Brad Wardell's Blog


Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Walkthrough

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

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

New Game

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

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

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

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

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

Turn 1

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

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

RIGHT-clicking will send a ship to a destination.

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

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

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

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

So far so good. You’re doing great!

The Planet Screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planet Stats

Now let’s look at the planet stats.

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

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

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

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

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

Control is what allows you to use those Executive Orders.

Citizens

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

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

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

Planets: Getting them going

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

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

Then spend money to rush build the building.

Planets: Districts

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

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

Making Starships

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

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

Your first Colony

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

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

Artifacts

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

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

Expanding to other star systems

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

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

Aliens

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

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

Leaders

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

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

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

Orbitals

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

Getting Help

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

GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #27 - Localization

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

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Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Dev Journals

Frogboy's October 1 weekend madness

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

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

 

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

Cheers!

GalCiv IV BETA v1.9 localization

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

 

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

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

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

GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #26 - The Animals of AI

Published on Monday, September 25, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

When utilizing Stardock's AlienGPT, one might naturally ponder the question: which animals are the most sought-after choices for building a civilization around? Well, here's the answer.

 

 

Nearly 40% of users opt for cats, followed by foxes, fish, dogs, snakes, and more.

Animal Number of Mentions Percentage (%)
cat 1445 30.90
fox 331 7.08
fish 320 6.84
dog 319 6.82
snake 258 5.52
bird 251 5.37
tiger 219 4.68
wolf 190 4.06
rabbit 170 3.63
monkey 151 3.23
bear 139 2.97
elephant 133 2.84
shark 125 2.67
lion 102 2.18
giraffe 102 2.18
turtle 97 2.07
horse 84 1.80
sheep 83 1.77
dolphin 82 1.75
whale 76 1.62

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Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Dev Journals

Weekend at Frogboy's Sept 2023

Published on Sunday, September 24, 2023 By Brad Wardell In Galactic Civilizations IV

Lots of cool stuff going in this weekend.

Lots of new planetary improvements

New executive orders

 

Let's go over it.

In no particular order..

  • Drath homeworld gets a backdrop

  • Removed references to empires in flavor text, replaced with civilizations.

New Executive Orders:

  • Mitosis

  • Swarm

  • Planetary Clairvoyance

New updated Planetary Improvements:

  • Colonial Generator now called Planetary Generator. Can be built on homeworld.

Unique improvements for Ammonia based species:

  • Network Nexus

  • Irradiated Foundry

  • Contagion Source

  • Golgi

  • Amoebic Incubator

  • Knowledge Melding Hub

Unique improvements for insectroid (consuming) species:

  • Work Instruction Chamber

  • Cerebral Chamber

  • Harmonious Antennae

  • Hatchery

  • Work Hive

  • Mother Hive

Planetary Improvement Updates

  • Many improvements are no longer available to insectoids or Amoebas.

  • Updated graphics for Planetary Generator and Industrial Center

  • Civilization capital no longer auto-placed. 

  • Resource income from planetary mines (like Thulium mines) greatly increased at level 2 and 3.

  • Level up bonus for districts generally reduced from 2% to 1%.

  • Possibility Engine icon replaced and cost increased while research bonus reduced from 100% to 50% (yea this was seriously OP)

Leader Backstory changes:

  • Ammonia (Amoebas) get their own backstories

  • Insectoids (like Festron) get their own backstories

  • Synthetic (like Yor) get their own backstories

  • Amoebas no longer have ridiculous backstories like arranged marriages

  • Insectoids (like Festron) no longer get ridiculous backstories like missing twin

  • Silicon based civs no longer get ridiculous backstories like wanting to be a chef

New late game flavor text for asking for peace and such.

  • AI speech to you changes more based on the current status of the galaxy.

Cultural Progression Tree:

  • Approval boost from Eureka is temporary and reduced to 5%.

  • Sovereign Identity stat buff reduced from 200% to 50%.

  • Big Brother stat buff removed.

  • Big Brother diligence buff set to 100%.

