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Published on February 14, 2018 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals

One of the biggest challenges we have faced in developing Galactic Civilizations III has been map sizes and the memory they require.

On a number of occasions, we have tried to reduce the the largest map sizes down to improve performance and shrink memory requirements.  And each time we have attempted to do that, we have ended up with a very vocal outcry of anger.

But large map sizes come with a significant memory cost to be aware of.

Galactic Civilizations, like its inspiration, Sid Meier's Civilization, is a tile based game.   Virtually every space strategy game is point based (you travel across the galaxy from point A to point B without going in-between). There's a good reason why they do that: scale.  If you want your space game to appear to have an epic scale, then you need to have stars that appear to be very far from one another.  For Galactic Civilizations to pull off the same thing, as a tile based game, means a lot more tiles and a lot faster (late game) ships.

For reference, here are the map sizes for Civilization VI:

Size Dimensions Players (Default/Maximum) City-States (Default/Maximum) Total Tiles
Duel 44×26 2/4 3/6 1144
Tiny 60×38 4/6 6/10 2280
Small 74×46 6/10 9/14 3404
Standard 84×54 8/14 12/18 4536
Large 96×60 10/16 15/22 5760
Huge 106×66 12/20 18/24


The largest map size would require around 2GB of memory (on average). So, the largest map size in Civilization VI has around 7,000 hexes. 

Let's take a look at Galactic Civilizations III:

Map Size Players (rec) RAM Req (MB) Tiles
Tiny                       3                       967                   2,037
Small                       4                    1,483                   4,157
Medium                       5                    1,939                   6,495
Large                       7                    2,903                12,731
Huge                       9                    3,925                21,044
Gigantic                     12                    5,544                37,412
Immense                     16                    7,246                58,457
Excessive                     32                  16,647              233,827
Ludicrous                     50                  30,729              649,519

That's right, the Ludicrous map size has 100 times more tiles than the largest Civilization VI map.  More tiles isn't better, it just means the maps are much bigger and more to the point, and the memory requirements go way up.

Until you get to HUGE map sizes, you don't really need a crazy system to play Galactic Civilizations III.  But what frequently happens is that people with perfectly good gaming systems will paly on the Ludicrous size and find it very slow. Why? Because you need 32GB of memory to play it well (or else you'll be swapping out memory constantly to disk).

Even if you have enough memory, picture the pathfinding for 50 players (and GalCiv III supports 128 players) if there's 650,000 tiles to potentially go through.  Path finding is what most of your turn time gets consumed by. 

Luckily, GalCiv III has a multicore AI which means that each pathfinding task can be distributed to your CPU.  But again, even if you have 32GB of memory, if you have 50 players but only a 4 core processor, you're going to be in for a world of hurt.

For optimal performance, you shouldn't have more than 2 players per logical processor (usually 2X your cores).  So if you have an 8 core machine with 16 logical threads, you're probably fine with 32 players.

However, I frequently get saved games from players who have 4 core machines with 8GB of memory trying to play on these ludicrous maps with 100 players who have given us a negative review because "obviously" we have a memory leak.

Going forward, I highly recommend not going beyond Gigantic unless you meet the specs above.  In version 3.0, we will be listing these requirements when you pick the map size to help players keep themselves out of trouble.

So now you know why we keep trying to roll back those big maps.

Comments (Page 2)
on Feb 15, 2018

I never had a problem with ludicrous games and about 16-20 opponents, and I meet other civs around turn 50-100. I have 8 logical cores and 16 GB of memory, but normally I don't play till the end (mostly because I play very slow and an update of the game comes along before I'm finished), soI don't know what would happen past, say turn 400.

So my question to Frogboy: do the memory usage numbers you give above arte true from the start of the game, or does the memory usage increases slowly until it reaches that numbers?

on Feb 17, 2018

Yeah quit trying to touch my ludicrous map size please ! 

But honestly I think your system requirements are very "cautious". My AMD FX 9590 eight core 4.7 GHz with  only 16GB of RAM seems to handle ludicrous map sizes fine (usually with abundant stars, common planets, uncommon habitable planets, and 20 opponents, if I remember correctly). I do get an occasional total system lock that forces me to reboot; but I get the same system lock when playing Endless Space 2, so it isn't a Gal Civ 3 problem.

But sure if you think people are giving bad reviews because they are over-extending their rigs on bigger map sizes, then put like a little pop-up that says "WARNING THIS MAP SIZE MIGHT GIVE YOUR SYSTEM A SEIZURE" when people select the bigger map sizes.

P.S. Please fix "Station Garrison"


on Feb 17, 2018

I think the suggestion of two Civs per CPU core is a bit conservative. I have an eight-core CPU and it easily handles more than that.

