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5 major changes coming to Galactic Civilizations in 2023
Published on December 22, 2022 By Frogboy In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

So this Spring will mark the one year anniversary of the release of Galactic Civilizations IV.  And we have some really big plans for it.  We've been working hard on a major revamp of the entire game.

Here are some of the areas we are making big changes:

  1. Totally new combat system. Beam vs. Kinetic vs. Missile as a rock paper scissors mechanic against shields, armor and point defense is going away.  Instead, various types of weapons will have their own pros and cons in areas like costs, sizes, effectiveness, and on map benefits.  This will give us a lot more nuance and open the door to having a lot of new types of weapons and defenses in the future.  
  2. New ship design system.  You won't be choosing Hulls anymore. You will choose a general class of ship which will determine how much mass you have available.  This will eventually let us have many types of classes (Frigates, Cruisers, Battleships, Dreadnoughts, and other types) rather than be limited to a number of types based on what words we can think of to describe sizes (uh, so um super gigantic mega hull?).
  3. New invasion system.  We are going to move a bit away from the binary "you need a transport" system of invading plants that I've had in GalCiv since I was in college.  Instead, the time it takes to invade a system will be affected based on the conquest rating of your fleet.  So having an invasion transport with you would greatly increase that obviously.  But you won't need one to conquer some piddly little world just because of "the rules".
  4. New ideology system.  Your choices will no longer give you points in a particular ideology.  They will simply make certain ideological choices less expensive to acquire.  So if you always play as an evil bastard, the evil bastard ideology choices will be cheaper to get but you can still go against the grain and live a life of self-deception.
  5. Updated research system.  So instead of only having N techs you can research, you instead will be able to research any tech you want.  HOWEVER, you will be presented with N techs that scientists are on the verge of breakthroughs of which will be 50% cheaper to research than other techs.  So while you can choose any tech, it'll be very tempting to go with the ones that are on the verge of breakthroughs.

This is only a small list of changes that we think players will really like.  We're also doing things like adding a tutorial, improving the graphics further, making performance improvements, new map setup changes, etc.  We'll have more news soon.

What changes would you like to see?


GalCiv IV Journals

Comments (Page 3)
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on Dec 24, 2022

Earlier, I agreed with 2 guiding principles:

  1. Combat must be simple enough that the result can be calculated quickly (slow turns are bad!)
  2. The results of combat must be easily and clearly described to the player

In this post I want to expand on #2 above.

If we start with the current "Battle Report" (screen snapshot shown below) I think the basic design of having a separate line showing the result of a single weapon on a single ship attacking a single enemy ship is good.  However, I would like to suggest some changes to what is shown in the columns:

  1. show the max. adjusted attack value for the weapon.  If you hover over this number a popup should appear showing:
    1. the base max. attack value due to the weapons on the ship
    2. all factors that enhanced or detracted from the base max. attack value
      1. ship type
      2. fleet bonus
      3. location of battle (in your territory, in the enemy's territory, in neutral territory)
      4. military shipyard (effect of being within range of yours or theirs)
      5. other
  2. show the max. adjusted defense value for the target ship.  If you hover over this number a popup should appear showing:
    1. the base max. defense value due to the defenses on the ship
    2. all factors that enhanced or detracted from the base max. defense value
      1. ship type
      2. fleet bonus
      3. location of battle (in your territory, in the enemy's territory, in neutral territory)
      4. military shipyard (effect of being within range of yours or theirs)
      5. other
  3. if you hover over the target ship a popup should appear showing how the ship was selected as the target
    1. for example, a ranked list of ships within range showing "desireability" based on type of ship, defenses, and remaining hit points
  4. if you hover over the damage number a popup should appear showing the details of the calculation
    1. adjusted max. attack value (shown in 1. above)
    2. random number used for adjusting the attack value
    3. max. defense value (shown in 2. above)
    4. random number used for adjusting the defense value

I believe that a good "Battle Report" will go a long way towards helping players decide the types of ships they want to build, the types of weapons and defenses they want to put on those ships, and the types of fleets they want to build.

