

Which is just . . . kind of a boring thing, ultimately. At least as the terrans (it's a little more interesting to achieve I'm guessing, with a faction people hate, like the Drengin or YOR or something).

Something that could spice it up, and could also help keep ideology growing beyond tile improvements in the mid/late game, could be diplomatic events that occur within relationships that have been maintained for periods of time. 

These events could hurt, bolster, or maintain relations with the other faction, but they should probably follow the trend of, "it's cheaper to let something happen that could hurt your relationship, costly to maintain the status quo, requires damaging something else in some manner to bolster it."

One way to maybe make the diplo victory a bit tougher to achieve might then be to do two things: first, have the chances of these events go up the longer an alliance is maintained, and get higher as you add more and more allies each time you do (similar to having trigger points on colonies being founded) and also add a requirement to the diplo victory condition that they have to hold onto the full alliance until they can solve X number of diplo events (depending on map size the variable would change).

9) Bombardment/Blockade/Raid

Honestly, it's just silly that I can't shoot missiles from orbit onto a planet that I've taken the fleet defenses out on until I get my transports there. Bombardment in general should be a thing that you can do with an enemy planet. Smart bombardment should be the thing I need to tech up for.

Orbital bombardment should do what it says it does: damage/destroy structures and reduce pop, unless they have a defense shield, but it should also raise resistance for when the ground invasion goes off, and it should hurt relations and lower morale if you take the planet as it currrently does.

But, this could lead to developing different kinds of "bombardment" that can be developed later on in the tech tree too. Like maybe propaganda bombardment, where you can try to force a culture flip on the edge and take a planet without killing anyone.

Also, you should have the option when moving your fleet into enemy orbits to not bomb them at all, just blockade them, which allows you to cut their population growth in half, and reduce their yields by a high percentage (like 80-90%). Blockaded planets are effectively under your control, in terms of power, but not culture or official ownership.

They can become bargaining chips at the diplomatic level then, and you could use your blockade of a planet as a valueable trade for something you actually want, potentially. Or you could just hold it to ransom for cold hard cash of course.

Also, what's the point of showing trade routes if I can't raid trade routes? I mean . . .come on.

10) Narrative polish/News/Flair

One of the things I'm noticing other 4X games do lately is adding touches to make the narrative of the current game to come to life a bit by highlighting it in some way shape or form. Endless space has faction quests. Civ 6 is doing this timeline thing.

GalCiv3 already has a couple elements of this with stuff like the "your first elerium mine" videos that play. But these peter out once you've nailed all your "firsts" from a pretty limited pool.

Something else needs to fill this gap in the "narrative flair/polish" in the game. The most obvious idea is to have some kind of newscast that occurs every so often where an anchor highlights a major event, like the building of one of the galactic achievements, the destruction of a faction, the outbreak of war, or a major battle in a war taking place.

This way you can get little extra narrative flair moments that go a bit further beyond the rare times your robo advisor pops up to tell you Y guy has built X achievement or that Z faction has been destroyed.

It's all about the presentation here, I guess. The little robot saying these things happened is functional. But it could be presented a lot better with an appropriate framing device.


. . . . and that's all I got for now.


And I know I just wrote a LOT there, so it might seem like I've got a lot of hate for the game. But I really don't. I'm actually enjoying it quite a lot. I'm just hoping it can also get even better, and this is the kind of stuff that I think might do that.


Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read that wall, whomever does so.