What is a game of Galactic Civilizations II v1.1 like? What has really changed for the regular player over what was in the original retail box? And why did we make it?
v1.1 of Galactic Civilizations II isn't a "patch". It's not designed to "fix" things. In the course of making it, was certainly "fixed" bugs that we found and tweaked things that players didn't like, but the point of it was to listen to what players liked and didn't like and add those features to the game.
Key to the success of this strategy is that the retail boxed version of the game has won Editor's Choice Awards already from Gamespot, GameSpy, UGO, IGN, Computer Games Magazine, Firing Squad and many other publications. G4's "XPlay" just gave it a 5 out of 5 (something they rarely do). So players don't need to worry that the retail version of the game "wasn't finished". The point of 1.1 and subsequent updates is to keep the game new, fresh, and make it better.
The things that players will likely notice the most in v1.1 include (as a partial list):
- A bunch of new game setup options such as random intelligences, random opponent selections, random galaxy selection. In essence, the game can now be set up so that the player really has no idea what the galaxy has in store for them. Previously players had total control (and still can have total control if they want) of the startup conditions but that could take away some of the mystery.
- The ship designer, which has emerged as an incredibly popular feature, has been improved a great deal.
- The computer opponents are far more intelligent than what initially came with the game. They're not "harder" as much as they're simply better. More clever. More intelligent. The computer AI was considered one of the strengths of the retail box. I'm pleased to say that what's in 1.1 is at least twice as good as that. Having a month of playing the released game and listening to other people's strategies makes a big difference.
- The economics of the game are much transparent. Player abilities, bonuses, and other things are just more balanced, more streamlined, and make more sense. It's never going to be a "simple" system. But it's more transparent now on how things work.
- The User interface has been tweaked and touched up to make it easier to work with and manage units.
- The costs of buildings, ships, components, etc. have been tweaked.
That's just a tiny part of what will be in 1.1. The number of changes, big and small, amount to an overall improvement in the game.
And, 1.1 is a free download for all players. Soon we'll start on 1.2..
Note: I'm playing this at 1920x1200 (wide screen).
For this game-play example, I'm going to tell it as a story..
The initial colony rush of 2178 (Earth time) has slowed down. But the recently discovered Epsilon quadrant has brought the major powers together again in the year 2225. This takes place just prior to the "Dread Lord" incident...
For this game, I'm setting up a custom map called Drama (which I'll upload to the Library). I've turned on blind exploration and disabled minor races.
I'm playing as the Terran Alliance:
For my political party, I've chosen the Technologists as I want that 20% research bonus.
I'm going to play against them all but it's going to randomly pick the races and I'm going to randomize their intelligence. What this means is that I pick "Tough" as the difficulty and the game will tweak their intelligence up and down a bit to add some variety. These are new features in 1.1.
...The Gathering Begins...
The Terran Alliance has a colony called Promethion. We have been assigned to build up this colony and take control of this quadrant (or at least make sure our friends along with us control the quadrant). All the powers have similar missions no doubt.
I start out by quick building research centers to get a good start on tech.
I then set my spending to 100% and put it all on research:
Your factories and labs produce base on what % of your overall capacity you want to use and then what % of that capacity is going to go into military, social, or research. In this way, I have to make tough choices on what I want to do. Right now, I'm putting it all in research.
My first colony ship, the TAS Lucky Star will make sure we claim some extra worlds. It has a base movement of 3 parsecs per turn. So it's faster than the standard colony ship but has less range.
For this game, I'm going to focus purely on propulsion techs. Go right to Warp Drive so that my ships are very very fast.
Unfortunately, I make my first mistake pretty early. I colony rushed. A lot of people think that the early game of GalCiv II is purely about cranking out colony ships. GalCiv 1 was that way. But in GalCiv II, that's not the case and 1.1 emphasizes that. My population doesn't increase very high and you are rewarded for having higher populations in the form of tax income. So I've fallen a bit behind.
The Iconians have scouted far. I need to get my act together soon. The galaxy is already getting established. So note to others, don't go right for warp drive.
The first thing I'm going to do is get some military power here. Not much, just enough to take the "conquer me!" sign off my back. The Short Lance is nothing impressive, but it should do the job.
Meanwhile, I still only know about the my tiny corner of the quadrant. The Altarians have claimed some of the area around my borders but other than that, the quadrant (the map) is a mystery.
Since I'm relatively far behind, I decide to get Xeno Ethics. Why? Because then I can choose my alignment:
By choosing good, the other civilizations, particularly the powerful Altarians, are much more likely to have good relations with me which I'm going to need.
I'm going to go for a political victory this time around. So what I'm going to do is try to stay out of war and build up my infrastructure and rely on the powerul Altarians to protect me. Because by the end of 2227, the Drath are already gone (wiped out by the Drengin) which means there's bad things out there.
And the Torians are now out too. They're dropping like flies. The Drengin are a real menace. And in 1.0, the Drengin would be free to waste everyone.
But this isn't 1.0..
The Arceans, who are powerful, have decided to stand up against the Drengin Empire. My job then will be to help bankroll these guys.
I am in an interesting position. The Drengin Empire do not know about me yet. If I venture out into the galaxy, they will become aware of me. So I am going to stick in my corner for now and build up.
Speaking of another reason not to be evil -- even though it's easy to choose evil because of all the little benefits, nobody is going to help you out.
The titans are now at each other's throats. The Drengin, who in 1.0 would have just wiped everyone out, are now in a position where people are ganging up on them to avoid being wiped out in turn. Perhaps the Drengin should have researched more diplomacy techs. But if they had, they wouldn't be Drengin would they?
