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I started a new game and was lucky enough to experience an economic boom from beginning to end. I'm fairly sure now that the economic boom has always had a 2x multiplier, and that the reason why my taxes are lower than expected is because the game placed an invisible penalty on my economy as it grew larger. At the beginning of the boom, my income was only 9% lower than expected, whereas at the end, it was 15% lower. Tax incomes from individual planets actually shrank even as overall income grew due to more planets being colonized and developed.

The AI, on the other hand, had its hidden bonus grow from about 20% at the beginning of the boom to over 40% at the end. The whole time I was far ahead economically. In the save game I uploaded, I was only a little ahead of the Torians and well ahead of the Thalans, who had 24% and 44% bonuses to their economies respectively.

I suspect that the game gives out these penalties or bonuses according to how much a civ is earning relative to the rest of the playing field, which may help the poorer ones catch up. Still, in one of my old games, two AIs were earning far more than anyone else while I was in the middle of the pack, and the only "help" I got was a 0% tax penalty...
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TNN: I started a new game and was lucky enough to experience an economic boom from beginning to end. I'm fairly sure now that the economic boom has always had a 2x multiplier, and that the reason why my taxes are lower than expected is because the game placed an invisible penalty on my economy as it grew larger. At the beginning of the boom, my income was only 9% lower than expected, whereas at the end, it was 15% lower. Tax incomes from individual planets actually shrank even as overall income grew due to more planets being colonized and developed.
There are two known penalties to your income, if your treasury is too high. A 50% penalty to your trade income, if your treasury is 10k+, and a ~20% penalty to your tax income, if your treasury is 20k+. What you describe sounds like an additional penalty, and I'm a bit weirded out that nobody noticed it before.

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TNN: I suspect that the game gives out these penalties or bonuses according to how much a civ is earning relative to the rest of the playing field, which may help the poorer ones catch up. Still, in one of my old games, two AIs were earning far more than anyone else while I was in the middle of the pack, and the only "help" I got was a 0% tax penalty...
Sounds about right. Can't say that I like it though. GalCiv has always been touted as having an AI that knows how to play the game. And as far as I can tell it that is the case. It shouldn't need such a "help" mechanic. >:(

Also, sorry for the late reply. I was busy IRL and then completely missed your post.
It's all right, you've already been very helpful, and I appreciate any time you can give to answer questions. :)

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Gaunathor: GalCiv has always been touted as having an AI that knows how to play the game. And as far as I can tell it that is the case. It shouldn't need such a "help" mechanic. >:(
Have you also noticed the AI's uncanny ability to find habitable planets and resources in the unexplored fog of war? Everyone, especially Stardock, insists that the AI doesn't get such omniscience cheats. I wanted to take some screenshots and ask around, but then I found this thread: https://forums.galciv2.com/361996/computer-ai-and-hidden-map-not-being-hidden-from-ai-debate

People there not only agree that the AI can do such things, they simply accept it as part of the game, even though it goes against Stardock's claims.

In my experience, it seems AI constructors and scouts have an AI-exclusive ability to find resources and habitable planets in the same way the player's survey ships can use the auto-survey ability to find anomalies in unexplored territory. An AI scout always knows exactly where a habitable planet is, and will make a direct beeline for the closest one. Even Terran scouts without Stellar Cartography can do this. Constructors, meanwhile, know exactly where a resource is - I've seen AIs build a constuctor very early in the game and send it in the opposite direction from where its scouts and flagship went, directly into an unexplored resource.

However, I don't think Stardock is 100% lying when they say the AI can't see through the fog of war. A colony ship, I've noticed, will not leave its home planet until a colonizable planet has been scouted through the fog of war. It's as if there are two different AIs: one controls scout ships while the other controls colony ships, and they don't communicate with each other. The colony ship AI can't see through the fog of war and doesn't do any scouting, while the scout ship knows exactly where the habitable planets are and will go to them without fail. As a result, the AI avoids wasting time by never accidentally sending colony ships to systems without habitable planets, but simultaneously wastes a lot of time by never using its colony ships as scouts.

On the whole, this isn't terribly unfair to the player; it's actually the constructors that are unfair. Imagine if player constructors had an auto-build ability just like auto-survey, but instead of anomalies it found resources...
Post edited February 13, 2021 by TNN
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TNN: It's all right, you've already been very helpful, and I appreciate any time you can give to answer questions. :)
Thanks!

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TNN: Have you also noticed the AI's uncanny ability to find habitable planets and resources in the unexplored fog of war?
Yes, I'm aware. The discussion on whether the AI cheats or not has been going on since the game came out. The overall consensus is, that the AI needs to scout planets first, before it can colonise them. Just like you found out yourself. However, there is one exception. At the start of a game, all the AIs will colonise the second planet in their system. The Thalan don't have a secondary planet in their system. So their colony ship will instead set course to a nearby planet, whether it got scouted first or not.

I'm not entirely convinced that the scouts know the location of all habitable planets. In all the games I've played, I've seen it often enough that the AI completely missed habitable worlds. Even though I'm certain that those planets were within range. However, it is possible that this is an intentional mistake. From what I've read, the AI is written to make mistakes now and then, in order to make it feel more like another human player.

As far as constructors are concerned however, I have to agree with you. They definitely know where the ressources are. At least you get some time before the AI, especially the minor races, start to go for them.

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TNN: Everyone, especially Stardock, insists that the AI doesn't get such omniscience cheats.
I'm pretty sure that the AI does get them on the highest difficulty levels. At least on Suicidal, if not earlier.