- Checking the way the maps in Z:SS seem handcrafted instead
of tile-based, the map-making process seem to use many different
in-house utilities. Or do you have a single software to
do the maps? In any case, what's the chance of a map editor
being released for the public?
- We wrote our own mission editor which covers all of the
aspects of the level making process, from roughing out the
terrain, through populating the landscape with buildings
and units, adding event/action systems to cover all of the
mission-specific elements such as monitoring objectives,
and finally art dressing the levels. It's quite a sophisticated
package, but it's also pretty straightforward to use.
We are considering releasing the map editor, but it will
take time to iron out most of the idiosyncrasies and put
together some documentation and stuff, as we won't be able
to support it in any official sense. We'll see.
- Z:SS sports excellent ship balance, that currently available
maps simply don't explore to its fullest. How much influence
from Total Annihilation did you get, and will we see water-only
maps like 'Two Coasts' and many great TA classics for Z:SS?
- Most of the guys here had played Total Annihilation at
some point and remarked on the sea battles that happened
there, but it wasn't a direct influence. The balance of
the ships really came from the same premise as everything
else - getting the best interaction from the units we could,
both between other sea units and between land-based units.
It's fair enough to say that ship battles aren't as prevalent
as they could have been - one thing we found is that sea
battles need an awful lot of space, so it was difficult
to create maps that had enough sea without severely compromising
the land battle.
- I've read in one earlier enterview that you guys don't
like the idea of people "messing" with a game
that took so long to make perfect, referring to mods and
3rd party stuff. Taking into account the long development
time between titles, don't you think that mods and 3rd party
maps could be a great life-injector when the game starts
to get thin on news, just as it has been for many other
- Certainly. It's not just about extending the life of the
base product though, it also generates a ton of new games
for people to play. If it weren't for mods then we wouldn't
have gotten our mits on games like Team Fortress or Counter-Strike,
both of which the guys here play a hell of a lot during
It's not just a simple case of giving the source away, though,
the game needs to be written with mods in mind. The game
code needs to be completely seperated from any internal
engine code, and you also need a lot of stuff in there to
organise mods and keep them seperate. The other issue, of
course, is that allowing for mods needs a lot of back-end
stuff if you're going to stop people using the system to
just write cheats for multiplayer. Z:SS was just never written
to be opened up in this way. Custom maps are a different
story, it's mostly just a case of releasing the editor (though
there might be some stuff in the front end to look at, too).
- The Artificial Intelligence in Z:SS, although well tweaked,
surprising and challenging for single player, simply doesn't
offer enough obstacle for even average players on skirmish.
Since skirmish AI isn't a big priority, what do you think
of the idea of releasing the tools or SDK for enabling users
the creation of 3rd party AI, and taking advantage of the
many great coders out there?
- As mentioned above, Z:SS was never written to be opened
up. There just isn't any support in there for inserting
user code into the game.