Role Playing Rome: Age Of Decadence

By Adam Smith on May 11th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

My Age of Decadence was my early twenties. I travelled slowly down the Mekong river longing for the horizon, drank copious amounts of bourbon in all-night jazz bars and dusty, dilapidated dives, all the while studying the world through an eyeglass of glamour and sleaze. Perhaps not coincidentally I also spent a lot of time in Manchester cafes reading Graham Greene and Paul Theroux. The game Age of Decadence aims to provide players with freedom of choice although I doubt it’s possible to recreate my own youthful exuberance. The trailer below draws attention to a host of other features that can best be described as ‘old-school’, words which I can write but should never say aloud.

If there were no pictures, just those exquisite phrases popping up on the screen, it’d be a thoroughly exciting trailer. With pictures as well it’s thoroughly exciting with a cherry on top, except I don’t like cherries all that much so make it a Snickers bar instead.

I really need to take a proper look at the demo, which from my brief experience seems excellent, although it swiftly reminded me that RPGs can be complex beasts. Apparently some of my roleplaying brain muscles have atrophied over the years but this might be the game to give them a good workout.

As well as checking out the demo, it’s now possible to preorder the game for twenty quid. It’s still around a year away though.

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57 Comments »

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  1. caddyB says:

    It’s so weird to see this finally happening.

  2. HexagonalBolts says:

    Reading while thoughtfully stroking your chin in the northern quarter by any chance?

  3. GoodKnight says:

    wow.
    Reminds me of Betrayal at Krondor..

  4. The Smilingknight says:

    Very nice of you guys to follow and present this game, like you do.
    Im sure many people would be interested to see what you guys think of the Demo beta.

    Few things to keep in mind though.

    1. This is a BETA of the Demo.
    – in this case it only means its still being improved and made … better. :)
    (better = beta? everyone got it? are you sure? okaay…okaaayy… just making sure.)

    2. There is no game developing studio on this world that takes criticism and suggestion from everyone that played the beta of the Demo more seriously. Nor a studio that accepts good ideas and suggestions from “fans” and followers or just players, more.
    Iron Towers are without equal in this.

    2.b – Making suggestions requires good knowledge about the game in every aspect and preferably some knowledge of numerous and numerous suggestions already made.
    Its not exactly mandatory… but it would be more efficient.

    2.c – Not every suggestion is great and awesome. And many will not be considered or refused – for very good reasons. Dont scream or complain about it. Some people do… and it just isnt … nice to see.

    2.d – Thats not your business. Your business (if you choose so) is to make suggestions. Theirs is to consider it and take, refuse it, or take it and implement it in even better ways.

    3. This game has the best spear combat ever designed in history of games. Yes…you heard me right.

    History. Of. Games.

    p.s.
    Im in no way affiliated with Iron Towers. Just keeping things clear. Because they bloody deserve it.

    Also, there is another trailer.
    I think some of you have seen it. :D

    • eks says:

      It’s pretty adorable that you think people won’t just immediately blurt out their opinions and suggestions after they play a video game. I guess you must be new to the Internet.

      • The Smilingknight says:

        Nope, unfortunately i am not.

        Just saying how this thing is going down.
        Dont complain if you and your opinions end up in another trailer we will all laugh at.

        -edit-
        To be clear, blurting or just giving your opinions about it is perfectly fine.

        Im just saying this has been in the development quite a long time and under complete and total scrutiny from before the public release of combat demo.

        hell… its been open to criticism, suggestions and evaluation from the get go.

        • Redd says:

          Well you’ve single-handedly steered me away from looking at this game further. Historically,
          anything that’s required this level of ‘protecting’ isn’t worth my time.

          • Vince says:

            Your time must be very valuable.

          • Redd says:

            Correct.

          • The Smilingknight says:

            As the poet said… Good Fucking riddance!

