Hello there Celeste players! We are back with another Roman reveal blog.
As we develop the Romans, each week we will be revealing the Romans to you building by building, unit by unit, and technology by technology. We are not just showing you what the Romans will be, but showing you how we are building them, who is building them, and also why we are building them the way that we are.
At this point, we have revealed 13 of the 18 Roman Buildings. Of the remaining 5 Buildings, we are revealing two more today – the Forum and the Armory. Accordingly, we will be transitioning our discussion from Roman Buildings to their contents: Roman Units and Technologies. Along those lines, we are revealing a new Unit, the Cretan Bowman, as well as a few new Technologies.
ForumAs discussed in our Building Design Blog, some AoEO civilizations have a Custom Building that contains only Technologies. These unique Technologies serve a strong role in distinguishing what is special about that civ. The Greek Academy focuses on Buildings, Towers, and Arrow Fire. The Celt Bard Hall focuses on Infantry upgrades. The Persian War Academy and Babylonian Ziggurat are Unique Buildings that blend their civ-specific Techs with their Priest Unit production facility.
The Roman Forum will follow the standard model and contain only Technologies.
When we went through the original Roman designs, the Forum appeared only sporadically, and so we needed to consider some other options before including it. For instance, some files contained references to a building called the Plantation. We have some of its code that shows it generated a constant gold trickle. The Original Devs would later graft this idea onto the Babylonians and change the Gold trickle to Food. In light of the Garden, the Plantations just didn’t feel very inspired or even particularly Roman, for that matter. So we kept the Plantation on the shelf. There also was a rumored Aqueduct building, but we have found no trace of such a thing anywhere in our documents and instead believe that it was never going to be a building at all, but was simply the name of a Tech in the Forum. (The longstanding Roman wiki page appears to misidentify this as a building and is probably the source of the rumor. However, if you look closely, the icon is that of a Tech and not a Building.)
PF2K's Note: I'm trying to add small videos of Buildings for the blogs, let me know in the comments if you like these so I can include them in future blogs as well!
Though we have some specific ideas for the Aqueducts Tech, every new Tech is subject to change during balance testing, so we don’t want to bog this post down with details that will almost certainly be tweaked. But our Forum will also feature the Aqueduct Tech, which will buff Villagers and/or the Economy in some way.
SPQR is another Forum Tech and will similarly buff Villagers. Do you see a trend here? You will understand why later. But not this week.
Arch Construction and Fortifications will buff Buildings. Again, we aren’t going to get deeper into why or how just yet.
Marian Reformation is slated to decrease the Gold cost of Officers and Legionaries. The Praetorium is not expected to contain Factory Tech upgrades (similar to a Siege Workshop and unlike a Barracks, Archery Range, or Stable). Therefore, the Forum will play a heightened role in upgrading the Officers.
The icons and code for most of these Forum Techs were already in the game. However, most of their proposed functions didn’t end up fitting, so we have made a number of changes (and, again, will almost certainly make a few more as we stress-test the Roman design before launch). There will also be at least one other Tech in the Forum, but we can’t discuss it without spoiling some other surprises we have cooked up for you in later weeks.
And lastly, here's how the Forum looks next to other civilizations' Tech buildings:
ArmoryThe Armory is one of the 13 Common Building that appears in every civ (and the 12th we’ve revealed). Other than the design, which is beautiful, its most noteworthy detail is that it doesn’t have any noteworthy details. We found no solid evidence that the Roman Armory was ever intended to be special. Therefore, we agreed to stay our hands and allow the Romans to be unique in other places. Other than the Wonder, we’ve now shown you every Common Building.
Here is how the Armory looks next to other civilizations' Armory:
And here is a live version of the beautiful Armory building:
The Cretan Bowman was widely requested this week, and we are absolutely thrilled with what Chaos and Happy Smurf have done with him. Here he is in Epic gear (but no Bows or Arrows).
It’s really amazing to see him looking so sharp on the field, because he almost didn’t make the team. And while he stands before you today victorious, it is not without consequence. We regret to inform you that at least one popular unit gave up his life so that the Cretan Bowman may live. Now that we have the Unit Design Blog under our belts, let’s dig a little deeper.
The original Roman design had way too many units, particularly in Ages 1 and 2. Specifically, the design called for two Age 1 Infantry units: a standard Spearman plus an anti-infantry Officer Unit trained from the Praetorium (which sounded surprisingly overpowered, as an anti-infantry unit could counter every single Age 1 unit in the game, and that’s before we even consider giving the Romans multiple Age 1 military buildings).
Age 2 got weirder. Not only did it add two more Infantry (a basic unit and another anti-infantry), but it added two ranged units, the Veles (a basic unit trained from the Castellum that throws a javelin and carries a shield) and the Cretan Bowman (who was slated to be Rome’s third Age 2 anti-infantry unit). It also called for an anti-cav Cavalry unit and a heal-only priest. That’s eight different land units in Age 2, which is a full three more than the Babylonians, who have the largest Age 2 in the game simply because they get both a Bowman and a Slinger (plus the standard Spearman, second Infantry, and Cavalry). Plus the Romans threw in two warships for good measure, which would double everybody else's Age 2 fleet. So the Romans would have made an absolute zoo out of Age 2.
