Brad Wardell's Blog


GalCiv IV Dev Journal #19 - The Roadmap

Published on Thursday, May 5, 2022 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

With Galactic Civilizations IV now generally available it’s time to talk about…THE FUTURE.

First, we’re really glad you guys seem to like the game.  Releasing a game, especially one where people have been working on for years, is, as you can imagine, very stressful.  This is doubly true when the game tries out so many new things.

Below is a very tentative roadmap of what we expect to release and in what order.  This is all subject to change based on feedback, scheduling and costs.

Version

Features / Changes

v1.1

  • Event dialog can be minimized.
  • Executive order for placing orbital defense sentinels to target planet.
  • Map Setup screen to support min/max variables (for sector sizes for instance).
  • More anomaly event types.
  • Planetary project to build Colonial defense sentinels that can then be used to upgrade colonies.
  • Sandbox MP.
  • Custom Civilization sharing in the Workshop.
  • More Events.
  • Add Alliance Victory.

v1.2

  • Research Center screen to differentiate between techs that are close to breakthrough (giving a 25% cost discount) and all the others available techs (that are normal cost. (i.e. no tech focus wheel).
  • Accuracy and Dodge used to determine the floor of the attack/defense rolls.
  • Survivor Mode MP.
  • More Events.
  • Military starbases will automatically attack enemies that enter its area of control (so you can fortify incursions from other sectors, protect your stuff).
  • Galactic Relations Overview (see the relations between all other civs at once on a single screen)

v1.3

  • Additional Mod sharing in the Metaverse Workshop.
  • Military starbases automatically protect nearby colonies / core worlds from invasion (you have to take it out first).
  • German language support.
  • Russian language support.
  • French language support.
  • Updated trade screen with more detail on how the AI values different specific trade items.

In the case of what you see here, many of these are ideas that came from the community late in development (too late to get into 1.0) but we think are great ideas and want to see added to the game.

We’ll continue to update this as we get more information.

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GalCiv IV Journals

GalCiv IV Dev Journal #18 - The Dawn of the 24th Century

Published on Monday, April 25, 2022 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

By the year 2232, the malevolent Drengin Empire reigned supreme over this area of space.  The once mighty Arcean Empire, that had long kept the Drengin Empire in check, was utterly defeated and their world left in ruin. The home world of the Torian Confederation was occupied with great cruelty.  Even the rising Altarian Republic was brought low and forced to sign an armistice and took on a role known as the Altarian Resistance.

Earth was left untouched thanks to a Precursor technology that placed an energy shield around the planet. Designed to imprison the target planet, it also prevented outside forces - such as the Drengin III and V fleets - from invading.  The Terran first fleet, after having utilized the planetary shield to protect Earth, then disappeared into the same pocket universe that the Dread Lords had originally escaped from.

For ten long years, the Drengin had their way and quickly established a brutal new order.  Their allies, the synthetic beings known as the Yor, remained largely in the background during this time.  The Terran second fleet along with remnants of the Torian, Arcean and Altarian fleet created enough chaos that prevented nearly discovered worlds, such as the Krynn and the Iridium Corporation to grow unmolested.

The enigmatic Thalan, the aliens who claimed to be from the future and had actively worked to prevent the humans from having Terror Stars and other weapon systems that might have changed the course of the war, remained neutral.  When asked by a Terran Commander why they wouldn’t help liberate this sector of space, they merely replied “It will be the humans, and their crusade, the will be the end of all things.”

The Thalan prediction gained weight when the Terran first fleet suddenly reappeared from the pocket universe in 2242.  Led by a new flag ship, called the Crusader, it quickly obliterated the Drengin VII fleet that was guarding the entrance to the pocket universe and swiftly made its way to Earth and freed it.

Contrary to what the Drengin believed, the humans were not cowering behind the planetary force shield. The humans were enraged by the events that had occurred. Any pretense of peaceful and diplomatic coexistence with the Drengin were extinguished and a blood lust had taken hold of the vast majority of humans.  Thus, the First Fleet was met by the largest and most powerful fleet this area of space had ever known.  The Terran first fleet and the Terran liberation fleets quickly merged into a massive force with the intention of exterminating the Drengin Empire.

