Brad Wardell's Blog


HAPPY NEW YEAR GALCIV FANS!

Published on Monday, January 1, 2024 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Civilizations IV

2023 was a great year for 4X gamers and especially fans of Galactic Civilizations!

But 2024 is going to be even better.  

I've been "back" on GalCiv for just over 6 months now and it's been a blast.  I loved working on GalCiv II back in the day but the hardware now is so much better. I can do so much evil with the AI and the tech in this engine is just crazy.

Another amazing thing that's changed is that game releases aren't "the end" anymore.  That was always so frustrating.  Just as we were getting into the zone we'd have to "ship".   

Even tonight, on New Year's Eve, I had my laptop with Remote Desktop able to do just a few little..you know, changes.  You'll get to see them soon.  

This upcoming year is going to see more advances to GalCiv and arguably in the genre than we've seen in years if ever and it's all thanks to you guys!

Happy new year!  I cannot wait to start getting some of this stuff out to you.  

GalCiv IV v2.2 Holiday Update

Published on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV News

Hat tip to @Cephandrius for sending us his saved game. There was a case where you could get a stuck AI turn because it assumed it would always be able to build a designed ship. But in 2.2, we introduced the concept of the AI building the BEST ship even if it couldn't be built right then. So in rare cases, the AI wouldn't have any ships it could build. This update fixes it.

And since we were fixing that bug, we decided to include something many of you have asked for: Better map generation. This update has a new map generation algorithm for placing other players. Rather than weighting the dice on nudging players further from the player based on settings, this one does some enforcement to ensure that other players don't end up on top of you if you've set further distances. This change is for AI in your own sector.

  • Improved AI for designing player ships.
  • Fix for endless loop of the AI looking for the "perfect" ship to build (perfect is the enemy of good).
  • Improved map generation that enforces distance from player setting more stringently.

Cheers!

Galactic Civilizations IV v2.2 for Epic

Published on Monday, December 18, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV News

Greetings!

I wanted to give an update to our Galactic Civilizations IV (base game) customers on Epic.  We are just about complete with the v2.2 update for the base (non-Supernova) game but ran out of time to put it through QA before the holiday break.

We anticipate putting out v2.2 for the base game on Epic in early January.  It's a huuuuuge update.  It's everything we did in Supernova (other than new content) plus everything up to 2.2.  So it's a pretty massive update.

Just wanted to post that we haven't forgotten our fans that supported us by buying the base game. We love you!

 

GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #37 - New Biomes in the v2.2 Ethnology Update

Published on Monday, December 11, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Another big change coming this Holiday season for GalCiv players in v2.2 (Ethnology) is a massive expansion of the number of biomes that make up worlds. Today we’ll take a look at some of the new ones.

First, a recap: The humans of Earth have a specific planet layout that loosely matches the continental layout of Earth (minus Australia – you guys didn’t send the bribe money!!).

Earth. Obviously.

We did, however, add a lot of new special tiles that have a chance to show up. I see several in the screenshot above. But still, Earth is the one that is most like previous versions.

Let’s go to a new planet.

Toria (Oceanic)

For fun, perhaps someone in the screenshots could post a link to a screenshot of what Toria looks like in v2.1 so you can see why we needed to improve this. Because we didn’t just add new biomes, we revisited what biomes can show up on which planets.

On this planet there are several new biomes including:

  • Marshlands

  • Barrier Reefs

  • Lagoons

  • Tropical Grasslands

  • Shallows

  • Gold Field (special)

  • Coastal

That’s 7 new biomes just for this one planet type.

Iconia(Barren)

This is another one that it would be cool if someone could link a screenshot to the 2.1 version of the Yor homeworld to see how lame it was.

This world has these new biomes:

  • Volcanic (which also shows up on Lava worlds of course)

  • Barren

But as you can see, Barren is pretty barren now but not necessarily boring. The big change though is just in terms of controlling what kinds of tiles will show up where.

