(Andy's note: I've been working with PF2K on the Romans since 2018, and even I have had all sorts of questions over the years about how we were going to pull this off. PF2K has always had the answer. Before I let him speak, I want to say a few words:
In the last two years he and I have discussed this Romans project every day around the clock. Even though I have a separate career, I have worked more closely with him than any other person during this time. It took us about a month to blueprint the civ -- designing every Unit, Building, and Tech. We had to choose not just what historic Roman units we’d use, but what Building they’d train from, in what Age, what Units they’d counter, etc. It was a massive balancing act, especially since we were designing the Romans to fit into a game with six existing civs.
That month I was floored with PF2K’s ability to balance the Romans in his head in real time. I’d suggest, for instance, moving a ranged anti-infantry unit from Age 2 into Age 3. Without blinking, PF2K could immediately respond, explaining how that suggestion would throw off the balance with one of the other civs, making the Romans too powerful or too weak at a specific moment in the game. He was like a musician reading sheet music and hearing an orchestra that’s never played. And months later once we built the 3D models, I saw that he had been right the whole time. With almost no tweaking, the Romans were essentially balanced before we ever played them. PF2K represents the confluence of exceptional talent and bottomless passion. It’s an absolute joy to work with him.
I have been extremely active in the Age community for about nine years. I have met hundreds of players and interacted with thousands more. I can confidently say that Pooya Fatehi is the most knowledgeable and passionate Age of Empires player I have ever met.
I love and admire everyone I work with here, and we are legion. I hope you all can see just a little of what I have seen these years. Luciano, Kev, kisonik, martinmine, and the rest are amazing people. Without them, there would be no Project Celeste. We've had about 50 people help with the Romans, but we wouldn't be in Rome without this guy.)
Hello there, my name is Pooya (or P, as most people seem to call me around here!). I'm Persian (just like the Persians in Age Online!) and I'm a Computer Science student, currently living in the Netherlands for nearly 6 months now. I'm also 26 years old at the time I'm posting this message!
I've been playing Age of Empires games for as long as I can remember. I started with Age of Empires 1, when my father and uncles played the game on their computers. I'm a huge fan of RTS games in general but no franchise has quite drawn me in as much as Age of Empires. There's just something magical about the Age games that makes me never get tired of them. As for AoEO, I've been around since pretty much the game's day one launch, when I bought the Year One Pass that included the Greeks and Egyptians, using Microsoft Points. (Goodbye, GFWL!)
After the original game got shut down, I kept trying to find ways to play the game again. But I could never really find a proper solution to all the online interactions of the game and playing multiplayer and all that. But in 2017, one of my friends told me about Project Celeste. I immediately joined their Discord Server. At the beginning, I was only helping out with PvP Balance Patches but eventually I got involved in more and more areas until I was asked to join as a Lead Developer for the project, which I gladly accepted.
Unlike my awesome friends that you've read about in previous blogs (Kevsoft, martinmine and Luciano, the 3D team and the rest) who do their work mostly behind the scenes, I am responsible for most of the front-end stuff, and what players actually see in the game. From balance changes, new artwork, new User Interfaces, new Advisors, new Quests, to pretty much everything seen by players, I'm usually involved in one way or another.
This might be surprising to most, but from a personal standpoint, it's the Localization. Every time a single line of text gets added to the game, whether it's a unit tooltip, a Quest name, or basically anything else, it needs to be translated into multiple languages and then added to multiple files in the game. I've been the one dealing with this kind of stuff in the project since the beginning, and with the addition of the Brazilian Portuguese language (which didn't exist in the original game), the workload got even bigger for me. To give some insight on what I mean, just yesterday I wanted to change a single number for one upgrade from 30% to 25%, and I had to modify 15 files just to do something as insignificant as changing one number.
We usually meet up in Discord, set checklists for our work and strike them off one-by-one as they are completed. For larger projects, we also use a Trello board. We also often have voice-calls together where we discuss our current status and our future plans.
I can't say. The Romans have been incredibly fun to work on, even if things were very challenging at times. As someone who loves creating new User Interfaces, however, I would say that perhaps creating the Roman Military Tech Tree was something that I thoroughly enjoyed, since we barely had any concrete information on how their Tech Tree would look like. The same could be said about their Milestone UI, and also the Officer Champion Techs, for which we had no previous data. I took Norse Ulfhedinns and Berserkers' Champion Tech icons (Wolf and a Bear head icons) as inspiration and made them for the Primus Pilus (Lion), Aquilifer (Eagle). For the Centurion, I referred to the Persian Immortal Champion upgrade.
Certainly! When creating the three Legendary Roman Advisors, I went and read all about the famous Roman Triumvirate (Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great and Crassus the Rich). Whereas many of the non-Legendary Advisors' effects are pretty simple and straight-forward, I wanted to make sure that the Legendary ones have some flavor to them while still being balanced and fun to play with. For example, reading about Crassus and how he got so wealthy was quite interesting to me. I tried my best to translate what I read about him to AoEO mechanics - Something to do with Houses and Gold, which ended up in giving Houses Gold generation while also letting players go above the normal 200 population cap by being able to build more Houses than usual, since that's something Crassus liked to do; Burning them down first, then buying them for cheap prices, then building them again and making coin off of that.)
