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  • DevDiary 1 - Game & Vision

    Ave! Welcome to our very first DevDiary for Expeditions: Rome. After being quiet for so long, we are very excited to finally share more about the next instalment in our Expeditions franchise. This is the first in a series of DevDiaries where we’ll be sharing insights and behind the scenes looks at Rome and its development process. To start, we’d like to share with you our vision for Rome, and maybe a little more on what the game is all about.

    Expeditions: Rome is a single player Turn-Based Tactical Role Playing Game set during the Roman Republic era roughly between 100BC and 40 BC, around the time when Rome was slowly starting to turn into an empire. At its core, Rome is an RPG, where you play the role of either the son or daughter of a patrician family, leading your Praetorians and Legions in battle across multiple regions while navigating the intricacies of Roman politics.


    This leads us to our first vision statement. With Rome, we want to create an immersive, story-rich RPG with player driven choices. Right out the gate, you can choose to play either a male or female hero, and that choice has a major impact on how the story unfolds. That is just the first of many decisions you’ll make, many of which can alter how your missions unfold, what types of quests you can take, and much much more. For anyone who’s played previous games in the Expeditions franchise, you’ll have some taste of what we’re talking about here, but for Rome, we’ve really aimed to take the impact of choices to the next level. Expect to hear much more about this in upcoming DevDiaries.

    We also wanted to bring an even more immersive experience when it comes to how we tell our story, and a big part of that was going for a fully voiced experience this time around. We can’t even tell you how much time and care went into casting each character and making sure we can get the best performances we can, but we think you’ll be excited about the outcome.

    Our next major vision statement is about our turn-based combat. We feel we’ve learned a lot from our previous games. With Rome, we really focused on bringing exciting turn-based combat with a wide range of tactical options, driven by loot and character growth. There’s way more variety in the weapon and class based skills this time around, not to mention a wider selection of items to use. We’ve also gone through countless iterations on the core combat system and encounter design with a focus on keeping combat fresh as the game progresses. And wait till you hear about our epic Siege missions, which we’ll talk about later! There are almost limitless options for you to explore as you level up and equip your party to fit various playstyles.


    This also connects with our next vision statement. While turn-based combat is at the center of how you play Rome, we also wanted multiple meta-game systems focused around growing and leading your legions in conquest of foreign lands. While you personally engage in turn-based combat with your Praetorian squad, you are also leading an army of Rome, growing your forces and ordering your troops to conquer new territories.

    We’ve brought back the world map that some may remember from Expeditions: Conquistador, where you can both actively explore with your party as well as dispatch your legions to conquer new territory and unlock new resources. As your conquests expand, you can use these new lands for many different purposes, like improving your legion’s warcamp or crafting new weapons and equipment for your party to use during turn-based combat. We want you to enjoy both the visceral, tense excitement of leading your troops in turn-based combat while also providing the strategic fantasy of leading the roman war machine. We think we’ve struck a fun combination between the two, and we’ll share more about each as our DevDiaries continue.

    The last major vision statement really comes down to style. While we are making a game, it was very important for us to use a historically inspired framework to create a believable, fun world. We did a monstrous amount of research on Rome that we leveraged across every aspect of the game. To start, our visuals reference library is filled to the brim with weapons, historical locations, armors, and more, to help provide a solid grounding for the visual games. At times we took liberties to bring the art to life, but we made this decision carefully to help keep ourselves grounded.


    We also looked into many historical figures in Roman history and tried to bring them to life in a way that both worked for our game while still reflecting some of their key traits. We don’t want to divulge too much now, but some of you probably already picked up on some of this from our first trailer, where you’re debating philosophy with Cato, otherwise known as Cato of Utica, a famous orator known for his integrity and strength of character. We’ve done our best to weave historical figures into our narrative in a way that enhances the story and brings a level of reality to the game. We want you to feel like you're in a living, breathing alternative version of Roman history, one where your choices shape how Rome’s future is forged. 

    So, to quickly recap, we have 4 primary vision statements we’ve talked about so far:

    • Immersive, story-rich RPG with player-drive choices and fully voiced dialog
    • Exciting turn-based combat with a wide range of tactical options driven by loot and character growth
    • Multiple meta-game systems focused around building and leading your legions in conquest of foreign lands
    • Historically inspired framework to create a believable, fun world

    These vision statements are guideposts for us, goals we keep in mind while navigating the complexity of making a game of this size and magnitude. Each one is critically important, informing our decisions and helping us keep our eye on the game we’re trying to make.

    There is so much more we’ll be talking about in the weeks to come. In future DevDiaries we’ll dive into the details of every aspect of the game as we lead up to launch.


