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Published on May 14, 2017 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals

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Long ago there was Galactic Civilizations II, Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords, Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar and Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor. 

While Twilight of the Arnor is often considered the best of the GalCiv II series, for many it was really Dark Avatar that took GalCiv II from being a good to a great game.

This month, we released the second expansion to Galactic Civilizations III. Crusade is a similarly major change to the base game's replayability.

[[..]]

A massive expansion in a nutshell

Below is the chart that compares the various GalCiv games over the years so that you can see what has been updated.  With Crusade, we added a double checkbox if that area has been significantly improved.

 

The new economy

One of the most common questions we've seen is how one adjusts their economy.  In the base game, the player had the production wheel.  In Crusade, you use the Leader citizen and move them to the areas  you want your economy to focus on.

Over the course of a Crusade game, the player can gain greater and greater precision over their civilization.  In the base game, you switched between Research, Manufacturing and Wealth.  In Crusade, players can also focus on Approval, Farming, Influence, Diplomacy, Administration, Ship HP and more.

 

Switching between the two

We do intend to update the launcher to make it easier to move between Crusade or the base game. This is particularly useful for multiplayer but there will, no doubt, be players who want to quickly transition back and forth if only to notice the differences.

 

Crusade Complaints

By far the biggest complaint about Crusade is that it's buggy.  To that, I would have to agree.  While there weren't any type 0 bugs in the release, there were an unacceptably high number of what we'd call an unacceptable number of type 2 bugs and a lot of type 3 and 4 that simply slipped by.  In addition, a type 1 bug made it through (stuck turn) which was largely the result of my fixation on reducing turn times. 

While this has since been addressed, I should have left good enough alone by the end of March rather than pushing it and pushing it (I have a local build that has incredibly smooth late game performance but...wait for it...has the occasional stuck turn.

The more CPU cores one has, the more challenging it gets bringing a game turn back together.  That's why I have a 10 core CPU. Not because I wanted it.  But for you.  That is why I made the heroic sacrifice of upgrading to a 10 core CPU...cough.

We have great fans and we are grateful for the support we've gotten.  I apologize for us doing too much too fast.  A lot of this could have been rolled out over the next year.

In an alternative world, where Stardock isn't run by a lunatic programmer, we would have had Crusade = GalCiv III + Espionage + Civ Builder + Interactive Invasions + 3 new races and a campaign and called it good.  Instead, we have...well  you see the above chart and I pulled the campaign so that we could have more sandbox features and allow me to write the Apocalypse storyline with our lead writer, Chris Bucholz, later.

 

Crusade improvements into the base game

We have a thread that discusses what improvements from Crusade should go back to the base game.  Certainly bug fixes and AI improvements.   We want the base game of GalCiv III to be as good as it can be without anyone ever having to buy anything beyond that.

 

Best parts of Crusade

We'd love to hear your favorite features in Crusade.  I love the Citizen system but I think I end up enjoying the missions feature the most as I really hate late game micro. What are some of your favorite parts? What would you like more of?

 

AI loose ends

There's a number of loose ends on the AI I want to button up in the near future.  I finally found the reason why late game you'll see AI ships streaming all by themselves.  They're trying to reinforce other planets that are super far away.  Not a good idea though so I fixed that up. 

There's a laundry list of other things I am hoping to get done in the relatively new future as well.

 

Road Map: Spring 2017

The roadmap for Crusade mainly focuses on making it easier to mod it.  The timeline for it really boils down to how many engineers I can assign. 

Crusade currently has a "mixed" Steam score.  As a practical matter, if our player base doesn't like Crusade, then there's not a lot of incentive to dedicate resources to it.  Once we finish the bug squashing, we'll see where things settle at.

That said, below are some of the upcoming features we have in mind:

Galaxy Builder: Let's people use Steamworks to share tech tree parts, planetary improvements, citizens, promotions, missions, flavor text, player abilities, Starbase modules, components.  We are able to do this because in order to do Crusade as a DLC, we had to develop a way to make it so that a mod could more easily override or extend existing data robustly.

Galactic Empires: This is similar to the system we had in GalCiv II.  There's be an overall galaxy players could play on.  They would have a dedicated civilization for this using cannon traits (no making "god traits") and each day a new "sector" of the galaxy would be made available for people to play. The results would go towards their empire's score with control of the galaxy being based on total scores.

