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Our Gaming Future Is Bright!

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  • Our Gaming Future Is Bright!

    I just read the Gamespot interview (quoted below) with Trevor Chan (Capitalism, Seven Kingdoms) and I can't wait to see what this guy will do next.

    Capitalism 2 is just reaching stores and Chan gives a good hint as to what Cap 3 will be, sounds really interesting! Then he went on to drop some less obvious hints about future projects. WOW! If his work on Cap and SK are any indication I'd say we have some great games to look forward to!

    Check Gamespot tomorrow for a full review of Cap 2.

    We talk with the creator of the Capitalism and Seven Kingdoms games about his plans for the future.

    GameSpot recently talked with Trevor Chan, the lead designer at Enlight Software and the creator of the Capitalism and Seven Kingdoms strategy games. His latest game, Capitalism II, recently arrived in stores. Chan talked to us about the game's development, how he first got into the game industry, how he balances educational and entertainment elements in his games, his plans for future games, and what he would like to include in Capitalism III.
    GameSpot: Your latest game, Capitalism II, is now in stores. How long was the game in development?

    Trevor Chan: The game was in development for more than 18 months.

    GS: What was the biggest challenge in making a sequel to Capitalism?

    TC: The original Capitalism is known for its realistic and intricate simulation of the business world, and admittedly its learning curve can be fairly steep for new players. When it comes to developing the sequel, the biggest challenge posed to us was how to add new features on top of its already extensive base of features and yet make the game easier to learn and play than its predecessors. We worked toward this objective by streamlining the interface and improving the tutorial system. For instance, now the player no longer has to look for suppliers on the map. Replacing this tedious process is a window listing all the suppliers matching your selection criteria. The new city view, which is graphically much richer, is also part of the effort to increase the game's user-friendliness to new players.

    GS: Do you have any plans to make Capitalism III? If so, what features would you like to add?

    TC: A couple of years ago, we all saw the Internet craze and the tremendous wealth it created on the stock market. While the bubble has burst, the e-business revolution that it triggered in the corporate world has not. Capitalism was modeled on an economic structure that served us well for the majority of the 20th century until the digital economy started to profoundly shape how a business operates.

    If I am going to develop Capitalism III, the biggest change will definitely come from the transformation from the traditional economy to the digital economy. Among many of its implications, strategies that are so favorably used by Capitalism veterans like vertical integration will instantly become obsolete, as the new economy values ideas, technologies, and brands significantly over physical capital.

    Imagine a game that lets you re-create all the glories of the Internet boom and subsequently experience the fallouts of dot-coms in the virtual world. A skilled player can make a difference by letting the virtue of the digital revolution lead your corporation to success, instead of failing miserably like many of the tech companies in the real world did. This idea is so fascinating to me that I have already started doing preliminary design on what should be a logical progression of the Capitalism series.

    GS: The original Capitalism games, and more recently Virtual U, have been used as educational tools. What have you done to design your games to appeal to both educators and a more general gaming audience?

    TC: To design a game appealing to both audiences, striking a good balance between realism and gameplay is crucial. Educators are very demanding on realism, whereas gamers in general are more forgiving about oversights in realism and are driven mostly by gameplay. Brutally put, if a game is not fun, no matter how educational it is, gamers are not going to buy it. The distinctively different preferences of the two market segments require the game designer to consistently conceive and evaluate the game design from the perspectives of both sides throughout the course of the development.

    For the Capitalism series, I attempted to immerse myself in the academic world by reading an extensive list of academic books on the subject during the early stage of the development. On the other hand, the gaming perspective came relatively effortlessly, as I have always been a gamer.

    For Virtual U, which is a university simulation, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to co-design the game with Professor William Massy, who formerly served as vice president at Stanford University. He is a well-recognized expert in higher education management and was instrumental in developing Virtual U's highly realistic simulation model.

    GS: How did you first get into game development? What did you do before Capitalism?

    TC: I started making games on a part-time basis while I had day job working for an airline company as a programming consultant on a sales system. My first game was developed for a local television network for promotional proposes, and it was released about 10 years ago. The game was a strategy game about managing TV programs and competing with your peer program managers. I recall that it ran on machine with a VGA 320x200 256-color video display, which was considered cutting-edge then.

    Although the game's purpose was for promotion only and did not get much attention from the gaming community, the fun and rewarding experience of developing my first game propelled me to undertake a larger scale game development project on my own, which eventually became the first Capitalism, after two and a half years of development.

    GS: You also created the Seven Kingdoms strategy games, which are set in a fantasy universe. What inspired you to switch from a real-world economic simulation to a fantasy empire-building strategy game, and then back?

