Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

I'm enjoying my time back on Galactic Civilizations.   The team is working on lots of neat things for the upcoming version 2.0 update which is due this month.

Here are a few highlights:

Administrators

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There's a new resource called administrators.  Your capital world provides N of them where N is based on the size of the map.  Building a starbase consumes one.  You can get more by researching government related techs but that means you're not researching weapons or economy techs. 

The practical effect is that it takes a little pressure off the idea that you have to spam out starbases and also gives some advantages to smaller empires who can now choose to use their starbases to improve morale and productivity in their home systems.

 

Better diplomacy

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When I play other games, I tend to cheese.  There have been patches made for games over the years to counter some of my cheese.  There's plenty of diplomacy cheese in GalCiv also and thanks to player feedback, I was able to b-line my way to it.

But it wasn't just cheese that I wanted to improve on.  I wanted the AI to do more trading and less "give me stuff please". So I worked on the diplomatic system to work harder on coming up with trades.  It'll probably be one of the first things players notice.  More AI talk with more interesting trades.

 

image

 

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One new system I spent some time on was the concept of redlining. 

When I inevitable have to work on contracts in my "day job" at Stardock/Mohawk/Oxide I do what is called redlining.  That is where I make marks on a proposal as to why I think we should pass on it or cross out things that won't work for us.

One of the first things I did when cheesing GalCiv was to use the old technique of manipulating the aliens to do things that weren't in their best interests.  Now, to be fair, most people don't do this kind of thing but once you do it, it's hard not to do it.

So in response, I implemented a redlining system that you code-geeks might find interesting:

I noticed that the game passes around the trade offer a lot:

VOID IAIOpponent::AppraiseTradeOffer(CDiplomacySystem::ActiveTradeInfo* pTradeOffer, CDiplomacySystem::ActiveTradeInfo* pOtherSideTradeOffer, ObjectID forPlayerID, ObjectID otherPlayerID)

See the pTradeOffer there?  It was the full detail of what was being offered and the AI looks at it in lots and lots of different ways.

So what I did is add a vector of redlines to it.  That is, the AI can be evaluating an offer and say "Hey, this tech is too valuable" or "Those guys are too tough" and add that redline to the trade offer.

Then, when it gets back to you, you see why they rejected it.  And in the process of implementing it, I went ahead and got rid of some of the things I was exploiting like how easy it was to get other people to do your dirty work (you can still do it but you  need to have a lot of persuasive ability or have a much better deal or both).

UI: This will be controversial

I don't expect this next change to be universally loved and I haven't gotten approval yet from the GalCiv III lead designer, Paul Boyer to check this in. 

But anyway, I really really REALLY hate the ship list thing.  That is, when I go to pick a ship to build, it gets filled with tons of auto-generated ship designs.  None of the filter options work for me (i.e. I don't like them).

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So instead, what I did was make it so that when you first load up the game, only your favored ships are shown and the other ones are folded up.  Then I made it so that if you click on the label (like Beam Ships) it'll unfold the other ships.   

Now, the trickier thing I had to do was when designing a ship.  I wanted my ships that I designed to automatically show up in the favored list.  It was annoying to design a ship and then have to go look for it.

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So now, when I design a ship and save it (in this case, I'll call it the Intrepid class).

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Ironically, this proved a lot tougher than you'd think because the ship design screen deals primarily with saving files where as the ship build list actually deals with UI handles (which don't exist when you design a ship since you haven't added that ship to a listbox list yet).

But it's done.

There's a lot of other stuff going into 2.0.  Today I'm working on late game AI stuff.

This free update is due this month.  Stay tuned!


Comments (Page 3)
on Jan 14, 2017

CrankyMoe

...
One thing I wish is that when an AI comes up with a trade offer or request that I get a chance to review my state of affairs before having to commit to a decision. ...  I can't keep the whole tech tree in my head, so it's often hard to know if a proposed tech trade will be good for me. ...

Referring to tech trading: especially for specializations I have a problem that most of the time I don't know whether I already researched that tech (and took another specialization than the ones the AI has to offer) or not, in the latter case that would mean I would block me the other options when I trade the specialization from the AI. So it would be nice to see at least that when trading, what shouldn't be a big issue: just color the star icon indicating a specialization tech e. g. red instead of yellow when I haven't researched that tech myself already as a warning to be careful. Even better would be to see the other two options via tooltip so that I'm not only warned but can decide at once whether the offered tech is of interest for me or not.

on Jan 14, 2017

Wow some interesting changes here! I was just getting GST upto work with 1.9 (Had a few CTD's that have been giving me hassle but finaly getting there), only to read this! i think its in my best interests to hold off and wait for 2.0 or I will be re doing work yet again!

on Jan 14, 2017

LongDeadFingers

Brad, although I like what I've read so far about the administrators and think it sounds like a step in the right direction, would you also consider changing how the bonuses from overlapping startbase zoc's stack? Please add a law of diminishing returns.... Please? I don't want to see the incentive to have overlapping SB's done away with outright, but the crazy, crazy high bonuses from several feel like a total cheese factor, one that cannot be ignored. Thanks.

