Lead designer Paul Boyer and associate producer Raymond Bartos answered many of the questions you folks sent in last week. Tactical battles, minor races, and moddability were among the many hot topics, and our guys dropped some new info in their answers. Check out the full Q&A below.
Programming note: Paul (mormegil on the forums) has been active here on the boards and has provided most of the info I’ve been bothering the team for to fill in the journals and such I’ve been posting. Today he’s joined by another member of the team you should get to know: Raymond Bartos, associate producer. Ray’s great, if a little unconsciously intimidating with the giant Nerf mace he absentmindedly twirls around as he paces the office, and you’ll be seeing him around the boards more and more in the coming months. So give Ray a nice friendly welcome to the forums!
A note of apology: I promised to put this up last week, but the untimely intervention of a particularly nasty strain of strep throat nixed that plan. Feel free to curse the flesh-eating bacteria nearest you for its cousin’s role in delaying the latest deployment of Galactic Civilizations III info to your eyeballs.
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Tridus: Given all the threads on it and the endless speculation... is there going to be any player control/influence of ship combat at all? If so, what form will that take? (aka: Tactical combat?)
Paul Boyer, lead designer: At first glance space combat in GC3 will appear similar to that in GC2; ships will fly around in fleets, when ships from separate powers meet in a single tile they fight it out. Two fleets enter, one fleet leaves. Where GC3 will be different is how the battles are fought. If battles are auto-resolved, not much will appear different, but once fleets meet in the battle screen everything changes.
In GC3 we will introduce the ability to assign roles to ships, giving them unique behaviors in fleet battles. These different behaviors will be used to specialize ships and create checks and balances, making the composition of your fleet almost as important as what weapons or defenses it has.
Parrotmath: Will there be tactical battles on the ground (planet)? -- controllable / watchable?
Paul Boyer: We have a new planetary invasion system in the works, but we don't want to comment on it until we are happy with it.
Seilore: Any system requirements/suggestions beyond the windows 7/8 direct X 11 that you have previously stated? To help those that may be looking for a new computer and wanting to make sure it can handle the game.
Paul Boyer: The only other hard and fast requirement is that your OS is 64-bit. We will have more detailed recommend specifications available later, we of course want as many people as possible to be able to play the game. I for one want it to play on my two-year-old laptop, so most computers today should have no problem playing the game.
Achronus: How long will the campaign be? Bigger than GalCiv2? Will there be an interactive campaign selector (such as a 'space map' to choose scenarios in the campaign) or will the campaign be one scenario after the other with only a small briefing in between?)
Will there be cutscenes of quality such as the diplamacy screen we've seen or more on par with Galciv2?
Paul Boyer: The campaign will be pretty beefy. We are still working on the story and the gameplay, so we won't promise any particular length, but it should be around the same length as the Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords campaign.
Hawawaa: In the campaign when you fail a mission will the campaign follow different routes (think Wing Commander) or will the it just end there and you have to redo the mission again until you pass? So Branching story?
Paul Boyer: We have not locked down the flow of the campaign yet, but Brad and I are both big fans of a branching campaign, like in Galactic Civilizations II. Don’t be surprised if you see something along those lines in Galactic Civilizations III.
Achronus: Are there going to be animated parts in the ship designer?
Raymond Bartos, associate producer: There are animated parts in Galactic Civilizations II, and we fully intend to implement them in Galactic Civilizations III as well.
Paul Boyer: Yes, you will be able to do all the same animations that were available in Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor, as well as some new ones.
Hawawaa: Can we have a separate program to design ships in when playing other games? Would love this!
Paul Boyer: The idea of having a standalone version of the ship designer has been floating around since Galactic Civilizations II. We would like to do it, but it’s too early to say whether it will be practical. It is definitely on my wish list.
NitroX infinity: What will the difference between the expansions and the dlc be?
Paul Boyer: I think it is safe to say that expansions will drive the Galactic Civilizations story forward, and to deliver larger game-changing content, and scope.
DLC will be where we get to release the fun stuff that we have always wanted to do, but may or may not be part of the overall narrative.