Drengi (Volcanic)

Now, volcanic worlds have some similarities to a barren world. But also some notable differences.

Here you can see:

  • Volcanic

  • Lava Flow

  • Volcano

  • Volcanic Plains

Dratha (Jungle)

Jungle worlds are another one that should look quite different.

So on this planet we see:

  • Oasis

  • Stony Plains

  • Flood Plains (updated)

  • Giant Mushrooms (special)

Along with some things that were on other planets.

Refuge (Terrestrial)

Not surprisingly, terrestrial worlds saw the fewest changes.

But fertile plains were added.

We felt that since grasslands are a population buff tile, we needed a more common one that was just for food.

Let us know in the comments if you like this direction. Are there other types of biomes you’d like to see?

 

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Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Dev Journals

GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #36 - v2.2 Preview

Published on Thursday, December 7, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Greetings! So we have been working on GalCiv IV 2.2 which we are tentatively calling Ethnologies. What’s an ethnology? It’s a branch of anthropology that focuses on the uniqueness of different peoples or even species. And thanks to the overwhelming support we’ve received on the Expansion Pass for GalCiv IV we were able to bring on more people to work on 2.2 and the results, we think, will make players pretty happy.

One criticism of GalCiv has always been that the different races in the game aren’t distinct enough. Nothing shows just how ridiculous that is than the fact that whether you’re playing the humans or a race of sentient trees, you start out building a factory or a mainframe.

Let’s recap. Previously, when you started a game you would almost certainly get the same starting improvements as the Terran Alliance.

Specifically, the Terran Alliance got these two starting improvements.

For the Ethnologies (v2.2) we went back and gave most of the main canon civilizations their own starting improvements that go along with their civilization much better. More importantly, we tied these to their starting abilities and not the specific race. Therefore, your custom faction will be able to mix, match and probably create some interesting combinations.

For this article, we’re going to go through some of the civilizations and the starting improvements they get that replace the Capital Mainframe and Industrial Center.

Terran Resistance

These guys are the most similar to the Terran Alliance so we tried to give them something similar but also more in line with the characteristics of a civilization that had to set up a home world with some haste.

One recurring theme in these improvements will be that many of them will focus on boosting the stats of the citizens. This is partially because we want some races to prosper if they don’t colony rush. I’m pretty against the idea that colony rushing in a 4X game should be universally punished. Instead, we’d like to give players more tools to play how they want.

Similarly, the communications array makes the intelligence of the population higher and, as a result, makes the planet really do well if they are choosing to slow the colony rush.

Navigators

The Navigators are a mysterious race that has been forbidden from interacting with other civilizations to any significant degree. But they are pretty amazing at interstellar travel.

Another recurring theme you will see is that many of the new improvements work by spawning destructible (usually) mini improvements on tiles. Many times they’ll also spawn more tiles as well. These mini improvements aren’t particular powerful but by getting them instantly the player gets a big early boost and can still transition to something more later.

Mimots

The cute fluffy Mimots win by out reproducing everyone. Now they will get some interesting improvements that lend themselves to that strategy and tries to make up for the fact that they’re…well pretty dumb.

Xeloxi

The beautiful space criminals have one of the most powerful but more challenging improvements to use.

The Enforcer Den, when built, gives a new attribute to the population called Enforcer. It only does it to the population on the planet at the time it is completed. Enforcers citizens get huge bonuses and can be kept on world or sent to other worlds to beef up those planets.

The Enforcer Den itself is still pretty decent and gives control based on the amount of time on the planet.

This improvement is tricky too. That’s because it starts out wimpy and gets better over time. The amount of research it brings in grows as there is more tech out there to steal.

Arceans

The Arceans are fairly conventional but like the Resistance, they get some improvements that buff their citizens.

Unlike improvements that give a % boost to the citizen stats, the Neural Link provides a raw amount of intelligence and social skills to the citizens.

