IGN has nominated Offworld Trading Company for Best Strategy Game of 2016!
You can also cast your vote for the Peoples Choice winner.
IGN has nominated Offworld Trading Company for Best Strategy Game of 2016!
You can also cast your vote for the Peoples Choice winner.
Plymouth, MI. – December 13, 2016 - Stardock released version 1.9 for its popular space-based strategy game, Galactic Civilizations III today. Stardock’s CEO, Brad Wardell, returns to the Galactic Civilizations team for v1.9 to introduce several improvements and enhancements to the game. Better optimization, advancements to enemy A.I., new Capstone Techs, and additional balance adjustments, are among several new and updated features within v1.9.
"I’m excited to be back into the code for this game," Wardell said. "This update is just the first step toward lots of enhancements and improvements that I have planned. The team and I have been active within our player community and have been listening to their thoughts. I think they’ll be pleased with the results."
Players can also look forward to additional challenges from the AI. v1.9 introduces several new improvements to AI playstyle, including smarter fleet building, a more assertive approach to expanding, a greater focus on spreading influence, among others.
New Capstone Techs are also now available once the Age of Ascension is reached. Players will have the chance to research new techs that provide large but temporary empire-wide bonuses. These techs can be researched repeatedly and their bonuses stack.
A significant focus of the 1.9 update is speed. "I multithreaded the texture loading at the start of a game in order to improve performance," said Brad Wardell, CEO and President of Stardock. "New texture compressions for planets and ships reduces the memory usage and boosts start up times so you can get right down to conquering the galaxy."
The work on performance optimization has also allowed for the addition of more stars and planets. These new details make each galaxy feel unique and even more vast than before. Additional small updates and additions to the game, such as the ability to see stat updates on the planet immediately after building on a tile, further enhance playability and enjoyment for the player.
For a complete list of the updates in v1.9, please view the changelog here.
# # #
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About Stardock: Stardock is a developer and publisher of PC games and desktop software founded in 1991 by nationally recognized technology expert Brad Wardell. Located in Plymouth, Michigan, Stardock is a powerful leader in the video gaming and software development world. Its PC games include Sins of a Solar Empire, the critically acclaimed Galactic Civilizations series, and Ashes of the Singularity. Stardock puts the user experience first through software that enriches the Windows experience for everyone from casual computer users to highly technical professionals. Products offered by Stardock include Start8, Start10, Fences, WindowBlinds, Multiplicity, and more
We have an opt-in of GalCiv III v1.9 already out. We continue to update and respond to feedback on it.
Here are some changes I made:
There were some exploits (or ones I would use anyway) that I removed. For instance, if you built enough cultural starbases, you could get an insanely high diplomacy score. Same was true for early game trading and other diplomacy techs.
I also changed it so that you start out with zilch on-map influence on the first turn. It quickly grows but I wanted to be able to convey to players that influence is not a right but something earned. If you don’t build stuff to increase your influence, it won’t grow far.
I fixed a pet peeve of mine. When I build something on a planet, I want to see the stats update right then.
The next thing on my list is the small empire / administrative resource that will control not just how many starbases you have but a lot of other things. I am trying to get that in today.
It’s amazing how much Ashes of the Singularity has changed in just a few months. It was only released back in May and here we are in December as I write this and it’s undergone a lot of changes.
Below I want to outline some of things we have on our plate for 2017:
Next year we’re going to introduce Juggernauts. These are T4s
The T4s will be to the T3s what the T3s are the the T2s. They will be substantially bigger than T3s and move correspondingly slower. Very few games will see these units show up because they will cost so much. The PHC and Substrate are scheduled to receive 3 each.
We intend to provide 2 more T3s for both the Substrate and the PHC.
If you look at the current crop of T3s, you can see the gaps already in each faction’s procurement. The war between the PHC and the Substrate has required each side to learn from the other.
The PHC will be receiving the Havok probably in early Winter if all goes well. The Havok is an expensive, fast, short-ranged but deadly frigate. It is designed for raiding across the map against those who foolish expand too fast without fortifying at all.
The Substrate, by contrast, is scheduled to get the Hypnotist, a T1 that does no damage but instead will stun enemy units for brief amounts of time.
