Brad Wardell's Blog


GalCiv IV Dev Journal #5

Published on Monday, June 14, 2021 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

During the development of a game, many ideas will look good on paper only to be found to not work out in practice.  Normally, these ideas get killed off before implementation and even fewer ever get seen by the public.

In the case of Galactic Civilizations IV, because we’re going out in ALPHA, you will get to see some ideas fully implemented that we have already decided didn’t work out. Today’s example for discussion: The Ideology compass.

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Here’s how it works:

There are 4 axis’s:

  1. Collectivist
  2. Libertist
  3. Authoritarian
  4. Individualist

Through the course of the game, players will encounter situations that give them awareness points in a particular area.  You can’t spend these points they simply unlock the ideology perk.

Later, players can earn culture points through completing missions (quests) in the game.  THEN they can spend a point to unlock something where their options are based on what perks they have awareness of.

Unfortunately, this is proving to be quite limiting and begs for political compass memes.  So even though it’s fully implemented, it’s going to get scrapped.

In its place are going to be Cultural Spectrums.

 

Cultural Spectrums

With cultural spectrums, players will have several different spectrums to choose from such as:

  • Individualism <---> Collectivism
  • Traditionalism <---> Innovation
  • Xenophobia <----> Xenophilia
  • Harmony <----> Honesty
  • Shame <----> Guilt

It also opens the door for us to keep adding more.

When a player makes a choice, they will increase their stance on the spectrum.  However, now, gaining +1 stance in individualism means losing a point in collectivism.  As a result, when people unlock culture points, they will generally only have access to the ones that are near the “middle” unless they are playing pretty extreme.

GalCiv IV Dev Journal #4 - A Guided ALPHA Tour

Published on Thursday, June 10, 2021 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

For this entry, we are going to give you a tour of Galactic Civilizations IV as it exists, in alpha state, in June 2021.  We’re very excited.

There’s a lot in here but so very much more to do.

Note: I’m playing at 5K so I’m smushing my screenshots down so that they’re not quite so huge.

 

Choosing a Civilization

For the Alpha, you can only play as the humans.  This is because we intend to make the civilizations much more distinct than they were in GC3 which means we really need to master the humans and general mechanics before going through all the others.

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We anticipate launching with around 22 civilizations.  The main civs from GC3 will return with one notable exception:  The Thalan.  I will miss them as they’ve been with us all the way back to the OS/2 days.

 

Customizing

While you will be able to create your own civilizations in the final version, we have taken this one step further by having some easy customization part of the base civilization as well.  One of the things we noticed in GC3 is that most players didn’t realize just how much you could change on a given civilization.

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Galaxy Setup and Opponent Setup

These screens are very basic.  We plan to make these much more tweakable than they were in GC3.  One new AI feature (not in the Alpha) is the option for players to have dynamic intelligence.  You still set their intelligence like you would before but their intelligence will increase or decrease depending on how they’re doing (to certain limits).  The idea is to provide a better game experience.  This feature will be ON by default once it’s implemented.

 

Into the Game

This is what you will see at the start.

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Your Survey ship is selected at the start and you now have advisors who will suggest what you should do.  We will also have VO for advisors as well eventually. 

Survey ships do what they have always done which is explore anomalies.  However, this time it takes a turn for them to do so:

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This helps a bit with pacing and allows us to justify giving a little more meat to the anomalies.

 

Your First Colony

Pretty much every planet will have an event now.  Here is the one for Mars.

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The options in this example include:

  1. Get a leader
  2. Get an extra mineral
  3. Get an extra tech

This lets me segway into what colonies do.

 

Colonies vs. Core Worlds

This is a feature I wish we had come up with in GalCiv I let alone GalCiv IV.  Lots of planets are colonizable but most of them are pretty awful.  By default a colonized planet is a colony that feeds its core world.  In this case: Earth. 

So while Elon Musk is on Mars, what does it do for us?

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These planets send out potentially 5 raw resources:

  • Minerals
  • Tech
  • Wealth
  • Food
  • Culture

These then go to  their associated core world:

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This isn’t done yet by any means (it’s missing culture for instance).   The planet then takes these inputs (including its own natural resources) and send them to the citizens:

That’s these guys:

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This is your population.  Unlike in previous GalCiv games, population isn’t some number that we use head canon to make sense of.  Instead, it is represented by citizens.

Each citizen has its own stats:

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Humans, being generic race basically, have fine stats. Perfectly fine.  Not bad. Not good.  Each stat corresponds with one of the outputs of the planet or some other planet stat.

Different species have different stats.  For example, the Drengin have super-high resolve.  The Torians have really high diligence.  And yes, you will have planets with mixed races on them whose morale might change based on what you’re doing with their home worlds (i.e. have Drengin on your planet but you’re at war with the Drengin? Bad things).

Now, enhancing these citizens are your planetary upgrades.

There are three different types of upgrades:

  • Improvements
  • Districts
  • Projects

In previous games, we crammed all these into improvements which resulted in the game becoming pretty unwieldly later on.  It also became a little frustrating because we had to name every improvement so you would be like “So is a Manufacturing Center better than a Mega Factory??”.  Now, it’s simply a Manufacturing District that levels up based on techs and if there’s something special, that’s the improvement and those are one of a kind.

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The tiles are color coded based on what gives a bonus.  Bonuses being things that level up a given type of district or improvement.

All of this then ends up with the planetary output:

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Minerals become manufacturing.

Tech becomes research.

Wealth becomes revenue.

Culture becomes influence.

Food…well food stays food unless we can come up with a better name.

These outputs are what grow your civilization in various ways.

 

The Shipyard

A core planet can have a shipyard.  Colonies feed the core world and the core world feeds the Shipyard.  This means that a shipyard doesn’t have multiple sponsors. Just its core world.

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Early on, the ship choices are pretty basic.  Colony ship or scout.  Immediately available technologies include Starbases, Survey Ships, Armed Shuttles, Asteroid miners and others that greatly increase this.

 

Researching

Researching is very different in GalCiv IV.  Now, the game will pull 4 random techs (5 if you have a research minister). You can “reshuffle” but it will make that tech cost 10% more for each reshuffle.

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We have the tech tree button locked for now but it will be replaced with a research explorer.  That’s because the new “tech tree” is much more sophisticated and not easily displayed on the screen.

 

New Colonists

There are no “administration points” in GalCiv IV.  Your limiting factor will be people. For instance, when you build a colony ship you will need to move a citizen on to it:

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So even though there area  ton of planets to colonize and nothing technically stops you from colonizing all of them, you will find your population not able to keep up with your ambitions.

 

Leaders

The game should prompt you (but it is not in this build) that you have some leader candidates waiting.  Leaders are citizens with leadership training.

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Leaders cost money to hire.  Eventually, players can train their own citizens to be leaders but early on, you can only get them from recruiting.  The red box you see here (unfortunately) is how loyal they are.  Shockingly, random humans I recruit for money are not extremely loyal for some reason.

Loyalty matters because it affects how likely they are to betray you.  For example, to make a given colony a core world, you have to assign a governor to that planet.  The governor provides perks and carries out your orders.  The more colonies they have, the more likely they are to rebel (thus, there it a temptation to have a single mega world but you will find that creates problems).

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When I hire a leader, I can make them  a minister.  The bonus they provide is based on their stats.  For instance, Pranav here has an intelligence of 10.  So when I make him my Minister of Tech, he gives me a 10% boost to research.  If I had made him my minister of colonization, he’d have given me +1 moves but only +5 range because his diligence is only 5.

You can also assign leaders to govern planets.

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Assigning leaders to marginal planets isn’t just a waste of a leader, it’s not very useful either because marginal worlds are never as effective as it would be as a colony having its resources greatly multiplied by its core world.

There are 3 other things to do with leaders as well:

  1. Diplomats.  Assigning someone to be a diplomat allows you to spy on another civilization or improve your relations with them depending on your orders.  This hasn’t been fully fleshed out yet.  Intelligence = Spying ability and Social = Diplomatic improvement bonus.
  2. Commanders. Leaders also have a starship that they come with. You can choose to put them on the board as ships. 
  3. Think Tanks.  As precious as leaders are early game, late game you will have quite a few of them.  Think Tanks allow you to use leaders to bump up your civilization’s bonuses in various areas.

 

Backstories

You may have notice a little text blurb on the leaders.  That’s because each and every one has a backstory.  You may (but probably won’t) run into a mission that is triggered by a given leader’s backstory.  This matters because you will want to pay a little attention to the leaders to make sure they don’t have a backstory that’s going to come back to haunt you.  Similarly, a leader who has a lost treasure in the family might result in something great for you.

 

The Map

GalCiv is known for being able to zoom in and out with total fluidity.  This is being taken up a notch this time.  In GalCiv IV, the start of the game is going to feel a lot like previous GalCiv’s.

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Zooming out:

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Solar system.

 

Zooming out:

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Sector. What? Sector.

 

Zooming out:

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Galactic.

Think of a map in GalCiv III, the entire map, as being a single sector.  GalCiv IV can have many sectors depending on your map setup.  These sectors are connected through subspace streams.  You have to research techs to even see where the subspace streams and then another tech to travel through them.

Controlling a sector brings benefits, in particular, prestige.

 

Prestige

The most basic strategy game problem has been with us since the 4X genre was invented.  You know you’ve won but it’s going to take you another 2 hours to actually get the game to acknowledge that.  How do you solve that?  GalCiv IV has a new victory condition: Prestige.

Prestige is designed to have the player win (we haven’t decided if AI players can win through this mechanism or not) if it’s obvious they’re going to eventually win.  Each player collects prestige through their accomplishments.  When the human player has the majority of the galactic prestige they win.  Owning sectors is one obvious way to do that.  To own a sector, you just need to control the most parsecs in that sector.

Another way to earn prestige are through galactic achievements.

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These are disabled in Alpha 1 but they are, in essence, a bunch of lore-centric “quests” that if you have certain pre-requisites in your game become enabled and reward you, amongst other things, with prestige.  So rather than having to grind through 2 more hours of cranking out ships or building influence or waiting to win via diplomacy you can alternatively win by triggering the Dread Lords return and fighting them off or uncovering the artifact that the Thalan are looking for (ahh see they’re not totally gone!) or numerous other really interesting situations.

Most achievements won’t be available in a given game because the conditions just won’t be right.  But this also means a lot of replayability rewards.  For instance, you can’t exactly exact revenge on the Drengin take over of Toria in 1543 if you aren’t playing as the Torians.

 

Executive Orders

The game should prompt you about executive orders but my build doesn’t have this yet.  Executive orders are another obvious feature that we should have had in GalCiv I but I was too dumb to think of it back then.

Here’s how they work:

The planet you directly control (the capital world) gives you 1 point of control per turn.  Your governed worlds can also give you a point of control per turn IF you place a special improvement on there.  However, doing so really makes the governor angry.

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Different civilizations have different executive orders and more are unlocked as new technology and new events and missions occur.

You spend control to, for instance, get a free colony ship or get a bunch of money (with a bunch of crime) or call an election.

 

Policies

Another feature not in GalCiv IV Alpha but coming soon are policies.  These essentially let you pick and choose how you want your civilization to work.   Different civs have different policies available to them.

 

Ideology Compass

Next week I’ll be talking about this feature.  It’s actually going away so I won’t spend too much time on it.  It’s being replaced by Culture Spectrums.

