CEO of 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, 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.
Thanks again to Jérome for the great answers provided!
style="font-style: italic;">Just imagine... a city without
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you
see CITIES XL more as a single player game with online aspects, or as a
complete MMOG that happens to allow players to experience the game in a
single player mode? Do you see other MMOG's as direct competition, or
do you feel CITIES XL is different enough from current market offerings
to not be an issue?
First of all, CITIES XL is a great city
builder, with a solid solo experience. We added an innovative online
aspect which takes the best practices of MMOGs, but it is difficult and
restraining to categorize CITIES XL as either a city builder or an
MMOG. It’s a mix of both and yet so much
more… ? CITIES XL is an alternative to
current MMOGs, so yes we look at very carefully what goes on with these
games, but we are confident in our offer because we are just very
different and unique compared to any other game out there today.
Ten Ton Hammer: Looking
at the scope and size of the cities, I imagine the graphic challenges
had to be interesting to say the least. Did Monte Cristo develop its
own graphics engine for the game, or were you able to use existing
technology from outside the company, or perhaps from another Monte
We developed our own engine because we wanted
to be flexible enough to have different views and levels of details
within the game, without the necessity for games to possess top-end
Ten Ton Hammer: In the
FAQ, it states your goal is to have the game be "accessible to all
gamers, and thus run on older systems, all the while providing gamers
with a realistic and enjoyable experience." The screenshots I've been
looking through are amazing, so when you say "older systems", just how
old are we talking about here?
The game will run smoothly on PCs that are 3-4
years old with the minimum level of details.
Ten Ton Hammer: Despite
the awesome screenshots and videos available on CitiesXL.com, a game
has to have more than graphics to make it fun. What do you think is the
single most exciting gameplay feature of CITIES XL?
The incredible level of interactions and
possibilities offered by the game is probably the most exciting
feature. Possibilities in terms of city management, online aspects and
GEM expansions will allow you to always have something new to discover
within the game for a long time! For a personal favorite I also have
the citizen animations, it’s always fun to walk around your
city and look at what your citizens are doing!
Ten Ton Hammer: For the
more casual player, will there be a need to consistently micromanage
their city and its citizens, or are there settings to allow the AI to
take care of the small details so players can just concentrate on the
style="font-style: italic;">Play with others around the
The game will actually let you play as you
wish. If you are a control freak and want to micromanage every building
and aspect of your city, you will be able to do so. If you just want to
lay down your buildings and only worry about the big picture and the
way your city looks, the game will not force you to do otherwise.
Ten Ton Hammer: With the
online community for CITIES XL so active, you must get bombarded with
ideas and requests on a daily basis. What's the number one request you
guys receive that you'd like to eventually see get into the game, even
if it's sometime after release?
We are continuously talking with the community
about their ideas, suggestions and criticism on the many features that
make a city builder game for more than a year now on the official
website and we will keep such relation as we move on because we are
looking for a long term relationship between our players and the team.
We tried to fulfill the ideas that made sense in the directions we were
leading but still, if we want to get the game released someday, we have
to decide where we stop adding new features before debugging and making
sure the game is well balanced.
One of the features that players are looking for is Custom Content made
by players. This is a feature we want to support but we have some
technical points that need to be solved before to make sure to avoid
cheating on the Planet offer for instance.
We already started talking with some Custom Content & Modders
of the community to embrace them into the technical issues. It will be
one of the features that should also keep the game fresh on a long term
Ten Ton Hammer: A game's
online community is normally made up of a very diverse and interesting
section of the world's population. Have there been any ideas presented
by the community that the team had never thought of, but were so cool
(or potentially useful) that they've made their way into the game or at
least the drawing board?
style="font-style: italic;">New York City will have nothing
To be honest - and because we have a team-based
game design decision process, I can’t think of any idea we
integrated so far that hasn’t been thought up by our
developers first: we are ourselves city builder fans and therefore can
be very creative on the features we would like to have for the game ;)
However, the community has been very helpful to us when it comes to the
details. They spent a lot of time detailing on their posts in our
forums the deepest points they want in the many features CITIES XL will
have to offer.
For instance, the Mass Placement Tool that allows you to select how and
which buildings you want to see in your cities is the melting pot of a
set of ideas coming from the community but was originally suggested by
one of our dev team.
Ten Ton Hammer: Thanks so
much for taking time to answer these questions for our readers! Before
we go, is there anything we've left out you'd like to share? Any juicy
tidbits you want to reveal on Ten Ton Hammer, haha?
There’s one last point you
didn’t ask about: the CITIES XL website. :P
This is a unique new feature for all our players as you will be able to
expose and see all the activities around your cities. Moreover, we want
you to be able to interact with your city even if you are not in front
of the computer you installed the game on. Therefore, all the trading
features between cities will be directly accessible through the website
as well as the major projects you will build…
We want you to be able during your lunch break or from any other
computer through the world to log in the website and control your
cities as well as seeing what’s going on with your friends,
comment their latest city journal entries, etc… style="font-weight: bold;">
Ten Ton Hammer: Thanks
again for your time. We look forward to talking to you again when we
can really discuss the nitty gritty details of the game!