Galactic Civilization

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GalCiv - those evil developers and their undocumented stuff.

The Economics of Galactic Civilizations

by Brad Wardell (Designer)


Those dog-gone undocumented bits and pieces...

Our job as game designers is to make sure the game is fun. And one of the things we did on GalCiv is play test it. Over and over and over.  We played the game every day for months on end making tweaks here and there until the game felt just about right. Heck, we’ll be tweaking bits and pieces to the game for years to come too.

But the downside of that is that we can’t document everything that we would like to. Especially some of the subtleties in the economic, political, and research systems. So here I will try to document that.

Now, bear in mind, if you haven't actually played Galactic Civilizations, this undocumented stuff might sound scary. but once you play the game, you'll find that production and economics makes sense. You build something that says it will increase production by 20%, it'll do just that. Where these undocumented areas come into play is deciding how much of that extra increase comes in the form of "free" (bonus) prodution and how much becomes part of your natural industrial capacity.

Other undocumented issues come into play at the very fringes of game play. That is, for 99% of users they'll not run into this stuff. But in any game you will always hear about people who have truly mastered a way of getting incredible levels of money and production in a strategy game. Here we've put in fairly intuitive caps on maximum production and economics based on the planet's quality.

Undocumented Production

Improvements, abilities, wonders, trade goods. All of these things improve something by a percentage. One of the reasons why this is undocumented is that, even after release, we continue to tweak this stuff to maximize the "fun" factor for players. 

How Improvements add to productivity

For example, if I am on a planet that is producing 10 shields of military IUs (industrial units) and 10 shields of social IUs and build say a factory that says it will increase my production by 10% what does that mean?

In this example, your planet is doing 20 total IUs. So 10% would mean that you get 2 total IUs. But depending on your spending ratios, you could end up losing one of those additional IUs because we round down. 

But let’s say your planet was producing 100 IUs. Then you would get up to 20 additional IUs. 

We decided relatively late into development that bonus production should do more than simply let you spend more. After all, those IUs cost money. So at this point you’re just spending 20 more IUs per turn. Well Whoopie-doo. That is only helpful if you are maxing out your overall spending. So we decided that 1/3rd of your additional IUs would be given to you free.

That’s why when you look at a planet that is producing a lot you’ll see two numbers. Like (8 + 2).  The first number is the non-free production and the second two are the free production. The “bonus” production you could say.

In GalCiv 1.03, we found that players found a loophole. While production itself was capped, the bonus production was not. So in 1.03 we changed it to that if bonus production >3 X the planet quality, it would start to get penalized. What was happening is that players would simply build dozens of star bases and just keep cranking up their production to ridiculous levels.

See how production numbers have in a (X + Y). Combined they represent how much production is being done in that area. But the Y value is literally "free" production. It represents increased efficiency per billions of credits spent.

How starbases add to the mix

Starbases are similar to improvements in this regard except that in GalCiv 1.0 half the bonus production is given as free. Just remember though, in 1.03, after that free production is greater than 3 times the planet quality it gets penalized.

How your civilization’s abilities affect production

Your civilization has specific abilities for military and social production. These abilities go into how much additional production you get over the base amount. But none of this is given “free”. It just increases your civilization’s industrial capacity.

How Research Production is calculated

Research production had to be handled differently. That’s because of the galactic resources.

2/3rd you Research ability goes into “free” research production with the last third put into your base production.

By contract, 2/3rd of your improvements to a planet go into your base research production with the last third counted as free.

We did this because otherwise it would become unintuitive for managing your research. That is, if building up galactic resources ended up lowering your net income by a dramatic amount people would find that odd. This way, most of those starbase upgrades on resources results in more production and it costs nothing.

Production Caps

At some point someone, somewhere is going to find a way to boost production on their planets by amounts that cause extreme imbalances. When we did the OS/2 version of the game, we would get these saved games from players who had managed to get crazy amounts of production.

We decided this time around we would find a legitimate way to cap production and this is how:

When your planet’s production exceeds 10 times the planet quality rating (i.e. class 18, 19, 20, etc.) you begin to take production penalties.

So when that class 20 planet is cranking out more than 200 non-free production per turn, every additional IU is heavily penalized. So it takes a lot more to get that 201st IU out of that planet.  We justify this because at some point, your planet is Corsucant – a bloody city world and adding more star bases and such can only incrementally push things beyond that.


Undocumented Economics

So what about economics. We imposed similar limits there as well.

First, your taxes collected are based on the population of your planet. The more people there are reporting themselves as citizens, the more taxes you can collect. Raises taxes and people disappear. They’re not dead. They simply are no longer filing taxes.

Now, if your taxes collected surpass 2 times the planet quality, then you start to take penalties on those taxes.

So that class 20 planet is going to bring you 40 in taxes without any penalties. But at 41, the penalties start showing up. They are very mild though until you reach 4 times the planet quality so at 81 in this example you start to take heavy penalties.

Why do this? Because we wanted to make it intuitively obvious that he that controls the best planets is going to do very very well. The goal isn’t to try to colonize the most planets, the goal is to control the very best planets. Otherwise you’d find someone trying to colonize every class 12 planet or better out there eeking their way up.

And there are penalties for getting taxes out of people “living” on a class 14 or lower planet. But can you blame them? And anything under class 12, well, you should be just happy they’re not suing you for putting them on that world.

There’s one additional undocumented gotcha. If your treasury exceeds 25,000 you start to take a slight graft penalty. There is a crime fighting ability that can decrease graft but it’s very hard to improve that ability. But if you’re letting your treasury build that high, there’s something wrong with your government anyway. J
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