Don’t Get Arcean: Gal Civ 3 Alpha Available March 27

By Graham Smith on March 25th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

I feel like I’ve spent much of the last few weeks in space, either in Elite: Dangerous’ alpha or in re-watching Star Trek: Voyager, and I am more than ready for some strategy set among the stars.

Galactic Civilization 3 seems poised to sate my appetite. GalCiv 2 was a game that effectively let you defeat its personality-rich AI by broadcasting better television than them, and as the new GalCiv 3 video below suggests, most or all of its best features are returning.

We’ve got (extremely) early access to GalCiv 3 now and Adam is exploiting that fact, exploring its features, expanding his thoughts and exterminating doubt in preparation of delivering some impressions later in the week. In the meantime, the video provides a quick overview of the new art style (hexes!), while promising the return of cultural victories, ship design and so on.

As the video further describes, the alpha build due March 27th will lack some of those features though, including ship building and diplomacy. Hopefully those major losses don’t make the game too flat to enjoy in its current state, but I’ll leave it to Adam to find out.

For the pun thread, here is a list of Gal Civ races. Do Yor worst. It can’t be worse than my title.

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59 Comments »

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  1. Lemming says:

    I, for one, am glad they are Drengin this franchise up again for another game!

    • CpnHowdy says:

      Of korath I’ll play another GalCiv, I krynn’t wait

    • JaniceMEvans says:

      my classmate’s ex-wife makes $67 an hour on the internet . She has been fired from work for six months but last month her check was $12245 just working on the internet for a few hours. look at this now…………………………. http://www.jobsur.com

    • iviv says:

      Krynn you keep the puns to a minimum, please?

      • Zorn says:

        I don’t know we Vegan. There’s really a race called Vegans?
        Also: Will the The Krynn Consulate have Death Knights?

    • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

      What a lacklustre pun. Yor gonna have to do better than that.

  2. FFabian says:

    After the Elemental: War of Magic debacle I wait until the game’s out before making any purchase decision.

    • briangw says:

      They won’t let that happen. This is GalCiv and they have a lot of the original Devs working on this.

      • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

        This is also the game genre Stardock have proven they’re among the best at. Elemental is an entirely different beast. Galciv is pure 4X MoO while Elemental is a rather peculiar hybrid.

  3. Henchimus says:

    Yor Terran me up with these puns. Anyhow, this game looks facemeltingly good, even more so Thalan Sanderon your face.

  4. not-the-beez says:

    Well that has to be one of the most vague videos ever, coupled with a voice-over that made me want to go out and stab an American. Is it humanly possible to be that happy?
    How can you sell a feature that’s not implemented? Sure, it’s great to hear that diplomacy will be bitching, only you’re Stardock, and your promises carry all the weight of Kate Moss after a week of fasting.

  5. Volcanu says:

    For some strange reason I could never quite get into Gal Civ 2 despite loving MOO2. For whatever reason I always found myself reverting back to the old Microprose classic.

    I should probably give it another go as I haven’t scratched the 4X itch in a long time.

    • BTAxis says:

      I’ve bounced off GalCiv 2 on several occasions. For some reason it completely fails to entertain me. Unfortunately I have little faith in any of the other space 4Xes currently in development, so I’m probably going to have to try for GalCiv 3 after all.

    • Laurentius says:

      Same here, I, to this day play MoO2 from time to time but i’ve alwayes bounced back from GalCiv2, just not for me.

    • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

      the tactical combat was a huge thing in moo2 for me, it also is in MoM

  6. Kefren says:

    I used to have slow-paced fun with GalCiv2 (seeing it as a less immediate, more-obtuse but equally deep sci-fi version of HOMM3). I went to buy a copy today on Steam, since it is on sale, but then saw 3rd party DRM, so cancelled. One form of DRM per game is enough for me, and I never use online features in games apart from LAN multiplayer. Maybe one day it will turn up on GOG and I’ll buy GalCiv2 again then.

    An aside, but the best space strategy game I ever played was Space Rangers 1 (not 2 or any later versions since I hate the RTS missions they introduced, so didn’t like SR2, but SR1 – which came with it – captivated me for a whole summer). Sadly it seems that SR 1 and 2 has been pulled from every online store, even GOG, and you can only now buy the latest “HD” version. I should have bought SR on GOG while I had the chance, but assumed it would be on sale forever. Luckily I still have a disc-based copy somewhere, but I see the disappearance of SR1 from future gamers’ experiences as a great loss. It was such a fun game.

    • Listlurker says:

      The guy has obviously had formal radio broadcast training, and/or he’s been a disc jockey here in America.

      That voice is indeed an affected way of speaking, but a surprising number of working radio deejays here do sound just like that — part of the effect (affect) is that they all tend to sound alike.

