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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!

Multithreaded AI

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.

Strategic Zoom

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.

Strategic Zoom Screenshot