Admiral Battles: We are considering (depending on sales) letting flees that are commanded by an Admiral (a promoted Commander) have tactical control over their battle.  Right now, GalCiv III has tactical battles, it's just that they are forcibly put to auto-resolve (there's no UI to control units of course but if you watch the battle closely, you can see that the plumbing is there).  Only Admirals would be able to do this because GalCiv is not a game where the fate of your galactic civilization is based on an Ender Wiggin like leader.  Just as contested invasions are rare, Admiral battles would be very rare.

Arena Multiplayer: We would really like to make Crusade be a really good multiplayer game.  While Multiplayer wasn't our focus, the Citizen system was developed with multiplayer in mind as it drastically reduces the cheesy gamey exploitation techniques that the base game has in multiplayer.  Arena Multiplayer would be similar to the Galactic Empires except each day, a random, Arena sized map (think very small map) would be made available.  These would be for friends or strangers to play each other in.  There would be 1 on 1 and 2 v 2 maps with the entire match likely to last between 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the circumstances.  The upcoming Turn-Time counter would help ensure that the game moved along (see what we do in The Political Machine).

More MORE AI: At this point, I have a pretty good handle on how they did the original AI for GalCiv III and I think most people notice the AI is much better (and in the case of the AI buying lots of ships, with unearned money, this was actually something in the base game that only became apparent in Crusade because the AI got a lot smarter about when and what to rush buy). 

Cheers!


Comments (Page 2)
on May 15, 2017

Crusade currently has a "mixed" Steam score. As a practical matter, if our player base doesn't like Crusade, then there's not a lot of incentive to dedicate resources to it. Once we finish the bug squashing, we'll see where things settle at.
Well, you said it yourself, the release was pretty buggy. To me this was the first SD game I bought on release. I didn't know what to expect as some others here seem to be. I was pretty disappointed.

And you know what? I'm still around.
I still really hope, you guys will work out the quirks and that I can give input to accelerate that.

There is one request I would have for the future.

Please take better care of balance. My argument is not about multiplayer. It is about AI. As long as there are major exploits in the game you can either teach the AI to use them, or the AI will fall short every time. And please go the extra mile in fixing them by not completely dulling down the game.

on May 15, 2017

My opinions on the journal:

 

1) Folks don't understand what type 0/1/2/3/4 bugs are.  That needs to be explained.

 

2) The "mixed" steam score is really close to mostly positive.  The English language reviews are mostly positive- it's the foreign language reviews that are making it mixed (and only by 1 or 2).

You probably could game the system and get it to mostly positive just by spending $100.  You also are seriously hurt by founders not being able to impact the review score, which is unfair.

 

3) I think the priorities for the next 3-4 months need to be bug-fixing and exploit-crushing.  Coerced invention needs to be dealt with next.  Also, convert the minors into majors and eliminate minors entirely

 

4) In terms of the upcoming features- I'd not work on the Admiral Battles or Galactic Empires.  The former will be a headache, and the latter isn't going to move the needle any.

More AI and Galaxy Builder would be welcomed, and I think Arena MP could be a really interesting concept if you keep the games under 60 minutes.  4X games have never had a fast MP option before.

 

I really hope you do put some budget into Apocalypse, as my opinion of Crusade right now is that it's a great base to build from, it just needs plenty of refinement.   The game got me enjoying 4X's again, the last one I enjoyed was Age of Wonders 3 , and it made me finally feel GalCiv3 was worth the $100 I put in for the Founder's edition.  (I was mildly disappointed until Crusade)  

on May 15, 2017

Alstein

My opinions on the journal:
 
1) Folks don't understand what type 0/1/2/3/4 bugs are.  That needs to be explained.

 

From my days in the gaming industry as a QA Manager, we used a similar bug categorization (A through D).

A = 'Showstopper'....repeated crash, unable to use a major feature in the game etc

B = Major Bug - occasional crash (usually requiring some odd reproduction to find), feature bugs, major gameplay issues, major graphical glitches etc

C = Minor Bug - broken secondary feature, normal graphical bugs, minor stat/gameplay issues etc 

D = Low Impact - typos in flavor text, minor graphic issues, minor systems broken in some way that most people will rarely encounter it etc

I would imagine their system lines up pretty much the same but with a extra category for something more appropriate to their software (mine was an MMO, this is a 4x TBS so it will have it's own idiosyncrasies.

 

 

on May 15, 2017

I like the changes and additions a lot.

