SimCity creator Will Wright Chat Transcript

woensdag, februari 3, 1999 - 22:00

Chat transcript February 3, 1999

MaxisDarren: Welcome to today's chat ...

MaxisWill: Hi everybody.

JoelBert: What made you come up with the idea of SimCity ...

MaxisWill: I was working on another game a long time ago and it involved bombing islands with a copter "Raid on Bungeling Bay" by Broderbund. I had more fun making the islands when I was working on the game so after I finished I kept developing the program I had written and after much research it turned into SimCity.

Comics: hi will, how do you feel about the success of the Simcity line? are you surprised?

MaxisWill: Yes, I was very surprised that SimCity had such a wide appeal. It was really my partner Jeff Braun that saw the potential and talked me into starting a company to market it.

SimLeader: Im a long time fan of sim city, and I was wondering when did you get interested in citys, and wondering how it would be to run one?

MaxisWill: When I started playing with my island editor from the 1st game I thought it would be really cool to have the whole scene come to life so I started reading about computer simulation and city planning. The work of Jay Forrester was particularly influential. And as I was reading about cities, I was also programming this little simulation and it was like having a guinea pig to test my theories and assumptions on it. It made the whole subject much more fascinating compared to just reading about it in books.

Anakin006: What difficulties did you encounter when making SimCity Classic?

MaxisWill: The hardest part was that certain parts of the simulation took very long to run (esp. traffic and power scans) this really argued for a multithreaded approach which didn't exist on current machines so I had to write a multi-tasking overlay that ran on the C64 and Mac to separate the simulation from the UI with pre-emptive multitasking.

Slattery: How much input did you have into the development of SC3000 ?

MaxisWill: I helped a little with the tuning and simulation design but for the most part this version was done by the SC3K team. They took it in many directions that I really enjoy. Over the last few years one of my big ambitions at Maxis has been to not be involved with SimCity just because I have spent so many years on it and have so many other ideas I want to pursue. Now I feel that I'm free of it, I'm very grateful to Lucy Bradshaw for that.

PinMaster1: How did you come up with the name MAXIS?

MaxisWill: Jeff's father came up with the idea. Jeff had about 4 rules that he wanted in a name: It had to be short, easily remembered, include a x, z, or q, and look good visually.

zeve: Who is Jeff?

MaxisWill: Jeff Braun and I started Maxis together about 10 years ago. We met at a pizza party thrown by some programmer friends. I showed Jeff my early version of SimCity and he said "Let's start a game company."

Funky: Before you used to make your own first simcity classic game what did you used to be for example student or different job before you decide to created your simcity classic?

MaxisWill: I did a game for Broderbund called "Raid on Bungeling Bay" on the C64, didn't sell too well here because of piracy, but did about 750,000 units in Japan on the Nintendo.

SMN_PlanetSimCity: Have you gone around the web and seen all the fan support for your games?

MaxisWill: Yes, I stay very tuned into that stuff. I think that's one of the coolest things to happen in the last few years and I'm really hoping to leverage that dynamic in upcoming games.

SimLeader: Who came up with the llahma thing? is it your favorite animal?

MaxisWill: Yes, I came up with the Llama thing (for reasons that shall remain mysterious), but I'd have to say that I prefer ants (the ant is a hexapod).

Donuthead: What kind of input did you have in SimCity 2000?....were you directly involved in the making?

MaxisWill: I did about half the coding and 2/3 of the design work on 2000 along with Fred Haslam.

tuvix: How do you decide whether a potential feature of the game will make the simulation better, or just unnecessarily complicate it?

MaxisWill: In simulations you need to think really hard about that. There's an old Japanese saying: "Your garden is not complete until there is nothing else you can remove." I think that sums it up rather nicely.

Jlkvm: What games do you play the most when you have the time?

MaxisWill: Oddly, I really like turn-based war games, maybe to balance out the time I spend making more politically correct games. I spent a lot of time with the Steel Panthers series I also like most of Sid Meier's games.

NickSimManny: How much did SimcityClassic cost for everything??

MaxisWill: I would guess it probably cost about $100,000 -- that's a very rough guess, and it's based on the fact that I worked on it for about 2 years with no pay.

SMN_PlanetSimCity: how can those interested in working at a software company like Maxis get a start?

MaxisWill: The best way is to actually make a simple game -- maybe shareware or in Java -- even it will give you insights into the real issues. It also teaches you how hard it really is and is much more impressive than a resume to most game companies.

MayorTeresa: Where did you get the idea for The Sims?

