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Published on December 16, 2015 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals

imageBe careful what you wish for.

Next year all the 4X’s are going to come out.  What I write below is not under some NDA. I know it because it’s my job to know it.

Let me walk you through the schedule:

1H2016: Stellaris, Master of Orion

2H2016: Civilization VI, Endless Space 2

I could be wrong on the dates. You could swap some of this around a bit but you get the idea. 

Where is GalCiv III in this?

Stardock will be announcing its first expansion in January.  I won’t go into details here but it is something we’ve never done before.    2016 we’re going to release a steady stream of GalCiv updates but we are going to do our best to stay away from the flood and work on the really big GalCiv III expandalone for much later.

GalCIv III has been a tremendous success for us.  It’s kind of our Civ V.  That is, with Civ V, a lot of long time fans were really upset that it didn’t do X, or Y like Civ IV had but it brought in a lot of new players.  GalCiv III has done a good job welcoming a lot of new players into the GalCiv universe.  2016 is going to add a kick ass expansion (target release date February) and follow that up with a lot of updates to refine and improve the GalCiv III universe.  But it won’t make sense to do another big expansion after February since all the 4Xs are coming out.

What should be in the base game versus some future expandalone?

Let me walk you through the things I think GalCiv III needs and how we want to get these things to you.

First off, Steam now supports upgrading to expandalones. This is a big deal because it means we can make a GalCiv III: X that is major game change but let people upgrade to it very inexpensively.  In the old days, you’d have to “rebuy” the game.  It also lets use do universal DLC which means that all the DLC you would buy for III will work on all versions of GalCiv III.  As a gamer, that’ s a pretty big deal.

What we have decided going forward is that any really major changes will have to go into an expandalone.  We had a pretty serious bit of pushback with the per-planet production wheel and we don’t want to go through that again. The per planet production wheel is a bad game design.  We allow players to still get to it through a racial trait but personally, I’d rather see it die.  But I understand players who feel attached to it.

But now there’s a lot of fear about making game changes that I think are objectively good.  Let me give you an example:

In GalCiv II, I made it so that ship components used X + Y% of hull size space.  Thus, an engine might use 3 units of space but also use 5% of the max hull space. This meant , no matter what you were very limited in how many engines you could have.   GalCiv III doesn’t have the Y% and thus, inevitable, we have people designing ships that can move 73 moves which breaks the game balance.  Do we bring back the Y%? Well, you know what will happen when/if we do. There will be angry people down-voting us on Steam. And to be candid, a game’s review score determines how often Steam will promote it.  When we got rid of the per planet wheel, several people gave GalCiv III a negative review on Steam which hurts us even though we suspect most people were glad it was gone. 

So on the one hand, making engines and sensors consume consume a % of hull space will make the game objectively better.  But on the other hand, if we do it, we’ll upset some people who like having ships that can move 73 moves and some of them will give us negative Steam reviews which will in turn cost us a lot of future sales.

Let’s talk about the future

GalCiv III remains the first and only 4th generate 4X.  All the other games out there are still 3rd generation (32-bit, DirectX 9c, single core design).  Eventually, everyone will have to move to 4th generation.  This was painful for us since we lost a decade of legacy code. But it’s something every franchise has to do sooner or later.  So we’re in a good position for growing it into the future.  It’ll just be a question of whether the fan base will stick with us or whether we’ll all great fractured between MOO, Stellaris, ES2 or whether Civ VI will annihilate them all.

Regardless, what I do know is that there are certain key ingredients on our road-map that I want to share with you guys:


  1. Espionage
  2. Destabilization
  3. Enforcing spheres of influence
  4. Forms of government
  5. Domestic politics
  6. Unified resource system
  7. In-depth trade
  8. Citizienship and species
  9. Crime
  10. Combat control
  11. Navigational infrastructure

These are intentionally vague so read into them what you will.  But the game is called Galactic Civilizations.  So over the next few years there’s just a lot of stuff to keep integrating into it. 

So anyway, just some thoughts.



Comments (Page 1)
on Dec 16, 2015

Yeah, at eXplorminate, it's our job to know what's on the horizon, too. 


It's a great time to be a 4X-focused website, that's for sure. There are a bunch of indie 4X games coming next year, too. It's pretty ridiculous. 

Thankfully, however, they appear to be broken up well in to the various quarters. Who knows, though. 


A list of all the 4X's (that we've gathered together at - a full list of all known 4X here: LIST OF 4X GAMES):

  • Stellaris
  • Master of Orion
  • Endless Space 2
  • Civilization VI
  • Stars in Shadow
  • Polaris Sector
  • Lord of Rigel
  • Oriental Empires
  • Predestination
  • M.O.R.E.
  • Imperia (5X)
  • and much more that I'm probably forgetting
on Dec 16, 2015

I am confused about the steam concerns. as I understand you can only review/thumb up/down only once? So was a block of people holding off on voting until this wheel thing came up? If I could review multiple times (positive of course) I would.

i assume founders get any and all exandalones?

lastly, it is unfortunate that steam platform is impacting business/gam decisions such as this.


on Dec 16, 2015

Very happy with the roadmap.

