For opt-in 2.0
In the Steam forum I wrote:
Taking a short study break to boot up a game with the opt-in -- quick impressions:Admin system for starbaases is actually really awesome, and strangely by putting a limit to how many you can field, it opens up more options. I also think it makes smaller empires much more viable now too.Diplomacy is so much better on initial impresions as well. Greaat work! They other civs are much more chatty, and even better, most of the time the chatter offers more meaningful choices on trade. Please, more of this!The only other quick feedback is to say that everyone is waiting for more info on the expansion pack -- throw us a bone alreaady
I finished the game I was playing on a large map/8 players/gifted -> default settings.
A few extra thoughts I wanted to add:
1. Ai govs when it comes to building out planets could use another look. I don't think I have ever seen the AI use some specialist building like manu capital, hives, etc. Hives are especially useful, yet I am yet to see a Thalen AI use them in planet building. Can anyone confirm? Either way, I think this is a key area of improvement for the AI in the future. It's not that it's bad -- it needs to be 'taught/programmed' how to make better use of buildings. How difficult that is to implement, I couldn't say, but I think it make both the AI more difficult to compete with, and also make knocking out certain planets a bigger strategic consideration.
2. Invasion -- an observation of the AI show they don't use defense and generally don't use military structures. I understand that planetary defense and invasion are getting a complete overhaul in the expansion, so I am not sure to what extent it is an issue. Frankly, invasions and defense currently sucks and is uninteresting, so I'm not sure it even matters. As a player, I will use planetary guns, etc to stave off invasions, and it can be very effective especially when bonuses are counted in. Many of the military wonders as well can be very useful too. Still, I'm not sure if meaningful gameplay can be weaved in without the complete overhaul -- I just hope that the new invasion system has AI making use of military buildings because the idea of planetary defense buildings, and military infrastructure is really awesome!
3. The snowball -- It's still an issue. Maybe because I have an above average understanding of the game mechanics, but even without exploiting I still find I end up starting to snowball by mid game, and combined with the quick tech pacing, my empire becomes an absolutely unstoppable force of manifest destiny. Opposing AI banding together could be one way of balancing this, but also AI planet layouts too as mentioned above -- perhaps even a fleet cap of some kind?. I think political systems could not only add gameplay, but perhaps address this issue as well -- waging war, building infrastructure, growing population, etc all have political dimensions, so the why and how of that would matter to the citizens of an empire.
For my main production planet, I was using the manu capital, durantium factory, Gaia matrix, mother hive mixed in with manu and manu supprt facilities and a quantum power plant in the main hex cluster. Combined with the pop I built up, I could build large hulls in one turn by the end of my game. It all just stacks up in way that doesn't make all that much sense from an empire sim perspective. What are the social and political limits of that society's growth? What internal forces vie for influence and how does that effect production, policy, sociocultural values, social cohesion, etc?
4. Diplo is much better, but there are still a few areas that need to be looked at: AI should also offer treaties when advantageous. As I currently understand it, a treaty is a one way proposition; so if I offer my favorite Economic treaty to an AI, they get the benefit but not me. I instead use the treaties to not only farm techs but also go back and get some of their accumulated credits with exploitative trade deals down the road. I think treaties are currently confusing and should be overhauled as well because I only use them to bloat my bank account and shoot myself further up the tech ladder. Treaties really need to be more than a fungible credit token.
5. Starbases could still use a way to mass upgrade if they're all of the same type. Finding a way to do something in one click rather than dozens I think is an important QoL concern for the future.
I do want to cap off with some praise and positive reinforcement. The GalCiv series has the reputation for outstanding AI and it is half the reason I got this game rather than ES1 in 2015. While rough back then, GalCiv 3 had lots of promise. Since Brad Wardell has been back to an obvious passion of his, the AI has noticeably improved in a short amount of time. It is very much appreciated and I would love to see this continue.
The admin system for the Starbase is in my view excellent. To reiterate, it makes the decision to build a starbase more meaningful, and incentivises you to actually pay attention. There is a lot to be said in how limited resources can present you with more meaningful decisions. From a philosophical viewpoint, building a civilisation or empire is also very much about managing and coming to terms with limits.