Tell us what you'd like to see us work on for Object Desktop this year.
New apps? Update existing apps? You let us know.
Tell us what you'd like to see us work on for Object Desktop this year.
New apps? Update existing apps? You let us know.
Retribution makes the greatest changes to the technology tree since the original release of the game. Moreover, many of those changes occur at the very start of the game as opposed to late game. Today, we'll walk you through some of the changes and why we made them.
The most obvious change here is the study of artifacts. We will have an entire journal dedicated to artifacts. But suffice to say, going up the artifact tree allows players to get more out of the artifacts they find on worlds. There have also been other changes designed to improve the overall pacing of the game. For example, Colonial Administration introduces farms and cities together. Moreover, the various multi-choice techs are completely eliminated. Every tech gives you something meaningful.
Engineering got a pretty big shake-up. First off, Space Elevators have been moved to "space elevator technology". At the start of the game, players have some new planetary improvements they can construct instead, like the Colonization Center, or Supply Depot, which help get things moving and provides a bit more time to decide where players want to place their hubs.
This tree also has the Hypergate tech path on it that makes hypergates better and faster. Like with Colonization, this tree has been narrowed and the optimization/choose 1 of N techs concept is gone. Starports have been moved to Orbital Manufacturing and, as you may have noticed, Carriers have been moved way, way up in order to make them a viable alternative to weapon systems. This will also involve improving the carrier concept in general.
The Warfare tree has been re-designed to be much cleaner. While there are a few optimization techs in the tree, the pacing of the techs has been substantially improved.
Planetary Invasion is much earlier now in the tech tree. This is partly because, now that stars are more distant, there is a bit more time to prepare for being rushed.
The weapon improvements have been merged together by weapon type. So instead of, for example, beam weapons having two parallel improvement tree,s there is only one. This way, a weapon technology has time to become relevant. New miniaturization techs have also been added later in the tree to, again, make a given weapon technology have its day in the sun, rather than becoming obsolete in a short time.
The Culture Tech tree has gotten a major overhaul as well. It now contains a immigration sub-tree for increasing population growth on planets. Like the others, the tree here is narrower in order to give techs more time to be relevant, as well as make sure that each technology feels important.
In the game I'm testing with today, I have 6 colonies. It's turn 40. I am playing on a large map. What's happening?
My Best Colony
My population is 2 out of a max of 3. But as you can see, my production isn't that dependent on population now.
My 2 population becomes 9.5 production thanks to the Space Elevator placement, Supply Depot, government, etc. The costs of various improvements and techs have been balanced to reasonable levels. Moreover, a Supply Ship from Earth...
Supply Ship from Earth bringing 100 social production with it (10 turns worth of production).
On Mars I have "aid economy" on repeat, which is helping me out.
My home world, Earth, is built up. I haven't researched any terraforming improvements yet, so this is Earth's natural state.
Its population of 7 is getting a lot done thanks to automation. I have it aiding economy.
You might be wondering what happened to Aid Research. The answer is: that ability is now tied to the Technology Capital super project. Aid Research is now much, much more powerful, but only can be done on a single planet (which if you use supply ships with rally points you can get a lot done). This was done because late game, social manufacturing effectively became research, which was not really ideal.
I also feel like there are a lot of interesting things I might want to build on this planet once I have more tiles available.
The question on pacing boils down to what players would expect to accomplish in 10 turns.
La La world got rich!
So what changed? As you can see, the population didn't, it's still 2. Raw production didn't change either. What did change was the construction of the Central Bank, a Supply Depot, and a Market Center.
But how did all that get built in 10 turns? Answer: the Supply Ship from Earth.
Before Retribution, players would basically just pound the turn button waiting for their population to grow. And what were their shipyards doing around turn 50? Either spamming colony ships (if it was a huge map) hoping to find stuff, constructors, or treasure hunters. Game in and game out.
Now, Shipyards are deciding between Stellar Architects (hypergates), Supply Ships, Constructors, or Colony ships depending on the situation. Because planetary invasions are so early now (relatively speaking), players can punish nearby civilizations that are mindlessly expanding by building up their own colonies a bit. And this ignores the effect of artifacts in this formula.
The cumulative effect is that players have a lot more strategic choices to make based on how the map is set up, who their neighbors are, and what resources they want to employ.
Journal #9 (Coming Soon)
My entire adult life has been dominated by 4X strategy games. Some periods have felt like the genre was in a bit of a rut. Other times (looking at Alpha Centauri and Distant Worlds) there are true moments of amazing innovation.
