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.
This week we are revealing the Liburnian and Templum. We will also be discussing the Pontifex, but will show you his model in a later post once it is ready.
LiburnianAs we had to make cuts to the Roman navy in order to select to include the Liburnian, we want to explain our decision by first establishing a few unspoken navy design rules that are evident by reviewing the navies of the existing six civs:
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, five of the six civs have an Age 3 Ship, and every one of them is classified as an Anti-Ship Ship (such as a Fire Ship or a Ram Ship).
Third, of those five civs with Age 3 Ships, three of them have an Age 4 Ship, and all of those are Siege Ships.
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.
We have already discussed the Roman navy in some detail here, but as we are now revealing the first Roman warship, it is necessary to touch upon it again.
The original Roman navy included up to six different Ships — Fishing Boat, Merchant Transport, Trireme (a Basic Warship), Liburnian (a Small Warship used for Scouting), Quinquereme (described as a Large Warship with the concept art of a Ram Ship), and Enneris (Siege Warship). Because the Romans already have too many units and because no other civ has more than five ships and because the Roman navy was historically inconsistent, we knew we needed to make some cuts.
Applying these six units to the design rules helped sort things out but also highlighted some knots to untangle. Off the bat, we knew that the Romans needed an Age 2 warship, so we penciled in the Trireme into that slot. Meanwhile, as our Romans are going to focus on Siege, we knew we needed to give them a siege ship. So we penciled in the Enneris in Age 4. Then to follow the no-skip rule, we figured we’d need to add the Age 3 ram ship, the Quinquereme.
But at that point, with an Age 2 basic warship, an Age 3 anti-ship ship, and an Age 4 siege ship, the Roman navy was an uninspired clone of the best navies in the game, which really didn’t match Rome's strange naval history, left alone really address their bloated roster. So we got creative. At one point we considered removing both the Merchant Transport and the Age 3 anti-ship ship and instead possibly have the Romans open with an Age 2 Trireme and Age 2 Liburnian, which would be some kind of weak warship that also served the trade and transport functions of a merchant transport. Historically, Liburnians were a bit of merchant ship/warship hybrids, so this could have been a reasonable move. But to go this route, not only would we have created a hole in the Dock in Age 3, but we would have broken the universal design rules that every civ gets a Merchant Transport. This was just not our answer.
Ultimately, we put the Merchant Transport back in its usual spot. But to nerf the navy, particularly in the early game, we cut the Trireme and replaced it with the weaker Age 2 Liburnian. Meanwhile, we knew the Romans needed a siege ship but still wanted to limit ourselves to four ships total. So rather than giving the Romans both an Age 3 anti-ship ship and an Age 4 siege ship, we are cutting the Age 3 Quinquereme. Though we love the idea of that ship, it just did not fit. Historically, it was a much larger version of a Trireme and not particularly Roman at all. The Quinquereme is actually Carthaginian (though the Romans stole it with some success). In its place, we are dropping the Enneris down to Age 3 and making some changes to it. It will have a short distance Anti-Ship Ranged attack but have a unique Age 4 upgrade that will give it a ballista to do siege damage at long range. So in Age 4, it will be both an anti-ship and a siege ship. This mechanic will be almost identical to that of Sessrúmnir, the unique warship featured in the Realms of the World Quest Pack. So the Romans will end up with a siege ship, but in a very Roman way that will keep their navy from being too large or overpowering. We will be revealing the Enneris model to you soon, but as we already spoiled these plans in Thursday's developer stream, we figured we might as well officially describe the entire navy today and provide better context for our decisions.
From a gameplay view, the Liburnian will be a 2-population ship, with a power level similar to the Babylonian Bireme. It won't be as strong as Triremes or Longships, but it will cost less resources and take one less population count. Here is a lineup of every Age II Warship in the game, all equipped with Epic gear.
To give you an idea of how big the Liburnian is, here it is mashed up into a Babylonian Bireme:
Templum and PontifexThat any given civ has a Temple and priest may feel inevitable, but in the case of the Romans, this was a surprisingly thorny decision.
We have spoken at great length in our Unit Design Blog about the bloated unit roster of the original Roman designs, which contained about six units more than the average civ and three more than the our largest civ (the Norse).
And yet, even though their roster was way too large and forced us to painfully trim a number of otherwise wonderful units, the Roman designs still did not even contain a Temple or a traditional priest. So if we are going to add one, that would mean we need to cut the roster even more.
Priests in Age of Empires Online are support units that perform a multitude of roles, and every civ so far has had anywhere between one and three of them. While many civs have priests that serve unique functions (like the buffing Celtic Druid, the Raven-summoning Norse Seer, and the Chaos-casting Egyptian Priest of Set), there are two basic priestly roles that every civ has: healing (in either Age 2 or Age 3) and converting (starting in Age 3).
From our research, the Roman designs appear to have always contained at least one way to heal troops. But many versions had no way to convert troops (and had no Temple, either). We considered handcuffing the Romans this way but ultimately could not justify the untold balancing issues of denying a civ any ability to convert in the face of every other civ in the game doing so. And it didn’t make any particular historic sense, either.
Here is how the Roman Templum looks next to the other civilizations' Temple buildings:
Meanwhile, it appears that some of the later (post-Norse) Roman designs included a Templum and priest, so we were rest assured to do so as well. Ours is called a Pontifex (and will be upgraded to Pontifex Maximus). Other than that the Pontifex will convert troops, we are leaving any additional functions to the Balancing Team. Again, priests can often do several things, but with some Officer Units also performing various priest-like functions, we won’t know how all of these different unique features will feel until we try ourselves. We don't want the Romans to turn into a cocktail of buffs all the colors of the rainbow. So for today, we will leave it simply that the Romans will have an Age 3 Templum with a Pontifex who converts troops. We have some ideas for additional functions, but it’s too early to commit publicly. For now, though, take a look at his Templum, which we feel is one of the best looking religious buildings in the game.
Some later Roman files contained a building called a Templum, but we have no concept art or icon. So we relied on Happy Smurf and Chaos to sort it out. One issue we faced was how to visually differentiate the Roman Templum from the Greek Temple. We toyed with a round temple like the Temple of Vesta (which is actually already represented in the game), but we ended up going with a design that admittedly looks similar to the Greek and Carthaginian Temple, but also mimics the Temple of Jupiter, which is also in the game.
This is intentional. Historically, Jupiter was the god most associated with the City of Rome, the Roman Empire, and the Pontifex Maximus. So giving the Pontifex a temple that looks similar to that of the Temple of Jupiter captures the spirit of the unit. Finally, PF2K created the Templum icon.
The Templum marks our 17th revealed Roman Building. We still are keeping the Roman Wonder quiet and have several later age models to reveal, such as the Town Center and Guard Tower, as well as a slew of capital buildings and declarations. But at this point, you now know our entire Building lineup, and so we will begin revealing our units more in earnest beginning next week.
Thank you for reading, and we will see you all next week!
Project Celeste Development Team
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Missed the Roman Civilization's announcement? Find out about it HERE.
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By PF2K on Aug 24, 2019 at 2:26 PM
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