We catch up with Maxis general manager and executive producer on SimCity 2013 to talk about the game, the new game engine and what we can expect to see.
I think first things first…where the hell has SimCity been for the God knows how many last few years?
It's been waiting for a proper relaunch which is what we're all about.
Excellent, now what are the key features of SimCity because obviously thats the most important thing for a relaunch of this franchise of this size?
I think the most important, the massive change is multiplayer, so thats huge, it was really never there, the team actually wanted to do it for SimCity4 but it just wasn't right, so i think thats the most important, we got all new stuff but thats the most important change.
Why has it taken this long to do multiplayer and how has this going to effect the game?
I think it took so long, there are a lot of different factors, it wasn't just multiplayer that prevented us from re-launching SimCity earlier, the great thing is the sort of online connected gaming thats happened, it's massive change and so it's perfect and the right time to bring SimCity out because of that.
One of the concerns that i have and especially for our audience obviously in the Middle East, bandwidth is sometimes an issue and one of the things that i think has come out with SimCity is actually that you need to be connected online to be able to play the game.
That is correct, we want the player to experience, the world of today is all interconnected in real life so we wanted to bring that to light and having people that this connected experience with things happening, with players all over the world with leader boards with resources that you could buy and sell online and all that kind of stuff we have this much richer game play having it online.
But does that compromise sales, does that compromise strategy for sales of the game if for example if people aren't able to connect online, is there an offline mode for example for people to be able to play, or do you need to have an internet connection to play and is it something the emerging markets would go for?
You do have to have an internet connection to play. So there is that, i guess that we do recognise that but it's so fundamental to multiplayer to actually be online that we have made that decision to go that route.
So can you play offline at all? Straight up?
There is no offline mode. You have to be online to play the game.
As far as the mechanics, we've seen the GlassBox engine, which looks amazing by the way, how does that really change the game? What does that do for the game?
So in the old SimCity we actually had to fake some of the simulations so some of it wasn't really actually real so we had to sort of fudge things, it was kind of smoking mirrors so the great thing about glass box is that we can actually simulate stuff and you can actually see it happening so for example in the old SimCity cars would sort of just disappear as they got to the edge of the SimCity screen so we just tried to hide it a bit so they would just literally just disappear. So now they don't. They actually drive around. They're driving Sims. It really brings the world to life. A lot of cool stuff is happening that we couldn't' do before.
Can we expect to see Sims that you've created from some of The Sims games being exported to SimCity?
We have an actual massive SImCity world we have to create first. So right now there is no connection between The Sims and SimCity. But we have this amazing, gigantic, online world, so we'll tackle that first and give that some thought in the future. Great idea though…
Where does SimCity sit with localisation?
We'll definitely have tons of languages that SimCity will ship with. The voice stuff is all Simlish, so it's the manufactured language so we don't have to worry about localisation there, but in terms of text and what appears on screen, we'll defiantly have all the major languages.
I actually don't know if we're doing Arabic (we later found out that Arabic will not be featured, although there will be Arabic packaging).
What's your favourite thing about the game?
There are so many things! I would have to say the thing I'm most excited about is that i loved the SimCity's of the past, but they just got too hard to play. So I think the coolest thing is that we have this really graphical focused interface where we visualise what's happening in the game so these data layers, and how you interpret the data, is presented in a way that's functional and easy to play. But the game's not easy, we still have all the depth in the game, but the game's easy to play in terms of that. So I think that for me is the biggest change, and that's what I'm excited about the most. It's really cool and fun to interact with it now.