Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.
Published on March 12, 2021 By Frogboy In GalCiv III Dev Journals

We aren't ready to announce anything specifically yet but I wanted to give you a sneak preview of some of the things we have going on around here.

First, there probably won't be a lot more journal entries for GalCiv III.  There will be more updates to GalCiv III but they will fall under bug fixing only.  The team has been staffed up (and we're hiring more) to focus on "GalCiv Next".

So what are some of the broad strokes?  In no particular order these are the things that have been on our mind:

How to have big maps and play tall. You're going to hear this concept a lot: A map of maps.   

More player actions. We really liked the artifacts as a concept because they let the player actively do things in the world.  We are looking at expanding on that.

Crazy big tech tree without it being a mess to manage. Like every GalCiv game we've ever done, we are going to be trying a lot of different new ways of managing techs.   What I can say is that we would really like to have a much, much larger tech tree in the future.

Invasions. We don't like the invasions in GalCiv III.  It's...fine.  But I feel like I'm popping balloons rather than engaging in some titanic battle for control of an entire planet.

Combat. We would like to see combat move away from being an all or nothing thing in a single turn.

Citizens++. Citizens were introduced in Crusade.  But we would really like the entire game revolve around citizens to the point where population = citizens and it is all about what you do with them.

Much, much, much bigger empires. In 4X games, including GalCiv, I think we've been approaching colonies backwards.  We always default to forcing players to micromanage their cities, planets, whatever and then add some sort of AI manager system to try to automate planets.  As a result, the game designs always try to discourage/punish players for having too many colonies which I find off-putting.

Instead, why not encourage players to have as many colonies as they want but by default, they are just simple resource generators? That is, they provide money, resources, research to their sponsor world.  Then, when you find a particularly interesting world, you flip the concept of a "governor" on its head and assign a citizen to govern the planet which means THEN you manage the planet.   And in doing so, we make sure that consuming a citizen to become a governor is a pretty big deal since that citizen could be doing something else important.  So imagine a game where you have 400 colonies of which say you directly manage your best few yourself?

Because in GalCiv III, we basically made class 1 through 10 planets rare because who wants to manage these worlds? This was a missed opportunity.  Now we can have lots of meh planets that simply act as the raw resource providers to their sponsor world which in turn you are managing to do super awesome stuff (think of the min-maxing going on there!).

Vastly bigger map differentiation.  The smallest maps in the future will probably feel roughly the same as they currently do.  But the largest sized maps will make the maps in GalCiv III look piddly with a lot more strategic depth to it as well.

We want multiplayer to be viable. Putting aside that most people don't play 4X games multiplayer, we would like there to be gameplay modes that you could play with a total stranger in less than an hour if you'd like.  These special modes would be available for single player too.

NO CAMPAIGNS. All the story and special scripting would instead be integrated into the game as events and such to help make the sandbox game more interesting.  

So that's just some thoughts.  We'll be talking more about it in the future.

 


Comments (Page 1)
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on Mar 12, 2021

The number #1 thing I want from the next Gal Civ is for influence, territorial borders, culture, and social policies to be integrated into one mechanic as it is in the Civilization franchise.   The ideology system in Gal Civ 3 was and still is its weakest point.

Citizens were a fun mechanic but it seems to me they should be tied to your civilizations approval, it would make sense that a happy civ would produce more loyal citizens and it would give the player a strong reason to focus on maintaining high approval.

The concept of giving players planets that are just resource sources is fine but I'm not sure using citizens as a necessary resource to make planets governable is a good idea.   Instead I'd simply have low quality planets default to being unmanaged resource influence and income generators while higher quality worlds default to being fully managed governed colonies.

I'd like to see Combat become turn based possibly on a grid like XCOM lite.

on Mar 13, 2021

I think Brad has some good ideas here.  As someone who micromanages all of my planets because I can't stand not to take advantage of their full potential, I often find myself completely absorbed in the early game and then start losing interest as I achieve dominance and know the game is won. It often takes me three times as long (in days elapsed) to finish a game as to get to the dominant point, because I lose interest in having to manage more and more planets as I defeat the other players.

I look forward to seeing how these ideas pan out.

on Mar 13, 2021

Modding.

Easier modding should be addressed as well.

on Mar 13, 2021

I think GalCiv 3 is a big mess. I hope it can be all fixed, but I have my doubts. I think development has gone in the wrong direction for too long.

I think the UI has been overlooked. It looks pretty but often it times takes a lot of work to do stuff. For instance, I can't change the repeat ship in my shipyards quickly. When you have dozens and dozens of shipyards, you have to go through them all one at a time if you want them all repeat building the newest ships. Upgrading ships in just a fleet is time consuming if you use a lot of tiny ships. Managing ships is also a chore if you tiny ships. There is no ctrl + a or hold shift to select a lot of ships at once. Rally points don't work well if you try to use them to create a fleet.

I've been working on a document that has a lot of my ideas written down. I'll go compile and organize it, then post it later.

on Mar 14, 2021

DivineWrath

I've been working on a document that has a lot of my ideas written down. I'll go compile and organize it, then post it later.

I'd love to check that out!

on Mar 15, 2021
I like the ideas listed here and look forward to see how the next GC game turns out.

I would have to agree with DivineWrath that ship management (and management in general) can definitely become a chore as the game progresses. But this is a general issue in a lot of strategy and 4X games.

I know it's sort of an apples to quasars comparison, but looking at games like Stellaris and AI War 2 for how they do fleet management could help to simplify automation in a future GalCiv game.

Stellaris (post 2.0) has a Fleet Manager that lets you choose what ship designs should go in a specific fleet and set a number of ships to build in that fleet up to the fleet capacity. Then all you have to do is click one button to "fill" up the fleet (this would auto fill the queues of the nearest free shipyards with build orders) and there is also an upgrade button to upgrade the entire fleet (on paper this feature sounds great, but in practice it bugs out often enough to often require more micro than it removes, but that's a game issue, not an issue with the concept itself... ah Paradox games, love em but they tend to be buggy).

AI War 2 has ship lines (a single fixed design) assigned to flagships (a control group that is also a capital ship). From the UI for a flagship, you can move ship lines between flagships (flagships have a ship control limit) and set various AI automation. This builds on the idea of the fleet manager from Stellaris in that it adds automation to the group (movement, combat, rebuilding, and upgrading) and can be set to rebuild/upgrade ships to capacity automatically (construction/upgrading happens from the flagship, so is probably less useful for GC, since the econ in AI War 2 is much simpler than GC games). This game is also much more of an RTS / Tower Defense with grand strategy elements and not really like GC3, but the design here by letting the player set the automation at the fleet/group level (and having good options) is a solid one for any strategy game.

I guess the overall jist I'm aiming for here is for moving ship management from building up individual ships and assigning them to fleets to the opposite where you start at the fleet level, pick what ships/designs you want in that fleet and can also set various automation configurations at the fleet level for combat, movement (patrolling, rallying, etc...), rebuilding (auto rebuild to cap vs. manual rebuild, also picking where that would happen vs. letting the AI pick the nearest free constructors), and upgrading or swapping ship designs. In short, a top down approach to management, instead of a bottom up one.

I would also extend this concept to planet management, allowing the player to setup planetary groups (akin to a fleet in concept for management purposes) and set a lot of high level configuration from the group manager (automation, maybe a general build queue for planets for a quasi-player driven way of doing automation without having the AI just build whatever... i.e. a player defined 'playlist' they can pick from a list of previously saved lists that would attempt to build every building on the list in order if available at that planet, and the automation would also need to be able to pick the best locations for each taking adjacency into account). i.e. You group all your production focused planets into a "Builder" fleet/group and from the high level manager you can give all the planets in this group the "Basic Production" playlist and set whatever other automation you want and then let it be, and just add new planets into this group as need be and they would be automatically managed based on the groups settings.

If the next GC is looking to simplify colony management at the basic level, I also have to point out Master of Orion as having probably one of the most elegant simplifications of doing this, by just having a few sliders to adjust planetary percentages. This is a simple design space to delve into and by mixing this approach with the fleet/group idea one could quickly and easily manage an empire in a scalable manner, allowing the player to focus on the few planets they care about for manual control and using the managers for everything else.

Also, I've not played it, but I've heard many say that Distant Worlds has some of the best automation (though the game itself doesn't look super approachable) in any 4X style game, allowing the player to configure and play the game at pretty much any level they want, from individual colony management, to empire management, to just running a single ship. Being able to configure and change these sorts of options on the fly would be great, though probably a lot of work to create from the dev side of things.

In short, more optional automation and higher level control groupings with configurable automation could go a long way for the next GC game.

That turned out to be a bit more rambling than I planned. Anywho, hopefully something here proves to be useful.
on Mar 15, 2021

The ideas on colony system sounds great as it really does not get fun after 10 planets imo.

 

Some sort of tactical combat ala Dominions style would be cool and having the races play and feel different would be what I would like.

I also think the lego style ship builder should go as that gimmick has been played out and have top class ship models ala EndlessSpace2 instead.I know some players like this but I am betting the vast majority do not use it so it seems a waste of resources.

on Mar 15, 2021

Brad,

Thank you for a great update on where things are moving!

I have played all incarnations of Gal Civ III and the current is the most enjoyable but I do agree its a slog late game. 

Love Citizens > keep  moving towards this concept as you stated.

Combat > the old viewer is a tad dated. Id prefer to have more hands on but in the same vein to have the option to have it 'auto' resolved' as late game again can be tough managing dozens of space battles. 

Tech Tree > love it. Grab the idea from Civ IV and give us a 'randomized tree' option to screw with us! 

I hope to be part of your outside team to find bugs and improve Gal Civ for everyone. 

I agree the UI needs some improvement. 

Looking forward to the future of Gal Civ

on Mar 15, 2021

If there is one single UI improvement to be had, it is the list sorting mechanic-- it doesn't work. And some sorts don't "stick", either. Very frustrating.

If I leave a screen and come back to it, I don't want to have to re-sort the list.

Thank you for all your hard work. I very much look forward to your improvements in future releases,

Richard

on Mar 15, 2021



How to have big maps and play tall. You're going to hear this concept a lot: A map of maps.   

If you're hinting at what I think you are, that would be amazing.  But I dare not hope at this point.... 

 

 



More player actions. We really liked the artifacts as a concept because they let the player actively do things in the world.  We are looking at expanding on that.

Crazy big tech tree without it being a mess to manage. Like every GalCiv game we've ever done, we are going to be trying a lot of different new ways of managing techs.   What I can say is that we would really like to have a much, much larger tech tree in the future.

I'm not going to argue with either of these.   

 

Regarding the tech tree, one thing I would love to see is an option for it to be randomized.  It would also be great if the next available technologies could be "hidden", like in Stellaris.  (Sorry; I hate the constant comparisons to that game as well, but it's the only example I can think of off the top of my head.) 

I've come to realize that I genuinely enjoy *not* planning out my tech research in advance; it simply becomes boring after a while.  Instead, rather, having the techs be randomized and hidden brings a sense of excitement, and a genuine sense of discovery -- what secrets might my scientists unlock next? 

 

 



Invasions. We don't like the invasions in GalCiv III.  It's...fine.  But I feel like I'm popping balloons rather than engaging in some titanic battle for control of an entire planet.

Ground combat is rarely (if ever) done well, in GalCiv or any other 4x game. 

About the only improvement/change I can think of is that I prefer it when invasions take multiple turns.  It's never felt realistic to me that an entire planet could fall so quickly, at least on a regular basis.  (I realize this is debatable, however.) 