I set rally points by pressing the button on the lower left of my screen. Then I can send ships to that rally point. I'm going to build up an impressive starbase network to make me a powerhouse in the long run.
Two words: Screw you.
Ut-oh. The Korx are mad at me. Time to look at updating my ships.
To help combat predators, I need to build up my defenses. One way to do that is in the form of military starbases that assist my ships.
In time the Korx not only make peace with me, but the the conquering Drengin force them to give me their worlds.
The problem is, now the Drengin are aware..
One feature of GalCiv II that doesn't get discussed but I think is a really important feature is that the game remembers your ship designs between games. That means, the longer you play the game, the more ships you have to choose from.
||The F10 Hornet was a radical departure for the Terran Alliance and designed specifically for the Epsilon quadrant. The "stinger" in front is the designed to provide superior guidance for its Singularity canons and help ensure that it gets the first killer shot in a battle.|
|Name: F10 Hornet|
Length: 32.5 meters
Span: 45.5 meters
Mass: 72 metric tons
Weapons: 3 Westinghouse G1 Singularity Cannons.
The Drengin have pretty much everyone at war with them, and yet are holding their own. My military isn't even worth speaking of at this point. But I suspect I'm going to have to do something about that soon.
The Drengin just want to conquer everyone apparently. They're in for a surprise...
||The Avalon class attack cruiser is probably one of the most powerful ships of its class in the galaxy -- not just this quadrant. With an attack rating of 12 (though no defenses), it packs a mighty punch. Its advanced sensor array also would allow it to spot enemies from a great distance. |
|Name: Avalon class Attack Cruiser|
Length: 135 meters
Span: 140 meters
Mass: 605 metric tons
Weapons: 6 Westinghouse G5 Singularity Cannons.
As proud as I am of the Avalon. The Drengin have something monstrous on their ships...Psyonic Shredders.
A Drengin fleet of 5 ships has over 200 attack power. All on mass-drivers. So it was time to research armor to counter it. Defenses on a ship use less space but cost more. I have lots of money though.
The text says it all.
A tweak my Avalons to make use of my new armor technologies and to use the Nano-Ripper technology my scientists have discovered.
The Drengin Dreadnoughts however are now out.
My ships each die with 1 hit. ONE hit!
A mop up fleet comes into the sector where the Korx once lived and I send in my flag fleet. 9 of my Avalon class ships. The fruits of many months of labor.
That's right. It's MY turn. My flag fleet takes out several of his fleets. With allied help, we pave the way to the Drengin core worlds.
The Drengin capital world ("Torment") in this quadrant is now open for invasion.
The Drengin do have some very good ships. The mark 6 Drengin battle ship is bristling with weapons.
The most exciting battle so far has been this one where my fleet took on 2 Dreadnoughts.
Only 3 of my ships survived. By the backbone of the Drengin navy was snapped.
But the galaxy was about to get a lot more interesting...
The Galaxy is on fire...
The Altarian Republic and the Iconian Refuge are the two powerhouses of the galaxy. Their alliance, and I mean a real treaty alliance, helped make the galaxy safe from the Drengin who would have otherwise conquered all.
The Drengin are defeated but not destroyed and the Iconians and Altarians are now at each other's throats.
It was now time for me to bring out my own Dreadnought.
||The Sentinel Class dreadnought is a monster. Well, at least by Terran standards. It is huge. Armed with nearly a dozen guns and covered in armor, it is meant to survive the kinds of battles that would destroy entire navies. It is a one-ship navy with a cost of 1.3 TRILLION credits. |
|Name: Sentinel capital ship|
Length: 950 meters
Span: 220 meters
Mass: 20.2 million metric tons
Weapons: 38 attack (Durion Corp. Mark II Graviton drivers) and 10 defense (Fivel LTD. Kanvium Armor)
Just to give you an idea of scale, here are some ships (courtesy of Starship dimensions) to compare the Sentinel class dreadnought to.
With my monitor class scouts, I keep an eye on the Iconian/Altarian war.
The Arceans launch a sneak attack on me!
It's insane. The instability caused by the Iconian/Altarian war has made everyone reasses their relative positions.
With some negotiation, I am able to call the Arceans off so that we can finish off the Drengin. But I won't forget their sneak attack.
Meanwhile, the fat lady is warming up to sing about the end of the Drengin Empire in this quadrant.
That's right. All mine. Goodbye Kona. And as the Drengin fade, the Iconian Altarian war comes to an end as well. Now it is time to wrap up my strategy and win a diplomatic victory.
I am now in an alliance with both the Altarians and the Iconians. Time to wipe out the Yor. No one will miss them.
Ah, the Yor's rnadom intelligence set them too dumb to do anything about this. Heh.
Because...you know, they were right.
Unfortunately, by a cosmic coincidence, my favorite weapon type is the same the Drengin were focusing on. So everyone else has really good defenses against mine. So I lose the first battle.
Dreadnought vs. Dreadnought. I outnumber them. But they have a lot of fleets and I'm at the heart of their territory.
A Sentinel falls.
And the Arceans are now back in the war.
Everyone is at war now!
But the Yor are no match for me now. Soon everyone is after the Yor.
With the Arceans, they recognize my military might.
The Drengin did well but they got in over their heads.
And so the quadrant's destiny is settled by political treaty saving billions in lives!
The alien opponents don't build enough transports. (tweaking)
The aliens need to decide what to build more based on how much their colony is producing. Dreadnoughts are great but if you can't build them very fast, better to stick to an easier ship (they already do this somewhat but apparently need to do it more).
Aggressive civs need to be more aware of the potential consequences of aggressive behavior.