Galactic Civilizations: old-school design decisions?

I haven’t seen a game that’s this much of a black box in a long time. Mind you, I don’t think that’s necessarily bad; it’s just that apparently one of the results is that players in general have a hell of a time figuring out what they’re doing.

The tax revenue/influence tradeoff is detailed nowhere. That the population tends to stablize at a 51% approval rating and zero population growth for any given tax rate, so you don’t need to worry about offloading population with colony ships or wildly swing around the tax rate isn’t documented either.

What advantage do you get from making fleets? Does it change the combat mechanics? No idea.

What do all the technologies do? You can hunt around the web for the ech tree, but Brad’s apparently kinda-sorta wants it to be a process of painful discovery.

No one knows that leaving a construction queue empty results in a complete waste of the money.

How does the bonuses for manufacturing and research work? Unless you read the entire website, you’ll never know (and you do need to know; they’re awfully non-intuitive); and we all know how many people read that stuff, right?

How does the economy work? It took me a few hours to figure out that spending is only tied to planet class, manufacturing bonuses, and the “spending rate”; it’s completely independent of the tax rate and the population of a planet.

How does destablization and espionage work? Beats me.

Altogether, it gives me nasty flashbacks to the worst part of the good old Microprose days. Hours spent poring over strategy guides, combing Usenet, and arguing with friends at length on what the heck is going on in your game. Remember how no one was ever able to figure out the Moo2 spying system? I guess hiding the details away in nooks and crannies is fun for some people, but I just find it annoying, and I’m really surprised about the direction Brad took here.

damn that Brad Warrel hiding away how all those details in nooks and crannies…

damn him!

He has the manufacturing thing on the website, yes; but why the heck isn’t it in the manual? Where’s all the other stuff?

This stuff that Brad occasionally writes up on his website is certainly helpful, but how about a downloadable archive? Hunting for new pages and saving them to my computer isn’t really how I’d like to acquire documentation.

Wait…what was there about the Moo2 spying system that wasn’t obvious?

Well, no one could ever figure out the best number of spys to have. Having 100 didn’t seem to be all that much better than having 2.

The game really would have benefited from some sort of tutorial scenario. And, as is the case more often than not with all games these days, the manual does not provide adequate information regarding the ‘rules’ of the game.