 

Ship Upgrades

Fleets can get upgrades when their XP grows.  That upgrade only goes to 1 ship in the fleet.

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Ship upgrades can boost moves, weapons or even give them other goodie that you’ve found.

 

Movements

Within your civilization are a number of movements.  In other games, you might think of these as religious sects.

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Ironically, these only make sense when Policies are unlocked but gaining favor with these movements will give you a lot of power in the policy screen. 

 

Constructors and Starbases

This feature is in flux as we are developing this and the AI in tandem.  But here’s the short version:

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Constructors build starbases.  You can upgrade them in lots of interesting ways.  These upgrades cost a new resource called Modules that are produced at your shipyard.

 

Asteroid Mining

You can mine the asteroids but rather than just conjuring them with money you have to build an Asteroid miner and and them here.

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These asteroids are then mined for their minerals which are then sent to their nearest world as…(wait for it)….minerals.

 

Trading

This part of the game is still a work in progress.

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New in GC4 is the ability to threaten and persuade.  You can attempt to get a better deal during negotiations by using these intangible “resources” to get a better deal.

Moreover, not shown here is that the size of the deal is governed by your diplomacy ability.  Thus, trading civs will be able to conduct much bigger trades than ones without it.

 

Space Monsters

The galaxy is much more dangerous in GC4. 

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Space Monsters don’t just remove a ship from your service, they actually lay eggs in them and then the ship becomes another space monster.  This was enough of an issue that I had to write an emergency AI update for the alpha because the AI was feeding these things ships.

 

Good Planets

There aren’t very many good planets out there.  But when you do find one, you can add an governor to it in another way other than how I mentioned earlier.

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Admittedly, we should add a button to take you to the recruit screen too. 

 

Optimizing Immigration

Over time, you will have a lot of different races on your planets.

Some species are better than others for certain worlds if you have one in mind.

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In my head canon on most Sci-Fi shows that involve ancient races, I tend to think humanoids spread out because their “masters” picked them lazily because they’re average at all things.

 

Pirates

There are a lot more pirates and other baddies out there.  The thing to know here: Pirates can conquer planets.  In fact let’s get into that.

 

Conquering Planets

Core Worlds require invasion technology and a transport with a legion of soldiers on board.  But colonies? Not so much.  A colony can be invaded with any armed ship.  Pirates can’t colonize planets but they’ll happily use yours.

Similarly, we are working hard on the AI to make sure they understand the opportunities being presented when they see a bunch of undefended planets. 

 

Conclusions

So this is really just the start of the GalCiv IV journey.  We have so many more features and improvements to make.  The goal of Alpha 1 is mainly just to see what we broke.  Does it even run on your computer? What sort of ghastly problems did our new design not take into account of?

The rest of June will be spent just fixing terrible terrible bugs.  Then in July we’ll get into adding in the obvious missing features that we already have.  Then in August through November we’ll be implementing your ideas and suggestions as well as throwing out features that seemed like a good idea and replacing them with ones based on your feedback.

 

WHERE IS THE ALPHA?

We are running the Alpha here on galciv4.com (Early Access won’t be on Steam).  We love Steam (and in particular I like a lot of the store improvements this year).  But we really want a single forum for feedback and we want to discourage people from joining the Alpha unless they are super into being apart of the game design and development process.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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All GalCiv IV Journals

GalCiv IV Dev Journal #3

Published on Monday, June 7, 2021 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

With the benefit of hindsight…

Every 4X game I’ve played struggles with the late game.  This is because they tend to become a micromanagement slog where the outcome of the game was known long before.  So how do you address this?  Well, the wrong way to do it is with AI governors or other such “help” from the AI.

GalCiv IV flips the concept of governors on its head.

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In previous GalCiv games, you had to manage every single planet you colonized. This is all fun…at first. But by the time you have your 33rd planet, it starts to be a lot of work.

In GalCiv IV you don’t manage worlds by default. They are simply little resource pips for their core world.

Inspired by reality

Let’s say we colonize a moon of Saturn someday.  Are we seriously going to treat that colony the same as we treat Earth in terms of focus?  Of course not. The same is true in GalCiv IV. When you first colonize a world, it’s just a colony.

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So when a planet is first colonized, it’s just a colony, and it sends back 6 raw resources to its core world:

Minerals
Tech
Wealth
Culture
Food
Control

We’ll get into these other resources later. The point being is that core worlds take these resources and do stuff with them. It’s the ultimate min/maxer’s dream.

But before you get excited about having your one super mega world having 130 colonies feeding it, this is where those pesky characters come in.

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As mentioned before, your core worlds are the ones you’ve assigned a leader to govern. You, the player, manage these worlds with the governor providing the world with perks based on their stats.  But technically, it’s the governor who is running the world even if you’re the one calling the shots. The governor’s stats determine what perks get applied to that world, but that character also has a loyalty stat.

I don’t need you

The more worlds under the control of a governor, the more a governor’s loyalty is tested.  After all, if your governor controls all your planets, it’s really his empire - not yours. Why should he keep taking orders from you? Why not just become an independent empire and take those colonies with him?

Thoughts of rebellion can come both from within and without.  It’s one of the ways the player can really screw with other civilizations as well by throwing money and resources at the governors of foreign civilizations to get them to rebel or even join you instead.  Of course, the same thing can be done to you as well.

Finding a balance

So on the one hand, you will have some high quality planets that you want to be able to build improvements on, which means assigning one of your precious governors to it. And on the other hand, you’ll have dozens of low quality planets that you’ll want to have feeding those core worlds.  Finding the right balance of when to make a planet a core world and when to leave it as a colony is a big part of the challenge in GalCiv IV. 

Giving up a leader to turn a colony into a core world is a sacrifice, but the reward is being able to really magnify the production of that core world with resources coming in from its associated colonies.  Just don’t overdo it, or you’ll find your civilization filled with rebellion and crime.

 

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Feeling like a failure

Published on Friday, May 28, 2021 By Brad Wardell In Life, the Universe and Everything

So I turn 50 this year. 

It's an arbitrary milestone but such milestones gives us an opportunity to take stock in our lives.

I wrote on my Facebook page that I get frustrated being a failure.  My friends and family were quite worried and I should have given more context to my feelings which is what I am going to do here.

We all have certain personality traits that can get in the way of accomplishing what we want.  Maybe you just want to lose some weight and you just can't stick to a diet. It makes you feel bad. You might feel like a failure. Maybe you have a great family. Lots of friends. But having goals that you fail to meet because of your own character shortcomings is extremely frustrating.  That's where my head lives a lot of the time.

People who know much about me know I have a lot of "haters".  That sort of thing doesn't bother me because they don't really hate me. They hate a caricature of me.  I always joke to my wife "There are so many legitimate reasons to hate me but these people focus on things made up by other people."

What makes me feel like a failure -- what has always made me feel like a failure (going back many years) is that I have 3 gaping personality flaws that prevent me from reaching my potential:

  1. Cognitive Dissonance
  2. Emotional investment in abstractions
  3. Fear of change

I call it the Barrier of denial.

When you look at someone like Elon Musk, whether you like him or not, it can't be denied he has accomplished great things.  Amazing things. And from reading up on him, he clearly does not have the 3 flaws I listed above.  Sure, he has other flaws but I don't think people should define success or failure based on how they compare to other people.  People should try to be the best person they can be. And it is my failure to do that is what frustrates me.

Let me outline a few examples of what I mean of failure.

Galactic Civilizations for OS/2

I wrote this game while in college. And IBM recommended this guy and his "company" called "Advanced Idea Machines" to publish it at the stores. Now, under the covers, IBM did all the real work to get it at the store. But AIM was actually just this guy, a scammer. And I should have known he was a scammer.

He sent me a bunch of "marketing" shirts for the game with the tagline: "Have you met the nieghbors".  Yes, misspelled.  That was the moment I was pretty sure that I was being scammed.  But I did nothing.  

* Cognitive dissonance (IBM recommended him therefore I must be wrong)

* Fear of change (I've already gone this far, I'm sure it'll be OK)

Needless to say I didn't get paid.  The game made millions and I saw nothing.  Imagine how things might have gone if 1994 era Stardock had millions of dollars to build up rather than $15,000 (that's how much I got selling copies of the "Shipyards" expansion to people via floppy disks over Usenet).  

And in my bones, I knew this guy was a scammer.

OS/2 in general

Stardock stuck with the OS/2 market for a long time after it was doomed. For most Stardock customers, we began in 2000 or 2001 with Object Desktop, WindowBlinds, maybe The Corporate Machine game (or later with Sins of a Solar Empire and Fences).  But in the 1990s, Stardock was arguably the #1 ISV for OS/2 -- for both utilities and games.  

If you walked into a store carrying OS/2 software in 1996 it was mostly our software whether you wanted games or utilities.  And yet, I knew OS/2 was doomed in 1996.  How? Because I had a bunch of people at IBM calling me telling me that IBM had disbanded the OS/2 team and that I should migrate to Windows immediately.  These were colleagues from IBM in Boca Raton and Raleigh who were taking some risk telling me this.   And what did I do? Nothing.

* Emotional investment in abstraction (it's just a little bit dead! It's still good! It's still good!)

I was so "into" OS/2.  People get behind causes.  Look at the people who get emotionally invested in a platform (Steam, PlayStation, XBOX, Linux, Mac, etc.).  I get it.  I could not admit that the thing I was so into was going to die.

Imagine how things might have gone if I had ported Galactic Civilizations to Windows in 1996 instead of waiting until 2003 when it required a rewrite (because of technical changes).  It would have been easy to release GalCiv for Windows NT 4.0 and Object Desktop for Windows in 1996.  But I couldn't betray "the cause".

Instead, I waited until I was laying off friends and colleagues at Stardock to limp over to the Windows market in 1999. 

And even at that point, we had plenty of OS/2 customers screaming at me that I was greedy or selling out or "betraying" them or whatever.   Never become emotionally invested in a platform.

And on it goes

But these are the kinds of mistakes I have continued to make: Knowing a problem and not acting on it due to a flaw whether that be Elemental, MyColors, or canning the Star Control: Origins project in 2017 when its development had gone off the rails (imagine how different recent events would have gone if I had simply killed that project before the drama stuff came up a year later).

For me, feeling like a failure is an expression of frustration that I still can't overcome my personal failings.  I've gotten better about these failings but I still find myself not making "the hard decision" because of the flaws I mentioned above.

GalCiv for OS/2 FAQ

Published on Friday, May 28, 2021 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Civilizations Series

I thought you guys might find this very interesting:

Written by Mark Anderson (which is why you still will find stars named Anderson in the game)

The Galactic Civilizations Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)  Document.

