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Interview: QuickSilver's Hoseley & Fisher
April 30, 2003 | Jay Swartzfeger

IMG: What was it like writing an entire new race for MoOIII? Were there particular game balance issues to consider?

Rantz Hoseley: Creating new races was a geeky kid's dream come true. I spent most of my childhood wanting to make up aliens, drawing them, reading sci fi... so to get to flesh out a universe with aliens, their respective histories, evolutionary paths and such was just incredibly enjoyable. It was by far one of my favorite parts of creating the game. The balance issue was pretty much thought of from the start. We really worked hard to make sure there was an even spread of the races across abilities and skills that worked with the backstory, so that there was a sense of logic to *why* these races were that way. It was a lot of work, and we're still doing some tuning there, but again, it was a blast.

Bill Fisher: I really enjoyed that part. Having played a leading role in our successful Star Trek: Starfleet Command game, I was eager to create lots more cool new aliens and spaceships. One day, I came across a book about aliens by Clifford Pickover in a closeout bookstore. It was amazing, and we used it as a point of departure to give us a number of ideas about how truly different aliens would be from us. Rantz was adamant that our aliens would not be humans in bad monster suits, and I certainly think we've gone beyond that simplistic stereotype with our designs.

Tom Hughes and I spent a lot of time on a related mission: designing the planets and moons. We went a little crazy there, ultimately building a 15-megabyte Excel spreadsheet that actually generates and displays dozens of planetary systems in a galaxy. We did a huge amount of analysis to ensure that each race would have plenty of planets that were appropriately habitable. We used actual astronomical formulas for everything: solar luminosity, planetary reflectivity, atmospheric density, and so on. It was a lot of fun.

IMG: Now that MoOIII has been to bed for a few weeks and you've had time to reflect, did you achieve what you initially set out to accomplish? Would you change anything if you could?

Rantz Hoseley: The biggest thing we failed on was ease of access to the first time player. We really wanted it to be very straightforward and intuitive to the novice player, and instead there's a learning cliff. Other than that, there are ALWAYS things that you wish you'd done differently and that you wish you had more time on, but like the saying goes, no game is ever done, it's just shipped.

Bill Fisher: I once looked up the design guidelines we created from the very first meeting with our first producer. Amazingly, they all lined up with what we ultimately did, with minor exceptions. We wanted to set a new high-water mark for space empire-building games in many areas. That said, I'll agree with Rantz: there are so many other things we now want to do. To me, the mark of the best gamer developers is that they're never satisfied with their creations. They're always pushing things to the next level. I'm happy with where we are, but just the same I'm talking with the team every day about new things we want to add.

IMG: Let's say MoOIV is a given. What new features would you like to bring to the series?

Rantz Hoseley: More alien races (we have about 30 designed that didn't make it into MOO3 because of time and budget), full-on hardware accelerated graphics, multi-resolutions, customizable UI 'shelves' so that players can have their tray of options and functions that they are constantly using available at the drop of a hat. Actual ground combat, where you control units, ala Shogun... there's certainly no shortage of ideas!

Bill Fisher also sent along a quote of interest to Mac users:

"One amusing factoid for the Mac users: Much of the technical design work for MOO3 (particularly the Galaxy Generator spreadsheet) was done on a Mac. My main machine is a PowerBook G3, currently running MacOS X. This game has definitely had MacOS in its blood from the very start."

Related Links
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III



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