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SimCity 4 News Interview
Turner 'Bulldog' Hopkinson :: 12:00 AM @ September 30th, 2002 :: In-House: Interviews
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GameGossip: When did the idea for a Sim City 4 come into play?
Kevin Hogan: The idea for doing a SimCity 4 was a forgone conclusion, even before SimCity 3000 was completed. The design for SimCity 4 has been in the works since SimCity 3000 Unlimited was completed. The design has grown and evolved from then until now, and even at this point as we work towards completing development, there is a still some level of ongoing design work.
GG: What types of improvements can we look forward to seeing?
KH: We've completely redesigned and reengineered the core simulator for SimCity 4. The simulator is now much more responsive to player actions and far more realistically models the development of a city. We can now do things like show Sims committing crimes as they happen, allowing the player to dispatch police to that location and bust the criminal in the act. By looking around at the yards of your neighbourhood, the cars that people drive, the pools in the back yards, you can tell how rich or poor your residents are. In addition to that, we're now providing an amazing set of terrain editing tools, the ability to import your Sims from the Sims, and the ability to play our new region game which allows you to connect multiple cities together for sharing and competing for resources.
GG: What will separate this game from its predecessors?
KH: The level of detail that we can display now because of the enhancements we've made to the simulator is far beyond anything we could do in previous versions. In addition to that, we can also take advantage of enhancements to PC technology and 3D hardware that have occurred in the last 4 years.
GG: How far along is the game in the development cycle?
KH: We're in the last month of development, primarily fixing bugs and tying up loose ends.
GG: What has posed the biggest challenge so far for you guys?
KH: We've got more really good design ideas than we can possibly implement. The biggest challenge we've faced is in deciding what we should implement given the time frame that we'd like to ship by.
GG: What single feature are you most proud of getting implemented?
KH: There's a lot to be proud of. The game is gorgeous and I think the details that we've added are going to blow people away. If I had to pick a single feature, it would be the improvements we've made to the core simulator. I think people well genuinely appreciate how their actions get translated into simulation events. They'll much more easily be able to tie what they do with how the game responds.
GG: Do you currently have a list of ""if we have time"" features?
KH: We have a ton of features that we'd love to get in if we have time. There's no possible way that we'll be able to do all of it, but those ideas won't be lost.
GG: If so, what are some of the items included on that list?
KH: This is a list that we intend to keep for use on future projects. As such, we'll be sharing those features when it's time to talk about those projects.
GG: What type of support can the mod community expect from you guys?
KH: As we develop the game we're ensuring that all aspects be customisable including buildings, lots, advice, and ordinances. The kinds of tools we provide will be determined some time between now and launch.
GG: What kind of multiplayer elements will we be looking at?
KH: For launch we intend to offer what we are calling SimCityScape. There are still a number of unresolved design issues with this, but our intent is to take advantage of the incredible creativity of our community by allowing them to cooperatively share cities and have teams compete with each other to determine the best cities.
GG: To say the least, the graphics we've seen so far are astounding. How will these translate on lower end systems and what time of minimum requirements are you guys currently looking at?
KH: There are a number of graphics options that will need to be disabled on lower end systems to get a playable game, all of which can be customized by the player. The minimum spec will be a 600MHz Pentium III or equivalent, 128MB of RAM, and a 16 MB video card.
GG: It's been said inter-city trading will play a bigger role in Sim City 4 than it has in previous Sim City titles. Can you expand on this?
KH: This is part of our region play. When you begin the game you are presented a Region View that is quite similar to the Neighbourhood View in the Sims. But instead of a collection of houses you are presented a collection of cities. These cities can share resources like power, water, and landfill. In addition to that, the cities can compete and share demand for jobs and residents. With region play you can now set up a city made up entirely of residents that commute to one of your other cities, or create a power producing city that distributes power to the other cities in the region.
GG: Will the game in a whole retain its simplicity and approachability that has made it such a success in the past? Especially in terms of the relatively short learning curve?
KH: We're actually striving to make the game even more approachable than it has been in the past. The key, as in any game, is to make it easy to learn and difficult to master. To that end the game provides more detailed and responsive feedback as to what is going wrong and what is going right with the city.
GG: Sim City 4 sees the implementation of 3 definite mods: God, Mayor, and Sim. Could you please tell us a bit more about these and how they will work?
KH: God mode allows you to make grand changes to the terrain of your city. In addition to that, if you are a vengeful god, you can destroy your city with the disaster tools that we provide. In mayor mode you grow your city, make decisions about where police stations, power plants, water pumps, etc go, and manage the budget. In My Sim mode you can import Sims from the Sims, move them into neighbourhoods, and get feedback from them about what they think of your city. As the lives of your citizens improve, the life of your Sim improves. Anything that can happen to your residents can happen to your Sim. So be careful where you place that tornado.
GG: Alright, here's the scenario. I just lost my job and instead of hitting the bars I've decided I want to play God with my Sims. In other words, what type of divine vengeance can I wreak upon my hapless citizens?
KH: You can place a volcano in the middle of you city and watch the lava flow decimated everything in its path, you can place an earthquake and watch the fault-line grow and demolish houses and businesses, and you can plop a tornado and drag it around just to name a few.
GG: At Camp EA we heard a tentative ""Fall 2002"" as a release date. Can you get anymore specific than this and if not are you still on lock to hit that ""Fall 2002"" date?
KH: We are tracking to ship in mid-November.

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