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