I can't go into specifics because of NDAs. But I can tell you that we're entering a new era for 4X and I thought I'd share with you why this is.
As some of you already know, my partner Soren's studio, Mohawk Games, is working on Ten Crowns which is a 4X game and Soren knows 4X inside and out. There's some real innovation going on over there.
There are projects at some of the other studios we're part of that aren't announced yet but are going to fundamentally change the 4X landscape and here's how:
Less abstraction. Historically, we've always had to play a fine balancing act between abstracting or not. It's either all in or all out. 4X games often feel like board games. One of the innovations Stellaris brought to the strategy genre which seems like a natural progression from Crusader Kings has been nuanced abstraction. That is, game elements that you can choose to care or not care about depending on your gameplay preferences.
This nuanced abstraction will become a much bigger deal over the next few years as we are able to simulate more and more detail.
So how is that possible? Cloud-coprocessing. Right now, in 4X games, we are constantly paranoid of hardware requirements. Because they're a bit niche, we have to keep the hardware requirements down. But soon, players will be able to have the Sim and AI processed in the cloud.
Specifically: Co-processed. That is, if you have a monster machine, you won't need the cloud. But it means that users with lower end hardware who have a decent net connection can experience truly detailed AI and sim.
I can tell you that internally, we've already started playing around with sending out AI jobs to the cloud to process. This allows us to have vastly more detailed AI (and smarter AI) and more detailed game elements.
But "better AI" isn't really that transformative. What is, however, is the more nuanced gameplay. Less abstraction means you, the player, can have much finer control over your empire based on what level you want to involve yourself in.
Right now, we get stuck between micro-management hell or overly simplistic. The player really doesn't get much of a say of how much they have to manage and we all know that throwing a "governor" on it isn't really that helpful.
But on the other hand, if I have a strategy game with extremely detailed mechanics that I can comfortably zoom in or zoom out (figuratively) on the detail and decide where I"m comfortable, knowing that the details will be handled just fine because the AI (or even entity scripting) is farmed out to the cloud, I get to play the game the way I want to play.
That nuance will, in turn, change the way 4X games are designed. I can't tell you how many times we've had to toss out some sophistication (especially late game) because computing times would take too long to have the process AI-driven and the only alternative would be to make the player manually mess with it (and again, governors are typically pretty terrible because they're so simplistic and arbitrary, there's no nuance -- manage entire city or do nothing).
Anyway, I can't wait for you guys to be able to see what I'm talking about. We are in for some exciting times. -b
Some believe that all living creatures have an elemental spark of divinity within themselves. In the case of the Tywom in the year 2246, that may literally be true.
The Sun Sets on the Altarian Empire
On Christmas eve of 2246, the TAS Omega arrived near the orbit of the Altarian Homeworld.
The once powerful military of the haughty Altarians had been utterly crushed. Not by humanity, but by the most unlikely of beings -- the Tywom.
The humans had cooperated in the sense of destroying many Altarian starbases. This had, however, resulted in the Tywom capturing many new resources while the humans were preoccupied with reaching the Altarian homeworld.
Glory is fleeting. And while the humans congratulated one another for their triumph over the hated Altarians, they barely noticed a minor headline that came over the networks...
The humans had missed the forest for the trees. The Tywom had aggressively picked up the Ascension crystals. Their strategy, from the very beginning, was to go for that victory path. Many things can be said about the Tywom, but... calling them 'great warriors' would not be one of those things. They knew this, and instead pursued a different path.
The humans had been destroying starbases connected to Ascension Crystals, which pleased the Tywom.
The Tywom were stymied from their path of galactic victory because of the wars. But, the humans had solved this problem for them by sacrificing entire fleets to take out the fortified starbases that guarded the various Precursor relics across known space.
The Human's vaunted Omega class destroyer capital ship was still no match for the Altarian equivalent.
As in, not even able to scratch the paint.
In hindsight, the trials and tribulations of the Terran Alliance were of no consequence. Now that we bask in the light of the Tywom, we truly understand what it means to love. To be completely and fully devoted to something.
All praise his great moistness!
Next up: A feature tour of Retribution! Now with100% less goo.
Journal #9 (Coming Soon)
The year is 2245. The galactic war has ended, with only three surviving civilizations of note. The aggressive Altarian Empire, the friendly yet oddly powerful Tywom, and of course, the Terran Alliance.
