Civilization V's Jon Shafer and Dennis Shirk • Page 4

Firaxis' Great People.

Eurogamer: You mentioned that the leaders have an agenda now. What did they have before, if it wasn't an agenda?

Jon Shafer: The main difference with Civ V in the AI side is now separated into different levels. That's something that's new. Previously it was a lot more situational. The previous designer also wrote the AI by himself - now, we're benefitting from a larger team.

Eurogamer: Situational?

Jon Shafer: In the sense that it was looking at what was going on at the time, but it didn't project forward. So if it was an aggressive warmonger stranded on an island, it wouldn't be able to re-evaluate, and think that warmongering isn't such a great idea when you're by yourself.

Eurogamer: So will difficulty be based more in behaviour now, instead of numerical bonusses?

Jon Shafer: We're definitely pushing in that direction, but there are always going to be some players who are so good, we just couldn't write an AI that'd beat them.

One thing you'll see in Civ V, leaders will occasionally target other players really early in the game, depending on their personality. You can target that with diplomacy - give a gift, and so on - but it's something that'll keep you on your toes. Some people won't like that, but if you're playing on Deity difficulty, you get what you get.

Eurogamer: Will there be Sid, above Deity again?

Jon Shafer: We haven't sorted out the higher end, yet.

Lovely marketing lady: He wants to call it Jon.

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Eurogamer: You mentioned modders. Knowing how online communities can be, have you met any online jealousy from your former peers?

Jon Shafer: None that I've come across yet. That's not to say it doesn't exist.

Eurogamer: It's probably a dumb question. It's not like you're going to say, "yeah, I've been meaning to get this off my chest, there's this guy who's a real DICK."

Jon Shafer: And his username is... [laughs]

Dennis Shirk: We have a large test group made up from the community too, and they've been a part of the process, playing the game 24 hours a day.

Jon Shafer: And this game hasn't really been announced yet, so come back to me in a couple of months.

Dennis Shirk: We recommend you take a look at the forums when this is announced.

Jon Shafer: Oh, I'm ready. I know what's coming. I've dished it out in the past, now it's my turn to get it dished.

Eurogamer: You've talked about the modding tools you're giving away - what will people be able to do now that they couldn't do before?

Jon Shafer: The main thing is, in terms of the creation of maps we wanted to make that a lot easier. We have an individual that's been working on the world builder tool for a long time now, and one of the first things I said to him was to include an undo and a redo fucntion. I've made a lot of maps, and something as simple as that makes a huge difference.

What's really new is a complete level of polish and dedication into that map-making process.

Dennis Shirk: My 15-year-old son could make a map now. That's not to say we've simplified the process, everything is still as moddable as it was before, just that the toolset is so much more streamlined and simple now.

Jon Shafer: We're going to have a utility that packages up the mods you make, too. In Civ IV, there were hundreds of files, tons of directories, and you toss in a readme, and hope people read it, and don't install the mod into their system directory. This utility puts it all into one file that you can distrubute, and unbundle with Civ at the other end.

Eurogamer: Is the submission to Firaxis for distribution a moderated process?

Dennis Shirk: We're still working through the system that'll be used for moderation. For the user, it'll be invisible - they'll submit, and it'll show up in the directory.

Jon Shafer: They'll be able to upload directly from within the utility.

Eurogamer: But modders will still be able to distribute their work in the chaotic old-fashioned way of the internet...

Dennis Shirk: Oh yes! People will be able to download from mod sites, of course!

Jon Shafer: We're definitely not looking to replace the community, here. We're just here to provide a showcase for people who expand the game.

Eurogamer: Is it just maps, or will people have access to other aspects of the game? Like the leaders?

Jon Shafer: [Blank look.]

Eurogamer: I guess what I'm asking is, will I be able to make a sitcom where Gandhi lives with Washington?

Jon Shafer: We're still finalising the plans about what we'll be releasing. But the art stuff is a little tricky, because of the complexity of what goes on there.

Dennis Shirk: People will be able to retexture the leaders, because that kind of thing is a lot easier, but when it comes to creating new animations, that's a little trickier.

Eurogamer: I'll take that as a no.

Dennis Shirk is producer and Jon Shafer is lead designer on Sid Meier's Civilization V. Check out our Civ V preview for more.

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