Rome: Total War
After Our World-Exclusive first-look at the new Medieval 2: Total War a few issues ago, we thought it'd be a good time to ask The Creative Assembly about its greatest RTS release so far - Rome: Total War. For the glory of Caesar and his empire, we've enlisted the help of Mike Brunton (designer and writer, left) and Mike Simpson (creative director, right), who will now battle to the death in gladiatorial combat for your amusement. Oh, and talk about the making of a real-time strategy classic...
- Game Philosophy:
Simpson: "Our philosophy was pretty simple. After Shogun and the original Medieval, we knew we had a formula for Total War that worked and proved popular and fun. We wanted to create technology that would allow us to make a bigger and better Total War experience, to move away from the Risk-style campaign map and introduce a 3D version that was linked more closely to the battles you fought in real-time."
Brunton: "The word constantly bandied around was 'epic'. Rome had to be 'epic' in that kind of square-jawed Charlton Heston mode, and the move to 3D meant that was a realistic goal. All of a sudden, it wasn't impossible to have a few thousand blokes fighting over the walls and in city streets while artillery rained death on the enemy."
Simpson: "We're lucky enough to have a zealous community * of fans who're never shy at offering feedback and ideas. That's obviously a massive advantage for us when we sit down and design future titles. That said, we've been creating Total War games for many years now, and in that time we've collected and discussed thousands of ideas - so it's actually not that often that the fans come up with an angle or idea that we haven't already thrown around the room in our design meetings."
Brunton: "Our fans are a passionate bunch. The designers here regularly spend time looking at the forums, to gauge the temperature and assess the mood of the people playing the game. We also play the 'What would the forums think about...' game in design meetings too. Some stuff gets put aside or changed because we don't think the players would necessarily see it as right for a Total War title."
- All At Sea:
Simpson: "Adding naval combat to a Total War game is a huge task. It would actually be a third game within the Total War remit if you like, and would demand its own engine to implement properly. When we tackle naval warfare we want to ensure we achieve the kind of result that fits snugly alongside the existing elements of the Total War games. It needs to be authentic, work in conjunction with the land game and above all be fun to play. Call us perfectionists, but we just didn't want to include a half-baked attempt at 3D naval combat for Rome!'
Brunton: "He really is a perfectionist you know. It's frightening."
- Funny Moments:
Brunton: "Funny like how? Like I'm a clown? Like I amuse you? Much of the time, game development is not funny. It's like working in a Siberian salt mine, only without the nice d§cor, friendly guards, well-mannered colleagues, good food, nice weather, fashionable apparel, gratitude of people sprinkling your product on their chips and sense of achievement in a job well done. We do occasionally smile, but only when no-one's looking.''
Simpson: "There are always omissions. We maintain a wish-list throughout the project, and features move back and forth from the project to the wish-list as the project progresses, the game develops and priorities and needs change. Unfortunately, we have to call a halt at some point (or we'd never finish), and there's always loads of things on the list They're for the next one."
Bmnton: "As Mike says, there's a lot of stuff on the list. This is the essential characteristic that makes it a list as opposed to, say, an Agatha Christie mystery. Lists have no plot structure or valid character development. Many lists also include the words 'toilet rolls', although this wasn't a feature to be added to Rome. The Romans used sponges, you know. See how that historical research pays off in unexpected ways?"
Simpson: "There are always things we'd like to have got in, that we know aren't quite perfect or that don't work as well as we imagined they would - but we're pretty pragmatic about it. It's better to get a great game out into the world and let people play it rather than sit on it for another year and tweak it to a very slightly better state of perfection. When you look at the average review scores, Rome is closer to perfection than any other strategy game bar one, and we have that one clearly in our sights."
Brunton: "Definitely. There are always bits that you'd like to change, given half a chance to go back, but the overall thing is actually rather splendid - in a quietly understated British sort of stiff-upper-lip fashion. You get the Roman world in a box, with enormous battles. Then you add on a metric shedload of extras in the expansion pack - another developer might even have done that as a complete game. What's not to like?''
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode