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

A million years ago in the 1990s when I was designing the OS/2 versions of Galactic Civilizations I gave the player sliders to adjust what they were spending their resources on.  This system lasted right on through Galactic Civilizations II for Windows.

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GalCiv I for Windows

 

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GalCiv II for Windows

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GalCiv III v1.0 for Windows

While highly useful for min-maxing a relatively simple economic system, it suffered from being pretty opaque in how it worked and was pretty terrible for immersion.  It also substantially limited how differentiated we could make the different alien species. 

With GalCiv III: Crusade we introduced the leader system that let players put their leaders into various categories to boost them.

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GalCiv III: Crusade

This was a much better setup than what we had had before.  Much easier to understand.  However, once again, every race was identical and it was a little cumbersome.  Moreover, it didn’t really lend itself to different play styles. 

Game designers frequently claim that their game allows for both tall and wide strategies but in my experience, that really isn’t true unless you give players the tools to build a civilization that allows them to play tall (or wide) but that strategy also precludes the opposite strategy from being employed simultaneously.

This is where internal factions come in: These are civilization specific groups that typically provide some strength and some weakness based the attributes of the leader you are putting in and how much favor you have with that faction already which itself is heavily determined by the ideological strategy you’re playing as.  That’s a lot to take in so let me give you an example:

You can’t play as Space Commies and then simply turn on a dime and benefit from the Space Capitalists Guild (or vice versa). 

 

Internal Factions in action

Let’s try out some civilizations and look at how all these new systems work together.

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The Pre-Beta list of Civs

 

 

A recap of people and their smells, desires and benefits

The first thing to remember is that in Galactic Civilizations IV, every citizen has their own set of stats.  Here is an example of a human citizen who has made leadership their career.

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Hi Ivan!

Now, besides the fact that every character (or most characters anyway) have a backstory based quest event that can potentially come up, they also have 4 stats plus how loyal they are to your civilization.

The 4 stats, intelligence, social skills, diligence and resolve come in handy depending on what you’re trying to do.  And many of these people have other traits like genius or criminal or timid (our Australian alpha testers may note the irony of shipping off their criminals on colony ships to live on some god forsaken desert world for instance).

These stats interact with internal factions and their bonuses along with the civilizations’ overall ideology.

 

 

A recap of the ideology of a civilization

In the original GalCiv, there were 3 ideologies: Good, Neutral and Evil.  So sue me, I was 20 years old in 1991 when I was less…sophisticated.  In GalCiv IV, we have 7 different ideology categories each with its own ying and yang.  So for instance, Tradition vs. Innovation.  Secrecy vs. Transparency.  Equality vs. Opportunity.

On Earth, there are big cultural differences here as well.  Shame vs. Face.  Harmony vs. Diversity, etc. 

In GalCiv IV, the player gains awareness of different philosophies (in the same way that we gain awareness of different ways of thinking) and then can gain culture points to actually embrace a given ideological trait.  I.e. I know of eating babies but I have not embraced that it’s a good thing to eat babies.  Awareness vs. adoption.

The net result is that your adoption of these various cultural traits will slowly build a profile on what kind of people you are.

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The traits of the Terran Alliance at the start of the game.

 

Quick summary so far

Your civilization is made up of people. These people are good (and bad) at different things.  Your civilization has an overall cultural ideology that you develop through the course of playing the game and making various decisions. Each civilization has 4 internal factions which give your civilization bonuses (and penalties) based on the people you assign to them as well as their favor towards you which is based on how well your cultural ideology matches theirs.

 

 

 

Example 1: The Terran Alliance

So let’s return to Ivan.  We are ready to put him to work at one of these Internal Factions.  Each time we assign one of our people to an internal faction our favor with them goes up by 1 and the higher their favor, the more bonuses we get from them.

The Terran Alliance’s native species are humans.  You can design your own civilization (soon) and pick the 4 factions you want yourself.  But the 4 that the Terran Alliance have are:

 

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Warforged, Natural League, The Science Team, the Media Alliance

 

Warforged helps build up your manufacturing base so you can get ships out there.  They are, however, a little shady so the more people you add, the higher your crime rate will go up.

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Warforged: +5% manufacturing but +1% to crime

Now this isn’t a case where they’re “balanced” (i.e. a full trade off).  A tiny increase in crime is worth it.  But you add more and more and eventually you’ll have to do something:

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The benefit of the Warforged faction is based on your leader’s resolve.  So if that person’s resolve is low, don’t put him or her in there.  Ivan is pretty good.

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But Tali is not. 

Instead, we should put Tali in the Media Alliance because she has an 8 social score.

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And look at how much she provides. A 24% boost to influence.  The second number is the hit to your diplomacy ability which, as you can see, is very low here.  Besides Tali having good social skills, the Media Alliance have a high favor towards you already.