In a couple short years, the Drengin Empire was brought to its knees and the Terran fleet of annihilation reached the Drengin home world.  It was then that the Thalan intervened.  Not with force, but with words and recordings of a future in which the destruction of the Drengin homeworld led to a nightmare in which humanity would soon discover a way to quickly reach the rest of the galaxy. A future in which its blood lust, unable to be quenched, would eventually lead to the destruction of every species.  It was at this moment that the Thalan revealed that they were not just from the future but from a world on the other side of the galaxy that had reached this area of space using something called a Subspace stream.  Before further inquiries could be made, the Thalan were gone.

The humans stopped their advance and spared the Drengin homeworld on the condition that the Drengin not be allowed to expand again in this area of space. 

2245 would mark the beginning of the long peace.

A couple of years into the 24th century, unknown to anyone, the Drengin Empire came across a crashed ship in a nearby star system. The ship contained a species that they had never encountered before.  The only survivor of this ship was interrogated in the typical Drengin way and the Drengin learned that this species, called the Navigators, were mapping out the ancient Precursor network of subspace streams that had allowed the ancient Arnor to easily travel across the entire Milky Way galaxy.

Having “persuaded” the surviving Navigator on where these subspace streams are, they quickly learned the location of one such stream, which led to a dead but rich sector of space.  When the Drengin demanded to learn the secret of how to find more of these subspace streams, the Navigator tricked his captors into creating a beacon that would send out across this sector the knowledge that these subspace streams existed and the fundamental principles that would allow all species to eventually learn how to find and utilize them.

2307 sees the members of the Orion sector of the galaxy (our home sector) in a race to expand once again and find these subspace streams that will let them access other sectors of the galaxy where new and possibly even more dangerous galactic civilizations exist.

 

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GalCiv IV Journals

Reminder: GalCiv IV defaults to EASY AI

Published on Monday, April 25, 2022 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Civilizations IV

Because the GalCiv IV AI got such big bump in quality from GalCiv III, we've had to reduce the default difficulty from Normal to Easy.

Don't make the mistake I just made and not change it to Normal.

That said, you CAN change the difficulty mid-game from the options menu.

GalCiv IV Dev Journal #17 - Screenshot Time

Published on Friday, April 15, 2022 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

It’s hard to narrow down what screenshots help show off Galactic Civilizations IV the best.  Below I’m going to post some of my favorites, but we’d love to read your opinions and what screenshots you might think better represent the game to strategy gamers.

GC4-00-Earth

This will come as no surprise to those of you who have been playing the series, but it has always mattered a lot to me that Earth is in the game. Because of that, it makes it really easy to compare how far the series has come over the years.

 

GC4-01-ChooseCiv\

One of my favorite features of the Galactic Civilizations series is that the other civilizations aren’t generic.  Each has their own story and unique capabilities. I am also glad you can create and share your own custom made civilizations as well.

 

Galactic Civilizations IV 0.91 Beta 2022-04-06 16-15-58.mp4.00_00_59_10.Still001

Designing your own ships in Galactic Civilizations has become one of the features that people now strongly associate with the series.  It’s going to be really interesting to see what cool types of ships people make.

 

GC4-04-Events

Even decades ago, it was important to us that the first time a player does something they're met with a video cut scene.  This is because we wanted players to see - with detail - what it actually means to live in this universe.

 

GC4-05-Sector

Possibly my favorite new feature in Galactic Civilizations IV are the sectors.  It’s an obvious feature in hindsight.  While most space strategy games have star-to-star nodes and such, Galactic Civilizations has always had a free moving map. 

 

Galactic Civilizations IV aims to combine the best of both by having free moving maps that are also connected to other sectors.  This creates another dimension of strategic depth and a second phase of exploration, which is typically a major part of this genre.

 

GC4-06-Challenges

Possibly the most innovative feature of Galactic Civilizations IV are the Galactic Challenges.  Typically in 4X strategy games, the player knows they’re going to win long before they actually win.  GalCiv IV introduces the Prestige victory condition, which gives points for leading in various areas.  It’s typically very hard to win purely on prestige without completing the Galactic Challenges, which are special events (think mini campaigns) the player can engage in that reward them with a bunch of prestige points.

 

Galactic Civilizations IV 0.92 Beta 2022-04-11 20-26-39.mp4.00_01_34_12.Still002

Trading in Galactic Civilizations games is nothing new.  While the trading screen looks better, the real work was under the covers where players, especially 4X players, will notice how intelligent many of the AI trades are.

