One of the cornerstones of the Galactic Civilizations series has always been customization. From specifying the size of your map and the density of planets, to crafting custom vessels, to creating your own complete civilizations, the game has something for everyone.
Creating a custom civilization is easy with the Civilization Builder! I’m going to walk you through the steps and the options - there are lots! - that you have when you decide to try it out.
To start your custom civilization, click on “New Game” on the main menu. At the bottom of the choose civilization screen, you’ll see a button that says “Create Civilization.” Click on it, and let the fun begin.
You’ll find yourself on a screen that defaults to the Terrans. Here, you’ll be able to change your civilization’s name, apply custom portraits, choose music, designate your homeworld and starting sector, and more.
The three tabs at the top - Biology, Culture, and Fleets - all guide you through the different categories of customization for your civilization. We’re going to start with the beefiest of the three, which is Biology.
There’s plenty to do here! I usually start with uploading or choosing images so that I can have an idea of what my civilization looks like before I start adding flavor with names, music, and so on.
There are several leader foregrounds, backgrounds, portraits, and logos to choose from already preloaded into the game. Making your own is very simple - it’s just a matter of sizing it correctly and placing it in the right folder.
The folder location and size requirements for the image is clearly displayed when you click on the “...” associated with the image you intend to change. The sizing requirements are:
Leader Foreground: 16:9 PNG (1920x1080)
Leader Background: 16:9 PNG (1920x1080)
Leader Portrait: 512x512 PNG
Civilization Logo: 512x512 PNG
Citizen Portraits: 128x128 PNG
After you’ve uploaded or selected your desired images, you can move onto the other details. I’ll break them down below.
Choose your themes
Below your leader’s portrait, you’ll find options for choosing your citizen type, customizing their portraits, and selecting a map and music theme.
You can upload several different citizen portraits - which, when you’re trying to make a civilization of cats, is just a wealth of fun waiting to happen. In the image below, I’ve added a picture of my sister’s cat, Binx, as one of my citizens. There are also several pre-made portraits you can choose from.
Tip! You do have to choose a species for your citizens. Make sure you check their descriptions, because they all provide different benefits and have various drawbacks.
To round out this section, select a music theme and a map theme - which is what color you’ll see for your civilization when you zoom out further on the map. You can select from the colors already offered, or by clicking “...” next to “Map Theme” you can use the color grid to create your own.
Tip! Not only can you switch the color for your faction itself, but you can also adjust and customize the colors for influence, lines, strategic icons, and rally points.
Choose some names
While this is fairly straightforward and self-explanatory, remember that your names help to define your civilization. In this case, you’ll also get to select a shortened version of your name, designate a ship callsign, name your leader (very important!), and select your civilizations’ biology: carbon based, aquatic, silicon based, or synthetic.
Tip! If you’re planning on sharing your creation on the Steam workshop, make sure the names are appropriate and don't violate our Terms of Service (TOS). The same also goes for images and everything else.
Select your homeworld
At this point, you get to name your homeworld and choose what type of planet it is. There are tons of options here: desert, arboreal, mountainous, and so much more. You will also get to select what star system your homeworld is located in. By choosing “...” to the right of “Star System,” you’ll see a secondary menu with plenty of options.
Tip! Be careful with your starting homeworld! You’ll want to make sure that it synergizes with your civilization’s biology and its traits and abilities (which you’ll be selecting on the next screen - you can always go back, though) so that you aren’t starting at a disadvantage.
Describe your civilization
This is where you get to let your creativity fly. Describe your civilization however you like. You’ll probably want to keep it fairly short and sweet here so you don’t bog it down with too many details.
By clicking the “Customize” button below this section, you’ll be taken to a popup menu titled Customize Startup Screen. This is what you - and others, if you share your civilization on our workshop - will see when you start up with this civilization. This is another opportunity to be creative with your text!
Whew, that’s a lot - and that’s just the biology tab! Let’s move on to Culture.
