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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 1)
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on Jan 29, 2019

Citizens are probably the best added new feature to any 4X game in recent memory. Good luck topping that

 

That being said, hyperlanes and artifacts are two things I'm enormously excited for. The supply ships will also add a layer of strategy that I don't think any other 4X game has.

 

These features are all just bloody fantastic. Well done, Brad and team!

on Jan 29, 2019

New stuff, always nice. If it works, planet buffing Mercenaries, broken for the AI (AI never chooses them, does not know what to do with them). Planet buffing Government ships also broken for the same reason the mercenaries are broken, AI uses them as scouts. Commonwealths (glad you only gave this a score of 1), AI does not use them. When created by a player it is currently a "Hey AI have some free planets", why would anyone want to do that?

Be nice if stuff got fixed before a paid content updated was released. You know fix stuff we already paid for.

on Jan 29, 2019

This DLC looks like a must-have to me

 

 

on Jan 29, 2019

Will there be a limit as to how far we can space the hypergates apart?  I noticed the Stellar Architect had a distance of 32.20.  Can we modify it to go farther in the ship builder?

on Jan 29, 2019

One thing I still struggle with, is that some buildings provide flat bonuses to Research or Construction while others, like Factories or Research Laboratories, provide a relative increase. So, wouldn't it always be the better option to build the 'flat bonus' buildings on a new planet? In particular since in Retribution population growth is so slow.

on Jan 29, 2019

On my wishlist.

on Jan 29, 2019

tasgilt

Will there be a limit as to how far we can space the hypergates apart?  I noticed the Stellar Architect had a distance of 32.20.  Can we modify it to go farther in the ship builder?

They can go as far as you'd like.

on Jan 29, 2019

I think there are a lot of good and interesting changes coming in this expansion.  Here are some comments and questions about some the changes.

Artifacts
There isn't much in this post about them, but I suspect I will be happy when I get one or more of them and unhappy when I don't get others.  I will probably have to adjust my war plans based on what I have or don't have but want.

Population Growth
It seems like everyone will have the problem the Yor have:  their population runs out while there are still planets to colonize.  I will be able to handle it, but I wonder if the AI will.  The Yor aren't as bad as they were, but they still build colony ships they can't use because they don't have any excess population to put on them.  Will the other AI do this now?  If the AI can be taught to quit building colony ships they can't use and build what is needed to increase their population, it won't be a problem.  Also, the Yor need to be taught to build constructors and go after Durantium and Promethion earlier to increase their population.  They already know how to and will build population if they ever get Durantium and Promethion.

The Stars are Further Apart
I like this.  I don't like it the way it is now with them so close together, so I usually play with fewer stars to increase chances of having more space without stars.

Spelling Mistake
I saw the tech tree first and thought you had misspelled "Special" and wondered what it was for.  

More Balanced Start
This is great.  I have been in galaxies where there wasn't a habitable planet anywhere near me and in others where there were 15 or 20.  I did not play very long in those games.

What about the starting locations for the races.  The current version of the game has a problem that sometimes has races starting in adjacent or very close star systems.

I made a mod (https://forums.galciv3.com/492624) that keeps the races further apart.  Is something like that part of the change?

Supply Ships
I think these are going to be a very welcome addition.

Hypergates
I can see these being very useful in peace and a good target for destruction during war.  I'm glad there is no limit on how far apart they can be.  Can they be improved so they are harder to destroy?

Hyperlanes
Are there techs that increase the speed of ships using them?  I like that ships can enter and leave the hyperlanes any place they want to.  Didn't you mention somewhere that all ships can use everybody's hyperlanes, which will allow some good or bad tactical situations, depending on who is giving or receiving?

I'm looking forward to the release.

on Jan 29, 2019

Stop making the colony rush harder! I'm a player whose skilled at the colony rush. I don't appreciate efforts to nerf it.

That said, I'm liking what I've read about hypergates and cargo ships.

By the way, is going to be a way to control what features we from each DLC? I might want the galactic markets from Intrigue, but not the governments or crisis stuff.

on Jan 29, 2019

I am almost as excited as I was for Crusade.  Nice job.

on Jan 29, 2019

One thing I didn't quite understand was the Supply Ships - we have to build those, is that it? So another jockying for build time in our already busy primary shipyard, which is our only good shipyard for the first 100 turns already... I don't see how that's going to make the game better. 

These changes seem like they are designed to kill the Colony rush. The population growth change, and the addition of the Supply Ships and Hypergates, seem to suggest what you really want the players to do is colonize about four planets (max allowed by the first governments) and then build a tall civ from there. 

"but simply colony rushing early on is going to have consequences."

Colony Rushing already has consequences. With the Governments of Intrigue, and the 26-turn minimum duration we must have a government enabled, Colony rushing already has a huge consequence: the total bottoming-out of Moral, which affects Production/Research/Wealth. On any map Large or bigger everyone feels the Moral bite because planet numbers quickly exceed everyone's ability to get to them.

