Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

SMAC: Interview With Tim Train on SMAC's Art

Collapse
X
Collapse
  •  

  • SMAC: Interview With Tim Train on SMAC's Art

    Q: Which graphics revisions do you like best? What were the main goals behind the two designs?
    A: We're really pleased with the new interface, which displays lots of information in an intuitive way, and is also flexible enough to be used for most all of the report screens. The first design was centered around the concept of moveable, resizable windows. To accommodate this, the graphics had to be simple and modular, so the user could move them around, stretch them, etc. Our artists told us that they could make a much cooler interface if only it were fixed in place. After a lot of playtesting, we decided that no one really resized their windows or moved them, so we would go ahead and make it fixed in place. Dave Inscore, a very dedicated artist who also created the cityscapes in the diplomacy screens, took it upon himself to redo the interface with excellent results.


    Q: Were the portraits done from models, or just drawn up?
    A: We usually had a model in mind for the basic features of each faction leader, although the clothing, accessories, and hairstyles of each person were pretty much from scratch. The portraits were done by our ace 2D artist Jerome Atherholt.

    Q: How much time was spent on the movies and the in-game graphics? How about for the different display revisions?
    A: We spent about 60% of our art time on the movies. The first display pass took maybe two months, while the second took two months of more intensive work.

    Q: Why did you go to 8-bit color depth instead of 16-bit?
    A: We played around with 16-bit color depth, but found that there was actually not that much of an increase in overall art quality, while we would have cut out the lower end of our target machine spec. Since Firaxis really strives to make our games playable for as many systems as possible, we decided to stick with 8-bit. Had there been a significant increase in art quality with 16-bit, we might have made a different decision.

    Q: In previous games (not metioning names ), the GIF file format was used for images. Why did you switch to PCX?
    A: I don't think any specific thought went into this! :-) We just went with the .pcx format.

    Q: Will people be able to create and add their own 3D components? Will some kind of editor be built in, or will people have to go get, for example, 3D Studio Max?
    A: People won't be able to create their own 3D components, as they are drawn using proprietary Caviar technology. We are exploring giving people the option to create their own 2D sprites, as with other games by this team. We haven't looked at all the issues yet, so we're not sure if we are going to be able to support this functionality. Everything else in the game (text files, sound files, 2D art files) is in a common format of some kind or another, and is fully modifiable.

    Q: How is the Art Team responding to criticism regarding the graphics?
    A: The only issues we've really heard about the graphics concern the terrain and units. We feel that, given the large amounts of information we wanted to display through modular terrain and unit pieces, the art team did an excellent job of balancing the need to express information and the desire to create a cool alien environment. All the other art aspects of the game (interface, static art, Secret Project movies, etc.) have been highly praised in reviews and on the boards, and we're really happy with the job the art team did.

    Q: What are your plans, if any, to enhance the graphics of SMAC? The new version of the demo already brought better graphics. Does it stop here?
    A: We're working on versions of the art for those with red\green colorblindness, in response to requests from the boards. Although these won't look particularly pleasing to the average person, it will allow everyone to play our game and be able to understand the information. We may tweak the art further as we modify the code in response to customer feedback, but we have no specific plans to do so at this time.

    Q: Was there anything the team wanted to include in the game, graphics-wise, but couldn't? What was the determing criteria?
    A: The one thing we'd have like to have done would be to make seven killer interfaces, one for each faction. In the end, we decided that it would be better to put our efforts into one great interface than have seven good but different interfaces.

    Q: What is the team's future plans after SMAC?
    A: At Firaxis, Sid and Brian alternate design duties--one prototypes and plays an advisory role while the other is working hard on a project with a full team. On SMAC, Brian was the lead designer while Sid was the advisor and prototyper. Sid always has two or three prototypes going at any given time; right now, we haven't settled on which of the possibilities should be the next Firaxis Game. The only thing we know is that it will be very cool!

    That was all ladies and gentlemen, We hope you found it interesting. Questions by John Bell, Jason Beaudoin, Daniel Quick, Markos Giannopoulos. Our thanks to Tim Train for answering and Lindsay Riehl for her help on arranging things.

      Posting comments is disabled.