We are very lucky that these space slugs like us.
They are also very generous with their tech.
The Altarians want to bring their ideology to the universe. It happens to be an ideology we don't share, and they have not been shy about using their military might to crush others in order to do it. That war between the Altarians and the humans only ended because the Tywom intervened on behalf of their BEST FRIENDS (which happens to be us). Without them, we were hopelessly outmatched.
September 17, 2245
What made the humans even relevant at this time was the fact that the dying Onyx Confederacy brokered an armistice with the Altarians that resulted in their worlds being transferred to the humans.
Unfortunately, Onyx Prime is thousands of light years from Earth. However, thanks to Hypergates, this is not a problem. The only real problem was that this area of space was largely unknown to humans.
The Dimensional Mirror artifact
Luckily, the Dimensional Mirror artifact on Onyx Prime provided its own solution. It was ready to be used to uncover areas of space.
3 charges of the artifact had already been produced. It was now ready for use.
Using the artifact was easy. The humans simply picked the area of space they wanted to see. In this case, star systems that were unknown.
In particular, star systems thought to be within the Altarian sphere of influence. With multiple charges on the artifact, it didn't take long to find the true heart of the Altarian Empire: Dawn's Glory. An amazing world that produced an astounding amount of research. Deep within the Altarian space, it was only lightly defended. In the next war, this would be humanity's focal point of attack.
A stellar architect skims the border to build a secret Hypergate near the Altarians' core worlds.
Earth's Hypergate now had 4 lanes connecting to it (there's no limit).
The furthest hypergate was over 101 parsecs to travel to. While the base speed-up is 2X, new technologies were on the horizon that would increase the speed up to 3X, and later 4X. On a ship with a normal travel speed of 4 parsecs per turn, it would shorten the travel time from 25 turns to only 6!
The Tywom are kind and gentle but they are not pushovers. The humans, in 2245 made a dangerous mistake.
They had inherited a starbase from the Onyx that had long been a bone of contention, and the humans carried the policy forward by not agreeing to remove it when the Tywom asked. This resulted in a massive hit to relations at a very dangerous time. The humans needed friends, and now they had lost their best friend.
The resulting scandal nearly brought down the administration. The humans had only survived the war with the Altarians thanks to the Tywom. The humans began a swift deconstruction of their starbases that were in Tywom space. It was no wonder that the Tywom were so angry, since the Onyx, who were master spies, had installed several of them deep within Tywom territory. The question was, would this be enough to rebuild the relationship?
By December, tensions had cooled. The humans had removed all but the Durantium starbase, which was badly needed as it was the humans only source of Durantium. But the others, and there were several, were now gone and relations eased. The Tywom and the Altarians renewed their war soon after.
The Hypergate network would also act as a hub for sending out the new "Peeping Toms" to track the progress of the Tywom-Altarian world. The fate of the Terran Alliance likely rested with the victor.
While the military had dreams of dominance, the reality is, the Tywom are humanity's best hope for survival. And, they are not very good at war despite their paper-strength.
The diplomatic core, meanwhile, had done a good job repairing relations with the Tywom.
The Christmas 2245 Trade deal included a non-aggression pact. This would anger the Altarians but would, we hope, lead to an eventual alliance with the Tywom.
The Omega Project
The Terran Alliance had reverse-engineered the massive ships that the Altarians had constructed in the last war. Using the hull design (downloaded from Steam Workshop), it is equipped with Photonic Warhead and ECM defenses. In theory, it should be able to put up a fight against anything out there.
The Altarian spy network noticed the human work on the stolen tech and responded. Could they handle the Terran Alliance, now armed with Omegas, along with the powerful but somewhat clueless Tywom?
While the Omegas were being deployed, the Star Vikings, the previous state-of-the-art ships, would have to hold the line.
While human technology had improved, it was still far inferior to the Altarians. Their elegant frigates could take out entire fleets of human ships.
What the humans did have was desperation.
The mothballed Onyx ships, being all that was left, were employed. The inventory of Onyx ships was limited but they were still more advanced than anything the humans had.
The real winners were the Korx...as usual.
The Korx were happy to supply the anti-matter the humans needed. It would bankrupt the Terran Alliance, but they had little other choice.
The war of 2246
The Altarian declaration of war on the humans was enough to convince the leaders of both the Tywom and the Terran Alliance that the time for a permanent alliance was needed. The Altarians simply were too aggressive to be allowed to continue.