 

GC4-08-Siege

By splitting planets between core worlds (the planets the player can directly manage) and colonies (worlds that are purely automated). we not only dramatically reduce micro-management - especially late game - but also give players who are really detail-oriented a mechanism to min/max to their heart’s content.  Moreover, having colonies means we can have invasions take place almost immediately as any armed ship can, depending on the resistance, conquer a colony as seen in this screenshot.

 

The new siege mechanic has dramatically changed the strategy of moving ships around between all of your planets into using sentry and picket lines instead. Intercepting enemy fleets near the border is far more effective than engaging in a game of 'whack-a-mole' by trying to defend each planet individually.

 

GC4-09-Combat

The combat viewer was a late edition, but one that proved very important in balancing the weapons and general combat system of the game. This is an area of the game we intend to actually do more on after release as we see what additional ideas players might have.

 

Galactic Civilizations IV 0.91 Beta 2022-04-04 19-44-02.mp4.00_00_07_56.Still002

One of my favorite features of Galactic Civilizations IV is that there is a simple "customize your civilization" screen.  In our previous games, if you wanted to customize a civ, you basically had to build a new one from scratch. 

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GalCiv IV Journals

 

The decline of Twitter

Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 By Brad Wardell In Everything Else

If I were to make a graph of the amount of time I spent on Twitter, it would have started at the founding of that service, peeked in 2015, gradually declined until 2019 and then plumuted.

As NASDAQ noted, Twitter isn't really profitable.  And how can it be? How can you base your business on something that might suspend your account based on the opinions of its far, far left employees? 

Satire site, Babylon Bee, was recently banned for making a satirical post about public figure, Rachel Levine, the trasngender assistant secretary of health.  Making death threats against conservatives is rarely punished.  President Trump's Twitter account is gone while Kathy Griffin, who famously called for violence against President Trump remains.

How can anyone seriously look at Twitter as a viable platform when the rules are always in motion and enforced so capriciously?  

It's only a matter of time before Twitter is gone.  And I suspect the world will be better for it.

GalCiv IV Dev Journal #16 - The Battle Viewer

Published on Thursday, March 3, 2022 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

You wanted it. We’re giving it to you.  The Battle viewer.

Beta 2 of Galactic Civilizations IV brings back the Battle Viewer and a new After Action Report.  It’s pretty basic for Beta 2 and we plant to add a lot more to it.

Today, I’m going to talk about what is already in it and what we plan to add.

The viewer and the after action report

There are really two elements here that players tend to want to see:

Their ships in action to see how different designs are stacking up and an after action report to look at the data from the big picture.

For beta 2, we did some cosmetic work to make the battles look a lot better

image

image

We have a lot more data planned for Beta 3 but we wanted to get this out in time for Beta 2.

Additionally, we have some ideas for how these battles should work that we’d like your feedback in the comments such as:

Ship roles

More meaning to the ship roles.  Right now, ship roles mostly affect the placement of a ship in the battle arena but this is something that could be fleshed out to reward more thoughtful fleet creation.  Here are some ideas:

The type of ship determines the order in which the enemy can target them:

  1. Interceptor
  2. Guardian
  3. Escort
  4. Assault
  5. Capital
  6. Support

This way, players can assemble fleets with additional strategy behind them.

Tactical Combat

I know a lot of people want tactical combat but let me, for instance, show you my current game:

image

This isn’t even the largest map size. Not even close.  I have a dozen battles each turn and I can barely keep track of one fleet versus another in terms of what it’s good at or not let alone have any desire to micro manage a battle or even set up a battle at the start of the battle.  And I am not interested in having an AI choose (badly) for me.

But I am definitely open to the idea of the assembling of a fleet mattering more as well as the design of the ship.  I.e. rewarding the logistics of war versus the tactics of war.

What are your thoughts?

