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JEFF MORRIS: Civilization III Interview #1, July 29, 2001

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  • JEFF MORRIS: Civilization III Interview #1, July 29, 2001

    We are proud to open our series of interviews around Civilization III, with Jeff Morris, Associate Producer on Civ III. Jeff gives answers to many open questions on the number of civs, the official site, the release date and much more. We hope that you find it interesting!

    Apolyton: For the younger civers, please give us your history in civ games

    Jeff Morris: I started with Civ I on my crusty 386 40mhz. I was just starting college at the time and it consumed more study hours than I care to admit. This is even more impressive considering the visually mind blowing (at the time) Wing Commander II was installed and ready to go, but collecting dust. I never played Civ II until coming to Firaxis.

    Apolyton: What is your job in civ3 this time?

    Jeff Morris: I'm Associate Producer on Civ III. I'm also managing the Infogrames testing team with the invaluable help of their leads Grant Frazier and Rex Martin.

    Apolyton: Where is the development at this current stage? Is there a release date yet?

    Jeff Morris: We're on our third alpha version at the time of this writing. Civ III should hit beta within 2-3 weeks. There is an internal deadline, but when the game will hit shelves hasn't been specifically pinned.

    Apolyton: Are there any plans for a public beta test? What determined your decision?

    Jeff Morris: There were a lot of plans, but time and resources constricted the options. Public betas serve as valuable sounding boards for a game, but their true value is in compatibility testing. It basically allows us to skip a patch. The trick with public betas is that you release something late enough that allows the player to get a good idea of what the final game will play like, but early enough to incorporate the fixes. An open public beta was originally planned, but that window I was describing never really opened. A closed public beta wasn't an option since don't they involve a large enough 'sample' for compatibility testing and requires immense manpower to manage.

    Apolyton: What "percentage" of Civ3 have we actually seen so far?

    Jeff Morris: I hate quantifying something as complicated as a computer game into a simple rating. Don't get me started on gaming magazines..

    Apolyton: When will Dan ever finish Is the official site going to include something special?

    Jeff Morris: Here's a response from Lindsay Riehl, our Markeing Director:
    The Civ3 site is a collaborative effort between Infogrames and Firaxis. Because all of our artists are working full-time on game assets we've contracted with an outside web developer, who has a lot of experience working with game companies, to create the official Civ3 site. We hope to have the site go live in early August. Dan's been heavily involved in the creation of the site along with a couple of other development projects on both games, so he's wearing many hats these days! The new site contains new game information, art and downloadable assets. We hope you like it!

    Apolyton: What effect do the opinions on fan site forums, such as Apolyton's, impact design decisions? Have you rethought any part of Civ3 because of the fans' reaction?

    Jeff Morris: We really appreciate getting feedback from fans. They're useful in that they focus on many of the issues and features that we're debating internally and they give us some new ideas as well. This perspective often leads to new approaches to sometimes difficult questions, though it's important to realize that budgets, dates and resources all carry as much weight as a good idea.

    Apolyton: What are your plans for the after-release support? Some felt that SMAC needed one more patch...

    Jeff Morris: We're very proud of the Civ III editors and since these are tools for consumers, we have big plans for allowing these serious mod developers to achieve their goals. This will include dialogues with those developers who have a proven track record or a promising idea, updates to the editors based on ease of use and functionality, and improving the methods of distributing and playing these scenarios.

    Apolyton: Will there be 7 civs in a game like civ2 and smac or more? We have heard almost any possible choice on this

    Jeff Morris: Supported, there will be 7 civilizations in a game, 8 including the player. The editor allows you to adjust this, though many screens are setup only for this 8 civ limit.
    (sidenote: when asked what the limit of the editor will be, Jeff responded that the tools are still in development and that the current limit is 16)

    Apolyton: Are the graphics or are you still working on them? Some people are hoping for the second...

    Jeff Morris: Graphic tasks right now are finishing the remaining overlay tiles (like poles and mines) and polishing screens.

    Apolyton: You're playing civ for some time now How have the new ideas around culture and diplomacy changed the game for you?

    Jeff Morris: They fundamentally changed the way the game plays. Culture's impact on the acquisition of new territory and how you support a high culture civilization are definitely a 'new' way to play. By building (and more importantly maintaining) the city improvements that generate culture, you're closing off certain other play styles (like large, offensive military forces). Further, wonders that alleviate the maintenance costs of improvements become critical. Diplomacy's major impact is enabling resource trades. Since you really can't be competitive in this game without SOME luxuries and strategic resources, you need to maintain stable relationships with your neighbors. The tools to permit these arrangements are enabled by your play style. For instance, without an embassy, you can't expect to know the standing relationships between civilizations, or subscribe to complicated diplomatic arrangements like Military Alliances.

    Apolyton: Arent you guys sick of making civ games yet?

    Jeff Morris: How could we be? It's a fantastic system that is flexible, appeals to a large audience, and is mod-friendly. For those in the business of making games, it's a dream franchise.

    Apolyton: Has the whole CTP1/2 story taught you anything? Do you think these games helped the genre or not?

    Jeff Morris: They helped us understand the impact of major changes to this system. New features must seamlessly integrate with the existing system, and that's tough the more radical the change. At first I wasn't a fan of a conservative sequel, though I'm a complete convert now.

    Apolyton: Is there any hope that we will see a SMAC2?

    Jeff Morris: You never know.

    Apolyton: Does your wife know about this?

    Jeff Morris: How do you know that ain't her?

    Many thanks to Jeff for answering our questions(which were made by Snapcase, Solver, Imran Siddiqui and MarkG)!

    Original Discussion Thread:
    Co-Founder, Apolyton Civilization Site
    Co-Owner/Webmaster, | CTO, Apogee Information Systems my non-mobile non-photo news & articles blog

  • #2
    Good article. Thanks for the sharing it.