Two Terran fleets, each with an Omega, arrived in the home Altarian star system. Their weapons magnified by Arnorian Embers (artifact) to give them a bit more fighting power against the superior technology of the Altarians. Their military might had been devastated by the Tywom already, but their planets were filled with legions of defenders making the worlds difficult to conquer.
Even after conquest, pacifying would be an issue. How to prevent the native from revolting? The answer: ARTIFACTS.
What the Omegas lacked in technical excellence, they made up for with lots and lots of nukes. However, whenever the odds were remotely even, the Altarians carried the day easily.
For the moment, the humans and Altarians slugged it out. The Tywom even made peace with the Altarians, which resulted in some frustration in the Senate as the Tywom were aggressively picking up Ascension crystals that became available because of the Altarian starbase losses.
The military, however, was unconcerned. The Tywom had annihilated most of the Altarian military, and the Terran fleets, while inferior in technology, were slowly pushing the Altarians back through brute force.
Next: End Game!
Journal #9 (Coming Soon)
The Age of War
The year is 2243. Earth has colonized three planets and met several alien civilizations. It has made friends with a couple, and is at war with another.
Human space is connected by a set of Hypergates, which allow for supply ships from Earth to rapidly support the construction of critical infrastructure on these fledgling colonies. In turn, humanity's policies and culture have encouraged friendly migration from across the galaxy.
On the planet Athenia, an ancient artifact has been uncovered. When used, it will greatly increase the destructive power of a selected ship. Despite the war with the malevolent Korath, it has not been necessary to use it.
Humanity is a minor power in the bigger scheme of things, but it is about to transform itself into a major power on the galactic scene.
For over a year, the Korath have been raiding just outside human space. Now, it was time to strike back.
The Hyperion and the Roanoke would lead the charge, along with 3 escort fighters. The humans hoped that a show of force might bring the Korath to the bargaining table.
The raid, however, did not go over as planned. While the Terran Alliance had learned a lot about the Korath, the Korath had learned even more about the humans.
This included coming up with counter-measures to the human weapons along, with a different weapons technology that was unknown to them.
They also had a ship much bigger than anything the humans had seen before.
It absolutely dwarfed the Hyperion class ships. The raid was far from convincing the Korath to negotiate a peace - instead, it had emboldened them.
Emergency on Ceres
The engineering team on Ceres was tasked for designing a new class of ship to answer this threat. Unfortunately, such large hull sizes were relatively new but the Odyssey class ship was born (hatt-ip to Steam workshop).
While the war with the Korath became more of a priority, another civilization, apparently related to the Korath known as the Drengin Empire made their anger with EarthGov known.
The long-failing colony of Larasa, orbiting Proxima Centauri, finally revolted and joined the Terran Alliance. Despite the insistence of EarthGov that the Terran Alliance had nothing to do with the colony's defection, the Drengin Empire insisted that humans make Larasa a commonwealth planet.
Larasa was made an independent commonwealth. The Drengin living there will hopefully be able to deal with their parent civilization.
Most experts believed, at the time, that this was a mistake.
The primary problem was that their other colony, Proxima Centauri IV, shared a border with the Terran Alliance and the influence of the Terran Alliance was growing.
Task Force Beta (the second raid) led by the Odyssey class, was more successful than the disastrous first one.
The Speaker for the Labor party, however, disagreed that the task force was impressive to the Korath but rather that the Onxy Hive's growing military power made them decide that they had more worthy adversaries.
The debate over what impressed the Korath came to an abrupt end in May, 2244.
The Korath surrendered to the Altarians, who were now the dominant power in known space.
The Cold Peace
The Drengin Empire, like everyone else, was building up a hypergate network.
Unlike everyone else, the Drengin were being especially aggressive with building hypergates.
Meanwhile, the Altarians were slowly conquering known space.
The problem, however, was that the Altarians fully intended to incorporate human space into their empire.
The only reason they hadn't already was because the Drengin Empire was keeping them busy. But, the Drengin Empire was losing the war.
With the Drengin Empire slowly being destroyed by the Altarians and humanity next on the list, it became a question of: what should the Terran Alliance do?
Humanity was far behind the Altarians technologically and had twice the population. Fundamentally, the humans simply couldn't keep up. This fact was kept hidden from the civilian population. Quietly, however, a wide-spread infrastructure upgrade took place in the hope that when the time came, humanity's logistics would be able to deter the Altarians from reaching out to grasp Earth.