    TC: I am a big fan of Civilization. And like many gamers, I was hooked by real-time strategy games when they first came out in the mid-'90s. Expectedly, my dream game would be a real-time strategy game with the empire-building elements of Civilization. However, there was not such a game on the market at that time, and this meant that I would have to make the game myself if I wanted to play it. From the business point of view, it indicated that there was a market underserved and room for developing such a title.

    The fantasy elements were added to the game after the empire-building part was solid. I always enjoy seeing and playing with wildly imagined creatures in games. Since I could not do that with Capitalism, doing it with Seven Kingdoms was a chance that I couldn't afford to miss.

    After developing two Seven Kingdoms games in a row, I was up for a change in design direction. I also felt obliged to make an up-to-date version of Capitalism for those gamers who still play previous Capitalism versions whose graphics are quite dated. Therefore, making the sequel to Capitalism was a rational decision to me after completing Seven Kingdoms II.

    GS: Are there any plans for a Seven Kingdoms III?

    TC: There are no concrete plans for Seven Kingdoms III yet. But I have something on the drawing board that may take Seven Kingdoms to a new frontier. I figure that it will take months before I can tell conclusively whether the concept has enough merits to be taken seriously as a game project.

    GS: Do you plan to explore other types of games in the future? If so, what other kinds of games, strategy or otherwise, are you interested in?

    TC: My team at Enlight has been developing a hotel simulation game for some time now, and it should be completed early next year. It will be the first game that lets the player build a hotel and have all the satisfactions of watching your virtual customers enjoying your hotel's services in vivid 3D.

    Enlight also has a couple of secret projects in preproduction phases. They are bolder projects than what we have undertaken before and promise to defy the boundaries of strategy, business sim, and RPG gaming, seamlessly integrating different gaming elements into unique gaming experiences.

    GS: Thanks for your time, Trevor.

  • #2
    Trevor is a local. I think I had run into him a couple of times.
    (\__/) 07/07/1937 - Never forget
    (='.'=) "Claims demand evidence; extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." -- Carl Sagan
    (")_(") "Starting the fire from within."


    • #3
      Capitalism and Seven Kingdoms? Those are pretty bad credentials, if you ask me.
      Rethink Refuse Reduce Reuse

      Do It Ourselves


      • #4
        Originally posted by Osweld
        Capitalism and Seven Kingdoms? Those are pretty bad credentials, if you ask me.
        It's all a matter of taste. I had Seven Kingdoms on my computer for probably a year, and Capitalism (well, Cap Plus actually) is among the oldest games still on my hard drive along with Civ 2 and Stars!.

        Chan's games probably appeal to a narrower audience than Sid's games do, but IMO they show an equivalent level of innovation and skill in their implementation, and as far as I'm concerned the fun factor is definitely there. If Chan can come up with a mainstream hit he could be another big name in gaming.



        • #5
          I also have Cap Plus. It's sort of dry and requires a lot of number crunching. Unfortunately the program doesn't provide any helpful tools, so a player needs to resort to outside help, such as spreadsheets and calculators.
          (\__/) 07/07/1937 - Never forget
          (='.'=) "Claims demand evidence; extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." -- Carl Sagan
          (")_(") "Starting the fire from within."


          • #6
            I played Cap Plus on intuition. Didn't do too badly, but it's been sooooooooooo long since I last played it.


            • #7
              I enjoy CapPlus. In fact, I had to order overseas especially for it. I can't say I do that well at it though. Apart from the first basic scenario, I don't think I've won any of the games.

              It has a big learning curve. When I first got the game, after going through the tutorials, I went to play a game proper, and just didn't know where to begin. It sat on my shelf for a year before I managed to have a decent go at it.

              I've inquired with local retailers about Capitalism 2 but so far, there's nothing mentioned on any suppliers list here. Here's hoping I won't have to order overseas for this one as well - it's quite expensive that way.
              Avoid COLONY RUSH on Galactic Civlizations II (both DL & DA) with my Slow Start Mod.
              Finding Civ 4: Colonization too easy? Try my Ten Colonies challenge.


              • #8
                Yeah I will keep a close eye on Cap 2 though I don't know if I will have enough time to play it. I have been looking out for a good business sim though.

                Actually , in response to the thread title there will be a wealth of riches when it comes to strategy games.

                First of all EU2 has just been released and you could easily play that for a year if you enjoy it.
                In addition Paradox is going to release 2 games next year.

                Then there is Defcon which looks really cool.

                Then there is Republic which looks like an amazing political simulation.

                Then there is MOO3 which could be really good.

                Then there is Civ3 , which is controversial, but which could also become really good after a couple of patches and/or an expansion pack.

                Then there is a grand-strategy Napolean game though I don't know when it's going to be released.

                Considering that a good strat game can easily be played for months or even years I think the problem is going to be one of picking which one of several cool games to invest our limited time.