In order to access the skirmish settings, I have added a button in the main menu instead of forcing the player to go through the former "Single player" screen:
Clicking on the new "Skirmish" button will bring up the new screen. This screen has four tabs (at the moment) which let you specifiy the conditions and circumstances of your preferred gameplay. The first page is the Galaxy settings:
Note the "Load skirmish..." and "Save skirmish..." buttons at the bottom. They will allow you to load and save the definition of a skirmish game settings. Let's see the explanations of the other controls on this tab.
- Galaxy template will let you choose the basic definition of the galaxy you'll be playing in, this includes the galaxy map, definition of the surface tiles and surface maps with their variants. The spin box will list all available campaigns as the potential source for these information. In the future, when the Campaign Editor is functional, you'll be able to see your own campaigns here as well. Hover over the spin box to see a tooltip containing the campaign description.
- Randomize surfaces. Given a predefined number and type of planets, this option will let you randomize around its surface type and variant, e.g., Earth might become a Neptoplasm-3 planet.
- Randomize layout. [Will be implemented later once I figure out a good layout algorithm] This will move planets around a bit.
- Custom number of planets. [Will be implemented later once I figure out a good layout algorithm] It lets you specify the number of planets. If you selected "Random surfaces" and "Random layout", this behaves like a random map generator. Otherwise, this acts as a limiter on existing planets, For example. The Main Campaign has 106 planets. A restriction of 100 planets will randomly remove 6.
- Race template. Yet another list of campaigns which will determine the player and race definitions to be used as templates. This will affect the available races for players in the upcoming "Players" tab.
- Technology template is a list of campaigns. Chose one as the basis of technologies and buildings.
- Technology level will let you specify the upper bound of the research. Note that level 2+ lets you produce, level 3+ lets you research and level 4+ will let you do diplomacy.
- Initial relation. This will let you choose the initial diplomatic relations between the players. You can have it on "Template defaults" which takes the relation values from the "Race template". Alternatively, you can force an initial "Peace" or "War" condition.
- Difficulty will affect the general parameters of the environmental simulation, e.g., tax generation, disasters, etc., but not the difficulty of the AI co-players. You can set the AI difficulty levels per player in the "Players" tab.
The Economy page details the economic starting conditions:
- Initial money is given to every player participating in the skirmish game. Hold the SHIFT key to change values by the 10s.
- Initial planets per player will let you specify how many planets to start with. Hold the SHIFT key to change values by the 10s. If the player count and initial planet count exceeds the available planet count, you'll be granted the requested amount, but the other AI players will get the rest of the planets distributed almost equally.
- Initial population: you can specify your starting population, more population means more taxes, but you'll need to build houses very quickly to keep them.
- Place Colony Hubs: If not selected, you get the planets you own empty and you have to manually place each Colony Hub. This counts as a regular construction, so be careful how many "Initial money" you select. (For reference, Colony Hub costs 40,000 cr in the Main campaign.). If selected, the Colony Hubs will be pre-built for you, free of charge, but will always be placed map-center, similar to regular colonization.
- Grant Colony ship technology. The "Main campaign" lets you research and build Colony ships on level 4 and with 10 planets worth of laboratories. Click this checkbox to receive the technology from the beginning. Note that this affects all players.
- Initial Colony ships. Many 4X games start you with 1 Colony Ship available, so Open-IG will let you adjust that as well. You can give yourself and all other players any number of Colony ships. However, you'll only get one deployed into a fleet initially and the rest will be kept in inventory. To deploy the rest, you'll need to build a Military spaceport (80,000 cr in the Main campaign) to avoid uwanted exploitation.
- Grant Orbital factory technology. Larger ship construction requires Orbital factory to be deployed,(except when a race has the "Fully ground-based factories" trait, which lifts this limit). Orbital factory research requires 5 planets worth of labs in the Main Campaign, but selecting this option will grant the technology to every player.
- Initial Orbital factories will grant you the requested number of factories in your inventory, where you can deploy them at your will. Note, however, that orbital factories counts towards the value of your planets, making them a fine target for attacks. If you don't provide additional defense, you'll lose them fairly quickly. To overcome this, you can grant everyone a few more items.
The Players screen is not ready at the moment, so let's skip to the last page, the Victory conditions screen.
- Conquest victory is the usual way of winning: take over all other players, that aren't in your group.
- Occupation victory: hold at least the given percentage of planets for the specified duration. If you happen to fall below the given percentage, the time limit will start over.
- Economic victory: that group wins who reach the specified amount of total money the first. You may combine this with the "Initial relation: Peaceful".
- Technological victory: that group wins who researches its full technology tree. Note however, that the original Main campaign is not balanced in this manner and non-human races have either none or practically unreachable technologies.
- Social victory: the one wins who reaches the given morale level on the specified amount of planets.
You may combine these victory conditions, then you'll win if you succeed in any of them, or lose if the enemy reaches any of them.
Note that the current AI does not consider any of the victory conditions as targets to pursue, but merely plays a limited offensive gameplay. Upcoming AI refinements may improve the situation. However, I'm aware that these settings and conditions become much more interesting in a Multiplayer environment. The upcoming Multiplayer feature will most likely feature the same GUI, with the addition of network-related settings.