By Mark Anderson
1994
Some editing by Brad Wardell (just an itty bitty tiny little bit). (Actually, if there is something that sounds real authoritative and deals with some of the intricacies of OS/2 and GalCiv, it's Brad's fau... handiwork.) This document can be freely distributed. Please Feel free to contribute to this document! My internet address is: wombats@nmrfam.wisc.edu Send all your wishlists, cheats, questions, etc. to me! This document is broken into the following areas: [1] The Game 1.1 Description 1.2 Hardware Requirements [2] Frequently Asked Questions (Strategies and other hot tips) [3] Cheats [4] How the AI is done [5] Data and Numbers (incomplete) 5.1 Technology Tree 5.2 Projects 5.3 Galactic Achievements 5.4 Technology and Ships [6] Wishlist **************************************************************** THE GAME Chapter 1.1 GalCiv is an interstellar strategy game that puts humanity in the position of getting a fresh start with chance to re-direct the path of humanity for good, evil or shades thereof. The premise of the game has an interstellar colony ship from Earth jumping to some other galaxy via a freak wormhole. This forms the core of humanity. The new galaxy is already inhabited by one to five (player selectable) other space-faring races. The "personalities" of the races can be determined randomly or they can be chosen by the player, but the range of variation is less if this is done. The human player (the actual "alien" in this setting) directs the research paths of humanity, the planetary construction and the ship building endeavors of the planets. More importantly, various "events" occur that require the player to make distinct choices between good, evil or neutral. These choices can affect planetary production or budget levels, but they also affect how the various alien races interact with the human player. The game is allows the player to win by either the classic, total conquest mode or a more cooperative mode of allying with all of the factions of the galaxy. One of the greatest appeals that the game has over other strategy games is that the multi-threaded, multi-tasking architecture of OS2 permits the use of real (whatever that means AI. In play terms, it means that your opponents actually use better strategy at the harder play levels, rather than relying on various "cheats" to give them enough advantages to make the game a challenge. The level of "smartness" is adjustable for each race in the game and varies from "brain-dead" to "incredible" in 6 steps. The smartness levels less than "genius" are actually handicapped. Brad Wardell's discussion of this feature is detailed below. The game features economic and population growth models that take into account the level of taxation and the level of happiness of the people. The level of happiness is related to the level of social amenities on the planet as well as the degree of freedom that is availible within the type of government. The game designers admit to being influenced by "supply side" economics, so your strategies in the game should take this into account. The more democratic forms of government (Star Democracy and Star Federation) have a senate that has elections every decade. Your level of popularity determines your level of support in the senate. The senate has the power to reject declarations of war _or_ changes of governmental form. They actually vote on these decisions and are not a rubber stamp for or against your decisions. Hardware Requirements Chapter 1.2 SDS recommends at least a .... (i will look this up), about 14 MB hard disk free (plus the swap space requirement of about 12 MB, but remember that this is a SYSTEM swap space, not just for GalCiv), 8 MB of RAM and all the speed you can get. (not that you need the speed to run GalCiv, it's just that it's more interesting to drive a Lotus than a Yugo.) This is, more or less, the full installation with ..avi files and sound. ***************************************************************** ************ STRATEGIES and OTHER HOT TIPS ********************** ***************************************************************** Chapter 2 How do I ???? The on-line help files actually make some of this faq a bit redundant. Most of the button, menus, windows, etc. appear to be nicely arranged in a hypertext file. Since this is an OS/2 program, help is just another window you can consult during the the game. Play with it, it's informative. This is not to say that the help is complete. It is missing some of the "Data and Numbers" stuff I've outlined below, and has two large sections wherein it explains that something goes in this spot. How do I find the best planets? Scouts seem to be the best way of locating any planets of worth. Sometimes, if the geometry of the situation is right, you might be able to predict where another race's colony ship is headed and beat them to the spot. John Martz suggests using 2 scouts to block another race from colonizing a choice planet before you do. This strategy works until impulse when you need 3 scouts. There are seldom any planets left to colonize once you get Warp Drive. Other than this, send your scouts out on an ever increasing spiral and send out the colonists. The scout can be sent on a diagonal sweep through a quadrant to pick up >50% of the area in one pass or send it on a U-shaped course to pick up 100%. The path of the "U" can be adjusted to have the scout adjacent to the next target quadrant when it finishes. Two scouts could be used to map a quadrant in one pass. How does the economic system function? There are three factors that affect the economy directly. 1) the tax-n-spend icon [$]: This icon gives you access to two sliders that control the taxation rate and the spending rate. Each represents the percentage of the availible that you are tapping into, be it taxable income or spending capacity. Set the % at 100 for taxes and you're taking all of the peoples' money. They will not like this. Set the % at 100 for spending, and you are spending at your maximum ability to spend. If you take in more money than you spend, it builds up in a treasury. Aside from overt taxation, your government sponsors inter-galactic traders that give you a cut. This helps fund your ambitious goals of ....inter-species alliance or galactic conquest. It should be noted that Dean Iverson first proposed a model similar to this one to Brad and company. Continuing efforts on the part of Steve Lamb, one of the beta testers, helped convince SDS to implement this model in the game. This is a compliment to Dean and Steve since the previous one was a bit...less flexible. 2) the allocation icon [three horizontal sliders]: This icon gives you access to three slider that control the % of your spending that is going into military projects (star ships, including colony ships and freighters), social projects (entertainment centers, antimatter plants) and research (technology advancement). 3) the planets [planets]: Each planet can handle building one project or one ship at a time. If no planets are actually building something, then you are not actually spending any money and any reserve goes into your treasury. How do I allocate my funds? Funding is divided between ships (military), research and social spending (planetary construction). In the early game, I've tried pumping out the colony ships as fast as possible with a 60/30/10 split on resources, plus setting my spending level at 80% and keeping taxes at 28%. Observations: it's not a sure-fire plan. I seem to spend too much time playing "catch-up". I need to catch-up in research, social spending and despite the high spending on colony ships, planets. I'm now trying a more even split. Any comments on this would be appreciated. A more successful approach that I have using lately was suggested by John Martz. Set the the resource sliders to a 25/50/25 split. This game is driven by technology. He with the best tech wins, or at least has a good shot at winning. Getting to Impulse as fast as you can is paramount. Now, pump out the colony ships and use you're hopefully superior movement rate to compensate for your lack of omniscience. On the technology front, shoot for Universal Translator and then Galactic Trade. How do I increase the population of my planets? Make happy people. Happy people do happy things, and one of those things is to increase the planet's population. One main influence is taxation. If the tax rate is too high, then the population does not grow, and in fact, even decreases. It is not so much that you're taxing your people to death but that instead of staying in your little settlement, they've joined the Inter-stellar Posse Commitas. A planet is a very big place, and a few hundred thousand, spread out, would be real hard to find. However, be careful about lowering the tax rate since the population gets even more unhappy about raising taxes once they've been lowered than if you had kept them the same. Taxation aside, another method is to increase the moral of the people through various social programs. Planetary programs have primarily three functions: increase moral, increase production or other. Most programs have mixed benefits but some target one aspect in particular. Example: Entertainment Networks. They do not help research or starship attacks, but your people are much happier. If your people are unhappy living where they are, ship them somewhere else; off to war, for example. I've been known to stick them in orbit, waiting for the next war. Reducing the population of a planet is one way to make the remaining people happy. It's best not to speculate why. Reduce pollution. Polluted planets are unhappy planets. Although Earth First! would not be a good name for unhappy people in this situation, the projects your planets are building may have to be put on hold to prevent widespread revolt. Consider building pollution abatement projects. And lastly, reform your government. The increased freedoms of the Star Democracy and the Star Federation can generate happier people. However, if you already have low morale (40% or less), going to these forms of government may actually foster widespread revolt. While I've not tested it personally, I am under the impression that Imperial Governments do not suffer revolts. Or, at least, it has to get a _whole_ lot worse than under the other two forms. A GENERAL NOTE!!!! DON'T FORGET THE RESOURCE ALLOCATION BUTTONS!!! The details window of the planet can let you fine tune the amount of resources you spend on various aspects of your planet. You can vary the allocations between social projects (the cornucopia), military projects (the open-end wrench), research (the OS/2 terminal), and morale (the microphone). Consider allocating resources at the local level instead of doing it galactically with the sliders. (thanks, John) Which research path should I select? The beginning is easy. Take General Cold Fusion, followed by Impulse Drive, then Universal Translator and Galactic Trade. Start your trading empire since money is the key!!!!! Then, pick up Galactic Diplomacy and race for Warp Drive (via Antimatter) and Shields (via Deflectors). Then, grab Battle Tech I. Above all, trade, trade, trade. Tech and goods. However, don't trade Battle Tech unless it's with an ally! John Martz first articulated this strategy in several of his posts to comp.sys.os2.games. Of course, there are lots of ways to play the game, this is one that works for many. What's the best way to conduct a war? Aggressively! Given the design of the game, being the attacker is _the_ bonus. What I mean by this, is that you should _attack_ incoming, enemy vessels, rather than letting them attack your systems and using the planetary defense bonus as your protection. Cover your home systems with one (maybe 2) ships and have a fleet nearby to attack incoming, enemy vessels. It can also be handy to leave one planet unguarded to act as a trap for enemy transports. Some of the personalities in the AI do not see ships sitting in space as a vicious threat, which they are. They only occasionally attack them. Beware of Draginol. This military commander was tweaked to counter this strategy and makes extensive use of stealth cruisers. How do I make friends and influence enemies? Trade. Other routes of influence are the "secretly declare war" option and the "destablize" option under the GIA. How do I select the best trade routes? Rich planet to rich planet, I think. I must admit to not being very quantitative on this one, but that is what I think I've been seeing. Do note, that as your planets improve, you will need to send out new freighters to take advantage of your increased planet wealth. New technology begets new products for trade that in turn require new trade routes to be established. How do I bargain with those dirtba.... the customers? hmmm???? In general, there are three basic characteristics for the race with whom you are attempting to bargain. The first is their "greed" level. I guess this affects how quickly they are satisfied with a deal. The second characteristic is how ethical they are. I suspect this governs whether the initial bid will be reasonable or not. The last racial trait is guillibility, which is easily tied to how tough it is to just plain bargain with them. As a note, your fifth bid is your last bid. If that bid is not accepted, you have lost the deal. Which planets should be doing what construction? Obvious suggestions: always opt to increase production on a planet, but other than that, chose military projects for the frontier planets and social/research projects for the interior planets. Beyond this, any planet I've colonized has built "Soil Enhancement" followed by "Schools" and then Entertainment Network". All three are cheap to build. Schools have no maintenance cost so that is why I include them. The choice of the Entertainment Network may be dubious. It is expensive to maintain. John Martz suggested Schools then Soil Enhancement. Since a solid research program can be the key to this game, I concur with this strategy, unless your tax rate is too high. If the the tax rate is high (40%+) then the morale of the inhabitants may be too low. Schools do not add enough morale, but a Soil Enhancement project may. Aside from an Excaliber, are there really any better ships than a starfighter? Yes, there are. From reading the net posts, the most commonly used ships for offense are War Hammers, Interceptors, and Battle Ships. Interceptors, with their superlative speed, are good for scouting out what, if any, enemy ships are approaching the area. Use the interceptor as a lure to drag the enemy ships away from the vulnerable system. Interceptors are just good enough to try and whomp the occasional transport. However, they will often take damage from these attacks, so caution is advised. War Hammers are a poor man's