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Interview: Monte Cristo's CEO talks about Cities XL

In the genre of city building games none have had the ambition or the announced scope of Cities XL. (Even the game's title suggests something "extra large"). The title from developer Monte Cristo (who previously developed another city building game, City Life), Cities XL will not only allow folks to build their dream city but also to interact with other cities built by human players in a persistent online multiplayer mode that take place on virtual planets.

So how will this team pull off this feat? Big Download got some answers from the CEO of Monte Cristo, Jérôme Gastaldi, including some of the game's features, its multiplayer aspect, when we can expect a playable demo and more. In the meantime Cities XL is due for release sometime in 2009.

Gallery: Cities XL

First, is Cities XL meant to be a sequel of sorts to City Life or its own thing?

Cities XL is a completely new game, not a sequel at all. We've built the game from the ground up with completely new gameplay and features. City Life was our first modern city-builder and we were at the time quite proud of what we have achieved. The freedom of construction and design was a real plus but there were some things which didn't work so well such as the Cultures concept even though we liked the basic idea. CITIES XL is nevertheless a brand new game from a technology, ambition and gameplay aspects.

What are the main goals of Monte Cristo in making Cities XL?

We are ourselves city builder players and we want Cities XL to be the game we always wanted to play. This is one of the reasons we started talking right from the beginning to other fans of the genre to make sure our ideas were close to theirs and gather some other great suggestions – you can check out the discussions we had and have on www.citiesxl.com. Furthermore we also wanted to take the genre a step further by integrating optional online functionalities and persistence, which we feel nobody has done yet for this type of game.

In terms of the graphics, the game looks more realistic than any other urban city sim. What can you tell us about the game's graphics engine and its features?

We built a new graphics engine for the game which reaps all benefits of today's technologies. The game engine is very powerful, allowing us to zoom in and out easily and smoothly, while also offering dozens of animations on-screen at the same time. So, you might zoom into a sports stadium, and actually watch players practicing for their next event, with each player fully detailed - immersion is really important to us. Every minute we've invested in the graphics engine is well worth it, as it serves one of the main goals we had in mind: let the players experience the most realistic game experience possible.

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