It seems to me that the hard cap on starbases by the administration stat already fixes this problem, with the nice side effect that small empires are much more competitive with big ones now. I think diminishing returns on stacking on top of that goes in the wrong direction, since a bigger civilization can then use the same number of starbases more effectively. So no, just the hardcap is a great solution already.

on Jan 14, 2017

leiavoia

<SemanticVersioningPedantry>

Is this update big enough to be called "2.0" or is it actually "1.10" ?

</SemanticVersioningPedantry>

 

The current version is 1.90.

 

1.10 came out over a year ago.

on Jan 14, 2017

Great stuff! Thanx, Brad.

Few questions/suggestions though:

  • Administration
    • Why do we relate it only to starbases? Shouldn´t we count in also shipyards and even planets?
    • It is hard or soft limit? I.e. I cannot build stuff over limit, or I can but I get production, approval etc. maluses?
    • The admin points get increased by technology, with opportunity costs coming out of missed military/econ research. Ok. But will it sufficiently affect high level Ais, considering their bonuses? Why don´t we restrict increase of points to special buildings (1 building = 1 points), forcing wide empires to loose planet tiles?
  • Diplomacy
    • It is great to hear that diplomacy gets fixed! It was really too easy to get AI fight those pesky Drengins:)
    • BUT: please, PLEASE, fix broken diplomacy stuff as well:
      • Alliance are useless, since FE. This is shame.
      • Treaties description are not corresponding with their real effect.
      • Fixed duration of traties to 50 turns – why? Either make it indefinite and let us break it, or give us a slider going from 10 turns duration to Indefinite. Why do I have to revisit those super friendly Torians to renew Open borders every ten minutes?

Looking forward to hearing more about 2.0.

 

J.

on Jan 14, 2017

Frogboy

Quoting leiavoia,

<SemanticVersioningPedantry>

Is this update big enough to be called "2.0" or is it actually "1.10" ?

</SemanticVersioningPedantry>

The current version is 1.90.

1.10 came out over a year ago.

What i'm really asking is: will "2.0" be backward-compatible with current save games, DLC, etc? or will it make breaking changes?

thanks

on Jan 14, 2017

But it seems I’m clearly in the minority here, 

 

If it is any comfort, I am 100% with you.  I love my starbases and I love the ongoing flow of upgrade constructors as they wander across the map.  My most extreme was 600 to 700 starbases at once, during a complete conquest of an immense galaxy. Constructors everywhere while a few main shipyards kept pumping out warships.  Any conquered planet got a constructor-based shipyard asap,  then initiated its ring of econ bases, and then become part of the pool available for continued starbase upgrade requests.  It was awesome.

 

I agree with it needing micromanagement assistance, but I was always certain it would come down to some sort of limit instead.    So, that's why I haven't griped about it.  At least, not yet.    There is also the threat of an AI that Brad and company have taught to starbase spam even better than we do.  That would be scary.

on Jan 14, 2017

erischild


Quoting Naric,


But it seems I’m clearly in the minority here, 

 



 

If it is any comfort, I am 100% with you.  I love my starbases and I love the ongoing flow of upgrade constructors as they wander across the map.  My most extreme was 600 to 700 starbases at once, during a complete conquest of an immense galaxy. Constructors everywhere while a few main shipyards kept pumping out warships.  Any conquered planet got a constructor-based shipyard asap,  then initiated its ring of econ bases, and then become part of the pool available for continued starbase upgrade requests.  It was awesome.

 

I agree with it needing micromanagement assistance, but I was always certain it would come down to some sort of limit instead.    So, that's why I haven't griped about it.  At least, not yet.    There is also the threat of an AI that Brad and company have taught to starbase spam even better than we do.  That would be scary.

 

I'm with you also.  I guess it will all come down to the details of how the administrators are implemented, but while everything else Brad talked about sounds great, this is the one thing I'm concerned about.

on Jan 14, 2017

Publius of NV
I'm with you also...

 

Ahhhhh, my fellow constructor junkies!

on Jan 14, 2017

Avatar137

 

Quoting Publius of NV,
I'm with you also...



 

Ahhhhh, my fellow constructor junkies!

 

<raises hand> LOL

on Jan 15, 2017

So... how about a happy medium..

In GC2  certain starbase components had a cost associated with them above and beyond the cost of the constructor needed to build the component.

