Journals

Villains of Star Control: Origins AAR - Xraki Chaos

Posted on Monday, August 26, 2019 By Frogboy

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This is part 2 of a 4 part series on the villains of Star Control DLC for Galactic Civilizations III. You can see the...unpleasantness that took place in part 1 here. Mistakes were made.

In Star Control: Origins we wanted to make sure that humanity's opposition wasn't simply a set of cartoon bad guys.  Each opponent has a pretty strong motivation and a rationale...except for the Xraki.  The Xraki are insane.  They're not "evil" they were driven insane by events in the distant past and now simply destroy anything they come across.

In this game, I will play as the Xraki against the other villains and see how things work out.

It Begins

We get a pretty good starting location with a number of habitable worlds.

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We soon have a couple of colonies and it is time to form a new government.

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As you can see here, each species gets their own unique portraits for citizens.   They also get their own names.

War is quick

So let me be clear, playing with malevolent civilizations is rough. 

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I had a colony ship on its way to a planet they wanted. So they killed it.  No warning. 

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The Xraki's technology is based around control of singularities. So at the heart of their ships tends to be something freaky looking.

The Phamyst arrive at around turn 50 in this game.  So far, it's just been the Xraki vs. the Scryve. As it should be!

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The war between the Scryve and the Xraki is endless skirmishing combined with subtle expansions.

However, the Xraki find one of the best locations to build a starbase that I've ever seen.

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And at last at turn 57 we meet the Measured.

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And here is the power rating of each civilization at this stage:

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But in the background of all this, there is war.

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The Scryve and the Xraki continue to hammer it out.  We are both equally matched more or less.

The Settlement

With the right payments, the Phamyst and the Measured went to war with the Scryve which resulted in a peace settlement between the Xraki and the Scryve.

This allowed a period of uninterrupted internal growth.  Through careful planning, for example, I was able to build Kimberly's Refuge in just the right spot to get a huge boost for it.

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Balance of power

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The Phamyst and the Measured together were still powerful enough to deal with the Scryve.  We had pulled out ahead thanks to our internal buildup. By turn 120 (and thanks to some new multithreaded techniques on AI pathfinding, the turn times are less than half as long as what they were in 3.8) there was a balance of power in the quadrant.

The problem with a balance of power is that some malevolent bastard always wants to upset it.  In this case, everyone.  By turn 140, all the powers were at war with everyone else.  The Scryve quickly took the lead with a coordinated attack / invasion right into the heart of our empire.

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Scryve thrusts into my empire.

But we had not been naïve enough to think we had peace in our time.  One of our internal improvements was the research of weapons and defense technologies.

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We had transports escorted by entropy class frigates which were deadly in numbers.

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While a single Entropy couldn't take out a mighty Scryve battlecruiser, they could overwhelm one thanks to each Entropy having very good defenses and a sharp sting.

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...Time

Passes...

Many months later, the war continues with back and forth battles.   At one point, the Xraki homeworld is conquered by the Measured which has emerged as the super-power of the quadrant.

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We have fallen far from our early lead.  But we aren't dead yet.

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The Chaos class battlecruiser should be able to take on any single ship out there.

It would get its first test in a very important battle:

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The Measured had succeeded by using the same strategy the Xraki were.  Not too many large ships but lots of deadly small ships.  However, unlike the Xraki, their ships had virtually no defensive capabilities. They were designed to be cheap and efficiently mass produced.

The Chaos class ship, however, was massively defended by barrier fields.  This would be a good test of offensive investment vs. defensive investment.

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The Xraki strategy had succeeded.  Other than a tiny disintegrator class ship and a first generation Entropy, the fleet remained relatively untouched.

(Many hours later)

At turn 236 the galaxy remained on fire but we had recovered our lost territory.

Here is the status of the quadrant:

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The Xraki ownership and happiness joy region has been reclaimed.

On the other hand, this region represents only a small part of this medium-sized map:

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The Xraki are not close to being the most powerful.