            :lol:

          • Ed123 says:

            sup Hiver

          • qplazm says:

            I agree completely. That’s why I think video games in general are childish and ridiculous. Just look how many people write masses ‘protecting’ them.

            I haven’t even tried it, so I’m not one of its ‘defenders’, but as reasons not to play a game go, that’s a bit ridiculous.

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  5. Hindenburg says:

    I do hope that they include an option to alter font size. Can already see myself having a hellish time reading that text while playing in the living room’s telly at a decent resolution. Those letters look horrendously small.

    • The Smilingknight says:

      You might want to wait for the console version.

      :P

      Seriously though, all i can say from a technical side is that apparently Torque has some problems with fonts. At some resolution they dont look so swell on PCs either.
      Although i never noticed it myself.

      They are doing everything they can to deal with that though.
      And im pretty sure if anyone of the devs comes by they will have a much better and correct info.

      Also, since im starting to feel like their PR agent here…one that isnt payed at all at that… mummble…
      I think it would be fair if i would spam a link of my own?

      Indeed it would be.
      :P

      http://kingswoodbrotherhood.phpbb3now.com/index.php

      • Hindenburg says:

        Awfully nice of you, mate. Thanks a bunch.

        And I’d most likely end up playing this thing with a gamepad, if at all possible, so your tip isn’t far off ^^

      • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

        Please stop posting.

      • epmode says:

        The gamepad comment is silly but he has a point about the font. Anyone with a very high-resolution monitor has almost certainly run into that problem already. Lots of modern games scale the UI and font accordingly but there are still a few stragglers.

        • Vince says:

          It’s been fixed in R2. Overall, we tweaked a lot of things in the second release:

          – Tweaked THC (to hit chance) formula shifting the focus from defence to offense.
          – Tweaked weapons damage ranges and added THC stats to differentiate similar weapons in the same class (a saber, for example, has a THC bonus (easier to wield), whereas a broadsword has more damage).
          – Tweaked combat difficulty, balance, and starting positions.
          – Tweaked stat bonuses (replaced STR bonus with %, limited INT bonus to quests only (not kills), etc).
          – Changed skills thresholds from 50/75 to 50/70/90.
          – Increased the amount of skill points you get at character generation.
          – Added several alternative quest solutions.
          – Tweaked skill checks to avoid min-maxing (now, we check the sum of several skills, so you won’t fail a check just because you are a few points short).
          – Added partial success to many Critical Strikes checks and reduces the number of insta-kill outcomes (when you fail checks).
          – Added more conversations with NPCs.
          – Added starting slides, introducing your characters properly.
          – Added an easy difficulty mode.
          – Added a grappling hook for climbing enthusiasts.
          – Added a looting menu when you have several bodies on one square.
          – Increased the font size for higher resolutions.
          – Reduced teleporting.
          – Fixed a LOT of bugs and issues.

          • wodin says:

            Great list, must try the new version. this is on my to buy list anyway.

        • Dominic White says:

          What’s wrong with playing a turn-based game with a gamepad? Ideally a wireless one. There’s no time-pressure, no need to have pinpoint precision, assuming the UI is even halfway decently designed, and you get the luxury of being able to sprawl out in whatever ridiculous position you find most comfy.

          If it’s a singleplayer, non-competitive game with no need for XTREME HEADSHOTS, then I’d much rather use a gamepad if the interface works well enough. It’s not like there’s any shortage of turn-based RPGs on consoles.

  6. admanb says:

    I hope the game is better written than this video.

  7. fiddlesticks says:

    Just played it for a few hours yesterday. The demo really does evoke an old-school feel, it’s certainly not afraid of putting you in a dangerous situation with little to no warning. I like it, though I wish there were autosaves.

    Combat is really unforgiving as well. Which again is fine for me, it just seems a bit strange that the diplomatic approach is usually so much easier and has the same payoff.

    Aside from that, I’m very impressed by the different choices you can make. There’s a lot of unique ways to handly any given situation so it’s hard to truly get stuck.