    Article Tags

    Collapse

    Latest Articles

    Collapse

    • SMAC: Interview With Brian Reynolds
      by Martin Gühmann
      Q: First, our thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Most call SMAC a "civ2 sequel", other say it's a "civ clone"(in a rather bad sense for some reason ), almost everyone agrees that SMAC is based on the Civ series. Was this your first intention?
      A: The Civ games are a great series, and we're really proud to have designed them. They're addictive turn-based strategy games and they have a lot of really strong gameplay elements. Since SMAC is also a turn-based strategy game it follows naturally that we've tried to include elements we think make for addictive gameplay in that kind of game. Since SMAC and Civ are both turn-based strategy games designed by the same authors, there will naturally be some similarities, but there are also many significant differences. SMAC certainly isn't intended to be a "sequel" or "clone" of Civ; it is a new game, the next generation of turn-based strategy game....
      October 29, 2011, 19:34
    • SMAX: Interview With Tim Train on Alien Crossfire
      by Martin Gühmann
      Q: We understand that Alien Crossfire is sort of "your baby". Who from the SMAC team is also working on this?
      A: Chris Pine is our lead programmer for SMACX. He was a key part of SMAC's programming as well. Greg Foertsch is our lead artist; he handled quite a lot of the art tasks on the original SMAC. Jerome Atherholt, now our company's Art Manager, signed up to do all the new portraits in the same high-quality style of the originals he did for SMAC, along with many other miscellaneous tasks. Mike Bazzell has returned for some new unit animations, and Mike Ely is putting together the multimedia and backstory for the project. Dave Evans is responsible for all the new sounds in the game. Finally, Doug Kaufman, now full-time at Firaxis, is reprising his role as a designer on SMACX. And of course, Brian Reynolds has chipped in both his programming time and his invaluable design advice. All in all, most of the talent responsible for SMAC is working in some capacity for SMACX!...
      October 28, 2011, 18:27
    • SMAC Macintosh port: Interview With Brad Oliver
      by Martin Gühmann
      PERSONAL

      DanQ: Mr. Oliver, can you give us a brief background on your history in the computer gaming industry?
      What got you into it?

      Brad Oliver: I've done Mac programming for several years now, and I've always wanted to work on games instead of "boring" stuff ;-) To that end, I had sent off my resume to a few Mac gaming companies, and the net result was that I accepted a job working for Westlake Interactive. Westlake's main line of business is porting games to the Mac....
      October 28, 2011, 18:21
    • SMAC: Interview With Tim Train on SMAC's Art
      by Martin Gühmann
      Q: Which graphics revisions do you like best? What were the main goals behind the two designs?
      A: We're really pleased with the new interface, which displays lots of information in an intuitive way, and is also flexible enough to be used for most all of the report screens. The first design was centered around the concept of moveable, resizable windows. To accommodate this, the graphics had to be simple and modular, so the user could move them around, stretch them, etc. Our artists told us that they could make a much cooler interface if only it were fixed in place. After a lot of playtesting, we decided that no one really resized their windows or moved them, so we would go ahead and make it fixed in place. Dave Inscore, a very dedicated artist who also created the cityscapes in the diplomacy screens, took it upon himself to redo the interface with excellent results....
      October 28, 2011, 18:11
    • SMAC Interview With Jeff Morris
      by Martin Gühmann
      LDespot: How did you get started in the game industry?

      Jeff Morris: I guess it started when I got a part time job at the downtown San Francisco Software Etc. Computer games had been my all consuming passion for about a decade at that point, and I figured this was a good way to get my hands on more product (oh, and make money...). It was a terrible job, but it exposed me to the powerful role that retail outlets play in what computer games are available. It was the first time I really thought about the business of making PC games.

      About a year later, my girlfriend at the time gave a lecture at the Computer Game Developers Conference on 2D animation (she worked on Broderbund's Living Books brand). She had little interest in the convention as a whole, so I got her speaker pass for the rest of the day. I ended up at the Origin hospitality suite, since they were hands down my favorite company. I shmoozed a little and was given the impression that I might be "Origin material". I flew myself down there a few weeks later and applied to the Product Support department.
      ...
      October 28, 2011, 17:59
    • Focus on Firaxis: A Look Inside the Company: What is this anyway?
      by Martin Gühmann
      Brought to you by The 14th Brigade and Beyond Alpha Centauri What is this anyway? "Focus on Firaxis: A Look Inside the Company" is an inside look, via interviews, at the company that brought the world a little closer to the Civil War through Sid Meier's Gettysburg! and is now taking us to the stars through their latest work, Sid Meier's Alpha Canturi. SMAC, which is the subject of this web site, is a turn based game similar to Civilization and will be released by Firaxis sometime in 1998. These...
      October 22, 2011, 19:04
    Working...
    X