Altarians

The Altarians, being an ancient race, get access to Precursor tech.

Yor

We had a lot of fun with the robotic Yor. We felt that the synthetic species should be pretty distinct from the fleshlings out there.

The Durantium scanner helps the Yor in particular. That’s because Synthetic civs need Durantium to build more of themselves. Upon building this two interesting things happen:

First, the sensor range of the planet grows a lot. Look at that per level boost.

Second, these destructible Durantium deposits get spawned. They provide some production and of course Durantium.

Next, they get a Precursor Relic scanner. This has the effect of discovering up to 3 Precursor relics on the planet:

These relics can do different things. In this case, one does influence and another research and the other manufacturing. They can be destroyed to make room later.

Torians

For the Torians, they have a really pretty water world. To that end we decided to take a different approach.

Drath

The Drath are pretty similar to the Altarians actually but they also get an Arms Expo which helps get them well liked early on (and rich).

Corporate Sector

The galactic capitalists and entrepreneurs of the Centauron quadrant of the milky way galaxy take the view that no one should invade their planets because they’ll be utterly ruined by the time they’re done with them anyway.

Upon building the Central Mine, a bunch of Mining operations are spawned along with some new tiles. Unlike other mini improvements, these are indestructible, and they pollute. Luckily, the Iridians don’t care about pollution.

But if you’re playing a custom race that happens to care about pollution, we give you this rather expensive Air Purifier.

And no entrepreneur would be complete with a patent office.

Baratak Grove

No civ made us feel more ashamed of ourselves than the Baratak. Here’s a race of tree people. Now go build a factory.

The Baratak will continue to get more love but in the meantime, they don’t even get a capital city. Instead, they get the Father Tree.

These roots help boost the planet’s research by a great deal.

Luxar

A close second in the “Shame on Stardock!” camp are the Crystaline Luxar. Ooh, a beautiful crystal species. Go build a factory.

Now, they start with no capital either (no building). Instead, they deal with crystals.

It should be noted that a lot of their buildings get distributed across the tech tree.

The Korath

The Korath aren’t PG villains. The Drengin are your pretty standard PG villains. The Korath are monsters.

The first DLC, Tales of Centauron, adds a Korath campaign mission and you get a good idea what a species that truly sees the rest of us as vermin would do.

The ruined Torians can be sent out. But because they’ve been castrated, they won’t really reproduce. So keep that mind. On the bright side, they are always “happy”.

Ethnologies

We hope that these changes will make games feel a lot more unique. Of course, 2.2 also adds a bunch of unique events as well (and the DLC contains a lot more).

Let us know in the comments what you think!

 

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Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Dev Journals

GalCiv IV: Epic Edition

Published on Friday, November 17, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

We are currently working on the base game of the Epic edition.  This will come out at GalCiv IV 2.2 next month.

To make it easy for future updates to it, we are going to be bringing the code-base up to the Supernova edition. So in essence, GalCiv IV 2.2 base game on Epic will be the same as Supernova except for the new content (and things like AlienGPT).

Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Walkthrough

Published on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Civilizations IV

Welcome to Galactic Civilizations IV. If you’re reading this you are probably looking for something a bit more detailed than what’s in the game’s tutorial. For this walkthorugh, we’re going to play through a normal game or at least the first 10 turns of it.

New Game

For our purposes, we are going to do a normal game. To choose that, click on New Game.

Your first game shouldn’t be fancy. Play as the Terran Alliance. These are the humans of Earth. There’s no need to get into too much detail about them but they’re a bipedal race of hairless apes on Sol III. They’re the “easy” civ.

The defaults for them are fine. Humans are…well they’re fine. Not great not terrible.

For the map setup, keep all the defaults but change the number of sectors to singular (that means one) to keep things as simple as we can.