I realise this is years we may be talking about for some of those things, but hey, I was still playing GC2 pretty much until GC3 went early release, so make of that what you will.

I can also tell you straight off that I won't go near Civ 6 until the steam store sale 'Civ6 Complete' version comes out. Being a die hard fan from Civ I, I was EXTREMELY dissapointed with Civ 5 in pretty much all areas, from gameplay right through to customer support. And let's not even get into the mod for it that was released as a full game.It brought some new stuff, but it always felt like I was playing a mod.

I'm not sure about MOO. Why buy it when I am already a GC3 founder? It would have to be a pretty darn special game to even come close to GC3 and its potential.

IDK. Just saying, 4X games can all get a bit samey. As a player, of games in general, I'm getting a little tired of seeing 'Expand, Explore, blah, blah' in tag lines all over steam, and other sites, only to find that most games end up being really just 1X - War - with a few flavourful extras thrown in for marketing, fluff, and so on. The only ones that have ever held my attention longer than a few months are Civ 1-4 and the GalCiv series. Most didn't get past the demo. 

I guess what I mean by this is that while it seems like an intelligent decision to hold off on the big fork in the road expandalone thingy until the flood subsides a little, I think that you guys are taking care of your baby just fine. Don't be scared of the big bad Civ6.


Signed, a very happy Founder who is even more happy they bought a founder pack than ever.



on Dec 16, 2015

Could it be that the long resistance to the calls for TC might be breaking?  Though "Combat Control" is vague enough that it could be all front end stuff still.  Interesting though.

on Dec 16, 2015

My objection to tactical battles is that in a game as massive as galciv, I might have a dozen battles per turn. I dont' want to fight those battles nor do I trust auto resolve enough.

But I don't object to tactical battles if there was a way to have them that didn't force players into feeling like they had to deal with them.

on Dec 16, 2015

So, is it safe to say that founders get expandalone(s) as part of founder?


on Dec 16, 2015

2. Destabilisation I hope that we will see rebellions, and revolutions. 

3. Enforcing borders I really hope that it won't require a treaty to enter someone's space. That was probably the worst part of civilization 4 and 5, and endless space. 

8. Citizenship would be nice to have some citizen specialization like in civilization 4. Like scientist, tax collector, entertainer, working, and putting them in buildings.

on Dec 16, 2015

Founders get everything.

on Dec 16, 2015

I wouldn't say founder when you mean elite I don't forget, and some will try to hold you to that.

on Dec 17, 2015


My objection to tactical battles is that in a game as massive as galciv, I might have a dozen battles per turn. I dont' want to fight those battles nor do I trust auto resolve enough.

But I don't object to tactical battles if there was a way to have them that didn't force players into feeling like they had to deal with them.

Just a thought...only fleets with commanders or fleets with a "Command and Control" or "Flagship module". Either method serves the same purpose:  I have a few crucial fleets that I can control the combat over.  My other fleets without these mechanisms I cannot influence control within the battle.  But, even if a fleet has a commander/module, I'm not forced to fight but can still auto resolve.  

on Dec 17, 2015

You guys should seriously consider investing in some in game voice overs connected to major events. They add a lot of flavor to a game imo, and I would love to see it in GCIII

on Dec 17, 2015

GalCiv III remains the first and only 4th generation 4X.


Not to be a kill-joy, but I really don't think it is.


Sure, GC3 enjoys the only 4th-gen 4X engine on the market presently. That's a great achievement, and one which players often overlook. But the extreme conservatism of the mechanical and UI design does not strike me as being somehow "4th generation". Mechanically, this is not very different from 3rd gen. In UI terms, we might go so far as to say 2nd gen - it's so clunky and click-heavy that it reminds me more of 16-bit games from the '90s than 32-bit ones from the 2000s. We have a 2nd-gen UI, being used to play a 3rd-gen game, stretched around a 4th-gen engine that is presumably barely breaking a sweat. That kinda makes the whole game feel a bit like a tech demo rather than an actual, completed product.


The word I keep hearing about GC3 is 'potential'. GC3's engine has the potential to allow you to do so much more. "GC3 has lots of potential" comes up a lot in reviews, or even re-reviews. I even keep resorting to saying it myself when trying to defend the game from criticism - 'sure, it's a bit empty now, but it has so much potential'. But that's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, having the potential to become better is great - it's expandable and can grow and become better and better over time. On the other hand, if your estate agent or realtor tells you a house has 'potential', you know that you do not want to live there until it's had a good $50k of work done on it. If you have potential, then pretty much by definition you haven't achieved that potential yet.


We didn't mind this during the EA period - hell, we EXPECT an early-access or beta game to have a lot of potential and be pretty thin on the ground in terms of actual awesome. I think people were even happy enough to tolerate big potential and small awesomeness in the first 2-3 months after release. But 'it's got loads of potential' is starting to sound kind of hollow when we've been officially post-release for 6 months. The game feels very empty. The UI is clunky and painful, particularly on the bigger maps, and the macro-controls are pitiful. The mechanics continue to struggle with scaling, not because the engine can't handle it but because the actual equations used in them were poorly designed for scale in the first place. We may as well not have the biggest map sizes, in all honesty, because until very recently they've been basically unplayable and trying to support them is making it harder to look after the smaller, working ones.


