Hello there Celeste players! Today we are continuing to reveal various Indian units and buildings as they roll off the conveyor belt.
Mahout Camp and Elephant ArcherAoEO’s civ design sets the game apart from all of the others in the franchise. Though each civ uses a wide variety of units, they also have a handful of specializations that grant each civ unique gameplay, strategies, and cultural motifs. In this way, good civ design allows these historical civilizations to pop off the screen and come to life, all while maintaining gameplay balance and coherence throughout the entire game.
We have already touched upon two of these key Indian features – Religion - and Food production/economy as seen in their unique Plantation and Gatherer Elephant.
As we’ve been foreshadowing all along, the third and most significant gameplay feature of the Indians are their Elephants. True to their history, our Indians will have lots of different elephants. But we still need to choose wisely.
In designing new civs, it is imperative we remember to leave room for all of the existing civs room to breathe. We can’t just load a new civ with every feature imaginable but must choose our emphasis carefully so the other civs aren’t drowned out. (We discussed this a bit with the Romans in our decision to give the Centurion both a ranged and melee attack without stepping on the toes of the Persian Immortal, since that feature essentially sets him apart from every other unit in the game.)
And of course the Egyptians are the only existing civ with Elephants, so we are again wading into their territory. One approach is to give the Indians a Gatherer Elephant. To further set the Indians apart, we are also giving them a specific military building that trains only elephant units, the Mahout Camp.
The Mahout Camp will train a total of three different elephant units, all in addition to the Gatherer Elephant, which trains from the Town Center. (Mahout is originally a Sanskrit word for the people who ride and train elephants. So calling this building the Mahout Camp is in keeping with the Persian Immortal Camp and Roman Auxilia Camp.
Like every non-Siege-Workshop military production building in the game (with the exception of the Persian Immortal Camp), the Mahout Camp will also come with its own two unique Factory Techs, which we will be discussing in a later "Tech Design" blog.
Since the Indians also used cavalry and chariots, it seems appropriate to give the military elephants their own building. However, this created a bit of a conundrum on the Tech Tree:
This is pretty in the weeds, but here we go: As a rule, AoEO civs have only 18 Buildings, so giving the Indians a Mahout Camp means taking something away -- their Siege Workshop.
Therefore, we need to shift the Siege units (Palintonon and Ram) into the Fortress. This is done in the Celts and Norse, so that’s not a big deal, but the Siege units in those civs aren’t mechanical units, they are humans (Stone Thrower, Log Thrower, and human-powered Ram units. Other than the Palintonon, which is trained at the Fortress for most civs, it would be a bit out of place to put any other proper mechanical siege units anywhere but a Siege Workshop. Similarly, all other civs who train Palintononss at the Fortress have the Fortress on the Utility tab of the Tech Tree.
Since the Indian Fortress trains a Ram, we need to put theirs on the Military tab. So the Indians are in a unique spot of having their Palintonon on the Military Tab but also inside the Fortress. So to make this all work, we are making sure they have a human-powered Ram, which we will reveal later. This may feel like a pretty arcane detail, but it is the kind of thing that keeps us up at night. Fitting the civ correctly on the three tabs of the Tech Tree can be a weirdly complex dance that can feel pretty arbitrary. However, ironing this out is part of good civ design, and if we can’t make a civ that fits in perfectly, then we really shouldn’t be making civs at all.
As for the design of the building itself, there actually are descriptions of Elephant stables in the Arthashastra dating back to the Mauryan Empire. In relevant part, we know that each stable needs to be at least twice as broad and twice as high as an elephant and “with its door facing either the east or the north” and room to tie an elephant up in front. Armed with this, Max and Eamon arrived at the following design. Note that its footprint is larger than a regular Stables and smaller than a Fortress and that it correctly opens to the right (which is to the game’s de facto East, assuming the top of you screen is North). We have been working on the Mahout Camp since the very beginning.
In terms of in-game looks, the Mahout Camp is the same size as the Persian Immortal Camp and the Norse Great Hall.
The Indian Elephant Archer is of course similar to the Egyptian version, but is a bit smaller, a bit weaker, but also a bit faster, is only 3 population, and becomes available one age earlier (in Age 3). Also, since the Indians don't have as much siege splash damage as the Egyptians, the Indian Elephant Archer will get a larger splash area in the Golden Age to compensate.