The Hypergate-Rally-Supply Initiative
While Earth was humanity's starship juggernaut, New Copenhagen was the research center of the Terran Alliance. Supply ships then delivered the raw goods, which then were converted by New Copenhagen's labs into accelerated research.
Now, supply ships are built on Earth, sent over to New Copenhagen automatically, and converted into research.
A Twilight on Larasa
The Altarians conquered Larasa. Which means that they will likely come to the Terran Alliance, as there is little chance that the Altarians will be able to hold a planet so deeply in human space.
The Drengin Empire fell the same day.
The next day.
The day humanity had feared had arrived.
HELLO, BEST FRIENDS
Luckily for the humans, they had a slimy friend...The Tywom (Star Control alien).
The Tywom decided to stand up to the Altarians with their own surprisingly powerful military.
The two powers were evenly matched. Humanity's tiny military might be enough to tip the balance.
Humanity had put together its biggest fleet ever. Now was the time to use the Arnorian Embers artifact.
2245 arrived, and with it, an interstellar invasion of one of the outer worlds of the Altarian Empire.
Invading a planet is no small feat. The Tywom had done much of the heavy lifting by clearing most of the Altarian fleets. The humans had managed to flank the main Altarian force by constructing a hypergate far to the galactic east of the Altarian homeworlds, which allowed them to bypass the front line between the Altarians and the Tywom.
Unfortunately, the Altarians were quick to respond.
Their ships had been designed to counter the Terran Alliance's fleet. Moreover, their weapon of choice was a more advanced form of missile.
The defenses of the Altarians nullified the Terran Alliance fleet allowing them to do over 6X more damage to the Terrans. The fleet and the 4 legions of soldiers were vaporized.
That fleet was literally the best the humans were capable of putting together.
The Altarian response was nothing short of breath-taking. Behind their powerful ships was some sort of capital ship of a size that the humans had never seen before.
August 6, 2245
The Onyx surrendered, but not before giving us their remaining worlds and ships.
There were only three major powers left. The Tywom had beaten back the Altarians. so there was still hope.
But every head-to-head engagement led to utter defeat. The humans simply couldn't penetrate the Altarian defenses. Their weapons couldn't even get a weapons lock.
Diplomatic Success at Last
The Tywom threat had made the Altarians consider whether it was worth fighting the Terran Alliance. The humans were of little consequence and far from the Altarian home worlds.
A complicated and decidedly one-sided negotiated peace took place. The humans did their best to make the settlement appear to be an agreement of equals, but the terms spoke for themselves.
Still the humans, though battered, ended the war with many new worlds. Instead of 3 colonies, the humans had 9 now.
The hypergate network had made the difference and in the process, had captured worlds with several new artifacts:
Next up: The Tywom BEST FRIENDS...
Journal #9 (Coming Soon)
The year is 2242. Earth has tiny outposts across our solar system. On Earth, the ancient artifact found in Peru that was thought to have been built by the Mayans is now known to be a Precursor artifact that is designed to greatly enhance the empathy of those it is used on.
Earth's first interstellar ship, the Discovery, commanded by Colonel Aaron Roberts, is assigned to travel to Alpha Centauri to see if there are any colonizable worlds there. The trip will take 6 weeks using Hyperdrive.
In the Sahara desert, the largest construction project in human history has begun.
The colonization center has been designed to encourage people from around the world to become official citizens of the Terran Alliance, and thus qualify for the colonization program.
Meanwhile, near Ceres, a massive shipyard begins work on the Santa Maria, the controversially named first colony ship.
The colony ship can carry up to 100,000 humans in its massive city-sized holds.
Back on Earth, the scientific community is focusing its efforts on figuring out how to construct space elevators. After the infamous debacle when constructing the Discovery (massive cost overruns), a cheaper way to get things into orbit has been mandated.
The Discovery has reached Proxima Centauri. There are two habitable planets and a brown dwarf. Brown dwarfs are theorized to be able to be mined for a material called Promethion, which has recently only been produced in tiny quantities in the lab. This substance will allow our labs to greatly increase their scientific research.
Meanwhile, Voyager has been tasked to go to Barnard's Star.
On its way to Barnard's Star, the Discovery encounters what appears to be a massive abandoned Precursor factory. The Scientific (and military) community lobbies for the next use of the Ceres shipyard to be for a construction ship in order to place a starbase near it for further study/exploitation.
