View Full Version : Star Dock's Galactic Civilizations

27-03-2003, 21:42:03
*First Impressions*

I was surprised to see SD's GalCiv waiting for me when I got home yesterday, considering EB's previous record of hit and miss for getting a game shipped to me ASAP when released. Anyways, I've had a full evening's (a little over 8 hours) of play with it so far.

My first impressions: This is a simplified version of Birth of The Federation. A nicely done one.

You play on a gridded map. A mostly empty gridded map. Technologies give you new buildings for your worlds, new starships, and more techs to research.

Downside: Starship designs are predetermined.

You build colonizers, and run them to over to other stars to settle. You choose how many people you want to be on the colony ship when you launch it. This lets you start some worlds bigger then others.

Downside: It uses the old Civ style caravan system for trade. You build a "freighter" and tell it were to go trade. One the route's established, it means equal money for both ends of the route.
Double Dowside: You cannot trade with yourself. Has to be another's empire.

Star Bases are customizable. That's the only thing in the game (other then game conditions and your racial bonuses you start with), I've found customizable.

Worlds are managed similarly to MoO2. You can build a 'building' to do stuff for that world, or your empire, or both.

Stars can have multiple worlds, so world managing can get tedious. Luckily, their is 5 lists for 'build in this order'. GalCiv calls these queueing lists 'Governors', but it's just 5 different listing of order to be built. Lets you have general, civil, defense, etc.

If you really liked BotF, I think you should take a look at this game. They are basically the same thing, only a lot of the downside of BotF seems to have been removed/avoided. If you thought BotF had no redeeming features, and you prefer a MoO style game where you customize your ships to your needs/play style, this game will give you big time yawns.

I'll give this game a few more days play, and see if it has any serious play, or belongs in the 'Too cute to be serious, too serious to be cute' pile of would be killer Galaxy Conquest games for my taste. That means you can expect a few more posts from me about this game.

27-03-2003, 21:51:35
Any questions on this game, feel free to ask. I have been lurking at the GalCiv site and its forum for a while. Their forum doesn't seem to have a useful search function that I've found, so it isn't as easy to find information as one would hope.

27-03-2003, 23:33:15
Is it better than MoO3?:)

28-03-2003, 14:28:38
The whores of Gamespot have a review up.

28-03-2003, 18:18:01
Looking forward to more in-depth review later on, DS. I'm seriously tempted by this game. Still, rushing out to buy it now, after Moo3, would be to rush into a new relationship just because your ex-gf turned out to be a bitch ;)

28-03-2003, 19:50:15
Shining1... that depends on the kind of game you like. :)

Overall, I'd say GalCiv is a better game. But that's based on the fact that it's UI isn't an atrocity inflicted on all its users.

GalCiv is about control of the map squares (called sectors). MoO3 is about control of the worlds around stars. That makes for very different types of games. In GalCiv, you can create starbases in empty sectors of space, and buld it up to do useful things. Like increase the trade you get out of trade paths through that sector. Act as a 'Cultural' center (in Civ3 sense), to capture neighbor worlds to your empire.

GalCiv has various resource bits that float around. Putting a star base on them to mine them yields various results. The different types, which all result in +5% bonus when mined, are: Economy (money), Military (fighting bonus), Influence (+5% Civ3 Culture points), Research (+5% research rate). This makes for flash points of contention, as you can imagine. Especially if you need an economic boost, or want to keep your edge in research/tech.

Since you can build any ole star base into an unbeatable Death Star (capable of destroying STARS and their worlds), and they are all tough as nails requiring a "Spanish Armada" to even think about defeating a one unit base (starting base), they aren't something to be taken likely. I continue to have the feeling that they are the main feature and focal point to the game, at this time, and everything else is just eye candy.

GalCiv does have the advantage that it is a game slated to be under development/refinement for the next 5 years. One of Star Dock's significant revenue streams is the offering of subscriptions to their Drengin network, which is a game network and game distribution. They are going to tweak the game for balance, as well as tune the AI to the player tactics that develop for the next few years. I doubt MoO3 will get more then 3 patches, tops, and its AI will not be tweaked and balanced for the same lifespan.

Also, GalCiv's model of distribution encourages them to continue to add to the game itself. To encourage their subscribers to stay subscribed. The situation sounds interesting.

