Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

A new beginning

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The story of Galactic Civilizations is the story of the future.  Our future. 

Galactic Civilizations III is actually our 6th edition that provides you with the framework to tell that story (we made 3 OS/2 versions back in the 1990s).

With each iteration, we get a little bit better at it. Sometimes, like when we change engines, it takes awhile to surpass where we were in previous editions.  For instance, the OS/2 version of Galactic Civilizations was, in most respects, better than Galactic Civilizations II until we made the Dark Avatar expansion for it.

For Galactic Civilizations III, it probably wasn't until we made the Crusade expansion that we finally surpassed GalCiv II.

Galactic Civilizations III: Retribution takes us in a direction that the series has never touched before. It's a new beginning.

The Grognard's Guide to Galactic Civilizations III

From a sheer major feature point of view, Galactic Civilizations III had more than previous versions when it arrived in 2015.  But it was lacking certain features that were a real sore point to players, which we began to address with the expansions. Namely:

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This is my quickie non-marketing evaluation of each expansion. You can kind of see why Mercenaries was the least beloved. This is, by no means, a comprehensive list of features for each one. Just the ones that I think most players would agree were important.  For instance, Crusade re-did the Invasion system. I don't think that feature is any better or worse than what was there before, so I didn't count it.

Crusade is widely considered to be "the big one," and it's easy to understand why: citizens.

This was a game-changer.  It re-did the game's economy in a way that is both a lot easier to understand, and yet a lot more nuanced. It's one of those rare features that greatly simplifies the presentation of the game without dumbing it down. In fact, it makes the game a lot more sophisticated.

The other two features I mentioned, Espionage and the Civ Builder, are pretty big deals - depending on how you play. The Civ Builder is almost as important to me as the Citizen feature. The espionage part is fine.  But it's not on par with the other features.

So let's take a second shot at this chart, this time assigning a value to each feature:

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Now, this doesn't mean that I don't think Intrigue wasn't a really good expansion. It just means that Crusade was monstrously good.

So what about Retribution?  As you can see, I don't think any of the new features of Retribution match the importance of the Citizens feature.  Moreover, if you don't really care about the new species (Drath and Korath) or the new campaign, then Retribution only has 15 to Crusade's 16 points. 

Of course, this is just my own rating system, yours might be totally different.

Right from the Start

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The final version of Retribution should look better.  We're still working on the visuals. But you will notice, right away, some changes.  First, you start with an Artifact.  You always start with one.

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Your home planets are much different game to game. And if you look closely, you will notice that what's available to construct on turn 1 has changed.

Sometimes, there will be artifacts that can be enhanced so cheaply that you may want to use them immediately rather than building that shipyard. 

The other thing you may notice is that there's a Colonization Center improvement. This is a new, one-time improvement that will increase production, population, and growth.

Population Growth

This will be the most controversial change in Retribution. Default growth has been reduced from 0.1 per turn to 0.01.

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Population growth can be increased (especially later in the game via the new immigration technologies), but simply colony rushing early on is going to have consequences.

Here's the next thing you're going to notice:

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The stars are substantially further apart. This makes the star systems feel more vast (before we had them practically on top of each other) and makes Hypergates interesting.  You can still choose to go up the engine tech tree to make your ships faster, but investing in Hypergates provides an interesting alternative.

Same number of techs, more meaning

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You'll also notice that most of the optimization techs (where you would choose one of three) are gone.  Instead, there are new techs that help flesh out your strategic choices.  For instance, you don't simply get Space Elevators - you research them.  Spatial Manipulation gets you onto the Hypergate tech path. Ignore my spelling mistakes btw, they'll get fixed.

There are many more things you can choose to build than before (potentially), but they are delivered now via the tech tree moreso than before.

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Space Elevators are important in the true Sci-Fi sense that we just kind of brushed off in previous expansions.  The ability to cheaply get things into space is going to be a pretty big deal.  Besides being able to build space elevators, you'll also be able to build supply ships that can send raw materials to your colonies.  I'll talk about that in a second.

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Building scouts is a lot more useful now that stars are actually separated by quite a bit of space.

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Under the covers, we've modified our galaxy generation system so that what's near players when they start is a lot more balanced. So you won't have to deal with games where one player has tons of great planets near them, while you get nothing. Everyone will have a reasonably equally good (or crappy) start.

Building your civilization in Retribution

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So now I  have a class 12 (Earth is class 10) planet. Wow. That's great! can't wait right?

Except...