  • Legacy citizen stat buffs removed

  • Legacy provides a 200% buff to resolve

  • Utopia citizen stat buffs removed

  • Utopia buffs Social stat by 200%

  • Singularity trait stat buffs removed

  • Singularity trait doubles Intelligence of citizens

  • Sanctuary trait buffs reduced from 300% (4X) to 25%

  • Terror Star trait buffs removed. (just unlocks the Terror Star tech to research)

  • Hive Miind buff reduced like the Sanctuary ones.

Technologies:

  • Synthetic Species get their own technologies

  • Aggressive civs get their own technologies

  • Ammonia (like Cosmic Contaminate) get their own technologies

  • Greedy civs get their own technologies

  • Radiated civs get their own technologies

Ship Components

  • Sensor ranges for high end sensors reduced slightly

Word on the street:

  • Different species now get different word on the street summaries on their planets.

Star names:

  • Took out some goofy star names (hat tip: Astasia)

Research costs

  • Tech Inflation multplier further increased from 2.5% to 5%

  • Specific tech tree research cost now given a slight exponential growth (^1.02 power).

Map Generation:

  • Slightly more stars on occasional and abundant and common settings

  • Planet balancing for more satisfying starts.

Planets and Stars:

  • Festron home world planet class increased from 20 to 24, Resources on it reduced

  • Contaminate home star system now comes with 3 high quality planets since everyone else is gonna hate them.

Policies:

  • Festron and Contaminate civs (and similar) blocked from various policies

Balance

  • Balance pass on the conversion between citizen stats and their output.

  • Workers no longer provide research benefits.

  • Ammonia based species base stats reduced because they basically amoebas. They make it up in quantity.

  • Various events that don't make any sense for a particular species not blocked. (The Yor do not mutate)

AI

  • The Fleet Commander AI will not counter the Primary Strategic AI’s order to leave for battle against a distant foe if it doesn’t believe its fleet is ready. (stop sending out tiny fleets!)

  • Balance pass on AI shipyard manufacturing priorities.

Various Bug fixes:

  • Lots of small bug fixes

  • Fixed bug where trading screen wouldn’t recognize you already have the tech

  • Fixed bug where techs wouldn’t always show what they unlock

 

Mooorre:

  • Distance between star systems reduced from 4 to 3 to speed up relative movement.
  • Rebalanced star count settings (now that they're working as designed)
  • Fusion Power Plant tech cost increased from 50 to 100
  • Life Support tech AI priority greatly increased
  • Tiny map size increased from 36 to 48 tiles radius.
  • Reduced the turtling the AI does when it's not at war
  • Fixed the buggy Siege ship behaivor
  • AI is much more likely to target their primary enemy units
  • Further reduce AI nagging for stuff
  • AI less likely to construct siege ships
  • Balance pass on AI research choices
  • Fixed map geneator bug that was resulting in inconsistent star quantities (note this may increase map generation time some)

and lastly

  • Pacing pass on tech speeds to make it more consistent on different map sizes.

GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #25 - A Galaxy for Everyone

Published on Thursday, September 14, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Greetings!

We are coming to the finish line for GalCiv IV: Supernova!

Our once reasonable scope has, of course, exploded over the Summer as we got our hands into making this the best space 4X game we've ever made!

The next major BETA update, 1.90 will be focusing on making the game more appealing to a much wider group of people.

Galactapedia

Galactapedia Image 1

Galactapedia Image 2

Galactapedia Image 3

 

This feature is expected to expand significantly in the coming weeks. We're excited about its potential and are hopeful to integrate capabilities allowing modders to add their own entries.

 

Modding

Speaking of modders...

Modding Image 1

Modding Image 2

 

We are gearing up to unveil the GalCiv Workshop. It will start by supporting uploads of civs and ships.

 

Workshop Image

 

Design your ship, hit a button, and upload. The same goes for your custom civilizations. Moreover, in various places, you'll have the option to pick from a range of ships. In beta 1.9, we're interested in your feedback on where additional integration points could be located.

Stay tuned for updates on code modding!

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Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Dev Journals

Help us localize GalCiv IV to more languages

Published on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Localization

GalCiv III Language Support and Translation

Introduction:
Greetings!

For those of you who played GalCiv III, you might recall that its language support was somewhat limited. Given the sheer volume of text in the game, coupled with our small studio size in America, our linguistic reach was a bit narrow...to put it mildly.

