Videogame (2003). Stardock. Designed by Bradley Wardell. Platforms: Win.
Galactic Civilizations is a descendant of Master of Orion (1993), a turn-based 4X Game played on a two-dimensional galactic map. Its design is based on that of an earlier and less well known version, Galactic Civilizations (1994 Stardock, OS2) designed by Bradley Wardell. As in Master of Orion, the player expands their civilization into a Space Opera galaxy, colonizing new planets, developing their scientific knowledge and encountering alien races. In Galactic Civilizations, however, the player is always human. The gameplay is sophisticated, featuring a wide range of strategic options as well as a variety of nonhuman species with their own histories and "racial personalities". One interesting aspect is the economic model, which allows players to borrow money from human corporations. Victory is achievable in four ways: by military conquest, by cultural domination of other species, by achieving overwhelming political power, or by reaching a level of technology that allows humanity to Transcend to a higher plane of existence.
Galactic Civilizations II: The Dread Lords (2006 Stardock, Win) designed by Bradley Wardell is a reimagining of the first game, using detailed three-dimensional graphics displayed on a two-dimensional plane. Additions to the gameplay include the ability to design unique spacecraft and a choice of playable races. The game also includes an optional linear storyline (> Interactive Narrative) involving the Dread Lords, a Forerunner group who attempted to enslave the galaxy before their mysterious disappearance. Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar (2007 Stardock, Win) designed by Bradley Wardell is an expansion pack, adding new species and a story revolving around a civil war amongst factions of the imperialist Drengin race.
The well-developed personalities of the computer-controlled opponents in the Galactic Civilizations series give the games a strong sense of atmosphere, making playing them more than a purely strategic exercise. Players are often confronted with moral choices, such as the question of whether autochthonous inhabitants of a colonized world should be enslaved, sent to a reservation or incorporated into the colony's political structure. The game mechanics are neutral as to which option is superior; brutality may be helpful in the short term but will have diplomatic consequences later. The kind of galactic civilization which the player creates is, ultimately, up to them.
Related works: Galactic Civilizations: Altarian Prophecy (2004 Stardock, Win) designed by Bradley Wardell is an expansion pack for Galactic Civilizations, focusing on the Altarians, an alien species who seem strangely similar to humans. [NT]
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