After racing towards Pataliputra this spring, we ran into a slow patch this summer, but we’ve caught our breath and are back in gear.
Broadly speaking, we have most of our 3D models for buildings and have turned our eyes onto the complex world of units. To give you some perspective, for every Indian building in the game (including Capital City buildings and decorations), we need 59 models and 38 animations. For the Indian Units, however, we need a total of 230 models and 140 animations.
At this point, no single unit is completely finished. But we do have the basics for many of them and pulled a few off the shelf to show you today. So let’s get at it.
We will talk far more about the gameplay decisions and design theory of the Indians later (why we gave them the units, buildings, and technologies we did, etc.) and look forward to dissecting cross-sections of the civ at different stages of gameplay (Age 1, Age 2, etc.).
However, since we are just jumping right into the thick of the civ with two key Age 2 military buildings, the Archery Range and the Stables, we want to give you some context for why we decided on these specific units. So let’s talk about the early game of the Indians, at least from their military perspective.
Archery Range and Stables
(PF2K's Personal Note: the Egyptians do not have an Archery Range, and their Stables doubles up as both a regular Stables and an Archery Range. Similarly, the Romans do not have the traditional set of Military Buildings, but for the sake of the blog, we are having the Auxilia Camp next to Archery Ranges and the Praetorium next to other civilizations' Stables)
The Indian military opens the game with the standard anti-Cav Spearman. As we discussed way back in our Unit Design Blog, there is a rebuttable presumption that any new civ have a single Age 1 Spearman. Certainly there is still room for an AoEO civ to have a more diverse Age 1 military (the Persian Sparabara is heretofore the game’s only deviation), but for reasons that will become more clear as we reveal the rest of the civ this fall and winter, we elected to keep the Spearman in Age 1 for the Indians (they will have other unique features in Age 1).
That brings us to Age 2, where AoEO civs have great synergy, generally featuring a full set of at least one Infantry, Ranged, and Cavalry unit that somehow combine to also counter each of those three Classes.
Traditionally Age games are built on a rock-paper-scissors design with melee Infantry countering melee Cavalry who counter Ranged units who counter Infantry. But AoEO’s asymmetric unit design mixes things up while elegantly preserving that balance. For instance, in Age 2 the Egyptians have a Slinger who counters Ranged units and a Camel Rider who counters Cavalry. Similarly, the Babylonian Lancer counters Infantry while their Shield Bearer counters Ranged. This is a how AoEO creates a diverse ecosystem of asymmetric civs. It’s beautiful and the best system across the franchise.
So in designing the Indians, we were hyper focused on finding a way for them to stand on their own and harmonize with the seven other civs in Age 2. And in analyzing this balance, we realized something: Not one civ in the entire game actually had an Age 1 and Age 2 that perfectly followed that traditional Age of Empires rock-paper-scissors trifecta with an Age 1 Spearman and a Ranged unit countering Infantry and a Melee Cav countering Ranged in Age 2.
Therefore, we decided to give the Indians the classic, original standard opening of the Age of Empires franchise. They have an Age 1 anti-Cav melee Spearman, an Age 2 anti-Infantry Bowman and Age 2 anti-Ranged Cavalry. (As well as a second Infantry unit in Age 2, the Gada Warrior, who is more of an all-around unit with a slight bonus against Infantry.)
However, the Indians also have a handful of other Age 2 units giving them the largest Age 2 unit roster in the game. We will discuss all of those units soon enough. But for today, we present to you the anti-Infantry Bowman and the anti-Ranged Turanga.
The Bowman is self-explanatory, and we intentionally went with a simple name. The game already has four Bowmen, a Cretan Bowman, and a Toxotes. So Bowman seemed the right move for a standard archer.
But every AoEO civ needs some local flavor, and the Indians shall be no different. “Turanga” is the Sanskrit word for “Horse” and was the word used to describe the entire classification of cavalry in their military. This makes the word essentially the Indian equivalent of Asabara, Sarissophoroi, and Eques. It is also easy enough for us English speakers to say (and leagues better than Ulfheðinn and Farbjoðr). We study how language is used in AoEO very carefully, so we handpicked a couple of Indian units to be properly in their language.
The Turanga is the Indians' answer to Ranged Units in Age II, but once its Champion Upgrade is researched, it will also become effective against Cavalry Units. This is in a way similar to the Egyptian Camel Rider, where it starts out as an Anti-Cavalry Cavalry, but then becomes substantially more effective against Ranged Units upon researching Camel Rider Champion.
This allows the Indians to transition comfortably into the midgame. They already need to make Turangas in Age II to counter the enemy's Ranged Units, however once players reach Age III and research Turanga Champion, they will be able to establish map control and expand onto the map, since they already have amassed a large number of Turangas.
This brings us to Age 3. Back in the Archery Range, the Indians will have the Ranger, which is an anti-Ranged javelin unit — basically their Peltast or Takabara. We chose his name for several reasons. First, “Takabara” literally translate to “Ranger.” Second, the original Devs had once slotted a unit with this name into the Archery Range of the Phoenicians (appearing in their Age 3, no less). We have assembled a vast trove of original designs and concept art and love leaning on it whenever possible. Breathing life into original discarded ideas helps glue our new content back onto the original intent for the game. Details matter. And so “Ranger” is a fittingly perfect name.
Let’s move back to the Stables, but first a brief history lesson. Unlike the Romans, there are not a lot of primary sources for ancient Indian history. But we have the Arthashastra, a 600 page treatise on military strategy and statecraft authored by Chanakya, who was the advisor to Chandragupta Maurya, the founder and namesake of our Mauryan Empire. Chanakya explains that the Mauryan army consisted of four types of troops -- elephants (Gaja), chariots (Ratha), cavalry (Turanga), and foot soldiers (Pada).
Therefore, the Indians obviously need a chariot. The only question was where it would fit. And the Stables in Age 3 turned out to be the best spot. While ancient sources and Bollywood often include legendary Indian chariots equipped with massive spinning blades and other mechanical weapons, for gameplay considerations, we shy away from a melee chariot. (Frankly, the Indians needed another ranged unit, particularly in light of their other huge melee units we haven’t discussed yet but you know are coming. Plus a ranged chariot helps distinguish it from the Turanga, which again is the other Stables unit.) So our Blade Chariot will be short range with a ranged, single-unit attack, but high attack speed, making it the perfect unit for players who are able to micro their units on the battlefield effectively.
In the lategame, players can upgrade their Blade Chariots and turn them into the ultimate late-game harassment unit. While the Blade Chariot doesn't have the highest range of all Chariot units, it is very fast and has a very high attack rate, making it very capable at sneaking behind enemy defenses and tearing the enemy economy to pieces.
SummaryTo wrap things up, here's everything we showed to you in this blog:
The Indian Military Tech Tree is full of different Buildings and Units, and we we can't wait until we're able to show you more of it soon! The Indian Barracks is next on our list and we hope to have it ready for the next blog, alongside at least one other Military Building. Stay tuned!
More 2D Artwork
We recently brought Natsata aboard as our third 2D artist. He has been invaluable and works incredibly well with us. You will be seeing plenty of his stuff as these blogs continue, but for now, we have some of his Quest Givers to share. Welcome, Natsata!
Thanks for reading, and we look forward to revealing more of the Indians again shortly as we pick up the pace. Please let us know your thoughts and questions below!
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By PF2K on Oct 30, 2021 at 5:16 PM
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