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GalCiv IV Journals

GalCiv IV 0.77B sneak preview

Published on Sunday, February 6, 2022 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Civilizations IV

As usual, this is, by no means, comprehensive

 

  • Heap corruption bug fixed. [causes crashing]
  • Aquatic worlds tech now available to all civs

  • Foreign affairs tech removed

  • Precursor Studies tech now available to all civs

  • Intermediate weapons techs now provide weapon boosts

  • Defensive studies gives ships a modest defense

  • More flavor text
  • Influence explosion on invasion issue fixed (again)
  • Star cluster sizes tweaked
  • Shipyard cost reduced from 60 to 36.
  • Default starting cluster size changed from large to small
  • Manufacturing costs for larger hull sizes increased
  • Occasional planet frequency now results in more planets
  • Occasional star frequnecy results in more stars
  • Tweak for making sure the number of sectors asked for actually show up in a game.
  • Minister of Production requirement changed to Manufacturing Capitals

More to come.

This build should go out this week.

Star Control: Winter 2022 Status Update

Published on Friday, January 28, 2022 By Brad Wardell In Star Control

Greetings!

It's been awhile since we've done an update so I figured it would be a good time to tell you where things are.

Before Covid, we had started porting Star Control: Origins over to XBOX One.  However, all that went out the window when the pandemic hit since you can't take the kits home and everyone was working from home.  

However, this past Fall we were able to get restarted on it and we now have the game in pre-certification for XBOX One.  The plan is to release that this Spring or Summer and then see how demand goes.  Assuming it does well, we'll move to a PS4 version of it and potentially even a Switch version (though that might be tough since our engine was based on x86 assumptions and the Switch uses a completely different hardware set).

We also have the tentative design for what is internally referred to as Star Control IV.  Now that all the IP disagreements have been cleaned up we can design a new Star Control game without any uncertainty as to what is and isn't kosher.  Future Star Control games will come out for PC and console at or near the same time which allows us to have a bigger budget.

Right now, our studio has its hands full with 3 different major game projects in progress including Galactic Civilizations IV and two unannounced games that you'll hear more about later this year.  So it'll be a bit before we can return to Star Control but we have toyed with the idea of putting out a stand alone new Star Control fleet battle game if there's interest.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them here.

GalCiv IV v0.77A Preview

Published on Friday, January 28, 2022 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Civilizations IV

As usual, this is, by no means, comprehensive.  Just some changes coming up.

  • Minimum camera angle increased
  • Camera view moves to icon view quicker.
  • Fusion Power plant cost reduced from 600 to 200.
  • Singularity power plant reduced from 1000 to 500
  • Eyes of Universe grants a culture point (testing this concept) upon being constructed
  • Research Mission cost reduced from 100 to 80
  • Credits mission reduced from 120 to 100
  • Production mission reduced from 100 to 60 (testing)
  • Exotic Resources mission cost reduced from 240 to 140
  • Influence mission cost reduced from 180 to 150
  • Laser ship component cost reduced from 30 to 25
  • Particle beam cost reduced from 45 to 32
  • New component: Experimental Laser
  • Disruptor cost reduced from 55 to 50
  • Enhanced disruptor cost reduced from 55 to 50
  • New component: Advanced disruptor. More powerful, costs 2 Elerium.
  • Similar balance changes to kinetic and missile weapons
  • New Advanced versions of most weapons where there is now an additional "advanced" component that uses even more of a special resource than the enhanced.
  • Citizen approval ratings when you're at war with their species penalty increased except for the Mimots.
  • Drengin and Yor approval penalty greatly increased.
  • Diplomacy: If your civilization is too far out of range then "Ripe for conquest" and "we want to conquer the galaxy" are no longer counted since they don't apply to you.
  • Default out of range bonus reduced from 5 to 1.
  • Xenophobic multiplier on out of range diplomacy bonus increased from 2 to 4.
  • Another balance pass on prestige victory multipliers.
  • Big revamp on the AI ship design system to make their ships focus on what they are best at. (i.e. all beam, all kinetic or all missile rather than a mess).
  • All starbase modules now cost 1 starbase module (duh)
  • Sector scanners no longer cost a Thulium. (but do cost a module..)
  • Surveillance System module no longer costs Thuliuim.
  • Starbase relic upgrades no longer rely on exotic resources but instead require Promethion to upgrade.
  • Starbase military enhancements no longer rely on exotic resources but now require Durantium instead.
  • Starbase factory enhnacements no longer require exotic resources but instead use Durantium.
  • Starbase lab modules no longer require exotic resources but instead use Promethion.
  • Starbase economic enhancements no longer use exotic resources but instead use a bit of Promethion AND Durantium.
  • Starbase Culture modules no longer require exotic resources but instead use Durantium.
  • Starbase pinnacle (the top level upgrades) do still require an exotic resource.
  • Tiny ship mass slots increased from 1 to 2.
  • Tiny ship default moves increased from 8 to 9
  • Small ship mass slots increased from 3 to 4
  • Small ship default moves increased from 7 to 8
  • Medium ship mass slots increased from 6 to 8
  • Medium ship default moves increased from 6 to 7
  • Large ship mass slots increased from 9 to 10
  • Influence gradually grows based on turn number. (balance pass)