battle ship. Yes, they can take out a Battle Ship now and then. But, they will often take damage from such an encounter. The AI will usually not attack a ship at full strength but seldom lets a wounded foe escape. The Battle Ship (and its off-spring) is the queen of the battle field. Keep one or more handy near the home worlds for defense and send the rest out on conquest. Watch the damage they accumulate. If one takes too much, send it home for repairs. They cost too much to try and rebuild from scratch. In addition, Battle Cruisers are a good ship when you can't build War Hammers. They are cheaper than Battle Axes, with a better defense and higher speed. For defense, the Defender, in orbit, is a good ship. If you opt to be a good player (or you manage to trade for it), the Corvette is an excellent ship on defense. In orbit, it can take the occasional Battle Ship. This is definitely worth it! As for the other ships, one of the most important is the transport. Although I have yet to use this strategy, it would seem that building some transports on a planet when it's not doing any other projects is a good idea. You can blast the opposing star fleet to radioactive debris but you've done nothing unless you can invade! And for completeness, the colony ship is, of course, without peer for being important! Next, try the freighter. Without enough revenue from trade, your dreams of empire will most likely come to naught. I would suggest holding a few freighters in reserve for the inevitable lose of a trade or two during a conflict. I'm getting some crazy swapper growth. What did you guys do? Can't you write a simple video game? Where's my lawyer??? Swapper growth was one of the most trying problems we had with GalCiv. Because there are few large scale games (at the time of GalCiv, there are no others that we know of), many of OS/2's more obscure API calls were not well tested. As a result, tiny leaks in OS/2 never got caught. Lucky for us, GalCiv uses those calls a lot and those tiny leaks add up. There are, however, some solutions to the problem (if you are getting it). #1 Make sure you have GalCiv v1.01c or later. It works around most of OS/2's leaks. #2 MOST IMPORTANT: Set your swapper file size to default to at least 8 megabytes. This can be done by going to the config.sys and changing the second number in the swapper path statment to 8092. We do not know why this works but in my experience, this completely eliminates swapper growth. I theorize that once your swapper starts to grow in OS/2 (particularly OS/2 3.0) it will just grow and grow and grow. By the way, this advice applies to every OS/2 app, not just GalCiv. #3 If you are still getting growth, try turning off the sound and making sure Fastload (Windows) isn't activated. #4 If none of the above work, contact IBM or SDS or AIMS. How to I invade other colonies? You need to build Transports. You obviously can't take over an entire planet with a star fighter so you need troops. When you build a transport, you can put troops onto the ship and then take it to an UNDEFENDED planet. I haven't bought GalCiv yet. What other games is it like? It is most like Civilization with respect to the fact that you are trying to create a civilization. It is like Empire in terms of how you work you strategy. Each ship is its own unit. It also combines some elements of Masters of Orion since you can win the game by forming a united galaxy and diplomacy is a much more important aspect of the game than in Civilization or Empire. I really like GalCiv but I miss the feature in Masters of Orion where I could design my own ships. Is there any way to make GalCiv more like Masters of Orion? On January 1, 1995, SDS will be releasing Shipyards for GalCiv which will be an add on that lets you do just that. When Shipyards is installed, a new button will appear on the icon bar that will let you create new ships. Your opponents will also be able to build their own ships. You can even choose how your ship will look like. One added feature is that you can "steal" ship designs from your opponents. Is it easier to win by being good or evil? Where's the payoff for being a good guy? Being a nice guy has never meant that you get rewarded. It works like this though, good guys are treated better by other nice civilizations. Being a bad guy offers a lot of short term benefits but good civilizations will likely come after you while other evil civilizations won't lift a finger to help you. There are about a dozen technologies available only to good guys (there are also about 10 technologies only available to evil players too). I've been hearing a lot about GalCiv but where I live there are no stores that carry OS/2 software. How can I get GalCiv? The best thing you can do is to try to get your store to carry it. However, if that doesn't work, you can order it from numerous sources including SDS. SDS's number is (313)782-2248 (FAX: 313-782-9868). All you need is a credit card (or you can order it COD). They'll need your name, address, city, zip, credit card number and expiration date. A distributor called Micro Central will be the place to tell stores that they can get it from. I don't have OS/2, just Windows 3.1. Will there be a Windows 3.1 version of GalCiv? No. How do I repair my ships? Take them home. A ship can only be repaired by placing it in orbit about its home-WORLD, not system. Also note that if a ship is in orbit about it's homeworld and it takes damage, it is not automatically repaired. Take it out of orbit and back in to repair the damage. Shakedown cruise? ((This may not be true for the GA. Let me know about this.)) What does it mean that this game has a configurable set-up? For me, it means that I can move the quadrant map to the left hand side of the screen, move the button bar to the middle and over-draw the graphs and button bar with my star map. If I need the other two, I use the RMB to pop them up. ***************************************************************** ************ CHEATS and OTHER BLACK HOLES *********************** ***************************************************************** Chapter 3 There are at least two little "holes" in the game for unscrupulous players to exploit. Or frustrated players.... Or those days you just wanna trash the galaxy and you don't care how you do it....Or.... 1) "REAL" Warp Drive If you move your ship out the corner of a border quadrant at the border, your ship will appear in the next quadrant in the same square you attempted to "leave". This is obviously a way of moving REAL FAST (done in a Dave Barry voice). 2) Population Growth via "Shore Leave" If you remove all the troops from a transport, leave and then return that ship to its homeworld, it will instantly gain another 20,000 troops (20 legions). Repeat as needed. As a note, this is also a bug. In the bug state, your transport full of legions gets "repaired" to the 20 level. 3) Prescience You can always save the game after it starts and then map out the universe. It would probably be easiest to do a <print screen> and then annotate the print-out. Then, restart. Since the AI doesn't cheat, you can be a true prophet and know exactly what is going to happen. ***************************************************************** ***************************************************************** The following is courtesy Brad Wardell of Stardock Systems, Designer of GalCiv. Brad hides at 22wardel@cs.wmich.edu. I did some editing. The AI: The AI is split into two modules: SDSAI.DLL which is a general artificial intelligence engine that we'll be using in other products and GCAI.DLL which is specific to GalCiv. The key thing to remember about the AI in GalCiv is that it does not make a distinction between you and the computer players. It uses the same code as the human players does for moving ships, building projects, etc. It plays by the same rules except for a couple of important differences: #1 The Computer players are NOT currently allowed to purchase ships. We felt that it would make the game too difficult if the computer players were allowed to (like you can) just use their treasury and buy a ship every turn. If people are able to beat the AI regularly on the higher levels then we may reconsider this but for now, this human advantage is in the GA. #2 Human players cannot send the AI nasty messages like the AI can to you. This is obviously for entertainment value. Human players also can't ask for help from friendly players in the form of "give us ships". This may be added in a v1.1 or something. #3 The computer players start out with a planet whereas you start out in a space ship. This is for plot reasons. Unlike the betas, in the GA you will have the possibility of having type 16 planets in your starting quadrant (in the betas, you only got class 12 planets guaranteed). #4 The Aliens already know what color all the stars are in surrounding quadrants.. This is a huge advantage since yellow stars almost always have a nice planet in them. This was put in for plot reasons (beta 1 testers complained that it didnt' make any sense for the AI not to have mapped out most of the galaxy (afterall, we earthlings have in our native galaxy over the milenium). Other than that, the AI follows the same rules. If you find that the AI is doing something you deem unfair, email me with a bug report because that is what it would be, a bug. The AI doesn't distinguish between you and other players for among other things, the possibility of adding modem/network play in later versions (should the game do well in the market). GC/AI: The GCAI is what we could call the politicians. IT decides when to go to war, how to talk to you, how to approach you in dealing with things. It takes into account when dealing other playres (including you): Their good/evil alignment. Their relative military strength. Trade agreements and how nice things went. Their aggression level. Their cooperation level Their ethical level Their greed level Their insanity level* (the computer looks only at its own. It doesn't know the other players' insanity level) (all of these they look at their own level and the other players). * note, the AI may not KNOW all of these about a player, they go with what information they have available. All of the above information is available to the human player either directly or from spying. In fact, none of the above things require you to even spy on them, since you can find this information in the GIA window and under the espionage/military window under the GIA. Good guys tend to bond with other good guys. They don't worry about how tough or powerful the other good guy is (in general). Keep in mind, only REALLY good guys will totally neglect your military or trade with them when deciding to be nice to you or someone else. There are 20 shades of Good.....EVIL (You can select 5 differenet level of Good or evil for them but if you let it randomly choose, it will have a finer granularity). Really bad guys will look a bit more favorably on other really, really bad guys but they don't tend to bond as well as good guys do. Bad guys may not declare war on each other but they will also not ally together quite as often. Still though, the end result can be a game with Good vs. Evil if you select extremists. The down-right neutrals (shade 10 out of 20) only care about trade. You want a Ferengi-type race, choose a neutral. The EXACT neutral type has extra logic to make it a fence sitter. There's, of course, a lot more detail in this but I don't want to spoil the game too much ! SDS/AI: The GCAI are the politicians, the SDSAI are the generals. The GA version of GalCiv has 5 different release level Personalities or Advisors. You can imagine each personality being a separately programmed entity. They share some common code for things such as dodging obstacles and finding undefended star systems that they know of, but most of what they do is unique. This is important because if people say, "The AI was dumb, it chased my scout all over the place while I trashed the rest of them, heh heh", they really should say "Advisor N is dumb, they did ..." because the others may not (and do not) do things the same way.. Some Personalities go for having a large trading fleet, others will play vulture and will quit colonizing quickly and then build trasnports (gee, I bet none of you guys did something as low as that, eh?). The Advisors Code names can be found by looking in the Espionage Window under "Military". The names are: Sauronir Denethor Draginol Mascrinthus Calor Not all of the personalities will use Terror Stars, for example, because of their destructive value. People who die as a result of being killed on a transport (when you destroy a transport) or on a planet due to a terror star are now counted as part of the overall casaulty list. So if you get Terror Stars (or the AI uses them), you'll know how many troops (in legions: 1 legion = 1k troops) have been destroyed. End submission by Mr. Wardell **************************************************************** ***************** WHERE IS THE xxxx? ************************* **************************************************************** - autopilot on/off? Under the floppy disk icon is the setup button. This button pops up that function and other useful functions such as sound, avi, etc. - background process control? Under the floppy disk icon is the setup button. This button pops up that function and other useful functions such as sound, avi, etc. - place to reform my government? Under the icon up from the floppy disk icon is the reform gov't button. It's the "Reports" icon that looks like a sheet of paper. - the reports of how I am doing? There are four types of "how am I doing" information. All of this information resides under the "Reports Icon" (the sheet of paper). The first option is the "Top Five Planets" listing. One should strive at all times to keep this free of alien riff-raff. A second option is the "Demographics" listing. This is a screen of statistics such as % of galactic population, absolute and % production values, etc. A third option is the button that compares humanity to all of the other races in the game. It's a relative scoring that shows how much you're pumping into R&D relative to your competitors. The fourth option is the score button which also gives you a good/neutral/bad ranking. - listing of my ships? The icon with the Earth over a triangle is the fleet icon. From here, you can click on a ship and then either pull up the ship display window (if it's in orbit) or it will plop you into the quadrant that the ship occuppies and highlight that ship. - place to find out how much damage my ship has taken? There are 3 ways to find this out. One, use the RMB to pull up the ship control menu. Two, look at the strength number at the bottom of the screen. Three, look at how many black