      And yes, the voice sounds affected, even to North American ears, but the “patter” has been around since at least the 1950s, so certain people have come to expect it, or view it as “the way these things are supposed to sound”.

      Don’t stab an American. “I hate the stock deejay voice” won’t save you from jail time..

      • Kefren says:

        It’s alright, I have no intention of stabbing anyone. That only happens in my books.
        (I also realise your comment was aimed at someone else above, RPS comments makes things jump around sometimes, they jump up, jump up, then jump down.)

        • not-the-beez says:

          Well if you change your mind about the stabbings, Kef, I’m available every other Sunday. Mornings are my preferred time, as I’m at my most foul. Don’t forget to bring a sarnie, and a knife.

          • Kefren says:

            Dear sir, stabbing on Sunday morning is a crime!
            That is the time for reading the paper and smoking one’s pipe in the conservatory with some toasted teacakes. No criminal behaviour prior to 2.15pm afternoon tea on a Sunday.

    • squareking says:

      Regarding DRM: As far as I know, you’re just required to register your key with Stardock.com, which is done after launching the game but before getting into the game proper. I’ve never had a single issue with it, and I recently reformatted my hd. All I had to do after reinstalling was enter my info and I was done. It doesn’t phone home, from what I can see, and causes no other problems during gameplay.

    • Silva Shadow says:

      oooo my lord, finally seeing someone else mention Space Rangers on RPS, it’s like gold dust.

      You should know that Space Rangers 2 is even better, and the RTS missions are all optional, you can even turn them off via dialogue in the game. Space Rangers HD is weird. They didn’t resize the ships so i can barely see anything and it loads like ass. Even on an SSD but there’s a pirate campaign which adds a lot to the replay value and the game rewards you in certain ways for pirating.

      Space Rangers 2/HD are just amazing. I only play the text quests with pictures that spark my imagination, and the turn based loot em up portion as well as the fun pinballesque missions inside the black holes for space treasure. Goddamn, time to reinstall I guess. It would make an amazing handheld game, forget the RTS stuff, they can leave that out and it’s still one of my all time fave games.

  7. Myrdinn says:

    Most of these Space 4X games really lack visual appeal, including this one. Can’t space be more colorful?

    • Lemming says:

      The biggest draw for me here is that it’s turn-based. I tried to love Sins and StarDrive, I really did but I can’t handle it when my attention is being drawn to several places at once, with AIs that are terribly fiendish and I’m still learning exactly what everything does.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      Have you seen Space? The answer is no.

        • BTAxis says:

          You realize, of course, that space doesn’t actually look like that at all.

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            Gap Gen says:

            They could set the entire thing inside a star-forming cloud. Except there are presumably no habitable planets and the entire thing is gonna be flooded by UV photons, of course. But them pretty, at least. Or you could show the sky in microwave emission and suddenly it’s a wall of colour. Mostly the same one, granted, but still.

          • Bassen_Hjertelos says:

            It’s always funny to see people point to examples of space being colourful and not realize it’s all photoshop and that nebulae are not visible to the human eye.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Check out Endless Space if you’re not already aware of it. It’s the best-looking space strategy game out there, because they actually paid money for a real artist/art director for the game. The UI design is very clean. The spaceship and alien designs look professionally done, instead of amateur hour like most space 4X games.

      The most common player complaint for ES seems to be that it’s “bland” and lacks immersion, and I tend to agree with that. It could use a more differentiated tech trees, for one thing. It isn’t perfect, but it’s still a solid strategy game, and not terribly expensive even with the expansion pack.

      Edit to add for Lemming — ES is also turn-based strategy.

      • Koozer says:

        I love the Endles Space UI. Right-click to exit stuff annoyed me a little at first, now I wonder why everyone doesn’t do it. Instead they make me click tiny red Xs or lean over to ESC.

        • Lemming says:

          lean over to ESC? How many yards long is your keyboard?

          • vahnn says:

            That’s what I was thinking. Maybe he was amputated from just below the shoulder?

  8. Seboss says:

    It does look awfully similar to Gal Civ 2. Not my cup of tea. I’m still waiting for a worthy successor to the vastly underappreciated Sword of the Stars 1.

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      I loved Galciv 2 so im awaiting with anticipation GalCiv 3 but for for Sword of the Stars 1 similar a bit game You might want to check out StarDrive 2 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz0OI-K-Oak

      I will prolly be simpler in economic/tech then SOTS 1 but there is even more freeform and complex ship design + real time space combat. …

      • Seboss says:

        I played Stardrive 1 for a while but was put off by the real-time gameplay and the hapless AI. Ship design felt tedious and mostly useless since the AI can’t handle even the simplest designs.
        Stardrive 2 seems more appealing to me indeed, mostly for to the turn-based strategy phase but Zero doesn’t seem to acknowledge some of his arguable design decisions from SD1, and SD1 had major stability issues at first so I’ll certainly not get it on day one.