Because GC2 was on a grid based map rather than hexes it was easy to put a Max number of starbases per sector cap in the game, and it WAS capped.  This lead to balance that is not currently found in GC3 

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do it....    the current system is an exploit and is broken.


I LIKE the idea of the administrators.. 

However, player choice is also very important...    

So perhaps rather than hard caps, perhaps make economic caps that make spamming starbases more difficult, but still achievable.

Here's my thought.    Increase the support cost of the starbases...  the more stuff on them the more they cost to support.

Administrators reduce this upkeep cost.

Limit the number of constructors you can support in your empire at any given time.   Basically think of it as the Constructors Laborers Unions needs time to train workers...   the number of Constructors should be tied to the number of planets and make building constructors prohibitively expensive beyond a certain point...

again  Administrators can reduce this cost.

Make economic station components prohibitively expensive...  You want a research lab?  1000credits.   Ok you want an Econ thing  2500 Credits...  
or make it so the first one is free, the next is 100, then 200, then 300  and so on  until they are thousands of credits to build...

Again, Administrators can reduce this cost...   


Any of these give the player choice...    X thing will cost me Y but give me Z   is this Z better than that Z?

 


Just some thoughts..

 

on Jan 15, 2017

The admin system will be the make or break feature for me. The reason I've stayed away from this game for most of the last 18 months is that we were told -- a very long time ago -- that there would be a replacement for the Large Empire Penalty when it was removed. As I recall, this is how the admin system was originally advertised: a sensible replacement for the flaky and defunct LEP, a more elegant way of making tall empires viable. It must have been discussed by Brad a year ago or more. For me, it was an idea that resonated, as I prefer building tall, so it seemed better to wait. Unfortunately, the months rolled by and it never happened.

Being a fan of the series, I didn't lose all faith and have occasionally played for short bursts after some of the updates.. Just enough to experience 'Starbase Constructor Spam Hell' and develop sour feelings toward it. Now, more than anything else, it's the big issue that simply has to be addressed before I'm ready to dive in, ever again, much less think about buying more dlc.

 

To be honest, I probably would have given up forever on GalCiv3, except from shear force of habit I've continued following it here and in eXplorminate's forum. Eventually it began to sound like the long overdue replacement for the LEP -- allegedly still in the works -- would deal with SBCSH... And so here we are. My fingers are crossed. I've pinned so much hope on this one feature, again never imagining it would take so long.. It's almost done, Yaayy!!!

 

torfbolt

It seems to me that the hard cap on starbases by the administration stat already fixes this problem, with the nice side effect that small empires are much more competitive with big ones now. I think diminishing returns on stacking on top of that goes in the wrong direction, since a bigger civilization can then use the same number of starbases more effectively. So no, just the hardcap is a great solution already.

 

I hope you are right, torfbolt. Someone once showed me the numbers for a planet ringed round with multiple SB's and it blew my mind. Not only did the stacked bonuses strike me as absurdly, cosmically unrealistic, it was clear from the discussion (less from my limited experience; these were good players) that the ai wasn't anywhere close to being as effective with its overlapping zoc's. 

on Jan 16, 2017

 

[quote]There's a new resource called administrators.  Your capital world provides N of them where N is based on the size of the map.  Building a starbase consumes one.  You can get more by researching government related techs but that means you're not researching weapons or economy techs. 

Hi,

Brad's post is very interesting and the expansion will surely be excellent but I presume it isn't finalised yet and would like to open a discussion about balance.

Given that the number of starbases is to be restricted the first question is whether mining / archeological starbases are to be treated separately from economic ones? It's the economic starbase spam that has been something of a pain rather than the resource one.

Then there are the ideology trees. If many fewer starbases are to be built then the Builder line of the Pragmatic tree which improves starbases will become less useful -apart from Builder 4 which improves mining resources and could become absolutely crucial if you really can't build many mining starbases. 

Correspondingly, the tech choices which increase mining output will also presumably become more attractive than alternatives which will change the game a little. 

Most important, perhaps the final link in Builder 5 should increase administration rather than  improve the effect of constructor modules which won't have to be built?

Any ideas,

Cheers,

Jon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on Jan 16, 2017

lycan371

Most important, perhaps the final link in Builder 5 should increase administration rather than  improve the effect of constructor modules which won't have to be built?

Hi again,

Looking at the tree has this already been done in which case apology for doziness "Is that what "Construction points cap + 100% means" in B5 ?

Cheers,

Jon

 

 

 

on Jan 16, 2017

I really dislike the starbase change, while it fixes the spamming starbase problem I think a hard cap is a really bad solution, especially for a game like galciv where freedom in building your empire is a vital feature.

I would prefer a solution which does not limit the amount of starbases but makes it harder to maintain them if you have a lot of them.

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