Aggressors: Ancient Rome is a historical 4X turn-based strategy game focused on the period of Ancient Rome. Its development started already at the end of 2008 as a free time project of its main developer, who decided to create a strategy game based on his own board game. Apart from its board game roots, the Aggressors were also inspired by other games, such as Civilization IV, Colonization and Rome Total War. Older hit games, such as Panzer General and Centurion, however, played a role in the game’s motivation as well. From the very beginning of its development, the game was designed to support mods, various types of computer players and multiplayer support.
Over the years, a key part of the development became focused on the mod of Ancient Rome, which is now slowly nearing its completion. As the mod targets the era of ancient history, the team realized it was vital to not only create optimal rules and attractive game style, but also to achieve historical accuracy, i.e. to create as faithful a state of affairs as possible. This does not only mean accuracy in maps, which are based on historical sources. Also the way of playing and players' decision making needed to be as accurate as possible. The main emphasis was placed on the situations and state governing aspects, which were faced also by the rulers of ancient tribes and states.
The game contains many principles known from other strategy games such as micro-management, invention tree and various systems of government, but also a lot of new principles that help create a more faithful representation of historical reality.
The tactical side of combat is also greatly emphasized, which means that the conflict locations and units used need to be planned carefully. Each unit's combat characteristics are designed for certain types of fight and change in various types of terrain. The army unit's morale also plays a significant role in conflicts. This can not only affect your chance of winning or losing in individual battles, but also influence the success of the entire military campaign. The army morale partially affects the population's satisfaction. If the citizens are unhappy, you may experience unrest, rebellion and in extreme cases even civil wars. Even large empires, whose rulers let their people suffer, are therefore also not safe. The population's satisfaction rate is therefore dependent not only on successful military campaigns, but also on wealth, feeling of safety and many other factors.
The player, however, needs to do more than just maintain happiness within their own country. They need to carefully and proactively maintain foreign relations with other players. The game's diplomatic possibilities are numerous, from classic war and piece dichotomies, through various types of alliances and agreements (of which there are more than ten kinds) to the option of linking states on administrative, economic and even military levels. The states can in this way agree on gradual connection of their forces and countries. A federation might be an example of this process, being a union of two and more states, in which the administrative center is concentrated in one capital and the whole federation is governed by a single player. But this player has to be very careful in maintaining all of the parts of this new collaboration, otherwise they will be threatened by a termination of contracts and disintegration of the federation.
Working with resources is also a key aspect of the game, especially the importance of food and gold cannot be overstated. The player must necessarily make sure that the inhabitants and army have sufficient food resources, otherwise they would be facing the risk of famine and gradual emigration of population beyond the state borders. If there's not enough gold, the army units themselves can start to rebel.
Another important responsibility of the player is to maintain a balanced population, as people are crucial as the workforce for building the state as such and also as a source for new army recruits. Army recruitment lowers the productive population of cities, which can gradually lead to the cities not having enough citizens. Therefore, if a player maintains a long war that requires training of new units, they will have to tackle the issue of low active population, as this will, of course, have a negative effect on the economic performance of the state. Cities with a large population, on the other hand, show a significantly larger consumption of resources, which will present the necessity of increasing production, especially of food. One of the ways of controlling the amount of population is birth rate support, but this does not come for free.
Another option of supplying men to the army, and yet avoiding the negative effect on the size of cities and resource consumption, is trading. Virtually anything can be traded, including slaves and knowledge. The trade routes are created and changed on the basis of their safety, administrative costs and, of course, political situation. The safety and length of routes also influences the overhead costs of the trade itself.
Every player has a certain set of game “objectives”. These objectives are in fact historically inspired tasks tailored to each country. Their completion is associated with special “rewards”. These objectives motivate players to lead their countries in a manner similar to their ancient counterparts. It is, however, purely on the will of the players and their current situation, whether they want to complete these objectives or create their own version of history.
Another important element of the game is the so-called sphere of influence. Based on their development, size and international position, the players gain influence, which can then be used to initiate unrest in nearby friendly or enemy provinces. Therefore, not every territory has to be conquered by brute force. Influential states can encourage the activities of subversive elements on foreign territory and so gradually increase the chance of particular provinces to choose to associate with their own state. Simultaneously, however, each state must be on the lookout constantly, as the state itself can become the target of such subversive activity, either by their friends or their foes.
The player can play the game for any one of twenty states, starting with the greats, such as Rome or Carthage, through the Greek city-states and to the Barbarian tribes migrating into the Mediterranean. The game contains several ways of winning and the player may change the winning strategy even during playing.