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However, we are well situated going forward as the Scryve are somewhat over extended and many of their outer colonies are pretty isolated.

Some final thoughts

Having played through the "evil" civs as someone who  usually plays as neutral or good, I will tell you that as cool as the unique abilities of each civilization are, they really don't hold a candle to the varied gameplay that you get from the combination of opponents you pick.   Playing as a malevolent civilization in a galaxy filled with malevolent civilizations changed the dynamic a great deal.  I hope if you're reading this that next time you play, try playing the opposite ideology as you usually do and put in some evil civs.

As the old saying goes: Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.


Villains of Star Control: Origins AAR - The Phamyst

Posted on Sunday, August 25, 2019 By Frogboy

Greetings!

For this After Action Report I'm going to be playing Galactic Civilizations v3.9 with only the Heroes of Star Control civilizations. 

I'll be pointing out notable and interesting things as I go along.

The Setup

I'm going to play as the galaxy's classiest cannibals, the Phamyst.

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The Phamyst have the Ravenous ability which results in them receiving food after every battle which can be used to build cities.  However, this food spoils after 25 turns so use it or lose it.

My opponents:

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The Scryve,The Measured and the Xraki. 

So it begins...

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The new civilizations in Villains of Star Control come from Star Control: Origins, sharp-eyed players will notice that the art style has been slightly altered to conform with the Galactic Civilizations style of a bit more realistic.

The villains of Star Control are, as you might expect, pretty malevolent.  I normally play Galactic Civilizations as a neutral or neutral-good against a mix of civilizations.  This is one of those rare times where it's going to be a bunch of evil civilizations thrown in together.

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Each civilization has a very unique ship style.  The Phamyst have a very minimalistic aesthetic.

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A feature definitely not talked about enough is the fact that each of the four new civilizations provides a ton of new ship parts.  And as you can see, we didn't scrimp on them.

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I'm going to play the Phamyst a bit darker than I normally play.

Below you can see the unique aesthetic in action.

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Phamyst battle cruiser.

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First meeting with the Xraki.  If you click and zoom in, you can see the subtle art style difference between Star Control and GalCiv in action (if you look at how the Xraki are depicted in Star Control).  I.e. we didn't just port them directly from Star Control, we updated their look to match GalCiv's. Look at the veins!

This is probably even more obvious with the Scryve:

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I probably should get universal translator.

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Starbases (mine and the Scryve's).

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What you can't hear (obviously) is that each civilization has their own music track and their dialog was written by the Star Control team.

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Scryve Cruiser up close.

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A fair trade scary guy.

The War of the Scryve

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It was inevitable I suppose.

The Scryve and the Phamyst were neighbors and both are pretty evil. 

However...

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The Scryve have better ships but my ships are designed specifically to counter the Scryve's favored weapon type (energy beam weapons).  So it's not quite the walk over they thought.

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One of the changes we've made in recent updates is to make defenses a lot more effective.  Not only are defensive values higher but they don't get reduced nearly as quickly during battle.  So defenses are a good thing to have on a ship. :)

Just in time for me to have researched Orbital Manufacturing which allows for the construction of much larger hulls.

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The war expands

The Measured have joined the Scryve!

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Unable to take on both empires at once, we are forced to grovel for an armistice with the Scryve.

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Meanwhile, we had just finished the design of a new battle cruiser, the Ravager!

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The Measured have conquered most of my planets but we are slowly making our way back thanks to the Patriot.  The Measured ships are very business like (see screenshot below).

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Defeat

The Scryve and Xraki ultimately declare war on me as well.

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I learned something today.

Evil civilizations put into a shark tank is rough.

And so the Phamyst go down in flames. 


Galactic Civilizations III: Ascension

Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2019 By Derek Paxton

GalCiv3 has come a long way since release. It has added governments, mercenaries, citizens, thousands of free to download ships and factions to play as and more tools to manage your growing empire. I sat down to play some today with the 3.8 patch and decided to have some fun.

