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Official CommentsQSI Posts on the Discussion Boards — Part Two

Updated June 11, 2001:

Rantz Hoseley, Art Director

Galaxy types: >> Will there be different kinds of pretty galaxies, specifically; irregular, elliptical, dwarf, spiral, etc.? <<

Yes, there will, all generated randomly depending upon the parameters you specify.

Detail of race-specific history: Currently, there's a sizable document that contains all of the histories of the various races and species. Some of that will be contained in the 'choose race' summary, some will be available in the 'encyclopedia galactica' and some you'll have to discover as you play the game.

Will you also have the history for the six lost races? The dead are covered as well, yes.

Screenshot of races: >> Is the platform made to add new races in the future? <<

There is a possibility. Not promising anything, just not precluding it by design...

>> Evil Eyes (maybe you don't like this): why the 80% of the races have evil eyes? <<

Define 'Evil'? Narrow and angular? Yellow? Most species aren't going to have big round saucer eyes due to the fact that it leaves them more vulnerable...

Now, watch the theoretical biologists come out of the woodwork to argue this...

User Interface: Ok, I've had enough sleep now that I can comment on this with some degree of clarity.

There's been some grousing about how ‘plain' the UI looks. A few points that you folks should keep in mind;

1.) You are seeing a small *still* of a screen in a 'rest' state

2.) This is a dynamic interface. There is a LOT of movement going on, if we were dealing with the MOO2 paradigm, where everything is a flat, static, discrete screen, I'd agree. Wait until you see the UI actually in *use*...

3.) The color you are seeing is for a frame in mouse-off, inactive state. Each department has it's own color palette, roll-over state, etc. The gunmetal blue is the 'rest' or inactive color.

4.) In three days of non-stop demos not one person made even a slight comment questioning or implying anything negative in regards to the UI. These are jaded press folk who have seen it in *action*. There were questions raised and concerns addressed on other parts of the game, but not *one* on the UI.

As a matter of fact, from one of the sites...

"Master of Orion III was a very impressive title and has quickly climbed to the top of my personal must-have list. This is due in part to its impressive user interface and enhanced gameplay elements when compared to the previous MOO titles"

For those of you who say it looks too much like windows... that was from a Mac site.

5.) The next Gamespy Dev Diary will go into great detail on the UI. We had specifically *not* been talking about it, because we are doing something very different that we wanted to keep under wraps until at least E3. Cat's out of the bag now, so we'll comment on it.

6.) If we get clearance, we do have footage from E3 of the UI *in action* how you navigate it, how elements dynamically expand, contract, appear, etc. Hopefully we'll be able to include that in the Gamespy Dev Diary.

Now, back to work.

More on the same: >> If I may make a suggestion, the current look could be quite easily improved by merely making it transparent and changing the tone of the colour a bit (to suite the transparency). <<

You're a little late in your suggestion, it's already been in there since build 1.03

And was planned from the beginning.

As far as 'textures' on the UI surface goes, it's not going to happen. To put it in simple terms, like everything else in MOOIII, we're trying to do something different, something that pushes the bounds.

'unlearn that which you have learned'

More: >> I apologize for my bitching, but we were handed three screenshots (unless I missed something) from E3. No movies. I hope you can understand why this was misinterpreted. <<

And people wonder why I'm more than slightly hesitant to release any images or screens prior to the game coming out? Because people jump to conclusions and have sore lower legs because of their reactions.

After all, everyone is an expert on art ;)

Seriously, like the rest of the game, the UI and the elements (aliens, etc) are designed from a 'whole-package' approach. We've asked the MOO fans to bear with us in the design, and as more and more parts of the elephant are revealed, it all starts to make sense as a whole.

The UI is no different in that regard. We are doing something quite different with the UI here, and comparing it to MOO2 or other strat game UI's is comparing apples to aardvarks. (in approach, technical use, etc.) After all, when was the last time you saw a strat UI without pop-ups? A strat UI where you could get to the piece of info or control that you want/need in two clicks or less?

More: >> Which build where these screenshots taken from? <<

Those from early UI tests, without aperture functionality incorporated in order to make the E3 promo deadlines.

>> I fail to see how having a plain coloured background is different or how it pushes the bounds. <<

Ok, last time, and seriously this is my last word on it.

Forget the MOO2 interface, forget every strat UI you've seen, because it will flavor what you think of in terms of how a UI functions. We are dealing with a *computer* program, it doesn't exist in the real world, and hence is not constrained by the boardgame paradigm that many strat games have derived the UI set up from.

Think liquid, think about movement and changing/altering shapes and forms based on what knowledge/controls you want to access.

Again, it's a very different thing in us and running on your machine than it is when you're looking at still of a single state of one UI panel. Note I said state. NOTHING in the UI with the exception of the 'newgame' menus are discrete unconnected things.

More in the dev diary...

More: There's over 100 unique screens, with an average of 40-50 assets per screen. Do the math, it's a lot...

More: >> I'm not a programmer or anything, but can't they put the texture info in a file that can be modeled? When the time comes to show the screen, the file will be accessed and what ever texture is in there, it will be applied on the screen. <<

We are not using standard methodologies in the UI. So, no, the old rules don't apply.

Could someone 'mod' the UI? Probably with enough time and patience, but it is not a simple task from either an art, nor a technical stance.

Race renders: >> P.S.: Most of us seem anyhow to forget the awesome renders. They are *really* great. Now don't tell me those'll move too :-) <<

Fully animated.

With audio in their native tongue.

Sentences/phrases compiled dynamically based on the current state of internal and external politics.

