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Published on January 23, 2019 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals


Sorry I have been so quiet lately on GalCiv stuff.  We've had our noses to the grindstone on the new expansion pack, GalCiv III: Retribution and we haven't had much time to come up for air.

I'll be sharing lots of stuff shortly now that things are starting to reach screen-shot worthiness.  For today, though, I want to just talk a bit about the background story that I built, over decades for Galactic Civilizations and why Retribution is so important from that perspective.  Now, whether we can pull off a good story in a 4X strategy game is a different topic that will be consuming many evenings shortly.

Story vs. Game

Galactic Civilizations is a space 4X strategy game first and foremost.  It's a sandbox game.  The background lore for the game is really only there to help inspire us when making the sandbox game.   

If I had to do it over again, I probably would have vetoed any sort of campaign.  In fact, if there's a GalCiv IV, there will almost certainly not be a campaign.  I'd rather integrate the lore into the gameplay in pieces that would make each game feel epic and unique.

But make no mistake: Galactic Civilizations is about your civilization and playing in a space sandbox.

With that out of the way, let's discuss the background lore that may or may not be of interest to you.

The role of humanity

I literally wrote the first Galactic Civilizations game starting back in 1992 when I was in college.  I literally just wanted a Civilization game in space.    The problem with making a Sci-Fi style civilization game is you really do want a story foundation for it to rest on.  Civilization had all of human history.  A 4X space game is all speculative.  

So in Galactic Civilizations, the lore begins in the year 2178.  Humans have discovered a FTL engine technology that has gotten out to everyone and there's now a space race to claim all the good planets in reach by hyperdrive.  We are introduced to a number of alien civilizations with their own histories and culture.

The character of humanity

The consistent part of the human's story is that we're really, really trying to be nice.  A lot of our early issues in galactic politics is due to our naivete.  We think anyone advanced enough for space travel has to be benevolent.  We humans aren't benevolent but we really try to be.  We really do.  But deep down, we're savages.

Going all the way back to the beginning and all the way up to Crusade (released in 2017) the human story has focused on us being good guys.

But Retribution's story takes place after the liberation of worlds that had been savaged by the Drengin and now the Terran Alliance is a military super power. It is also pissed off.

The human race tried to be nice and where did that get us? Now we have the upper hand and what should we do? What do you think we would do?  And that is the background story for Retribution and the inspiration of the new features in the game.


Comments (Page 1)
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on Jan 23, 2019

"War is hell"


Give them lots of it... on a silver platter... that may or may not be shaped like a matter-antimatter annihilation bomb... 

on Jan 23, 2019

I hope this change of approach by the Terran brings break-away races into play (The Hippy Terran arise) and makes foes out of former friends (ie the Alterians hate the Terran now) as well as foes into friends.

But I have to agree with frogboy about the campaigns. I wouldn't really miss them if they weren't there. Just create races with a history and a lore, traits and personalities and let everyone sandbox away...



on Jan 23, 2019

I agree. I love the plot and background but to this day, I have over 2000 hours logged in Gal civ III and I have NEVER ever played any of the campaign games. Not one. The sandbox was and always will be my prime de-stress game from work. I can log in, play a few turns and depending on where the game play is I may or may not go to bed at the correct time and instead find myself playing just a few more turns to get disrupters.......

If ...IF you do make a successor to Gal Civ III I want to be in on the ground floor and agree that build the game and the story will follow. As a player I make my own story by adding some of the hundreds of excellent player made races to my game. The base game ones are always there but I add another 40 to make things 'fun'. 

on Jan 23, 2019

The human race tried to be nice and where did that get us? Now we have the upper hand and what should we do? What do you think we would do?  And that is the background story for Retribution and the inspiration of the new features in the game.

Completely agree with you about the campaign. As a long time GC player, I've never even started any of the campaigns. As to your question about what would the human race do, if it were me, as in I was in charge over the human race, after bringing the Drengin to their knees, I would have disarmed them completely. No access to ships or weapons of any kind. Leaving behind a permanent Terran military base and a government oversight committee to insure that they never rise to power again. Their technology would be scaled back significantly, many specific resources that are required to build FTL drives, shields, and their more powerful weapons would be confiscated. Engineers and scientist would be gathered up and jailed on another world for life.

on Jan 23, 2019

I would exterminate the Drengin.


1) All Galactic Civ materials seem to suggest the Drengin are inherently/biologically prone to sadistic and xenophobic behavior. They are the product of their "nature" more than "nurture".

2) Drengin will create suffering and exterminate others without hesitation. Imprisonment, disarmament, etc. can fail. The future is unknowable and humanities dominance may one day disappear... what then? Any suffering the Drengin create in the future is partially on the shoulders of humanity if we do not exterminate them.

3) As leader of the human race, I would have the responsibility to both present and future citizens, to leave a galaxy behind that is better for them. Potentially my responsibilities may also apply to "all sentient life" or rather "the maximum amount of sentient life that can be maintained safely". The Drengin pose a threat to humanity OR other sentient life. The suffering of the Drengin population is also something to consider, but ultimately any suffering I cause them is dwarfed by that which they impose on themselves and future selves and their non-Drengin victims.