        The Mandate (http://www.mandategame.com/) strongly reminds me of SotS but it leans heavily on the RPG side rather than the 4X side. I’ll keep an eye on it.

  9. DatonKallandor says:

    “As the video further describes, the alpha build due March 27th will lack some of those features though, including ship building and diplomacy. Hopefully those major losses don’t make the game too flat to enjoy in its current state, but I’ll leave it to Adam to find out.”
    The shipbuilding is pure visual wank anyway.
    While the good parts of GalCiv 2 are returning – the AI – so are the bad parts: The research and the “combat” “system”.

  10. Zenicetus says:

    I enjoyed GalCiv2, especially the last expansion with different tech trees, but at first glance I don’t like this new exposed hex-cell design. The old version probably had something like that under the hood, but space looked cleaner, and ships didn’t have that jerky motion when moving. That looks pretty rough, but maybe it’s just the alpha, or the grid can be toggled off.

    I know I’m criticizing graphics when games like this aren’t all about the graphics, but that’s basically all they’re showing here. Also, the UI is important in strategy games where you’ll spend most of your time staring at the map. I still occasionally dip into a campaign in Endless Space, which lacks the kind of depth I’d ideally like, but the UI is gorgeous. It’s the kind of game where it looks like they hired an actual art director, instead of having a programmer who draws on the side.

    By comparison (and you know there will be comparisons with ES), GalCiv 3 doesn’t seem to be making much progress over the last game’s UI and general graphic design. It looks like something designed 10 or 15 years ago. So the strategy and AI quality had better make up for it, if I’m going to stare at a screen like that.

    • kevmscotland says:

      Its a difficult balance to make.

      You bring back a old series because fans want it, or you wanna make money with brand recognition.
      You then have 3 paths.
      Stick to the original format, new and old fans moan it hasn’t evolved/aren’t interested. Some original fans happy.
      Make something new, original fans moan its changed too much. Hopefully some new fans.

      Somewhere in between there is a sweet spot, but its a tiny zone compared to the other two.

      • Zenicetus says:

        That’s true, and with a niche market like this, it’s probably better to err on the side of pulling in fans of the previous game without too many changes. They’re probably throwing most of their art asset creation in the new ship designer module (and I spent way too much time there, in the last game in the series).

        I still think they’d have more success with either group, if they just hired a skilled art director and said “take the basic look an feel of the old game, and polish it up so it doesn’t look like something made in the 90’s.” That wouldn’t require much in the way of a functional change that people would have to re-learn. It would just look better. Small strategy game developers don’t like to spend money on artists who can’t program though, and that’s why we end up with games that look like this.

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    slerbal says:

    Oooh no. That hex grid and movement on it looks really jarring. The voice over is annoying and bland and as several people above have commented it looks peculiarly dated. Let’s just say that I will wait for a full release. Too many bland games lacking soul (everything in the Elemental line) have made me very, very wary of any Stardock games. GalCiv 2 never even got close to equalling MOO2, much as I hoped it would :(

  12. Cytrom says:

    Wow… this looks like a phone game. Not at all what I expected. The cartoony, unrealistic, and completely flat star map + ugly / outdated artificial fog of war effect totally killed my budding space strategizing interest. (I’m not talking about symptoms associated with the alpha status, but the whole design looks so last century)

    I’m sure its gonna be a great strategy game for the hardcore 4x strategy fans, with a lot of depth, and bla bla bla… but I expected something with the prettyness of endless space (at the very least), with the addition of *gameplay* that actually exists (endless space was extremely slim in that department), and characteristic races, that you can interact with in a variety of meaningful ways.

    I wish something like civilisations 5 (accessible smooth user interface + depth + pretty, visualised gameplay) would exist in space, that has a nice and realistically detailed universe to observe and chill out in (preferably 3d… because space is 3 dimensional and all), where you can visually SEE the effects of your decisions play out, while you take yout time to make your turn based decisions, but with real time battles.

    Basically my idea of a space 4x game is Total War: SPACE, where you got a pretty galaxy map ripped straight from mass effect, that you can freely rotate and navigate in 3D, where you can zoom in down to planet level, and SEE planet improvements if you zoom in on them enough, see the space fleets hanging around, trade ships doing their business, etc, and whenever you bump into some hostiles on the “grand strategy map”, you get to participate in an epic space battle. Why does this game only exist in my imagination?! (Or is it?)

    • Answermancer says:

      Do you know what an alpha is? You think that fog of war is final? Jesus Christ.