We seem to be getting a lot of roadmaps and planned things, but the actual delivery on these continues to underwhelm. There's a few reasons for this - amongst them, I think naming patches things like 'the big UI update' or 'the big diplo patch' creates an expectation that these areas will be focused on a lot more than they actually are, since most of the patches have (quite rightly) been far broader in their scope than it implies. Sure, you want cool-sounding 'headlines' for your patch notes. But 'the big diplo update' was basically a couple of diplo features most people kind of expected would exist at release. Yes, you guys did a ton of other stuff which needed to be done, and yes, it was a good patch overall. But handing out names on them like this is driving expectations that are then disappointed. 


Personally, I think that each patch is actually a small, but noticeable improvement in many areas. But that's the point. It's a small but noticeable improvement to the game as a whole, and then you stick a big headline billing at the top and players look at the headline item and think 'well, it's only improved that particular thing a tiny bit; that's rubbish'. They completely ignore the other 357 notes in the change log, because this is the diplo patch and so the thing you're drawing their attention to is the diplo changes. Basically, make your mind up. Either adopt a VERY focused patching strategy, where if a patch is dedicated to feature X, 90% of the changelog is dedicated to feature X, or stick to the present 'general' strategy and stop putting signposts up. Sticking with the present approach is driving distrust between SD and the community, since the community get pissed off at the lack of work on the features you're drawing their attention to, and then you get pissed off that people are slagging off the amount of work being done when there's hundreds of other things included.

on Dec 17, 2015

4th generation is a technical term. It has nothing to do with features.

in fact, it is a major reason why gc3 doesn't have all e cool legacy features. 

gc2 was able to use everything from gc1 which in turn had features from the corporate machine.

but on the other hand, it means that gc3 will be able to be built on for many years to come without running into hardware or software limitstions.

As for your specific response, Nas.  I've read your posts and what I will say is tat I look forward to these other games coming out so that perhaps you'll leave and go play them instead.

The base game of GC3 was good.  We put out a roadmap to show people what we wanted to deliver to players because we love working on the game -not because we thought we owed players something.  And we have delivered on that roadmap month after month.

1.1: Steam Workshop support, people can create their own races and ships and share them.

1.2: Mega events

1.3: Tons of UI improvements. Maybe not as much as some people would want but a before/after is all one needs to see how big an update that was.

1.4: Major AI update

1.5: Major diplomacy update.

That you complain that we improve other areas of the game instead of exclusively what we mention here is ridiculous. Of course we're going to address other things when we do updates.  We're not going to put off improving other areas of the game for marketing reasons.  Each update has a particular focus.  But lots of other things get worked on during that time as well.

That said, you aren't the community.  If you personally are that unhappy with the game, then leave.  But don't assume you represent "the community". I've been dealing with guys like you for 20 years.  Even in GalCiv II, there were guys posting the same nonsense you're posting abut how the community is angry that don't have this or that and that the game should have this or that.  You are better off accepting that you will never like GalCiv III and find another game.  I've listed a few options in the original post.

on Dec 17, 2015


4th generation is a technical term. It has nothing to do with features.

in fact, it is a major reason why gc3 doesn't have all e cool legacy features. 

gc2 was able to use everything from gc1 which in turn had features from the corporate machine.

but on the other hand, it means that gc3 will be able to be built on for many years to come without running into hardware or software limitstions.


Oh, I know you're using it as a technical term, and that it relates to the engine. And I know that it's going to take literally years for GC3 to be able to build up the same level of  codebase that GC2 had when you first sat down and started drawing up the design docs for it.


But it does have quite a bit to do with features, really. Because your 4th gen engine can have features that your 3rd gen one couldn't even have dreamed of. You can do unimaginably awesome stuff with it - in the eXplorminate stream, you touch on something similar with your UI comments (a question Nate asked on my behalf, actually ) because you now simply have so much more screen real-estate than you did in 2005. Mechanically, we're in the same place - you now have a huge amount of engine real-estate compared to before, but mechanically you're stil not really doing anything that you couldn't put into GC2.


The reason we keep hearing things like 'oh, it's jsut GC2.5' when this is technically wrong in EVERY particular is due to the feature set having moved very little compared to other 4Xes. We can have huge maps now, and we can have hundreds of empires playing... but the actual gameplay is pretty 2005. I know that what you're getting at with this very thread is that you want to move beyond that, and I applaud it. But I do think it's something we have to recognize - you've made a Ferrari engine but presently it has a Vauxhall Corsa wrapped around it. That's why people keep talking about GC3 as a game with 'potential' rather than calling it a classic, or ground-breaking, or the next step in 4X gaming. It has the capacity to be any or all of these things given the technological marvel you've stuck under the hood. But it's design is presently astonishingly conservative with that power.

on Dec 17, 2015

No, Nas. 4th generation engines have nothing to do with game play features.

Like I said, I think you should go find another game. I listed many at the top of this post.