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    BattleGoat Interview

    Interviewer: The_culture

    - First off, tell us who you are, what you do, where you live, what you had for dinner last night, and why are you making Supreme Ruler 2010. J

    BattleGoat Studios is a small Software Development company that my partner, George Geczy and I formed after selling our previous business (a computer retail store which we founded and grew to sales of over 13Million from 1985-2000).  We are located in Ancaster Ontario Canada, just outside of Hamilton and about 50 miles from Toronto.

    To explain why we are making Supreme Ruler 2010, I have to give you a little bit more background on us... probably more than you were bargaining for :-)  George actually founded our last company, JMG Software International, in 1982 to publish a game he had written for the TRS-80 computers called "Supreme Ruler".  At that time it was just a text-based economic and military simulation but it had a good following, including being used in an economics class at Harvard University.  In fact, if you still have a working TRS-80 model III, 4, or 4P you can download the original game from "Ira Goldklang's TRS-80 Revived Pages"  .  George eventually added other company's products and grew the business into the number one TRS-80 mail order software house in the world and I was hired to help manage it.

    As the TRS-80 went the way of the dodo, we used the income from it to open a computer retail store in Hamilton.  During the 15 incredibly hectic years we spent running it, we often thought of bringing Supreme Ruler up to date and giving it a graphic interface.  Last year we had an opportunity to sell our business, so we took it with the intent of bringing Supreme Ruler back to life...  We are essentially making the game we want to play.

    - How would you describe Supreme Ruler 2010?

    Well the brief marketing description is, "An Intelligent Economic, Military, and Diplomatic Simulation that brings a new depth of realism.  Supreme Ruler 2010 immerses the player into all aspects of ruling their Region and eventually, the planet."  What does that mean??? you ask...  Well, it means that if you want a military, you've got to be able to economically support it!  If you live in a region that has few Natural Resources, you better maintain good relations with trading partners!  If your economy is in the toilet, you had better fix it!  It really means that you have to run your Region as you would a modern country.

    With that in mind, we also realized from the start that we did not want to lose the casual gamer by putting them through Micro-manage hell (whenever I think we're headed that way, I just think of "Star Wars Rebellion" and that gives me all the inspiration I need).  So we have designed a system wherein a player can choose to take as much or as little control over the fine details as they wish and have the computer adequately look after the rest.  Of course for the player that wants to micro-manage everything, that ability is there and they could end up with a better (or worse :-) economy as a result!

    -What will make Supreme Ruler 2010 standout from other turn-based strategy games?

     The influence of the Real World is key.  Not only can a player start a campaign from virtually anywhere on earth, but issues and attitudes that are key to that specific region in real life will also be key to that scenario.  For instance, if you start a campaign from one of the Mid East states, you would have an entirely different set of conditions than were you to start a campaign as the leader of Sweden, or as one of the leaders of Australia, or even Texas.  Not only are the economy and development levels different from region to region, but so are attitudes.  What's going to be the reaction of your population to a war with your neighbour?  Well in the Mid East it is an everyday possibility that many think of as inevitable, but in California your population might revolt at the prospect of direct military conflict with Oregon or Nevada - it certainly won't help your standing in the polls.

    - Is this a 3D game? If not, why?

    Supreme Ruler 2010 uses a 3D graphics engine, designed under DirectX8/Direct3D.  However, it is not a '3D Game', as this type of game doesn't really lend itself to a 3D 'camera' design.  3D views and cameras on the map would not bring any new capabilities to the game, but could make gameplay and control more cumbersome.  The use of a 3D engine does give us better quality graphics, responsive map-drawing and scrolling, and the ability to use 3D models for units.

    - Do you think this genre of games is lacking something? Do you think Supreme Ruler will fill this need?

     I'm actually not sure what genre we are.  We're definitely not a "Real Time Strategy" where all you do is click and produce until you can send the inevitable Tank Rush.  On the other hand, when you think "Turn-Based Strategy" you inevitably think of games like "Civilization" and "Panzer General", and those don't really describe the type of game we are either.  If I had to pick one game over time that Supreme Ruler 2010 most closely resembles, it would be "Spaceward Ho!", only far deeper and fact-based.

    If the question is, "What do I think is lacking in the current 'Turn Based Strategy' genre, I would have to say "Variety".  I very much like the Civilization series, as do millions, and look how many clones both good and horrible it has generated.  But where is the innovation?  Doesn't anyone in this genre other than Sid Meier have an original concept?  I think we do...  Supreme Ruler 2010 fits a style and depth that really has not been attempted before and I think that will be what sets it apart.

    - Will the Multiplayer aspects differ much from the Singleplayer?

    The game will essentially be the same whether you're playing Singleplayer or Multiplayer.  That could change over time if a Massive Multiplayer version is developed.

    Although the Singleplayer campaign will be challenging and rewarding, personally I think the real challenge and replayability is in Multiplayer.  Although we've developed the AI to mix up its tactics and strategy and "think on its feet", eventually anyone will beat a computer player at any game.  It's the ongoing "battle of wits" with another human that is really stimulating.

    - How did you decide on the name Battlegoat?

    Naming a company these days is HARD!  As a Game Company we knew we had to have an internet presence with  We went through over 40 possible names looking for one that had it available.  Boy did we do a lot of cursing about Cyber Squatters :-)  For the inspiration in the final choice for our name, I would have to indirectly credit Hasbro.  As a computer retailer, many publishers would send us marketing gimics to promote their upcoming software releases.  Hasbro sent us a little goat in an army helmet to promote "Worms : Armageddon".  I guess it was supposed to represent the Super Sheep in the game.  Well the goat became something of a mascot, and after a few derivations like ArmyGoat etc, we hit upon BattleGoat and surprise, surprise, the .com was available!

    - What do you think will be a significant feature in games in the coming years?

     Other than the growing Massive Multi-Player component that can be provided by the Internet, I think the biggest improvement we will see in the coming years is a more intelligent, stronger, and less predictable AI.  That is one of the goals in Supreme Ruler 2010 and I think it will be a central focus of any game wishing to have replayability success.

    As far as the Gaming Industry as a whole, my hope is that there will be a renaissance to computer gaming in the coming years.  Now that the home computer user base is so huge, I believe games can be designed to cater to smaller market segments and still have a huge audience and be commercially successful.   Hints of that are already there, but I guess it will come down to whether the "Suits" run the gamining industry, or whether the players take back control.

    - Will Supreme Ruler 2010 feature any type of customizing to allow players to "modify" the game?

    The simple answer to that is "Yes", many parts of the game are customizable even the turn-style (Turn Based, or Real Time).  In addition we will also be including a full Scenario Editor to allow players to further develop the game to their own liking.

    - Is there anything you would like to add?

    I don't know...  Haven't I babbled on enough :-)

    Thanks to David Thompson for taking the time with this interview.

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