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Galactic Civilizations through the ages

Published on Sunday, April 23, 2017 By Draginol In GalCiv III Dev Journals


Galactic Civilizations has the distinction of being the longest running strategy game developed by the same company.

Let's take a look at how it has changed.

Galactic Civilizations OS/2

The game that started it all.  I wrote this game from my dorm room in college. 



Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 (1993)


  1. First commercial multithreaded game
  2. First commercial game to use more than 256 colors
  3. First commercial 32-bit game

It was written for IBM's OS/2 instead of DOS or Windows which limited its market but by being natively 32-bit, multithreaded, it could do things that wouldn't be seen in the game market for many years.

Galactic Civilizations for Windows

We didn't get back to Galactic Civilizations again until 2003 -- 10 years after the original.  Stardock moved to Windows around the year 2000 and its business focused on programs like WindowBlinds and IconPackager at the time.


Galactic Civilizations for Windows (2003)

  1. First game to use Intel Hyperthreading

This was important because it allowed me to divide up the AI's fleet manager and the AI's planet manager which sped up turn times.  It was not a friendly game by today's standards (45% score on Steam). One of these days, I'd like to go back and update this just to make it work on modern computers.  I only recommend this for nostalgia folks now.

Galactic Civilizations II

This is the one people say they love.


Galactic Civilizations II (2006)

  1. First game to be released digitally and retail on the same day.

GalCiv II was the last Stardock game to not have chicks (smart tooltips).  As a result, I have a hard time enjoying it as much as I could even though I designed this.  At the time of release it received a phenomenal 94 metacritic.  But, like I said, nowadays we expect the user interface, not the manual, to guide us into the game.

Galactic Civilizations III

This is the one that is loved by some and disappoints others.


Galactic Civilizations III (2015)

  1. First Galactic Civilizations game I didn't design.

Jon Shafer, who designed Civilization V did the initial design for GalCiv III before Paul Boyer took it over.  The user experience of GalCiv III was so much better than GalCiv II.  What I would say its primary weakness has been balance and depth.  But it still has a higher metacritic rating than any other recently released space strategy game and a very positive Steam review average.

Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade

If we still had retail, this would have been a sequel (GalCiv IV).  But in the digital age, we made it an expansion.



Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade (2017)

The UI of Crusade is a bit more like Galactic Civilizations II in that the mini map has been brought back to the bottom right and there's a general emphasis on letting you see how you're doing compared to everyone else (GalCiv II and Crusade both have the power bar).

However, if someone were to ask me what is the fundamental difference between GalCiv III: Crusade and what came before my answer is: Until Crusade, GalCiv has always been about getting your people onto as many planets as possible.  Crusade is about getting your civilization having access to whatever resources it desires/wants.

To learn more about Crusade visit