For opponents it doesn’t really matter too much for our purpose here. However, your choice in opponents will affect the game a lot. You have a bunch of tree hugging space alien hippies and have a pretty boring game. Or you can have a bunch of blood thirsty monsters and it’ll be constant war. A hero (that would be you) is only as good as their villains.

Turn 1

Now that you’re in the game you will get bombarded with a bunch of information. So we’ll try our best to make this as easy as we can.

Let’s start out with your ships. You can LEFT click on them to select. LEFT DOUBLE CLICK on them to get more info on them (Double clicking is your path to many abilities, some considered unnatural).

RIGHT-clicking will send a ship to a destination.

Your probe has unlimited range. You can set it to auto explore.

This is your flagship. These are often called Survey Ships or Science Vessels (first introduced into GalCiv I back in 2003). They go out and explore strange new things. In GalCiv IV you can’t just build as many of these as you want because the anomalies are now much more powerful. But through tech and other means you will soon have more than you’d ever thought you’d want.

Nearby is Mars. It’s not great. But it’s close. Send your colony ship here.

These are your Executive Orders. Each turn you generate control which helps you make use of these. These let you instantly do something in the world.

So far so good. You’re doing great!

The Planet Screen

This is where things seem complicated. If we were smarter, which we’re not, we would have a bunch of tabs to make this screen easier to digest. However, once you get used to it, you’ll see why we avoided adding tabs. Having everything here is just so convenient.

The shape of the continental landmasses is vaguely represented as hex regions. Except for Australia. They didn’t send enough bribes to get on here.

Planets have various inputs. Those inputs then are used by the citizens of the planets who are empowered by the planetary improvements you construct to turn them into outputs that your civilization can use.

Some regions have special bonuses on them. If you put something of the same type onto that region it will level it up which will make it perform better.

So if you drag a Research improvement on to a tile with a +3 research modifier you will see the 3 appear just before you drop it onto that tile. Going up 3 levels in this example results in nearly 9% more research occurring on your planet as a result. You can also see that this structure will give adjacent tiles a +3 to their research level if you place an improvement (or build a district) that is of the same kind.

You will also want to place your capital city. The capital city and later colonial capitals don’t cost anything to build and show up instantly so you don’t have to wait – unless you play as a Ravenous species they don’t get this benefit.

Planet Stats

Now let’s look at the planet stats.

Every turn your capital city will generate a culture point. Culture points are used to progress in culture later in the game. Only your home world generates these (in general – sorry Festron).

Pollution reduces the food output of the planet. You need food for your population to grow.

Crime is generated from a variety of sources. Sometimes you will have actual criminals as citizens and if that’s the case you can either lock them up or send them to Australia er to a colony.

Planetary Defense is how long it will take for an enemy to conquer this planet if they lay siege. Enemy fleets have a conquest rating. That rating determines how much of your planetary defense they’ll destroy each turn. When it reaches 0, the planet is conquered.

Approval is very important. It determines how effective your population is at working. Happy workers are productive workers which is why you should replace them with machines as soon as you can…

Control is what allows you to use those Executive Orders.

Citizens

Citizens are what make a planet thrive. They are the ones who take the inputs (minerals, tech) and turn it into stuff your civilization can use. Your citizens have 4 stats that affect how well they do at these things. Different species have various strengths and weaknesses. Well, not humans. They’re pretty bland and are OK at everything.

Sometimes citizens will have a trait that can affect their performance. Warforged means they belong to a faction (factions are political parties but we at Stardock were too cowardly to call them political parties so we called them factions).

You can spend control to train them into a particular profession. This can boost how well they do in a particular area but at the cost of them not doing as much in another area.

Planets: Getting them going

One piece of advice I have is to get your production going as soon as possible.

Production buildings are typically brown in color. Put them on something that will boost them (don’t destroy them like this screenshot implies).

Then spend money to rush build the building.

Planets: Districts

While the specialized planet improvements can be useful, your bread and butter are the easily (and often forgotten) districts. These are repeatable improvements that you can place anywhere you want.