All of the above will be released as FREE DLC for both players of the base game and Escalation
Expansion 2: Tides of War
The second expansion’s release date is very much dependent on where Star Control: Origins is. We have a lot of engineers and artists on Star Control right now but if we’re running ahead of schedule we are hoping we can get to Tides of War by end of next Summer (no promises). Tides of War will be handled as a DLC (i.e. not stand-alone) for Escalation. The current plan is to introduce 7 naval units per faction along with maps with water on them.
Hints on the third race:
If you played the Escalation campaign, you already know the third race and the fourth race is alluded to. When will they show up? That is heavily dependent on sales + engineering/art resources being available. Neither the third or fourth races use gravity channeling.
One of the best ways we can improve the AI is to get more ship designs into the game that the AI can evaluate.
These should be ships with weapons, defenses, etc. already on them.
in your \documents\my games\galciv3\designs you will find your ship designs.
What we are looking for are designs for the each race (Drengin, etc.). No mods.
We can then put these ship designs in with the main game and the AI will use them if they are better than the default ones (Which they probably are).
Just ZIP the ships you want to share and link the dropbox in this thread and I'll check them out for inclusion!
To enable the patch, please do the following:
Please note: The opt-in is an early preview of the next update and you might experience bugs or other issues. We encourage players who try the opt-in to report any issues to the support forum or via support ticket so we can address them.
For the first series of these I’m going to put these up so that those of you who have no idea who I am don’t get too concerned that there’s this guy endlessly criticizing the game (and other people’s games) in the most unprofessional way.
Who I am: I’m the founder and CEO of Stardock. I wrote the original Galactic Civilizations for OS/2 back in 1993 largely as an AI simulator in which humans were allowed to interact. It took off from there. I designed GalCiv I and GalCiv II. For GalCiv III, I consulted and helped here and there but most of my time was spent on Ashes of the Singularity and my day job of running Stardock in which the game stuff is a minority of our overall business.
To be candid, I’m here for you guys. I write games for people to play. I don’t care how popular the genre is. I want to play what I want to play and hope you feel the same.
Now, let’s get started.
There are two pieces of starting up the game
I lowered the load time of #1 by 2.7 seconds on my machine. I did this by having the language validation put onto another core and moving other validation to being a background thread becuase it doesn’t matter when it happens.
I lowered the main loading by 11 seconds on my machine by having the main game textures loaded on different cores.
Note: If you have a dual core machine there’s nothing I can do for you. I’m not changing algorithms here (that is called optimization). I am re-architecting it to run in parallel.
Before you get the next update, load up the game and open up task manager. On my machine, a couple of my cores are pegged. I’ve fixed this by using different APIs for measuring time (they’re less precise but much cheaper) along with reducing the number of threads that game sets up for its job system which I’m in the process of scuttling entirely to replace something more similar to what we did with Nitrous over at my other job at Oxide Games.
Bottom line, this updated GalCiv III architecture which will likely show up in 1.84 should use a lot less CPU, be a lot faster and be more stable. I hope to see this released as an opt-in early next week.
Memory Use on start of game (via task manager)
How: Updated the DDS file compression to use one that is new to DirectX 10 (I was able to avoid a DirectX 11 one and get nearly all the benefits). I am still in process of doing this so this will keep getting better.
Total Time from launching the game to being in the game via “quick start”
So on my machine, 14 seconds of boot time reduced. This is due to re-architecting, I didn’t “optimize” any algorithms. I’m just using your hardware a little more completely (parallel computing, my friends at AMD and Intel would be pleased).
Defaults I recommend
Features I’d like to see
I feel like the performance is good enough to really start digging into the AI strategies. I already fixed a couple of things I thought were not ideal.
Disclaimer: Writing good AI is more art than science. People who know nothing on programming imagine that we can somehow just brute force calculate out some perfect strategy. No, you really can’t. People will pick short terms with decent AI over massively long terms with great AI. My job is to make a really good AI with short terms.
Every few years I do a rating of the AIs I’ve written. Here is how I’d rate them on a scale from 1 (terrible) to 10 (ideal). And my opinions change a bit over time as I learn new things.
Galactic Civilizations OS/2: 9
Galactic Civilizations I: 8
Galactic Civilizations II: 6
Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar: 8
Galactic Civilizations III: Twilight of the Arnor: 7
Galactic Civilizations III: at launch 4
Galactic Civilizations III: at end of 2015: 6
Galactic Civilizations III: today: 5
For other references:
Most other 4X games I play go between a 3 and a 6.
I’m going to do a 1 v 1 game and exploit the hell out of the AI as best I can.
