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WILLIAM WESTWATER INTERVIEW

What is your involvement in the development of "Civilization: Call To Power"?
I am the Lead Designer of Civilization: Call to Power. It is my job to work with the Director to develop the creative vision of the game, and ensure that programmers and artists have a clear understanding of how to implement the design. The Lead Designer is also responsible for leading a team of designers, who are responsible for balancing the game.

What is your personal history with Civilization?
I am a huge fan of Civilization games. I remember getting Civ II and playing it for the first time. Two weeks later, I stripped it from my computer and erased all traces of it. Then I got up, showered, and started trying to figure out where my life had gone. That's how compelling I found the game.

On what other games have you worked on in the past?
My start was in QA, where I tested Mech2, and was the Lead Tester and a designer on Zork Nemesis. I also did design work for Dark Reign and an RTS called Xtinction, before setting my eyes on Civilization : Call to Power.

How do you feel improving a game which has become legendary in the gaming industry?
Let's see, I think that would be a daunting task. Seriously, I feel humbled by the chance and excited at the same time. It's hard enough to make a great game, let alone an addition to the greatest strategy gaming franchise of all time.

What do you think where the main problems of "Sid Meier's: Civilization II" and what have you done to correct them in "C:CTP"?
"Problems" is a word used too strongly when referring to such a great game as Sid's. However, I felt the game bogged down seriously in the middle and the end. Changing governments and getting fifty pop-ups for my rioting cities - argh! That experience was enough to pull my hair out.

Until now what was the hardest part in the creation of the game for you?
The hardest part is logistics, getting an entire team to work towards a common dream. When revisions start flying - and they always do - keeping twenty people informed of all of the changes is like trying to ride a run-away rhino.

Where there any features that you wanted to do on C:CTP and had to leave them out?
Absolutely, we cut many features that sounded great. We believe though that the best games are simple at the core, but thoroughly polished and honed. I think the saying is: easy to learn, hard to master.

How did you set the minimum requirements? Did you have to make any trade-offs to meet these requirements?
The game has to play on what we think of as slow machines today - P 90's - because our audience is very broad. Sure that means we're not hardware accelerated, but I don't think that's the buzz of Civilization. In Civ, you need the time to think out your decisions. After all, the fate of millions lies in your hands.

Something relative. We heard that it might be possible to have more than 7 civilizations. Will it happen?
Our engine certainly supports up to thirty-two Civs, and for anyone who wants to try it, we're leaving the backdoor open. However in common practice, the games get very long. We want a faster experience, so we're aiming at eight right now.

Some say that C:CTP is more targeted to war than Civ2. What is your response to them?
On the contrary, we are not more war oriented. Actually, we set out to expand the non-conventional forms of competition. We wanted economic, religious, and corporate warfare - competitions we see today - to become a part of the Civilization experience.

That was all ladies and gentlemen. That "32 civs engine" answer will definetely make me dream tonight :) Our next interview is with Mark Lamia, CTP's producer.

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