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GalCiv IV: Supernova Dev Journal #66 - Grab That Space Junk!

Published on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 By BATTLEMODE In GalCiv IV Dev Journals

Following on from last week where we gave some advice on game settings to new players coming into Galactic Civilizations IV for the first time, this time around we’re going to examine a crucial 4X game feature that often goes overlooked by new players: the “goodie hut”, or Anomalies, to give them their proper GalCiv name.

The 4X gameplay staple mechanic of collectable resources randomly scattered across the map goes way back to the original Sid Meier’s Civilization at least, and is so ingrained into strategy gaming in general that veterans of the genre tend only to notice it if it’s absent, seriously unbalanced in terms of pay-out or requires too much player attention. In the latter case, players tend to turn the feature off completely.

We’ve tried to make this feature a lot more interesting and fun, while ensuring it stays relevant for longer into the game without it taking too much attention away from the player.


Very generally speaking, Space Junk and Capsules will offer a some kind of situation to the player and ask for a decision to be made, the choice of which determines the outcome. Most of the outcomes are good, while negative ones are greatly limited in scope and mostly there for flavor, to provide just a little risk for excitement purposes rather than inflicting a lot of damage: nobody enjoys having their game ruined by a seriously powerful, random punishment.

The pickups on offer from Space Junk and Capsules vary greatly, and range from simple payouts of Credits and strategic resources, powerful ship components that can be added to your Commander’s ships to some very powerful and interesting story-based events.

Capsules tend to pay out more intact or useful items, while Space Junk is often less valuable but can often be attached to some of the more dangerous or exotic in-game Events, but this isn’t a strict rule and there’s a lot of variance between the two to prevent the game feeling predictable.

Artifacts work somewhat different, and will usually place a powerful player-useable item into The Vault. These items can then be played as a special ability at any time during your turn, with many varied effects.


This one provides an instant +500 Influence points to any planet you control. In the early game that’s a lot of Influence and can be used to great effect to either resist enemy Culture, or push your own cultural dominance on your neighbors.

To address the common complaint that players feel compelled to manually grab every single random goodie they can, in Galactic Civilization’s IV: Supernova we limit the ability to survey Anomalies to specialized ships with the Flag module. This means players aren’t motivated to build a ton of extraneous resource collectors for the purpose of cashing in on all that loot at the expense of enjoying other aspects of the early game exploration phase.

While we’re on this topic, it’s worth mentioning that GalCiv includes a related system of in-game Events that use a similar multiple choice system to create potentially branching stories, and these work in tandem with Anomalies to breath some extra life and player immersion into the cold, dark and empty void that space is usually imagined to be.


Immersion aside though, here are a few reasons why the inclusion of randomized pickups works so well at the start of a 4X game, and why new players really should expend the effort chasing them down.

Firstly, in any game with procedurally (or randomly) generated maps, scattering some useful pickups around for the player to find serves to encourage exploration out from their starting position in the hope of finding some extra gold, credits, metal, technologies or other useful items.

Why it is that some new players have a tendency towards turtling up in their starting location is a complex topic and I’ve got no easy explanation for it to suit a short developer journal like this. Suffice to say, in most strategy games as a beginner, sitting around in your small starting position hoping to outpace your rivals by making the most of your meagre resources is a losing strategy.


The computer players in GalCiv will quickly send out scouts to explore, and Flag Ships to claim the various Anomalies scattered throughout the sector. You need to do the same if you want to keep apace of the race for galactic dominance. Anomalies are one way to get players out exploring space and finding all that good stuff, including the best planets, strategic resources, Precursor Relics and the locations of your rivals.

Anomalies are also a lucrative resource to fight over with your neighbors: sure, you’ve got that Open Borders treaty to stop that bigger neighbor from invading you for your stuff, but now they’re snaffling up all those Artifacts you didn’t get around to claiming. Is that a reason to go to war? Or do you redirect your own Flag module-enabled vessels to their territory to respond in kind?

In many classic 4X games, the “goodie huts” are an early game feature that are mostly exhausted by the time the eXploit and eXterminate phases of the game come into play. Put more simply, after the first couple of dozen turns, you and the AI will have found them all and that’s it.


In Galactic Civilizations IV, researching various Techs in the tech-tree will unlock the ability to detect even more Anomalies, and this provides the player with an interesting decision: if you’ve somehow managed to build more Flag modules (and there are several ways to do this!) it can be great strategy to unlock more and more Anomalies and claim their secrets.

This can be particularly useful if you’ve not got a whole lot of physical space around you to claim, with few habitable planets available for traditional resource generation.

Furthermore, many of these goodies can be sold for Credits and even with lots of space to explore and expand into, those extra Credits can come in handy to rush-build that Colony Ship you need to beat your neighbor to that high class planet between the two of you!

Finally, having some random goodies dotted around is just plain fun! It’s really cool to find a powerful weapon in a floating capsule, or an Artifact that can damage an entire enemy fleet, helping you win an otherwise unwinnable conflict!

Hopefully this has given you some insight into why Anomalies exist, and why you should go grab them!

Till next time!