If you are considering including ideas for combat factors that cannot be shown in the new "Battle Report" I would suggest that you reject those ideas to stay within the objectives listed at the beginning of this post.

on Dec 24, 2022


Autotargeting is important to keep turn times low.  Giving players that much control over battles dramatically increases the time it takes to get through each battle.  If the player is willing to take that time to fight each battle individually, they will perform better against the A.I., the A.I. will need to be improved to fight these battles, and now players that don't want to choose targets now have to because if they don't, the A.I. will sweep them.  I think the better solution is to clearly state to the player in what order ship classes will target, as well as making the targets intuitive.

Example: Fighter vs Bomber class ( Think F-18 vs A-10 or X-wing vs Y-wing)

The fighter should in theory be designated as a way to destroy other smaller enemy ships like other fighters or bombers, but they are less effective against frigates, cruisers, or battleships.  It would make sense for fighters to target smaller ships like fighters, bombers, and gunships before they go after larger ships.

Bombers on the other hand are good at punching through heavily armored large ships because they carry larger payloads.  They are slower, and less effective against smaller ships such as fighters as they are unable to outmaneuver them, and their munitions often travel slower.  It would make sense to make bombers target larger ships first before trying to fire at smaller ships.

This brings me to my second point, how do you portray this in Gal Civ?

As you've mentioned, you can do this through modules.  Making changes to how the weapon types work.  Changing variables such as range, power, fire rate, critical hits, accuracy.  The problem is many players utilize the auto generated ships, and don't want to fight their way through the ship designer.  On top of that, the A.I. needs to be able to generate useful fleets to combat the player. 

I think the simplest and best way to show the difference between classes is to give them buffs and nerfs against other classes.  Giving 200% attack bonus to fighters against other fighters, bombers, and other small classes makes a fighter distinct from a bomber without increasing the difficulty for the players who don't use the ship designer, and makes ship and fleet creation about the same level of difficulty for the A.I.

The A.I. can combat the player by looking at the makeup of the players fleets, and building ships that are strong against whatever classes the player is building.

I don't consider it a fun game if I steamroll the A.I. and vice-versa.  A fun game is when the A.I. made meaningful decisions and it led to a close match. Even if I lost.  I lost a war once in GC III where I was forced into full retreat losing all of my main planets and my home world.  I stayed alive by conquering the guy below me.  One of the best games I ever had.

on Dec 25, 2022


I read through your the possible roles and how combat currently works, and had a few thoughts.

1. Tactical speed seems to hurt fleet design more than it helps. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but my ships with higher tactical speed outpace my larger ships, causing my fleet to split.  This often creates a suboptimal situation where my smaller and faster ships are often destroyed before the larger ships behind can enter a fight.  The +300% defense against larger ships might negate this issue though, and if it does, then I think it'll make the battle look cooler while not feeling like a suboptimal play.  I get the inclusion of tactical speed, but try to make sure it doesn't split the fleet in such a way that it makes battles more frustrating.

2. I think this plan will improve the quality and playability of mixed fleets.  Fighters and other small ship classes will probably be the most difficult to balance do to high fire rate.  I like the bonus to attacks against smaller classes and the increased defense against larger class ships.  Larger class ships will probably need a substantial bonus to defense against fighters as well to negate the high rate of fire from multiple ships.  If a bomber class is eventually included, that could be the small ship that has bonus damage to larger classes.


on Dec 25, 2022

With the holiday break I'll only be able to answer these piece meal so no mega messages.

With regards to fleet battle distances, we internally do have a meters distance between them.  So then it's just a matter of deciding what the numbers are and then iterating until we get the feel we want.

The ship class (not the weapon type) will determine range.  I know that lots of people would like to see weapon range based on the type of weapon and not the class, but I think it'll get too confusing for players given the scale of the game.  Therefore, the class of the ship will determine the weapon range.

Now, I assume people have played previous GalCiv games so most of this is going to play out pretty similarly to previous games.

Re combat rolling: It's literally the attack of all weapons being rolled.

Now as for when damage gets played, I know we've played around with this in the past.  We generally let, in a given round, let all ships fire that are elible to fire that round. 