4) It would be politically expedient as a super power to do so. Other races like the Yor would take notice of the act and likely respect it. It would create fear in many, but I can always point to Drengin history and say "yes, you should be afraid of being exterminated if you behave like this. They crossed a line."


If, on the other hand I had real hard evidence that the Drengin are the product of "nurture" and not inherently sadistic, I'd probably just conquer their remaining worlds, imprison their leaders and begin exterminating Drengin culture and instilling a new set of values into future generations.

I'm also open to genetically engineering some of the "Evil" out of them, but this is really just extermination by other means.


Ultimately, as a super power, humanity needs to stop being naive and take on the mantle of responsibility. If organic sentient life has value and a right to exist, then that value must be calculated in order to be defended. Some must be sacrificed to maintain the whole.

Avoiding the burden of infamy required to lead is something the Altarians will always be great at, maybe when we're done doing all the hard work we can let them have a turn.

on Jan 24, 2019

Doesn't matter what the humans or other silly meat bags do. The machines are coming.

on Jan 24, 2019

Someone wrote *THE* word!

They sure are & i'll throw a whole bunch of "new" them in the shapes & styles of the entire XCom-Universe -- from UFOD to TFTD to APOC & very far beyond. Soon, very soon, early-winter-soon too.. in the name of a speculative **XC-AL** mod that already has various GFX assets done.

Cyberdiscs -- Sectopods -- Drones -- Seekers (see below for a quick FG file tease) -- Xarquids (Hint available elsewhere for it!) -- name it! They'll all be there aside from many more less synthetic.

Stay tuned & check out the Modding Forums section for recent development reveals. But as everyone else.. i will just have to wait for my formal introduction to those 65!! Factions until that giga expansion of Retribution has took its rightful place in our favorite Galaxy & minds.
Patience.. I really don't want to step on that big Stardock toe.  

on Jan 24, 2019

I was just thinking but maybe one way to introduce lore into the game without needing any compaign is to add it through small events quest lines that you can encounter as the game goes on. Maybe even some of them can lead to ancient technology that can be unlocked only through them.

on Jan 24, 2019

Oh! There can even be a couple of main quest lines that can be only for your specific civilization/faction and as for the custom races it can be allowed to choose one of them as the main quest line that best fit the background lore of the custom faction.

on Jan 24, 2019

Interesting story and it fits nicely with my own custom story in which I based around my 8 custom factions. It deals with way into the future where Humanity has conquered the known galaxy under a federation type government. All non human races are either second class citizens or otherwise forcefully kept to their homeworld, in such cases if these races had previously any colonies they would be long gone and under human control. Anyway my custom story deals with the shattering of the federation and its aftermath. So as can be expected a large majority of the races now free of human oppression would be out for blood. And so a new age of conflict and piracy begins.

on Jan 24, 2019

But Retribution's story takes place after the liberation of worlds that had been savaged by the Drengin and now the Terran Alliance is a military super power. It is also pissed off.

The human race tried to be nice and where did that get us? Now we have the upper hand and what should we do? What do you think we would do?  And that is the background story for Retribution and the inspiration of the new features in the game.


To me it as all the markers of a situation where:

- from the liberation/superpower part on humanity prides/styles it self as savior of the galaxy (with some justification admittedly)

- thinks moral authority from the liberation makes it special, and has now the right to always get its way plus the means to bring this point across if needed

- in result becomes self-righteous, more dominant or even tyrannical

- the "tried to be nice" and "pissed off" parts basically ask to bring humanity on a more suspicious, paranoid path, kinda like "look we've been the good guys soooo much, but noone admires our deeds sufficiently. Some of them aliens even have still the temerity to not like us. I guess we can be nice forever, but everyone will still be out to get us".

- so in the end my idea is that humanity turns evil, but the remaining forces of good in the galaxy, incl. the remaining cool humans unite against Terran oppression and finally restore peace, love and freedom for everyone...


Ok, maybe that's not everyone's cup of tea...



on Jan 24, 2019

Is whats going to happen set in stone yet? Are you looking for feedback to decide what will happen in the campaign? I want to be good if thats still possible.

on Jan 25, 2019

I'm probably one of the few who played the campaigns and absolutely loves the lore. It's also save to say, that without either I wouldn't have become as invested into the series as I am now.

However, I absolutely understand why you'd want to drop the campaigns. They take a lot of resources to make. Yet most players never touch them. So, implementing the lore and story into the sandbox directly (via quests or what have you) would be fine by me. However, it really depends on the implementation.

As for the main question, taking vengeance on the Drengin doesn't really matter to me. Wipe them out, or imprison Drengia behind a Precursor shield and destroy all of the colonies. I don't care. It's the Yor who are the main threat!

on Jan 25, 2019

Chess campaigns do not thrill me but figuring out how the mechanics work does.

OAN Yearly changes is nice but when you were changing things  every quarter it was taxing at times.

on Jan 26, 2019

i hate to say this but :

where we go if some one make us hate them than we plan for vengeance now imagine that hate is toward that some one tried to destroy you so the vengeance will be brutal this is a part of most humans some tries to destroy you make that someone pay in blood and even make it worse make that someone suffer before destroying it and remove all traces of that someone existence i mean erase it from world and i think that is most brutal vengeance but this is what we human do when we are in rage or full of hate   

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