Civilization 6: "We have a plan for DirectX 12" - Interview with Firaxis
Civilization 6 from Firaxis is supposed to be released at the end of October and PC Games Hardware had the opportunity to talk to Dennis Shirk, Lead Producer of Civilization 6, about technical details of the upcoming strategy game. We cover topics like the engine, the graphics style and a possible support for DirectX 12.
PCGH: Which engine do you use for Civ 6?
Dennis Shirk: The team has created a custom engine for the game, based in large part on the lessons we've learned working with the Civilization V engine through development of the game and its expansion packs.
PCGH: In terms of the engine: What are the biggest differences compared to Civ 5?
Dennis Shirk: We have a completely new terrain generation system, and we've added a lot of systems to handle procedural generation of objects in the environment in order to create more organic-looking cities and roads. This allows us to put objects like buildings, trees, and roads into the environment in a more integrated and natural-looking way.
We've moved to modern physically-based lighting on all of our game assets, from leaders to terrain to units, and that includes normal map filtering based on LEAN mapping. Along with that, we have a dynamic sun that lights our world map with self-shadowing, which means we can get a beautiful time-of-day lighting system in our game. When you're playing it, you'll be able to have the world cycle from dawn to noon to dusk to night smoothly over the course of a few minutes. If you've seen our Wonder reveal movies, you'll see that we can use it for a time-lapse effect. Our engineers also added dynamic point lights for effects and night lighting in cities. Our FX system and its particles are much more robust this time around.
On the gameplay side, there are some distinct changes to the way the AI is handled and its methods for determining its moves. Also we've implemented some changes to the way objects in the game are handled, which should make modders happy, and we'll have more details on that later.
The end result is that this the most inviting-looking Civilization game we've made yet. Our animators and artists can take advantage of this tech to really impart a lot of character into the leaders and units in the world, and our gameplay team can use this to help present critical information for people's decisions.
PCGH: What goals do you have for the art style?
Dennis Shirk: The goal of our artists is always to support the gameplay, and convey as much information about what's happening in the game world as quickly and as clearly as we can. Civ has a lighthearted side to it as well, and we want to make sure we capture that, too.
PCGH: What are the biggest differences to Civ 5 in terms of art?
Dennis Shirk: The biggest shift between Civilization VI and Civilization V is that the world is more important than it's ever been, and so that focus has driven a lot of the development. You can look at a tile and get a lot of information about it just by looking and not having to wait for a tooltip or submenu. You can see if there's a district built there, the kind of district, what buildings and units are on it as well as what resources might be there too. That gives you more time to make decisions about what you're going to do, and not try to decipher what's happening in the world.
PCGH: Which hardware requierements do you aim for?
Dennis Shirk: We're still settling on our hardware specifications, and we'll have more information about that as we get closer to launch.
PCGH: Civ 5 was the first native DX11 game when it was released and emphasized the use of hardware tesselation and Direct Compute. Will Civ 6 make use of special DX12 features?
Dennis Shirk: We do have a plan for DX12 implementation. We'll have more details on that later on.
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