DEV Diary: Galactic Civilizations Fall 2017

Published on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals


Winter is coming.  And so is Galactic Civilizations III v2.7.  This version has been in the works for a long time as a general, all around, polish pass on everything in the game.  

New Data Manager

This is a boring feature that most people won't care about, but for those of you who have a lot of custom civilizations, you will find game load times to be much faster.  This is because the data management used to be handled by an external process that was single threaded.  This caused some headaches because some anti-virus programs would flag this behavior.  The new data manager integrated with the game and multi-core. 

Procedural Planet AI first past

This is a feature we've been working on for a long time that is finally starting to get integrated into the public version.  Essentially, the AI looks at the state of the galaxy, its empire, its planet, and uses this data to prioritize what should be built on its planets.  The AI still uses the governors.xml as a guide but is no longer at its total mercy.

Bug fixes

As we've added bigger map sizes, more modding support, and more steam workshop support, we've also uncovered bugs that these features expose.  Thus, the vast majority of the work on 2.7 has been put into fixing things that would come to bite players way late in the game.  This also has a significant benefit for multiplayer fans who will find the game a lot more robust in late game MP.

Fan Service

Features like being able to toggle between turn number and date, making planetary improvements more destructible, more AI focus on farm production, and balance updates have been added based on player feedback, plus lots of other little touches.

Future DLC

Since the game's release over two years ago, we've released 9 DLC and 2 expansion packs for the game.   The DLC does do pretty well, but they cause us a lot of PR grief.

Expansions are made by the engineering team and take about a year to do each.  DLC is made by the artists so that they have sufficient work to do during this time.

Some of the DLC has to do with providing more story based campaigns to fill out the game universe.  In order:

  1. Rise of the Terran Alliance (basically the GalCiv I story)
  2. Altarian Prophecy (remainder of GalCiv I story)
  3. Revenge of the Snaithi (pre-GalCiv II story)

We had planned:

  • Dread Lords (GalCiv II story)
  • Dark Avatar (rest of GalCiv II story, would bring back the Korath)

But like I said, we take a lot of grief online because people just see a bunch of DLC and think the game is just incomplete or something.

So for now, we've made staffing changes and we are currently in full development towards the next major expansion.  We're pretty excited about this as it lets us do some really interesting things.

The next expansion

We will be announcing the next expansion in January. It will focus overwhelmingly on politics and governance. It will also have some goodies for those who have Mercenaries and Crusade. 

The Crusade & The Apocalypse

Most people play Galactic Civilizations because it provides a deep and engrossing sandbox experience.  When I wrote the first Galactic Civilizations game 25 years ago from my dorm room, I thought it important that the game not have random, generic species to go up against.  I was a big fan of Sid Meier's Civilization and my love of history allowed me to instantly connect to the Mongols (those bastards), Gandhi, etc.  Thus were born the 5 core races that make up Galactic Civilizations: The Drengin, the Arceans, the Altarians, the Torians, and the Yor.

I wasn't able to do much work on GalCiv III itself but I did provide the outline for the first half of the story I wanted it to tell.  When I took over the GalCiv III project, I called my version "Crusade" (hence GalCiv III: Crusade).  The second part of the story, which hasn't been told yet, is called the Apocalypse.

If you've kept up with the GalCiv story all these years, you know that the Terran Alliance is a contradiction at times.  The Drengin have routinely commented that the humans are hypocrites because they hold out the velvet glove of diplomacy but underneath it is an iron fist.  For GalCiv I and GalCiv II, the humans tried really, really hard to rise above their more brutal tendencies.  And what was their reward? Betrayal, and near-total destruction at the end of GalCiv II.  

Thus, GalCiv III begins with our main character returning from a pocket universe brimming with Precursor weapons.  The humans are outraged and have the means to exact total vengeance.  Thus between now and when GalCiv III is "completed" - in the sense that it won't have a dedicated dev team on it anymore - some day in the future, the second half of that story must be told. 

Next up

Galactic Civilizations III has reached around 600,000 units sold on Steam alone (not counting other channels like GOG and overseas).  Because of the nature of digital distribution (versus the old retail model), it sill almost certainly become the most successful version of the game yet.  It was also the first game made on Stardock's new game engine (Cider), which is a native 64-bit, multi-core engine.  If one looks at where the game was at 1.0 and where it is today (2.61) it's a pretty dramatic progression thanks to the team getting better and better at using the new engine.  We are incredibly excited about where things will go in the future with it.