Friday, October 10, 2008

Astrogeeks, A Galactic Civilizations 2 Story, Part 1

I sincerely hope everything is going well for all of you out there. It's been a pretty depressing couple of weeks for me on several fronts. Still it could be worse. Much worse. But I need a pick-me-up. And when I want to engage my mind and distract myself, I often turn to games. Whether you prefer playing with physical toys, using your imagination, or sitting in front of a computer screen or television, games are a great way to play around with impossible scenarios for you own amusement. Silly things. Things like, what would happen if all the geeks in the world banded together to take over the galaxy?

That's where Galactic Civilizations 2 (GalCiv2) comes into the picture. I'm going to leave it to the company's web site to explain what GalCiv2 is, because I've got a tale to tell about a couple billion ambitious geeks. So plant your tongue firmly in your cheek, and join me in the depths of space...

Of course, before I can launch them on their journey I first have to create the "race" of geeks. GalCiv2 has a ton of customization options for races so it's pretty easy to match the game mechanics to your concepts. What kind of abilities would a society made up of geeks have? Research, of course, gets a big boost. Geek culture gives loyalty, morale, and influence bonuses. Their intrinsic desire to tinker and hack gives a creativity boost and a better than average repair rate. And I'll add a slight boost to weaponry, because geeks want the cool guns. Capping off the ability list is the racial "super" ability. Since geeks prefer to hang out with other geeks (the normals just don't get us), I'll select Super Isolationist, which will slow enemy ships in their territory and give them the basic tech to colonize otherwise uninhabitable barren worlds right from the start. Last but not least, as an offshoot of the Human race, they will use the Human technology tree and start out with Human style ships (in spiffy gray with gold trim). Behold the Astrogeeks!
The first foray into the great beyond begins in January 2227 in a small star cluster with a pair of unknown alien races wanting the area for themselves. First impression: wow there are stars all over the place out here. Every sector has at least one and some have three! I start production of a factory on my initial colony (around the star known as Homeworld), send my mining ship to the nearest cluster of asteroids, my exploration vessel to check on a nearby anomalous cluster of rocks, and my colony ship to the closest star on the charts. Almost immediately, there is a decision to be made. With all those stars out there, do I concentrate my early ship production on colony ships and hope they have habitable planets, or do I build starbase constructors and go after a pair of nearby morale resources? The morale resourses, accessed by building mining starbases on them, would boost the Astrogeeks' racial happiness. Higher morale would allow me to increase the tax rate without upsetting the citizens, so I gamble spending a chunk of my initial treasury to buy a constructor and grab one of the resources immediately. Within two weeks my exploration ship spots its alien opposite number. Looks like the Altarans are one of the races I will have to contend with. A week after that I find their homeworld, noting in passing that it is better quality than mine. Two weeks after that I find an ascension crystal practically in my lap.

Ascension crystals are powerful artifacts left behind by a precourser race. Harvesting enough of the strange aura which eminates from them would allow the geeks to ascend to a higher plane of existance. If I grab it now, the other races will be ticked, but it's very, very early in the game and nobody has any military tech to speak of. One more week passes and I nearly empty my treasury buying another constructor. As the constructor moves toward its destination, the explorer finds a second ascension crystal. This is going to get interesting. I still need to finish researching the universal translator so the other races can threaten me properly, but after that I may just have to turn my research straight for the fancy guns.

In March of 2227, the Astrogeeks colonized their second world. I'm assured that the fact the star system was named after a character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was just a coincidence. A week later a constructor launches for the second ascension crystal. Late in April, I spot a ship from the final major power: the Arceans. The first of June sees the starbase come online around the second crystal. Now all I have to do is hold on to them for just over nine and a half years.

Here's what the Astrogeek empire looks like halfway through the first game year. The two crystal mining bases are the glowy white things ringed by grey and gold on the right and left sides of the map.

Tune in next time for the continuing stooory of Geeeeks in Spaaaaace!

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