DEV DIARY: GalCiv III December 2016

Published on Saturday, December 17, 2016 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals

Galactic Civilizaions III - Vertical

By now you should have version 1.9 which is easily the biggest update to the game since its original release.

When I joined the GalCiv III team last month, I did a thorough inventory of the code base and decided to focus on 3 things:

1. The AI
2. The Performance
3. The memory use

## Results ##
The result was 1.9. I've seen a lot of feedback on it. Mostly good. There's some complaints that the galaxy sizes are a little smaller. This is true, I did make them a bit smaller but I made the number of stars and planets available much much higher. In response, we are going to restore the absolute largest sized galaxy. I just personally don't like the pacing and didn't think others would care if I made the absolute size smaller if I was giving them more planets to play on. Clearly I was mistaken. It's no sweat to increase the largest sizes.


## Whining ##
Some people have contacted us to complain about how much I've been complaining about the game and that I am hurting the game's reputation by complaining.

First, let me say that we are grateful that our fans love the game so much that they want to defend it from me.

Second, Galactic Civilizations has been part of my life for over 20 years. I wrote the OS/2 versions back in the 90s and designed GalCiv I and GalCiv II and wrote their AIs. So I do care very much about GalCiv.

Third, just because "other games" have bad AI doesn't excuse GalCiv III from having bad AI. It was unacceptable and had to be improved -- a lot. On larger maps, I would go as far as to say the AI was just plain broken. It couldn't effectively expand beyond a certain point.

The issue with non-expanding AIs is a scourge on the 4X game development community. It has to do with turn performance. The reason most of these 4X game AIs are terrible is because of perf concerns versus what is considered "good enough".

But we live in an age where people 4+ CPU cores. The AI should be doing your taxes while crushing you. So while the 1.9 AI doesn't do your taxes, it does make a lot of use of your CPU cores.

Those playing the game no doubt noticed the pretty massive perf differences. I didn't optimize anything. I just made the game use your hardware a lot better.


## Words and Deeds ##

I thought it pretty important that 1.9 get out before Christmas. Last month I wrote out a litany of complaints about the game. But talk is cheap. I wanted the players to know that we weren't just aware of things we could improve but that we could address them quickly.

## What's next? ##
There is more to do. Some of the memory optimizations resulted in some changes to the way lighting is handled so we need to make some aesthetic changes. Not a big deal but needs to be done.

I want to get the Administration feature in. Just not sure the best way to do it that doesn't require a ton of UI work.


## The upcoming expansion ##

The big expansion people have been waiting for is about 75% done now.

It will be handled as a DLC mainly because people threw a fit when we made the Ashes of the Singularity expansion a stand-alone and we don't want to go through that again. So we'll figure out some way to take what is, essentially, a new game and make it DLC.

Broadly speaking:
- Espionage
- Interactive Invasion system with real strategy involved
- New Economy (no more wheels, something much much better - micro managers can micro manage and macro managers can macro and once you see it, you will be mad for no one having come up with this obvious in hindsight system before)
- Civilization Builder (Make whatever civilization you want, assign ship designs, dialog, etc. to them and share them, the AI will use it all).
- Living galaxy (the lifeblood of the galaxy will be visible)
- Tons of other things
- New campaign (of course)
- New tech tree system

Like I said, it's basically a quasi-sequel disguised (and priced) as a DLC. We will be announcing it next month. Suffice to say, we think this expansion will raise the bar on what people will expect in their 4X games (not just space) and some of the features are things that will become expected in 4X I think as they are too obvious not to have them.

That's all for now.