This, however, is just a small part of all the possibilities that the game Aggressors: Ancient Rome has to offer. In the following months we will gradually disclose in more detail how individual concepts work and intertwine.
Even though the game may appear extremely complex, most of these game mechanisms are hidden under the game’s surface. If the player chooses a lower difficulty level, they do not need to worry about them and can purely enjoy their conquest of the ancient world. But if they do want to test how difficult it would be to rule an ancient state, they can always choose a higher difficulty level, where it will be the player themselves who will have to make all the important decisions. The game therefore aims not only at diehard strategy fans, but also at those who like to test their governing capabilities in real historical context.
After long and busy winter we finally managed to find some time to write an update about Aggressors’ latest developments. Although there is still plenty of work to keep us occupied, the release date is coming closer, and we would like to spend more time on PR and sharing updates with you. The first step we took in this regard was the makeover of our website www.aggressors-game.com to fit better the historical theme.
We hope you like it!
The most important information for our followers is that by end of February 2017 Aggressors were upgraded to version v0.98. This version was mostly focused on polishing graphics (terrain and 3D in general) and UI.
One of the most important and definitely the most visible addition in the game are ambient animations (fish, dolphins, deer, boars and birds). Although is it only a graphic element which has no impact on the gameplay itself, it significantly improved the “reality” of the game. Group of animals roam around the map and it is even possible for the player to interact with them.
The visual aspect of the game was further enhanced by shadows and water effects (foam around and wake behind ships). Similarly, the ocean texture and reflection of light on the water were improved to make the atmosphere of the game more realistic.
Beside graphic components, we also concentrated our energy on identifying ways how to make governing a country easier for the player. We introduced an advisor into the game who provides counsel to the player. He informs and advises him on possible course of action when one or more administrative mechanisms are not running smoothly or when unforeseen events happened that need player's attention. The feature is optional but can be useful both for proficient players as well as for beginners.
Another major issue that kept us busy was game performance. This issue was absolutely crucial for us as we want the game to run smoothly on as many computers as possible. At last, we reached a stage where we are satisfied with the game performance and we hope that you will appreciate it, too.
Version v0.98 more or less closed the chapter called Graphics, and although we still work on minor improvements and adjustments, no major changes are planned in the graphic part of the game anymore.
Following the completion of v0.98 we planned a series of user tests. The sole purpose of the first wave of testing was to see how ready the game is for the upcoming beta testing and release. We received a number of suggestions how to improve the game further and how to make it more engaging for the player. We went through all of the comments carefully and assessed the potential impact they could have on the gameplay. For the past three months we have been working on additional features that came out of the user testing and we expect it will take another two months to complete the task. All these new elements will be included in v0.99.
Majority of the new features we want to implement is focused on making the historical period more precise and realistic. We take great care to follow historical sources and compare them with the game setting (e.g. size and positions of military units, ancient cities and states, their relations and circumstances in which certain strategic decisions were taken). We hope to create more detailed and exact picture of the ancient world starting from historically precise maps to events that could have changed the world. We try to re-create the political circumstances as closely to the historical reality as possible so that the player would be motivated to set similar goals for himself and face similar challenges as his historical counterparts.
First in the row of new features are strategic objectives - list of territorial, political and social goals that could guide the player on his way to historical greatness. There is a number of tasks for each state adjusted to reflect the differences between the states at the initial stage of the game. Of course, following the objectives is solely the player’s choice but we have developed a system of rewards and bonuses for completing the tasks in order to motivate the player. However, fulfilling the objectives is optional and the player is free to make his own decisions and take any course of action he wants.
Another addition in the game are winning conditions – set of various goals independent from each other that allow the player to choose how he wants to win and what strategy he will employ.
We also introduced so called sphere of influence. You can imagine it as reputation that grows with the importance and strength of the state and its cities. Growing prestige of the nation then gives the player the opportunity to expand his territory and influence of his empire by peaceful means.
We also enhanced the importance of cities in the game by adding options for building city improvements e.g. city walls, hospital, sewer system, etc. Using 3D models, the actual buildings will be visible directly on the map to make it easier for the player to monitor the growth and expansion of his cities.
Keep your fingers crossed for us that we managed to finalize the version v0.99 by the end of summer.
We will keep you informed!
We proudly announce that version v0.8 is out! Changes were made to many parts of the project and the result is definitely worth to see.
We have added sounds and music to the game, polished it a bit and we continue the testing. It is real fun!
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