smudges are smeared across the ship menu at the bottom of the screen. The more smudges, the worse off the ship is. - that planet that was preparing to rebel? Click on that planet in the GNN window when it appears. You will then be flipped over to the planet menu to deal with the problem. For getting to a planet in a more general way, use the icon with the planets on it to pull up an alphabetical listing of all of your planets. ***************************************************************** TECHNOLOGY TREE (or "Can I get Artificial Life if I can't Phase properly?") ***************************************************************** Chapter 5.1 **** under construction **** **** please bear with us *** Nano-Electronics -> Nano-Frequencies -> Brainwave Mapping -> Instant -> Cure for Depression Communications -> Star Federation -> Nano-Metal Composition -> High Density Metals (destroyer) -> Tri-Strontium Alloys -> Large Scale Building (warhammer) Brainwave Mapping Large Scale Building -> Terra Computers -> Advanced AI's -> Hyper-Computers -> Interspecies Philosophy General Cold Fusion (small fighter) -> Impulse (transport) -> Anti-matter -> Warp Drive -> Hyperspace -> Hyperwarp (if a good race) Phasor (interceptor) -> Turbo-phasor (battlecruiser) -> Advanced Phasor (if a good race) (corvette) -> Mega-phasor -> Antimatter Weapons Photon Weapons (star fighter) -> Sensors (battle ax) Organic Manipulation -> Genetic Mapping -> Transporters Universal Translator -> Galactic Trade (freighter) -> Galactic Diplomacy -> Alliances -> Star Democracy and there's more... BIG NOTE! missing the evil technologies! there are lots of them, such as Galactic Collusion, Distruptors, Master Race, Thought Control, Clever Chip, and more! ***************************************************************** PROJECTS - (or "Gee, we need 0-G porta-potties. What does it do and how do we do it?) ***************************************************************** Chapter 5.2 The following is an alphabetized listing of the various projects that can be built on a planet if the technology is available. The project names were, in some cases, abbreviated to near obscurity. I was attempting to get enough room on the right-hand side to put in the technology necessary to achieve the project. They didn't fit, so I duplicated the list and used full names. The various abbreviations for effects (first list) are as follows: TI = Trade Increase; Mor = Morale; Ship A = Ship Attack; Ship D = Ship Defense; Gnd Def = Ground Defense; Res = Research; Env = Anti-pollution Effect; Maint = Maintenance; Cost = Cost in bc. It should be noted that since I usually play the good-guy role, the projects here include many of the projects that only "nice guys" can get to such as Advanced Hospitals. In GalCiv, what technologies are available to you depends on whether you are good or evil. Production Ship Gnd Project Name | TI Mor| A D |Def|Res|Env|Maint|Cost| --------------|-----------------|---|---|---|-----|----| Adv Hospital | 15 05 10 | -- --|-- | 05| | 4 | 900| Adv Mil Trn | 15 -- 10 | 35 --|60 | --| | 0 |1100| Adv Poll Ctrl | 30 10 20 | -- --|-- | 01| 10| 3 |1500| Antimtr Plant | 83 33 50 | 02 --|-- | 02| | 4 |1000| Cont Environ | 30 30 -- | -- --|-- | --| | 0 |2000| Currency Sys | 25 15 10 | -- 01|-- | 01| | 3 | 500| Defense Sys | 06 01 05 | 10 15|45 | 01| | 5 |1100| Entertain Net | 37 02 35 | -- --|-- | --| | 4 | 100| Environ Ctrl | 05 -- 05 | -- --|-- | --| 3| 2 | 500| Fusion PP | 35 25 10 | 10 --|-- | 05| | 3 | 500| Gal Curr Exc | 72 20 52 | -- --|-- | --| | 5 |1000| Gal Ent Ntwk | 35 -- 35 | -- --|-- | --| | 4 | 500| Gal Info Net | 22 10 12 | -- --|-- | 30| | 4 |1000| Gnd Defense | 04 -- 04 | 03 03|50 | --| | 3 | 200| Hydroponics | 30 10 20 | -- --|-- | 10| | 3 |1100| Im Poll Ctrl | 15 05 10 | -- --|-- | --| 5| 5 |1000| Info Net | 10 02 08 | -- --|-- | 10| | 2 | 100| Int Security | 06 01 05 | 02 08|-- | --| | 1 | 300| Mil Academy | 10 -- 10 | 15 05|50 | --| | 2 | 380| Mutat Ctrl | 40 10 30 | 01 01|-- | 02| | 1 | 900| Multimedia | 20 05 15 | -- --|-- | --| | 4 | 800| Phasing PP | 40 20 20 | -- --|-- | 20| | 10 |1000| Planet Poll | 10 -- 10 | -- --|-- | --| 3| 1 | 500| Schools | 06 02 04 | -- --|-- | 15| | 0 | 50| Soil Enhan | 32 02 30 | -- --|-- | --| | 2 | 50| Treat Ctr | 17 05 12 | -- --|-- | --| | 3 | 600| University | 10 05 05 | 02 --|-- | 20| | 2 | 200| Virt R Ctr | 60 10 50 | -- --|-- | --| | 5 | 900| Evil Projects - I have yet to map out evilness. Gal Collusion etc. .. .. Advanced Hospitals - Viral Elimination Advanced Military Training - Terror Star Advanced Pollution Control - Planetary Destruction Antimatter Plant - Antimatter Weapons Controlled Environment - Replication Currency System - Star Democracy Defense System - Planetary Defense Entertainment Network - (given) Environmental Controls - Nano Electronics Fusion Power Plant - General Cold Fusion Galactic Currency Exchange - 4D Phasing Galactic Entertainment Network - Star Democracy Galactic Info Net - Terra Computers Ground Defense - (given) Hydroponics - Organic Manipulation Improved Pollution Control - Planetary Destruction Info Net - Terra Computers Internal Security - Sensors Military Academy - Shields Mutation Control - Evolution Control Multimedia Center - 1D Phasing Phasing Power Plant - 3D Phasing Planetary Pollution Control - Artificial Planets Schools - (given) Soil Enhancement - (given) Treatment Center - Advanced Pain Treatment University - (given) Virtual Reality Center - 3D Phasing ***************************************************************** GALACTIC ACHIEVEMENTS (or "Inter-stellar Merit Badges Made Easy!!) ***************************************************************** Chapter 5.3 Cloaking Device - need: Cloaking cost: 2000 bc expiration date: NONE! bonus: 30% ship attack, 1% defense worth it????: yes, plus the big bonus of all ships that are built are now equiped with cloaking tech so they can't be tracked! what if my neighbors build one?: don't worry, every one has secrets. Controlled Wormhole - need: Spatial Rifts cost: 1400 bc expiration date: ...forgot... bonus: +50% trade! and 10% research worth it????: maybe...depends upon if you're racing for the tech that ends its useful life. what if my neighbors build one?: I don't know. Crystalai - need: Advanced AI's cost: 4000 bc expiration date: none bonus: adds +1 to all inhabitated planet class worth it????: it's a LONG project! But it is worth the increased population growth. what if my neighbors build one?: anyone can improve their homes through their local Planets-R-Us dealer! Dinosaur Park Wonder: Replication cost: 2000 bc expiration date: Artificial Planets bonus: +50% production worth it????: if you're racing for Artificial Planets, then this is not the project for you. what if my neighbors build one?: sorry, only one per galaxy. Copyright. Deep Thought - need: Terra Computers cost: 2200 bc expiration date: Omni Computers bonus: +40% research for _ALL_ planets. worth it????: Definitely one of the Wonders for which to strive. The 40% research boost is wonderful. (what? me? pun? nyah.) what if my neighbors build one?: The galaxy can only have one Deep Thought. Eyes of the Universe: Sensors cost: 1000 bc expiration date: none bonus: none worth it????: in a huge universe, probably so, especially if you push straight for it and gain its use for colonization. Otherwise, it's of limited use what if my neighbors build one?: you're blind. Galactic Stock Exchange: Star Democracy cost: 920 bc expiration date: NONE! bonus: +50% trade worth it????: Without a doubt! The only drawback is the pollution it can create on a very productive planet. Poor baby. what if my neighbors build one?: too late. you lose. start over. HyperSpace Project- need: Hyperspace cost: 1000 bc expiration date: none bonus: none worth it????: if you're at war, the +2 move can be a real nice advantage. If you're foes have it, you are at a real disadvantage, so you'd better get building! what if my neighbors build one?: read the above carefully. Life Creation - need: Artificial Life cost: 2600 bc expiration date: oops! bonus: +25% morale, +30% research worth it????: the morale and research bonuses are nice. The project is a bit expensive but if you want to stay ahead...? what if my neighbors build one?: don't know that one either. Nano Robot Wonder- need: Nano Electronics cost: 500 bc expiration date: Terra Computers bonus: none worth it????: sure, why not? not much more expensive than a fusion plant and gives more output. But, if you're after those info nets in a big hurry, don't bother. what if my neighbors build one?: no problem, build your own! Peace for a time- need: Interspecies Philosophy cost: ???? expiration date: ???? bonus: ???? worth it????: no clue. I've never had a chance to build this project. Wild speculation? It can only be built by alien races. That would be cool....in a way. what if my neighbors build one?: You're assuming you can. Trison Ring - need: Large Scale Building (I'll say!) cost: 1200 bc expiration date: none! ha, ha, ha, ha bonus: +40% trade, +1% defense, +10% research worth it????: YES! Just like the Galactic Stock Exchange, build it! what if my neighbors build one?: too late. Tur-Ahn Training- need: Planetary Defense cost: 1100 bc expiration date: Replication bonus: +40% attack, defense, +100% ground def. worth it????: if you are at war, want to go to war, or fear being at war, don't hesitate. what if my neighbors build one?: hope they are your friends. Utopia Colony - need: Utopia cost: 6000 bc (ouch!) expiration date: there is one.... I think. bonus: +20% trade and morale +5% attack, defense and ground def. +20% research. worth it????: it gives a lot of bonuses. It costs a lot! It comes very late in the game. More experience is definitely needed. what if my neighbors build one?: I hope everyone can have a utopia! There are other evil Wonders (Super Projects/Galactic Achievements) you can build too but those are not mapped out here. ********************************************************************* TECHNOLOGY AND SHIPS (or "something clever goes here") ********************************************************************* Chapter 5.4 -i think i'm going to re-do this in the style of the project table above. that would be more useful. Battleships <- Battle Tech I <- Warp Drive <- Antimatter <- Shields <- Deflectors Battlecruisers <- Turbophasors <- Phasors Battle Ax <- Sensors <- Photon Torpedoes Corvette <- Defender Destroyer <- High Density Metals <- Nano-metal Composition <- Nano Electronics Interceptor <- Phasors Small Fighter <- General Cold Fusion Star Fighter <- Photon Torpedoes War Hammer <- Large Scale Building ***************************************************************** ********************* Future Wishes ***************************** ***************************************************************** Chapter 6.0 Player Options (those changes affecting the player only) - let the player ask for aid from the other races (net) - the windows for fleet display and the planet display should be sortable on any of the columns in the display. (i.e.- ship name, planet name, production, location, ship class, etc.) (net) - let the player choose the military advisors of the alien races. Go for the ultimate punishment of chosing the nasty AI for all the opponent races (or the opposite). (John Martz. The masochist!) - the naming of the star ships should allow for the place of origin to be displayed _without_ having to pop-up a window. This is vital information! (John Martz) - or, put a "Return to Base" button in the ship display window. (John Martz) - there should be an increased number of options availible for the player under the GIA button. These should include, but not be limited to, requests by the player for aid; requests for territory and/or money as a settlement for stopping a war (this should include lump sum and "leases"); mutual treaties (ie - in a 2-on-1 war, you _and_ your ally would negotiate an end to the fighting); "giving" technology to another race; foreign aid to another race; treaties such as non-aggression pacts, warship size limitations, planetary colonization agreements, etc.; and any other options we can imagine! (net) Alien Options (those changes affecting the other races only) - each race should have its own grammer. It should not necessarily be tied to any given race all the time. (me) - more races for opponents with pretty pictures. Obviously, this is a CD-ROM option given all the various resolutions that this game supports. Maybe have the format for the pictures and their number known, so that anyone can edit a race. (me) Both (ah, obvious) - multi-ship movement such as escort, fleet movement, and have this reflect in the combat in some way. A fleet of ten starfighters should be more of a force than ten individual starfighters. Escorting ships should be attacked first, or maybe even get first attack? (net) - projects should have variable affects on the different planet classes, possibly at different times in the planet's history. Examples: Entertainment Networks should be more effective on poor planets than better planets. As the pollution level increases, the effectiveness of an Entertainment Network should get better, but not enough to offset the pollution losses. (me) - mining outposts, or resource allocation outposts should be availible as either projects or military ventures. These should be used to exploit other systems that don't have "habitable" planets. They should increase production without pollution but should create more unhappiness at the home system. (net) - espionage should give the alien trade route table as one of the possible outcomes. From here, the player could use "destabilize" money to indirectly disrupt trade (a steady decline in income or maybe an abrupt ending of the route) or assign ships to play pirate on one or more trade routes. Conversely, a player should be able to pull ships off the "line" to guard trade routes, either directly or maybe in a "Q"-ship role. (me) Game Characteristics (changes that affect game play and environment more than any particular race characteristics.) - the planets list should be unique for each race and possibly modifiable by the player. This would permit the player to customize his "own" race and pass it around for the delight of all. (me) - reduce the amount of "vacuum-effects". What I mean by a vacuum-effect is the Trison Ring description. In this description, it claims that the three planets were consumed in making the Ring. If this is a real effect, then the Trison Ring should only be built in systems that have three or more planets of the type that can be used to build the Ring and the system display should remove those planets once the Ring is complete.
In the best of all possible worlds, the system display should
include a separate graphic for a Trison Ring.