Lots of improvements made today. But also some significant game design changes to how the economy works that is sure to create some discussion.
The area I’m not that familiar with (in terms of exploits) is diplomacy stuff. Feel free to chime in below with any good diplomacy exploits you want me to look at.
So 400 turns in on a massive map I’m running into a couple different problems here.
First, the AI is reducing its priority on building colony ships even though there are many many worlds available (I modified the internal settings so that there are thousands of worlds to test this).
Second, the AI is slowly reducing its priority on technology which is causing it to fall further and further behind me.
So after my tweaking, the idle CPU time is, well, idle. I mostly play GalCiv III on my Microsoft Surface Pro 4 so I’m pretty sensitive to battery use.
Sheer Performance difference:
Thanks to Jon (a GalCiv player who likes to play insane maps with 50+ players) I have access to saved games with hundreds (plural) of hours put into them. I used these saved games to help carve down some of these costs.
Now, my machine is a monster so my turn times are already short. On his machine, it was taking multiple minutes to get through a turn while on mine, even on the public version, it’s “only” 13 seconds. So then it’s question of whether it’s a CPU or memory thing.
I ended up having to jettison a lot of the way the AI decides what ships to build. It’s not that the code was bad or that a lot of work hadn’t put into it. The problem was a fundamental issue of strategic priority: What should the AI do at a given time?
As the game progresses, more and more things compete for resources and this is where AI’s tend to fall apart in complex strategy games. GalCiv III struggles with this as well.
For example, what type of ship should an AI facing 50 opponents, 14 it’s at war with that also has 4 unclaimed resources within range and 9 nice planets but is also facing money issues but has 3 trade route slots available and has a very vulnerable enemy that can be attacked if it builds a starbase to increase its range unless, instead, it decides to produce a fleet of longer range Frigates?
What I can tell you is that building a colony ship kept getting knocked lower…and lower…and lower in the priority list. The result was that as the game went on, the AI, which expanded well early on, would get slower and slower at further expansion.
There was no way to “tweak” this. It had to be re-done and moved away from bottom up priority system and instead be looked at from the opposite direction: A top down. The AI player needs to know what its goal is, globally, and pursue it decisively. That’s where AIs are good.
Another area it struggles with is when it should, post-haste, send a unit to a troubled area versus rallying them up. I see people on forums saying that the AI “just” needs to build bigger fleets. Duh. They’ve put a lot of effort (almost an insane amount of effort) into trying to do this well. In GalCiv II, my code for handling this was a lot less sophisticated in the sense that the answer was ALWAYS just build the damn fleets. No nuance. Just do it.
Just before midnight, I have my second check-in (first check in was all performance, this one is balance and AI)
# Memory #
New Compressed Textures: (DirectX 10)
Starbase minimum distance reduced from 5 to 3 tiles
AI tends to focus more on tech (generally) than previously
AI will build survey ships late in game
AI provided with a much wider variety of ship designs to choose from with the various strategies
AI weights units much more closely than previously in order to not make one virtually impossible to build
Opposing culture diplomatic penalty reduced from 1.25 to 1.1 if AI is benevolent
Opposing culture diplomatic penalty increased from 1.25 to 2 if AI is mercilous
Opposing culture diplomatic penalty increased from 1.25 to 2 if AI is cruel
Close to victory diplomatic penalties increasedf rom 1 to 5
Ripe for conquest diplomacy penalty reduced from 0.75 to 0.1 if AI is benevolent
Ripe for conquest diplomacy penalty increased from 1.25 to 1.25 if AI is aggressive
Minimum planet class to be a manufacturing world reduced from 7 to 4
Max number of colony ships the AI will construct at once increased from 2 to 3
Max slider focus reduced from 95% to 75% (to deal with coercion penalty)
Coercion forgiveness eliminated (there is always some coercion if you move off from center)
Maximum coercion reduced from 50% to 35%
Colony Capital production points reduced from 5 to 1
Civilization Capital production points reduced from 5 to 1
Influence Radius root increased from 1.75 to 4 (i.e. influence ZOC will start out much much smaller now)
Tech inflation penalty significantly reduced
Penalty for switching a constructor to a colony ship increased from 50% to 75% (yea, you know who you are)
Pirates moved further away from starting location
Increased the variance for the various settings (minors, , pirates, etc.)
