Tropico 4 Interview (PC)

Tropico 3 was a fine return to form for a series that had been absent. It returned to the Cold War, it provided fun and compelling gameplay, and was full of catchy tunes, tongue-in-cheek humour, and a certain lovable Spanish DJ. With The First Templar now out of the way, Haemimont Games are finally ready to talk to us about their next sequel - Tropico 4.

Strategy Informer: Tropico 3 could be considered a 'back to basics' move since it returned to the sine of the key tenants of the original game. If you then think of Tropico 3 as a modernised Tropico 1, what do you hope to achieve with Tropico 4?

Krasimir Gatev: For Tropico 4 we have decided to build upon the strengths of our previous game in order to turn it into the best instalment in the franchise yet. We expect the new features we are planning will change greatly the way the game plays and open the way for new and exciting strategies. Some of these are the Council of Minister, new interactive disasters and a story driven campaign. The way in which the players receive and execute their objectives during the campaign missions has also been changed fundamentally.

Strategy Informer: What were the key lessons that you took from the original game? You've mentioned how 'bigger islands' was a request you wanted to grant, what other feedback have you taken from the last game?

Krasimir Gatev: We have improved the size of the islands in Tropico 4 so players can now have more freedom to execute their plans. Another issue which we have addressed is the somewhat steep learning curve that new players experience when they first start playing Tropico. We have created a comprehensive multi-stage tutorial which details the basics of the game as well as some of the finer points which players must know in order to get the best out of their island.

Strategy Informer: There was a considerable gap between Tropico 2 and Tropico 3, although to be fair the previous games were developed by other companies so I imagine the IP has simply been 'floating' for a portion of that time. Still, do you think Tropico 4 is getting the development time it needs to be as good as its predecessor?

Krasimir Gatev: Our team has obtained a lot of experience during our work on Tropico 3 and as a result the development of Tropico 4 is currently progressing smoother and faster than with our previous effort. Fans need not worry as we will make sure to include the much needed additional layer of polish before the game launches.

Strategy Informer: You've said that you might be announcing a console version of Tropico 4. How successful was Tropico 3's 360 offering?

Krasimir Gatev: I think that the Xbox 360 version of Tropico 3 was received pretty well by critics and fans alike. As there aren't many similar games on this platform I think we have managed to capture our own audience. We are currently hard at work on the Xbox 360 version of Tropico 4 so fans can look forward to enjoying our game on the console.

Strategy Informer: Will you re-consider the PS3 this time? Why wasn't it used for Tropico 3?

Krasimir Gatev: Bringing any game to a new platform is a challenge, as the game's interface has to be reworked in order to provide comfortable control on the console. Currently we have no plans for a PlayStation 3 version of Tropico 4.

Strategy Informer: Tell us more about the new engine behind Tropico 4?

Krasimir Gatev: Our company uses a proprietary engine which evolves and gets better with each game we release. Our latest game The First Templar is an action adventure title, so we had a lot of time to experiment with different visual techniques. This helped us push our technology even further so players will definitely experience an improved graphical performance in Tropico 4.

Strategy Informer: What about the new integration with Facebook and Twitter? What was thinking behind this feature and what do you hope this will do for the game?

Krasimir Gatev: Many users consider social network integration features as a source of spam. Our design goal for the social network integration in Tropico 4 was to generate relevant messages and updates based on the player's actions. I think that word of mouth advertising is the best way to promote good games and social networks provide an excellent opportunity for this.

Of course, people that are not interested in these features can be disabled without any gameplay consequences.

Strategy Informer: There have been experiments in the past in trying to add a multiplayer or online element to the game beyond mere Leaderboards. Cities XL, even though it essentially failed, springs to mind here - what are your thoughts on multiplayer in the city-building genre, even for games as quirky as Tropico?

Krasimir Gatev: Integrating multiplayer in a city-building game is a challenging prospect that must be handled with care. The whole game must be centred around the multiplayer as if it is just a tacked on feature it will turn out lacklustre. During our work on the Tropico series we have tried to retain the spirit of the classic game. A multiplayer-centric Tropico might turn out to be too great a departure from the classic formula which made the original great.

Despite not having traditional multiplayer, Tropico 4 players will be able to edit maps, create challenges and share them online.

Strategy Informer: Have you considered playing with the military side of things? In Tropico 3, when faced with an invasion or an uprising, all you did was watched as your local troops slowly responded to the trouble.

Krasimir Gatev: Combat was never a leading factor in the Tropico franchise. In fact skilled players can avoid these situations altogether. Presidente is not so much a general commanding his troops, but more a secret puppeteer, who manipulates and skews the public opinion to achieve dominance. For Tropico 4 our attention was concentrated on refining the city building aspect of the game by adding a new mission objective structure, new events, buildings, disasters and more.

Strategy Informer: Personally, we thought it would have been nice to have some kind of control over these situations, add a smidgen of RTS to the mix.

Krasimir Gatev: Not-having RTS type of combat was an intentional decision on our part. We wanted to keep Tropico an economy and politics simulation not branched towards other genres.

Strategy Informer: And finally - Will 'Juanito' and Tropico News Today be making a return? Remember, El Presidente is right, even when he's wrong...

Krasimir Gatev: Unfortunately Juanito had to take a vacation, as he has been experiencing some work related stress issues, partly due to the fact that Presidente could order him killed on a whim. There will be two brand new radio announcers in Tropico 4. One of them might even be an individual familiar to Tropico fans...

I'll admit, I shed a tear when I read that last bit about Juanito. He will be missed. Tropico 4 is currently slated for an August release, and with nothing announced on the cards for the company at the moment, we expect to be seeing more assets, and maybe even some preview coverage coming soon.


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By Knave (SI Core) on May 09, 2011
It's a fun series, but the interview makes it seem very much refined and 'evolution' rather than 'revolution'

Will be interesting to see the final product!
By Paceydre (SI Member) on May 09, 2011
I have enjoyed Tropico 1 and 3 a lot. I hope part 4 will be even more fun to play. Time will tell.
By bosnian_dragon (SI Core) on May 10, 2011
Tropico 1 was a really good game. However, Tropico 4 looks a little bit like plastic to me. I don't know why, but I feel like I'd be playing with plastic toys :/ The graphics seem to be nice as far as the screenshots can tell, but I prefer more "down to earth" textures if you know what I mean :D
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on May 10, 2011
There really hasn't been a lot of information about the game, since the developer have been focusing on The Last Templar, which has just been release.

These interview questions are actually kind of old because of that - took aggeesss to get back to us. But we should start seeing more substantial information now, especially with assets and what the game actually looks like.
By Anaxim (I just got here) on May 10, 2011
Not to appear a fool here, but those screenshots are from Tropico 3, right? I just don't recognized the shopping mall or water park.
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on May 11, 2011
No, the screens are from what I assume to be a very early build of Tropico 4.
By bosnian_dragon (SI Core) on May 11, 2011
I hope the textures will look more realistic in the full version. I like the water tex, but the buildings look a little bit plastic as I already said in my first post here. But, if the gameplay turns out to be better than average, I will certainly buy this game, because I always support old titles and their descendants if they're ok ;)