A key design goal for Galactic Impact is for the game to be playable in multiple ways. Some folks may want to run their empires as a warmonger, while others may want to focus on trade, or exploration. Some people might want to plant a flag in every star system their sensors find, while others might want to focus on a few core worlds and venture out only to bring back additional resource. Awesome! We want all of these to be viable.

But space is real big, y’all, and no matter how you slice it, your star map is going to wind up full of information, and not all of it is going to be mission-critical to you and your empire every time you log in.

Enter “Bookmarks” — a system for you to flag some set of specific systems, planets, worlds, or ships as… well, whatever you want them to mean! Worlds you’re actively working to develop, juicy mining opportunities on the edges of the known galaxy, or places you’re planning a sneak attack.

Animation of adding, then removing a Bookmark.

The Bookmark icon will show on the page of any unit or location you can bookmark. Click this and it will show up in the “bookmarks list” on your main Empire screen for easier finding next turn. Click the bookmark again to remove it from your list once it’s no longer relevant.

We’re previewing Bookmarks for everyone starting now! Because we have bills to pay, and we’re committed to never putting “pay-to-win” mechanisms into Galactic Impact, we’re thinking Bookmarks, as a nice-to-have for very active players, may eventually transition to being part of our Galactic Impact Premium subscription option.

Impact the Galaxy with Friends!

We’ve just rolled out a new feature that makes it easy to get your friends into the Galactic Impact galaxy with you, so you’ve got a built-in ally for exploration or conquest!

On your My Empire page, there is now a referral link you can share with friends, family, or random strangers on the internet. When someone signs up using your link, we’ll set them up with their own independent empire somewhere in the galaxy, and we’ll let you pre-define your Diplomacy preferences with their empire, and you’ll both have access to a special type of ship that can probe deep space and help you both map the stars in between your two Homeworlds, and link up, for trade, war, or exploration!

As an added bonus, if you’re a Galactic Impact Premium subscriber, and someone you invited to join also becomes one, we’ll spot you a free month for helping to expand the galaxy!

To get started inviting friends, just head to your Empire’s profile page, where the Bring a Friend panel will make it easy to copy your special invite link.

Looking forward to seeing you and your friends in the galaxy soon!


We’ve added a great new feature we’re calling Alliances! An Alliance allows two or more Players to collaborate via real time chatroom. It’s a great way to develop a strategy for an attack, a plan for protecting trade routes, or just swapping game tips with each other!

To CREATE a new Alliance, you will need to be a Galactic Impact Premium Subscriber, but once an Alliance is established, any Empire in the Galaxy can be invited to join and enjoy the full benefits of this feature.

Empires who belong to any Alliances have an additional panel on their Diplomacy Page that allows them to access the Alliance Real-Time Comms Page. Send and receive messages in real time with the other members of your Alliance, communications carried across any stretch of Galactic distance in an instant.

Invite additional Alliance members as needed and those players can join the chat as well.

But! Keeping these subspace airwaves open and clear is not without cost — Alliances have a Galactic Credit upkeep cost each Stardate, based on the number of crosslinked subspace connections it supports between member Empires. Any member may pay into the Alliance coffers, but make sure someone is keeping on eye on the balance, because if the Alliance’s funds debit to zero, the Alliance is disbanded and the communications history will be lost!

So make sure to only invite those you really need as members of the Alliance, and avoid the upkeep cost becoming unmaintainable. Also, any member is allowed to invite any of their Diplomatic Relations to the Alliance, so make sure they’re trustworthy!


Rubber Banding

A big question I get from folks as they’re signing up — “what’s to stop someone who has been playing for a while from coming in and stomping me as soon as I sign up?” — and it’s a very valid question. A 4X game, by it’s nature, involves a bit of exponential growth, population being one obvious example in Galactic Impact, but also sheer access to resources: finding a second planet, then another, then all those planets funding your fleet, to find more planets, there’s an intrinsic exponential growth. 2x.

Of course, if you join today, and I join tomorrow, and we’re on the same exponential growth trajectory in a game, I can literally never catch you, it’s mathematically impossible, which diminishes the fun for both of us. For me, I can’t ever “overtake” you, so why try? But also for you, because you have no meaningful peer competition.


And we’re live! You can sign up here. Tuning and balancing and expanding game features will be an ongoing project, but the game is now fully playable, and we’ve got several empires already starting to grow. Come on in and check it out!