Of course, in the case of GalCiv4, I imagine that multiple-turn invasions (even if implemented) would only happen on those more important "sponsored" worlds that you mentioned. 

 

 



Combat. We would like to see combat move away from being an all or nothing thing in a single turn.

Combat doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" prospect at all, if retreating is made a viable tactical option.  Of course, this would then mean implementing some form of tactical combat...which I really, truly hope you're finally doing this time around. 

 

 



Citizens++. Citizens were introduced in Crusade.  But we would really like the entire game revolve around citizens to the point where population = citizens and it is all about what you do with them.

I like this concept.  A lot. 

 

 



Much, much, much bigger empires. In 4X games, including GalCiv, I think we've been approaching colonies backwards.  We always default to forcing players to micromanage their cities, planets, whatever and then add some sort of AI manager system to try to automate planets.  As a result, the game designs always try to discourage/punish players for having too many colonies which I find off-putting.

Instead, why not encourage players to have as many colonies as they want but by default, they are just simple resource generators? That is, they provide money, resources, research to their sponsor world.  Then, when you find a particularly interesting world, you flip the concept of a "governor" on its head and assign a citizen to govern the planet which means THEN you manage the planet.   And in doing so, we make sure that consuming a citizen to become a governor is a pretty big deal since that citizen could be doing something else important.  So imagine a game where you have 400 colonies of which say you directly manage your best few yourself?

Because in GalCiv III, we basically made class 1 through 10 planets rare because who wants to manage these worlds? This was a missed opportunity.  Now we can have lots of meh planets that simply act as the raw resource providers to their sponsor world which in turn you are managing to do super awesome stuff (think of the min-maxing going on there!).

...And I *love* this concept!  It would allow empires to feel genuinely epic in scale, whilst introducing a common-sense mechanic limiting the micromanagement hell that plagues the genre.  Man, that's honestly kinda brilliant. 

 

 



Vastly bigger map differentiation.  The smallest maps in the future will probably feel roughly the same as they currently do.  But the largest sized maps will make the maps in GalCiv III look piddly with a lot more strategic depth to it as well.

I'm just gonna repeat what I said earlier:  Sounds flippin' fantastic, but I'm not going to hope for too much at this point.  Keep expectations on the ground... 

 

 



We want multiplayer to be viable. Putting aside that most people don't play 4X games multiplayer, we would like there to be gameplay modes that you could play with a total stranger in less than an hour if you'd like.  These special modes would be available for single player too.

Nice.  Although I'm still compelled to ask:  Any idea yet how many folks will be able to play in a "standard" long game of MP? 

 

 



NO CAMPAIGNS. All the story and special scripting would instead be integrated into the game as events and such to help make the sandbox game more interesting.  

Yessssss! 

The sandbox game has needed this (or something like it) for a long time now.  This makes me very, very happy.  

 

 

on Mar 15, 2021

I would love to see the continued level of customization offered by Galactic Civ 3.  Ship and civilization design has given it high replay value in my opinion.

Improved combat mechanics would be great!  One of the biggest problems with Galactic Civ 3 is that in the late game everything devolves into a carrier battle at the end.  Hopefully this gets balanced, but it makes for some pretty bland battles that follow the same formula.  I'd like to see multiple strategies that all have strengths and weaknesses.  There are a lot of cool strategies in Gal Civ 3, but right now carriers act as a trump card with not a lot of answers.

There are also other combat strategies you could explore.  For example you could have modules that improve a ships targeting and allow them to score critical hits, but at the cost of a reduced rate of fire.

