The flaw in GalCiv2's economy (LONG)

Because of the layout of the economy screen, it's impossible to use your entire empire at once

By on March 14, 2006 3:03:40 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Alex Drew

Join Date 11/2003
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I think the way in which you manage the economy in GalCiv 2 could be done better. I don't want to change the rules or make the game more complex and I can understand that, for example, the civilization capital on the home planet generates 24 technology points (24TP) and that I need to spend 24 billion credits (24BC) per turn to get those points. The problem is that there's no way to do that and run the empire at the same time.

Let me explain what I mean. On the economy screen you have a number of sliders representing your economic policy. The first one is tax rate, no problems there. The second is industrial capacity. The obvious thing to think here is that the percentage slider represents how much of your factory and lab capacity you're using by spending credits. So back to that initial colony on turn one, I want to spend the full 24 BC and get as much research done as possible. Obviously I push the slider up to 100%. What am I now spending on research? 8BC. I'm only getting 8TP as well.

The problem is the sliders directly beneath industrial capacity that represent spending distribution. It's useful to have these and I'm not disputing that. With the sliders you can put more money towards social production and research relative to fleet spending (which is precisely what you'd want to do in times of peace), or vice versa. The problem is that because of the interface it's impossible to run your factories and labs at full capacity at the same time. Try this one while you read this. Start a standard game of GalCiv2. You don't need to make any decisions, just mess about with the sliders. It's probably easier to see this in action if you choose a race with no bonuses to research or either form of production.

You should be looking at a one planet empire. Your planet should have only the civilization capital and a starport. Select a ship for the port to build so that you are spending on your military budget, doesn't matter which one. Let me just highlight this next point.

You don't need to select a social project because the game will still charge you for your social production even if you're building nothing on the planet. This can be a significant drain on your resources and is probably a bug since you aren't charged for ships you aren't building but you are charged for improvements you aren't building.

Right. Now you're being charged for research, military production, and social production. Your civilization capital has 24 manufacturing points (24MP) and 24TP (theoretically). Go to the economy manager. Here you can see how much you're spending on TP and MP. Increase manufacturing capacity to full. You should be charged 48BC (plus one for colony maintenance). You will be charged 24BC. Assuming you haven't moved the spending distribution sliders you should be getting 34% of your military capacity, 33% of your social capacity, and 33% of your research capacity. So 67% of your factories (in the form of the civ capital) and 33% of your labs are being used.

Social and military are balanced, which is to say you can't get more than 24 "hammers and shields" out of a 24MP factory. However, you run into more problems if you aren't building a ship at a planet. I mentioned you don't get charged for ships you aren't building. Well you don't get the other half of your factory back either. For example, if your spending is 30% mil, 30% soc, and 40% tech, you're missing out on a total of 70% of your factories on non-ship building planets. You miss out on 70% if you're only building ships at a planet too, but the game is kind enough to still charge you the other 30%.

Is this really what the design team had in mind? You can only ever spend 50% of your capacity at most, divided between labs and factories. Feel free to move the sliders about. I can get 60% labs and 40% factories, all labs and no factories. I can even get 0% labs and 108% factories through some strange phantom credits popping up here and there. (That last one had the sliders in right, right, left, from top to bottom. Not sure why, but military spending and production went to 14BC.)

I can think of a whole series of different ways to deal with these issues. The laziest thing to do is just say "Yes you can only use 50% of your empire's potential. There's absolutely no reason for this but it's not changing." Marginally less lazy would be to change the capacity slider so the maximum level reads "50%" or invent a story involving the uncertainty principle to explain why the more accurately you fill a factory with workers, the less full labs become. That's the bit that I don't get.

I think the best option is to change the sliders around. The sliders you might have on the economy window are:
Tax rate (unchanged)
Research capacity (how much of your empire's lab capacity are you using)
Manufacturing capacity (how much of your empire's factory capacity are you using)
Military/Social divider.
This last one would allow you to choose, of your factory output, how much goes into ships or improvements. i.e. all the way to the left, all ships, all the way to the right, all improvements, etc. I think you'd still have all the options you have now, with the added ability of being able to use your entire empire.