In fact, good and admittedly handsome players will queue up a bunch of districts.

Making Starships

Double clicking on a shipyard will take you to fancy shipyard screen. You will want to build a Colony Ship right away.

You will probably want to rush build this if you plan on playing a wide game (i.e. have lots of planets).

Your first Colony

When you colonize a world, you will occasionally be given a choice on what you want to do. These choices can have consequences later.

Mars at this point is just a colony. Colonies provide their outputs to their nearest core world so they are worth getting. Just pay attention to how much they are producing.

Artifacts

Your flag ship will report back on things it finds and result in you having some choices. In this example, it found an artifact.

You can place the artifact in your vault to access later. I used this one to find a nice shiny planet in another star system…

Expanding to other star systems

When it’s time to go to another planet, you will be asked to choose who is being given the honor to go to an alien world. There are a lot of different ways to choose. I typically choose the least happy person who isn’t specialized. Other people have other strategies on this. In this example, I chose a character with high stats because I’m sending them to a planet that will become a core world.

Once I have a high quality planet (the higher its class the better) I can turn it into a core world by assigning a governor to it. Now you can manage this world directly and it will gather resources from nearby colonies.

Aliens

Eventually you will meet aliens. If neither of you have a Universal Translator (or if they just don’t want to use theirs with you) you will get this.

Researching Universal Translator tech is very important. It unlocks the Galactic Bazaar and gets trade moving.

Leaders

Leaders are citizens with a special trait (leader) that lets them be used anywhere. Their stats can be used to give your civilization buffs overall if you assignt hem. The stats are color-coded so you can see which stat matters for which job.

I almost always choose a Minister of Exploration first because it extends my ship range by their Diligence stat.

Leaders have a backstory that can sometimes trigger events later in the game that can have huge (or minor) consequences for the galaxy.

Orbitals

The orbitals button on planets lets you choose things to put into the orbit of your planet that provides some general benefit. Different types of planets have different numbers of orbital slots.

Getting Help

There is a very active Discord channel for GalCiv if you ever want to ask someone questions. This should be enough to get you started. Good luck!

GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #27 - Localization

Published on Monday, October 2, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals
One of Stardock's big challenges has been localizing our games.
 
GalCiv IV has over 180,000 words in it.  That's a lot to translate.  But that's not really the biggest issue.  The biggest issue is that we are constantly adding new text to the game which makes it hard for our linguistics team to keep up.
 
We typically use Trados for this sort of thing.  It's very powerful but it is not fast.  So I decided to write my own app called GC4TranslatorUI.  Fancy eh?
 
 
 
The format of our strings
 
The English files do have different names than the Chinese files.  Under the covers, they're just XML files like this:
 
    <StringTable>
        <Label>Race_Arcean_Dec</Label>
        <String>Arcean's stoic nature makes them unlikely to be [HS=HS_Ideology]ideological[/HS]. Instead they revere the military and Arcean soldiers gain additional [HS=HS_Approval]Approval[/HS] and are never pacifists.</String>
    </StringTable>
Where your app needs to match the labels together.
 
Due to finding Trados so slow, we are using this app which I'll walk you through how to use:
 
Step 1: The app is called GCTranslatorUI.exe and in the root of the Github project.  Load it.
 
It should look like this:
 
Step 2: Load the English source directory:
 
It's located here.
Your dialog should look something like this:
 
Step 3:  Choose Chinese as the language you want to use:
 
Step 4: Translate
 
I size the window to make it comfortable to use.  You will notice on the left side we have the priority of the translation.  (Normal, High).  We will also be adding additional strings.
 
Right now, all of the text has been machine (AI) translated.  So this would be a good way to get your linguists to take a look to and see what looks right and what doesn't.  You can see the English next to the Chinese on this screen.  If something needs to be changed, double click the entry and type in the correct translation.
 
