As we develop the Romans, we are showing you how we are building them, who is building them, and also why we are building them the way that we are. Though we have finally revealed every Roman Unit, Building, and Technology, we are continuing to present all of their miscellaneous extra features as we design them.
The Development team has spent this week working on various projects. Chaos and Happy Smurf have been focusing on Capital City Buildings and decorations. Phillus has been working on various unit animations. Meanwhile, the rest of us have been working on the Roman campaign.
RecoN and PF2K have been finalizing the Tutorial Campaign. These are a series of very simple quests that will bring Roman players to Level 3. At that point, the Main Questline will open up and quickly splinter into several different directions with Challenge Quests, Naval Quests, Side Quests, Crafting Quests, and Global Quests. This is where JilgueriN will join in.
When playing the other civilzations' questlines, it is very easy for players to get disorientated in the web of quests. So before we start painting and populating the individual quest maps, one of the biggest challenges has been to study and map out those existing questlines. Not only do we want the Roman Quests themselves to feel like they belong, but we want the Roman Questline to unfold in the same way. So we are scrutinizing their quest objectives, rewards, the number and location of Quest Givers, and even the language they use with the player. Andy has taken the lead in this area.
We have been playing the quests ourselves, of course, but the AoEO wikipedia has proven invaluable to our research, as have the various youtube playthroughs. So big thanks to all of those players over the years who have contributed.
At this point, we have mapped out enough of the original questlines to build a framework for how ours needs to play out. We are also considering making a few of changes to Questline design in an effort to improve player enjoyment (both for new players and veterans). To give you a sense of what a questline map looks like, here is how the Greek Questline shapes up in all its dizzying directions.
All told, the Roman Questline will contain 40 to 60 mapped quests. But in addition to each actual quest itself (the map, units, AI, triggers, objectives, etc.), each of them need to be assigned a Quest Giver, a Region, experience points, chests, additional rewards, and Quest Giver lines. There needs to be some kind of overarching narrative with various storylines, and it all needs to be tied to actual Roman history (while also maintaining that lovable AoEO tone). And then it has to all get translated several different times by our corps of volunteer translators.
Andy is in the middle of storyboarding the Questline with the help of PF2K and the input of several Devs. Right now, we have all 10 or so Quest Givers assigned to their respective regions and are slowly shaping the story.
Our story begins right after the formation of the Roman Republic in the late 6th Century BCE and will likely pop in and out of major moments in Roman history for about 150 years as the early Republic fights its way through Italy. Though Caesar lived centuries later, he serves as our primary Questgiver and tour guide. Some legendary heroes will make an appearance, but we are saving the biggest names for later.
Storyboarding each quest involves not just studying the quests in the existing Questlines (to match the right kind of objectives and difficulty) but reading a ton of Roman history (Wikipedia, websites, and primary sources like Plutarch and Livy). Meanwhile, Andy has been matching the Quest Giver narratives with language that befits the Romans. For instance, a Roman Quest Giver would never call an enemy a “thug” because that word came into English from Sanskrit. There was no Latin equivalent. But they would absolutely call someone a criminal, a barbarian, or a tyrant. The Romans gave us those words. We also know exactly how Caesar would speak and refer to himself in the third person because we have his writings. We want our Romans to sound like Romans. These are the kinds of details we hope you will never notice but that will end up somehow making the Romans feel right to your ears somehow.
So things are going slow, but steady.
As soon as a batch of quest storyboards are reasonably finalized, PF2K hands them to JilgueriN and RecoN to actually build each quest. They will eventually get playtested and finalized. And ideally everything will be ready before the Roman civ itself is ready for release.
As of last night, the first five quests from the Main Questline are storyboarded and off to Jil. Additionally, there several other Challenge Quests ready to go once RecoN is ready for them.
Along these lines, we are super excited to announce an additional feature that literally went from pipedream to 3d modelling in about four hours late Thursday. Because we do not want the Questline to delay release, we always intended for every quest asset to be either Roman or from other existing Civs (like the Celts or Persians). However, the low level Roman quests really mesh well with early Roman history. And in early Roman history, the Romans were not a world power conquering the Mediterranean. They were just a small Italian city fighting to survive.
