Musings on, Art, Skinning, Computers, and the True meaning of Life. (AKA The Lego Theory)

It has been a few months now since I have have been able to do the weekly GalCiv Twitch Stream, and I find myself missing the weekly GC3 progress report and Q & A. I thought I would take a page out of Brad's book and try and start doing some more regular Developer Journals. This week I’m lucky because we are going to release 1.7, and there are lots of new features to talk about, and a few questions that I can preemptively address.


1.7 for the most part is a game play patch. Those of you who have already opted in to 1.7 beta will know that a lot of things have been addressed, some more obvious than others. Starbases management has been more or less completely reworked. We have added a brand-new ship list to the shipyards and the Design screen. Other changes are a bit more subtle. The way component mass is calculated has changed, and sensors now use “sensor power,” changing them to a volumetric system, making them much more realistic and less subject to exploitation. Add to this a ton of bug fixes and AI improvements, and I think this is one of the most exciting patches we have done since release.

Starbases
Starbase management has long been one of the biggest issues for our players, changing the system however has always been dangerous because some players liked it as is, and perhaps more importantly we did not want to break compatibility with older saves.

What's New
You now order starbase components directly from the starbase. If you have an economic starbase and have already researched a bit up the production branch of the tech tree, you can now directly order Starbase Factory 1, 2, and 3 all in one go. The starbase will order the constructors itself from the most efficient available shipyard. Advanced players can even specify what shipyard they want a starbase to use, or even what constructor they want the starbase to order.

The Starbase screen has been updated to better show what the starbases effects are, and what they are affecting; this is in addition to the new starbase queue.
We found that with this change starbases became much more useful, so we had to make a few overall balance changes as well. Many of the starbase modules have been tweaked, and almost all of them now have maintenance cost. Don’t panic, it’s pretty low in general.

What has not changed
You still build initial starbases with constructors and you can still manually send a constructor to a starbase to use its modules.

What we still want to do
Overall I am pretty happy with the new system, but there will certainly be some issues that come up once it is in the hands of the players. You can certainly expect some more balancing. Depending on feedback, we may end up increasing the maintenance cost, increasing the min distance between starbases, or even reducing some of the bonuses. The one thing that I don't want to do is remove the bonus stacking, so let me know what you think of the new system, and what horrible exploits you find.

New Ship List
One of the most fun things in GC3 is the ship designer.  Yet, one of the side effects of being able to design new ships is that players have a ton of ship designs. This has been a problem since early on. We have players out there with 600+ custom ship designs, not counting the built designs and templates they have downloaded from the workshop.


What’s New
Pretty much everything.
All ships are now automatically categorized into filter groups. For example, all Beam Heavy ships will be listed in the Beam Ships group. If you are playing as a race that prefers missiles, you can collapse that group entirely and not have to see those ships at all.

Specialized ships ( ships that are of the same class but with special components, like the Ranger and the Ranger-L, -D, -R, etc) are now grouped together with the one that does the most damage at the top of the group. So you will no longer have to wonder what the difference is between these ships. You can now see a list of icons in each entry that shows the ship's most important features such as such it's best attack, best defense, and any special components like Range Extenders.

You can now favor ships. If you have a ship design you always use and don't want to have to dig through the list each game, you can now Favor your ships.  This will make them always show up in the Favorites group at the top of the list.

We also added better filters: you can now sort by size, attack, cost, or resource use.  This will automatically arrange each filter group accordingly without affecting the groups. You can also now choose to hide all Auto Generated ships or all User Created ships from the list without having to go to the options screen.

What's the same
Not much, I guess there is still a ship list?
What we still want to do
Several players have requested an alphabetical sort, the ability to multi-select ships, or deleting ships. These are all on my list, as well as the ability for players to set up their own ship groups, like we currently have for the built-in designs, such as the ranger-R, -L, -D, etc.

Other Changes

Components
Component mass is now affected by ship size. The effect is often subtle, and the goals are to make the game a bit more realistic and to control some of the more extreme exploits of miniaturization. Each component now gets slightly more massive as the ship gets larger. In most cases, this difference is generally only 1% of the mass of the ship but in others, it can be larger. This is used for device systems and life support systems, both of which must be larger to push / support a larger ship.
One negative side effect of this change is that some older player design ships, will now be “illegal” -- if you find yourself missing one of your favorite ships you can go to the options screen and check the “Show over-mass ships” checkbox. This will make them show up in the designer, but you will have to edit them and reduce their mass to a “legal” level before you will be able to use the design in the game.

