true EXploitation - what it could be but isnt (let's talk 4X)

Posted on Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Sense of accomplishment comes from hard work, not from pressing a button that says "Conquer the galaxy. It will be hard for people who actually do it, but you just press that button". Indeed, it does not matter if the fleet looks grand, but actually was easy to acquire – it is far better to have a couple of poor, rusty looking ships if it took sweat to have them. And then, if you encounter destroyers, you look with awe to them. The same applies to planetary development. So let us look how hard it is to achieve anything in GalCiv3, shall we?


What kind of effort it takes to colonize a planet? Actually, none. You just rush a colonizer there and thats it, no matter if the planet is green or rocky, no matter its conditions. There is only 1 obstacle in best case, namely, extreme colonization, that must be achieved, but thats about it. Is that all the effort that could be there to EXploit the Universe? Is that all there is to make us believe in the insane complexities that the Universe actually have? Imagine that there actually could be tension among the players at the very early stages - who will get to colonize those juicy, empire-important planets... Who will put the right effort - put work to colonize or to conquer and so on... Who will balance their work properly... That sprint to rush-colonize has made GalCiv 3 more like sports, not a strategy game. A strategy would be when there are candies on the table, sooner or later everybody sees them but who will get them is yet to be decided. 


Easy experience is poor experience. True EXploitation cannot be imagined without struggles and achievements against the nature. No struggle, nor achievement is gained if you just have to press one button. On the contrary – you have to overcome extreme hardhips to subordinate the nature. Well, for green planets that may not be the case in the 23rd century and I get that. But other than that...


In GalCiv 3, where all planetary tiles are perfect and even in nature, its just pressing those "Conquer the galaxy" buttons. The same "Conquer the galaxy" buttons are abused when starbases instantly make everything work – it takes just one turn and no scientific effort whatsoever to gain those crucial strategic resources. Or relics. Or whatever it is.


As I have posted previously, the EXploration in this game does not exist, beyond the fog of war. But the EXploitation is almost as poorly designed. Not only we have EXploration destroying All-seeing eye, allowing us instantly see all the riches in the galaxy, we also have EXploitation destroying "Conquer the galaxy" buttons. You do not have to travel to stars to have a good inspiration what hardship means - take a look at our own Europe. The CERN project there exists, for the main part, to create particles/substances that do not normally exist in nature. It was a helluwa job, took billions of money, insane brainpower but after decades and decades, we made it. You can call it conquering nature with pride.


Take a look at Sid Meiers Civ for example. You have to work your ass off there before you could say you truly have conquered the nature. The nature of the Universe is and should be far more challenging, more diverse, more merciless. The conditions on most planets are deadly, they are extremly hard to colonize even with high tech. But the space isnt much more gentle either. One who actually is able to overcome natural hardships and to EXploit the nature of the Universe is greatly rewarded and envied by neighbours. Indeed, it is the difficulty of the achievement that lays proper context of the greatness of the empire. Only in this context you may want to avoid war, fear predators with actual fear. Enjoying avoiding fights is contrary to now existing management of monster fleets in monster maps at the late stage of the game.


There are dozens and dozens of ideas that are easy to implement that could make EXploration or EXploitation work as proper EXes. I will not come up with ideas, ideas are cheap. Its the implementation of idea that is hard. And if the idea is implemented improperly, it makes good result even harder. Perhaps GalCiv 3 is struggling so hard and for so long with game development because some ideas were not implemented so well. I think devs could admit that.


Of course, GalCiv 3 is a game to be proud of. Indeed, in some aspects GalCiv 3 have achieved heights no other game has. And perhaps because of that we are so desperate to see it improved time and time again.