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If you look closely, you will see that its raw production is only 3, so it takes forever for anything to get built. This has been a challenge in all the GalCiv games.  This is why some players find the game a little boring at this stage.  Sure, your capital planet is doing just fine, but your other planets just are a grind to get going.

Before Retribution, you'd just wait for the population to grow, build a bunch of cities and eventually, hours later, it's kicking butt. But from our logs, we know we lose a lot of players during that period because it's just not interesting.

Moreover, if anything, Retribution would aggravate this problem because population growth is 10X slower by default. So you can't just turn-time your way out of this problem. This is where Supply Ships come in. 

Players can build Supply Ships that carry 100 production with them.  When they get to a colony, it's quickly unloaded and used. If there's nothing to build at that moment, it stores that production for later. This is a game-changer because previously, if there was some boon to production, it was wasted after a given planetary improvement was constructed. Now, it gets stored and used later.

Having planets store excess production materials was crucial to add to the game because we didn't want players to have to micro-manage sending out supply ships.

Supplying your civilization

So now you can build up your worlds a lot faster thanks to sending Supply Ships.  However, there's that tricky distance issue. 

Do you design each Supply Ship (which is consumed when it reaches its destination) to have a bunch of engines? That's expensive but it'll get them there.

Or...

Do you build a Hypergate?

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The Stellar Architect is a new type of ship which allows for the construction of Hypergates.  It takes two hypergates to create a hyperlane between them.  But doing so will double the speed of any ship on that lane.

Hyperlanes

Now you build a Stellar Architect who can construct a Hypergate.  You will need to build a second one to create the other end.

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Once you build that second Hypergate, it will ask where you want to link it.

And now you can fast-track supply ships.

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Using hyperlanes is automatic. You don't have to do anything - just click on a destination and your ship will find the fastest route there, using hyperlanes whenever available.

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Meanwhile, my planet is still slowly building up, thanks to having some asteroids nearby to help. It's still very slow going, but help is on the way.

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The Supply ship arrives with goods from Earth.  Each turn, it will use whatever it takes (until it runs out) to finish the current planetary improvement being constructed.

So instead of it taking 12 turn to get through the Factory, Space Elevator, and Shipyard projects, it only takes 3 with the Farm being finished on turn 5 (instead of it adding an additional 14 turns).

Hypergates also make it a lot more viable to send citizens around your territory because they get there twice as fast, which makes traveling far less dangerous.

To conclude: sending a Supply ship built at Earth to Viola drastically reduced construction time.

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Now this planet is built up enough to be reasonably self-sustaining.

Pacing Pacing Pacing

Hypergates and Supply ships not only expand on your strategic options, but allow you to customize your civilization a lot more specifically while simultaneously reducing the mid-game doldrums of waiting for your planets and ships to be worthwhile.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Still lots to talk about.

______________________________

Retribution Journals

Journal #1 (Current)

Journal #2

Journal #3

Journal #4

Journal #5

Journal #6

Journal #7

Journal #8

Journal #9 (Coming Soon)


Comments (Page 2)
on Jan 29, 2019

I really like what I see so far. Are pop growth techs/improvements going to be more of a thing with the revamped tech tree, along side the new cargo ships? Currently with pop growth the way it is, they have a very limited value, because pops grow really fast as it is.

on Jan 30, 2019

cbholmes


Quoting mrblondini,

However, to throw a fit because Stardock want to offer alternatives that, in their own way, are as likely (or close enough to not be obviously non-prime) of success as yours seems kind of churlish.



 

Math lesson for you - there's always going to be an "optimal" way to play a game like this. 

Colony rush is fun. It also relies the most heavily on the "Explore" part of 4X. It makes discovery meaningful. Turtling-up doesn't require exploration or discovery; just pick your first 3 colony planets and stop. 

If you want Stardock to neuter this game and reduce the opening moves, turning this thing from Chess to Checkers, but all means, support that. 

But I won't be. 

And I have every right to voice my dissatisfaction. 

Your math comment was my entire point: Of course there's an optimal way, but does it have to so Freaking Obviously Better and The Only Way?

My problem with Colony Rush is there's no judgment of Planet Quality, adjacencies (which I'm not overly keen on, to be honest, too random and don't help planet specialization much), etc. It's just grab any Non-0 Planet you can find. Actually, more 10-20 level planets available would make Colony Rush less dull for me...

I didn't mean to imply that you Colony Rush folks have no right to complain, of course you do. But I stick by my original point, even if I didn't make it too well, that every strategy should have it's advantages as well as it's disadavantages to make them at least roughly equal in terms of winning certainty, given how a player starts a game, plays the mid-game and deals with whatever the galaxy throws their way. So Colony Rush Players can still ace the Colony Rush, but stuff something up and lose, for instance. Not 100% win because of their productivity or whatever.

