Galactic Civilization 2 Interview

Galactic Civilization 2 Interview

Written by Tyler Sager on 10/27/2005 for

We all know space is the final frontier but Kirk and company were all about exploring it, meeting new aliens species and even sleeping with them.  There was nothing about conquering all of that space and imposing your will on the new alien races.  No great intergalactic battles.   This is one of the reasons we liked the first Galactic Civilization so much.  Not only was it a great turn based strategy game but there was none of that Federation mumbo jumbo to get in the way of creating our own ginormous space empires.  With the sequel to that game finally starting to appear on the horizon we got to chat with one of the folks at Star Dock about what we can expect from the upcoming game.

GamingNexus: Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the project?
My name is Brad Wardell and I'm the Designer and Project Manager on Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords.  I mostly program the computer AI aspects of the game and work on general game balance.

GamingNexus: What are the major new features for the new version of the game? What new feature do you think fans of the first series will appreciate the most?  Do you have something that you are particularly proud of?
Brad Wardell:
The biggest new features include the ability to design your own starships from scratch, unique planets/colonies and the new map system, in which planets are part of the map. Finally, we've added fleet combat with a new combat system that makes use of different types of weapons and defenses.

GamingNexus:  I noticed you guys have taken a modular approach to planetary improvements.  Care to expound on this?  Also, one of my biggest complaints with the original game was the feeling that many of the improvements just weren't worth the cost to build and maintain.  How have you tweaked the improvements in GalCiv2 to avoid this?
Brad Wardell:
I agree and in fact, in GalCiv I the improvements were just kind of pointless. They just added to the bottom line on all your planets, rather than having any kind of tactical or strategic value.  In Galactic Civilizations II, the planet class determines how many usable tiles there are on a planet. You build improvements on those tiles and as a result, you can only build a finite number of improvements on a planet.  This tends to reduce micromanagement and introduce a lot of strategic options.

GamingNexus: On to ships and fleets, which also are getting a major overhaul. For many fans, the ability to customize ships part by part as technologies improve is a welcome addition.  However, I was quite happy with the original, limited number of ship plans.  How will the new system keep burgeoning shipwrights happy without overwhelming the rest of us with micromanagement?
Brad Wardell:
Designing ships can be a snap.  The player can literally just click on a ship size and then click on the various items and the game will equip it for them.  That way, people who aren't into the ship design aspect of the game can get their ships out there with minimum of effort.  But shipwrights can add extras to their ship that cosmetically enhance the look and feel of their ships. You can spend a lot of time making really unique looking ships if you'd like.

Moreover, your ship designs are saved to disk each time, so when you play a new game, your ships will automatically appear when you get the proper technology pre-requisites, à la GalCiv I.

GamingNexus: Will there be a full campaign, a la The Altarian Prophecy?  Any hints as to what might be in store for us?
Brad Wardell:
Yes.  In fact, it has a dynamic campaign - you can lose missions and go onto an alternative story.  This story is much darker than the first one and the ending, I think, will be a bit of a shocker for players.

GamingNexus: Every race in the galaxy is now available for play.  What steps have been taken to assure a balance between the various races?  Will we still have the race customizability that we saw in the original game?
Brad Wardell:
You can still customize your races like you did in the first game, but this time you can actually design your own races (what they look like, what techs they start out with, etc.).  In terms of balancing, we've taken steps to make sure that each race has its own advantages and disadvantages that don't really alter the gameplay too much.

GamingNexus: One of the best things about Galactic Civilizations is the support both from and for the fanbase community.  How are you ensuring Galactic Civilizations 2 will continue in this fashion?
Brad Wardell:
Galactic Civilizations II has much more fan-base support built in.  For instance, the Metaverse stuff is much more sophisticated this time around, with the player being able to design characters and logon with their GalCiv account into the game right from the start.

In GalCiv I players were kind of stuck between modding the game and playing on the metaverse since the metaverse required the player to have the base data files and such.  This time, the metaverse uses its own stored version of all the data.  So players can mod up the game completely.

Everything in GalCiv II is either a .X file (standard 3D model file), a .DXPack file (DesktopX - free download at www.desktopx.net) for the user interface, or a .PNG for everything else.  The data files are XML.  So players could in theory design very different types of games with this engine.

GamingNexus: Any word on multiplayer?
Brad Wardell:
This time we did the plumbing for multiplayer, but we didn't actually go through and put in the multiplayer features.  It was a tough call, but it was decided that we would go for a $39.95 price point rather than a $49.95 price point and have multiplayer as a separate addition later on if there's sufficient demand.  That way, the people who want multiplayer can get it and those not interested in it aren't paying for a feature they won't use.

GamingNexus:  Is there an expected released date?
End of February 2006.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

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About Author

I'm an old-school gamer, and have been at it ever since the days of the Atari 2600. I took a hiatus from the console world to focus on PC games after that, but I've come back into the fold with the PS2. I'm an RPG and strategy fan, and could probably live my gaming life off a diet of nothing else. I also have soft spot for those off-the-wall, independent-developer games, so I get to see more than my share of innovative (and often strange) titles.

Away from the computer, I'm an avid boardgamer, thoroughly enjoying the sound of dice clattering across a table. I also enjoy birdwatching and just mucking around in the Great Outdoors.
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