We’ve been quiet since we announced the Indians two months ago. Just as we did with the Romans, we intend to release a series of blogs documenting the development of the Indians. But rather than weekly blogs, we will update you every few weeks or so. Hopefully by staggering them we can time them better with the release of the civilization.
Choosing the IndiansOnce we knew we wanted to make an 8th civ, we had to decide who it would be. Compared to the rest of the Age of Emperies series, the civs in AoEO are the most asymmetric, the most historically accurate, and have the most unique architecture.
Choosing a civ is a combination of research (their history, units, and buildings), game design (can we come up with unique ideas that translate actual history into entertaining strategy), and considering existing gameplay (will the new features fit naturally into the game and not step onto the toes of any other civs).
Every civilization in AoEO must walk the line between striking out in a unique direction while also feeling like they have always belonged in our world. Of the possible civilizations, the Indians give us the best opportunity to do this and improve Age of Empires Online.
Development Changes1. While we had several drafts of the Romans tech tree from the original Developers, we have nothing about the Indians other than a handful of 3D concepts. So we no longer can hide behind the decisions of other people. We are solely responsible for every Indian unit, building, and technology. (For instance, we inherited the Castellum, Auxilia Camp, Praetorium, and the entire concept of Officer Units from the original Developers.) Meanwhile, no civilization will ever be as universally desired as the Romans. So the stakes are higher.
2. Meanwhile, the Indians bring additional design considerations – unlike the Romans (and, frankly, any other civ in the game), our Indians share the same religions, languages, and cultures with people in the modern day. So where there’s no actual Babylonians or worshipers of Jupiter or Ptah playing AoEO, there are plenty of Indians. To help us make a civilization that feels authentic not just to a western audience but also to an Indian audience, we sought out some help, such as Varadha, who is a longtime AoEO player (and PvE partner/good buddy of Andy), from India, and has a vast knowledge of their history (also his brother is a Sanskrit pandit, to boot). We’ve also reached out to several others, such as Cheater, who has been super generous trying to teach Andy enough Sanskrit to give him a basic understanding of it.
3. While we were able to use leftover Roman artwork, we must create every single Indian image – concept art, unit portraits, icons, Advisors, Quest Givers, etc. So we have added two artists – Hans and Raider. Their stuff is amazing, and we cannot wait to show it off here.
4. Since we built out an entire team for the Romans (we had more than 55 people towards the end), we are able to begin work on every area of the civ immediately rather than move deliberately from one area to another with the same people. For instance, we promoted Zawnius from Romans voice actor to Indians Audio Engineer to help write and edit vocals, which frees up Eamon to focus on 3D models. This will shave months off of development.
5. Finally, we combined our entire team (gameplay design, 3D, 2D, vocals, music, quest design, videos, blogs, backend support) onto a single Indians Discord server. It’s really helpful having everyone in the same room. It's month three, and we are already up to 17 people.
Initial DesignAfter we decided that the Indians will be our 8th civ, we turned to the two largest design questions -- what the Indians are going to look like and what the Indians are going to play like.
Again, in order to choose the Indians, we had to have some general ideas about both, but until we pinned them down completely, we'd be unable to build a single thing. PF2K and Andy had been brainstorming ideas for future civs since the team finalized the Roman tech tree, but it was not until the Romans were released that we finally hammered it out. It was much faster blueprinting the Indians from scratch than it was to cobble together the Roman tech tree using the various leftover pieces of GPG's development.
Many civilizations in Age of Empires Online have a unique theme to their upgrades. For instance, the Persians have both Toggle Techs (upgrades that can be toggled on or off at an instant, allowing for on-the-fly adaptation for players), but also upgrades that offer bonuses that come with drawbacks. (such as the Blot Out the Sun upgrade, which increases the Maximum Range of Persian Archery Range Units, but decreases their Health.) Babylonians, on the other hand, have many upgrades that push their Unit roster towards a "cheap but spammable" style, such as Bowman Champion, which removes the Gold Cost of their Bowmen entirely.
The Indians will have a "Choose-One" upgrade theme. These upgrades will allow players to adapt their civilization based on the specific situation they are in (matchups against other civilizations, different maps, etc.). We will reveal more details about these upgrades in a separate blog.
Meanwhile, Max and Eamon had begun playing around with Indian buildings back in 2019, but they did not get serious until this March. Max is a professional architect and Eamon is Leonardo da Vinci, so after years of following the existing Roman concept art, they were eager to design the art style of an entire civilization on their own. Our Indians are based on the Mauryan empire, which ended around 150 CE.
Almost all Mauryan era buildings were wooden and have been lost to time. Fortunately, the few remaining stone buildings have that classic Indian style. We quickly agreed on the vibrant brownish color palette (and Teak for their official civ wood) because of their authenticity and feel. Players will have no problems distinguishing the Indians from every other civ in the game. However, we had a much harder time agreeing on exactly the shape and features of the Indian roofs. Because of the camera location, roofs play a huge visual role in Age of Empires games.
In AoEO, each civ has about two or three unique roof styles. We went through an awful lot of roofs before agreeing on a final set. Though the buildings we are showing today each share the most basic roof, soon enough we will show you the more ornate Indian buildings, such as the Town Center. They are absolutely gorgeous.
Armory, Watch PostOf the 18 or so buildings in every AoEO civ, about four are civ-specific and play an enhanced role in its identity and playstyle. The Indians will be no different. But to begin these blogs, we want to show you a few of the more basic buildings - the Watch Post and the Armory.
The Indian versions will behave exactly like the standard ones. Early on, we had some ideas about giving the Indians a unique Armory, but we decided to focus on other areas.
And though we never considered a special Watch Post for the Indians (the Norse already have one - the Outpost, which also trains War Dogs - and the Roman Millarium, which is a modified cousin), we are giving the Indians a unique Scout. He will arrive in these blogs later.
But today we are revealing the Plantation, which is larger than a regular Farm and can be worked by multiple Villagers (we have penciled in two Villagers per Plantation for now, but this is subject to balancing). This more powerful, advanced version of a Farm is similar to how the Norse Longhouse, Norse Outpost, Babylonian Ox Cart, and Roman Castellum replace the common versions of those buildings in their respective civs.
The Indus Valley supported tremendous agriculture, and our Indians will need a lot of food. So the Plantation is a perfect fit. It also neatly fits around a Town Center, which not only looks great but will give the Indians defensive advantages having all of those Villagers so close to safety.
(You may recall that the Romans were at one time to have their own Plantation, though that version trickled gold and later morphed into the Babylonian Garden. But we borrowed the name as a fitting homage to further tie the Indians back to the game.)
Like Farms, the Indian Plantations will have three different 3D models and grow two unique crops. (Choosing crops is one of our team's favorite moments in civ design.) It turns out that the Indus Valley was the ancient world's leading exporter of black pepper. They also grew a ton of beans, which haven’t yet made an entrance into AoEO. So beans and pepper plants it is.
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Project Celeste Development Team
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By PF2K on Jul 11, 2021 at 11:01 AM
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