I would say that making sure that they fit in the game without standing out like some kind of modded content. Thanks to my incredibly talented friends over at the 3D team and everyone in the sound and vocals team, I would confidently say that we did a decent job at doing so. Apart from that, making sure that the Romans are unique enough to stand out from other civilizations, while not being bland and a "copy" of other civilizations.
We also had no information on how their unit stats and technologies would look like, since the tech tree we were able to find out belonged to the era before Champion Upgrades were introduced to the game (every unit had simple upgrades that were the same on all other units). I had a few sleepless nights where I just put all of our info on the table, added all the stats and techs from the other 6 civilizations and based on that, I assigned stats, costs and effects to all Roman units, buildings and technologies. So I would say that I'm responsible for nearly all of those stats. Of course, based on the feedback we got during our playtesting sessions, we had to make some adjustments, but I'm glad that they are/were balanced for the most part.
Being the child of not one, but two doctors, I've always loved helping out people in whatever way that I can. I enjoy making infographs to help people learn new things. I also really like making graphics that are pretty and nice to look at, be it new icons, new User Interfaces, or anything else, really.
I'm also a very, very competitive gamer (or in general, rather) and whatever game I play, I want to get good at the game and play it to the best of my ability. Many of you haven't seen me play AoEO PvP much, but those that have, know that I'm no easy prey! With the Romans' release being imminent, I would love to free up some of my time to actually sit down and play some games (including AoEO). It's been a very long time since I've played RTS games competitively and I would love to get back to it again.
An AI that would challenge players in ways other than just having beefy stats and lots of static defense (multi-pronged attacks, different tactics, etc). Instead, I would love to teach players on how to best utilize the unit counter system and adapt to their enemy's unit composition, rather than making the same units over and over again - This is already the case in PvP, of course, but I would love to see it in PvE, too.
Everything related to microtransactions and paywalls. I've tried to clean up everything related to "premium purchases" and all of that, but I'm sure that there are still some things that I've missed.
I would also unify the stats in Champion and non-Champion modes, with Champion Mode taking priority as it's objectively the more balanced mode. Although with how things are looking like right now, that is very, very unlikely to happen.
As for Photoshop, I started using it casually back in 2013 where I just made simple graphics and overlays for my own personal use. Over time, however, I looked up tutorials on the Internet and bought some online courses to get better at it. For VS Code and other stuff, I've had some previous experiences but had to learn more both because of my University and for AoEO itself.
I would love to get better at doing RMS (Random Map Scripting). It is an incredibly powerful and flexible system which allows you to create maps that are never truly the same every time you play them, offering high amounts of replayability. It would also mean that I could make PvP maps myself, too!
After the Romans are released, I plan to take a more laid-back and "administrative" approach to my involvement in AoEO. I want to focus more on my own personal life and studies, and instead transition into more occasional, less frequent updates. Perhaps some small UI adjustments every once in a while, or a PvP balance patch, and so on. This does not imply that the content for AoEO is going to slow down by any means, however. Our team is bigger than ever and the people we already had are now much more experienced and skilled at what they do, meaning there will be less need of my direct involvement in their work.
A) We don't need more civilizations in Europe
B) We will be going East.
C) The next civilization is going to be a Pro civilization (starting at level 20, like the Persians, Babylonians and Norse)
D) I like Elephants. Toot, toot!
It's been an incredibly long journey for me and everyone else in the Project Celeste Development Team, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm honored to be part of this team, and I see nothing but a bright future for it. Two people that I think deserve more credit than they already get are 1.Eamon (a.k.a. Chaos) who has been immensely helpful, particularly in these final days of the Romans development and 2.Kire who has become a good friend of mine and has been helping me in many, many ways. He is an incredibly talented young man with exceptional taste in quest design and I can't wait for you guys to try his new quests!
I have made friends along the way, learned about other languages, cultures and history (thanks in large part to the Localization Team!), seen people get real-life jobs from working on Project Celeste, and many other things that only make me more grateful and feel lucky to be part of this project.
I would also like to thank everyone who has helped us in shaping the Romans into their final form - the PvP Balance Team, the other playtesters, the Localization Team, the Media Team, the Moderator Team (particularly NCSGeek and Wartai! You guys are heroes), Andy, Jenks and everyone else. There are so many people in our team that I sometimes forget to mention all of them, but I hope I included everyone here.
Thank you, Project Celeste community, and I hope you will enjoy playing the Romans as much as we enjoyed making them.
- Pooya Fatehi
Here are the credits for the Team: https://www.projectceleste.com/team/
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!
The Romans are coming on March 15th, 2021! Watch the Overview Trailer.
Project Celeste is completely free and always will be. However, we gladly accept donations for our overhead costs, which are larger than we have budgeted. If you want to support us, you can do so HERE.
Read every Romans related blog HERE.
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By Andy P XIII on Mar 13, 2021 at 1:16 PM
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