Am I crazy or what
And now for something completely different. (Apologies to MP).
The two major genres of computer games that I have enjoyed over many years are turn-based RPGs and Strategy Games. I think Skyrim is "pretty good"; but I am not talking about the vanilla game, I am talking about the heavily modded
version(s) that I played which incorporated heightened graphics, realism, and player and NPC capabilities. Not that there haven't been other games that have such features, but to me some kind of "critical mass" was reached in Skyrim so
that one could actually role-play in the sense of not spending necessarily any time doing any of the built-in quests or the main quest, which is required to "win" the game. In fact Skyrim became a world in which I could decide what my
character's point of view was and make my own decisions about where to go, who to meet, and what to do, how I would make decisions, and how hard various tasks might be, or how ferocious the denizens of this world might be. I could set
my own goals, if I wanted to, and take my time figuring out whether I could accomplish them and how to approach doing so. One day maybe I might just walk around and take in the view, which in HD-Skyrim, is spectacular. (I actually took
screenshots of Skyrim and posted them to Jigsaw.com and they were quite popular). I could try to help someone or not, be good or evil, or change my attitude if I deemed my experiences warranted it...changed in the sense of making
So what does this have to do with Galactic Civilizations? I have been trying to think of what the requirements might be for an enjoyable RPG experience in a computer game. And it struck me to ask the question, is it possible to think
of Galactic Civilizations in this way, or is it a complete waste of time (those picking the latter straight off, see you later).
First, the game has to be BIG. There has to be a lot of room to move around in so that there can be opportunities for nearly limitless possibilities. Ok, GC3 on Excessive or Insane, with 50-100 factions including minor races, certainly
can be BIG. Second, the NPCs (non playing characters) as well as the player himself, must be highly customizable. It seems that this is also the case in GC3, as you or any alien race can be totally evil, benevolently praiseworthy,
or somewhere in between. The abilities of all of the various factions can be changed in a very large number of ways. So the "setting" and the "players" in GC3 seem to be at least minimally suitable. Perhaps the most important
feature of Skyrim, which is why it is still very popular years after release, is its extensive, player accessible moddability. There are entire independent sites dedicated to Skyrim mods and mod management and they are very active to
this day. (In fact Valve's experiment in charging an optional fee for mods was met with such a tidal wave of opposition that it was withdrawn in less than a week!) It is mods like "Frostfall", which forces one, for example, on falling
into an icy river, to get out fast and build a roaring fire and get warm or freeze to death in short order, that give modded Skyrim its edge. The developers of Galactic Civilizations III made a conscious decision to make GC3 as mod-
friendly as they could manage, far more so than GC2, the previous flagship program of Stardock. And one sees considerable discussion and planning with regard to mods in the GC3 forums, which started months ago. So it would seem that
GC3 also qualifies, perhaps, in this crucial area.
Now it is important for me to plain about one aspect before I go further. I am not discussing campaigns, aka "quests", although the development of these may indeed be extremely interesting, both those developed by Stardock and those
developed by the community at large. Campaigns have preset goals and therefore can be "won" or "lost". An open world rpg experience does not necessarily incorporate any game driven goals. Let me emphasize that this is not about
that one way is "fun" and the other way is "not fun". They are just qualitatively different paths. And it is clear that GC3 will have campaigns and that they may be very successful. But my question is, can GC3, probably extensively
modded, be approached not necessarily as a 4x conquer the galaxy game, but as a role playing experience to enjoy in an open ended fashion?
How might one envision playing this way? Let me think of perhaps one crude example to illustrate the idea. Suppose we decide that our race is the guardians of a secret precursor knowledge that provides unlimited power to the
possessor. However, as keepers of this knowledge we are pledged (1) to never use it (2) to never expand our race beyond some very limited number of worlds, because if we became too powerful we might be tempted to break (1). We are
also pledged not to initiate wars against any other race, as we are steeped in the tradition of humility that teaches us that we are not inherently more important or wiser than any other race. Instead we are oriented towards resolving
conflicts by arbitration or other diplomatic means. Our primary tools will be diplomacy, trade, and ... here it comes... the Primary Directive, which means we cannot interfere in the development of other races, particularly minor races,
as, for example, by exposing them to or selling or trading them advanced technologies. AS an ancient race we have access to many technologies but, as has been mentioned, are trained to be very circumspect in their use. Very well. Now
our task then as a very small part of a very large galaxy is simply how to survive while maintaining our principles. I envision an "insane" size galaxy with perhaps 100 factions and a fair number of minor races.
Ok, this is all highly speculative because it is meant to be. It may start an interesting discussion, but it may also disappear into a nearby black hole, with copious celebrations following its demise. My point is only to see what
people might think. Is there any utility in this line of thinking at all, and are their perhaps features that could be included in GC3 eventually, either by SD or by modders, that might encourage such endeavours? I wonder.