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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 3)
on Apr 03, 2018

I built a 8 core/32g of Ram computer 2 years ago (for under $1500 btw) specificly for this game, so yeah please do not remove/shrink the larger map sizes.

on Apr 13, 2018

this topic is heaven for my problem.Most of you are experinced play at biggest map which is Ludicrous .I have some visual glitchs bugs .

this is my topic , please leave comment and if u have time please chk it in your game.Than you very much...

on Apr 13, 2018


I built a 8 core/32g of Ram computer 2 years ago (for under $1500 btw) specificly for this game, so yeah please do not remove/shrink the larger map sizes.

I wish custom map size is a thing. Sure we can do it in .ini file but would be nice to has it in the game interface itself.

on Apr 16, 2018

Can you update this list to V3.0 with its new map sizes

on Apr 16, 2018

Can you update this list to V3.0 with its new map sizes

I've done the math (by converting # of tiles to hexsectorsize), and find that that chart ...

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

... already does use the new (v3.0) hexsectorsizes, i.e. 28, 40, 50, 70, 90, 120, 150, 300, and 500.


on Apr 16, 2018


I built a 8 core/32g of Ram computer 2 years ago (for under $1500 btw) specificly for this game, so yeah please do not remove/shrink the larger map sizes.

Not as dramatic but I've also upgraded just for GCIII too. Extra RAM makes ludicrous much faster. That being said, I'm fully aware that the price for a massive map is potential slowness.

My tip for most people with weaker machines who want a larger map: kill everything. No pathfinding needed for AIs you consume.

on Apr 17, 2018

I know people think good gaming computers cost thousands of $, but if you keep an eye out for bargains you don't have to pay that much.  I got this rig on Amazon on Black Friday for $1540:

CybertronPC Titanium GTX-1080H Gaming PC - Liquid-Cooled Intel i7-7700k 4.2GHz Quad-Core Processor, 32GB DDR4 Memory, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (8GB GDDR5X), 240GB SSD, 2TB HDD, Windows 10 Home 64-Bit

I only play ludicrous with abundant everything with about 32 Majors (some custom) and a handful of minors.  No problems with 3.0 so far.


on Apr 18, 2018

I have played on ludicrous with my home built system (roughly 2 years old now) successfully (no horrible lag I mean).  It is ludicrous, though, to be sure.  I haven't tried it with a large number of players though ---- I figured the idea of a very big galaxy is to make the distance between habitable stars very big also, sort of like I think  the Milky Way galaxy is arranged (and why we haven't had daily contact with other intelligent life).

I have 16 gb, 4 gb GTX 960 video, 256 gb SSD, win 10 64bit, intel core i5@ 3.2 ghz skylake.  Cost about $1200 all told, not counting the 27 inch monitor that I already had.

I think I want to add a comment about map sizes from a different point of view.  All turn based strategy games have units to build, centers(cities) from which to build, and terrain.   What galciv I believe should be leaning on is the terrain difference with other 4x games.   Most of space is empty, and travel between points of interest should be relatively time consuming, by orders of magnitude.  Therefore long range planning is paramount.   The game should NOT feel like "civ in space" in my opinion.