Another key difference is that since it is a fast unit, the Indian Elephant Archer will not slow down your army if you group them with War Elephants. (Presently we expect Indian War Elephants and Elephant Archers to have 8 speed, compared to the Egyptian versions which are 9 and 6 speed, respectively.) Overall, we view the Indian Elephant Archer similarly to the Celtic Longswordsman, who is very similar to the Norse Harjar but available one age earlier.
We can thank Eamon for much of the 3D design. This unit is beautiful and looks perfectly Indian.
VimanaIn designing the Indian navy, we were mindful of a few unspoken design rules that all civs in AoEO follow:
First, in addition to every civ having an Age 1 Fishing Ship and an Age 2 Merchant Transport, every civ in the game also features an Age 2 basic warship.
Second, other than the Celts, every civ has a second warship appearing in Age 3 that is classified as an Anti-Ship Ship (such as a Fire Ship or a Ram Ship).
Third, in Age 4, four of the civs get a Siege Ship (the only slight deviation is the Roman Enneris that appears in Age 3 but gains a bonus to Buildings in Age 4, making it both an Anti-Ship Ship and a Siege Ship.
Finally, like every other building in the game, Docks never have an age that skips a unit. So no civ has a warship in Age 2, nothing in Age 3, and then an Age 4 ship.
India has a huge naval tradition – they spanned not just across the Indian Ocean but also ran trade routes throughout the known world. Most relevant for the existing AoEO civs were the trade routes with the Aksumites and Nubians of eastern Africa, which prominently connected India to Europe. (You may be curious to read about the so-called Pompeii Lakshmi, which is an ivory statue of an Indian goddess that was found in the ruins of Pompeii.)
However, while the subcontinent of India was undoubtedly prominent on the water, India is about the size of Europe itself and full of lots of different cultures. Our Indians are based on the more northern Mauryan Empire, home of the Indus and Ganges rivers. The Chola were a separate culture in southern India, and they had the stronger navy.
For gameplay purposes, our Indians will focus less on navy so they can focus more on elephants, farming, and religion. However, they still need to hold their own on water.
For that reason, the Indians will have two warships – an all-around Age 2 warship and an Age 3 fire ship. Today, we are revealing the Age 2 warship, which is called a Vimana.
A few notes on the name: There are several names already used in the game for this kind of unit – Trireme (Greeks, Egyptians), Bireme (Babylonians), Galley (Persians), Longship (Norse), Swanship (Celts), and Liburnian (Romans).
Strictly speaking, historians mostly refer to Mauryan warships as “Galleys,” however to add some personality, we are opting to name the unit a “Vimana,” which is very similar to the naming followed by giving the Celts a Swanship. Like the Swanship, the Vimana wasn’t an actual historic boat but rather based in myth. Vimana appear in ancient Hindu and Sanskrit epics as flying palaces/chariots. Using that as inspiration, Max, Eamon, and Natsata collaborated on the 3d model and icon.
As an extra treat, here are the designs for the Indian sails. Every Ship unit (with the exception of the Fishing Boat) for every civilization uses the same set of sails, and this is what you will see when you get your hands on the Indians:
Rampart Wall and Keep TowerMeanwhile, every civ also gets an extra Age 4 Guard Tower (called a Keep Tower). These are rarely used in the game other than by the AI in quests. We could possibly unlock them with an Advisor or something similar, though we have not ironed out anything specific for the Indians.
Like most civs, the Indians do not have an Age 4 Wall in their playable version. However, we still use it in quests, so we need one. In January, we revealed the Age 2 and Age 3 Walls but had not yet completed the Age 4 Wall. We’ve finished it, and here it is!
Indian Palace and Capital City StoresFinally, we are continuing to roll out the various Capital City buildings and are pleased to reveal the Palace and three levels of Stores. Since the Indians are a Pro civilization that starts at level 20, they need additional stores in their Capital City (just like the Persians, Babylonians, and Norse).
Coming soon to Pataliputra and to your own Indian Capital City!
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 Jul 8, 2022 at 3:01 PM
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