Other than that, it sounds like you guys have a a lot of great ideas for colony management, and I'm excited to see this franchise continue.

on Mar 15, 2021

I like the concept of Meh Planet = Automatic Resource Generator and I'd suggest a switch where, at any point, you can decide that the precise resource you want your Meh Planets Population/Citizens to provide is Wealth/Production/Research. I see that as being preferable than each planet proving 1/3 boost to each of those 3 areas. If you didn't want to implement my switch idea, you could scale what they provide with their Level rating - which admittedly would still mean everyone ignores the Level 1-4 planets, but I think unless those planets have a really useful resource/artifact on them which helps your plans move along, they tend to get ignored anyway. Also, if you're going to go with the Meh Planet = Automatic Resource Generator concept, how will that affect the need for asteroid mining? I know I'd rather take a Level 2 planet than mine the asteroids around it, if I had to make a choice.

Invasions: How about a system where different race types have different technologies at hand (so basically, when you create your custome race or even play one of the standard races, you can specialise in Propaganda Warfare because of another trait you've picked (ie Sneaky), or specialize in Biological Warfare because your race is already good at colonizing Toxic Worlds so it stands to reason you know how Toxins work. I'm not suggesting cutting off Invasion types, more that certain races are better served by focussing on one certain type, given their abilities and traits. As a counter to this, how about making certain planet types more or less resistant to certain Invasion techniques? For example, it stands to reason that a Planet that provides bonuses to Research isn't going to be populated by stupid folk, so Biological Warfare and Tidal Disruption will take longer to work (due to knowledge of how to deal with/live with their negative effects, if it all. But they can be swayed by Information Warfare. Planets that have high approval have the opposite problems - small brains, big hearts. They Love Their Leader but that biological stuff kills 'em dead quick.

Increasing the usage and depth of Citizens sounds like a great idea. My only proviso would be that if you really want players to focus on Population = Citizens = Usage, I can see a point where, if only for simplicity's sake, you do away with Buildings, given the maths involved with what a Citizen would provide versus what a Building would provide, especially if you wanted to go with the idea of Citizens "levelling up" over time (kind of like the Kittens in Kittensgame - if you keep them in, say, Farmer mode, they become better Farmers over time). If you want to keep the option of sending a Citizen to Planet 34 or building the lastest, greatest Research Labs there, that maths balance will be important.

 

on Mar 15, 2021

I definitely think fleet management and the like needs to get a lot better.  There's been plenty of internal UI talk about making sure we're not still designing UI with habits from 1024x768.  

If you look at a lot of the UI stuff in GC3, I think you'll find that a lot of its weaknesses because it is still designed thinking of 1024x768 thinking -- click X and then click here).  

 

on Mar 16, 2021

This list is a good start.

GalCiv3 went from "okay, let's rebuild Galciv2 but better and slowly reintegrate old features in new ways" to "Okay, this isn't quite working let's throw some stuff at the wall and see what sticks" with mixed results. Some of it great! Some of it...works but isn't that fun.

And I am happy that insane maps will be tackled because it just doesn't work that well in GalCiv3. Which is understandable, because it takes a huge time sink to test macro-scale gameplay on large maps. Small maps are fast and tactical.

But let's tackle the elephant in the room of 4x gameplay: Stellaris. I can get my empire shattered and broken in Stellaris and still have fun. In fact, part of the fun is that random events can hose your empire and the challenge is digging out of that hole. In GalCiv 3, I can end up drudging for a good hour only to abandon a game because events are in a death spiral. So, a few things:

1. Interstellar War should be hard but not in a way where it's just a time-sink to build up to it. Maps-within-maps idea can kind of come into play - War can be fast and tactical in near-space/within the cluster, but fighting someone on the other side of the galaxy is nigh impossible without being high on the tech tree. One way would be Range/Logistics. The further away from your star nation you are, the more expensive ship/fleet maintenance becomes. Large ships and fleets can only be sustained either in your territory or near your territory, while smaller ships/fleets can have longer supply chains.

2. More Civ building less Fleet building.

3. Megaprojects that are actual megaprojects and not just an icon on a planet map with stats. More stuff like Gates, Starbases, etc. Habitats! Trade lanes!

