Galactic Civilizations 2 is like Civilization set in space, which means it addresses one of the key flaws of that series: it wasn't set in space. Last year I kept a diary of my attempt to conquer the largest possible galaxy you can play in it. Since then, the Twilight of the Arnor expansion has increased that size by 50%. This is a diary of my attempt to conquer this new size of galaxy, without resorting to violence. This time I'm going for peace.
This diary was originally published as a free book with the October 2008 issue of PC Gamer UK. It's so preposterously long that our content management system can't handle it in a single post, so from Day 27 onwards it will continue here.
The race I created for my last game - small, cuddly, rabbit-like creatures who ate their opponents' eyeballs out of bitterness for having none of their own - ascended to Godhood. So my race this time are their distant descendants: small, cuddly, rabbit-like vegetarians who eat lychees for old times' sake. The Spatial Hares.
Creating your own species is a little more complicated these days: the Twilight of the Arnor expansion gives each of the standard races a different set of technologies, so you've either got to copy one of them or start modding. If you examine the Spatial Hares technology tree - don't, they hate that - you might find it suspiciously similar to that of the Krynn.
Here are some unrelated facts:
1) In virtually every strategy game ever, victory by cultural dominance takes so much more time, effort and money than establishing military superiority that it's next to useless.
2) About the only thing I didn't like about the last expansion to this game was the addition of spies: they're virtually pointless for the person placing them on enemy worlds, and irritating for the victim to remove.
3) I never really got the hang of Starbases in GalCiv. For ages I thought they were a type of mine that you could only build on resource crystals you find in space, but even once I worked out you could build them anywhere, I could never decide where I should.
4) The Krynn tech-tree I've based mine one specialises in three things: cultural dominance, spies and starbases.
I would need a strong leader for this. The leader of my race in the last game was forever marred by a weird bug in the previous expansion: if the name you chose for him was very long, the name of your homeworld sometimes got tacked onto the end of it. My leader was Paul Davies Mutilator of Worlds, and my homeworld was called Blood, so he ended up being called Paul Davies Mutilator of WorldsBlood - more confusing than scary.
This time I wanted something impressive sounding but which captured our mission to bring harmony and happiness to the galaxy, so I went with Klasnikorlax, Ambassador of Love. Our worlds, instead of being named after viscera or human remains, would all be positive emotions: Happiness, Joy and Friendship.
I spent the first few moments of the game proper leafing through the endless reams of stats and attributes GalCiv tells you about your civilisation, and eventually came across my leader name. It read "Klasnikorlax, Ambassador of LoveJoy".
God damn it. I'm the ambassador of a dishonest antiques dealer from East Anglia.