Since the ship class determines range, the only thing that determines what weapon is firing that round is whether it is that weapon's turn to fire.  Where we will have to play around with things is terms of determining damage since, as mentioned earlier, different weapons fire at different rates.

When it comes to combat, the biggest gripe I've had is that that the mechanics are opaque.  For example, if a ship has 2 potential targets, who will they fire at first?  If a fighter only has 1 target it will fire whatever that is first.

The reason we've always made it opaque (and like I said, I don't like it but I don't like the alternative) is that if you make it too obvious who fires at what in what order we will end up in an endless cycle of having to plug exploits.  As a practical matter, one should assume that if a ship has 3 targets, it will randomly choose (even if that's not the "smartest" thing to do).  Because you get into a very slippery slope to people wanting total control over every tactical battle.  Just assume your admirals are "good" but not "great".




on Dec 25, 2022

Also, when it comes to the numbers, assume that we'll be playing around with those numbers a lot.  

on Dec 25, 2022

Thanks for taking time during the holidays to answer questions!  Glad to hear numbers will be adjusted until they look good.

Personally, I'm good with limiting weapon range to ship class.  Makes sense for larger ships to have longer range than smaller ships.  It should also solve the fleet splitting problem I mentioned.

I think the random targeting is the best way to go.  Makes battles a little more interesting.

If I would change one thing about targeting I would make all ships that fall in a certain class lumped together as possible targets.

Example: If I have four fighters, but one of them is a different type, all four would be possible targets, rather than 3 and 1.  I've had elite ships in GC III get wiped out in the first round of firing because they stood out from all of the other ships despite being the same hull and role.

I think letting players know in what order they can expect their ships to set targets will be plenty. Hopefully it'll be somewhat intuitive based on the class.  Currently ship roles are just too opaque.  I usually just use interceptor or assault because I have an idea what those do.  I've tried other styles, but usually end up with the split fleet problem.

on Dec 26, 2022

    1. New ship design system.  You won't be choosing Hulls anymore. You will choose a general class of ship which will determine how much mass you have available.  This will eventually let us have many types of classes (Frigates, Cruisers, Battleships, Dreadnoughts, and other types) rather than be limited to a number of types based on what words we can think of to describe sizes (uh, so um super gigantic mega hull?).

omg awesome!

This looks eerily similar to what was being discussed in this thread Ship Design / Ship Dimensions / More Hull Types

1) How many roles/types will be made available in the early game? - i.e can we have capital ships close to the start of the game?

This is something that has always bothered me with alot of space games - that you can only have access to proper warships towards the end of the tech tree - which is simply not how it works in real life.

Humans have had 'battleship/ship killer' vessels and other ships that fill various different roles since the ancient greeks were knocking about in the Mediterranian.

2) Will the Mass values for each ship type change/increase over time as you progress?

i.e In the Early game / beginning of tech tree a Fighter costs 20 Mass and a Crusier has 400 Mass (complelty grabbing figures out of thin air here)


By the end game a Fighter has 80 Mass and Cruiser has 1600 Mass

This would tie into question number 1)

Imagine in the early game you have your mainline capital ship - pride of your Navy- you then bump into your nieghbour who is unfortunately more advanced than you and their capital ship dwarfs yours in size and firepower - even though both belong to the same ship class.



on Dec 28, 2022

Please provide documentation.

on Dec 30, 2022

I want to bring up another point: tooltips. I read a lengthy article about this topic a few days ago. It was about another game but the problem discussed is true to GC4, too.

The problem is: what information should be presented at screen (first level) and what information should be given via tooltips (second level).

In my opinion, GC4 has many information at second level which should be at first level. Examples:

- citizens at planetary management screen
- citizens during loading ships (military and civilian)
- policies
- choosing a gouverneur
- information about ships in a fleet - which ships are damaged? Where are special modules?

My guess is that designers tend to like cool and polished screens but players like more information at first level (of course it is not so black/white...). Escpecially if we talk about complex games like GC4.