After much debate, the resolution passes, though it's partially because the Colony ship does not have the necessary range to make it all the way to Proxima Centauri without stopping off for repairs and replenishment along the way.
The Ides of March
The destruction of the Santa Maria with its 100,000 passengers is our first contact with an alien species. And by contact, we mean their attack, and our ship's destruction. It is a devastating loss that calls the entire colonization program into question.
The Discovery is re-tasked with returning to the area to look for survivors and deal with the threat. With its complement of nuclear missiles, it is hoped that the Discovery can provide security for future missions.
Unfortunately, the number of colonists willing to volunteer has, not surprisingly, shrunk.
Aliens have made contact with the Discovery.
We cannot understand what they are saying. Are they the Santa Maria's murderers? Most believe so.
Fortunately, the Discovery proves to be more than a match for the unknown aliens.
As the Space Elevator efforts begin to wind down, another group of scientists begin researching a "universal" translator based on a semi-strong AI linguistics computer.
The second colony ship, the aptly named T.A.S. (Terran Alliance Ship) Persistence, is launched. Most of the citizens are from Denmark (for lengthy political reasons), and the new colony is named New Copenhagen.
Because of slight improvements in Hyperdrive, they arrive at the end of May and begin establishing their colony.
It becomes very apparent that the hostile environment will make things slow going. As a result, Earth decides to send a supply ship.
(new in Retribution)
The supply ship will send manufactured goods from Earth to New Copenhagen to help speed up the growth of the new colony.
Crisis on Mars
Despite Mars already having tiny outposts on it, a massive colony ship from that alien civilization calling itself the "Korath" (new in Retribution) has colonized Mars.
The first use of the Universal Translator is unsuccessful. The Korath are not willing to leave Mars.
Quietly, EarthGov decides to simply annex Mars through intimidation. By the end of the Summer, Mars voluntarily joins the Terran Alliance without bloodshed.
The New World Incident
During the colonization period of North America, it took about 6 weeks for a ship to sale across the Atlantic. This was a problem then and it's a problem now with the new colony of New Copenhagen.
Luckily, a new (new in Retribution) technology has been discovered that will allow for "hyperlanes" to be created between Sol and Proxima Centauri, which should halve the travel time.
The first "Hypergate" has been constructed just beyond Neptune. The second one is on its way to Proxima Centauri and will arrive in six weeks.
The Mars incident may have ended without bloodshed, but the Korath did not take it well. 2242 ends with the Earth involved in an interstellar war!
Earth has no combat ships. At all (other than the Discovery).
Simultaneously, we encounter a species called the Altarians. They are not interested in getting involved.
Our diplomatic efforts rebuffed, the Terran Alliance finds itself alone.
New Copenhagen gets a sister colony called Athena and the first working hyperlane is now active, allowing for goods to begin flowing rapidly between Earth and its new colonies.
All research is now focused on defensive technologies to protect ourselves from the Korath.
Other civilizations have become known to the Earth and trade with them represents nearly half of the GDP. Tourism is even beginning to generate substantial revenue.
The Defender class ship is constructed. Designed to travel quickly between colonies. It is primitive but will at least prevent "another Mars" where a giant, unarmed ship can simply park in orbit and unload enemies onto our surface.
The war has also brought out new concerns from colonists regarding their say in their protection. After much debate, a new form of government (governments are added in the Intrigue expansion) is chosen.
This means that the colonists will be able to vote directly for the President of the Senate.
The Financial Crisis of 2243
The tax rate of 38% is threatening to cost the government the next election which would be a disaster. Moreover, the reliance on trade income from civilizations that are free to cut off trade at any time has resulted in a new dual policy for the Terran Alliance.
First, the construction of a new starbase between Proxima Centauri and Earth that will act as a resting area for alien travels, and thus connect our influence between Sol and Proxima.
Second, the easing of regulations to allow for more consumer goods to be produced on world by alien civilizations via their "entertainment centers" which loosely translates to factories producing alien goods much desired by the native population.
The Andromeda starbase is designed as a rest stop between Proxima and Sol, which hopefully will increase tourism to Earth.
Who are the Korath?
It has been nearly a year since the war with the Korath began. Thus far, they have primarily raided our scout ships to prevent us from expanding into the Barnard's star region.
Thanks to some technology acquired from another alien species we've encountered, we have begun to build up a spy network to see what can be done.
The Korath are about on par with the Terran Alliance. Four colonies apiece. It is a war that the humans are determined to win.
However, the Korath are significantly ahead of the humans when it comes to weapons technology.
