Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar Interview

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posted 7/31/2006 by Tyler Sager
other articles by Tyler Sager
One Page Platforms: PC

Galactic Civilization 2: Dread Lords is one of our top games of the year so far.  It’s easy to use interface, cool custom ship builder, and deep game play have been the source of many late nights and early mornings for various GN staffers since the game came out.  The folks at Star Dock haven’t been asleep at the wheel since the game has come out as they have been cranking out a few patches that go beyond the standard bug fixes and game play tweaks.  Since they game was released the folks at Star Dock have added modding tools and a few new game play modes which meant more late nights and early mornings just so we can squeeze out “one last turn”.  We were a little giddy when we heard Star Dock was already working on an expansion pack and we were able to get a short interview in with one of the fine folks at Star Dock.

GamingNexus: First of all, congratulations on the success of GalCiv2.  I’m glad that so many people have realized what a compelling and entertaining franchise this is. 
Thanks! We’re really pleased by how well the game has been received by everyone so far.

GamingNexus: Can you introduce yourself and describe your role on the team?  How long have you been with Stardock and how did you get into the game development business?
My name is Brian Clair and I’m Stardock Entertainment’s Director of Games Publishing. My job is to get our games into retail, run our TotalGaming.net digital distribution service, provide feedback to the team on areas that could be improved, handle game marketing and to work with third-party developers on publishing their titles. I’ve been with Stardock for about a year and a half, joining up in early 2005. Prior to working for Stardock I was the publisher/editor of the Adrenaline Vault website for over nine years, which is how I got into the industry.

GamingNexus: What sort of decisions did you find your selves making when it came time to determine what content to place in an expansion?  How do you determine which content is better as a patch, and which is worthy as release in a separate product?
Brian Clair: This is a good question since Stardock’s updates add so much new content that they practically qualify as expansion packs in their own right.  For full-fledged expansions, we look at what features we can add that will extend the game in ways not possible through a patch.  These features simply require more development time and testing than we could offer as part of a patch.

GamingNexus: Getting in specifics, what sort of changes to gameplay are going to be made with the expansion?  More importantly, how many of my tried-and-true strategies am I going to have to throw out the window when Dark Avatar arrives?
Brian Clair: Dark Avatar is going to make a lot of great changes to the gameplay of Galactic Civilizations II, many of which were requested by our fans. For starters, we’ll be expanding the Custom Race system so that players will be able to design their own opponents and then play against them.  The new Espionage Agents will give players the ability to sabotage opponents, so that you can “switch off” powerful wonders like the Economic Capital. The new Special Worlds we’re adding will slow down the initial colony rush strategy and add a whole new gameplay dynamic. We’re adding Asteroid Fields that players will be able to construct bases on in order to give new benefits to nearby worlds. The updated Diplomacy system will give gamers the ability to make trade and research treaties. The AI is getting a boost as well with a host of new options to provide an even greater challenge. Plus we’re adding in a bunch of new ship parts and hulls to give gamers the ability to create even better ship designs. Your strategies will probably need some adjustment. :)

GamingNexus: You mentioned Special Worlds in your press release, which I find intriguing.  Can you explain how these are going to work?  Are we going to have certain races that are just better with specific types of planets?
Brian Clair: In Dark Avatar, planets will be labeled with certain classifications including: Universal (Earth-like); Barren (rocks in space, like Mars); Toxic (worlds like Venus); High Gravity; and Radioactive. Universal worlds can be colonized by any race, just like in GalCiv II. The other planet types will require certain technologies before they’ll be able to be colonized. So, for instance, to colonize a High Gravity world, you’d need to research Gravity Normalization.

As for making races better with certain types of worlds, that’s something we’re still thinking about.

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