Another option would be to leave the sliders where they are and change the way they work. For example, your spending capacity is at 0%. All three sliders below are at 0%. Your spending capacity is at 100%. All three sliders below are at 100%.Your spending capacity is at 50%. You can move the sliders below to the maximum of them each being half full on average. I think this idea is much more complex than the previous idea and wouldn't recommend it.

I think I've made my point here. I have other things I'd like to learn more of about the game, such as how spending differs when you have more potential MP than TP or vice versa, what happens to research spending when one of your planets has the brain pods special (also known as the pain pods special to good civilizations) and you choose to make use of them, how to boost social production on newly colonised worlds without resorting to throwing trillions of credits at them or implementing changes to the entire empire (I know about emphasizing social production but it doesn't really help in many cases), and why the core colony ship has a completely redundant extra colony pod, but I'm sure I'll figure those out myself. I think that the idea I've written here could make the game better for everyone who plays it, not just appeal to my personal taste. I realise that there could be balance issues, but the extra productivity would still have to be paid for and the MP or TP capacity of buildings could just be changed if things get too fast.

Please respond and tell me what you think, and finally, thank you for reading.

P.S. I see the new patch is doing something about the unused social spending and it may be that this is all entirely redundant. If so, well done to Stardock and thanks again for reading.
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March 14, 2006 3:24:16 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
It's an interesting system that involves several levels of "potentials" but it's working as designed and both the player and AIs operate under the same system.
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March 14, 2006 3:27:28 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I know Brad has posted at least twice that they aren't married to the current system, it was just better than the previous one. I think the 1.1 patch will solve some of the issues mentioned here, and as open as they are to player feedback, it will eventually be to the satisfaction of most. I for one can't wait for the new patch
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March 14, 2006 3:43:37 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Brad had previously commented that he was considering getting rid of the overall spending slider and replacing it with a research and production slider in version 1.1. (Of course you would need to have an additional slider to subdivide the production between social and military) This would solve the problem that you are talking about, but it makes the screen even more complicated than it is. We will see if he implements it.
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March 14, 2006 3:47:53 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
"but the extra productivity would still have to be paid for and the MP or TP capacity of buildings could just be changed if things get too fast"

Then why change it at all? Its more of an issue with people expecting the system to work differently than it does, than it is with any underlieing problem with the existing system.

The dynamic is a bit different though, you are not better off specializing planets (other than for econ).

Its also true that you can construct scenerios where you have issues with how you are 'wasting' your production. The simple solution to that is to not construct those scenerios in game! If you have a crap planet and don't want to build a starport there don't build any factories or labs. Otherwise build the starport and nominally crank out constructors at a slow rate.
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March 14, 2006 3:48:26 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I have to honestly say that if someone doesn't understands a screen like you stated (with some few extra sliders) that person needs to go back to school... The interface is intuitive enough to explain it, if not, add a fluxogram between the sliders as the background image to show where the money goes step-by-step... It'd look pretty too
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March 14, 2006 3:57:58 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Brad had previously commented that he was considering getting rid of the overall spending slider and replacing it with a research and production slider in version 1.1. (Of course you would need to have an additional slider to subdivide the production between social and military) This would solve the problem that you are talking about, but it makes the screen even more complicated than it is. We will see if he implements it.


How would this be more complicated? You would be replacing 4 sliders with 3. I like this idea!!!
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March 14, 2006 3:59:16 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I think that "fixing" this "problem" would cause a major problem with balance. It would also probably take away most strategies that don't focus on economy, because being able to afford using 100% of every building will make you far superior than someone specializing in technology or military production.
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March 14, 2006 4:17:39 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
great post !!!
i had the exact same thing in mind and was thinking about writing a similar post

the way it is right now it doesnt make sense in any logical way
having a seperate spend rate slider for research and industry is VERY good
then seperating social and military production should be quite easy
its just not logical that factorys cant produce when labs are running
but it makes very much sense that prodution capacities used for warships cant be used to improve the planet