    Which makes me wonder, has anyone ever tried to play a character that goes completely against the concept of his starting class? For instance, making a merchant that invests all his points into thieving skills. Could you actually get through the game with this?

    Edit: I have to say though, I’m not a big fan of the swearing. Maybe it’s just me, but seeing the word “fuck” feels really out of place in the ancient Rome setting the game tries to convey.

    • Brun says:

      There was vulgar slang in Latin just like there is in English. Sometimes those terms don’t have an English translation, but we know by context what they mean, enough to determine that their best translation would be an equivalent English vulgar slang term.

    • wodin says:

      Swearing has been going on many centuries, sometimes I expect even more so than now. It isn’t out of place at all, just people sensibilities about the past and how we behaved are skewed. In a world where we watched men butcher it’s other for a good night out is a world I’m sure where swearing was the norm, especially in the less privileged.

      Funny enough I remember being shocked when I got into military history and read the about the vulgar language of the working class in the trenches in WW1. It seemed odd and out of place, as if swearing was a modern day thing. Not so at all, far from it.

    • fiddlesticks says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to imply that swearing is a new invention. I had Latin for two years, I know how many vulgar expressions there are. :)

      What I’m trying to get at is that we don’t normally expect to see it in a fictional portrayal of that period, similar to how noone ever curses in Arcanum or your average DnD campaign. It’s not so much a question of what is historically correct, but rather what feels historically correct. To me Ancient Rome will forever be associated with works like Spartacus and Ben Hur, so any game set in that period will be compared to them as well. In that sense AoD’s swearing feels out of place to me, even if it really isn’t.

      That being said, I suppose what bothered me more so than anything wasn’t the NPCs liberal use of “fuck”, but rather that even the narrator used it at one point, which to me just came across as trying too hard.

      • The Smilingknight says:

        Ill just say that this issue has been thoroughly dissected and talked about many times over. as you may guess the final conclusion was “fuck it”.

        + This isnt a historical period.
        + This isnt a Roman empire setting at all.

        = this is a post apocalyptic fantasy inspired by fall of the Roman empire that is not happening on earth at all.

        Just get in with the vibe :)

      • Vince says:

        http://www.joeabercrombie.com/2007/09/23/zounds-swearing-in-fantasy-2/

        I completely agree with his points:

        1) “Furthermore, even if we are describing a pseudo-medieval setting, no-one could pretend that we are writing for a medieval audience.”

        2) “To make up a word simply to act as a substitute for a perfectly good English word seems to me almost cowardly, and as a reader I would find it extremely irritating. After all, if frel or whatever is supposed to mean F**K, why not just call a spade a spade?”

        3) “For me, the inclusion of swearing isn’t about trying to inject grittiness, or to make my books adult, or even to try and make them sell (though that would be nice). It’s a question of honesty. You’ve got to think about every description, every line of speech, every image that you use and ask yourself – is this true? Is this how that thing really looks? Is this how a person would really speak?

        Now some folks might say, “hey, it’s fantasy, it doesn’t have to be real,” but I’d say the exact opposite. It’s happening in a made up place, so it has to be more real than ever. Its being fantasy doesn’t forgive its being unconvincing, its being dishonest, its being false. Between you (which of course is potentially the entire world, but f*ck it) and me, I think fantasy is a genre where authors get away with weak-ass, lazy dialogue way too often.”

        4) “As a reader, there’s nothing more irritating to me than faux-shakespearian dialogue, “verily, my liege, we should teach these goblins a harsh lesson.” I swear a lot in my everyday work and home life, it’s part of my everyday mode of expression and that of most people I relate to, so it would seem odd to me if my characters didn’t. It would certainly seem very, very odd if characters who are, to put it nicely, scum, didn’t swear in life-threatening situations.”