Sensors
One of the more controversial changes we decided to make was to rework the Sensor system. Exploiting Sensor Range is a staple of many successful strategies for winning the game. I have always been reluctant to change this because one of the strengths of GC3 design is letting the player build very specialized ships. We talked about simply adding a sensor cap or making sensor modules, one per ship. But in the end we decided to change the math slightly to be a bit more “realistic.” We changed the sensors to be volumetric (more like the influence system) instead of linear. This has the effect of giving sensors diminishing returns while letting players who want to build sensor barges can still use them as a valid strategy.

How they work
All sensors now have a Sensor Power stat, the sensor power is the amount of power it takes to fill six hexes. This is a one radius around the ship. This radius is still represented by the Sensor Range stat. Since Fog of War does not clear until 100% of that radius is cleared, to get to the next sensor range radius you must increase your sensor power to two, (one power for the first radius six tiles, and two power for the second radius of 12 tiles) and the next radius to three. We have updated the sensor tooltip, so you can always tell how much more power you will need to increase your range.

In addition, we have also changed all sensor bonuses to be multipliers on Sensor Power.  Some of the old techs and traits that increased your sensor range by one are now much more valuable.

Diplomacy and Aggressiveness

We get a lot of feedback on diplomacy and it varies wildly, from “the game is way to hard,” to “the game is way too easy,” or “the AI will never trade with me,” or “the AI will give me anything I want for a pittance”. Sadly most of these complaints are valid, and mostly depend on the person's play style.


So in 1.7 we have begun to tackle some (but not all) of these issues. We changed the way the AI values its stuff and your stuff, depending on its AI difficulty and its relationship with you. So now if you want to be able to get good values on your trades, you need to keep the AI happy.
Keeping the AI happy might be a bit more difficult for some, as we rebalanced some of the more exploitive diplomatic techs and improvements. But don't worry we spent a lot of time making sure the AI would not be such a jerk. I think the new balances feel really good, and will be interested to see what you think.

We are going to be focusing much more on Diplomacy in 1.71 and 1.8.

Battle previews

You can now get a preview and estimate of battle outcome simply by selecting the fleet you would be attacking with, mousing over any enemy ship, fleet, starbase, shipyard or planet. This should save thousands of virtual lives and it is very helpful when planning your next move in a war.

Planet Notifications

We have added notification explanations to the planet screen, to make sure you can easily tell if your planet is getting close to any sort of trouble, such as low food, low approval, or a dangerous level of foreign influence.


And Much More

And of course many bug fixes, and other improvements, that I have just plain forgotten. We have a lot more we want to do and I know we have not gotten to everyone's request yet, but hopefully you will find 1.7 makes Galactic Civilizations III an even better game.

Keep giving us your feedback, and bug reports, it helps us focus our development time on what you guys find important.

Paul Boyer
Lead Designer - Galactic Civilizations III


Comments (Page 3)
on Apr 22, 2016

BuckGodot


Quoting Zhen724,

Ok you like bonus stacking and I don't. Why not make a game option removing bonus stacking so that both of us could enjoy the game?



Not to speak for Paul, but because balancing becomes a huge issue. If (the attempt at) game balance is set at one set of core assumptions but there is an radically different option (and this would be pretty radical), how do the devs balance the game for both?  Not as easy as it sounds.

Also where does SD draw the line on this?  There are lots of things that irk a minority of players.

Please speak  for yourself. You didn't conduct an opinion poll to know who is in majority and who in minority. Read steam forums for example and you'll see that many people don't like Galactic Civilizations turn into Starbase Civilizatons where the number of starbases faaaar exeeds the number of planets.

Removing bonus stacking would reduce the number of economic bases. And I don't see any big balancing problem here as long as it will affect both the player and AI planets.

on Apr 22, 2016

Zhen724

Removing bonus stacking would reduce the number of economic bases.

This would be a huge downfall.  What I'd like to see more is bringing back the fees to build star bases.  This also could add additional technologies to be able to reduce the cost of star base construction.  I liked the Galactic Civilizations II way, where the first one was free, than next one cost a little, and next a little more, ect...

on Apr 22, 2016

Speaking for myself, I agree with Paul.  Starbase stacking is interesting and powerful and now enabled further with the new update mechanism.  It is fun.

I also think that Paul is more in tune with his actual users than you give him credit for.  

I wonder why anyone who dislikes a dev decision has to feel that the same talented dev that created the game has suddenly gone criminally stupid and isolated.  It is not enough to disagree with the decision, it becomes necessary to demonize the dev or the process or the game itself.  When hyperole and red-meat phrases like "Starbase Civilization" are used, it is a symptom of that behavior.

Citing Steam forums is not really impressive.  Steam is a seriously negative environment and is infected with the same disease that many forums have, delusions that the forum actually reflects the real world.

So, as an informal poll of one, I support the changes and look forward to more good work.

 

on Apr 22, 2016

Zhen724
Please speak  for yourself. You didn't conduct an opinion poll to know who is in majority and who in minority. .