Modified the governor script to provide a bit more flexibility based on planet bonuses when building improvements
Colony capital maintaince eliminated
Colony capital hub provides a 2 (was 1) level bonus to adjacent buildings if they are population or manufacturing or research
Civ capital hub provides a 3 level bonus (was 1)
Reduced maint. slightly on research buildings
Rare habitable planets decreased from 30% to 25%
Nebula and black holes and anmalies made much less common on all settings
Occasional planet frequency amount doubled from 1X to 2X
Common stars modifier increased from 0.9 to 1
Common planet frequency amount increased from 0.75X to 3X (this also fixes a bug where common was less than occasional)
Abundant stars increased from 1X to 1.5X
Planet Frequence increased from 0.25X to 3.5X (also fixes bug)
Tiny map size decreased from 30 Sectors to 18 sectors
Tiny map base objects increased from 32 to 120 (i.e. tiny maps will be a lot more filled)
Small map decreased from 40 to 32 sectors
Small map base object count increased from 64 to 150
Small map max habitable planets increased from 32 to 40
Medium map size decreased from 60 sectors to 40 sectors
Medium map Base object count increased from 110 to 200
Large map size decreased from 75 to 60 sectors
Large map base object count increased from 155 to 300 (i.e. over twice as many stars/planets/etc. in a particular size)
Huge map size drecased from 95 to 70 sectors
Huge map Base count increasded from 250 to 350
Gigantic map size decreased from 180 to 80 (but number of objects remains the same -- more stuff)
Immense decreased from 240 sectors to 120 sectors (but same object count)
Excessive decreased from 290 sectors to 160 sectors
Max camera zoom on excwssive increased from 16000 light years to 30000 light years
INSANE map size decreased from 380 to 320
INSANE map object count INCREASED from 1200 to 1400!
INSANE map maxhabitable planets INCREASED from 600 to 640 thanks to memory reduction in this build
Max camera zoom increased from 18.2k light years to 40,000 light years.
Sensor cost components reduced slightly
Cargo module cost reduced from 27 to 10 (cheaper colony ships -- but remember, planets now rely more on population for their production)
Tiny hull cost reduced from 11 to 10
Small hull cost reduced from 25 to 20
Medium hull HP increased from 100 to 120
Large hull cost increased from 128 to 300
Large hull HP increased from 250 to 600
Large hull storage incresed from 100 to 120
Large hull logistics cost increased from 7 to 10
Huge hull cost incresd from 432 to 500
Huge hull HP incresd from 500 to 800
Huge hull storage increased from 250 to 300
Huge hull logistics increased from 10 to 16
Cargo hull cost reduced from 42 to 24
Cargo hull HP reduced from 10 to 1
Cargo hull logistics incresed from 5 to 6
Max AI improvement queue reduced from 3 to 2
# Bugs fixed #
Fixed double counting of trade routes for AI diplomacy purposes
Placed a critical section around the D3DX11CreateShaderResourceViewFromMeory call (random, late game crashes)
Placed a critical section around m_textureSets.PushBack( pGC3TextureSet ) (fixes random load game crashes on large games)
Fixed bug that could cause the AI to see tiles in the opposite map position of where they were exploring
Fixed a bug that could cause the AI to reduce the priority weighting on colony ship production based on the # of targetable planets
# Optimization #
Removed legacy stopwatch code from the sound system
Moved old profiling junk
Reduced CPU usage of the particles thread
Reduced CPU usage of main graphics thread
Removed redundant debug output
## AI ##
Added UpdateColonies and UpdateShipyards as seperate functions
Eliminated the UpdateColoniesShipyards (readability)
AI builds scout ships later in the game to keep exploring very large galaxies
Dramatically reduced AI >normal economic bonuses (no longer needs them)
Re-designed the way the AI expands into the galaxy with colony ships so that its expansion no longer stalls on large maps
Dramatically reduced the amount of time an AI will interact with a player if they are not within ship range
AI doesn't try to bribe other players to go to war unless they and the other players have a decent military already
AI will no longer give tech gifts to players with a different ideology (i.e. no more Drengin giving you tech if you're a nice person)
AI now scales the number of similar ship projects based on number of colonies rather than a flat number
AI pumps up colony ship production priority if there are a lot of nice planets laying around
AI pumps out fewer Constructors in general
Re-designed the eway the AI determines which planets should get a shipyard to be more (way more) intelligent
Updated AI's handling of adjacency bonuses to be more intelligent
AI values planet quality more when picking planets to colonize
AI somewhat more heuristic on tech research
AI somewhat quicker to war
This will take some testing. When you boost perf like this, you uncover timing issues that were well hidden before.