PLEASE make it so in 1.1

btw having unused social channeled to military in addition to this would make gameplay MUCH easier, simply have industrial spending at 100% and 100% social and dont build social improvements on planets you want to be producing ships right now
so you get maximum empire wealth growth (all other planets maximise their improvements) while your shipyards can produce at full capacity
i like that very much

btw what would be even more realistic: it makes no sense that i only can set spending empire wide
if i imagine earth, every country and even every state can set his spending quite free
so why not give each planet spending rate sliders that, if activated, override the global spending sliders? if the above is all done this wouldnt be necessary but as it is right now i cant have my shipyard at full capacity without sacrificing production on all other planets - that sucks
an override switch and military spending 100% only for that planet would be awesome (and very realistic, why shouldnt i be able to set production planet wise)
or maybe let this override switch only appear in democratic goverment forms where planets get more rights
i think governments could be more different ... giving earch planet more options under the more liberal forms of government would also fit into the concept quite well
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March 14, 2006 4:36:52 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
If I'm understanding your issue, you primarily work with a heterogeneous layout for your worlds (i.e., multiple different building types on a single planet), correct? Here's a bit of a suggestion: Try my method of play -- Homogeneous worlds (Research-dominant/Manufacturing-dominant/Monetary-dominant worlds). With this, my shipyards are built on my manufacturing-only worlds to allow for faster production, and when I need a ship, I open that planet's window and adjust the spending to focus on Military (i.e., using the little buttons for each spending type). When not producing a ship, I revert it back to cultural spending, but only if the planet is in the process of building/upgrading it's facilities (bcause at current, unused cultural spend is lost, while unused miltary spending is put back into your coffers -- until v1.1). With my research-dominant planets, I open up and change their spending to focus primarily on research (no real worry about loss of production there, because at most I have one, maybe two factories on these planets). My monetary-dominant/cultural-dominant planets... Well, now there's the monkey wrench in the works. My strategy doesn't really apply there. So, I generally have them set to cultural spending as facilities are being built, and when I'm between techs that will upgrade them, I usually just focus them on research (every little bit helps, eh?) Anyway, I'm sure you get the point. It doesn't fully solve your dilemma (maybe even not at all), but it does allow for a little bit more control of your resources -- Kind of a minimalist way to adjust between your cultural and military spending on your manufacturing planets, anyway.

I guess what it boils down to is that some set-up/functionality in the game is not going to be conducive to yours or my style of play, while on the other hand it may benefit mine vs. yours (or vice versa).
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March 14, 2006 4:39:36 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
PLEASE make it so in 1.1


Yes. Please make it so along with all unused factory production (because a planet is not producing buildings or ships) going back to the treasury. Brad suggested diverting social production to ship building if not building planetary improvements but what about the reverse, diverting military production to social production if not building ships.
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March 14, 2006 5:38:16 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
First off, I hope I'm understanding this thread correctly, if I'm not then just feed me to the Drengin's already

I believe the 1.1 patch, by allowing overflow production to be reimbursed to the treasury, will solve the issues as for how the game's econ was meant to operate. Being able to better define the three branches of spending would only upset the game's initial balance. Imagine it like this (and hopefully I'm not to far off base here) your--real world--government allocates so much funding to social projects such as education, medical, parks and recreation, housing, etc., and so much to military or scientific research. It's impossible to have every branch of the budget equal out to where each is operating at full capacity. If more money is pumped into schools, then it must be pulled from elsewhere be it military, research, Congressmen's retirement (haha), etc.

Then again, let's say you put every penney earned, stolen, or cheated into one branch, let's say education for now. Do you actually think that our schools would even then operate at 100% capacity? NO, because no matter how badly you might want to do this, you just can't completely shut down the other branches--they must maintain at least some level of operation whether they are productive or not, and this costs money, or in Galciv2's case, BC's.

