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Dev Blog: Feats of Engineering

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Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm
Tagged: hegemonyrome devblog screenshot

While last week's blog was really just a teaser, today we're going to start getting into the real stuff. With so much to cover, it was a struggle to pick a topic for the inaugural post. But when we looked over what best defined Caesar's Gallic campaigns, and what new feature would most change the way the game is played, there was no question we needed to start with engineering.

Whether it was walling off the Helvetii, bridging the Rhine, or the circumvallation of Alesia, Caesar continually outmaneuvered his enemies through clever feats of engineering. When we started designing Rome, we knew that we'd need to expand a lot on the fort building of the original games. The trick was finding a mechanic that encompassed the breadth of Caesar's tactics while maintaining the intuitive gameplay Hegemony is known for. We weren't necessarily aiming to recreate each of Caesar's structures exactly, but the new mechanics needed to support the same strategic decisions that Caesar faced.

After a lot of experimentation, we worked out a system that derived from the city mechanics of the original games, but added new variants to represent supply camps and bridges. Like cities, you can connect the new camps and bridges with supply lines to move resources through your empire, or you can build up walls and station garrisons there to fortify them.



But, like a lot of features in Hegemony, the tactics behind the new construction options depend a lot on geography. Building a fortified camp at the mouth of a pass might cut off access through the mountains for your enemies, whereas building a camp in an open field might supply your troops through a lengthy field battle. Alternatively, building a camp on a landing site in Britannia might let you ferry supplies to your expeditionary force, whereas a fort near an enemy city might act as a base to build siege towers and scorpions for a tough siege.

There will always be multiple campsites to pick from in any given area, so a big part of the strategy is choosing whether your priority is a strong defensive position, access to water routes, good resupply range, or the capacity for a large army. And of course, the Romans weren't the only ones building fortified encampments, the outcome of a battle could ultimately hinge on which army secures the better site for their camp.



You will also have options to upgrade your camps with new buildings, like watchtowers or workshops, that will require the new wood resource, but we'll get into more details on those things in later posts. If you've got any questions, please post them in the comments and we'd love to carry on the discussion. Otherwise, we're going to dive back into development and hopefully we'll have something more for you guys in a week or so.

Cheers!

Next Blog: The Campaigns

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Posted on July 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Is the resource system, going to be like the last game? Having a gold/wood limit?
Also, i hope those little outpost can fit a squad in there for defence matters.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful
Posted on July 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Beta? Beta! Beta...

I am loving how in depth this is sounding. Roll on next week.

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Is the resource system, going to be like the last game? Having a gold/wood limit?
Also, i hope those little outpost can fit a squad in there for defence matters.


Yep, there are caps on the amount of food and wood you can store in a camp/city. The cap is based on the size of the city but can be increased by building upgrades (although the number of upgrades is also limited by the size of the camp).

Level 8 Human Truffle Farmer
Alignment: Good
Location: Australia
Posted on July 18, 2013 at 9:50 pm

If I understand this correctly, there are fixed areas on the map where we can move a unit and tell them to 'build a camp' here. This is instead of just deciding to build them anywhere we want?

Or have I misunderstood?

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 19, 2013 at 3:00 am

Nope, you're correct. All of the building sites for camps and bridges are pre-placed on the map. We actually experimented with freely placed forts back when we were working on the original Philip game, but we found they opened up too many options for exploits and interfered a lot with field combat.

While the fort sites in gold were limited, you'll have a lot more locations to pick from in Rome. But the major advantage of pre-placing the sites is that we can ensure a variety of strategically interesting options in each area and also convey that info more clearly to the player.

Level 8 Human Truffle Farmer
Alignment: Good
Location: Australia
Posted on July 19, 2013 at 6:56 am

Cool. You've interested me. I was sort of discounting the forts since I don't really use them in Phillip and honestly have no idea how to properly use them. Having the locations a little more restricted but all tactically viable might tempt me to try them out more.

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful
Posted on July 19, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Cool. You've interested me. I was sort of discounting the forts since I don't really use them in Phillip and honestly have no idea how to properly use them. Having the locations a little more restricted but all tactically viable might tempt me to try them out more.

They serve an excellent purpose. An extra place to store food during autumn, makes winter that little bit easier to come through with active units in the field.

That aside though, in the early game the forts around Pella provide useful early warning/delaying forces, then they tend to become a bit useless later on.

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on July 23, 2013 at 3:53 am

That aside though, in the early game the forts around Pella provide useful early warning/delaying forces, then they tend to become a bit useless later on.
There were a number of design decisions in Gold that encouraged you to build every single fort, but one of the things we wanted to do in Rome was to encourage you to use forts the way they were most often used historically: in preparation for a battle or siege. That means you'll find yourself building a lot more temporary forts in Rome than you do in Gold.

One example of how Gold encouraged you to build all the forts is a seemingly silly one. All the unbuilt forts in Gold show up as grey buildings on your map, which is a real eyesore when you're on a quest to turn the whole map purple. Some people can ignore having grey buildings in their territory; I personally get a little OCD about capturing them all.

But in Rome, showing all the unbuilt forts would be a terrible idea. Not only for the reason above, but also because there's so many forts that it would make it more difficult to see what's important.

There's also a number of legitimate reasons why you'll find yourself building a lot of temporary forts in Rome, most of which have to do with the way resources and supplies work now. I'm sure we'll do a blog post on that sooner or later.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm

There could be a button to toggle the display of forts on the map ^^

Anyhow, it's real nice to see some more about this game, especially the tactics that we are to bring out in order to win ; I love the way we're going to play an invading army far off in ennemy territory.

Is there some pre-order scheduled ? Will the game be like Gold, with non-Steam options ? =D

One big thing that still hurts my eyes is that grey-toned ambiance =( it's like the weather's stuck on cloudy day, with no sun (the very same thing happened not so long ago in Expeditions : Conquistador !).

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 27, 2013 at 12:08 am

Right not building sites are shown when you click a unit's build button but we have been discussing the option of generic fort preview toggle which would make it easier to plan in advance.

Regarding sales ... there will definitely be non-steam options including buying direct through us. There should be retail options as well in some territories but we won't know details on that for a while.

And as far as lighting ... rome uses and all new lighting system that is much more sophisticated then gold and allows for better contrast and shadows. The image below is typical of the average lighting conditions.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I think both ideas are interesting : on a closer - tactical - view, showing the building locations only when actually going to build is neat and visually appealing ; on a farther - strategic - view, the toggle option could be available at hand, to plan ahead as you say. As the building locations will be pre-set in the game, the player has to have a chance to view all those positions ahead.

About visual ambiance, it's not much about the light itself or the contrast - which show both gorgeous in the picture shown - than the "tone", the colours. A sunny day offers some yellowish glow, on the grass, the leaves... a bit like this little picture :



It might seem a bit overdone here, but you get the idea, when you put both images side by side ^^

Level 17 Extraplanar gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Cool, thanks for the reference shot. We're definitely still tweaking the special effects (the atmospheric haze for example is still inconsistently applied in that shot) so we'll keep your comments in mind as we polish things up.

Level 4 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on December 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Glad that I have stumbled to this, will set this one as my reference and will check this for further updates.