Journals

GalCiv III Dev Journal: April 2020

Posted on Wednesday, April 15, 2020 By Frogboy

So we are on the road to v4.0.  It's hard to believe that GalCiv III was released five years ago.  We've made a lot of changes since then.

Version 4.0 is designed to do a lot of different things.  I won't go over all the changes here but instead will take you on a bit of a guided tour.

Most of the changes are for users of Retribution which is the latest expansion.  If you don't have that, I highly recommend getting it.

Turn 1

On your first turn you're going to likely notice some subtle but important changes.

First, more food.  There are a lot more fertile tiles in general that you can use either for farming or plow away to build other things.

There is also an Administrative Center that you can have 1 per planet with.  It gives you 2 admin points but it's also useful because it enhances adjacent structures.

There has also been a slight tweak to the costs of planetary improvements (on Retribution).  You also end up with a fuller set of choices.  

Not only have asteroid fields been made bigger but Durantium is more common as well.

Technologies have been tweaked so that more administrative points are handed out and a lot more trade routes are handed out.  For instance (Retribution), Xeno Commerce now provides 5 trade routes instead of 2.

Early game changes

Resources like Promethion are somewhat more common as well.

On the other hand, while we've added more asteroids, we've reduced the amount of raw resources mining bases give from 1.0 to 0.50.  As many know, by late game, a disproportionate amount of raw resources ends up coming from the asteroids which was not the intent.  

Instead, because food is so much more common, players will tend to have much larger populations which do provide, over time, more production.

Planets themselves have gotten a bit of a make-over.  More interesting layouts and more interesting cosmetics.

Even Mars.

And this is all in the first 20 turns or so.   We will discuss more as we get closer.

Highlighted feature

A lot of users have asked for the ability to turn OFF the colonies auto-upgrading structures.

Coming in v4.0 in May!


GalCiv III Dev Journal: March 2020

Posted on Monday, March 30, 2020 By Frogboy

I found a magic planet.

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It’s not that it is a class 20 planet – it only started as a class 14 and I’ve upgraded it since.  It is that it had 6 fertile tiles with 5 of them ready to have something amazing placed in the middle.  In this case, Kimberly’s Refuge.  Combined with the planet being a fertile world the result is that this one planet produces 34 food. 

Of course, having the time to build this up required relative peace to be the norm which is the subject of this dev journal.

Leave me alone

One of the most common questions we get is how do you keep everyone from going to war with you? Can you play the game without having to build up a huge military.  The answer is, yes and…maybe. 

I’m playing as a benevolent civilization.  This means my polar opposite civilizations (malevolent) will be inclined to go to war with me.  If I were playing as pragmatic, they would also not like me but they are somewhat less likely to pull the trigger on going to war with a pragmatic civilization versus one that is their opposite.

So what’s the key to getting them to leave me alone?

Relationship factors

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Here is the Drengin.  The biggest two things helping me with them are the fact we’re trading with them and they are relatively far away.

Tip #1: Trade with them  

When I play as a peaceful civ, I am careful to trade as much as I can.  You do take a hit due to trading with their enemies but it’s still a big benefit.

Trade helps in so many other areas too.  For example, the more you trade, the less easy of a target you are since they really want your money.

Tip #2: Treaties

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Make sure you are setting up treaties with them.

Tip #3: Financial Aid / Tribute

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You can give tribute to civilizations (give them money) which will make them happy. 

Tip #4: Don’t be an easy target

If a bear is chasing after you and your friends, you only need to be faster than the slowest friend.   You don’t need a big military to keep from being attacked.  But if you are absolutely defenseless then you are inviting conquest.

Tip #5: Use Diplomats

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If you have trained any diplomats, you can use them on the powerful civilizations that you want to leave you alone.  You don’t need them to love you, you just need them to hate someone else more.

Tip #6: Build up your diplomatic skills

There are certain planetary improvements and technologies that give your civilization more diplomatic points.  Your increased skills will cause other civilizations to like you more.