So tomorrow is my first day on GalCiv III. It’s been a long break for me. It’s very nice returning to my baby. GalCiv III is the first GalCiv game I didn’t design or get to spend much time on.
A few observations
The engine is fancy
I basically have unlimited memory to work with. However, it uses a lot of memory. This isn’t terribly surprising given how complex the ships can get.
But it is still a problem.
I spent a little bit of time with this. If we require DirectX 11 and leave the DirectX 10 folks behind, we can, literally, halve our memory use in texture compression.
The Job System needs to be updated
GalCiv III’s engine is both its strength and its weakness. The strength is that it has incredible potential as a 64-bit, multi-core, high performance engine. The weakness is that these features can (and are) abused.
A high performance engine means it has the ability to be really really fast. But there’s another way of looking at it: It’s also very very forgiving of non-performance tuned code.
Not all cores are created equally. Notice that one of them is pegged. Now, imagine if you’re playing a 2-core CPU (like a laptop). This would be an issue.
A few examples is that there are a lot of calls for high precision timers in the gameplay code when, in fact, we only need the current time in seconds. Things like that add up faster than you might think.
Before I can even contemplate writing AI code for GalCiv III, the performance has to be a lot better. I can’t afford to wait 30 seconds between turns. It’s late game AI performance that needs help. But I can’t spend 3 days playing a game to make a few changes. The turn times have to get drastically faster.
Now, mind you, even today, GalCiv III is, to my knowledge, the fastest 4X at doing turns. That is, late game, waiting 30 seconds for 20 players on a large galaxy to do their thing is actually pretty impressive. But it can be a lot better.
And so that’s what I did yesterday and today: I made it a lot faster. A lot faster. Loading up the game is about half the time it was. Turn times are about a quarter the time they were. But there’s a caveat to my performance tuning: If you’re running 2 cores, you won’t notice any difference. If you have 4 cores, you’ll probably notice. If you have 8 cores, it’s massively better. That’s because I solved many of these problems through improving the task system.
Instead of an AI player going through all its ships one at a time to do its pathfinding, I just split it off into the N-1 cores at a time to do it. That is, if you have an 8 core PC, it’ll do 7 ships simultaneously.
Just warming up
Don’t get too excited. My check in (which you should have shortly) should make the game faster and more stable and use a lot less memory. But this is nothing. This is one day’s worth of effort. There’s a ton of low hanging fruit.
If I hadn’t checked in an update to Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation (if you don’t have it, do me a favor and go get it! <G>) to update their high level units, I’d have been able to fix that damn animation on loading thing that bugs the hell out of me (the galaxy should spin smoothly but there’s a call in its thread that sucks up too much CPU at a time).
This is for the base game
I will be getting to the expansion pack AI as well. But I want the base game’s AI and general performance to reach a place that are more satisfying.
That’s all for now.
This week is the Thanksgiving holiday for many of us, and due to that we are having an adjusted holiday schedule for our regular Twitch streams.
Holiday week schedule:
Wednesday - Ashes: Escalation stream
Thursday - No stream
Friday - No stream
All streams should return to the normal scheduling next week.
Please be sure to follow our Twitch channel for updates: https://www.twitch.tv/stardock
A very long time ago, like, a million years ago, Stardock made a game called The Corporate Machine. Like all of Stardock’s games, it was played almost exclusively single player. But unlike our other games, it was surprisingly popular in multiplayer. How come?
For The Corporate Machine we did the following:
Last week, we released Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation. People seem to really like it but, like our other games, it’s mostly played single player.
When we designed Ashes of the Singularity and Escalation, it was our expectation that about 95% of players would play it single player, 5% multiplayer. In reality, it’s been closer to 97% single player.
For multiplayer fans, this stat could be bad news but there is a silver lining: It becomes economically justifiable to release a multiplayer-only version of the game in the future.
Here would be the limitations:
Not yet. There are a couple of features that are pre-requisites.
Eventually, this Tournament edition would be available on Steam for $9.99 which would allow people to get the benchmark as well (since a lot of people just want the benchmark). We don’t plan to make it free-to-play except for friends of those who have the base game.
Post your thoughts below on what you think of this concept.
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