Start Your Galactic Empire

Sign up now and play for free

Small Delay

There’s a pretty long backlog of updates I need to get edited and posted out about the development process over the last six months, but dropping this short update in real time, because a lot of the copy says “releasing December 2020”, and that’s clearly in the rear-view now.

Sneak peek at the new look!

The goal was to launch the more open phase of public beta on the 17th of December, but in the weeks leading up to that, I had several great conversations with first one, then a second, incredible designers who were excited about the project and I was able to hire to take on the daunting role of cleaning up the visual garbage I’ve been subjecting early testers to and they started working through the screens, and have come up with some remarkable work, which they began implementing immediately.

With such a slick visual overhaul so close in the offing, it felt weird to arbitrarily ‘release’ with the old interface, when the new interface is so much clearer and inspiring for new players. So as soon as the new design starts rolling out to the server, I’ll be throwing the doors open for some more players!

Scary and exciting.


So today was like the first frustrating day of this for sure. I ran into some shit with Rails associations that were really really tedious, and I’m a little angry about it, but I think I got to a good solution.

Some background basics of a 4X (at least ones set in Space), you send ships to star systems, where they either fight other ships, or land folks on the planet to grow a new Outpost, but at the same time, ships belonging to other players are also going about their business, and how do you know if you can see them or not? Star ships ostensibly all have sensors baked in, on the lookout for hostiles (or even allies…?) and new stars to expand our starcharts as we explore outward.

Starting Locations

One challenge with the old build of the game was instantiating ‘new stars’ for a new player to call home when joining the game. As a designer, you want them to have a little bit of a platform from which they can step up and take on the other players who have been playing a while, and have expanded out among the stars. But how to do that in a way that seems even remotely fair? The first time around, I used an algorithm to choose where the new player’s star would be placed, called the Archimedes Spiral. It took as input the number of previously-registered players, and made a somewhat galaxy-shaped spiral, expanding outward from a ‘galactic center’. But issues arose when it became more and more apparent that the stars were too close together, and there weren’t a lot of “other places” for a player to check out that weren’t already someone else’s homeworld. I could have tuned parameters of the spiral, but ultimately, the new stars were always appearing in a predictable pattern, so an experienced player could camp the end of the spiral arm with a Shipyard or a few heavy warships and make a quick PK on a new player as soon as they joined.

Mostly, I’m attempting to make the first pass at development a 1:1 replacement Ruby for Python and Rails for Django, but this was one area that I knew would be a problem as soon as beta testing began, so I chose to take on the challenge of re-imagining this as I rebuilt the new onboarding path.

This is an issue that has been gnawing at me ever since I put this game away 10 years ago (probably second-only to concocting ways of ‘rubber banding’ the exponential growth advantage of players who joined before you), so I had some ideas on how I might approach it.

Rolling Dice

Between working on Galactic Impact the first time in the late 20-aughts and today, I’ve done a lot more board gaming than video gaming, and that’s also where the bulk of my ‘game design’ brain has been. Comparing that world with video games is an interesting exercise, especially because there’s a lot of conversation about “app integrations” on the board game front these days.

This all came to mind as I was dove in to rebuilding “population growth” for Player’s “Worlds” in Galactic Impact. In the old version I did a blanket percentage growth calculation — for example, if the target was 1% growth, multiply the population by 1.01, save that as a the new population and call it a day. Got the job done, but was completely deterministic, which is somewhat unrealistic for population growth. (Also unrealistic when using that same calculation to determine the numbrer of deaths on account of hostile atmospheres).

Evolving 4X Terminology

It’s a core belief of mine that language is important — after all, if you and a listener don’t have a common language of some kind, you can’t communicate — so as I’ve been rebuilding Galactic Impact, I keep being struck by the word “Colony” everywhere in this type of game (Sending Colonists to another world… to Colonize that world when they arrive…).

Without doubt, the term is common parlance when we talk about setting up permanent human habitation on worlds in outer space, “a Moon colony”, “a Mars colony”, and beyond. In fact, NASA has entire articles about it. But in reality it’s a term rooted in a really horrific period of human history. It doesn’t often get this framing in History classes in the U.S., but Colonialism was a seriously fucked up era when entitled European empires showed up on foreign shores to kill, loot, and occupy as they saw fit. These actions redrew the map and world affairs in ways that are still visible four hundred years later, and lots of people around the world are still experiencing the negative downstream effects.