The more Andy researched and storyboarded, the more we recognized the need for a proper Italian rival for our Romans, similar to the role of the Nubians, Mycenaeans, Sea People, Badari, and Barbarians in the other questlines. Each of these factions have a handful of Buildings (usually a Town Center, House, Barracks, and possibly a Fortress) plus three or four military Units.) For the Romans, we never intended to create a faction because of the labor needed to create those assets. And, besides, there are plenty of Questlines that make due without factions, such as the Fertile Crescent and Northern Invasion. For those quests you simply fight other Babylonians or Norse.
But on Thursday, Andy pushed a little and PF2K, Chaos, and Happy Smurf brainstormed a pretty darn good workaround to creating additional factions. As it turns out, Chaos and Happy Smurf had discovered a modest trove of unreleased Buildings hiding in our files. When Robot Entertainment was originally building AoEO, the plan was for every Building to have a separate model in each Age. They ultimately abandoned this approach (perhaps because of the additional strain on development). In fact, a number of those early drafts of Greek and Egyptian Buildings found their way into the game in the form of the existing factions. But we discovered that many others are unused and hiding in the files.
Now these hidden Buildings are all slightly unfinished, but it really did not take the lads much time to reskin a couple of them and repurpose them for our new faction, the Etruscans.
As you can see, one of the first things that had to be done to these models was changing their Wood color to match that of the Romans' existing Wooden constructs and machinery.
The Etruscan Fortress, Town Center and Military Units are still work-in-progress and we'll reveal them to you when they are ready!
Historically, the Etruscans were a civilization that predated the Romans and occupied northern Italy (near modern Tuscany -- thus the name). Rome grew up in the shadow of the Etruscans. While the Romans would later conquer them, the Etruscans dominated the Romans for several centuries. When they finally conquered the Etruscans, in true Roman fashion, the Romans did almost everything in their power to wipe them off the map. They burned Etruscan libraries, shattered Etruscan art, and subjugated Etruscan people (very similar to how the Romans would later treat the Carthaginians, the Celts, and many other civilizations who found themselves on the sharp ends of Rome's swords). Though the Romans absorbed much of their culture and some of it still pervades to this day, we know precious little about the Etruscans. But we know enough to make a decent faction.
Our Etruscans will have the standard four Buildings, of which Chaos and Happy Smurf finalized three in time for this blog. The Etruscans were said to have originated as a Greek colony and overlapped a bit with Greek culture, so it makes a bit of sense for their architecture to mimic the Greeks.
They will also have three units: Notably, they will have their own version of a Hoplite, which appears to be something all historians agree they borrowed from the Greeks. The Etruscans will also have a Spearman and a Bowman.
These three units about match the design of the other nonplayable factions in the game and gives the Romans a balanced opponent for low-level quests.
As far as the Unit models, we also plan on liberally borrowing from existing assets. The Hoplite is a recommissioned Pezhetairos with a new shield (designed by PF2K) and a romanesque helmet that hints at their influence on the Romans and makes them feel a little more of a blend between the Greeks and Romans.
This faction will likely play a few roles in the Roman Questline, including stand in for other Italian tribes that may pop up in the Questline (such as the Samnites) However, we may use a different unit than the Etruscan Hoplite for those moments, perhaps a generalized Samnite Warrior. At any rate, it is a relief to have these assets at our disposal for the Questline. Though we originally planned to work around it, using Roman assets would have been dubious, as the classic Roman shield (the Scutum) and SPQR branding on the Buildings are just so iconic. We are super excited to give the Romans a solid Etruscan rival that brings its own Buildings and Units.
We can't wait to hear your thoughts and learn what other factions you'd like to see some day. And, again, if anyone has any ideas for quests, now is the time to speak up!
Capital City VanityThose of you who take frequent trips to Vanity Island know that every civilization has a set of Capital City Vanity items. Greeks and Egyptians have the lead in terms of unique items and the other four civilizations have fewer Vanity items than those two, but regardless, every civilization has these items available:
We've made all of these items for the Romans, and more! Check them out in the graphic above and the ones below:
- Large Bush
- Small Bush
These items will all be available in Vanity Island when the Roman civilization is released, so stay tuned!
Thank you so much for reading, and we will see you all next time!
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 Apr 4, 2020 at 10:21 AM
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