MaxisWill: I actually started on the Sims before I did SC2000. I then put it on the shelf for a long time after SimCopter. I decided that technology had gotten to the point where it was time to really do it. It basically is about people and architecture and my attempt at an odd RTS game.

JJacobs107: When is a new game called The Sims coming out?

MaxisWill: Sometime this year hopefully, I've been working on it quite a long time at this point.

Anakin006: Were you involved in the other sim games (SimFarm, SimAnt, etc.)?

MaxisWill: I worked directly on SimCity Classic, SimEarth, SimAnt, SimCity2000 and SimCopter. The others were done by other designers.

SuperMario: Do you want to make just simulation games, or other types of games?

MaxisWill: Yes, I'd most prefer to make games that don't fit into existing categories, but that drives the marketing people crazy.

Intrigue: What kind of computers do you use in the design work now? Still Macintosh? Or have you moved to Silicon Graphics?

MaxisWill: Sad to say I've mostly moved on to WinTel machines. Our artists mostly use PC workstations with 3D Studio Max.

Quidnam: Do you expect future SimCity products to increase in complexity? What elements of gameplay do you feel are fundamental and essential to the simulation?

MaxisWill: I don't think the gameplay should increase in complexity. I think it should increase in perceived texture. One of the cool things about SimCity is how each player makes up a story to describe their play experience, so I think we need to provide experiences that are more evocative to the players and help maintain the illusion that there is a real world inside the machine.

SailorUranus: How long did the first SimCity take to develop?

MaxisWill: I started work on it in about 1985 and worked on the C64 version for about 1.5 years. Later Jeff and I started Maxis and I put about 2 more years into the Mac version.

SMN_PlanetSimCity: How do you think new technology will enhance games in the next several years?

MaxisWill: Of course the graphics will get better and that's what most people obsess on, but I'm more interested in the depth of the computation that is opening up which will allow many components of today's games which are now static, to become dynamic: windflow simulations, real dynamic weather, time of day variations, social modeling, ALife subsystems, will all be as ubiquitous in future games as texture mapping and lighting are today.

Ba-shtad: In the platinum edition of SC2K, when did you film that interview?

MaxisWill: I have no idea, many years ago.

TheQat: Did SimCity start out (after C64) as a Mac-only project? ...

MaxisWill: Yes, around 1987 I redesigned the whole thing for the Mac and a few months later the Amiga (BTW, it was the 1st game on the Amiga to use Halfbrite mode) when the Mac was nearing completion we started on a PC version.

Anakin006: What stories do you have about playing your Sim games?

MaxisWill: I remember Fred Haslam and I working on SimEarth in our 1st office. We were debugging the routines which controlled the continental-drift in the game right as the Loma Prieta quake hit. The building started shaking and we ran out into the parking lot and gave each other a funny look and just shrugged.

Intrigue: What is your advice to young people into computers who are considering a career like yours? What kind of classes did you take and where did you go to college (if at all)?

MaxisWill: Don't do it, go back, danger ahead! You need to be very driven and really love the work. I took about 5 years of college but never got a degree -- studied architecture, Mech. engineering and aviation. Ended up teaching myself programming.

SimLeader: why did the origanal game have passwords? ...

MaxisWill: I was sort of torn between the challenge of gameplay vs. the open-ended, erector-set toy approach. Cheat codes let the people who want a challenge pursue it as such and the people who just want to build a train-set type thing do so without limitations.

Intrigue: What language did you learn first and which do you think are important in the gaming world today?

MaxisWill: My 1st language was PASCAL (actually that's not quite true I learned FORTRAN in college and thought it was a waste of time). In gaming today it's mostly C and C++. Still a bit of assembler here and there.

Funky: I remember that I first play SimCity classic way back to 1988, this time on BBC Master (British) computer, did you know that BBC Master used to have Simcity?

MaxisWill: I don't remember the Master, I do remember the Acorn as well as the Sharp and a few other odd machines at the time.

Funky: What are you dream of create an game that you wish to make?

MaxisWill: I like games that let me build things. There's something really fun about making something that's never existed before, especially if it does something or has behavior or dynamics.

MaxisDarren: And now, the final question for today ...

Lexus: what next for maxis?

MaxisWill: We've decided to leave the games industry and concentrate instead on screensavers with cute kittens and puppies and cool inspirational sayings like "there's no I in team."

Bye everyone, thanks for your time. Time for me to hit the rack again.

MaxisDarren: Thanks to everyone for coming in today -- next week, Michael Perry, the designer of SimCity Classic Live will be in @ 3:00 p.m., PST.



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