With 16GB of RAM, however, it does tend to choke on ludicrous map sizes. (I plan to fix that problem with a 32GB upgrade next month. Man! RAM is expensive these days!)

PS Please fix the "First Starbase" music. It is currently playing two tracks at the same time. It also happens to be one of my favorite pieces in the GalCiv music library. 

PPS How can I subscribe to a post without leaving a reply?



on Feb 17, 2018


Do you have an ssd?

No, I don't have a SSD and that's probably one of my PC's weaknesses.   Loading times just seem longer on the latest build than they used to be using the same hardware.

on Feb 17, 2018


Quoting Frogboy,

Do you have an ssd?

No, I don't have a SSD and that's probably one of my PC's weaknesses.   Loading times just seem longer on the latest build than they used to be using the same hardware.

Yea, GalCiv has a ton of small files on it so it's very sensitive to disk fragmentation on normal drives.

on Feb 17, 2018

 To me, when playing against the computer, I use Ludicrous.  Anything smaller just doesn't allow me to suspend my disbelief.s

Star Trek's "warp speed" was such an easy way to get around for a television show, but it didn't address the actual size of just our own galaxy, which is about 1 quintillion km, or about 100,000 light years across.  Getting ANYWHERE with Star Trek speeds would take multiple lifetimes, not a few hours or a few days.

I am ready for a new warp scale to tackle even our unimaginably large galaxy, with its vast swaths of void.  I'm so committed to this that I research engine, speed, and life support systems hard in the early game.  None of my research facilities will ever use a system with less than 64 GB of RAM, and neither will the machine I use to simulate my galaxy.  I'm thinking about increasing my workstation to 128.

I am about to buy a laptop that can support 128 GB too.

So keep the "ludicrous" coming, man.  I'm ready for deep space travel.  Well, not in real life.  I don't think I can grill steaks in space and I'm not sure the wine would taste better anywhere but on Terra Firma.

on Feb 18, 2018

I rly have to try this now.

I have a 10core and 64GB... never played on Ludicrous. So i will give it a try now.

on Feb 18, 2018

Please do not nerf Ludicrous. I would prefer a yet larger map.
I have played several games going hundreds of turns with no major issues on a ludicrous map and 64 computer AI opponents. On my current game I have 99 opponents and the game told me the maximum was 100 players.

My Computer is an All in one

system specs are

Intel Core i7-6700 CPU @ 2.80 GHz 2.80 GHZ
16 GB Ram
4GB graphics card NVIDA GeForce 930 MX


The only minor issues I have experienced were momentary black hole lock ups when clicking or hovering over a black hole but after decreasing them on the graphics settings not as often. The other issue is when my fleet movement enters the hundreds, pathfinding can take a while, this can be mitigated by zooming in all the way prior to clicking to execute the move. I had a 5 minute lock up with a fleet whose movement was 860 (eight-hundred-sixty). If you dont play ludicrous you have no idea how necessary that extreme movement is late game, and it still takes multiple turns to cross the map. Please un-nerf navigation center on ludicrous maps and allow multiple commanders.


Exploit: Hover your cursor around the fog of war or click a ship whose movement has been expended to move into an unexplored area until a momentary lock up occurs, you have found a black hole.

on Feb 18, 2018

Much the same as mine Palace Guardian, yet around turn 633 (genius level) Ludacris, scattered, 21 opponents, all the DLC (sans mega events) it will not load - just crashes to the Steam Launch. In the painful process of starting all over, it works like a charm and runs flawlessly


luceo non uro

on Feb 20, 2018


Yea, GalCiv has a ton of small files on it so it's very sensitive to disk fragmentation on normal drives.

I defragged, hadn't remembered to do it in a while so it was pretty fragmented.  That definitely helped, saves and loads are still slow; but much faster than before and it doesn't seem to be prone to crashing.

Would the number of custom ship designs and steam workshop files I have be effecting it?  If so how would I go about clearing some of them out.

on Feb 23, 2018

Where does one get a PC with RAM over 16?

A 16 GB Ram machine goes for $1600 add a monitor and its $2000+,  People have living costs.  Apartment prices skyrocketed cause OBama let a bunch of 3rd world people in.

How do you get so much move?

Too much move can't fight.

on Mar 14, 2018

Wow, thanks for clearing this up.

on Mar 15, 2018

Yes ships especially can slow down your machine.

on Mar 15, 2018

You know when i was the other guy with a celeron d in 2006 i felt the same way about the hardware. It is hard for me to shell out 1000 dollars for a computer also. These guys pay insane prices for machines. I asked for help and one guy suggested i pay 8500 dollars for a machine. My cousin think just my labtop is insane.