Tip #7: Spy with Freighters

A lot of players will try to keep an eye on what other civilizations are doing by building starbases and sensor ships.  But these can sometimes cause other civilizations to consider them trespassers.  But freighters don’t have that issue.

Instead, design freighters that have great sensor ranges.  Make sure you get an open borders treaty with them.

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Hopefully these tips will help you maintain a galactic peace…or at least long enough to either ascend or get a diplomatic victory!


GalCiv Dev Journal: Thinking about starting conditions

Posted on Saturday, October 26, 2019 By Frogboy

The first impression of gameplay in a 4X strategy game tends to be what the opening choices are.  And this is something we have tried our best to optimize in GalCiv III.

In version 3.96, we are giving players the shipyard again by default (which we used to have back in 1.0).   The presence of the starting shipyard has everything to do with having meaningful starting decisions.

For example, here is v3.96 without the shipyard as an option now:

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We added a new build-once project called Industrial Center (retribution) that is the equivalent of the Computer Core except for manufacturing.  Combine that with trade resources and (in Retribution) artifacts and you have some interesting options.

Then you go over to the shipyard and you have a 4 obvious choices:

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Note that we no longer have any weapons at the start of the game (retribution). Your ships are unarmed.  So this allows us to clean up the first impression a little bit so that weaponizing ships makes an obvious difference to your shipyard choices.

Also, having the shipyard combined with the recent increase in starting funds means players can move out a bit faster than they could before.   This gives a little more room, especially for new players, to not get economically over their heads.

These changes, along with the visual update to the planets (you can see the visual update in the first screenshot) will be in v3.96.


GalCiv Dev Journal: October 2019

Posted on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 By Frogboy

We're putting the finishing touches on GalCiv III v3.95 which includes both balance changes and new game options and some quality of life updates.

Originally we were going to go right from v3.6 to v4.0 but we've broken the tasks down into smaller chunks, hence v3.7, v3.8, v3.9, v3.91 and now v3.95

But we've also been working on v4.0 which has a heavy modding emphasis. Now that the major expansions to III are over (we will still be releasing DLCs, but all new FEATURE changes will happen in the base game) we are focusing more on content management, quality of life and helping make sure GalCiv III is the best GalCiv game we've ever done.

So how do we imagine enhanced mod support looking?

Here's what we have in mind:

From the main menu you click on Mods.  This takes you to the Mod Manager.

It has 3 pages:

  1. Installed
  2. Available
  3. Create

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The Installed mods simply let you enable and disable mods.

When you click on Available it takes you to a page that has a bunch of categories of mods.  These are just glorified Steam tags.

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The idea here is that you can press a button and it will launch the Steam workshop browser with tags set up.  Just makes it a bit easier for players to go directly to the types of mods they're looking for.

The last page is Create.

Now, this isn't a tool.  Modders will still have to actually to the mod like they do today.  The difference is adding support for what expansions the mod requires to work and what tags your mod requires.

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Based on these settings, it'll create a folder in the documents\my games\gc3crusade\mods\ directory with the proper directory structure worked out.

The directory structure in which GalCiv is setup is a bit complicated.  That was because we didn't want to change the gameplay experience for everyone when an expansion came out.  Only those who voluntarily bought the expansion would have the changed game play and those who didn't want that gameplay changed could effectively opt-out.   This decision has a lot of advantages and disadvantages but one disadvantage is that makes modding much more error prone.

For example, for the Retribution expansion we have our various data files in a directory like this:

GalCiv3\Game\DLC\EXP4_Retribution\Game

If you have Retribution installed, then it uses the files in this directory instead of the files in say

GalCiv3\Game\DLC\EXP3_Intrigue\Game

With mods, we will need to know which files you plan to "replace" which means knowing which version of the game you want your mod to support (i.e. Retribution vs. Intrigue).  So for instance, let's say you want to replace ImprovementDefs.xml.  We need to know WHICH one you want to replace.    But let's say you want to create NEW planetary improvements.  We still need to know which set of improvements your planetary improvements are going to essentially append to.

For those of you who are already experienced at modding GalCiv, let us know what you think along with any improvements to how we are looking to do it that might make it more robust.


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.

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