- the rebel planets need more personality.  It should be possible
to negotiate with the rebels.  Possible results would be trade,
non-aggression, chance to join the player's government.  (net)

- related to the rebel planet personality is the idea that if
enough planets go into rebellion in a particular race, than those
planets can form a new, independent government with its own
personality with a possible minor shift in the race personality. 
(me)

- GIA espionage information needs to be expanded.  The current
information, while interesting, is not all that useful.  If the
above treaty suggestions are added, then better intelligence is
necessary to check those treaties.
  Examples of needed additions would be production/project/
population read-outs on individual planets; number of ships in 
the fleet and a listing of types of ships with maybe the addition 
of rough estimates of numbers (%s +/- 10?); estimates of planetary 
defense fleets; etc.  It should be possible to target a given 
planet to discover specific information about that planet.  
  It would also be good to tie the reports of racial standing with
the other other races to only those races of which you have
intelligence data. (net)

- wars should have more effect on the population than just a draw
on the economy.  There are two main paths this idea takes, one
for democracies and one for totalitarian governments. However, in
both governments, the longer the war, the stronger the needs and
desires for peace. First, the democracy: if the democracy is at
war with a neutral or good race, then the rising tide to stop the
war should be much stronger.  Only evil governments should be the
targets of sustained conflicts, and then only if the race has
engaged in genocide should there exist strong enough support for
a really sustained and nasty war to the bitter end.  This assumes
the democracy is winning.  If it is losing, then the population
should have some sort of siege mentality and be able to "tough it
out".
  If the government is totalitarian, then the population's will
is much more ignorable, but there should be some chance for the
creation of "rebels".  Recall that a planet in rebellion does not
necessarily mean that the population of that planet has had a
change of heart.  It most likely means that the local government
has declared its independence from the central authority for its
own needs.  (me)

- to stay on the topic of war, I find it a bit disconcerting that
it is so painless to go to war with a former ally.  Maybe it's just
my altruistic viewpoint.  Consider that after making an alliance,
fighting other races for decades (if not a century or so!), you just
tell them, "You're not doing you're part" and then the alliance ends
and you go about declaring war on them and then trashing them (that 
was the goal of that, wasn't it?).  Somehow, this seems akin to me of
the US deciding to invade Canada or Great Britain in this day and age.
Even ignoring the general moral/support hit the government would take
for this action, the economic devastation alone would raise a hue and
cry that would sink the leader attempting such a plan.  Remember, 
such an action would most likely come from someone playing the "good"
path of the game.  I think that there should be some mechanism to
make alliance breaking reflect more the _type_ of government the
person is attempting to play.  (me, obviously)
  
- not all technologies are equally good for all races.  Again,
this follows the idea that good and evil races have different
needs.  For a good race,  the building of Government Collusion
should have a negative effect on citizen happiness.  The same
should be true for evil race but for different technologies.  The
Info Net is one example of a technology that should increase the
chance that a planet goes into rebellion if the race is evil
since this Net would allow the local cronies to be more able to
band together, ignore the far-off central government and exploit
the local resources.  (me)


- there need to be some technologies that are present for the
"neutral" races that would benefit their particular needs.  (net)  

- there need to be more options for government types. Suggestions 
  would be the space equivalent of a merchantile government 
  (obviously one for a neutral race). (net)
 
(attributions: if the item was plucked off of the net and I
cannot recall the source, I appended "net" to it.  Otherwise,
the suggestion will have one or more names associated with it. 
Why all the bother?  I believe in giving credit where credit
is due.  This game was programmed by real people (Brad, too) and
has had lots of input from us, the beta group.  I think this
tradition should continue!  I would also like to point out that
all of the (me) attributions are due mainly to A LACK OF INPUT.
....that's not too subtle, is it?)

GalCiv IV Dev Journal #2

Published on Thursday, May 20, 2021 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

So how do you make your galactic civilization feel like it’s a living, breathing thing? Put (simulated) living, breathing things in it: characters.

We have moved everything that makes sense from being an abstract number to being a character.  Population? Instead of it being 3.2 billion, it's just 3 characters. Every character has stats and background.

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Every character has a set of skills with numerical values to them.  They also have a backstory and can be interacted with in various ways.  These characters do everything, from acting as your representatives on planets (governors – not AI governors – they don’t make decisions for you, they carry out your will), to managing your technology policies (and again, they don’t make decisions for you, they carry out your will).

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When a character is put in charge of a planet, their stats provide perks to the planet. But like real people, they have needs and ambitions, and if those needs and ambitions aren’t satisfied bad things can happen, including them going independent and taking their planets with them. We’ll be talking about core worlds vs. colonies in the next journal. Suffice to say, these characters are pretty powerful.

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On planets, population now grows in whole numbers since each population is now represented by a citizen character with their own intelligence, social stats, etc.

Jobs

Characters are given jobs in the game. All jobs make use of one of the character’s skills. Make someone a scientist, and their bonus to your colony is based on their intelligence. Make them an entertainer, and it’s based on their social skill. Make them a farmer, and their bonus is based on their diligence skill. Make them a soldier, and their resolve stat comes into play.

Similarly, characters that you make into ministers provide global bonuses based on their stats:

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And of course, every species has pros and cons on these stats.  Humans are, naturally, decent overall but not great in any of them.  Drengin are very high in resolve but very low in social, for instance.

You, as the Emperor/President for Life of your civilization, must herd these cats while simultaneously dealing with guys like this:

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But fear not - while there are thousands of characters out there, you only need to really care about a handful. Which handful you should care about depends on who you give what power to. Put someone in charge of 37 colony worlds and now you should probably care about them. But, some colonist on Backwater world 53 is probably not someone you need to think about…until it turns out that they contracted a parasite that takes over everyone minds and that it has since spread to nearby worlds. Or maybe that scientist on Urara IV whose wife is being held captive by the Drengin Empire and has been supplying them secrets in the hopes of getting her back.  But you know, otherwise - nothing to worry about.

 

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GalCiv IV Info Guide

Published on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Galactic Civilizations is a 4X space strategy game set in the future right after humans have launched their first colony ship into space.  The popular franchise is well known for combining good AI, free-form ship movement, and a ship designer.

The current edition, Galactic Civilizations III, was released in 2015 to much praise from both gamers and reviewers with particular emphasis on its high replay value, extensive technology tree and clever computer opponents.

Now, 6 years later, Stardock returns with Galactic Civilizations IV.

  • Title: Galactic Civilizations IV
  • Developer: Stardock Entertainment
  • Platform: Microsoft Windows 10
  • Early Access: Summer 2021 (Alpha version)
  • Release Date: TBD
  • Homepage: www.galciv4.com

A Recap

Galactic Civilizations is a strategy game of the 4X genre.  4X stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate.  Other games in this genre include Master of Orion, Civilization, Endless Legend, Alpha Centauri. There is no hard and fast rule on what makes a game a 4X game other than that the games typically involve those 4 elements.

At the start of the game, players have Earth – assuming they choose to play as the humans. The first colony ship has just launched and a sea of stars awaits them.  Over the course of the game, players will encounter other civilizations and soon run out of unclaimed planets to colonize. Players research new technologies, fight wars, trade goods, engage in diplomacy, improve their worlds, and ultimately win either through conquest, uniting with the other civilizations, or technological ascension.

Galactic Civilizations' best known features include its ship designer, which allows players to create and share starships of their own design, its open universe map, its attention to good computer AI, and use of star bases to spread influence and improve planets.

What’s new in Galactic Civilizations IV

GalCiv IV aims to take the best elements from GalCiv III and take it to the next level.  Below are some highlights:

An Empire of Empires

Previous GalCiv games involved an AI for each computer opponent.  In GalCiv IV, each civilization is made up of hundreds of characters each controlled by an AI. These characters have their own strengths, weaknesses, and backstories. They carry out the player’s orders, but they also have their own agendas and can be influenced by things like opposing civilizations, their own greed and ambitions, or the current state of the galaxy.

A Maps of Maps

GalCiv is well known for its free-form maps. The player selects a map size and ships can move in any direction hex by hex.  GalCiv IV takes this concept and builds on it by having a given “map” be a sector, which is then connected to other sectors. Early on, players can only travel between sectors through specific pathways calls subspace streams. Later, players gain the ability to travel directly through subspace. This change means that the exploration and expansion periods of the game continue throughout the game rather than being only at the start of the game and allows for much bigger playing fields for the civilizations.

A Story of Stories

Earlier entries in the series included a single campaign story and then a separate sandbox mode.  In Galactic Civilizations IV, the campaign is gone. In its place is a vastly larger epic that could never be contained in a hundred playthroughs, let alone a single one. These stories, now called missions, originate from the characters and events occurring through a given playthrough.  The result being that each game is designed to feel like an epic story.

The Evolution of Space Strategy Games

These major changes are only the start of what amounts to a major reimagining of not just Galactic Civilizations, but the nature of 4X games entirely.  As computers have gotten more powerful, games such as Galactic Civilizations have the opportunity to depart from the board-game like nature of their ancestors.  Galactic Civilizations IV is essentially an AI-driven simulator with a turn-based strategy surface. 

Traditionally, strategy games have been designed in terms of equal or near equal allies and opponents.  But nations are made up of states. States are made up of counties. Counties are made up of cities and so forth.  Galactic Civilizations IV aims to give users the sense that they really are the leader of an interstellar government with people who may have their own agendas and merely require the opportunity to act on it.

