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GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #9 - The FAQ

Published on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 By Frogboy In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

What is Galactic Civilizations?

GalCiv is a 4X turn-based strategy game series where players lead civilizations, expanding and conquering the galaxy.


What is a 4X game?

In 4X games, players explore space, expand empires, manage resources, and strategize in battles for galactic dominance.


So this is the 4th GalCiv game, then?

Technically, it’s the 7th as there were 3 versions on IBM’s OS/2 operating system in the 1990s. GalCiv is the oldest, continually developed space 4X series.


I played GalCiv II but didn’t like GalCiv III, will I like IV?

Maybe? GalCiv IV was developed by the GalCiv II team (during GalCiv III that team was on other projects and the lead developer was on maternity leave, so you can blame her – we do).  If you haven't played GalCiv III recently, you really should. It's pretty good now.  But GalCiv IV is intended to take the best from II and III.


I’ve read some people kvetching about GalCiv IV. Why’s that?

GalCiv IV was a big departure from previous GalCiv games. Some (a lot) of the criticism was justified because many of the new ideas didn’t really get balanced as well as they should. In a turn based game, pacing is everything. Imagine if it takes 8 turns on average to research a tech instead of 5?

The biggest issue in GalCiv IV at release was the new multi-parameter AI we introduced. It is much smarter than anything we’d done before. However, it played the game in a way that was frustrating to other players because it exploited game design decisions such as allowing colony worlds to be conquered by non-transport ships. So, the AI figured out how to split up its forces into dozens of small fleets to simultaneously attack many colonies at once.


How have you solved this?

We made the AI powered by a Vic-20. Also, we changed the game design so that every ship now has a conquest rating and that if the # of turns to conquer a planet is > 10 it won’t let it invade.


Wait, so you solved this by changing a number?!

Look buddy, I’m not the one on trial here!


Yes you are!

Well it got fixed, right?


So you’re saying that that was the only thing wrong with the game?

No. That’s just one example. But, it is representative of the perils of trying out big new ideas in a turn based 4X game. It takes time to settle these things.


So you’re going to charge your loyal fans of GC4 money to fix this stuff? You are greedy bastards.

No. The balance stuff and even a lot of the mechanics stuff will be back-ported to the base game.


So why was GC4 only on Epic?

Because we made an agreement with Epic to put GC4 exclusively on their storefront for a period of time.


Well, that was a terrible business decision. You miss out on all the Steam sales! You are fools!

We were paid $100 billion to do this.


What? Oh, I can see now.

No, we weren’t actually paid that much - but the point is, unless you know the terms and conditions you really don’t know if it was a good idea or not. However, it was enough to fund Sins of a Solar Empire II.


So will it ever be on Steam?

We can’t discuss that at this time.


Whatever. So can you give me the super high level big new stuff you put into GC4?

The main new features in GC4 are include:

  1. Sectors. Previous GalCiv games were a single map of a given size. GalCiv IV lets you have multiple maps of various sizes connected together via subspace streams.

  2. Leaders. You can recruit leaders who have their own stats and background story to run things in your civ.

  3. Policies. Rather than just having a few sliders to adjust things, players can select from dozens of policies to control their civilization.

  4. Executive Orders. A new resource called Control has been added. It allows players to instantly execute an action in the game if they have enough control.

  5. Core worlds vs. Colonies. For the first time, we’ve split habitable planets into two types. Core worlds are the ones you directly manage. You have to consume a precious leader to do this. Colonies are typically low quality worlds, but they feed their resources into the core worlds. This makes colonization more interesting and less micro-managey.

  6. Combat/Invasions Changes. No longer are these single turn things. It can take multiple turns for a big battle to conclude, allowing time for reinforcements. Same for invasions. Any ship can invade a colony world.

  7. Prestige Victory. A new victory condition has been created. Players earn points based on how well they’re doing. If they get enough points, they win. This largely eliminates the “I’ve won the game already but I have to spend another 4 hours conquering everyone.”

  8. Missions. Rather than a campaign, players can go on missions that reward them with prestige points. This can help put a player over the top to victory.

  9. Ideology. A sophisticated ideology system was added that let players add traits to their civilization. Players earned points in a particular ideology by how they deal with various events.

  10. New Economic System. A new, much better economic system is in. Raw resources come from the worlds and the improvements players put on planets magnify these inputs. It’s a much cleaner, more satisfying system.


Wow. That sounds awesome! It must have worked out great! So why even bother doing Supernova? I mean, how could you possibly improve on that? You’re obviously a genius!



Well, what? What could possibly be a problem here? What are you trying to say?

So let’s talk about that…

  1. Sector Subspace Streams. Players will be able to enter them by going near the entrance rather than having to use a single tile (this will be put into the base game, too).

  2. A New Invasion Screen. Planets and colonies can be upgraded to increase their planetary defense, which makes them harder to invade. Invasions are also much more clearly communicated.

  3. Totally New Combat System. For the first time since GalCiv II, we are redoing combat. Instead of having 3 types of weapons and 3 types of defenses, there is no limit on this. Weapon classes will have things like range, rate of fire, and accuracy. Defenses will focus on things like evading, mitigating, or absorbing damage. This comes with a much more detailed combat screen for showing what happened at length.

  4. Ship Classes. In every GalCiv game (even the OS/2 version) the end game always involved players spamming out the biggest/baddest ships and stomping everyone. Now, there are ship classes (fighters, frigates, cruisers, battleships, dreadnoughts) which have their own strengths and weaknesses in combat. Thus, a smaller, better organized fleet can take out a much larger one. This is akin to what the allies learned in early World War II when big battleships fell prey to smaller fleets that had fighters.

  5. More Characters. We will have vastly more characters with far more backstories that will trigger more quests (events/missions) so that players will care a bit more about who they hire for their civilization.

  6. Terror Stars. Players (or AI players) who want to…um…move things along in the late game can now build star destroying Terror Stars that will annihilate a star (and the planets orbiting them).

  7. New Civilizations. We are adding several new civilizations to the game, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

  8. Cultural Progress. This system will replace the ideology system. Culture points are a new global resource and player actions during the game will affect the cost of different cultural traits which can shape your civilization.

  9. A more Honest Economic System. This will get back-ported. So, raw resources are multiplied by improvements built by the player. However, now natural buffs on a planet are determined by what the raw resource inputs are. For instance, a planet that has 0 mineral resources as an input won’t have a bunch of planetary tiles with mineral buffs on them to mislead players into thinking this would be a good planet for being a great manufacturing world…cough.

  10. Flagships. Players will have a single flagship. If it is destroyed, they can build another one. Flagships replace Survey ships. But, they can only have 1 (not counting the commander ships they can recruit). This is because of…

  11. Super Anomalies. Anomalies no longer just give you little bits of nonsense. Instead, each one involves a narrative with consequences. As a result, there are a lot fewer anomalies around, but they are much more meaningful.

  12. New Map Generation. Map generation has been completely redone to affect pacing, challenge level, and how valuable things are. For instance, Strategic Resources are much much rarer but also much more powerful. Fighting for resources is going to be a major thing.

  13. Playing Tall is Viable. New policies for certain species will allow players to actually become stronger based on how small they are versus how large other civilizations are (i.e. gain a tiny % of all trade in the universe).


Is there anything else?

OH YES. Some of the biggest things we are keeping close to the vest for now.


So when can I get this?

Early access begins April 27.


How much?

There will be a stand-alone version of the game as well as an expansion pack. If you have the base game, the expansion cost will be nominal while it’s in early access.


What about the graphics?

My mom says the graphics are less ugly than before.



Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Dev Journals