Anyways... is it more fun then MoO3? I'm a Grognard at heart. I like being able to tinker and tune everything to my tastes and needs in a game. GalCiv has less for you to mess with, so in that sense, no. It is a much better put together game, its UI isn't nearly as literally painful for me to use, and it is a basic conquer the universe (through means politically, culturally, and militarily). I know this game is going to have a fanatical cult that in the future will hunt down every not 'FANTASTIC' glowing words about it, and spam and irritate those places and speakers to boredom. ;)

Humm... so is it more fun then MoO3? In the classic MoO sense, no it is not more fun then MoO3. In the Spaceward Ho! sense, it is galaxies and galaxies distance ahead of MoO3 in fun. In the sense of a well put together game, it is light years ahead. In the sense of a game with a coherent vision and design, it looks legendary by comparison to MoO3.

I think GalCiv will become a measure of complexity for the Darkstar scale for Galaxy Conquest games. This game is more complex then Spaceward Ho, but way less then MoO3 (then again, every game ever published in the last 5 years is way less complex then MoO3). If only I could design my starships! Then GalCiv may earn a permanent place on my HD right now.

Oh well. We will see if any serious minuses show up over the weekend. I have just gotten beyond the '100 turn' equivalent in SMAC with it now... I wonder what will shake beyond the tiny map limit...

Any more questions? ;)

01-04-2003, 20:06:59
*puppy love*

Well, I've gotten in a few more days with this game, and at this point, the game has really grown on me.

The support Star Dock is giving is outstanding. And that doesn't look like it will be changing any time soon.

I'm up to large maps, which translates into further up in the game.

If you are a peaceful TBS empire builder, you will definately want to think about this game. It is probably the only game I'm familar with where the peaceful path to victory is so *easy*. Waging war is actually harder in this game. The AI doesn't war on you just because it is jealous you are 'Human'. So it's easy to stay at peace and go about peacefully taking over via culture and commercialism (The True American Way To Power, after all ;).

If you are a MoO3 sort of guy (tons and tons and tons of details and micromanagement), then this is not the game for you. But if you are out for a fun TBS control the galactic square sort of game, you should take a look at this.

Oh yeah... they've released a beta 'Ship Builder'. Allowing people to tweak/design their own ships. The designer for Spaceships Unlimited is looking at translating his starships into Galactic Civilizations. Humm... now what does that say? ;)

Now to see how well this game holds up over the long term play. You know, for a few months (or longer)! :D

Sir Penguin
02-04-2003, 00:58:12
Darkstar, if you ever think of submitting a front-page review, send it to me for editing first. ;)


02-04-2003, 20:01:15
To you? That's a shocker.

If I did an article on it, I'd actually have to compose it. Would make a big difference from my normal posting, which is just stream of consciousness. (You know, Qweeging it.)

Sir Penguin
03-04-2003, 01:07:16
I know. :)


03-04-2003, 01:11:43
Oral diarrhea is what I call it.

03-04-2003, 22:32:13
Yeppers. Same thing. ;)

03-04-2003, 22:43:19
BTW, Star Dock has released each new build of their game to their customers, every day. You have to use their online distribution engine to get it, but I found that very interesting. Talk about service!

They are planning more traditional patches/enchantments/updates, but on a less regular basis. Such as weekly or monthly.

04-04-2003, 08:48:55
Link please!!!

10-04-2003, 06:41:43

Don't mind me. I'm currently mad at the game. You see, I'm trying to adjust my game so I still win at the next level and next galaxy size, reliably. ;)

Been playing this game quite a bit. Support for the game continues to be outstanding. Although the Lead Developer is running out of patience for the game bashers that come in and complain that the game isn't the perferct MoO3. Or the guys that tell everyone to not bother with the game until he codes in a C&C real time conflict for each world invasion, with Star Fleet Battles in Real Time for each ship to ship combat. Kinda funny seeing that.

Most people are describing this game as 'Civ in Space'. That is certainly a good way to communicate just what the game is.

10-04-2003, 07:19:27
Hey, get this!

This is the first PC game I've bought in a long time.

I got a...erm..."trial" version and liked it so much, I thought it was worth the $29.99 + $8 shipping.

10-04-2003, 07:49:37
You wanted the manual and hardcopy CD then? Best way to use the SDC with the retail CD is install SDC, then the game off CD, then register and update. If you want the near daily developer updates...