Their weapons are energy based. Some sort of laser or plasma technology.
The humans begin to design a counter.
Thanks to Steam Workshop, we have lots of ship designs to choose from.
The Hyperion class frigate (designed by a player who uploaded it to Steam workshop) is equipped with two nuclear missile launchers.
The prototype Hyperion, placed in orbit of Earth, causes the Korath fleet to turn around and return home, deterred by a battle they are not prepared to fight.
Unknown to the Korath, a Precursor artifact was found on Athenia and studied. If necessary, the Korath would have encountered an Hyperion with supercharged weapons. The government was relieved to not have had to use it, as it would have been a one-time advantage better saved until the absolute most dire of need.
The first election is held and it is decidedly close.
The loyalist party wins, but with only 55% of the vote. New Copenhagen is, obviously, pleased with the results, but mainly because Earth is footing the bill for protecting them which shows in the exit polls.
The financial situation for the Terran Alliance has become been relieved.
With tourism substantially increased and trade route income continue to grow, taxes have been reduced to only 25%
Earth's spies have discovered that the Korath are engaged in 4-sided war. Despite being militarily powerful, the Altarians are keeping them from bothering Earth.
Thus became the first thoughts of moving from defense to offense...
[To be continued in part 3]
Journal #9 (Coming Soon)
I spend a lot of time looking at the sales of PC games and we are quickly moving away from the traditional individual purchase model and towards subscription based platforms.
Fundamentally, most titles simply don’t generate enough sales to justify engineering support post release. This is a relatively new issue that will be interesting to see how it gets resolved by studios.
It’s no secret forums have seen a serious decline in recent years versus social media. Which is a shame because social media is so impersonal.
I think this year I’m going to focus more time hanging out here.
A new beginning
The story of Galactic Civilizations is the story of the future. Our future.
Galactic Civilizations III is actually our 6th edition that provides you with the framework to tell that story (we made 3 OS/2 versions back in the 1990s).
With each iteration, we get a little bit better at it. Sometimes, like when we change engines, it takes awhile to surpass where we were in previous editions. For instance, the OS/2 version of Galactic Civilizations was, in most respects, better than Galactic Civilizations II until we made the Dark Avatar expansion for it.
For Galactic Civilizations III, it probably wasn't until we made the Crusade expansion that we finally surpassed GalCiv II.
Galactic Civilizations III: Retribution takes us in a direction that the series has never touched before. It's a new beginning.
The Grognard's Guide to Galactic Civilizations III
From a sheer major feature point of view, Galactic Civilizations III had more than previous versions when it arrived in 2015. But it was lacking certain features that were a real sore point to players, which we began to address with the expansions. Namely:
This is my quickie non-marketing evaluation of each expansion. You can kind of see why Mercenaries was the least beloved. This is, by no means, a comprehensive list of features for each one. Just the ones that I think most players would agree were important. For instance, Crusade re-did the Invasion system. I don't think that feature is any better or worse than what was there before, so I didn't count it.
Crusade is widely considered to be "the big one," and it's easy to understand why: citizens.
This was a game-changer. It re-did the game's economy in a way that is both a lot easier to understand, and yet a lot more nuanced. It's one of those rare features that greatly simplifies the presentation of the game without dumbing it down. In fact, it makes the game a lot more sophisticated.
The other two features I mentioned, Espionage and the Civ Builder, are pretty big deals - depending on how you play. The Civ Builder is almost as important to me as the Citizen feature. The espionage part is fine. But it's not on par with the other features.
So let's take a second shot at this chart, this time assigning a value to each feature:
Now, this doesn't mean that I don't think Intrigue wasn't a really good expansion. It just means that Crusade was monstrously good.
So what about Retribution? As you can see, I don't think any of the new features of Retribution match the importance of the Citizens feature. Moreover, if you don't really care about the new species (Drath and Korath) or the new campaign, then Retribution only has 15 to Crusade's 16 points.
Of course, this is just my own rating system, yours might be totally different.
Right from the Start
The final version of Retribution should look better. We're still working on the visuals. But you will notice, right away, some changes. First, you start with an Artifact. You always start with one.
Your home planets are much different game to game. And if you look closely, you will notice that what's available to construct on turn 1 has changed.
Sometimes, there will be artifacts that can be enhanced so cheaply that you may want to use them immediately rather than building that shipyard.
The other thing you may notice is that there's a Colonization Center improvement. This is a new, one-time improvement that will increase production, population, and growth.
