Vae Victis

As mentioned in the previous post, I finally decided to focus on the “core” of the Imperium experience; which is/was the political gameplay. Unfortunately, the lure of details changed the priorities of Imperium during development, and as a result an inordinate amount of the development time I’ve spent on Imperium has been spent on the operational aspects (war) and battle.

Now understand me correctly; war and battle are very important aspects of this game – especially the battle engine. Battles would be frequent; you as the player might easily enter into 50-100 battles during a full game campaign as the game was originally envisioned. With that many battles, the battle engine would have to work very well, if these were not to end up being as boring as … well, as every other battle game in every other game engine devised. Hands up, everyone who has never auto-calculated battles in Rome:Total War.

So I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the right balance in the battle games. And I realized after the latest iteration, where I had gone with simplifying the engine in the direction of something like the “Command and Colours” boardgames (there is the boardgame inspiration again 😉 ), that I was probably just wasting my time. Regardless of what I do with this aspect of the game, some people will become bored with it eventually. And this is a problem, because in the big picture, the battles are just a small part of the game – an unimportant part, even.

The conclusion to this, of course, is that I decided to sharpen the design knives; and tactical battle resolution is now cut from the game design. The same goes for the siege resolutions; in practice, I had a system implemented there that I really liked, but – just like the land battles – it added complexity to the design that was not really required. Things that complicated gameplay went the same way as the battle resolution stuff; for instance, the complicated trade goods system that I had intended to work into the game.

The intention was to end up with a game that could be finished this year, if I had nothing else to do.

What is left:

The Political Game. Four or Five factions in Rome battling over political power; primarily the distribution of provinces. I shall try to go more into detail on this latter.
The Strategic Game. This will be a simple(r) game of operational warfare. The time-scale has changed from seasonal to yearly; thus movements no longer represent tactical army movements like before, but rather full-scale, year-long campaigns. Battles represent the results of those campaigns. Bold strikes deep into the opponents heartland are still possible (Hannibal need have no fear for his ability to cross the Alps); its just that the purpose of an army is now much more focused on two things – conquoring regions and defeating the enemy army.

The combat systems will be much simpler than before, but it will still take into consideration the important factors of cavalry superiority, light infantry, elephants (and other funny effects), and most importantly leadership.