As for in-game, simply going from planet to planet clicking on the focus button in each spending window reflects this (in accordance with the sliders of course). And if you want balance across the board, the make sure not to click a focus group for the time being. But, I agree that having overflow from the social production queue when nothing is being made, allocated back into budget is ideal and 1.1 ought to fix that little tid bit. Nonetheless, and hear me out, anything which makes the game all that much deeper and fun, I'm all for it!

Thanks for your commitment Stardock, to an already splendid game You guys are definitely the Tidal Disrupters to a waning industry--keep rockin' the boat!
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March 14, 2006 5:40:22 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Firstly - Hello - and thanks Stardock for the game I've been waiting years to play.
Secondly - Thanks Mr Drew for a beautiful post that answerred 99% of my questions regarding the economy model of GalCivII.

My strategy has usually consisted of
A - Colonize a new class 12+ planet and plan and place building queues to fill all tiles.
B - Review weekly income and expenditures and wonder how the heck can I be in the red after 5-10 turns

Now I am pleasantly armed with the knowledge that those no-where-near-being-finished-for-200-weeks structures are costing me an arm and leg and spleen, lungs, heart, right eye, and most of my teeth.

Unforunately - I'm not a micro manager type kind of guy - that was one draw back from the other turn based strategy games (cough-ilization). So I saw that as a great bonus in this game - build up my queue of projects for the locals and then upgrade or rebuild when they were done. Being that all those labor crews must be getting paid standby time or something for the unfinished projects, I guess it's back to micro management... for now...


Thank's again - J.
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March 14, 2006 5:40:56 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
First off, I hope I'm understanding this thread correctly. If I'm not then just feed me to the Drengin's already

I believe the 1.1 patch, by allowing overflow production to be reimbursed to the treasury, will solve the issues as for how the game's econ was meant to operate. Being able to better define the three branches of spending would only upset the game's initial balance. Imagine it like this (and hopefully I'm not to far off base here) your--real world--government allocates so much funding to social projects such as education, medical, parks and recreation, housing, etc., and so much to military or scientific research. It's impossible to have every branch of the budget equal out to where each is operating at full capacity. If more money is pumped into schools, then it must be pulled from elsewhere be it military, research, Congressmen's retirement (haha), etc.

Then again, let's say you put every penney earned, stolen, or cheated into one branch, let's say education for now. Do you actually think that our schools would even then operate at 100% capacity? NO, because no matter how badly you might want to do this, you just can't completely shut down the other branches--they must maintain at least some level of operation whether they are productive or not, and this costs money, or in Galciv2's case, BC's.

As for in-game, simply going from planet to planet clicking on the focus button in each spending window reflects this (in accordance with the sliders of course). And if you want balance across the board, the make sure not to click a focus group for the time being. But, I agree that having overflow from the social production queue when nothing is being made, allocated back into budget is ideal and 1.1 ought to fix that little tid bit. Nonetheless, and hear me out, anything which makes the game all that much deeper and fun, I'm all for it!

Thanks for your commitment Stardock, to an already splendid game You guys are definitely the Tidal Disrupters to a waning industry--keep rockin' the boat!
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March 14, 2006 7:23:50 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I really like this idea too. I just wanted to throw my vote out for the devs and bump this baby again. I know Frogboy said that this will change some with the patch coming out but I really like the idea that I can focus all of my money on research and realize the buildings potential. I know that theoretically I can never realize full potential, diminishing returns and what not, but if I am going to spend time researching and building these awesome buildings I want to use them to their full extent. If the player can afford to run his existing factories at a larger percentage of output let them. As for the naysayers that are complaining that this would put too much focus on economy well. This game is already totally abou the economy. You can not be a military or research powerhouse if your economy sucks. I think this new level of customization will allow you to make up for the fact that you are focusing hard on research and military because you will be able to tweak the economy to suit your playing style.
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March 14, 2006 7:52:18 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
dagstyrr: i think you didnt really get what i mean

lets say i have two factories (industrie) and two schools (symbolising research), all equal expensive to run, shut down they dont cost me a penny
if my income allows me to operate two buildings, then i may chose 2 factories (100% industrie), 2 schools (100% research) or 1 each (50% industrie, 50% research).
but if i have enough spare money, some backup cash or high income, then i can - without any problems - run both factories and both schools simultaniously
but thats not possible in gal civ, even with spending at 100% i still can only have 50% research and 50% industrie at a time

