Long ago there was Galactic Civilizations II, Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords, Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar and Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor.
While Twilight of the Arnor is often considered the best of the GalCiv II series, for many it was really Dark Avatar that took GalCiv II from being a good to a great game.
This month, we released the second expansion to Galactic Civilizations III. Crusade is a similarly major change to the base game's replayability.
A massive expansion in a nutshell
Below is the chart that compares the various GalCiv games over the years so that you can see what has been updated. With Crusade, we added a double checkbox if that area has been significantly improved.
The new economy
One of the most common questions we've seen is how one adjusts their economy. In the base game, the player had the production wheel. In Crusade, you use the Leader citizen and move them to the areas you want your economy to focus on.
Over the course of a Crusade game, the player can gain greater and greater precision over their civilization. In the base game, you switched between Research, Manufacturing and Wealth. In Crusade, players can also focus on Approval, Farming, Influence, Diplomacy, Administration, Ship HP and more.
Switching between the two
We do intend to update the launcher to make it easier to move between Crusade or the base game. This is particularly useful for multiplayer but there will, no doubt, be players who want to quickly transition back and forth if only to notice the differences.
By far the biggest complaint about Crusade is that it's buggy. To that, I would have to agree. While there weren't any type 0 bugs in the release, there were an unacceptably high number of what we'd call an unacceptable number of type 2 bugs and a lot of type 3 and 4 that simply slipped by. In addition, a type 1 bug made it through (stuck turn) which was largely the result of my fixation on reducing turn times.
While this has since been addressed, I should have left good enough alone by the end of March rather than pushing it and pushing it (I have a local build that has incredibly smooth late game performance but...wait for it...has the occasional stuck turn.
The more CPU cores one has, the more challenging it gets bringing a game turn back together. That's why I have a 10 core CPU. Not because I wanted it. But for you. That is why I made the heroic sacrifice of upgrading to a 10 core CPU...cough.
We have great fans and we are grateful for the support we've gotten. I apologize for us doing too much too fast. A lot of this could have been rolled out over the next year.
In an alternative world, where Stardock isn't run by a lunatic programmer, we would have had Crusade = GalCiv III + Espionage + Civ Builder + Interactive Invasions + 3 new races and a campaign and called it good. Instead, we have...well you see the above chart and I pulled the campaign so that we could have more sandbox features and allow me to write the Apocalypse storyline with our lead writer, Chris Bucholz, later.
Crusade improvements into the base game
We have a thread that discusses what improvements from Crusade should go back to the base game. Certainly bug fixes and AI improvements. We want the base game of GalCiv III to be as good as it can be without anyone ever having to buy anything beyond that.
Best parts of Crusade
We'd love to hear your favorite features in Crusade. I love the Citizen system but I think I end up enjoying the missions feature the most as I really hate late game micro. What are some of your favorite parts? What would you like more of?
AI loose ends
There's a number of loose ends on the AI I want to button up in the near future. I finally found the reason why late game you'll see AI ships streaming all by themselves. They're trying to reinforce other planets that are super far away. Not a good idea though so I fixed that up.
There's a laundry list of other things I am hoping to get done in the relatively new future as well.
Road Map: Spring 2017
The roadmap for Crusade mainly focuses on making it easier to mod it. The timeline for it really boils down to how many engineers I can assign.
Crusade currently has a "mixed" Steam score. As a practical matter, if our player base doesn't like Crusade, then there's not a lot of incentive to dedicate resources to it. Once we finish the bug squashing, we'll see where things settle at.
That said, below are some of the upcoming features we have in mind:
Galaxy Builder: Let's people use Steamworks to share tech tree parts, planetary improvements, citizens, promotions, missions, flavor text, player abilities, Starbase modules, components. We are able to do this because in order to do Crusade as a DLC, we had to develop a way to make it so that a mod could more easily override or extend existing data robustly.
Galactic Empires: This is similar to the system we had in GalCiv II. There's be an overall galaxy players could play on. They would have a dedicated civilization for this using cannon traits (no making "god traits") and each day a new "sector" of the galaxy would be made available for people to play. The results would go towards their empire's score with control of the galaxy being based on total scores.
Admiral Battles: We are considering (depending on sales) letting flees that are commanded by an Admiral (a promoted Commander) have tactical control over their battle. Right now, GalCiv III has tactical battles, it's just that they are forcibly put to auto-resolve (there's no UI to control units of course but if you watch the battle closely, you can see that the plumbing is there). Only Admirals would be able to do this because GalCiv is not a game where the fate of your galactic civilization is based on an Ender Wiggin like leader. Just as contested invasions are rare, Admiral battles would be very rare.
Arena Multiplayer: We would really like to make Crusade be a really good multiplayer game. While Multiplayer wasn't our focus, the Citizen system was developed with multiplayer in mind as it drastically reduces the cheesy gamey exploitation techniques that the base game has in multiplayer. Arena Multiplayer would be similar to the Galactic Empires except each day, a random, Arena sized map (think very small map) would be made available. These would be for friends or strangers to play each other in. There would be 1 on 1 and 2 v 2 maps with the entire match likely to last between 30 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the circumstances. The upcoming Turn-Time counter would help ensure that the game moved along (see what we do in The Political Machine).
More MORE AI: At this point, I have a pretty good handle on how they did the original AI for GalCiv III and I think most people notice the AI is much better (and in the case of the AI buying lots of ships, with unearned money, this was actually something in the base game that only became apparent in Crusade because the AI got a lot smarter about when and what to rush buy).