This will be the most controversial change in Retribution. Default growth has been reduced from 0.1 per turn to 0.01.
Population growth can be increased (especially later in the game via the new immigration technologies), but simply colony rushing early on is going to have consequences.
Here's the next thing you're going to notice:
The stars are substantially further apart. This makes the star systems feel more vast (before we had them practically on top of each other) and makes Hypergates interesting. You can still choose to go up the engine tech tree to make your ships faster, but investing in Hypergates provides an interesting alternative.
Same number of techs, more meaning
You'll also notice that most of the optimization techs (where you would choose one of three) are gone. Instead, there are new techs that help flesh out your strategic choices. For instance, you don't simply get Space Elevators - you research them. Spatial Manipulation gets you onto the Hypergate tech path. Ignore my spelling mistakes btw, they'll get fixed.
There are many more things you can choose to build than before (potentially), but they are delivered now via the tech tree moreso than before.
Space Elevators are important in the true Sci-Fi sense that we just kind of brushed off in previous expansions. The ability to cheaply get things into space is going to be a pretty big deal. Besides being able to build space elevators, you'll also be able to build supply ships that can send raw materials to your colonies. I'll talk about that in a second.
Building scouts is a lot more useful now that stars are actually separated by quite a bit of space.
Under the covers, we've modified our galaxy generation system so that what's near players when they start is a lot more balanced. So you won't have to deal with games where one player has tons of great planets near them, while you get nothing. Everyone will have a reasonably equally good (or crappy) start.
Building your civilization in Retribution
So now I have a class 12 (Earth is class 10) planet. Wow. That's great! can't wait right?
If you look closely, you will see that its raw production is only 3, so it takes forever for anything to get built. This has been a challenge in all the GalCiv games. This is why some players find the game a little boring at this stage. Sure, your capital planet is doing just fine, but your other planets just are a grind to get going.
Before Retribution, you'd just wait for the population to grow, build a bunch of cities and eventually, hours later, it's kicking butt. But from our logs, we know we lose a lot of players during that period because it's just not interesting.
Moreover, if anything, Retribution would aggravate this problem because population growth is 10X slower by default. So you can't just turn-time your way out of this problem. This is where Supply Ships come in.
Players can build Supply Ships that carry 100 production with them. When they get to a colony, it's quickly unloaded and used. If there's nothing to build at that moment, it stores that production for later. This is a game-changer because previously, if there was some boon to production, it was wasted after a given planetary improvement was constructed. Now, it gets stored and used later.
Having planets store excess production materials was crucial to add to the game because we didn't want players to have to micro-manage sending out supply ships.
Supplying your civilization
So now you can build up your worlds a lot faster thanks to sending Supply Ships. However, there's that tricky distance issue.
Do you design each Supply Ship (which is consumed when it reaches its destination) to have a bunch of engines? That's expensive but it'll get them there.
Do you build a Hypergate?
The Stellar Architect is a new type of ship which allows for the construction of Hypergates. It takes two hypergates to create a hyperlane between them. But doing so will double the speed of any ship on that lane.
Now you build a Stellar Architect who can construct a Hypergate. You will need to build a second one to create the other end.
Once you build that second Hypergate, it will ask where you want to link it.
And now you can fast-track supply ships.
Using hyperlanes is automatic. You don't have to do anything - just click on a destination and your ship will find the fastest route there, using hyperlanes whenever available.
Meanwhile, my planet is still slowly building up, thanks to having some asteroids nearby to help. It's still very slow going, but help is on the way.
The Supply ship arrives with goods from Earth. Each turn, it will use whatever it takes (until it runs out) to finish the current planetary improvement being constructed.
So instead of it taking 12 turn to get through the Factory, Space Elevator, and Shipyard projects, it only takes 3 with the Farm being finished on turn 5 (instead of it adding an additional 14 turns).
Hypergates also make it a lot more viable to send citizens around your territory because they get there twice as fast, which makes traveling far less dangerous.
To conclude: sending a Supply ship built at Earth to Viola drastically reduced construction time.
Now this planet is built up enough to be reasonably self-sustaining.
Pacing Pacing Pacing
Hypergates and Supply ships not only expand on your strategic options, but allow you to customize your civilization a lot more specifically while simultaneously reducing the mid-game doldrums of waiting for your planets and ships to be worthwhile.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Still lots to talk about.
Journal #9 (Coming Soon)