Defining empires: >> I'd definitely like to see something that will help me tell the difference between the Human empire I like and the Human empire I'm trying to kill at a single glance. I mean, if we really can have 32 Silicoid empires in one game, it would be awful to have keep track of them by name. <<

There will be ways to tell at a glance who is who, without going into having to read the names. Multiple visual elements. Changing or doing 'slight' alterations to the political animations isn't going to be it though.

Math time. Forget the fact that it takes MANY hours to do modelling/animation/texturing changes. Let's talk sheer render time. each political 'vocabulary' comes to about 30-45 minutes of running animation. At 30 fps, that's 900 frames of animation. Each frame takes 20-40 minutes to render so let's say 30 minutes. That comes out to 27,000 minutes to render *one* pass for *one* character. That's assuming there are no adjustments or fixes that have to be done and the elements tweaked and re-rendered (which let's be realistic, isn't going to happen.).

27,000 times 16 races. That 432,000 minutes of *render* time. And yes, we know all about render farms and are using them, but it *still* takes a day or two to render out a full sequence. So, the *slight* alterations you're talking about would be about the same as doing 32 characters. The time savings would be minimal by comparison.

There *will* be ways you can tell at a *glance* who is who, that just won't be the way...

Old races: >> Does mean it, that the "cats" also didn't appear as a minor race? <<

Visually you see no depiction of them as a minor race within the game.

>> Which of the old races will actually appear in the game? Did any remain? <<

That would be telling, now wouldn't it?

>> Are some of this minor race playable or can they be made playable? <<

No. Sorry.

Psilon procreation: Psilons have moved past the frivolities and unnecessary physical acts such as the birth of Progeny being hosted inside of the body for the gestational duration.

Why are minor races in MOO3? a.) to give more 'flavor' to the galaxy. 

b.) because there are individuals out there who like the dead races, so their *might* be random encounters with them.

In terms of gameplay, think of the 'random aliens' as 'scrolls of wisdom' It helps your game, but in a minor way, nothing empire shaking or overly dramatic. It's a 'random encounter'. Hence, you never *see* these species/races/aliens in the game. There is *no* diplomatic dealing with them because it's a *handful* at best. Sorry, you're not going to come across a hidden metropolis of cat-folk... it's just not going to happen. You *see* the aliens you have diplomatic interaction with.

Who's developing the Mac version? MacSoft is the publisher, we are developing it.

Porting to other operating systems: Any OS 'port' done beyond Mac and PC would most likely be done in house by QSI, that is unless Infogrames wanted someone else to do it. MOOIII on console? Dear lord, I don't even want to think about redesigning the entire UI for Console usage w/out keyboard or mouse.

Linux is something that if Infogrames decides to do a SKU, then we'd be up for it. We're not beholden to any specific OS. (Internally, we have our PC fans, our Mac fans, and our Linux fans...)

Speech audio: The audio for the geodic, Meklar, Saurian, Ichtys, Etherean, and a couple more are done. Cory and I have been working very diligently to make sure the 'voices' for the aliens, match the models, history, and backgrounds of their respective races.

Decent ending? From a personal stance if I've bothered to take the time to play the game all the way through, I want a decent payoff in the end.

So, yes, we've thought about that.

 

Ross Worthley, Lead Artist

Releasing 3 months after Civ III: As it's been explained to me, Infogrames, the publisher for both Civ III and MOO III, want to space the products at least three months apart so Strat fans won't feel they have to choose one or the other. The folks in charge feel that Civ III should be the first out the door and then us 90 days later.

I'm not sure if this policy is set in stone. By that I mean if Civ III were to be delayed for any reason I'm not sure if that would mean that we would be pushed back as well.

 

Cory Nelson, Producer

Leaders: >> How important are leaders? Will some stand out like Ackbar or Vader from Star Wars? Or will they be nameless and non-remarkable? <<

There will be both actually. Some are faceless and are kind of a combination of your empire (if you're very militaristic they will be as well). Others have their own names, agenda's, styles of decision making etc. What the ratio is to the faceless ones and the others is TBD, depends on what mixture plays right but the unique ones will be created at some rate throughout the game.

Are colony ships designable? Yes, colony ships are designed just like any other.

Why starlanes are straight: For the record, the reason why they are straight is because it's easier to depict and understand at first glance. It's the same reason why, while our galaxy is 3d, from a top down view no two stars overlap one another so you never are forced to display it in a 3d view. While 3d and curves are cool, they're more difficult to explain and control. Take homeworld, a beautiful game but a lot of people had difficulty controlling their units in 3d space. The cool factor is certainly there but we want to make this game more approachable to the casual strategy players out there as well.

Deciding what races would make the cut: We looked at the time it was taking to create the political depictions to the quality we were happy with and were finding it takes A LOT of time for each one. After talking about it a bit more we realized that there were a bunch of races that weren't as unique as we wanted and that removing those races would not only solve the time constraints but would also leave us with all the coolest races. As for the number 16, we set it according to the ones we really wanted. It's no more or less convenient than 15 or 17 or any other number you throw out but we did have to set the number somewhere and so that's the one we choose.

As you mentioned it looks a bit strange to have only one race under the Harvestor and Geodics, I actually agree but again we set which races stayed by the ones that we felt were the most unique and so we ended up with this strange number under those two species. While "just adding one race" to those sections would solve that problem it still doesn't leaves the fact that there were too many in the initial list. While we'd love to just keep adding one more race forever we have to set our limits somewhere. That is, if we ever want to actually ship the game. :-)

 

[ VIEW COMPILATION FROM MAY 29, 2001 ]


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