Example:
Here is text that hasn't been translated.   The English source file is ModifierText.xml and the Chinese file it's to be translated into is AdditionalStrings_3.xml.   I double click on it and translate it.
 
 
 
This particular example highlights the issues with translation because what I actually wanted here was Sectors (not clusters) so even the English side is wrong.   But even if it were sectors, we mean sectors as in space sectors in a Sci-Fi context.  So even an AI translation would likely get it wrong.
 
Stardock is handling English, French, Russian, German, Chinese professionally (though the community has been super helpful with French, thank you!)
 
Eventually, we will have a large set of languages available to play the game in.  It's just a matter of how fast we are able to get to them.  But if the community wants to help, we welcome it.  
 
I didn't know Github at all when I started this. It's been a blast.  I've had ChatGPT teach me so I don't end up asking my engineers a bunch of newbie questions.  Link to ChatGPT: http://chat.openai.com
 

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Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Dev Journals

Frogboy's October 1 weekend madness

Published on Sunday, October 1, 2023 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Civilizations IV

Just some tweaks we put in this weekend that should show up for the next beta release:

 

  • Hostile civ spawn events (Snathi, etc.) will no longer occur to civs with the Pacifist trait.
  • Research district base benefit increased from 3% to 5%
  • Manufacturing district base benefit increased from 3% to 5%
  • Life Support module added for ship design, increases range by +8.
  • Fixed a bug that allowed the AI to stupidly declare war without much of a military simply because they were pissed off.
  • Fixed a bug that allowed the AI to end transports with insufficient escorts
  • Updated the planet window and unit list to fix problems with accessing data and citizens on the screen. Improved the layout and fonts.
  • Disease related events blocked from triggering if the player is a synthetic civ).
  • Endcap Technologies: These are technologies that are unlocked if you get the corresponding endcap cultural progression trait. They are very expensive so that researching them is only viable late game.
  • Post-Sentience tech now increases citizen diligence by 0.2 per turn
  • Technological singularity now creases the research on the CAPITAL WORLD by 1% every turn. (this is very powerful for tall empires)
  • Consensus end cap tech now provides the player a +0.1 diplomacy buff per turn until everyone loves you.
  • Dream of Utopia end cap tech now results with the capital world of the civ generating +5 more influence per turn every turn. Note that this is a very expensive end game tech.
  • Glorious legacy end cap technology results on every planet generating an additional 5% more influence per turn. Again, these are techs that requires completing a cultural progression tree category and then researching the extremely expensive tech.
  • Coordinated travel end cap technology results in every ship getting +0.1 more moves per turn every turn (max of 100 additional moves per turn).
  • Individual Divinity end cap technology results in all citizens getting a +0.1 buff to every stat every turn.
  • Cultural Influence tech restore to Synthetic races so that galactic challenges will work (hat tip: Manhattan)
  • New Tech: Interstellar Cartography. Increases moves cap by +1. Requires Starbase Modules tech to research.
  • Exotic Agriculture requires the Farmer species trait
  • Anomaly detection now provides +1 to moves
  • Ship maint decrease when ships in orbit removed
  • Ships that start their turn in friendly territory now get a 50% buff to their moves that turn.
  • Base ship movement reduced from 3 to 2 now that ships get a 50% buff in friendly territory.
  • Capital Mainframe research bonus increased from 20% to 25%
  • Supply Depot requires Xeno Industrialization now
  • Altarian focus changed from Pacifism to Egalitarianism.
  • Cultural Progression trait changes:
  • Sovereign Identity gives all planets a 20% buff to planetary resistance (to culture flipping)

Cheers!

GalCiv IV BETA v1.9 localization

Published on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Localization

 

Our localization teams are hard at work across the world.   And the community has done some great work too.

However it is clear that we are not going to get all 185,000 words fully translated in time for release.  It takes about 60 days for the linguists we work with to edit and translate.

That said, we are fairly far along.   Stay tuned!

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