It needs the bugs fixed and a serious balance and polish. With that, I think the game will be very good.

on May 18, 2017

I really like the changes and it makes GalCiv great again! What I very much miss are the clearly different tech trees. The alterations by traits are minor. The Thalan don't feel very different anymore and miss most of their unique style.

on May 18, 2017

Natasin

I stopped playing recently until some of the more annoying bugs are sorted out but that doesn't mean I don't plan to play in the future. I know for certain that I want no part in playing  original Gal Civ compared to Crusade. Crusade is far and above better than Gal Civ original. Just like with Ashes, I don't see any point in supporting the original at this point. It seems like a waste of resources. My problem with Crusade falls into a couple of things:

 

1. Bugs. I had a gamebreaking bug happen with an opposing civ. The AI became too powerful.  <<<, I have been playing in beta  and now. Bugs are minor, I have had zero crashes and few game hangs. I have not experienced ONE game breaking bug since expansion launch. That does not mean your claim is invalid however. 

2. The missions are great but they have to be re-added every time on every planet when done. It isn't super clear that an actual ship gets sent out. (mine mostly got eaten by pirates)<< again I play without pirates. They are ok but until we have more interaction with them they are an annoyance more than a fun feature. 

3. The pirate bases are too hard to destroy. It took far into the game before I could take them on and I still lost ships. When I had huge tech and had a logistic battle fleet of 210 lasers then I stopped losing ships to the battle stations.  <<, you will need to go up the tech tree and bring a larger fleet if you want to destroy bases. Stronger starbases were asked to be put in for years. I am happy they are changed. Currently I simply turn pirates off till we can do more with them. 

4. I tried pumping influence but it ended up not being very strong or useful in Crusade. It was too powerful in Original.  

5. The right-bottom map interface really isn't very helpful and I never used it. It also looks, to me, very aesthetically poor.  < I disagree it is a vast improvement over the previous UI. 
 

on May 18, 2017


Crusade currently has a "mixed" Steam score.  As a practical matter, if our player base doesn't like Crusade, then there's not a lot of incentive to dedicate resources to it.  Once we finish the bug squashing, we'll see where things settle at.

If reviews are of concerned than I would suggest two things:

1) Increase the beta testing time.  Many of the small bugs would have become apparent with extra testing from your founders.  I understand there are financial imperatives, you need the money to keep on developping, but try to find a way, please.  If the number of founders 2years after release is a problem, than open a few new spot, with a special price (say 50% discount if you own the game + dlc + expansion).

 

2) Document the new features.  How things were done in the past, how they are done now.  You don't simply add units & features, you change the game mechanics, and it's confusing for many user.

 

I believe these two would alleviate the problem of bad ratings.  It got some bad reviews on release, but 1 month later it was already a much better game.  But by this time, the reviews are done and the damage is there.

on May 18, 2017

Fimbul

I really like the changes and it makes GalCiv great again! What I very much miss are the clearly different tech trees. The alterations by traits are minor. The Thalan don't feel very different anymore and miss most of their unique style.

Agree with that! I didn't even realize there were differences based on traits until saw a posting about it.

I liked the administrators, they do help with micromanagement.  But getting one every 10 turns seems contrived and random.  I think the number of admins you get per turn should be adjusted by traits, ideology and techs.  So you have an average of 10 or 12 per turn, modified by something the player can control.

 

on May 18, 2017

Badbonez


Quoting Fimbul,

I really like the changes and it makes GalCiv great again! What I very much miss are the clearly different tech trees. The alterations by traits are minor. The Thalan don't feel very different anymore and miss most of their unique style.



Agree with that! I didn't even realize there were differences based on traits until saw a posting about it.

I liked the administrators, they do help with micromanagement.  But getting one every 10 turns seems contrived and random.  I think the number of admins you get per turn should be adjusted by traits, ideology and techs.  So you have an average of 10 or 12 per turn, modified by something the player can control.

 

 

Maybe Stardock can create a number that will spit out a citizen every 10-20 turns that you can train but also a, say, Worker once every 20-30 because your race's traits etc suggest you're all about social manufacturing/building stuff? So, the system doesn't just spam you with what your trait indicates what you want your citizens to be but gives a helping hand in the direction indicated by your race's traits.

 

on May 19, 2017

For me personally I would be interested in 

 

1) Galaxy Builder (would this allow easy implementation of whole conversions mods too? I believe that is not currently available through steamworks)

2) More AI - Always appreciated.