Satoru1: How will you handle DLC vs expansions? In a broader model of should we see something like Game->DLC to fill time->Expansion1->few more DLC->Expansion2 kind of deal (yes I know on steam 'expansions' show up as DLC, but for sake of clarity I'm referring to them in the 'archaic' sense of the term)
Paul Boyer: Currently we are focusing on the the main game. However, we do have plans for multiple expansions as well as some great DLC ideas. It’s still to early to commit to any sort of release order, but your guess is a pretty safe one.
ParagonRenegade: How in depth will the new "Stellar topography" be? Will there be the suggested black holes, binary stars and the like?
Paul Boyer: Interstellar terrain will have effects on movement, ship stats, weapons, etc. In addition, most of the that we are adding in Galactic Civilizations III will be attached to that we are adding in GC3, Black Holes and Antimatter for example. So they should have a huge effect on game play.
Adrencrow: Considering this is on a 64 bit system will the number of AI players in a match be increased? if so any guess as to how many? also will the map sizes change and how so?
Raymond Bartos: We plan to utilize the capabilities that the 64-bit requirements offer us. This means an overall improvement to the game. You will be able to select the galaxy size similar to Galactic Civilizations II, all the way up to Gigantic maps.
Paul Boyer: We dont want to commit on how many players will be able to be on a map, but we will want to make it as high a number as we can while keeping the game fast and fun. We will probably not lock down player numbers until late in the beta process.
Aygis: Will there be Support for stellar Object or live-forms that can move on the main map or on a tactical map? (great for mods) - aka shifting clouds, dark-stray-plantes (?), meteors, space whales,…
Paul Boyer: We will have some new interstellar objects that move on the map. We are still playing with what types, and how many.
Rhonin_the_wizard: Will there be hot seat multiplayer?
Raymond Bartos: As of yet there are no plans to implement this.
Parrotmath: Will there be an editor to create custom galaxies? That is will the modders have easy access in creating a galaxy to their liking for multiplayer matches?
Paul Boyer: We will have a map editor. We hope to have it available at release.
Rhonin_the_wizard: This is probably a given, but will the civilizations have different tech trees?
Raymond Bartos: Yes.
Gaunathor: How different will the tech trees be? What I mean is, will they all be structured the same, but with some techs replaced with others, or will they all be uniquely structured?
Raymond Bartos: We are currently exploring many options as to how exactly we want the player to experience the vast tech tree of Galactic Civilizations III. What I can say now is that each race type will have its own advantages/disadvantages.
WIllythemailboy: Are influence mechanics going to be similar to GC2? How much calculus will be involved in solving the influence system this time around?
Paul Boyer: Cultural influence will be similar to Galactic Civilizations II, but a bit simpler. It will be tied directly to culture this time, so players build cultural improvements that spread their cultural influence. Unlike in Galactic Civilizations II that influence will not be capped at a range; theoretically a player could eventually take over the entire galaxy with the culture from their home planet if no one stopped them.
Qrtxian: What can you tell us about how random events will work? Will they be divided into categories like the "normal" and "mega events" in GCII? About how many are there going to be, and how often are they likely to occur (and is that adjustable)?
Raymond Bartos: Events are a key element that breathe life into Galactic Civilizations, and their importance will be no less in Galactic Civilizations III. Currently there are be two types of events: the more common colonizing events and galactic events. We have a huge number of events planned, and players will have the opportunity to tune their frequency to their own preference. We have also kept the modders in mind with this feature, and made sure our events are customizable through the XML.
Paul Boyer: In addition to colonizing events and galactic events, we still have mega events. These will be similar to those in Twilight of the Arnor, and are meant to really shake up the game. They will be able to be disabled in game setup of course.
ParagonRenegade: How many civilizations will be in the game (not counting custom races)?
Raymond Bartos: Currently we have eight factions for launch: Terran, Drengin, Altarian, Thalan, Yor, Iconian, Iridium, and Krynn. Several unannounced minor factions will join them as well.
Gaunathor: Will some races have unique game mechanics? For example: the Drengin gain slaves when invading planets, which provide bonus production.
