Galactic Civilizations II is coming...

Brad Wardell has been posting a lot of interesting stuff over on his blog. Wardell is the founder/owner of Stardock, a company that is known more for it's windows customization programs like WindowBlinds than for it's video games, but each of their games I've played is excellent. They're currently gearing up for the release of Galactic Civilizations II, a sequel to their excellent turn-based strategy game in which you vie for galactic influence with a number of alien races. All throughout the development of the game, Wardell has been posting progress reports and generally shedding some light on the process.

I was a fan of the first GalCiv game. Since I started my posting schedule of at least once a week, I've only missed a Sunday post a few times, mostly because I was travelling. However, there was one week in which I was so engrossed in a galactic war that I actually skipped posting that week. And it looks like the new game will fix some of the things that bothered me about the first game, namely the ability to control social and military production at a planetary level (as opposed to the first game where this was done at the civilization level). There also appears to be much more customization involved (you can design your own ships, etc...)

Wardell was in charge of the AI for the game, so much of his commentary focuses on that aspect of things, but it's still quite interesting. Here are a few posts to check out:
  • He has posted several game examples which show you how the game is generally played. It's entertaining reading as Wardell gives blow-by-blow descriptions of how his civilization wins or loses. The way he appears to have allowed ship customization seems much more realistic, as each successive generation of warship (for instance) must build and adapt according to who you're fighting (i.e. if you're enemy develops beam weapons, you should develop a certain type of shielding that protects against those... but that shielding might make you vulnerable to rockets)
  • The Galactic Civilizations Universe gives an overview of the general storyline behind the game's universe. The first game didn't have much of this, except at a very broad level. It seems that this game will also have some campaigns that you can play, mostly revolving around the mysterious Dread Lords.
  • Lots of general posts on the process of making a game such as this post: Is it done yet?
    Every time I play the game, I see something different that I could tweak, improve in some slight way. We're way beyond the "it's good enough to ship". As some of our external and internal gamma testers said, it was probably read to ship a week ago. But each day I play it, I see something, something little that could be improved. Made better. When you're deep into the code, you see all kinds of opportunities to make things even better.

    That's one reason it's hard to simply stop. To say "It's time to stop and send it out there."
    Other posts include thoughts on borrowing user interface tweaks and lots of other issues.
There's tons of stuff over at his blog and on GalCiv2.com. Check them out (and don't be afraid to read back into the archives) if you're interested in this sort of thing...

The game comes out on Tuesday of this week, and I'll most likely purchase it at some point. One other feature that's nice is that he's made the system requirements deliberately low, so I don't have to upgrade my computer just to play the game (though it probably won't look as nice). Who knows, maybe I'll miss next week's post due to another galactic war...