4. Wild and crazy minor races! Hire the Dark Yor to steal tech, the Snathi to pirate, etc!

5. Interstellar "Road" Hierarchy. How cool would it be to zoom in on a gate-chain and see traffic cues! Kinda like City Skylines traffic.

6. Also, like City Skylines, more overlays! Or at least more useful overlays using gradient maps for things. Like resources.

Okay, I'm tired so things went a bit off from where I was going, but these are some ideas.

on Mar 16, 2021

Thanks Frogboy for the update...

Don't Want to Lose Control

What I'd like to see, lots of planets to colonize, if I choose.  Space is vast with much distance between stars, however, if I want to tightly pack my galaxy I want to be able to do so.  I am one for micromanagement.  I want to feel in control, even if I have citizens running my planets.  I don't want to lose control.  One reason why I never use the comonwealth system.  I like to feel in control.  I agree it gets to be a drag managing 100's of planets late game.

Tech Tree

Love the tech tree idea.  One thing with playing the tall game is allow one to slow the tech tree to a crawl based on the number of planets in a game, not just by size of the galaxy.  If my tech tree is taking time to research, I'm going to be more focused on infrastructure and not as much on rapid expansion and conquering.  Another way to focus on the taller game, is to not force war.  Right now in Galactic Civilizations III, if I have a below average military, everyone under their sun in the galaxy is declaring war on me.  This forces me to focus on defense or offense, but either way on military and military techs.  Therefore I'm not going to be focused on the tall game building up my colonies because lets face it, I have no resources to.

The New Campaign (Even though there won't be an official Campaign but this could replace it.)

One idea I've always had is play the small game and turn it into a large or extreme game.  Now I don't know from a programming point if this would be possible.  Today I have an hour or two to play, I want to start a new game.  I start a tiny map versus a few opponents at the beginning of the tech tree ect...  I win and conquer the galaxy.  Now the game would give me an option, end or continue...  If I choose continue it generates additional sectors to the galaxy with a few new opponents at about the same level of advancement I've achieved in my 150 turns it took me to conquer the previous tiny game.  Now in this slightly larger game (small map maybe) I can continue my game.  When I win this game, it will again give me an option to end or continue.  If I continue it does the same with the next larger map adding additional players.  This would keep doing this until the map would be just too big.

Game Lag/Turn Time

I love both Galactic Civilizations II, and III.  They both have their positives and negatives.  One thing with Galactic Civilizations III that has plagued me since the beginning is lag with 100's of starbases, which has improved over the years with different patches but still exists if you go overboard.  Another thing is the turn time.  Even with a 16 core/32 thread processor AMD Ryzen 9 and 64 gb of memory, on extreme games turn times can still take several minutes to complete.  Now I thank Frogboy for all the additional time he's put in to help me with this concern including one weekend last year where he directly worked with me and my game to figure out how he could cut down turn times drastically reduced them by about 50-70%.  This was a game changer.  But in the end it still exists.  I would love to see an option that doesn't take away from the complexity of the game but reduces this even further or almost eliminates it.

Carry Over of Galactic III items, Factions/Ships

Several of us have put a lot of work, me early on with many different Factions, I wanted to play 100 player map...  I wanted to modify them over the years and add custom ships to each but never got around to it.  Life is busy.  As many of you know though I have many different factions out there in the workshop to play including 1 top rated one.  I would love if these factions can be easily moved over to the next generation of the game.  I understand there may need to be tweaks ect... But this would be great.

Duel (plus) Monitor Support

Finally create a game that I can put things on the second monitor.  This would be a great spot for the mini map, colony lists, research que ect...

Last Thought

Frogboy thanks for including the community in your games.  This is the main reason why I continue to play and purchase Stardock's games even if I don't always play them.  There are several games that I own that I have very few hours played but, I believe in how you create your games and support them, and you.  Please continue to do what you've done in the past and keep us part of the process.  Thanks for all you do.

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