In CIV III, how much freedom did you enjoy to create a visually interesting world? Was it a fine line to tread between crafting a simple, functional design and a lively environment?
NR-B: I enjoyed, on the average, about 85% of the freedom I had... Seriously, I was given the green light by Jeff Briggs to come up with a look for the game that I thought would work within the boundaries of a CIV game. I had recently run across a book that had the very famous "Tower of Babel" by Pieter Brueghel on the cover, and I was bowled over by it. Though the painting dates from the1560's, it has an incredibly timeless quality that reminded me of a lot of postmodernism that you see in art, design, and architecture today. I immediately printed a colour copy of it and posted it for all to see. This was perhaps on of the most unifying forces of the entire art production, because if there were a look and feel question, we'd consult old Pieter; if it would work in his world, it would work in ours. Additionally, the story of the Tower of Babel is a very interesting metaphor for the building of civilization, as a whole.
In terms of functionality and liveliness? They go hand in hand. An un-functional game is not lively. When designing the interface I kept in mind 3 things: functionality, simplicity, and readability. I hate it when a game makes a puzzle out of its interface. Some interfaces are very ornate, or complex, but they don't make for good usability, readability, etc. The idea for the main interface was to remove unnecessary tiling art for menu bars and interface bars, and just float things on top of the main map to give people more in-game experience and fewer distractions. I also wanted to keep the look a sort of post-modern, "now-in-a-then-kind-of-way."
As far as everything else goes, there is always a tension between what looks cool, and what works. The questions we have to ask are: Does the art fit game design? Can someone program it and leave enough memory overhead? Do people get it? I must say, though, that I think we've done a great job of mixing the blue sky with solid ground to stand on. Civilization 3 will be fun, new, and accessible.
Describe the unique design characteristics of each race?
NR-B: Uh, God figured all that out a long time ago. We just copied him.
Do cut-scenes, such as Wonders movies, play an important role in the Over all feel of the game? What another animations (cut-scene or otherwise) will feature in the game?
NR-B: We decided not to have wonder movies in CIV III mainly because we’ve spent a lot of time creating this beautiful immersive world and the wonder movies take you out of the world and interrupt game-play. The decision was influenced by feedback from CIV players who let us know that the wonder movies were not that important to them. There will be some very cool in-game visual rewards when you build a wonder. We do have an opening movie and a victory movie. I came up with the concepts for them, and our team created them. The rest of the game is chock-full of beautiful character animation.
Mark Cromer, Sound Designer, Firaxis Games
Sound was fairly secondary in CIV II. Will CIV III feature more sound than unit effects and accompaniment to the movies? If there is a score, how will it work with the in-game action?
Mark: Audio for CIV III has been much improved from audio in CIV II. Units will have SFX that are mixed on the fly with pitch and volume randomisation so they sound different and time perfectly. There is much more music than in CIV II and the music starts interactive with a new game. For example, each time the player builds a city or a unit, the music changes to reflect this.
How has sound been used to complement the different eras in CIV III?
Mark: In game music has been composed to reflect the culture and era of game play. If the player chooses to start a game as an ancient European, the music will sound ancient and European
Tell us the most exciting thing sound-wise in CIV III.
Mark: Two things:
1. The way unit SFX are randomised for pitch and volume so they are different every time. They also time perfectly.
2. The size and scope of the music in terms of size, era and culture. It is also interactive.