10-04-2003, 07:51:58
Well, I wanted a manual and a real CD, and it's the moral implications of it. I buy albums and games that I actually like.

I also feel compelled to not pirate because of their near complete lack of anti-piracy protection. I mean, the serial number is simply stored in the registry...they thought they were being clever by banning the main warez cdkey from the updates, but anyone with regedit can invent their own key... :lol:

Anyway, great game. Worth the money.

10-04-2003, 09:09:47
I wasn't asking that... They do support purchase and direct download model of distribution as well.

Glad you liked the game enough to support them with money! They do seem to be a quality shop, worth the support.

21-05-2003, 14:47:28
I bought this the other day online. Very impressed so far.

Shame the diplomacy engine is a bit basic, if they could improve that (ie not as Good as the Civ III one).

The timescales seem a bit off as well. It seems right for space based combat, but not for empire building (The citizens in the game breed like rabbits (on Viagra)..) and research.

Good though, kept me offline yesterday.

22-05-2003, 23:53:09
I'm a little irritated with Brad Wardell (Lead Programmer and CEO) and his ego at the moment. GalCiv 1.0.1 and 1.0.2 were pretty nice. But Brad takes it as an affront that some people on the company forums are whining that it's too easy to beat (utilizing lots of cheesy tactics with some decent tactics), so he keeps ratcheting with the game, trying to make it impossible to beat. I don't care much about his attempts to close out the cheese, as I don't use many cheesy tactics, but... I do care that he is constantly fucking with the game balance. Hell, he states you are supposed to cheese the game to win, but he's upset that there are people out there that can outcheese him in ways he never thought of/planned.

Other then that... it really is a good game with the best support you'll ever see commercially.

23-05-2003, 02:08:19
Originally posted by Darkstar

If you are a peaceful TBS empire builder, you will definately want to think about this game. It is probably the only game I'm familar with where the peaceful path to victory is so *easy*. Waging war is actually harder in this game. The AI doesn't war on you just because it is jealous you are 'Human'. So it's easy to stay at peace and go about peacefully taking over via culture and commercialism (The True American Way To Power, after all ;).

I like that. Waging war ought to be a dangerous business that can go seriously awry if you don't know your limits. (think of Hitler and Napoleon) That aspect of war is far too often absent in games, except of EU perhaps.

23-05-2003, 18:32:36
In related news, Moo3 is still waiting for a patch-patch - its been given some kind of data patch, but the real deal hasn't been finished yet. They've been listing the bugs online as they fix them, and its quite long. Lots of minor typo stuff, but plenty of nasty ones as well.

23-05-2003, 20:51:41
Most of the fixes listed for MoO3 are mid to critical level. Have only see a few typo fixes listed there.

Atari and QuickSilver have already released **2** Data patches. All mods from the users. They should let the users have the source code and fix MoO3. Would be faster and more economical for them...

23-05-2003, 21:27:40
I generally stay away from open sourced and non-commercial games. I still haven't found any OSS version of DOOM that I prefer to the original on DOS. As nifty as I think free software is, I still think closed-source commercial games are the best. I see games like Freeciv as exceptional.

MOO3, if it were open sourced might be fixed and improved, or it might pick up XML, IPv6, GPG, Kerberos, SSL, Google Search, etc. :)

Greg W
24-05-2003, 03:57:03
Tried out the demo the other day. Must say that I wasn't all that impressed. I'd much prefer a game of MoO or MoO 2.

I really didn't like the idea that scout ships could explore the entire universe, and never run out of fuel. I also didn't like the small number of planets to settle, though being restricted to a small galaxy caused most of that I'd imagine. The tutorial also seemed non-existant after I made sure the "turn tutorial mode off" check box was not checked.

I am sure that reading the manual, getting the full game, and having a working tutorial would help somewhat, but it just didn't grab me.

27-05-2003, 16:09:13
the tuturial is only popup help boxes the first time you do something new. So it should be called a hint mode not a tuturial.

27-05-2003, 22:01:04
GalCiv is pretty much closer to Civ1 or Civ2, overall.

Pretty good TBS game. I'm just looking forward to the next update, and then the new bonus pack.

Range works like in MoO. You can go out X amount of sectors (big squares) from your worlds (or star bases). Period.

On medium maps, scouts cannot explore the whole map, until you got a good bit of colonizing into other sectors down.