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The Media Alliance favor was already 4 without Tali because the Terran Alliance is strong on liberty and innovation.  The Media Alliance also likes transparency (as opposed to secrecy).

If I put all 3 of my recruited leaders here I get this:

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And what does that translate to?

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My planets get a 35% boost to their influence generation which is pretty good.

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Which means my sphere of influence will grow faster and make it easier to culturally conquer other civilizations.

Of course, there is a catch: There are diminishing returns for how much impact each leader has.  Adding 100 leaders to a given faction won’t give you 100 times the benefit.  It’ll be a lot less at that point.  But it will still add up and acts as a great sink to put additional leaders later in the game to help shape your civilization.

 

Example 2: The Drengin Empire

The Drengin Empire have their own internal factions to deal with.

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The Drengin have a Slaver’s Guild, a Superiority League and their own Natural and War Forged groups.  Slavers not only increase manufacturing but also reduce maintenance on planets.  The Superiority League increases research at the cost of growth.

Example 3: The Corporate Sector

The Iridium species (sometimes called the Iridium Corporation) play quite differently from other civilizations.  They essentially play to buy off everyone and everything. 

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The Corporate Sector seeks victory based on the free market and capitalism and just getting better prices.

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None of their factions care about research or manufacturing.  The Free Market Society adds pure money into the system based on giving them a free hand to do whatever it is they do that is most definitely none of our business. The cost is that it makes people a little bit unhappy.  The second is the Banking clan.

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They underwrite all the loans in the galaxy which makes the player very rich but lowers their relations a tad with everyone.  Now, let’s say we put everyone in the free market faction.

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That’s +57 credits per turn, per core world.  Absolutely insane.

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However, not everything is happy in free market land.  The people are slightly unhappy and you don’t have a way to increase manufacturing or research.

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Look how imbalanced it is.

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But the Corporate Sector, unlike everyone else, can easily afford to have super low taxes which makes people a lot happier which increases production.  Thus, you can play with low taxes, but still making lots of money without quite as terrible research and manufacturing.  And money can buy a lot of things in this universe.

 

Replayability

The goal here is to allow players to play the game in lots of different and interesting ways while helping each civilization be more distinct.

 

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GalCiv IV Journals


Comments
on Jan 10, 2022

Great.I do like internal politics which is greatly missing in this genre.

on Jan 10, 2022

The internal factions design looks interesting though complicated.  I look forward to trying it out. But don't feel bad about how you made GC.  Sometimes, less is more.

on Jan 17, 2022

I like the factions idea. It's a little more interactive than policy cards. It also gives you something to do with one-dimensional and otherwise obsolete leaders. A lot seems to ride on the RNG of what leaders are available. I'm also starting to think that spending a culture point to get a discount on hiring leaders will become almost mandatory with most builds.

on Jan 18, 2022

I am getting very excited about this game.

Galactic civilisations is a brilliant game of exploration and interaction with other Civilisations through war and diplomacy.

Having each civilisation with a more complex internal structure offers the opportunity to make diplomatic and cultural interactions much more subtle and interesting.  I have always felt the diplomacy in Galactic civilisations 3 could be more interesting.  So I'm really interested to see how the complex internal structure of civilisations makes for more interesting diplomacy between civilisations in Galactic civilisations 4.  This is not an easy thing to do, I appreciate it will take time.

Good luck.  I'm really looking forward to this.

 

 

 

 

on Feb 11, 2022

I hope this gets better implemented in the final version, so far I've run into two problems

Firstly, leaders are basically a random draw. You pretty much have to hire who is available and put them in the least worse position. Instead of putting the player in control of how he wants to manage the empire, RNG is taking over.  This isn't necessarily bad, but I'm going to say I liked the sliders better. Because you had to choose between one thing or the other, while this is just basically a bonus.

There should be a bigger pool of candidates, and more stats so there is real choice

Secondly, ideology awareness really doesn't have any impact other than in the associated skill tree (and culture points are so few you probably want to save them until you max out a tree). I liked how in the past, with the good and evil, the UI would change color. Maybe just a cosmetic thing, but it felt like there were tangible consequences to your actions.

It might be that you don't actually "embrace" that ideology until you spend a culture point, but you basically gain the awareness by responding to events, thus acting on those ideologies.  And you get rewarded for not being consistent.