No, but I have been around the GC community (mostly lurking) for at least eight years.  I strongly suspect what kind of crap storm would ensue if bonus stacking was taken away.

As for the "Starbase Civilizations" comment, AIUI nearly all of that is regarding constructor spam.  Which, gee, this update is all about!   The amount of people who actually complain about bonus stacking is far far smaller as far as I have seen.

NB:  IMO, the reason "constrcuctor spam" exists isn't because of bonus stacking but because of the introduction of strategic resources.  That and there seem to be far more precursor relics than in GC II.

But that's a discussion for another day.

on Apr 22, 2016

mormegil

 In GC2, and early GC3, we had a cost per starbase that rose with each starbase built. I always found this annoying since it was arbitrary. Sadly this was probably a bad call on my part. But I do not want to simply bring back that system. I hope we can address these issues by just better balancing of the bonus, placement roles, and maintenance cost.

It's not that bad of an idea, but it can't be made as one size-fits-all approach.

Having 10 starbases on a tiny map is a lot.  Having 10 starbases in a gigantic map is not much.  If that system was to come back, it would need to scale exponentially for map size.

Don't know much about coding, but it could be made a little more complex than that, having two systems to limit starbase spamming, costs + something else.

It's the same with ships' range & speed.  On huge maps, it's a pain in the ass.  It could certainly scale a little more than right now.

on Apr 22, 2016

BuckGodot


Quoting Zhen724,
Please speak  for yourself. You didn't conduct an opinion poll to know who is in majority and who in minority. .




No, but I have been around the GC community (mostly lurking) for at least eight years.  I strongly suspect what kind of crap storm would ensue if bonus stacking was taken away.

Plese don't forget we are speaking about an OPTION of removing stacking bonuses. IMO it is quite easy to implement. If both the player and the AI stop building multiple economic bases around one planet I'm absolutely sure the balance of the game will not be broken. And who knows sometime you yourself may want to play a game with this option and your opinion change.

erischild

Citing Steam forums is not really impressive.  Steam is a seriously negative environment and is infected with the same disease that many forums have, delusions that the forum actually reflects the real world.

 

Steam forums are the forums of players who pay their money for the games and for whom the games are made. They could be harsh if the game is not perfect and could be enthusiastic if the game is really good. By the way in this forum my opinion was called something like "irking minority opinion" which I find disrespectful.

on Apr 22, 2016

Zhen724
Plese don't forget we are speaking about an OPTION of removing stacking bonuses.

This still doesn't address my point about overloading a game with options.  GC III is already rather (in)famous when it comes to options and customization.  It's a factor that should be considered when thinking about adding even more.  Doesn't mean no more options should ever be added.  But I still think it's a non-zero consideration.

As for the snipped comments about ease and game balance?  Not a dev so I'm not going to presume just what is easy and what isn't.  Certainly not for a game with as many moving parts as this one.   

on Apr 22, 2016

BuckGodot


Quoting Zhen724,
Plese don't forget we are speaking about an OPTION of removing stacking bonuses.



This still doesn't address my point about overloading a game with options.  GC III is already rather (in)famous when it comes to options and customization.  It's a factor that should be considered when thinking about adding even more.  Doesn't mean no more options should ever be added.  But I still think it's a non-zero consideration.

As for the snipped comments about ease and game balance?  Not a dev so I'm not going to presume just what is easy and what isn't.  Certainly not for a game with as many moving parts as this one.   

"GC III is already rather (in)famous when it comes to options and customization"??

You know, I used to be a big fan of GCII and I really want to love GCIII and want it to be a really great 4x strategy. I've played GCIII 370+ hours according to Steam and I quite often read Steam forums about this game. So I can quote a big list of complaints and wishes that players have to this game. Yet I can't remember one single complaint about this game having too many advanced settings (options).

on Apr 24, 2016

I've just completed the campaign, and I have to say (1) I quite like playing as the Torians, and (2) the star base auto upgrade is a nice improvement.  I especially like the fact that you can control what constructors are auto-ordered, with the oldest and cheapest being the default.  I feel like I'm giving up a little micro management of my shipyards (for me a slight negative) in exchange for a lot less time spent trying to figure out which star bases need which upgrades (a big plus).

So, thank you, Stardock!

on Apr 24, 2016

Zhen724


Yet I can't remember one single complaint about this game having too many advanced settings (options).

 

You have a point, to a degree.  It is not discussed much.  One reason is that everyone who has that one simple idea that they are sure is the one simple option that will fix the game has no appreciation for the deep fear of bloat-due-features that exists in programmers.  Unless you can demonstrate or persuade that your particular request actually represents a significant portion of the GalCiv users, then it is not reasonable to assume that your one good idea is actually important enough to work on.  It may wound an individual's ego to hear that, but it is the truth.  