3) Admiral Battles - depending on what extent you changed/improved battles would determine how excited I would get and much money I would throw at you all.  I imagine you could do something like gratuitous space battles and add a little more control on assigning roles/giving orders and placement of ships (so missile ships in the back and ordered to stay at no closer than missile range, with kinetics rushing forward to knife range, etc.) without too too much effort (Would happily pay $5 - 10).  You could also go full on Sword of the Stars ("SOTS") type combat with modeling damage (maybe component by component like space empires 4 instead of by section as SOTS), individual/group ship control during combat (individual ship movement direction and ability to assign targets), etc. (Would happily pay $20).  Or something else entirely.  I think there is an opportunity on the market for a good tactical combat system in a good space 4X. Total war has certainly done well with their merging the two together for fantasy/historical realms.   An Arena mode would be nice and perhaps some enhancements to combat FX (turrets that move and shoot, visually showing damage) if you go more SOTS style combat.

 

Enjoying Crusade, keep up the good work.

 

on May 19, 2017

So I've barely played Crusade past 20 turns... I've instead been entrenched modding/shipbuilding/faction building.

What would I like to see more of?

1) I love the citizens. Whilst their effect on gameplay I can't judge, I love that they add to the immersion, and major kudos for making them editable/customizable for each faction. That is the sort of thoroughness I want to see more of.

2) The fleet builder is a step in the right direction, but it falls painfully too short. It would be a MVP if it at least had all of the appropriate blueprints added (fighters, awarded ships, etc.). Kudos for adding in Starbase and Shipyard customization, that went a big way towards completing this daunting task.

3) I love the idea of Admirals allowing tactical controls of some sort... but frankly regardless of that, I think the battle-viewer could really use a complete rework. I think a less realistic and more abstracted battle-space would be a better aesthetic at this point... the biggest sticking point for me being the clumsiness of the camera controls. If roles haven't been significantly updated in Crusade, they need it badly.

4) Minor races and diplomacy. I'd love to see Minor Races be more akin to how they were in Stark Trek: Birth of the Federation... I expect to be able to assimilate or conquer them with unique benefits and drawbacks for each method, unique to each Minor Race. Basically some races should provide a unique tech or component or such if conquered, and others, only if assimilated peacefully. 

5) Borders, war, and limited warfare. "Its influence nor borders!" Yes I know. I think you should distinguish both. Show the influence, but also show strict borders (that are smaller) and by default, allow races to attack each other's ships without a clear war declaration if outside of borders, with significant diplomacy penalties depending on the ship/etc.

That colony ship you sent into the neutral zone... yes... I blew it up. Its an atrocity, and you should be very angry.... that warship hovering too close to my borders... mmm I should be able to blow that up with less of a diplomatic penalty.

 

 

My 2 Cents. 

on May 19, 2017

Battle camera mode/selection is painful. I think dedicated ui buttons for the different camera views would be better than cycling through them. Could probably remove one or two of them, I think target mode is good, follow mode not so good.

on May 19, 2017

Gauntlet03

I think a less realistic and more abstracted battle-space would be a better aesthetic at this point...

+1

on May 19, 2017

The free cam is terrible and should be the best camera. A slightly more abstracted battle screen would help make it useable. Ala Sins of a Solar Empire for example. Even if it meant forcing a mostly 2d plane of battle.

on May 20, 2017

 I am having fun with Crusade. I think what needs to be done is the remaining bugs need to be squashed, fix the campaigns and balance passes on colonization events, mercenaries and ideology traits.

Also some updates to the released DLC would be nice. My suggestions:

Mega Events

  • Make Dread Lords more powerful
  • Rework the Brainy'ak event, in Crusade it is useless since you can't talk to minors

Revenge of the Snathi

  • Bring the Arnorian Wardens to sandbox, perhaps as a mega event

Mercenaries

  • I made a suggestion about decentralizing the Bazaar
  • Balance pass on mercenaries, the starbase construction ones especially need it

Rise of the Terrans

  • Perhaps do something with the Stellar Guild and Xendar in sandbox

Lost Treasures

  • Balance pass on colonization events

Altarian Prophecy

  • I saw that the next two campaign DLC will each add a major civ back, I think Altarian Prophecy should add the Korx back

 

Perhaps a rework for minors would also be needed, they don't do much in Crusade.

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