100% spending in gal civ doesnt mean you spend 100% of what you earn (as we all know since i'm sure we all get negative spending once in a while ), it means you run your stuff at full capacity, meaning you give the factory that can produce 8 hammers the 8 BC it needs to do so
and if it can produce 20 hammers you give it 20 BC, regardless of your income (if spending is 100% and industrie is 100%)

hope that did make it clear: that factory, supplies with enough money, can make 20 hammers. there is abolutely no reason why it should only produce 10 hammers, when a research lab is built next to it which i supply with _additional_ credits which i _dont_ (want to) take from the factories funding, i want to pay _each_ (factory and research) lab 20 BC and i see no reason why that should not be possible
right now i am forced to take it from the factories funding because of that (in my optinion) not optimal solved economy, so to get the same effect i have to build twice the factories (more tiles wasted, more upkeep), so my 40 hammers factories will finally produce these 20 hammers i want to pay for

it is possible to say that this is a design choice and intended that way but (imo) its flawed because not realistic. making factories less effective or more expensive to compensate for their increased effectivity while making spending more flexible would help the game (imo) a lot

another (even easier but not that flexible) solution:

simply replace the research/social/military slider by one slider for social <-> military
spending then allocates overall spending, set too 100% all factories run at 100% and all labs run at 100% (simultaniously), set to 20% they all run at 20% (simultaniously)
then the military <-> social slider tells how to devide between those production types
i prefere to have seperate spending for research and industrie because it seems more real to me and it allows the player to prioritize during economic problems but this way at least the problem with stuff only being able to run at half capacity would be solved

to be honest, this is the only major flaw (in my opinion) i am aware of now
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March 14, 2006 11:50:04 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
In my last game, I couldn't even run at 100% spending. I tried a different strategy than normal. I still won fairly easily on my first game of challenging (as opposed to playing on normal), but I had to adjust my spending atleast every few turns. Only once was my treasurery above 1000bc, and that was due to an economic event that majorly boosted my economy.
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March 15, 2006 5:05:48 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
btw downtweaking labs and factories if you make seperate sliders could be not that good ... right now you have the ability to double your research at the expense of industry, that doesnt make sense but it is a nice strategic option if you need something researched very fast
that option would vanish if you had seperate sliders
right now you always have 50% backup capacity which you can choose to use whenever you want, that wouldnt be the case any more

anyway i thing to option to seperately change those spendings is more valuable then the option to have backup capacity available all the time (if you want it, you can still build twice the labs and go 50% spending - if labs are downtweaked you would need more labs to achive the same as now but i dont think thats a big issue)
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March 15, 2006 6:09:50 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I agree there's a problem with economic management - indeed it's the main gripe that my friends also have with the game.
I don't really understand why it's been done so complicated and difficult to manage. IMHO there are 2 issues :
- first the dual queues for military and social, that both use the same IP pool; Why not have either different pools (that is different factories for each), or (simpler) not having only 1 queue with social as well as military builds (as in most games) ?
- second the slider system isn't efficient. What I would like to have are not sliders setting how many % of total production I do plus how I split my credits in %, but real values that allow me to know what I'm doing.
If for example if I have 100 IP and 60 TP I would like to have sliders from 0-100 and 0-60. With the current mil/soc split this means 3 sliders : 0-100 for military, 0-(100-Mil) for social, 0-60 for research.

I hope GC team will at last improve this design, it has been a problem since GC1 ...
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March 15, 2006 6:37:02 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Hello again.

I'm glad this idea has gotten so much positive feedback from you. Also, I notice Frogboy has written in the Journals section of this website that the floodgates have been opened. And here I am writing a 1250 word essay on a possible change.

