The CEO of game development studio Monte Cristo, Jérome Gastaldi, recently took some
time to sit down with Ten Ton Hammer to answer a slew of questions
about their upcoming game, target="_blank">Cities
XL. For all the gamers out there that have spent countless
hours designing their cities, amusement parks, and more, this game is
right up your alley. The project looks to be a massive endeavor, but
the results so far speak for themselves. Monte Cristo is one of the
reigning champions in the city building genre and they're looking to
set the bar higher again once more..
Thanks again to Jérome for the great answers provided! style="font-weight: bold;">
style="font-style: italic;">The view is amazing!
Ten Ton Hammer: For those
that may not
be familiar with CITIES XL, can you give us a brief description of the
game and what it's all about?
CITIES XL is a true next generation City Builder. We added
many features to the genre that allows us to say this with confidence!
For example, we created a unique 3D engine that lets you see and manage
your city from regular top down views, but with which you can also zoom
to street level and roam around freely in your city and explore like a
regular pedestrian. The fantastic graphics enhance the immersion even
We also expanded upon the gameplay of the genre by adding what we call
GEMs (Gameplay Extension Modules) which will see full Tycoon games
added to CITIES XL. Our first GEMs are the Ski resort and Beach, and we
have another dozen, such as Airport, Theme Park or Transport tycoons
being worked on for future releases.
But our biggest innovation lies in the Planet Offer, which is our
online mode, where players can build cities on large planets and
interact with each other through exchanges and project creation. The
social aspect that this brings to the game is enormous and very
Ten Ton Hammer: The size
and scope of this
project appear quite daunting from the outside. When was the concept
initially envisioned and at what point in time did you think the
technology had caught up to your vision?
We started working on the project back in 2006, after the
release of City Life. We had so many ideas that we just
couldn’t integrate into City Life because of the existing
technology and the development cycle of the product. So we kept them
aside and asked ourselves, “Do we want to make a sequel like
we are used to, or do we want to make our ideas work and launch this
big innovative project?” We chose the latter and started
working on the concept of what a next gen city builder should be.
Things have been shaping up nicely since! The technology and market
maturity in terms of online and social aspects also help us develop the
project to its full potential.
Ten Ton Hammer: For those
that choose the Planet
Option (the online aspect of the game), what kind of schedule do you
envision for getting new content updates out to the players?
Big updates every quarter, smaller updates each month, or
something else entirely? We have always been very honest with
our community in terms of planning and updates on our content.
We’ve said so far that for release we will have a full and
solid city builder game, with over 500 buildings and gigantic maps, and
the Ski and Beach resorts GEM should be available. For the content that
will come afterwards, we plan to release for free some buildings and
features, and have others released for a certain price. But nothing is
fixed yet in terms of dates and pricing. We want to take the right time
to finish an item, test its gameplay and time value and determine
what’s the best way to deliver it to players. So saying that
we will have free updates every quarter and payable updates every year
is just not possible. We might be able to release two GEMs in three
months, and then wait a bit more to release one massive GEM with new
building packs. We will see how our community responds!
style="font-style: italic;">Your inner architect will love
Ten Ton Hammer: Will
those players that stick
with the single player version of the game have access to any of the
new content updates? Will it be offered for free, or will they need to
pay for some (or all) of it?
Yes, if you play only the solo version of the game, you
will have access to most of the content available for the Planet Offer.
For both versions, some content will be free and some will be
purchasable, it will be totally up to you to decide how you want to
keep playing CITIES XL and expand your experience. style="font-weight: bold;">
Ten Ton Hammer: The
potential of the GEMs planned
for the game looks impressive. Can you briefly describe this system for
our readers? Will there be a limitation to the number of GEMs a player
There will be no limitation to the numbers of GEMs players
can have. How these work is actually pretty simple. You purchase a GEM
like you would buy a “Tycoon” game, and you can
then launch CITIES XL, switch to the GEM mode and start playing with it
right away! If you want to play the Ski GEM, you simply have to choose
a location with mountains nearby. Other GEMs/Tycoons can be integrated
to your city (Zoo or Airports, for ex.), so you can use these in your
existing cities. You can think of it as add-ons, but they are so much
more than that because it’s a new game within the same CITIES
XL framework, and the possibilities it adds to both the solo and online
mode are huge.
Ten Ton Hammer: Two
particular GEMs planned for
the game (and highlighted href="http://www.citiesxl.com/index.php?/content/view/45/2/lang,en"
are the Ski and Seaside Resorts. Can you reveal any others that are
being planned for release, or ones that you'd like to see offered later
in the game's lifetime?
We plan to release Tycoons that are people’s
favorites, such as Theme Park, Airport or Transportation. We also have
in mind others such as the automobile industries, but we want to keep
the rest a bit secret for now!
style="font-style: italic;">Time to hit the slopes!
Ten Ton Hammer: When
players give up that coveted
CEO belt in one GEM to hop into another, is there a method in place to
keep the other GEMs (and general city content) running smoothly, or
will players need to do a lot of micromanaging to avoid any disasters?
If disasters are possible in other section of CITIES XL while the
player is busy with one aspect, will the game notify them in some way?
If you decide to play another GEM and
‘forget’ about the previous one, it will not stop
from running smoothly instantly. We really don’t want to
force players to be overwhelmed with too many things to deal with.
Nevertheless it will still be better to manage your GEMs and your city
as much as you can, but disasters won’t occur if you
don’t play for a few days. The economic activity will slow
down a bit over time, but penalizing players too brutally just
wouldn’t be fair. If anything goes wrong with your city, you
will be notified.
Ten Ton Hammer:
Everything we've seen so far
takes place on planets with architecture taken from various cultures in
the world. Have there been any talks or ideas about eventually
expanding the game into space, with colonies or space
Yes, actually it’s an idea that has come up
several times from our internal teams and community. Right now it is
not planned to have these at release, but we could have a Lunar or
Martian landscape in the future. If we think its fun and that it really
adds something to the game, why not!
on to Part II here!