But at least we had that choice; at least there were ways to counter it with some Moral tech and rapidly researching new Governments at the expense of researching other, important tech. 

But now is like: too bad Colony-Rushers - we're here to penalize you as much as possible until you give up on colony-rush as a strategy. 

I get it. You guys are trying to appeal to that whiny faction of players who complain a lot on the forums about the Colony Rush (because they refuse to "Get Gud"; these are the same players who get stomped when the Drengin or Snathi attack because they don't understand preparation; but go ahead and cater to the short bus players). 

The best part of Crusade wasn't that it gave us Citizens; the best part was that it opened up options for how to play the game. Want to focus on Research from the outset? You could. Want to turtle-up in your own corner of the Galaxy and just do Research and make alliances? Then go Diplomacy and Research and do it. Want to Warmonger? Colony rush, grow strong, make ships early, and beat down your neighbors. 

But this is a step backward from Crusade. This is a restriction of possible opening moves. This is taking the chess game and saying "pawn to D4 is now the only move you're allowed to start with". 

I hope you guys play-test the hell out of this before you release this. Because on paper, in theory, this looks ultra-restrictive and seems like a step backward. 

on Jan 29, 2019

Why shouldn't Stardock nerf the Colony Rush? The idea that you can turtle and build a tall empire and have some success with it is a myth. You can role play that you're The Man With A Tall Empire, but can you win that way with anything like regularity? If you start with 3 20 Level planets within easy reach and you get those, why can't you Xploit and Xterminate from that base and pick and choose to colonise only the best planets to complement them rather than "Better build another ship, get that Level 5 planet so the Drengin don't get as many planets as me!"?

As things are, the Colony Rush appears by a country mile (or whatever the space equivalent is) to be The Best Way To Win. I'm happy for it to remain so, but not by such a big margin and to be dependant on how a player plays after the opening period when The Rush is largely over.

I get that everyone has their favourite strategies and ideas for Start/Middle/End of each game.  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. At present, too many alternatives offer a rather obvious illusion of a valid choice (choosing between a box with a ten carat diamond in it or a box without any diamond in it isn't a choice) seems kinda of churlish. These plans aren't, as cbholmes claims, restricting opening moves, they're restricting pointless opening moves.

I really like the idea of Stored Production - I wonder if that was one of those "obvious in hindsight" ideas?

Looking forward to further Journals...

 

 

 

on Jan 29, 2019

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. 

on Jan 29, 2019

Looks good overall--especially the cargo ships--but 2 concerns pop into mind:

  1. With the .001 default population growth, getting colonies at all, let alone colony rushing, does not seem viable early game.
  2. Now that the default growth rate has been nerfed to the point where it almost equals the growth rate for synthetic races (0.01 vs. 0.00), do you feel changes need to be made to synthetic races' population growth mechanics to make them more on par with the other races?

Also, for the campaign, I'd like to suggest that some levels be won by doing things other than invading enemy planets such as getting a key planet across the galaxy up and running under a time constraint (nice way to introduce players to hypergates and cargo ships), spreading influence, researching technologies deep in the tech tree while fending off attackers, or raising your diplomacy to a level and doing favors to form alliances (the Terrans might need to work on this after they're done with their crusade). I really think it would add some spice to the levels that have been missing (imho) in the GalCiv3 campaigns so far and could highlight the full breadth of what the game has to offer if done right.

Just my 2 cents.

 

on Jan 29, 2019

Frogboy I notice that you have rated Intrigue's elections and governments as only scoring 3 points relative to citizen's score of 10. I agree that this feature is not overly impressive. I would like to see more differentiation between democratic/election based governments and non election governments. Furthermore, galactic civilisations 2 had civil wars occurring following drops in approval and electoral popularity. The politics was much more engaging and diverse than intrigue. Although I like the features promised so far in your latest dlc, im unlikely to buy on launch due to the game's simplistic approach to government and politics. Are there going to be any improvements to the new features originally added in intrigue? You candidly admit that you think crusade was a more successful expansion in terms of your points score.

Primarily I would like to be able to choose my own cabinet from a range of candidates (each with positive and negative political traits) as well as witness civil wars for the AI and player. The civil wars og galactic civilisation 2 provided an interesting challenge for larger and more powerful civs which galactic civ 3 sadly lacks.

Alongside this it would be a bonus to see the galactic council playing a much larger role in galactic politics, with new and more frequent resolutions as the game progresses. eg the option of forming coalitions (as planned in the upcoming Total war Kingdoms by Creative Assembly). or something like the political favours system in the upcoming civilisation 6 expansion, gathering storm. 

Overall, more depth and less breadth regarding game features and mechanics please.

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