Once Upon A Time...
While hanging out on Usenet's comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic in
1992, college student Brad Wardell was just one of many Usenet
participants who put together wish lists for their favorite games.
Rather than sit in chat rooms all day, Brad decided to do something
about his wish list. He would make his own game. One problem –
Brad didn't really know how to program (other than some Basic)
and was a poor artist. With little money, Brad bought "Teach
Yourself C in 21 days" and decided to program the game for IBM's
new OS/2 2.x operating system.
OS/2 had two features that Windows
lacked: multithreading and memory
protection. These allowed Brad to
make a game with a robust computer
AI. While most games forced the user
to sit and wait for the computer
players to plan and execute their
strategies after each player turn,
Galactic Civilizations would be
multithreaded – its computer players
would plan their strategy while the
player moved their units. As a result,
the computer players were significantly more clever and sophisticated than other games at the time.
Galactic Civilizations was probably the first retail
game that made use of multiple threads (the second retail game to make
use of multiple threads was called Avarice, also released by Stardock
and developed by Dave Pottinger, who went on to become the lead developer
of Age of Empires III for Ensemble).
As primitive as Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 might have appeared, at
the time, PC games typically were only 320x200 with 256 colors. By contrast,
Galactic Civilizations natively supported 1024x768 with 16.8 million colors.
Stardock released an expansion for Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 called
Shipyards which allowed users to design their own ships: