Highlights From Galactic Civilizations II
Before discussing the specifics of Galactic Civilizations III – and we will
soon, we promise – it is worth taking a moment to remind players why Galactic
Civilizations II remains one of the most critically praised strategy games
and a fan favorite to this day.
An Open Map
The maps in Galactic Civilizations are open. There are no warp lanes or any
other limiting factors preventing ships from traveling from point A to point
B. While this made it harder for the computer AI players, it allowed for far,
far greater strategic depth for players.
The open ended nature of the Galactic Civilizations universe meant that
fighting wars was just one option of many to achieve victory.
Smart Aleck Alien Diplomacy
Every AI player in Galactic Civilizations II had its own AI personality. Not
just in terms of text, but they were individually programmed so that they
played the game differently. This also allowed for a great deal of interesting
trade negotiation since each one would tend to bargain differently.
Good players learned that a lot of the
real power of the game was achieved via diplomacy. For example, players
could fight proxy wars by giving both sides enough weapons, money and ships
to ensure that they ground each other down while the player engaged in
their own more strategic vision. Of course, inexperienced players would
find themselves being played by the AI as well, as the AI would be happy
to fund your little war to keep you busy while they conquered the galaxy.
Players could look at enemy ships, quickly see how they were designed,
and devise plans to counter them. The AI would design new ships each
game to counter the player’s specific strategy. Galactic Civilizations
II has no pre-made AI ships.
Freeform ship design means just that:
players are given pieces and they can fit them together any way they’d like.
Players can place their engines, weapons, shields, sensors and other equipment
in any configuration they choose, and add endless cosmetic enhancements to
give their ship the look they want.
As you look at these images above, remember, they’re from 2006. Imagine
what is possible now!
As previously mentioned, Galactic Civilizations was the first game to employ
a multithreaded computer AI. Moreover, it made use of the Internet to
(optionally) store player strategies so that the AI could then be improved on.
If players opt in, we are able to see what technologies they researched and
in what order. Same for ship designs, planetary improvements, even starbase
configurations. As a result, we constantly improved the Galactic Civilizations
II AI based on this data.
Internet power has improved a great deal since 2006.
Galactic Civilizations II introduced gamers to the concept of “strategic zoom.”
Strategic zoom allows players to zoom out and have the map transform itself to
something that displays iconic information on screen while still allowing the
player to play the game.
Other notable games that would later make use of this technique include
Supreme Commander, Sins of a Solar Empire and the Elemental games.