Lots more steps and choices than: Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Winner! obviousness.

Brad should have something powerful to counter the population growth in researching immigration technologies, as he said...

 

on Jan 30, 2019

Re hypergates/hyperlanes - this got me thinking:

 

Is there actually some difference (other than speed) when being in "normal" space, and being on hyperlanes?

 

Maybe I'm overthinking this or think too much in B5 terms where normal space and hyperspace were distinctly different, and combat seemed to have occured mostly in the former. Can every ship/fleet intercept enemy ships on a nearby hyperlane, will this just be like normal combat?

on Jan 30, 2019

I feared more micro-managing steps at first.. but with this latest comprehensive journal, the actual details makes the "development" paths much clearer. Hypergates & Supply-Ships certainly are candy magic in that perspective of our (important) growth plans.
Specially enjoy that larger spacing of Systems.. tactically, we gain battle lanes where ship/to/ship combat has more impact than simply targeting every nearest planets for swift invasion(s) which still must occur anyway. Distance now has complex (Hypergated!) meanings beyond strategy alone.

Good work!

on Jan 30, 2019

So, can other civs use your star lanes? Inquiring for a friend.

I like the supply ship concept unreservedly, but I'll withhold judgement on the population growth nerf until I can see it in action.

For those who think the colony rush strategy is absolute, I'd point out that intrigue + governments absolutely limited colony rush potentials in the beginning by setting the morale penalties by government size. By turn 50 you couldn't manage 15+ planets without having changed governments twice, and you'd be hard pressed to keep them productive due to the morale penalties. For any map at huge or greater, you can really only rush once you have both morale and engine high enough to reach sufficient planets and keep your people happy.

on Jan 30, 2019

The problem with the current "colony rush" isn't the concept of fast expansion.  It is more of an issue of mindless expansion.

If any colony, no matter what, will quickly provide 4 raw production, then grabbing the first 10 means having 40 raw production before the mid-game.

Instead, the ideal is to make which planets you colonize matter.  Thus, artifacts, natural resources on them, etc. should be more of a factor and thus, if the early game population growth is greatly slowed down (again, through immigration technologies it gets back to where it was but that's now a mid-game feature) then which planets you choose to colonize matters a lot more.

Trust me, it's a lot more fun.

on Jan 30, 2019

Sounds good so far. Will probably bring me back to play GC3

Some questions that come to my mind:

1. Will modders be able to influence the map generator more than it's possible at present?

2. Do hyperlanes affect the range of ships? That is, when two endpoints of a hyperlane lead across territory not in range of a certain ship, will that ship still be able to travel the whole lane?

3. Can one hyper gate be linked to only one other, or to more than one?

4. Do hyper lanes have a speed rating of their own, or do they simply multiply ship speed by a factor (so that still the individual speed of ships is important)?

on Jan 30, 2019

lyssailcor

Sounds good so far. Will probably bring me back to play GC3

Some questions that come to my mind:

1. Will modders be able to influence the map generator more than it's possible at present?

2. Do hyperlanes affect the range of ships? That is, when two endpoints of a hyperlane lead across territory not in range of a certain ship, will that ship still be able to travel the whole lane?

3. Can one hyper gate be linked to only one other, or to more than one?

4. Do hyper lanes have a speed rating of their own, or do they simply multiply ship speed by a factor (so that still the individual speed of ships is important)?

1.  The map generator isn't part of the expansion.  There's a lot of XML stuff that you can mod though.

2. No.

3. A hypergate can link to one other hypergate but that hypergate can have many links into it:

on Jan 30, 2019

Frogboy
3. A hypergate can link to one other hypergate but that hypergate can have many links into it

Ok, so a hypergate can be the origin of only one lane but the destination of many if I understand that correctly?

on Jan 31, 2019

Changes looks interesting but there are reasons to be concern. Things might get turn upside down... I don't see lower population growth as big problem (is minimum colony ship population still 1?) and I can predict baby boom planet spawning colony ships, might be cool place top live btw

I would have few questions:

1. What is that reptilian race on pictures? Something not yet announced?

2. how expansive will it be to build a gate, comparable to normal constructor? Will it take administrator ? Can links be changed?

3. "Coming this winter" means now (plenty of snow I see) or in like 10 months?

on Jan 31, 2019

karlfranz-pl

3. "Coming this winter" means now (plenty of snow I see) or in like 10 months?