Raymond Bartos: Yes, we have unique abilities planned for all the major races.
Qrtxian: What exactly happened to the Korath? They aren't mentioned in the Civilizations databank as either a current or former civilization. Will they be playable or appear in some other fashion, or are they just gone?
And since no one else has brought it up so far, I may as well be the one: what did make you go in such a different direction with the blue-skinned Altarian leader? And are any other returning races getting radical visual overhauls?
Paul Boyer: The Korath were absorbed back into the Drengin Empire at the end of what they now consider to be a civil war. There are still remnants of of the Korath out there that refused to reconcile – you may see them around sooner or later.
We are not trying to do any major overhauls of existing leaders. Our primary goal is to bring them up to date and emphasize the differences that were already there in the lore, but were beyond our skill at the time to depict.
Hawawaa: Will all the killed off races be back in sandbox mode?
Paul Boyer: Not in the base game. We want to make sure that each race feels unique and gets a lot of artistic love, which includes each race having its own ship style and animated leader.
Parrotmath: Also, will there be an option to "Set phasers to fun"?
Raymond Bartos: These are the voyages of Stardock Entertainment... We plan to boldly go where no fun has ever gone before! Space: the Final Fun-tier?!?!
Paul Boyer: We hope the entire game is fun, but keep an eye out, there might be some surprises hiding in there.
Even though the devs have already said that this is not going to happen?
Whats a little thing like word of Devs to stop anyone?
Especially since they have already changed their minds about things (Totally acceptable at this point, being pre-alpha).
In the future, after Galactic Civilizations III is released and there is no Tactical Combat in it...
"Will you add tactical combat in a patch or expansion?"
Can man has a dream?
I took their dodging the question to mean we won't have any control during battles whatsoever, not even on a macro level.
Well at least I now know I needn't worry about spending my money on GalCiv3. Some form of controllable combat was probably my #1 wishlist item for a sequel (that, and an easier-to-understand economy model). Without it, this game is little more than GalCiv2 with a visual upgrade.
The anticipation was nice while it lasted...
The Arcean's aren't coming back as a playable race in vanilla GC3? That's a big shock! I know in the lore the Dregin almost completely destroyed them but for such a major race to not exist entirely. Maybe I'm a little upset because they were my favourite race
Time to retire my plans of reviving Lord Vega's imperial navy of Shogun, Volithar and Ronin class ships to rule the galaxy.
Loved the Q&A otherwise!!!
The Arceans might yet make a comeback I suspect, but only the devs know
They probably come back in an expansion. Same for the Torians.
They still exist. They just aren't a major force at the moment. Give 'em some time to regroup and build up their strength, and they'll be back.
Hopefully we will be able to customize an opposing faction to take the place of the ones we're missing; I'd really miss having the Torians and Arceans in my games.
They said this, which was new to me (and not in GC2):
"In GC3 we will introduce the ability to assign roles to ships, giving them unique behaviors in fleet battles. These different behaviors will be used to specialize ships and create checks and balances, making the composition of your fleet almost as important as what weapons or defenses it has."
So you are controlling something, albeit in a limited fashion. Given that direct control combat was ruled out almost immediately, at this point people still going on about it is just getting old.
If you want to play Total War: Space, this is not the game for you.
Agreed. Total War in space is exactly what I want, and GalCiv 2's approach to ship design and combat made me lose interest with it pretty quickly. I don't expect GalCiv 3 to make any difference in that sense. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of choices out there for people like me. Basically, a Stardock-quality version of Space Empires 4 would be the holy grail.
If you haven't checked it out yet, take a look at Age of Wonders 3. Turn based combat instead of realtime (and fantasy instead of space), but it's got the full tactical control that people have been asking for here. Previous games did the combat part pretty well, including things like city walls & line of sight, so I expect good things in that area.
Maybe as some sort of Starcraft's 2 "classic" units, maybe not for Multiplayer (though why not?), but in Single. I wouldn't mind that.
