Tell me about it.
Taking a hiatus from Stellaris due to its current incompetent AI and host of issues brought on by major changes in the last expansion, I thought it might be time to return to the GalCiv franchise due to fond memories of #1 and #2 in that regard - games that were to a certain extent, or so it seemed to me as a developer at the time I played them, developed with the AI in mind when choosing what to include and, as importantly, what not to include. So I got CalCiv3/Crusade and began playing yesterday the way I usually do when first examining game mechanics, frequently loading and saving from within game to test various outcomes. On a medium sized galaxy with default settings and gifted opponents. A nice little sandbox to learn the game, I thought. Can always add the other expansions if it kindles the old flame.
Within less than 30 turns of play, with plentiful saving and loading in-game, loading or saving the game took many minutes. Windows 10 allocated 16 GB to the swap file and 12 GB total memory to the application while trying, desperately, to load or save. (Not that I mind the swap file size or memory use, I've got plenty of space on the harddrive I run the game from, but it does seem a bit excessive given my 16 GB physical memory.)
So I looked at the save files and found that the initial binary soup turn 1 save file save.tmp was about 141 megabytes (compressed 8 megabytes), while a turn 18 was about 2.5 gigabytes (compressed GC3Crusade of 33 megabytes) and concluded that GalCiv 3 was shovelware like Elemental War of Magic, because adding datastructures of several gigabytes size to the state of the game after galaxy creation and game start is something that shouldn't happen save through incompetence and/or sloppy save routines spamming trash into the savefile.
Today, in a better mood, I remembered the lengths to which Brad Wardell went to address the disaster that was Elemental upon release, and returned to the forum because this just had to be a known bug, and probably a new one. I skimmed the relevant thread, read your workaround, ran some simple tests, and concluded that you were on to something. Finally I returned to yesterday's monster saves.
The first load after starting of yesterday's turn 18 save (the only I hadn't overwritten in today's tests) took about a minute or so (no precise timing), if I then immediately tried to load the same file again from within the game or after returning to the main menu (but NOT exiting the game entirely) loading took 12+ minutes, including occasionally grinding the loading animations and music to a slowdown and near halt and starving all other processes of resources.
Then I looked at the posts again and saw that Stardock had known about this issue for months without addressing it. Probably a mix of "cannot reproduce easily", "everybody busy making new stuff" and, possibly, "hey, I loaded a save provided and it worked on my SSD, what did you say, did you say I had to load several times for it to appear? Can't hear you, that takes way too long, next issue".
Whatever, the game was clearly not enjoyable in this state unless I played it ironman style or ironman light, with infrequent saves and no loading without exiting the game entirely and restarting it as a workaround, so good riddance to bad rubbish, time to buy something else shiny to try out. I do so love to test and learn game mechanics, and I'd spent way too long looking at what is ultimately not an interesting problem in the first place (to anybody but the devteam). Then Steam began updating and I returned to the forum to see if there was a patch, and this is it...
...and there's no mention of addressing any save game issues.
I've now started the updated 3.5 version of GalCiv3/Crusade and verified that nothing has changed in that regard. That turn 18 save takes some 70 second to load from the harddrive when loaded the first time after starting the game; and if I do nothing, nothing whatsoever, in the game when it has loaded save ask the game to load the same save file again, it loads in... who's counting? At the 10 minute count I ordered the task manager brought up with ctrl+alt+del and when it appeared some 20-30 seconds later I terminated the process.
I guess I'll hie me to the bug forum (EDIT: after dinner. HUNGRY.) and supply that turn 18 savefile in case it is of use to the team as my gift to the devteam along with this wall of text, in the hope that it'll be of help to others who actually like the game, and check in next time I get a hankering for a Wardell game in a year or two. RIP GalCiv3: 20/2/2019-21/2/2019.