 

From the thread below I understand it's rather soon:

https://forums.galciv3.com/492793/page/1/#replies

 

 

on Jan 31, 2019

Over all I love change. These changes look good. I agree with some here that the 'colony rush' is usually the optimum way to win the game. 

So part of our problem is production. Production is tied to population which now has a huge hamstring on growth. I am fine with the change. Nerfing both the ability to rush colonies and keep population growing fast is ok. However, I think you need to give players a path to bypass these nerfs at the expense of something else. 

I would take a stolen idea from Civ VI and add a new citizen or two that can boost growth of a planets population to its cap. Make this back up to the .1 rate but that planets net research and/or money contribution to the empire stays stagnant at zero until that citizen is recalled. The recall should be free or cost much lower than other specialized citizens.  This gives the Player again a choice to live with his hamstrung growth or go on a month long love/procreation festival to boost a planets population while negating its intrinsic value as an empire resource. 

 

I am on the fence on hyper-lanes. On insane maps the travel time is snail pace and double a slow to a plod may make a change, Ill have to see. 

 

Can we improve the travel times of hyper-lanes without having to research faster engines? If so than that is good.

I can see Horemvore making fleets of engine-less ships with zero defense but 100 missile attack boats, fleeting them up and 'tubing' them to the target.  Just a thought. 

I like the changes proposed and look forward to seeing how they change the games pacing. 

on Jan 31, 2019

I like the slow down to colony rush because, as Frogboy said well, the rush is generally mindless and about getting the most planets--who cares if they are good or not. I like to play wide empires sometimes--but I would love for it to be possible to play tall. And this seems to be a step in that direction, as does the introduction of artifacts.

Are there other changes that will help with creating a tall empire? For example, are there tech tree changes you can elaborate on that will influence a civ's direction (tall or wide)?

Also, with the changes to population growth, will there be changes to some of the population-related mercenaries (and for that matter, are mercenaries ever going to be rebalanced?) or ideology choices? I could see a free 5 population colony ship as a major advantage early game--or +2 population per colony as likewise a huge--perhaps overpowered--boon.

Just some thoughts.

Looking forward to the expansion!

on Jan 31, 2019

Can we get some information on Artifacts and what some do? 

on Feb 01, 2019

Frogboy

The problem with the current "colony rush" isn't the concept of fast expansion.  It is more of an issue of mindless expansion.

If any colony, no matter what, will quickly provide 4 raw production, then grabbing the first 10 means having 40 raw production before the mid-game.

Instead, the ideal is to make which planets you colonize matter.  

This approach ignores the other variables at play; spatial/geographic considerations, borders, influence, resources, position on the map. Colonization isn't just about raw production for an empire; that's an overly simplistic view. There's a strategy involved - at least for some of us who have put 1600+ hours into your game Frog.  

Where am I on the galactic map? Which direction do I want to focus colonization efforts toward? Am I near a wall or the center? Is a hostile faction close by (thus shared borders will become an issue)? Does it make more sense to focus survey and colony ships in one direction or another? It usually does, especially to put some distance between you and any hostile factions (which is one reason Eyes of the Universe is so valuable). Geography often matters and this is something that, until now, has given the game a lot of replay value. Never having the same map twice, and having the map matter, has been a fun factor. 

Planet quality was already important when it came to prioritizing colonization efforts; you want the Precursor worlds before anything else; food takes priority for a biological race; certain resources (Epimethius Pollen, Armor Spice) can make one planet more favorable than another. 

But at the end of all of this, it's still basic math. Real estate is finite and you don't want to give away worlds to other factions. And you especially don't want to give away worlds inside your "borders" to other factions. That's where the geography comes into play. Leaving those worlds to other factions, because now the population has been nerfed, and now you end up with worlds mixed together, borders smashed all over the place, a lot more anger, influence is a total P.I.T.A.... it's messy and frustrating (not fun, just to be clear). 

There's absolutely NOTHING fun about staring at an uncolonized world in your "borders" that you cannot colonize because of what really amount to artificial restraints. Nothing fun about any way you slice that. 

The idea that it should be a superior strategy to ignore worlds and not colonize them and thus allow other factions to colonize them flies in the face of math, logic and reason. 

You can play with elements that make one planet more desirable than another, but you can't escape the math or geography of the real estate.

 

In the end - colonization is a zero-sum game. You can make some planets more desirable than others, but it's still a zero-sum game, and any person with a modicum of thinking skills is intuitively going to understand that and want to colonize as many planets as possible. 

To not do that flies in the face of reason.