A second point would be multipliers. What you did with approval was great. It really matters. But you put so many things in the same multiplier. One example you could do:

- create another multiplier for gouverneurs (like approval). Additionally let citizens buff the gouverneur (advisors). In this way you had another strong multiplier that matters. Maybe you had to increase the cost of things and the "result" would be the same but the feeling for the player would be different because there were more meaningful decisions

Greetings and good luck!

on Dec 30, 2022

I would be happy to help document!

I have played the game many times, and there are still things I don't understand.



on Jan 03, 2023

cat wait for this update when will be released?

on Jan 04, 2023

This is really good news! To keep it short, my main questions are these:

- Will there be some changes on how the AI makes fleets? My main "annoyance" with the game is the AI sending small after small fleet, filling the game tiles with lots of units, with the combat becoming too much of a pope-a-mole instead of fleet-vs-fleet fights.

- Will there be some tweaks on how colony upgrades work? Especially them being permanent. Many were quite situational, and many times I didn't pick any waiting for the resource gathering ones to unlock. I believe that a cooldown or heavy cost increase for switching them can work better. Also it would be nice for resource gathering to be possible from the get go the same as capitals, especially since you can "cheat" by assigning a governor, building the extractor, and removing the governor. The process is more of annoyance than a true limit, and I think it would be nice to invest in extractors early on on small planets.

Thanks, and I can't wait to give the game another try after these changes

on Jan 04, 2023

I... don't really care for the "fighters are a superweapon against capital ships". Star Wars gets away with it because no one can hit the broad side of a barn at point-blank range, but the idea that fighters are way more nimble runs up against it being about how quickly the ship's weapons can track and target them - which is independent of the size of the ship that they're mounted on.


Which leads me to think that maybe a better option - and a softer version of the idea of user-defined targeting - would be to consider having weapon techs consider the mission profile of a weapon system, not just whether it's a beam, missile, or kinetic type. Somewhat like MoO's heavy mount and point defense modifications, you might have anti-capital, anti-fighter, etc, weapon systems that are really good at dealing with that specific type of target but much less effective otherwise.


Not only does this mean that the weapon profile determines what the ship is good against (fighters attacking a capital ship are only good against it if they have anti-capital weapons and the capital ship has little to nothing in the way of anti-fighter weapons - and other fighters are a real hazard to the attacking fighters if they have anti-fighter weapons instead), but it can be used to determine target priority, which gives the player (or AI, I suppose) some control over their behavior without turning the combats themselves into exercises in targeting micromanagement.

Of course, a well designed ship will probably have a mix of weapon types - a ship whose main job is to shoot down other capital vessels may still have a couple of anti-fighter batteries that engage any fighters that come at it, etc.

(I'm limiting this to just anti-fighter and anti-capital to keep it easy to explain, but there's no reason why weapon systems couldn't be specialized for other tasks too.)

on Jan 05, 2023

Its great to see combat, invasion and ideology get an overhaul, I also feel diplomacy could do with some attention.

Currently the diplomacy screen shows you the civ's friends and enemies but it doesn't show any info about their trading partners, this would useful if you wanted to use the trade embargo treaty.

Also I think it would be nice some additional options in terms of demands you can make of the other civs such as removing starbases  from within your sphere of influence or hand over colonies/core worlds within your influence (perhaps diplomatic capital could be used here.

Or perhaps a system where grievances can be triggered and they can either converted into demands or denounced in favor of diplomatic capital (Humankind's grievance system is quite good as an example, however it is also tied to a war score system which I recognize might not suit Gal Civ 4).

Also alliances in Gal Civ 4 feel like they are too shallow and provide no benefit outside of the alliance victory, it would be good to see them fleshed out more and given extra depth.

As I said above its great that combat and invasion are getting an overhaul but I think the more peaceful paths to victory should also get some love.


on Jan 05, 2023

For me there is nothing wrong or broken with Ideology.

It is just not simple as it was in 1,2, & 3.

Spend your time on combat, invasions, and bugs.

Leave what ain't broke (ideology) for GC5. 

Now the Faction System is as useless as nipples on a Boar Hog, could use a long hard look.

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