A new version of Stardock's cosmic empire wrangler Galactic Civilizations IV, titled Galactic Civilizations IV: Supernova Edition, will release out of early access on Steam and the Epic Games Store on 19th October - which also happens to be Stardock's 30th anniversary. It's "by far the biggest expansion Stardock has ever made", according to company founder Brad Wardell, who claims this latest dollop of interstellar tyranny will "transform the gameplay in ways not seen in a 4X game before". By which he chiefly means that the Supernova Edition uses large language learning models to generate civ backstories on demand. Let's dig in!
Among the Supernova Edition's touted new methods of galactic civilizing is "AlienGPT", which "allows players to describe their own custom civilization and then uses generative AI to create it". AlienGPT is based on OpenAI's chatbot software, and "can generate text content for various elements of gameplay, including civilization overviews, lore, in-game events, and diplomatic conversations."
Working in synch with the company's cloud-based tech Tachyon, it lets you generate the background and lore for a civilization by entering a phrase such as "ancient dinosaurs that found advanced alien technology, fused with it, and became a race of war-hungry, cybernetic feudal lizard-knights." But each civilisation still uses artworks "crafted" by Stardock's own artists. In the event that no suitable images are available, the system prompts the developer to "create suitable assets for future use", making for an allegedly "dynamic collaboration between AI and human creativity". Here's a video overview:
There's no word in the press release as to how all this is organised at the developer's end - will artists be expected to meet every last player request, however peculiar? And have there been any job losses associated with the decision to generate large swathes of the game's writing, as threatens to be the case for "artificial intelligence" models at large? I am going to input the entirety of Marx's Capital into the generator textbox in the hope that my generated virtual populace will link arms and rise against me.
AI shenanigans aside, Supernova also introduces a story-driven campaign, some new canonical alien civilisations, a new starship designer and battle system. Existing GalCiv 4 players can upgrade to Supernova at a discount. I've got a launch trailer for you right over there, a few millimetres below this sentence. Keep going! There, you've found it.