      Sometimes I wonder how developers stay in the business for more than 5 years without committing ritual suicide, the way people who know less than nothing about their process pick their shit apart a year before it’s released.

      • Zenicetus says:

        When it’s a promotional video made by the developer to solicit people buying into an Alpha release, I think it’s completely legitimate to make a judgement on the graphics. Alpha status doesn’t mean the entire look and feel of the game is going to change.

  13. weary ghoul says:

    I’m glad to see they’ve followed Civilization’s lead and dumped the square tiles in favor of hexes.

  14. HyenaGrin says:

    I’ve been having a hard time enjoying many of the old style space TBSs. Which is a shame, because it is, in theory, my favorite genre. But after having played around with games like Distant Worlds and Aurora, I just can’t stand the idea of ‘static’ galactic maps with little sense of the scale and distance that makes strategy in space more interesting than strategy anywhere else.

    When I look at this, I see Civ 5 without the need for attractive graphics. What is it bringing to the table on the surface that Civ 5 doesn’t already do? In comparison, DW and Aurora are wildly different games from this. That is probably part of why they are considered kind of niche, though. (The other part is probably their nigh-incomprehensible complexity, especially where Aurora is concerned)

    Anyway, suffice to say, my first reaction was excitement. My second reaction was ‘I think I’ve moved past/away from this.’

    • Random Integer says:

      If someone made Aurora with a better UI and diplomacy system I would probably be dead from exhaustion from playing it non-stop.

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        Gap Gen says:

        But remember, if you don’t like the UI you’re simply not hardcore enough for the game. Or something.

        • HyenaGrin says:

          Or at least didn’t get trapped inside dozens of Visual Basic programs at some point in your life. ;)

          Admittedly the first time I looked at it I spent about ten minutes poking and prodding and then forgot about it for a year. But after getting a better idea of how the game works, the UI is mooostly very straight-forward. It’s just not pretty.

          I can understand why the UI might turn someone off. I don’t think it’s a matter of whether someone is ‘hardcore’ or not, but there’s definitely people willing to play a game inside spreadsheets and people who aren’t. Spreadsheets aren’t hardcore. They’re just……. spectacularly nerdy.

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            Gap Gen says:

            I think that was the opinion of the person who wrote Aurora, but then I could be misremembering what they said.

  15. DrManhatten says:

    Since Stardock decided to go Steam only I say no thanks!

  16. Taerdin says:

    Sorry to be ‘that guy’, but this looks worse to me than GalCiv II Ultimate.

    Yes I realise it is still an alpha, but it still makes me a bit concerned about if the full game will be worth getting or not.

  17. racccoon says:

    LOL get rid of the chicken wire.

  18. Hensler says:

    So what’s the major favorite for 4X space games these days? Is it still Gal Civ 2? I seem to remember several coming out over the past few years (Endless Space, Stardrive?), but have any of them managed to surpass GalCiv 2 for the belt?

  19. JackMultiple says:

    The narrator on that GC3 Alpha video sounds exactly like the guy that used to host the Interactive Entertainment [IE] “digizine” CDs back in the 90s! I used to love those CDs… I think I still have every issue around here somewhere. In a lot of ways it was like the precursor to G4’s “X-Play” only you didn’t see the hosts, you just heard them. They would review games and show videos just like this one here. Good times, good times…

  20. zer0sum says:

    Shameless plug here, but I’m making StarDrive 2 and you guys should check it out. We’ve moved to turn-based this time around and our graphics are vastly improved. Think Total War: Space. Anyway, here’s a dev log from last week.

    • Cytrom says:

      Well, that was quick. That LOOKS pretty much how I just described a few posts above, my ideal space 4x game. You even also described it as total war: space. That’s almost scary o_O

      If you can squeeze the bugs until release and make diplomacy interesting, on top of what is alredy there, I’m buying on day 1. (no early access BS for me though)
      I just wish you would make use of the 3rd dimension. If nothing more, at least you should be able to freely spectate the battles in 3D (even if the battle actually happens on a 2D plane)

      Oh yeah, and research, and scientific advancement should be a VISIBLE progress (both in function and aesthetics). Like how in civ 5, you can clearly see on the cities, units and tile improvements what age you are in. (Or the enemy civilisation you are inspecting.) That “little” detail makes all the difference between spreadsheet managent and a GAME (yet a lot of theese 4x games seem to forget it).

      • DrManhatten says:

        Well better be careful a lot of people are very unhappy on what was promised on StarDrive 1 and finally delivered. Some people apparently feel there is quiet a huge gap between these two and are a bit sniffed by the fact that the creators decided to make #2 instead of delivering #1 on the promises.

  21. Sharongamer978 says:

    Looks really fun