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Soren Johnson Interview

January 9th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 2 Comments · Blogs, Firaxis, Maxis

Soren Johnson is also good for a quote, so it’s only natural for Rock, Paper, Shotgun to hit him up for an extensive interview about the PC market, game design and inspiration.

Some highlights:

On the shrinking range of AAA titles:

[T]here’s still a few blockbuster Triple-A franchises that are still cranking out… but if you look back at 98 or 99 there was a huge range of games available. So if you wanted an off-kilter RTS like Majesty… well, that stuff can’t be made anymore.

On feature bloat in RTS games:

Yeah, you can’t make it without a campaign and scenarios and an editor and cutscenes and all that extra junk. Really, that junk is preventing us from making more interesting games. It’s kind of a paradox. Obviously, people want that junk, and it’s a good thing for those people. And the editors which people make their own scenarios is great… but that stuff all comes
at a cost.

On old computer games:

[T]here’s always a primordial soup thing with the C64. You can see the roots of a lot of PC games there, but if you think of it strictly as PC… you’ll perhaps forget things like Sid’s Pirates, back when it was on the Commodore and whatever else. It was really like a console game. It relied on the joystick. It wasn’t one of the Microprose games which came with a big keyboard overlay… it was a joystick game

On AI:

There’s another level, which is the difference between the good and great strategy games, is that the AI is not only just trying to play the rules smartly – if you really want to take it to the next level, you need to think about whether the AI player is actually making the game more fun for the player.

Go to 2007’s best PC gaming blog for the full deal, and the promise of more on Civilization in coming days.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Bruce

    It’s great how this is an actual interview. Not the standard emailed list of questions. It makes a huge difference.

  • Troy

    Yep, a huge difference. You can really tell that this happened over the phone.

    It’s a shame that not only do so many of us scribes default to the email interview (with the occasional follow-up) but that so many developers prefer it.

    I’ve had to resort to the email questionnaire more often than I’d like, and I’m rarely happy with the results. And the more prominent the subject, the less satisfying an email interview will be.