As we develop the Romans, each week are revealing them 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 Scorpio, which is the Romans’ fourth Siege Unit. We are also returning to spotlight several other Units that we have improved since we first announced them.
ScorpioRome was known for its siege engines, and the Scorpio has always been one of the most famous. It is a small, ranged siege weapon somewhat of a cross between a giant crossbow and a small ballista that sits atop a wooden stand.
From a civ design perspective, the Scorpio appeared in all known drafts of the Romans, so we always wanted to find a place for it in ours. The biggest question was how to balance it within the Tech Tree. Every civ has an Age 3 battering ram and no civ has any ranged Siege until Age 4.
However, since the Romans are to focus on Siege, we wanted them to have an Age 4 Onager along with its Palintonon. With the Scorpio, that gives them four Siege units, the most in the game (all other civs have either two or three).
In order to give the Roman Siege noticable emphasis, it is important to expand their siege options in Age 3, rather than soak them with three new Siege units in Age 4. Since the Scorpio is a smaller Siege engine and also more of a anti-infantry weapon than a Building toppler, placing the Roman Scorpio in Age 3 seems like a natural fit. It would be almost impossible to balance a civ with anti-Building ranged Siege a full age before its opponents.
From an artistic design perspective, at first all we had to work with was a small icon of the top of the Scorpio. However, since the Scorpio was essentially a pre-gunpowder artillery weapon, we wanted a soldier to fire it and envisioned it being carried around similarly to the Celt Ram. A few weeks into our design process we found another trove of concept art and were pleasantly surprised to find that our instincts were correct. It was always going to be manned.
We also noticed that like many Roman assets, the Scorpio had already found its way into the game. Oddly enough, its design was repurposed into the Victory Towers of the City Defense quests in the Northern Invasion Booster Pack. Those crossbows look exactly like some of the concept art. See, we told you guys that the Romans were all around you. In their last gasps to keep the game alive, the Devs threw everything they had into the game.
We are super excited to finally bring the Scorpio to life as it was originally intended. As you can see, Happy Smurf, Chaos, and Phillus have put a ton of work into this Unit. Since there is nothing like the Scorpio in the game, this was one of the last units they began to develop. It’s actually come together only in the last couple of weeks, and there's still a lot left to do with animations and so forth. They had to create everything from scratch. And with the two soldiers plus the scorpio itself, it is one of the most complex Units in the game. (Actually, it's not the most complex Unit, but that will wait for another week.)
Now that we have shown you all of the Roman Siege units, let's have a quick summary of them:
(Note that the Roman Palintonon is trained from the Fortress and not the Siege Workshop, similar to Persians, Greeks and Babylonians)
We also found some references that originally the Devs thought about placing the unpack/pack mechanic in three Roman units -- the Palintonon, Clinicus, and Scorpio. We have overruled that decision, so both the Clinicus and Scorpio will set up automatically, not unlike how the Babylonian Ox Cart transitions from moving to stationary with a simple animation you may never have noticed before.
However, all of this still adds up to a ton of different animations that have been keeping Phillus extremely busy. Lots of fine tuning and troubleshooting. These guys are perfectionists, and they are so good at making things look so simple that if we didn’t tell you how much they struggled, you'd never know.
Historically, Scorpios could fire either bolts (huge arrows) or stone balls. Ours fires bolts. Accordingly, we are assigning the Scorpio the often-neglected Belly Bow gear type. So dust off your best King's Belly Bow and get ready to ship it to Italy.
Finally, here are a few improvements for a few units. As you can see, we reworked the Roman sails and sharpened up some units. We made some changes to how the Slinger moves, and that resulted in a need to change his shape (called his "mesh"). That also impacted how his armor would sit on his body. There's just a ton of little things, and when we move one a little, any number of things can fall out of place. Small problems can snowball and then the clock starts spinning faster and faster. We've also been tussling with some animation bugs and so forth.
As a quick update to Gallic Horsemen, you can see how they now look like with different levels of Gear equipped - though they are not holding any special weapons here:
We are also ready to show you how the different versions of the Pontifex (the roman Priest) look like with different levels of Gear equipped - though once again, they are not holding any special staffs here:
Every civilization has a collection of Sails for their Ships; Fishing Boats have a single model and don't change their Sails based on the gear equipped, but Merchant Transports and all Military Ships share the same set of Sails. We found some unfinished versions of Roman Sails, but we decided to do a full revision of the Sails. So PF2K started drawing some concepts for the different tiers of Roman Sails, and once we were happy with the designs, he and Chaos got to turning those concepts into actual 3D models, as you can see below:
But we are really happy with the way everything is turning out. Our 3D team is resilient, and their hard work and long hours are paying off.
Along these lines, in the last two weeks we encountered a somewhat serious bug that was affecting the entire civ where Buildings would begin flickering wildly. This forced a bunch of the team to put down what they were working on to diagnose the problem.
As you know, we have taken great care to create the Romans in the same low-poly artstyle of the original civs while also making the Roman Units and Buildings as sharp as possible. But we discovered that some of these more detailed Buildings are causing performance problems, especially when many of them are on the screen at once.
Even though our computers are much faster than they were 8 years ago and have no problem running this game, it is the game engine itself that is having issues keeping up. This has forced us to double back and smooth out some of the details to allow the software to more easily handle our new Roman assets. We do not expect this to impact the Romans in any noticeable way -- everything should still look to the players essentially as we have revealed. But we need to make sure the game is smooth underneath the hood. This has taken us quite a while, and we are still dealing with problems.(edited)
Yet another unforeseen delay, but we are powering through. We expect to get on the other side of the bug soon enough without any real change of schedule. Just longer hours at this point.
With the Scorpio now revealed, we have just two Units to go. We’ve shown you the entire civ through Ages 1 and 2. Next week we plan to finish Age 3 with another Officer. Finally, in two weeks we will reveal the Romans’ capstone unit — their Age 4 Officer — and the Wonder, which we have saved for the finale (though Happy Smurf still has some final decorating yet to go). We are starting to get really excited back here and are looking forward to what will inevitably be a mad dash this winter and spring to tie up hundreds of loose ends. During those final months, we plan to continue to blog to show you all what is taking so long. Stay tuned, my friends!
As a final bonus, here's a clip of all Roman Siege units wreaking havoc on a small Celtic town. Get ready to rain destruction on enemy fortifications when the Romans are finally released later this year!
Thank you so much 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 Jan 11, 2020 at 11:37 AM
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