Past versions basically used the D&D alignment system, but in this, basically you are asking players to always be chaotic neutral

on Feb 15, 2022

Alliance and allegiance points

Have you seen the commentary on the new alliance system in Warhammer Total War 3.  There seems to be some very interesting new additions to diplomacy.  In particular the use of allegiance points.  You gain allegiance points by doing things for an ally, and you can use allegiance points to get an ally to do things for you.

on Feb 15, 2022

trancejeremy1

I hope this gets better implemented in the final version, so far I've run into two problems

Firstly, leaders are basically a random draw. You pretty much have to hire who is available and put them in the least worse position. Instead of putting the player in control of how he wants to manage the empire, RNG is taking over.  This isn't necessarily bad, but I'm going to say I liked the sliders better. Because you had to choose between one thing or the other, while this is just basically a bonus.

There should be a bigger pool of candidates, and more stats so there is real choice

I think this is deliberate. Without RNG, dominant strategies would take over. Occasionally dealing with suboptimal leader choices (among other things) is part of the challenge and improves replay value.

on Feb 15, 2022

trancejeremy1

I hope this gets better implemented in the final version, so far I've run into two problems

Firstly, leaders are basically a random draw. You pretty much have to hire who is available and put them in the least worse position. Instead of putting the player in control of how he wants to manage the empire, RNG is taking over.  This isn't necessarily bad, but I'm going to say I liked the sliders better. Because you had to choose between one thing or the other, while this is just basically a bonus.

There should be a bigger pool of candidates, and more stats so there is real choice

Secondly, ideology awareness really doesn't have any impact other than in the associated skill tree (and culture points are so few you probably want to save them until you max out a tree). I liked how in the past, with the good and evil, the UI would change color. Maybe just a cosmetic thing, but it felt like there were tangible consequences to your actions.

It might be that you don't actually "embrace" that ideology until you spend a culture point, but you basically gain the awareness by responding to events, thus acting on those ideologies.  And you get rewarded for not being consistent.

Past versions basically used the D&D alignment system, but in this, basically you are asking players to always be chaotic neutral

As someone who spends a decent chunk of their time interviewing and hiring, I too wish there was a bigger pool of candidates where I could min/max capabilities. 

A big part of the game's challenge is the fact that you won't have ideal candidates available or an optimal strategy you can execute.

I do agree that when embracing an ideology it would be nice if the UI changed.  I remember coding that "back in the day".  I miss the simple "good vs. evil" stuff but I'm an old guy now and most people demand/want nuance.

I also think that you shouldn't be able to get a given ideology without going through the prereqs because without forcing the player to go through the pre-reqs, they get to be, as you say, chaotic neutral.

on Feb 17, 2022

Exactly.

Offer everyone their own Equally Best Minister of War, Equally Best Minister of Finance etc and everyone's going to put them in that position. And play the same way.

What determines a game's replayability is the number of roads that you can take to win the game. There might be still be lots of roads to the GalCiv4 Palace that you can carve, but if due to RNG and the decisions you made back at the very beginning when you started out, only two roads will actually lead you to the GalCiv4 Palace Gates, it gets very old very quickly.

It's much more interesting if you know that while Drengin have a better Minister of War, your Minister of Finance and Minister of Inter-Galactic Affairs leave theirs in the dust, so you plane and scheme accordingly.

 

 

on Feb 18, 2022

Trying to understand what the # in bottom right of each leader means. Seems Higher = Better but what is that all about?  

Also I am assuming when you are in a democratic government your leader choices and how well they are suited for their faction will have big implications on elections. I think that is a really cool concept as elections in GCIII felt a little lame.
Knowing who people are voting for/against gives a much higher sense of tension and anticipation (just like real elections).
I guess I’m saying I hope that the leader system is tied tightly to the government options. It would be great to have a wide range of implications depending on which factions you capitalize on, outside of just the civ outputs. 

on Feb 18, 2022

Wafer Skater457

Trying to understand what the # in bottom right of each leader means. Seems Higher = Better but what is that all about?  

"Now, besides the fact that every character (or most characters anyway) have a backstory based quest event that can potentially come up, they also have 4 stats plus how loyal they are to your civilization."

Loyalty below 30 is bad - they might rebel. If they are a governor/commander, they will take their planet/ship with them. Loyalty above 70 (or is it 75?) is good, you'll get a buff somewhere. If you use a leader as a governor, you'll get a + or - to approval based on how loyal your governor is.

Wafer Skater457

Also I am assuming when you are in a democratic government your leader choices and how well they are suited for their faction will have big implications on elections. I think that is a really cool concept as elections in GCIII felt a little lame.
Knowing who people are voting for/against gives a much higher sense of tension and anticipation (just like real elections).
I guess I’m saying I hope that the leader system is tied tightly to the government options. It would be great to have a wide range of implications depending on which factions you capitalize on, outside of just the civ outputs. 

Governments aren't really a thing in the Beta. I think they are still fleshing out the interactivity between your ideology and your leaders. Presumably leaders that are aligned with your ideology will be more loyal but there are not yet any events based on that state.

on Feb 20, 2022

Thanks Slarjy!