Galactic Civilization

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Do you still think GalCiv 1 is fun even with GalCiv II out?
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Galactic Encyclopedia: Philosophy

Galactic Civilizations

Design Philosophies

Bradley Wardell


I am a history buff. I love to read about military history in particular. I donít know how many hours Iíve spent reading about the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the cold war.  Recounts on the rise of nation states and how culture, morality, and society impact the survival of a nation state never cease to interest me.

If you are into these things too, then you will definitely love Galactic Civilizations because it is the game, and possibly the only game ever made, that brings such broad elements to a ďstrategy gameĒ.

And technically, Galactic Civilizations is a strategy game. But it is unlike any strategy game youíve probably ever played. Its first incarnation was relatively simple and on OS/2 back in 1994 (the version weíre creating today share the basic ground work and the name and thatís about it). Some people were unhappy that the manual did not include charts on the technology tree or the cost of producing things, or the direct impact units or structures would have on your planets, star systems, or people as a whole.

The reason those things werenít included and wonít be included again is that unlike most strategy games, Galactic Civilizations changes the rules depending on your civilization. 

Why? Because in reality, thatís how things work. In World War II, 1 German division could take out 5 Soviet divisions on the Eastern front despite having relatively similar technology. In fact, in the later stages of the war, the Soviet union was vastly out-producing the Germans and still 1 German division still equated to greater than 2 Soviet divisions.  On the western front, 2 German divisions could take on 3 Allied divisions.

The point being, depending on the culture, the background and the circumstances all thing arenít equal.  Now, GalCiv doesnít deal with things quite that subtly as the above example but you get the idea.

Galactic Civilizations is really a civilization simulator with strategic goals in it.  The technologies, and improvements available to you depend greatly on your civilization. When you colonize Deleneth IV and find a race of pre-industrial humanoids already using up 30% of the surface of the planet, what do you do? We donít constrain the player, we let them decide what they should do (Slave labor? Leave the planet alone? Extermination? Resrvation areas for them?). Your choices will impact the rest of the game in many subtle ways. Moreover, these choices will bring to the forefront what other civilizations had to actually go through. Itís pretty easy to condemn the terrible things that the USA did to the native inhabitants of  North America in hindsight. But when in a competitive world where youíre fighting for survival or supremacy or what have you, such decisions become a lot tougher.

And the depth doesnít stop with having dynamic cultures. Each game will feel different because the game includes hundreds of different types of random events that can completely change the course of the game (from civil wars to intergalactic invaders to massive plagues to insane dictators from alien races).

In short, history can be a fascinating thing to read. But in Galactic Civilizations, history is a fantastic thing to make.

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