Update #1

  • Lots of new flavor text.
  • Mimot lore story expanded on.
  • New super project: Iridia Exchange. Provides +4 adjacency bonuses Wealth trait civs only.
  • Wealthy trait civs no longer get a capital mainframe and other super projects for tech
  • Slight decrease in the cost of planetary improvmeents (balance)
  • Certain planetary trait improvements now provide adjacency bonuses.
  • Turns now represent ONE MONTH instead of ONE WEEK
  • Slightly more players recommended per map size.
  • Day of the month is randomized for flavor
  • One year anniversary event changed to Five year (60 turns) event.
  • Starting Cluster size chosen by player enforced.
  • Overcrowded pentalty to approval reduced.
  • Crime penalty to approval reduced (until it gets pretty high then BAM!)
  • AI more likely to build asteroid miners.
  • General AI improvement on what ships to build when
  • AI much smarter about what improvements to build.
  • AI less likely to send out missions from its shipyards
  • AI puts more effort into building up planetary production 
  • AI better about choosing technologies during times of war
  • AI a bit better at specializing citizens
  • AI much MUCH more reasonable about trading techs
  • Visual pass on making the ship designer screen cleaner
  • Leaders assigned to factions provide greater benefits.
  • Fixed missing HP icon in the ship designer screen.
  • New policy: Wealth Civs only = The Great Expansion. 3X to planetary growth on capital world.
  • Yor no longer result in a negative approval rating when you are at war with their species.
  • Iridium default expectations increased by 8.
  • Drastic reduction in the cost of weapons and defenses in ship construction (increase military ship pacing) [testing balance]
  • New component: Efficient constructor module.  Wealthy trait civs get a cheaper version of the constructor module.
  • No Ship component costs more than 1 slot.
  • Text: Speed changed to moves
  • Text: Tiny changed to Tiny Hulls (will require some UI adjustments because it's longer)
  • Text X changed X Hulls
  • Text references of weeks changed to months.
  • Text: Capacity changed to Equipment slots
  • Text: Base cost changed to Base Manufacturing cost
  • Text: Favor ship tooltip in shipyard now mentions it is a toggle
  • Text: Reference to Galactic Achievements changed to Galactic Challenges
  • Text: Mention of map size change to number of sectors.
  • Corporate Sector (Irridium) start with Translator tech.  Will require an advisor change so that we aren't looking at a blank diplomacy screen.

  • Subspace stream lanes are now 100X faster for ships rather than 20 times.
  • Marginal worlds are now either class 1 or 2 rather than up to 5 (eliminate confusion as to what that number is). Really these should probalby just be class 1 planets.
  • Marginal worlds are more specific about what kinds of raw resources they have based on what type of world it is.
  • Earth minerals increased from 3 to 4
  • Drengi wealth reduced from 5 to 3
  • Drengi fertility reduced from 12 to 10
  • Altaria minerals increased from 3 to 4
  • Iridia minerals increased from 3 to 4
  • Iridia wealth reduced from 8 to 4
  • Iridia planet class increased from 25 to 29
  • Iconia minerals increased from 3 to 4
  • Iconia Fertility reduced from 6 to 5
  • Kryseth minerals increased from 3 to 4
  • Kryseth fertilty reduced from 12 to 10
  • Arcea minerals increased from 3 to 6
  • Arcea tech reduced from 3 to 2
  • Fen minerals increased from 3 to 5
  • Fen Tech reduced from 3 to 2
  • Balance and variance pass across all map sizes and sector counts. Big big changes here.
  • Occasional planet frequency changed from 1.75 to 1.8 (slightly more planets).

 

 

 

This will be part of next week's update.

 

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