With Galactic Civilizations IV, Stardock looks to greatly increase the immersion of the game by having each game be its own epic story.  The player’s galactic sandbox is so different from game to game now that each game is best described as its own campaign.

Screenshots

GalCiv IV Dev Journal #1

Published on Monday, May 10, 2021 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

And so it begins…

Make sure you check out www.galciv4.com, and in particular the FAQ and Game pages, which will give you a lot of details on what’s coming.

A little background

Before we start, I should introduce myself. I’m Brad Wardell. I designed and programmed the very first Galactic Civilizations game back in 1993 for OS/2. I literally programmed it out of my college dorm room after picking up “Teach Yourself C in 21 days”. 

While OS/2 didn’t take off like IBM thought, it gave me the opportunity to make a game that focused on really good AI and a unique style of gameplay. For the past 30 years, I’ve been making space strategy games, albeit with more resources than back in 1993 when I was hand drawing space ships with an icon editor.

Two philosophies

While I was programming on my 386SX and talking on Usenet, the guys at Simtex  were making a game called “Sar Lords,” which was eventually released as Master of Orion. These games represented two main philosophies on how to do a space strategy game – the free form movement style of Galactic Civilizations, and the phase-lane/star to star method of Master of Orion.

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Most space games seem to have taken the MOO route of point to point. It’s not hard to understand why. Every tile, even in space, uses RAM. Think how small Civ maps were back in the 90s. Since GalCiv was on OS/2, we had entire MEGA-bytes of memory to work with.  Even in GalCiv III, those huge maps consume a lot of RAM.

Modern Space Games 

In the early 2000s, we became friends with a company called Paradox.  They were our European distributor for Galactic Civilizations II.  The guys at Paradox and Stardock worked like peas in a pod. In 2012, the Master of Orion IP went up for auction. Both Stardock and Paradox were eager to get this IP. However, we were both narrowly outbid by Wargaming.net, who later went on to make a new Master of Orion.

Instead of a Stardock or Paradox Master of Orion game, we ended up with Galactic Civilizations III and Stellaris.  While one can speculate how things might have gone if either of us had acquired the Master of Orion IP, I think most people are glad with how both games turned out.

Galactic Civilizations III preludes

After Stardock sold its Impulse platform, I decided to focus my energies into co-founding a couple of start-ups. The first, Oxide, was made up of the lead Civ devs over at Firaxis.  They had recently finished Civilization V and some of them had interviewed over at Stardock to investigate what came next. We ended up hiring Jon Shafer, who was the lead designer of Civilization V - he did the original design for Galactic Civilizations III.  A whole bunch of our internal terminology is based on some of his UX innovations (such as the “Shafer button”).  

The Oxide team was focused on making a next-generation game engine.  Stardock had tried to make a 4th generation engine for Elemental and it was a disaster. Oxide developed Nitrous, which powers Ashes of the Singularity.  Today they’re working on a big secret project.

Meanwhile, Soren Johnson and I were putting together another studio made up of some Firaxis vets called Mohawk to create Offworld Trading Company.  Today they’re about to release their second game, Old World.

Being the CEO of Oxide and the President of Mohawk (and President and CEO of Stardock) meant I wasn’t available to work on Galactic Civilizations III. Early on, Jon left to make At the Gates and Cari, the lead developer of GalCiv I and II (for Windows), was on extended maternity leave. So, GalCiv III was quite a challenge to develop.

Launch

The GalCiv III that launched in 2015 is a very different game than the one in 2021, as the two screenshots (launch and current) make clear.

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At release, Galactic Civilizations III got great reviews and was a good game at launch.  But it wasn’t a great game.  We had our work cut out for us.

Lessons from GalCiv III

To understand why some people felt GalCiv III was a step back from GalCiv II, we need to look at GalCiv II.

GalCiv II was filled with story-driven events.  I hard-coded these in C++, but made a lot of them and they could be very in-depth and interesting.  This meant that every game of GalCiv II could end up feeling like an epic story.

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But it wasn’t just the events, it was hundreds of tiny touches that increased immersion. For example, the player could look on any species ship and get a readout of its equipment with race-themed named for these components. The Altarian weapon names were always super passive aggressively named like “Not necessarily friendship giver Mark IV”

Plus the stats. The endless, unnecessary stats.

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Even the combat seemed more interesting.

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But, Galactic Civilizations III was a design of its time.  Designed in 2012 and released in 2015 the goal was to make it more mainstream.  "Streamlining" was the word of the day. GalCiv III wasn’t the only casualty of this line of thinking.  Elemental: War of Magic might have been buggy, but it had depth. So many details. 

But by 2016 we were making Sorcerer King, which had streamlined all the “rough edges” out. In a pre-Unity world, this strategy made sense. We wanted to make sure these games would appeal both to hardcore gamers and also more mainstream gamers (not “casual,” but people who might not appreciate a half dozen modifiers on a weapon).

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Once Unity games started to flood the market, GalCiv III found itself to be too complicated for the casual market, but too light for the hardcore gamer who now had options like Stellaris.

New Directions

If you ask someone if you should get Galactic Civilizations III today they will say “YES But you have to make sure you get Crusade”.   After Ashes of the Singularity and Offworld Trading Company shipped, I was able to come back to GalCiv.   I had had my own design document for GalCiv III back from 2010 which focused heavily on the concept of citizens and civil wars. Some of these ideas went into GalCiv III: Crusade.  We were able to begin adapting GalCiv III for the new market reality.

Updating GalCiv III’s design via expansion packs, however, is a bit like trying to find new missions for jet aircraft whose designed mission has become obsolete. This is where GalCiv IV comes in.

Where we want to go

With GalCiv IV we now have enough memory and processing power available to build what amounts to a simulator behind the scenes while presenting it in a nice, easy to understand, turn-based strategy game UI.  What this means is that we want a game of GalCiv IV to feel like you’re actually running a space faring civilization filled with interesting characters. Rather than having an AI just for each alien player, we want an AI behind every single character in the game – and your civilization is made up by a lot of characters. And every character has a potential story to tell.

This means, from a gameplay point of view, that the player is still in charge of a vast, interstellar empire that is exploring, expanding, exploiting and exterminating things, but the galaxy is a livelier place than it was in the past. There are many more mechanisms in play that can affect things, a lot more moments of “Well crap, in hindsight, I feel like I should have seen that coming..” which results in players feeling like they keep getting better and better at the game each time they play.

The gang is back together

So Cari is back from maternity leave, I’m back from managing Oxide and Mohawk, we have Derek (Kael of Fall from Heaven fame) as the lead designer. Paul is back to being able to focus on UI and space ship making, Jesse is back to make sure our graphics are amazing, Sarah is back to make sure our underlying UI system is insanely powerful and useful, and we have new people on the team who previously worked on games ranging from Star Control to Sins of the Prophets. 

It’s going to be a good time!

 

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GalCiv III AAR: The Last Empire

Published on Monday, May 10, 2021 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv III Dev Journals

I don’t know if this will be my last AAR of Galactic Civilizations III.   As I type this, the game is about to turn 6 years old and is still going strong.

We’ve been working on an update for the game for awhile and are hoping to get it released before the anniversary (fingers crossed).  This AAR will kind of act as a retrospect on the game, mention some changes we’ve made and hopefully be entertaining.

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I am playing as the Terran Empire. 

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I choose to beef up productivity and economics and have the colonizers (more admin power) and inventive (free constructor and engineering).

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I also give my ships a bit of a different look than standard.

 

Start of game

The year is 2243 (new version increases the year by 1).  The Terran Empire finds itself ready to expand into the universe.

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In the new version, the stars are slightly closer together to improve early game pacing.

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Techs like Universal Translator also increase administration points.

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Earth here starts with an artifact whose study will give us a cool new power.

The economy in Galactic Civilizations III works like this:

A planet has raw production.  This raw production can be increased with various types of improvements and channeled in various ways like into research, ship construction, wealth generation and planetary improvements.

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I order Earth’s ship yard to fast-build a constructor.  I start with a lot of money so I use that to quickly build up ships.

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I soon am presented with a moral dilemma.  An illegal cloning operation that will quickly build up population if we let it continue.  But the DNA in the clones was stolen from people.  We can stop this or continue forward.  Each option has different consequences attached.  I choose the benevolent path mainly because I find clones creepy.

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Earth’s influence has increased to the asteroid belt. I can select asteroids and spend money to build on them.

My colony ship has reached another solar system.

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It’s going to take a lot of turns to get this planet up to speed.  While landing we found that the pools were populated by a sentient species.  We decided we would not make use of the pools to protect that species.  This provided some additional benevolence ideology points which I now spend here:

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In GalCiv III, there are 3 different ideologies: Benevolent, Pragmatic and Malevolent.  You get points in each category based on the action and when enough points are collected you can purchase an ideological aspect.

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I choose Educated so that I can get some free research.

I also meet my first alien, a species known as the Krynn Sydicate.  We’ll be worrying more about them later.

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I also build my  first starbase:

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Starbases allow the player to collect the resources nearby as well as spread influence.  Player influence, especially when contiguous to the player’s home world, generates tourism income if your planets have any attractions.

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Every 10 turns, my civilization gets a citizen.  I can choose the type of citizen (and the # of types increases as players unlock them through research).  I choose engineer so that I can up ships faster on my home world.

I also settle on Snyder II which is a mere class 3 planet.  The new update will have a lot more class 2 and 3 planets as they can be set to Aid the economy of the player with relatively little oversight.

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We are on our way.

The Early Game

One of the first things I do is set my shipyard to be fed by other planets in my civilization.

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This boosts that shipyard’s production and with it, I build some supply ships which I can use to build up other planets.

I now present to you…

The Drengin Empire.

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As an experience player, I quickly realize I have two issues.

First, I was too slow in capturing galactic resources so I am at a severe disadvantage in the long term.

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Second, I have a slight advantage in the number of planets I have which means, at least for awhile, I could potentially win in a war and capture some of the resources I need.  I am in particular interested in the Lisa system which has a ton of resources in it.

Thus my strategy is to first get the technology to invade planets and then to a lighting strike to take both Lisa III (the planet) and destroy the starbase and replace it with my own before the Krynn can overwhelm me.

In the power rankings, we are neck and neck with The Krynn but this won’t last.

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Meanwhile, the Krynn have already built a hypergate:

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This is not a good sign for me as it takes quite a bit of manufacturing might to build this.  You can see Earth and the Lisa system on this map.

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I quickly conquer Lisa III and see how I can take this one transport as I have an early lead in this one area of technology.

Lisa III, btw, is pretty awesome.

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I also begin stationing garrisons on my planets.  I don’t have enough manufacturing capacity to defend my planets effectively but I can make sure invasion is not easy.

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The Krynn quickly put defenses in their systems and start building cruisers.   We maintain a technological advantage for now in the military department.   My hope is that we can take their home world.  Doing so would effectively take the Krynn out of the game.  This looks promising.

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Followed up by an easy conquest.

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And another amazing world.

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Soon enough, the entire Krynn home system is under Terran control.

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Next, the Terrans focus on having large fleets since the quality of our fleets is pretty low.  But I can’t make a dent on the Krynn starbase.

I design the Sawtooth class cruiser to see if I can use a fleet of these to crack the now well fortified Krynn starbase.

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The Sawtooth is successful.  However, the Yor have a starbase closer than mine which picks up some of the resources.  I need that Durantium!

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I might as well deal with the Yor now especially if I have help.