Honestly, to some extent I want more detailed and deeper combat, yet in the same time, I'd rather concentrated on different issues - by my opinion supreme commander (or ruler), whose role we, apparently, playing, shouldn't control each fleet or ship directly, as he shouldn't tell each sailor to go potty and brush teeth after each meal (though it could be funny promotional campaign), he should think big. As any, say, regimental commander should command regiment, not battalion. That's why I liked Endless Space - little involvement into combats. Too bad some involvement, I wouldn't mind to delegate that to appointed commander.
In theory, Galactic Civilizations universe is so big, so we could have several different types of games - military strategy, tactics, deep economy simulation, game similar to X-series, RPG... I understand budget limitations, but can man has a dream?
Absolutely, that one features prominently on my watch list. The fantasy genre is pretty well represented though - we got AoW3, we got Eador, we got Fallen Enchantress, hell, CA are doing a Warhammer game. Worlds of Magic may or may not be any good. And if we look a little farther back Heroes of Might & Magic 5 is still great too. Space, not so much variety. I liked the first SotS, but that's about it.
Wait, what the hell? This feature was in the FAQ! And now it has been removed?
Guys, you already said it would be there, no going back on this now. My whole circle of friends was besides themselves with joy when they heard that we'd finally get a new good turn-based 4X space strategy game with hotseat multiplayer. Cutting out hotseat will lose you potential customers, it's simple as that.
I'm just going to point out that right now they don't have plans for this. Not that they never will add hot seat. There is such a thing as trying to implement too many new features at once. Especially if a problem is bigger than you thought it would be.
If the sales lost are less than the cost to implement it, then it's a pretty easy decision.
Thats the way it goes sometimes at this stage of development. Sometimes stuff gets cut to make time for something else.
I couldn't care less about multiplayer, but I have to admit that I'm a little unnerved to hear about a previously-advertised feature being cut this early in the development process.
Well, let's just say that I am suddenly happy that I am so broke that I couldn't afford a founder's package at the moment, let alone an elite one. I feel gipped. :-/
Who says, it's a cut feature? Couldn't it be, that hotseat MP was never a planned feature, and that mentioning it in the FAQ was due to a misunderstanding? Why always assume the worst? Why not wait until one of the devs clarifies this?
and made sure our events are customizable through the XML
and made sure our events are customizable through the XML
So will we be able to disable the events we don't like such as the speed limit event? This currently requires reverting to your last save, but it'd be nice to just never see it.
Once bitten, twice shy.
It's better be ready for worst and be suprised, than expect best and see "misadvertized product".
You couldn't come up with a more implausible scenario, maybe involving magical hyenas and invisible aliens?
That's what I used to think. I always expected the worst, and if it didn't turn out to be so bad (or even pretty good), I still expected something terrible to happen. Usually, I was right. However, that had more to do with my attitude. Self-fulfilling prophecy and all that. It also made my life miserable. Now, I'm trying a more realistic approach.
GalCiv 3 is still in early development. Features get dropped at that stage. It's normal and to be expected. Even for highly advertised features (which Hotseat never was). If this had happened close to the release, then I would understand the outrage. Still, we don't know anything about the reason behind this. It might have been a case of "feature getting dropped". Hotseat also might have never been a feature at all, and mentioning it in the FAQ was an accident. We just don't know. So, people going on a rant, as if the former has already been proven, feels kind of strange.
Thanks for the FAQ. It's great to have some more specifics on game mechanics. I will be satisfied with the proposed battle system as long as it adds meaningful strategic depth to battles. Adding an element of uncertainty to the process, where ideal ship assignments are not obvious and results vary according to the decisions made by the opposing party, should help to keep the system interesting.
The only thing I can compare this to is the battle system in Endless Space. This card-based system theoretically has some strategic depth to it, because cards have different effects and players should try to anticipate the decisions of the other party. In practice, I found that the rock-paper-scissors mechanic and presentation made battles feel like games of chance rather than tactics (after accounting for ship design, predetermined before battle).
With respect to the hotseat mode, I imagine that is a feature the development team could implement quite easily if there is sufficient demand. Unlike with major game companies, there are opportunities for players to influence game development at Stardock.
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