Q&A: Republic Update

We recently spoke with Elixir for an update on Republic, an ambitious strategy game that was one of the most impressive games we saw at E3.

Republic gives you a simple challenge: rise to power in a former Soviet state. You can rise to power using politics, business, religion, crime, and military might, but in order to succeed, you'll need help. As such, you'll establish a network of individuals - advisors, confidants, journalists, and more - who'll help put you in touch with the proletariat.

This won't be an abstract political simulation, though, as an entire city has been modeled in exacting 3D detail for your scheming pleasure. We were quite impressed with Republic's graphics when we saw a demo of the game at E3. The monumental buildings of the capital city are rendered in real-time at extremely high polygon counts, and the 3D camera can zoom from a stratospheric view directly to a close-up of an insect in an apartment building's flower box.

Elixir Studios has been building Republic since lead designer Demis Hassabis left the Black & White team at Lionhead Studios a couple of years back. Hassabis laid the foundation for the engine of Peter Molyneux's god game and then went on to build the advanced Totality engine for Republic. We recently had the chance to talk to Joe McDonagh, a designer at Elixir Studios, to get an update on the current state of the project.

GameSpot: Tell us a little about the progress you've made on Republic since E3.

Joe McDonagh: Progress is going well. We've brought in some new people onto the team and they're making a real impact, particularly on the art side. We've switched from using motion-capture to using animators - the difference in character and realism is staggering.

GS: What are some of the key features that have yet to be implemented?

JM: We've got to tie a lot of things together. There's also the small matter of the thousands of hours of gameplay testing that are needed to produce a cool game.

GS: It has been mentioned that Republic may be heading to the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox. What are Elixir's current console plans?

JM: We're looking into both consoles, but as yet I can't say more than that.

GS: How large is the Republic team?

JM: Fifteen.

GS: Are there things you would really like to see implemented in the game that won't make it in due to time constraints?

JM: Absolutely, but that's true of any game. I recently read an interview with a designer in which he said the secret of a great game is not what you put in it, but what you leave out. We're having to cut things out all the time, and that's painful but inevitable. It's an essential process if you want to get a playable game at the end of it that is not only fun, but also technically impressive.

GS: Do you already have plans for games beyond Republic? Are you going to use the engine for other projects as well?

JM: Definitely. We're already working on a second game, which we're keeping under wraps for the time being. We're looking at licensing both the Totality engine and our underlying artificial intelligence engine together or separately. We're calling this the Living City Technology, and we're hoping that it'll open some really exciting gameplay in established gaming genres.

GS: When do you plan on finishing Republic?

JM: Next year.

GS: Thanks so much, Joe.

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