Another reason is that Stardock has weighed in on this and been very reluctant to add just one more toggle to the options screen.  They have received input on the subject, input independent from the unreliable thing that is the Internet.  They have actual stats and customer analysis and things that businesses use to keep themselves in business.  

So, you are very unlikely indeed to see the greedy accumulative demands of the Internet fan base ever say that is too many options.  However, it is necessary to remember that the Internet only vaguely reflects reality, mostly it reflects a never ending demand for more, more, more, with everyone convinced theirs is the most crucial "more" in the chorus.  I have not seen where you have shown an understanding of how all this looks from the dev point of view, the people you are theoretically trying to convince.  I have not seen where yours is anything other than just one more request from one more solitary user who thinks they represent a population they cannot truly demonstrate.  None of us represent really represent a group opinion, only our own partially informed conclusions and very subjective opinions.  You will probably consider my post an example of that.  It is all about perception and persuasion.

Good luck on your request.  Who know, I may be wrong yet again.

 

on Apr 24, 2016

mormegil

My opinion on the stacking bonus is that that it is fun, it’s fun to try and get the most out of your planets...

In GC2, and early GC3, we had a cost per starbase that rose with each starbase built. I always found this annoying since it was arbitrary. Sadly this was probably a bad call on my part. But I do not want to simply bring back that system. I hope we can address these issues by just better balancing of the bonus, placement roles, and maintenance cost. 

GC2 also had a very stiff 10bc maintenance cost on constructors.  In GC2's economic system spamming too many constructors early was economic suicide.

mormegil

I want players to be able to build Crazy great planets; we just don’t want those planets to be TOO crazy. 

I believe implementing ways to make economics more important would improve the game.

Mercenaries might have been one angle at that, I don't know.  It was a neat idea, but not one I'm interested in trying (would pay for the Arceans and Torians without it BTW).

The game should pull the player towards the middle of the pie slider to float their civilization.  It doesn't, bcs come way to easily, and manufacturing and research become inversely op as a result of that.

 

And yes, 1.7 is a GREAT update.  For me, the game is playable again.

 

EDIT:  And why the flat rate for tourism in GC3 instead of scaling tourism income to influence as in GC2?  Not really looking for an answer to this so much as to some rational explaining how tourism was improved by this.  Now, it's just "a bunch" of free money.  It's not tied to any other stat and does not feel immersive at all- not when my desert worlds and manufacturing planets produce the same base tourism revenue as my capital or paradise planets.

on Apr 25, 2016

i just started playing this game a week or two ago, so this is a bit confusing for me since i didn't get used to the way it worked before this update. anyway, i want to make a suggestion to improve starbase management, i found a way to change the default starbase constructors requested for upgrades, but it isn't global, its per starbase, it seems.  there should be a way to change it per starbase OR globally, unless I'm missing the global ability somewhere.

the other thought is that the new way of doing ship capacity seems bent to me. whats the point of bigger hulls if you can't carry more things.  i don't mind a correction to make it less exploitable, but there are 2 warp nacelles on most star trek ships and the millenium falcon could make the kessel run in 12 parsecs...my capital gal civ 3 warship should be able to be faster without sacrificing too much firepower to do it.

to be honest I'm not very good at most of these 4x games, my brain can't remember all the details once the empire gets big.  you have all these lists but no way to adjust planets or fleets or starbases from the lists, you have to go into each planet, fleet or starbase to do it...seems no brainer to me to make toggles for some of the obvious things available on these lists, like ordering new starbase upgrades, or switching from manufacturing focus to research focus or money focus.

I've been playing on genius (even tho i'm not one) and i get comparably sized or better empires than the UI on huge maps,  but can't keep up with the military buildup or any of the other production, treasury, or research, but still enjoying the game. i think i did the original gal civ way back when or whenever. i enjoyed that one too for a bit. but it needs to remain fun and not tedious to keep me in for the long haul. that involves eliminating some micromanagement or streamlining it better.

I'd also like a better way-point system than the rally-points, although i may just be not using it right.  many of my ships fly through competitor space which invariably angers them...unless i micromanage every fleet to avoid that.  for instance even if it is just the ability to send any ship that reaches rally point 1 to move on to rally point 2...if that exists great, but i haven't been able to do it automatically, only manually.

 

on May 02, 2016

Where can I find the opt-in updates list?

on May 02, 2016

it's the same as official 1.7, no more previews for now.

on May 02, 2016

I'm looking for the list that includes the opt-in updates. Version 1.7 has had several opt-in updates-- there must be 5 or 6 by now.

I know I saw that list once upon a time but, for the life of me, I can't find it now. I've searched Stardock, Steam and the GalCiv3 forums to no avail.

TIA,

Richard

 

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