One of the new features in 3.8 is the Galactic Ascension Status. So I wanted to play a game where I pursued an Ascension victory. I picked the Altarian's since they get a boost from Precursor Artifacts, I set my universe to Huge with 20 other factions in it and divided us up onto 7 teams with 3 members on each team so I would have some allies to deal with. I also increased the amount of Precursor Artifacts and Ascension Crystals in the universe to make fighting for them more interesting.

I like playing with teams in GC3. It means that even from turn 1 I already have allies out there.

I have an Echoing Heartstone artifact n my homeworld. If I upgrade it I can unlock charges I can use to dramatically boost the influence on a planet. That will be very helpful since it is going to be a crowded galaxy with 21 factions on a huge map. My strategy is all set, explore the galaxy, find artifacts and ascension crystals and lock them down before other players get to them. Help my allies when needed and try to avoid war.

I've always loved the look of the Altarian ships. And my plan was going well until I encountered this planet:

A class 12 planet, but I need Xeno Adaption to be able to colonize it. In most games this wouldn't cause me to abandon my strategy, but in a galaxy with 21 other factions (and I didn't boost the default amount of habitable planets) a class 12 planet is gold. So I abandon teching towards Ascendancy upgrades and switch to Planetary techs (so I can get to Xeno Adapation before someone else grabs the planet.

My plan works and I pick up some extra planets and start a Galactic Government. I tend to be benevolent, my planets aren't overcrowded and my people have low expectations so my approval remains high and my people like me.

But focusing on planets means that other players beginning to grab all those Ascension Crystals. And here we see the new UI that makes this all very apparent.

The Iconians have already claimed 5 and the Mu'Kay are 654 turns away form an Ascension victory if they do nothing else between now and then (and they will do things to increase that rate). I'm going to need to start some wars either trade, culture or military if I want to turn this around.

Wish me luck!


The continued refinement of Galactic Civilizations III

Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2019 By Frogboy

Greetings!

Thanks to you guys continuing to buy our DLC we are able to keep developing Galactic Civilizations III with new features and improvements.

The last few updates have been focusing heavily on quality of life and the latest version, v3.8 continues that trend.  Below are some of features we've recently added that we hope you find useful.

Adjust difficulty mid-game

Finding yourself doing really well mid game or struggling more than you thought?

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Under the options->Gameplay you can now adjust difficulty on the fly and it will update the AI's accordingly!

UI Cleanup

We don't necessarily respond to every post (or even most) but we do read them.  So many of our updates are pretty minor. A text change here. A font tweak there.  Here are a few examples:

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We now display a little more information about ships than we used to.  For example, tactical speed is now displayed.

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More information, such as research, is displayed in the planet list.

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Capturing Ascension crystals now makes it clear how long it will take players to win through that means.

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The shipyard list displays how much production is going to it.

Immersion

This is hard to quantify but we have been going through the game making small text changes as well as making sure the default ships from every species has a colorful name rather than simply the ship class.

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Also a better use of fonts to better emphasize who is speaking and what options are.

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The work continues

We are keen on hearing your thoughts! We hope you like what we've been doing!


Galactic Civilizations Summer 2019

Posted on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 By Frogboy

We're putting the touches on v3.8.  From here on out, a lot of our effort is going to be on features that improve the game experience, polish and usability.  They're not sexy features but they're much needed imo.

Starting with 3.6, we began work on improving the modding experience.  This is something that's been being further developed in 3.8 and will get more attention after as we try to "unify" the experience further so that people can eventually pass around mods and know they'll "just work".  

We still have the general challenge in that you have Crusade and "base" GalCiv III v1.x.   Crusade changes the economic system to a citizen based system so that's a big challenge in reconciling in terms of mods.

There won't be any more expansions for GalCiv III.  Future gameplay improvements will be made to the Cruade base (i.e. as long as you have Crusade these will work).   But we do have new DLC coming over the coming year.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here. Cheers!

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