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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.

screenshot screenshot

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: