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Dev Blog: Divisa In Partes Tres, Part 1

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Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on September 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm
Tagged: hegemonyrome devblog screenshot

“Gaul is a whole divided into three parts, one of which is inhabited by the Belgae, another by the Aquitani, and a third by a people called in their own tongue Celtae, in the Latin Galli.”

That's the first sentence Julius Caesar's famously wrote in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico. Of course, those groups were only a rough outline of the Gallic people, and the reality was decidedly much more nuanced. Each group was composed of dozens of loosely related tribes, often at war within their own groups, and – with the exception of the Belgae – rarely did these tribes unite in the way Caesar's overview would suggest.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This week I'm going to begin talking about some of the factions in Hegemony Rome, and when we started laying out Rome's enemies we also decided to divide them into three parts, but not the same parts Caesar mentioned.

Citerioris Provinciae (aka Cisalpine Gaul) on the strategy map

The Provinces
Before we talk about Rome's enemies, let's talk about Rome. A couple centuries before the Gallic War, Rome began conquering territory outside of Italy. They were sort of new to this, so these new provinces weren't very well defined, and when Caesar was in control of the two provinces in the southern part of Gaul he just referred to them as Citerioris Provinciae and Ulterioris Provinciae, “nearer province” and “further province”. The Roman military, it seems, was not terribly creative when it came to naming things. Nevertheless, the name stuck: the southern part of France is still known as Provence to this day.

The provinces were fully controlled by Rome, but you have to remember that they were Gallic not long before, so by the time of Caesar's campaign their culture was a mishmash of the new Roman influences and the ancient Celtic influences, and they were even sometimes called the “toga wearing Gauls”. So while the soldiers from these provinces wore Roman equipment, and they fought alongside the legions, they still fought much as the Gauls did, lacking the tightly regulated organization of the legions.

The faction selection screen in the sandbox (alpha version)

The Three Parts
Now that I introduced the Roman provinces, what are the three enemies I mentioned?

When Caesar began writing his commentaries, he could never have foreseen that the war would extend as far as it did, and eventually he found himself in the territories of peoples far more exotic than the three kinds of Gauls he had identified. As the war reached Germania and Britannia, he would find that these people were truly unique from the Gauls he had already encountered.

So when we started designing the factions that was where we began: Rome had her two provinces, and her enemies would be divided into three parts: the Gauls, the Germani, and the Britons. Of course, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, these groups were made up of a complex network of tribes: at current count, we've divided these three groups into twenty-four different factions.

Be sure to join me for the next two parts, when I describe these three groups in more detail.

Established farmland in the Roman province

Prev Blog: An Army Marches on its Stomach - Resources Pt 2

Next Blog: Divisa In Partes Tres, Part 2

Level 7 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful
Posted on September 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm

A nice little teaser.

Give us the game already damnit!

Oh, has a price point been decided yet?

Level 6 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: German-speaking part of Europe
Posted on September 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm

I like the many-small-factions idea, although I have to defend the Romans regarding the creativity with names: Why, do you think, there is a (Cap) Finistere on the Iberian peninsula, a (Department) Finisterre in the Bretagne and - on the other side of the Channel - their English namesake Land's End (lat. finis terrae = end/border of the land), and that all only in the western part of Europe, if not because there is no difference in European nomenclature? ("Give it an obvious name and the people will understand it.", perhaps?)

The rest, well, you could call it a general introduction and so there are no more questions or ideas about that part.
The screenshots on the other hand are more prone to give me some input...

Am I mistaken or do the city figurines in the strategic mapmode scale, perhaps with city size?
That table background in the faction selection screen doesn't fit very well into the whole image, imho. Perhaps because of the accurately smooth and parallel texture of the wood itself and the logs. Maybe something more rustic would look better/be more immersive?
I like the farmland on the last screenshot, it seems much more "integrated" into the countryside than the Philip/Gold ones, if you know what I mean. The city is a rather large one, I suppose?

Level 13 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on September 20, 2013 at 12:13 am

I was mostly joking about the creativity with names thing. The repetition of names was an interesting problem for us, though. In the first game, there were a few cities named "Heraklea", so we had to give them variants, like "Heraklea Lyncestis". This time around, we made a conscious effort to avoid cities using the same name whenever it was possible to do so without compromising historical integrity. So whenever there were too many cities in an area and we had to chose one of several names for the in-game site, we usually tried to pick one that avoids repetition.

The biggest problem was with Noviodunum (literally "new fortification") - there were a whole lot of these, and two of them were important to Caesar's campaign, so we couldn't avoid having at least two. So now we have "Noviodunum", which is the most famous Noviodunum, and "Noviodunum Biturigum" (shortened to "N. Biturigum").

The miniatures don't dynamically scale, if that's what you meant, but we made it a point to have more important miniatures have a larger presence, so in the screenshot you saw the smaller miniatures are farms and bridges, while the bigger ones are cities.

The table that you see in the screenshot is not only shown in the faction selection screen, but also when you zoom out all the way during the game. Our artists have been considering doing another pass, but in fairness, the Romans did have saws and hand planes, and they also appreciated an aesthetic that included many straight lines, so there's no reason they couldn't or wouldn't make a flat table. The only thing I could really criticize is that the figuring and knots indicate that the wood was plain-sawn, when the vast majority of wood at the time would likely be quarter-sawn, but I doubt many people would pick that out.

Level 6 Human gamer
Alignment: Lawful good
Location: German-speaking part of Europe
Posted on September 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I know the example shown was exaggerated and too much to look good or authentic, but I had the impression that this table texture should be symbolic for the table of a commander (in the field).
And so I thought it was a table carpented (quickly) when the commander needed one instead of being transported with the baggage. And I don't think a commander that wants a plain surface to unfold his map on would mind if the table wasn't completely plain after all if otherwise his carpenters would need hours or days to finish it.

But, well, it's not a problem. Just thought I could mention it...

Level 5 Human gamer
Alignment: Good
Posted on September 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm

After reading this post of the "dev blog" and the previous ones I can already say that it really looks good! Graphics, gameplay and the setting of this game make it fantastic for me. Can't wait although I will have to wait longer than the release to buy it as I just bought Hegemony Gold couple of months ago and want to enjoy playing it first. And as I'm only able to play a couple of hours per week it will take some time! :-( But Hegemony Gold is fantastic and makes the waiting for Rome very pleasant... ;-)

Being a Belgian it will be very nice to play a game set in a region you know well (as home and going on holidays in France). Although our coastline looked a bit different at the time of Caesar it will look familiar, I think.
Caesar also mentioned in his story that "Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae...", will this be translated into the game? ;-)

Keep up the very good work!