This is where you’ll choose your traits, abilities, starting ships, and the AI personality for your civilization. You’ll want to make choices that mechanically support the theme you’ve developed for your civ.
There are over a dozen unique traits to choose from. You start with 3 trait points to assign as you like. Each trait has 4 values next to it (except the Fast trait) ranging from +2 to -2. By not selecting a trait, you have the base value in it by default. Each +1 slot costs you a single trait point; +2 slots will cost you two.
Conversely, the yellow and red negative slots will refund you trait points that you can use to buff other areas. For example, I put +2 points in the Likeable trait (my cat is very loveable, it made sense to me), so in order to compensate for that extra point I took a -1 hit to my Brutal trait.
Tip! Try to balance your traits so that you’re well rounded and so that they support what you ultimately want to do with your civilization. Using the themes you developed on the previous screen can help you decide what traits are best to assign here.
Now, you’ll choose 2 abilities. These differ from traits in that they don’t have a numerical value you can adjust; instead, these are just inherent to your civilization. There are tons of possibilities for interesting combinations here - choose what you like best and what you think suits your civilization! Mousing over each ability will tell you what it does.
Civilization Starting Ships
Here, you can change what ships you start the game with. The default is typically a colony and a survey ship (which, frankly, I still recommend), but you can switch one or both of them out to be a constructor, a scout, or a colony fleet.
Tip! The Colony Fleet gives you two colony ships, but remember - you only start with so many citizens (usually), so two right off the bat may not be as useful as having one and then another ship to survey anomalies and find better planets on the way. The Colony ship comes with a probe that will help you find new worlds more quickly.
Here, you’ll get to select what types of ships will be your commander ships for this civilization. They all come as a package deal. The drop down menu will show you the overall theme or idea for the ship set, and when you select it you can mouse over individual ships to see what their traits and abilities are.
When you’re not controlling your civilization, the AI needs to know how to behave. Based on all of the choices you’ve made for your civ, you can select the AI’s ideology and how it approaches its priorities during gameplay and which character traits it might have.
Tip! You can choose more than one character trait here! If you want them to be Benevolent, Peaceful, and Diplomatic, you can select all three. Try to avoid diametric opposition, though - that might cause some serious confusion!
Beneath this option you’ll see a button that says “Customize Flavor Text”. This is another place where you can have fun with writing; it will let you create a custom greeting for when you make first contact, declare war, request peace, and much more with another civilization.
Tip! Before you edit the text in this screen, it will prompt you to save. Make sure you do so often while creating your civilization so that you don’t lose any of your valuable work.
This is where you can get really into the weeds with customization! You can customize individual ships and ship templates, as well as starbases. You can drag and drop any compatible template to a ship class to change it.For each individual style, you can change ship colors, textures, and materials. Make sure to save your fleet style before you click out of here!
Tip! If you want to be extra-specific, you can change the class names and class descriptions of your ships to support the theme and flavor of your civilization.
Upload your Civilization
Once you’ve customized everything to your heart’s content, it’s time to save your civilization and then, if you want to share it, upload it to the workshop. Click “Upload Civilization” to get started.
It will take you to a menu where you’ll see your civilization’s name and short description displayed. Below is the author - that’s you! - but if you’re feeling shy you are welcome to upload your civilization anonymously.
Then, click upload - and you’re done! You can back out the main menu and click on the icon at the bottom of the screen that says “download mods or upload your own” when you mouse over it. At the top, click on “Civilization” to switch tabs to all uploaded civilizations. Yours should be there, ready to go!
If you ever want to remove your civilization for any reason, simply select it in the workshop and select remove from workshop. You can re-upload it at any time.
Tip! If you can’t find your upload easily, click on the box that says “my mods” on the right hand side. It will just show you yours!
Hopefully this guide helps you feel excited and empowered to create your own civilizations! There are so many possibilities, and we love seeing everyone’s creations in our workshop. If you run into any trouble or have any questions, we’re very active on the forums here. Feel free to drop a comment on this post or start a thread asking for help - we’d be glad to assist!