Post news RSS ISG Dev Diary #17 : Evolving Empires - Minor Civilizations

Now that our empires have begun to evolve, it’s time for our next dev diary on Evolving Empires! I'm Keith, here again to be your captain as we survey the galaxy together in search of answers regarding the many wondrous hidden civilizations waiting to be discovered in this expansion.

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Dev Diary #17 : Evolving Empires - Minor Civilizations

Now that our empires have begun to evolve, it’s time for our next dev diary on Evolving Empires! I'm Keith, here again to be your captain as we survey the galaxy together in search of answers regarding the many wondrous hidden civilizations waiting to be discovered in this expansion.



From an early stage, player feedback as well as our own experiences made it clear that the exploration aspect of the game was both well regarded and ripe for expansion. It seems there’s just something about discovering hidden things, be it planetary specials and ruins, strategic resources, or even entire stars and planets, that brings a great deal of excitement and joy to our play experiences. With this in mind, taking the opportunity to expand upon this system is something we are very enthusiastic about pursuing.

At the same time, another objective we've had was to add some new mechanics to spice up and enhance the early and mid game a bit. While asteroid explorations and strategic resources make for great strategic targets, and planetary specials make for nice colonization targets, we felt there was still room for even bigger prizes to be added to the galaxy. By adding something new to fight over, we’d also be able to provide additional reasons and rewards for military conflict, especially early on.

When considering how to best accomplish these two objectives, the concept we’d come up with for Minor Civilizations was a natural fit. These hidden societies provide an increased emphasis on exploration, a prime target for military conflict between major empires, and bring an improved sense of life into the galaxy.


Minor Civilizations are pre-FTL societies, hidden throughout the stars, living their daily lives on their planets. With few exceptions, they’re oblivious to the galactic empires beginning to rise up around them, but that's soon about to change. Empires have several ways to learn about the presence of minor civilizations.

The most common method of learning about a minor civilization is to obtain a full scan of a system which contains one. As in the base game, this level of scan can be obtained as a result of repeated remote exploration, a survey ship (more on their importance later!), a galactic event, or even from a map found in ruins.

A second method to learn about them is through your allies. Once an alliance is formed, all allies share information with one another about any minor civilizations they are aware of. Not only that, but they also share access to them and their bonuses, but we’ll discuss this in more detail when we cover exclusivity further down.

A third method comes by way of an enhancement to the deep cover spy skill. In addition to providing you with all the information it did before about your targeted empire, deep cover now also lets you know about all the minor civilizations your target knows about, including their homeworld locations and whether they have access to them.



All Minor Civilizations start in an unsurveyed state when first discovered. While your empire is aware of their existence, and has a basic understanding of how they operate, you have not yet taken the time to understand who they truly are. For this reason, the only information initially revealed about a newly discovered minor civilization will be its type.

There are 7 types of minor civilization present within the game: Exploration, Research, Industrial, Economic, Cultural, Militaristic, and Espionage. Even without knowing their true identity, any empire who has access to them will still be able to benefit from some of their unique talents and abilities. A relationship bonus is available for each type of minor civilization. These bonuses are designed to scale throughout the game, and include supply range, research, production, money, culture, ship support points, and diplomatic bonuses depending on type.

Each of the 7 types of minor civilization also brings a new high level ambassador leader into the game. These ambassadors are anxious to spread word of their culture and ensure it survives the conflicts to come. They must remain cautious though, as trusting the wrong empire could lead to disaster, so they will only offer to work for empires who have established a peaceful relationship with their civilization type for a period of time.



While it is relatively easy to obtain a basic understanding of how a minor civilization operates, the intricacies of their society are far more complex to understand. From how they govern themselves, to their spiritual beliefs, culture, and morals, and even down to their hobbies, there are countless bizarre and unique lessons one must learn before they can truly understand who they are as a people.

It is only through the time and effort of a dedicated and devoted crew of linguists, scientists, xenoanthropologists, and many others aboard a survey ship that progress can ever hope to be made. As missing even a single key event can lead to crucial setbacks, it is necessary for a survey ship to remain in orbit for a consecutive number of turns in order to reveal a minor civilization’s true identity. If a survey ship leaves to pursue other endeavors, or is forced out or destroyed by a rival, all its empire’s progress towards studying the minor civilization is lost.



Surveying a minor civilization is a winner take all endeavor. The first empire to complete the survey will fully reveal the civilization’s identity to all empires who have knowledge of it. All other survey ships who happen to be studying that empire lose all progress and will no longer be able to study it. The relationship bonus for the minor civilization type is immediately doubled for all empires who have access to it.

The first empire to complete the surveying of a minor civilization also receives several unique benefits.

The first benefit received is an immediate one-time bonus. There are several unique one-time bonuses for each minor civilization, and multiple minor civilization per type, so you never know exactly which one you may receive.

The second benefit you receive is the ability to select the permanent bonus this minor civilization will provide to any empire who has access to it. These bonuses are also unique to each minor civilization, meaning that no two minor civilizations will offer the same rewards, even if they are the same type.



In order to be eligible for any of the bonuses a minor civilization has to offer, whether it has been surveyed or not, your empire must meet several criteria. First, your empire must have knowledge of their existence. Second, their homeworld must be within your supply range, as otherwise you have no way to interact with them. Third, another empire must not have exclusive access to them.

An empire gains exclusive access to a minor civilization anytime it brings that civilization within its borders. When your empire has exclusive access, it gains all the benefits of a minor civilization and denies them to all other empires except its allies. While a very rewarding opportunity for you, other empires are less pleased with this arrangement and will become upset when they lose access to these bonuses in the process. In addition, when playing with the galactic council victory condition enabled, having exclusive access to a minor civilization also provides that empire with galactic council votes.

As minor civilizations have little defensive capability, they are always at risk of being destroyed by jealous rivals who wish to deny their benefits to others. All it takes is a colony ship filled with eager pioneers or an assault ship of trained recruits to put an end to their existence. Therefore, if you want to keep their benefits, you'll need to remain weary of visiting starships and be ready to stand up for the defense of the defenseless.

If Evolutions are enabled, a few empires have unique ways to interact with Minor Civilizations. Using their Sacrificial Lambs ability, the Draguul automatically assimilate any minor civilization that becomes exclusive to their empire. This permanently grants the Draguul all of their benefits while also removing them from the galaxy map and denying them to others. On the other hand, the Cerixx's Galactic Security Initiative actually prevents their empire from being able to destroy minor civilizations at all. This is for good reason though, as each minor civilization within their borders grants them additional ship support points.


At this point, all of the content available in Evolving Empires that is applicable to the base game has now been discussed. As you’ve seen, there’s a huge amount of content waiting for you, and I’m sure by now you’re anxious to get your hands on it!

There is… just one more thing though. For those that own our first expansion, Natural Law, as well as those who may be interested in picking it up, you may be wondering what Evolving Empires means for the Cerixx and Palacean. If you count yourself among this group, all I can say is I highly encourage you to keep an eye out for our next dev diary early next week!

Don’t forget that Evolving Empires is coming out on May 25th! It’s right around the corner! Please don’t forget to wishlist so you'll be informed the moment it releases! If you wish to get important news from our game and company please consider subscribing to our newsletter.

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