I also see a breakdown of the people that normally voice their opinion about game design. I really hope I don't fit into the fourth category.

I don't think that the way the game works now is wrong, and I certainly don't think it isn't fun. I can form my strategies around the way it works now, and I'm sure a lot of people are used to the way the game works now and wouldn't necessarily welcome a change. However, I think that a change could still be a good thing, in terms of making the game mechanics more transparent, and decisions about how to run the empire more intuitive.

Essentially what this issue boils down to for me is that regardless of how well you've managed your economy, or how many trillions of credits you've accumulated, you can't use both your factories and your labs at the same time. And the issue looks even stranger if you have an assymetrical distribution of the two. The example I gave above was a single planet with 24TP and 24MP, but what if your empire has an optimal capacity of 100TP and 500MP. With 100% funding to military and social, you're spending 500BC per turn. Now suppose you reduce that to 80% military and social. You've just taken 100BC out of your factories and put that into research, right? Wrong! You are now spending 400BC on factories and 20BC on labs. The limit here is not one of funding or economy, but that you physically cannot give the order to spend that money that you have. To me, that seems counter to common sense.

But of course there is one important point about that. It's a game, and it doesn't have to make sense if it's fun. But the thing is, from my perspective, it's nice when the rules make sense, and I'm not convinced that the game would be less fun for the people that play it if it worked differently.

So that's my point again, and in substatially fewer words. I'm quite pleased. Please respond and tell me what you think, and thank you for reading.
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December 30, 2012 4:56:38 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Just curious if this was ever fixed... I had the same issue when I first played the game ages ago.  This sliders issue completely broke my sense of immersion.

I'm thinking of buying it on steam, but there would be no point if this is still broken.

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December 30, 2012 6:40:59 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Quoting gruther4,
Just curious if this was ever fixed... I had the same issue when I first played the game ages ago.  This sliders issue completely broke my sense of immersion.

I'm thinking of buying it on steam, but there would be no point if this is still broken.

There has been some small changes to the economy, but the sliders still work the same way.

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December 30, 2012 7:52:34 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

It's not really that big of a deal.  The sliders mean that you cannot do everything at once - or rather you can, but you do so inefficiently.  However, what they do allow you to do is affect the production and research output of your whole empire at one stroke, rather than having to get micro and set the production of individual planets.  When you have a large empire with colonies in the double digits this is rather useful.

These days I think nothing of jiggling a slider left and right with the mousewheel to get an extra one or two percent in Social or Military if my labs are producing more than enough beakers to finish my research project.  It's annoying to have to keep playing with the sliders, but I put up with it because I don't have to do it every turn.

 

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December 30, 2012 8:41:07 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I found it to be a big deal.  I tried to work out some reason why my research planet had to shut down so my production planet could go to work, and I just couldn't imagine how that would be necessary (assuming enough funds to run both).  It took me out of the game - I wasn't managing an economy, I was manipulating arbitrary numbers.  These weren't "factories" anymore, they were point generating boxes.

The game is playable of course, and the rules work great for getting the challenge and gameplay right.  However, this detail caused me to not be able to imagine the universe, and for me that broke the immersion.  A pity, because otherwise it was a great game!

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December 31, 2012 7:24:35 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Try to view it as time resource. The sliders represent how much of the citizens should work and what they should spend their worktime on. The point values of the improvements are the theoretical maximum capacity but ordering your citizens to only build ships or buildings without spending time on research is a very extreme decision.

PS: Planet level variance is achieved via the focusing, so even if your civilization is solely building you can still get your research planet doing research (emm, with some losses).

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January 4, 2013 8:16:49 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

I've just started playing the game, but as a long time Sid Meier Civ player, I was happy to see the sliders disappear in the move from Civ IV to V.  In that case, now research goes directly to techs, food goes to population increase, coins go to expenses. It's straightforward and works well with the selection of what one builds in each city determining the weight one puts on what gets done in that city.

I would highly recommend GC go the same route as it removes a source of confusion.

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