    We’ll also be actively engaging with you throughout that journey! This coming Wednesday May 12th at 1:00 PM Eastern / 5:00 PM GMT, we’ll be hosting our very first DevStream on the THQ Nordic Channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic, where you’ll be able to hear from our Senior Producer Brad Logston and Creative Director Jonas Wæver. They’ll be talking about our vision and answering your questions. We’ll also be taking questions directly from this DevDiary and answering them on stream, so make sure to tune-in and watch!

    We hope you’ve enjoyed this first DevDiary, and stay tuned in a few weeks where we’ll delve into our core combat functionality, discussing the details of how it works with a tease into our class-based systems.

    Until next time, Vale…

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    Cool stuff! A few questions for the stream:

    1. Apparently this game is going to be "much bigger" than previous titles. Does that only refer to the geographic scope or also to the amount of content? Tricky question, I know, but what would an estimate for the overall playtime be?
    2. Any insight into the sources used to research the time period and the various regions in the game? Was there any particular effort to reflect social and cultural aspects of the time, not just visual elements? I was particularly impressed with how Viking handled the former.
    3. Speaking of Viking, fairly frequently in that game there were elements of what one might call "magical realism" or "ambiguous fantasy."  I was quite fond of these as they helped identify with the mindset of a less skeptical era. What is the rationale behind these moments, and is there anything similar in Rome?
    4. What made you choose the settings for the Expeditions series thus far, particularly now with Rome?
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    1. Most important question of all contemporary RPGs: can you keeees?

    2. I liked the Viking companions quite a bit, do they have a comparative level of focus in Rome?

    3. Since you're leading a legion is the focus squarely on military might or can you negotiate/backstab/ally with various parties as in Viking?

    4. I liked the versatility of the skills in Viking, between social, combat, support and passive skills you could make someone unique, interesting and well rounded (or an obscenely useful charicature) what do these systems look like in Rome?

    5. I liked having a home base to return to and see visual improvements if I invested sufficiently, is that a thing in Rome?

    6. How much of a difference does your sex make? Dialogue changes? The occassional different mission? Different opportunities/approaches?

    7. Will we have skills that exploit superstition ala witchcraft and the like? 

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    A couple of thoughts and concerns occur to me when reading this diary. Starting out from the premise of a historical RPG in Rome, I am interested and excited in the game. Some of the things mentioned or omitted here do stand out to me. First, I'm a little disappointed to read that the game is always about a patrician's son/daughter. It would have been a really cool choice to make the game have multiple different origins that the player can choose from. Considering what a diverse society Rome was at this time, being able to see more of it and experience it's different sides from multiple perspectives through starting the game in different social circumstances would go a long ways to making players stay with the game longer and encourage replayability, a la Dragon Age Origins or Age of Decadence. I mention these examples not to say exactly what I think this game should be like or anything, but just mentioning the prior history of these kinds of aims being tried in video games, and which I can imagine people will compare future releases to. I think they performed well at being RPGs in a similar vein, and thus give context to the experience of Expeditions Rome and how good it will be compared to it's peers.

    The second thing I wonder about is the game having a faction system of some kind, measuring how the different groups and cliques of the world are aligned towards the player character. I worry that if this was going to be included than it would have been mentioned, but I could be wrong. The reason I want this so badly is related to the vision statement about having an immersive story RPG with player choices. I think that is a very good goal to have, and it aligns with my own values when it comes to answering the question "What makes a good RPG?". But the thing about choices is that if they are all the kind of choice where the player's decision directly impacts the world and what is going to happen in huge ways, that can feel kind of samey. Not to mention limiting. Sometimes it's good for the player experience if there are also choices that don't pretend to have this "huge moment of decision" vibe, and instead are simply about expressing themselves and their goals. I don't mean making false choices that don't affect the story, like what colour eyes to have. Rather I mean choices that deal with your perspective, and about how the different organizations and classes that make up the games' society look on you. For such a politically intricate time as the roman republic, it would be very strange to me to make a game that doesn't let the player explore the different groupings, like the optimates and the populares, the proletarii and the latifundia-owners. I think of games like Fallout New Vegas or Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire.

    My third and last thought is pure praise. I love the idea of commanding armies and taking charge of the leadership of an actual conquest, rather than only the standardfare, humdrum of combat encounters for the player party. Having the ability to make decisions that affect a whole army, as well as the progress of a real war, seems like an extremely rich experience for the player, and opportunity for the devs to make an immersive experience. I can think of two kinds of choices that this would lend itself to: 1) the kind that affect the army immediately, in terms of what you can see as the player, like investing in different types of soldiers or a better camp; and 2) the kind that are strategic, and deal with the carrying out of the war on the scale that may be too large for the isometric camera to engage in, and instead relegated to the world map as a separate mode. In terms of what I think I want as a player, this is pretty much it. My mind goes to the conquest prologue in Tyranny for an example of this kind of thing being simulated in a game.

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