With GalCiv IV, we want to try to make sure we can get to as many people as possible and for that, we need your help.

Languages We Aim to Support for the Next Release:

  • German
  • French
  • Russian
  • Polish
  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Korean

Translation Resources:
For the community and anyone interested in the localization process, check out our Github repository:
GalCiv IV Localization Repository[github.com]

File Importance Ranking:
We would like to guide the translators and enthusiasts on the most crucial files for the game:

  • AbilityStatText.xml
  • AbilityText.xml
  • AdvisorRecommendationText.XML
  • FactionText.xml
  • UIText.xml


Please note: We first update the English version and swiftly move to the translations.

Translation Process Overview:

  • First Pass - Automated AI Translation
  • Second Pass - AI Proofreading
  • Third Pass - Human Translators


Bear in mind, while human translators ensure quality, they might not always be aficionados of space strategy games.

Thanks for your support! Also, for those looking for contract work on this, we are looking for more translators. For volunteers who are interested in helping here and there, we will be looking at the checkins to add people to the game's credits.

Cheers!

GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #24 - AIs Drinking Coffee on Planets

Published on Monday, August 28, 2023 By Brad Wardell In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Generally speaking, in GalCiv games there has been three types of players:

The first player is the relatively new or casual player who finds the AI ridiculously hard and will post "The AI is cheating" (the AI doesn't cheat unless you make the settings super high).  They say this because the AI is able to expand fairly quickly because it is quite good at scouting (the AI tends to build a lot more scouts than players) and finding planets. It has no idea where the planets are.

The second player plays the game fairly normally and is eventually able to win at levels up to and including the "Bright" difficulty where the AI is given a bit of help in the form of a slight money boost.  These are people who tend to like the game the most because they see the AI playing fairly intelligently and each game is quite different.

The last player is the player who has figured out all the tricks with their Civ setup.  They know which traits to pick and will make their custom civilization pretty amazing.  They also know every weakness the AI has and can exploit that.  These players can crush the AI even on Godlike.

Now, for the first type of player, we are doing more to slow down the AI on expanding on lower difficulty levels.  They can't, for instance, rush starship construction.

For this discussion, it's the second and third type of player we want to discuss.  And for that, we have to get into the sausage factory that is how terrible the AI is at managing planets. 

WHY is the AI so bad at managing planets?  The answer has been because of performance.  Turn times.  We've always had to really be careful on how sophisticated we make the AI's planet work (like we can't let it look ahead because that's an N^2 algorithm). 

We've stuck with the same basic AI algorithms for planet stuff since GalCiv II.  

BUT not anymore.  It's 2023 and there's enough CPU power (and we've gotten enough time back thanks to other optimizations we're working on) that we could totally rewrite it.  This will show up in 1.8.

Let's take a look at the old AI.  Here is earth after 130 turns.

You will see a lot of obvious issues here (and we're not even counting the bad citizen setup which we'll have to get into later).

Look in particular at the terrible Shipyard production. 

Now let's look at the new AI:

So what has changed?

A few things.

  1. The AI is now quite good at destroying an existing district or low performing improvement and putting a new one on it.
  2. The AI is quite good at terraforming.
  3. The AI is now good at measuring not what the native qualities of a region on a planet are but also the effects of the other buildings (a very expensive operation).  So the AI will happily ignore a +1 to wealth if  the civilization needs food or if it's going to get a big research bonus by putting something there.
  4. The AI is now much more intelligent about when to upgrade its districts. 

Thus, in this example:

  • Shipyard production jumps from 37 to 90.  
  • Manufacturing levels have gone from level 1 to level 3
  • The AI has destroyed some districts to for in high end buildings (look at all the unbuilt special improvements in the top right in the top right)
  • The AI is willing to build housing and food as its needs require it.
  • Look at the the placement of the Starport? That's a level 5 Starport versus not building one at all because it didn't want to destroy any existing tiles to build it.
  • It built a prison and a recycling center because the planet needed to reduce crime and pollution.

The knock on effects of this remain to be seen.  But this will be available shortly.

 

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Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Dev Journals

 

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