2017 is shaping up to be another banner year for space 4X games. There is a whole slate in development, including Children of the Galaxy by Empty Keys. We got together with the lead developer, Filip, who was kind enough to answer some questions about his company’s upcoming title. We hope you enjoy what he had to tell us.
Could you start by telling us about your team?
What was the inspiration for your game?
I’m an avid fan of turn-based strategy games like Civilization, Endless Space, Endless Legend, Stellaris, Master of Orion, Galactic Civilizations, and many others. So I was inspired by those.
What about the setting? Could you quickly summarize the storyline and tell us about some big picture details?
CoG is sci-fi, set in the future Milky Way. There is not any main storyline. We wanted the player to be able to create his/her own story.
Are there multiple factions in your game? Can you give us a few details about each one?
There are four main factions in the current version:
- Earth Union, Human race – A friendly race focused on research
- Kingdom of Kaga, Kaga race – A neutral race focused on production and exploration
- Menron Great Empire, Menron race – A neutral race focused on colonization and expansion
- Ata Tribes, Ata race – An unfriendly nomadic race focused on energy and war
We plan on adding at least another four factions during Early Access.
Could you tell us a little bit more about what each of your factions will look like?
Children of the Galaxy is more like Stellaris in this respect. There are only 4 main factions built in at the moment, because that’s easier to balance. Each one has a unique look as far as their starships go. They are also governed by different AI personalities and have different bonuses and home star systems. Players can add more with modding via Steam Workshop or with an in-game race designer. More built-in races will be added during Early Access.
What is the object of play in your game? Is there more than one victory condition?
There are 3 victory conditions in the current version: research, expansion, and domination. More will be added in Early Access.
Let’s move on to combat. How will that work in this game?
CoG has turn-based combat with tactical and RPG elements. There are seven specific ship classes, each with a different role in the combat.
Will there be ground invasions? Ship invasions?
There will not be any ground invasions. You can siege enemy planets from space; It’s a very simple mechanic. This is one of the things, where feedback is needed. We’ll see what happens in Early Access.
How does empire management work in this game?
The player is in charge of colonizing and customizing his planets, but he can automate all this by setting up a building plan for the planet.
When it comes to controlling a large military, there is a Strike Group feature. It allows player to group units (up to seven) and control just the leader. That should help cut down on micromanagement. There is also special combat class (Carrier) which has docking areas and can serve as fast transports.
Are there any special resources or locations players will be able to exploit? How will they affect play?
Yes, there are rare resources The player needs to be able exploit these resources in order to build starships and more advanced planet constructions. Some star systems have asteroid belts, and the player will be able to build Miners to extract certain resources.
What are the limits to expanding one’s empire in this game? Are there any mechanics in place to limit or disincentivize city/planet spam?
There is a limited number of planets. Each star can have up to 10 random planets. Players can colonize planets, but they are limited by available technology. There is no “happiness” mechanic at the moment.
How large can galaxies be in your game?
The biggest galaxy map is 60 hexes with 120 star systems. You can explore every hexagon on a galaxy map. Each random map has a minimum of a 30 hex radius. Within a galaxy map, each star system has its own sub-map that can be up to 130 hexes in radius. This gives players a lot of room to maneuver and explore. So it’s very, very big.
The game can do even larger environments. Bigger maps may be added during Early Access after memory optimizations.
What about minor factions, quests, heroes, or random events? Are any of these in your game, and if so, can you explain what they are like?
There are only basic missions so far. More content will be added in Early Access.
Could you describe the nature of Research in your game?
Research is a traditional technology tree, but you can research more than one technology at a time by distributing a progress pool. In special cases, you can experiment with technology for faster progress which has a random risk/reward mechanic.
Outside of cities, will players be able to construct other fortifications such as bases, ports, observatories, etc.? If so, how will they affect play?
Players can build Miners, Defensive Towers, and Stations. Towers and Stations make up the core of defensive combat.
Can you describe the basics of diplomacy in your game?
Diplomacy is very basic at this moment, and it’s one of the main tasks we will be addressing during Early Access. We want player feedback. So, for now, there are just simple relations (hostile, neutral, friendly) and few diplomatic actions (open/close borders, declare war/peace).
How much will players be able to customize their units, factions, and game maps in this game?
A faction designer is planned. Players can rename units and planets, but there won’t be a unit designer.
There will be support for Steam Workshop, and AI code will be open source. Players will be able to change pretty much any configuration or AI in the game.
What role does randomness play in your game?
Every new game has random number of planets and a random number of rare resources. There is a small random gameplay mechanic in research. Also, if you destroy an enemy ship you can get a random reward.
What does your game have/do that no other similar game currently on the market can provide?
CoG is more focused on combat. There are not many games with turn-based combat at the moment. Research has more options and a fun little risk/reward gameplay mechanic. The AI is very fast, so no more waiting a few minutes between turns or laggy combat. Optimization should be good. Also, having a friendly user interface is one of our main priorities. Our long term plan for diplomacy is not the typical “chat dialogue window” too.
With all the space 4X games that have come out in the last couple years, what is your biggest concern when it comes to getting enough attention for Children of the Galaxy?
I think it’s pretty much the same for any indie game out there. You need visibility, which is getting harder to get, even on Steam. So I guess my biggest concern is that people will not know about my game.
Where does development of the game stand as of now?
The game is currently in an alpha state. It’s playable, but some content is still missing. Diplomacy and espionage gameplay is not finished yet.
Do you have a general idea of when Early Access for Children of the Galaxy might start?
Our target is Q1, 2017 for now. Closed Alpha will start this month. We will need some time to process the feedback and maybe do some changes.
Will there be Multiplayer, Play-by-email, or Hotseat?
Hotseat is implemented and will be in the Early Access version. Online multiplayer is planned, but it’s a very low priority.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the game’s development so far?
Gameplay balance, combat, and AI.
Of all the aspects of your game, which are you the most excited about?
The AI, once fully finished. It will be a “beast”.
We noticed that your company also makes something called “middleware.” Would you like to tell us more about that aspect of your business?
We created something called the “User Interface Framework” which is completely free for anyone. It’s a multi-platform, engine agnostic UI for video games.
Before closing, is there anything else you’d like to tell the fans about your game that we haven’t mentioned yet?
CoG will be released as Early Access on Steam. This was planned from the start. We want to tweak, polish, and balance this game with input from the players. We want to create this game with you.