Here's how Cretan Bowmen look when they're idle and bored, and also the updated Legendary Helmet for Centurions (Can you spot the difference from last week's blog?)
We couldn't shake the feeling that these Roman designs were full of early ideas that the Devs threw together before playtesting and ironing the civ out. Later on, we spoke with some original Devs who confirmed these suspicions. At any rate, the unit roster was a total mess, and to get the Romans into fighting shape, we had our work cut out for us. We ended up redesigning and/or rearranging almost every unit. We will discuss many of these changes in the coming weeks, but for now, let's discuss some of our Age 2 decisions.
Because the Cretan Bowman and Veles (plural: Velites) were such similar units on paper, it seemed unavoidable that one of them had to perish. But we fought like hell to save them both. Historically, both are very viable units. Velites were a homegrown ranged unit that served admirably in the Roman Army for generations, though were made up of poor citizens and widely considered fairly weak. And both Cretan Bowmen and Balearic Slingers consistently on the short list of the most important Roman Auxilia in history. The Auxilia Camp would be weird without them. But weighing heavily on our shoulders is a video of the original Velites animations that a Dev posted long ago.
If the Veles had made the original roster, it would be tragic for us to kill them now. But we can’t just add a unit to the mighty Roman Empire out of pity. It needs to earn that spot. And there weren't a lot of spots open. Since the Velites were fairly weak foot soldiers, they really would not fit in the game anywhere past Age 2.
Our analysis: In Age 1, we penciled in the anti-cav Spearman, which left three necessary Age 2 units: an Infantry, a Ranged, and a Cav. (We can maybe have one more, but we need those three for sure.) And of those, we need at least one unit to be able to counter Infantry and another to counter Archers. We also need at least one unit from the Castellum, Auxilia Camp, and Praetorium. Meanwhile, we need to get the anti-infantry Legionary out on the field by Age 2 for other reasons, not the least is that we don't need an extra infantry unit gumming up the Castellum. So after adding the Legionary, we still need to counter archers in Age 2 with either the Ranged unit or the Cav. The Veles could counter archers just fine, but if we use him, we would overload the Castellum with 3 units in Age 2 and leave a giant hole in either the Auxilia or the Praetorium.
That's a serious problem: If we don't give a military buildings an important Age 2 unit, then players won't bother constructing the building, and our Tech tree would be limp and fail. We just did not have the right units to make this work. Hypothetically, we could have used the ones we wanted and then still added the Veles, but were we to do so, we would be creating an extra unit that does not play an obvious role on the tech tree, which is sloppy and bloated and not how the Original 6 civs were designed.
At one point, one of us lobbied hard to remove the Spearman and give his traditional Age 1 lead-off role to the humble Veles. But to do so would have created an absolutely insane Age 1 where the Romans have a ranged unit squaring off against enemy Spearmen. Even if we severely nerfed the range and DPS of the Velites, they could still kite everybody and would completely dominate Age 1. An original Dev once described the Romans to us: "Rather than being an early-game cive like the Norse, we were trending towards making the Romans a civ where you really wanted to get your economy going so you could build up your base and tech, before rolling over your opponent with some strong late-game units." We will talk more about our approach to Age 1 later, but giving the Romans a huge military boost in the first three minutes of the game with the only ranged unit on the field is absolutely not it. Desperate, one of us even considered classifying the Veles as Infantry, but we didn’t come all this way to make things up out of thin air. Meanwhile, the Persians are the only civ that doesn’t have an Age 1 Spearman, but they still have one in Age 2.
There’s an unwritten rule that every civ needs a Spearman, and if we moved the Veles to Age 1 we'd just end up with the Spearman in Age 2 and wouldn’t actually reduce the Romans’ bloated unit roster, especially since we still needed the Spearman to be our anti Cav unit. The Velites were getting pinched and there was little we could do for them.
We don’t have time to lead you through every idea and permutation we considered, but we really tried anything we could to get the pieces to fit. Meanwhile, the historical Velites were also phased out in place of Balearic Slingers and Cretan Bowmen.
It was inevitable: we sacrificed the Veles and saved the lives of both the Spearman and the Cretan Bowman. Giving the Romans both a standard archer and the game's 7th Spearman and killing off their own personalized, Romanesque javelin thrower may not have been the most exciting decision we could have made, but for the viability of the entire tech tree, it was the most responsible one.
As for our Cretan Bowman, he has vowed to honor his fallen brethren with valor and honor. Thank the gods for Happy Smurf and Chaos, who gave our Cretan Bowman such magnificent personality. He really stands out on his own. And for a constellation of reasons, he will do so in Age 3. In order to make the civ work and get us that Age 2 anti-archer, he and the Balearic Slinger swapped Ages.
But mourners of the great Veles, take solace: your Veles is already in the game. He dyed his hair blonde and now fights for the Norse as their Skirmisher.
And, as is tradition, here's a lineup of (almost) every revealed Roman Building and unit:
Thank you for reading, and we will see you all next week!
Project Celeste Development Team
What do you think about this week's blog? What would you like to see next? Let us know in the comments below!
Missed the Roman Civilization's announcement? Find out about it HERE.
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By PF2K on Jul 27, 2019 at 12:30 PM
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