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The Yor are more powerful.  But the Slyne plus the Terrans are enough to overwhelm them in theory.  We make peace with the Krynn and focus on the Yor.

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The Yor are evenly matched technologically with us.  But we had a head start.

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After some heavy losses, the Yor starbase is removed and the Duranthium is ours.  We are now in a very strong economic position.   However, the Yor  have become even more powerful.

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Not too far from Lisa is Iconia, the Yor homeworld.  Well, the world the Yor stole from the Iconians around 100,000 years ago but that’s another story.

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And the Yor go down!

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For the climax of the Human Yor war is the Preemptive class cruiser.

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Despite their losses the Yor were a formidable opponent.

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Their invasion fleets were well equipped, well armed and well positioned.

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It is with some irony that the AI is better at the “death stack” than the human in this case as my forces are spread across the map. Unfortunately for the Yor, the new Empire class capital ship had just been designed.

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And trade with our partners was going very well:

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When the Yor sue for peace, the new map looks like this:

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Mid Game

The Krynn had a great start.  They just had bad neighbors.  I would know.

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Now they’re gone.

Like the old Soviet Union, the Terran Empire was powerful on paper.  But its enormous military was expensive to maintain and ship per ship inferior. Its economy was weak and the people unhappy.  To remain viable long-term, we would need to modernize our economy while hoping that our military would remain relatively strong enough to discourage aggressors.

My general strategy is threefold:

  1. Build economic starbases around my worlds.
  2. Make sure every planet has at least one economic and one morale structure.
  3. Build a fleet of freighters and start making money.

While this was going on, I bribed other civilizations to take down potential rivals such as the Drengin.

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Basically, I gave them my older but still quite lethal ships in exchange.

 

Late Game

Years have passed.  The Terran Empire’s economy has successfully modernized.

We have the new Pip fighter in mass production:

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Using high-density materials, it basically shoots pellets at near the speed of light.

We run a balanced budget with the tax rate at 32%.

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The major powers are at war with one another and have eclipsed mine in terms of raw numbers but we have become a much more powerful civilization overall.

 

Some thoughts…

At around turn 200 the galaxy is a known thing.  What the game needs are additional objectives for me to pursue.  Not quests and not new victory conditions.  Rather, more like directed achievements that are within the game universe’s lore.

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For inspiration, let’s take a look at the galaxy situation at turn 200.

There’s a lot of war going on.

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OBSERVATION 1: I think there should be more outcry on the home front. Like, literally, every turn war should generate a small amount of unrest on all the planets.  This would enourage wars to end.  Right now, the winning side never has a reason to give up.

OBSERVATION 2: There should be an achievement for bringing peace to the galaxy.  The civilization would then gain the “Peacemaker” ability which would be +1 to diplomacy for the rest of the game.

OBSERVATION 3: There should be “named” Precursor relics in the galaxy.  RIght now we have a “Manufacturing Relic” and there are several of them.  But what I mean are special named relics that if you have all of them give you various bonuses.  The idea being that capturing these would become an object.

OBSERVATION 4: Same as 3 but with special Precursor planets.

OBSERVATION 5: An achievement related to tourism and trade income.  Basically, if you have >X amount and are above Y% of the total, you get a special achievement that gives you bonuses.

OBSERVATION 6: There should be a chosen one effect. We had an event in GalCiv II and supposedly here but I never see it where the Civ that is in last place will tend to get an event that results in its raw resources getting a +1% bonus per turn.  Let them live long enough and they’ll win the game.  You never know when it’ll come up but it forces the player to not just sit on getting ascension crystals or diplomacy victories or whatever.

OBSERVATION 7: DOOM FLEET. I wish there was a Doom fleet (Dreadlord events) sort of like what we had in GalCiv II where you got this crazy, massive fleet would spawn but moved very slowly to the most powerful planets one at a time destroying stuff.  It would slowly get widdled down.

OBSERVATION 8: CRAFTING. If you look at my resources above, you can see I have a lot of different ones.  It would be nice if there were “Recipes” and things I could build with them (same for the other Civs).  I know ships and improvements require them but I mean more like a separate screen for experimental (to use a Supreme Commander term).  One of a kind ships that do various interesting things.

OBSERVATION 9: Planet management should evolve over the game.   I like the placement of buildings and such early in the game.  But eventually, all I really want to do is just see them get upgraded.  I don’t really want to keep placing down buildings late game.  Late game my available actions look like this:

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Goes right off the screen. 

Let’s look at the actual TYPES of structures here:

  1. Wealth Buildings
  2. Ship production buildings
  3. Manufacturing buildings
  4. Research Buildings
  5. Food buildings
  6. Population growth buildings
  7. Diplomacy Buildings
  8. Influence Buildings
  9. Morale buildings
  10. Tourism buildings.
  11. Defense buildings

While this may be hissed at, I don’t really love all the building pictures.  I’d rather just designate the types, make use of the adjacency at the start and from then on, I simply put in points to upgrade one of the categories of buildings.  I think some, like population growth and separate ship/improvement production could be eliminated or combined.  Get it down to 10 types of production and then decide how you want to upgrade the planet rather than messing around with giant lists like this.

OBSERVATION 10: Adversaries. In this game, I didn’t really feel like I had adversaries.  I had victims for sure.  Enemies? Yea.  But I mean, a visceral, they’re going to screw me and I can screw them back.  In the OS/2 version of GalCiv I had things like destabilization and sabotage and all sorts of other stuff I could do.  I also liked that foreign aid was kept separate from trade.  I could literally just send ships and money to someone fighting a war rather than conducting an imbalanced trade.  It helped the AI know who to be grateful to and why.

OBSERVATION 11: Annexing. There are nearby civilizations that I could easily conquer.  Why should I have to fight them?  Imagine a resource like diplomatic capital or something that I could use to simply get them to join my civilization if there’s enough power difference between the two and relations are positive?  This would help move things along in the later game. 

OBSERVATION 12: Invasions should be simpler. What I mean by this isn’t that they should be “simple” in terms of game mechanics but mainly less tedious.  I’d love to see it where all ships have a “occupation force size” variable.  Tiny would have 0.1, Small 0.2, Medium 1, Large, 2, Huge 3 and an actual Transport 10.  I don’t see why I need an actual separate transport action to conquer a tiny rock in space.  Sure, invading a capital world should be a production.  But these tiny worlds? 

Anyway, I’m going to leave it here for now.  There’s a bunch of little improvements I’ve put into the code based on this experience that I think players will like.  Mostly having to do with not requiring resources to build the first level starbase upgrades.

Having been playing this game for 9 years (3 years of development, 6 years since release) it sure has come a long way.  I enjoyed it when it first came out but it felt a bit too streamlined.  Now, I feel like it has a lot of depth and lives up to its original design from years ago.

DeskScapes 11: A Guided Tour

Published on Thursday, May 6, 2021 By Brad Wardell In Stardock Blog

DeskScapes is a program designed to make it easy to have really cool Windows desktop backgrounds.  It doesn’t just manage wallpapers - it integrates native animated wallpaper support into Windows. 

Version 11 includes a bunch of cool new things that make it pretty compelling for every PC user.  Here is a quick tour of some of those features.

Part 1: The interface

Once installed, you access DeskScapes by right-clicking on your desktop.

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The interface is designed to make it easy for you to access wallpapers that are already on your computer, as well as ones in the cloud.  DeskScapes 11 seamlessly integrates into the cloud, giving users access to hundreds of thousands of desktop backgrounds, both traditional and animated.

Part 2: The Cloud

I am generally a minimalist.  That’s why I use Fences to keep my desktop as clean as possible.  In my case, I stare at a lot of different monitors but even on a laptop, I like to occasionally switch my background.  The problem is that I can never remember where I put cool backgrounds I found.  That’s where the cloud helps.

I’d be the first to agree that this should be part of Windows.  But it’s not, so here we are.

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I can type a word in and it goes out and finds desktop backgrounds I want.  I can pick between normal (static) or animated ones. 

But more commonly, I’ll see what the current most popular ones are.

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While DeskScapes is often thought of as an “animated desktop” program, the Stardock team looks at it as a background is a background is a background.  So it makes both easily available.

Part 3: Clever backgrounds

A bunch of really clever backgrounds are already installed with DeskScapes 11.  Not just pretty pictures, but backgrounds that you could imagine being their own apps.  Let’s take a look:

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Colored lights is one of my favorites.  It just changes throughout the day.  It’s like having a mood ring as a a background. 

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Blurry blobs is another background that you could imagine being its own app.  It is kind of like having a lava lamp.  It’s super subtle and interesting.

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Desktop Earth is one I always run on one of my machines.  Except I don’t have the earth rotating.  Here’s why:

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It slowly changes over the course of the day.  Based on your Windows settings, it shows where you are in the world and you can slowly see when nighttime comes. 

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Desktop Collage is one of my favorites.  Basically, it just places pictures from target folders onto the background.  Here at work I have pictures of my daughter from ages 0 to 14 that are placed on my desktop.

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Moving wallpaper is pretty neat.  That said, I have it move very, very slowly. I don’t want to be distracted.  So it takes images and such and gradually rotates through them in a kind of Ken Burns type effect.

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Photo Dream is similar to moving wallpaper, but it treats the backgrounds at 3D images.  I usually have this one running on on my my monitors, as it’s one of my favorites.

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Stars is one I often run. I typically have the stars running very, very slowly. Like, you can barely tell they’re moving.  These work via DirectX, so unlike, say, a video of stars running, these basically use no resources.  At night I will run these on all my monitors at times.

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Part 4: Playlists

Depending on the day and the time of year and other considerations, I will run a given playlist.

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Playlists are super easy to make and once you make one, it’s basically the same as it is with music. 

Part 5: Customizing

So you’ve got a normal desktop background.  As I write this, it’s Spring.  So I have applied a normal background.

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But look at the buttons in the upper left.  The first one down lets you customize the background.

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There are a lot choices to apply, which would require an entire article just to go over them.  The one I find myself using the most is “porthole".  It makes the edges of a background dark.

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Should this be part of Windows? Probably.  But it’s not.  This feature makes almost any desktop background useful.  But there are lots of other ones too that are very interesting and helpful.

Part 6: Universal Resolution Support

Windows has a few fit options for backgrounds.  But not nearly enough.  If you’re someone who runs a monitor with an unusual aspect ratio (or have a rotating monitor), you already know how limited the options are.

DeskScapes has a lot of options.

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And this is super useful if you get a background that doesn’t support your desktop’s resolution, but still looks cool.

Part 7: Colorization

Apple, Microsoft and others make some great default wallpapers.  Unfortunately, they tend to be a particular color, which is fine - until it’s not.

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These are great wallpapers, to be sure. But I tend to like my backgrounds a little less saturated.

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You could also make it a totally different color.

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You can also mix it with the customizations to get something totally different.

Part 8: Creation

DeskScapes 11 includes DreamMaker Pro, a full-on animated wallpaper maker.

Now, personally, I lack the artistic skills to make something cool.  But I’ve used Adobe After Effects enough to know I can take create something from something else that’s cool.

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If you’ve ever used an art program of any kind, you already know how to use DreamMaker Pro.

When you’re done, just Export it as a DeskScapes file and voila.

I tend to use this for games I play a lot and have those as my backgrounds.

Conclusions

So where can you get DeskScapes? Right here: Animated Wallpapers for Windows : Stardock's Deskscapes

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