A friend of mine who's into 4X games like me recently started playing GalCiv 3 with me after I bought him a copy (I bought in at the Elite Founder edition the day you guys sent the email out to me).
Just wanted to leave a few points of general feedback.
First, I personally love the aesthetic of GalCiv and have been playing it since GalCiv 1 (for Windows, not OS/2). The personality of the races, customizability, and depth of the tech tree are tremendously appealing for players like us. We just got out of a game of Civ 6 and I think we're enjoying this more.
We're both running Windows 10 v1709. He has a GTX 970 and 16 gigs of RAM; I have a GTX 1080 and 64 gigs of RAM. We're both pretty careful not to load trashware on our system that would slow it down or interfere with the game, and we disabled overlays/hooks in the GalCiv 3 options to eliminate the chance that something else is causing the game to crash. I don't think our systems are low-end by any definition of the word.
Now, I've been around the block enough with Stardock to know the typical way they operate:
- On the plus side, they support their games for a really long time with continual patches, updates, expansions, balance fixes, and new content.
- On the down side, their games are nearly unplayable shortly after release.
My main criticism of GalCiv 3 is not about balance. It's not about performance. It's not about the game being fun to play. In fact, I'd say it performs reasonably well; is rather well balanced; and is extremely fun to play.
My main criticism of GalCiv 3 is that it contains a hideous number of game-breaking crash bugs, as well as other bugs that stop your game from progressing.
My friend and I have only been playing GalCiv for about 5-6 hours so far, and:
- We've both had multiple crashes to desktop while playing (not always at the same time) -- two for me, four for him. We haven't been able to find a common cause for the crashes, and it doesn't appear to be an out of memory situation -- the game steadily uses about 4.1 GB of memory for both of us, which is low enough that our systems shouldn't run out of memory with 16 and 64 GB respectively. It isn't Internet related because our connections have been very stable.
- One time, we both had to reload our game 3 times before he could join my multiplayer lobby to resume the game, after a crash.
- One time, the Drengin AI refused to complete its turn, just sitting on its turn forever, so we lost all progress back to our last autosave.
I played the game single player only when it first came out, and I don't remember the stability being this bad. Either stability has gotten worse, or it's way worse in multiplayer than singleplayer.
For a game released in May 2015 with continual updates since, I don't consider this to be an acceptable level of bugginess. While I love seeing new content and new game mechanic systems coming out for GalCiv 3, it doesn't take much instability to turn off most players (including my friend) from a game.
At this point, GalCiv 3 is REALLY testing his patience, and he's about to give up on playing it with me. This is unfortunate because we both enjoy playing when it works. It's a little embarrassing to me, because I spent money on the game for him, thinking he'd like it, and the reputation of Stardock as a developer and publisher in his mind is also being sullied.
I would advise the devs to spend a bit more time working on stability before moving forward with new expansions that are likely to come with their own bugs, crashes and balance problems. Leaving the stable build of your game in this buggy state does not reflect well on you, and is likely to impact sales and reputation. It also makes me wonder if the increasing complexity of today's games is too much for the small dev/test teams at Stardock to handle... your older games never had this amount of stability problems (except for Sins, but that wasn't developed by you).
In conclusion, as an Elite Founder, I'm still happy with the game and willing to tolerate a lot of its stability flaws, but I'm trying to enjoy the game with people who aren't devout fans of the franchise (yet...) and the technical bugs and crashes are making it nearly impossible to convert him to loving this company and this game IP. I hope the stability problems of GalCiv 3 aren't lost on the dev team and that this is a very high priority for addressing in 2018.
Thanks for reading.