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STEVE MARIOTTI INTERVIEW

What is your involvement in the development of "Civilization: Call To Power"?
I am the Art Director. I work with the director to develop the visual look and feel of the game.

What is your personal history with Civilization-style games?
I try to play a bit of everything; Warlords 3, Master of Orion 2, Heroes of Might/Magic but Civilization is the only one that I ever got 'hooked' into. I have played CivI and CivII quite a bit, and while researching for C:CTP played the original board game.

On what other games have you worked on in the past?
I was Art Director on Interstate 76, and Xtinction.

A classic question: what was the most and the least enjoyable part of the development of the game for you?
The best part for me is always the conceptual phase. That's where you work out all the crazy ideas and innovations that you think will make them game rock. It is my favorite because you have a clean slate and the exchange of ideas is wide open. Oddly enough I was very bummed that the cow has been cut. It was an odd unit being it did not have an attack, but it's death animation was a thing of beauty to see. Perhaps it will leak out anyway? But I wouldn't know anything about that.

What was the procedure of creating the graphics (I'm referring to unit, city and terrain graphics not the game interface)?
The terrain was conceptualized in PhotoShop and every other asset started with a drawing. (James Mayeda is a great sketch artist, I do not think there is a single asset in the game that did not start as a sketch by one of us.) The vast majority of map assets (terrain, goods, cities, and improvements) were made completely in PhotoShop. Anything that has multiple facings, (units, all assets in the great library) are 3d models animated and rendered in Softimage.

In the PC Gamer preview of CTP earlier this year, we read that the units were hand sketched before being transferred to the computer. Is this still the case and if so, why? If not, why not?
First of all you have to recognize how much art is in this game… three times the number of units as any similar game or RTS. With that in mind everything starts with sketches. The sheer quantity of art work that had to be completed in production meant that everything had to be designed and locked down prior to starting production. That required an exhausting amount of work in development going through multiple revisions of everything until every piece was solid.
After a sketch was completed a color (marker) version would be done and then all the info would go to Viewpoint for modeling and texturing.

What kind of programs were used for the creations of the graphics? Can you be specific?
In development I created all the proof of concept work with 3DS MAX 1.0, (legion unit, temple improvement, pottery advancement (cut), and prototype wonder movie), but before production we switched to using Softimage exclusively. MAX could do everything I wanted but at the time Character studio was the best way to animate a skinned mesh (as all our units were) and it was just too slow. So I researched and decided that Softimage, at that time, was the only way to pull off all our work with a single package. Specifically here is what we used:

At the end, in what file format will the graphics be?
Steve (lead programmer, graphics man extraordinare) developed some really handy tools for the art team. The finished sprites are in .SPR format. Pretty clever eh?

How easy will it be to alter them? What kind of programs can be used?
If we ship with the tool, anyone will be able to add and revise any unit. The tool is pretty easy to use, but you will have to edit the accompanied text file to get everything working correctly. What is really nice about a sprite engine like ours is that the art can be produced on any system (or drawn by hand!) and just processed from a 32 bit (24 bit plus alpha channel) piece of source art.

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