      • Wizardry says:

        Personally I don’t give a damn about swearing in an RPG. Writing in an RPG isn’t even secondary. More like tertiary. If that.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      Fun with Rome and swearing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catullus_16

  8. Premium User Badge

    equatorian says:

    I’m quite obliged to say that bourbons and jazz bars aren’t all that prevalent on the Mekong, really. Unless you count illegal ale and dog meat as gleaze.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Truth be told it was Lao-Lao in my gullet and the only music was the constant, beating throb of a two-year hangover.

  9. The Smilingknight says:

    You can invest in any skills you want to. There are no limitations of any kind.
    You create your own build and play as you want.
    There is no “classes” as usual in the game. those are just starting “builds” to get you going.
    You can also betray and double trick any of the factions.

    Provided you do understand that playing a combat character will close, or rather, go down a completely different path than the “diplomatic – talkative character”, and so on.
    Thats one of the main points of the game.

    Also, if youre not good at combat – simply play as Loremaster, Merchant, diplomat Praetor, street wise persuasive Grifter, persuasive, disguise expert, street wise, lore knowledgable Drifter…etc….etc….etc….

    And there is an Awesome “build” available too.
    :)

    -edited-

    Lets say you start as a Merchant, that just starts you being good with Merchants guild (think of them as a AoD version of IMF) and gets you going through merchant specific opening vignette.

    From the character creation, youre free to choose any skills you want. You can make a fighter “merchant” or assassin merchant.
    But the thing is… with those skills, you wont be able to go very far in merchant specific quests – which simply require merchant related skillz.

    That doesnt mean you cannot just betray merchants and go work for another guild that hates them very much.
    Say, the former imperial legions always need good fighters. Some of the noble houses too. etc…

  10. Fumarole says:

    I won’t be playing the demo as I want a pristine experience when the full game drops.

  11. Jimbo says:

    Hasn’t this been in development since the Age of Stone?

  12. TormDK says:

    I had to pre-order after reading this article.

    And by the gods the game is brutal! It certainly pulls no punches, and combat *will* get you killed if you don’t mind what you are doing. That alone is so refreshing compared to the super powered CRPGs of today. Nothing like a good old fashioned whooping to get us focused on tactical combat again!

    Luckily there seems to be plenty of options to avoid combat as well, and plenty of skill checks to make – so skills actually matter!

    Good stuff, looking forward to following this project till release!

    • The Smilingknight says:

      Good for you.

      One more clarification from me:

      Preorder funds go directly into the development of the game. You get the game and you support the development directly at the same time.
      Two for the price of one.

      Its a very similar delio as kickstarter… only its not kickstarter.

      here is how it works:

      http://www.irontowerstudio.com/forum/index.php/topic,2584.0.html

      • TormDK says:

        Aye, just waiting for the AoD forum tag thingy we get if we toss in extra cash.

        Good stuff!

  13. wodin says:

    I tried the beta and enjoyed it, every time you start with a different character type you get totally different missions which is cool, but oh must be alot of work.

    Having no minor randomness in stat checks was a pain, if you fail a stat check you fail it everytime., which can mean your stuck as you pu your previous points into the wrong thing.

    Also remember they haven’t done the other 75% of the game, so it isn’t out anytime soon.

    • mazzratazz says:

      I’m pretty sure they said the majority of content was actually integrated? In other words, they’ve sort of done the other 75%, it just needs shittons of polish and tweaking (maybe I’m arguing semantics here and this is actually what you meant, in which case ignore me). Which indeed will take quite a while still. At least that was my understanding, some dev might correct me on this .

  14. Vince says:

    The content’s there, but it needs polishing and tweaking. Everything we learned and added during the closed beta of the demo must be applied to the rest of the game.

  15. Wooly says:

    This looks horrible…

  16. Bobtree says:

    The colored grid in the first pic looks like a tropical disease.

  17. Vince says:

    It’s a 2 year old screen. Here is a recent one:
    http://www.irontowerstudio.com/images/palaceCombat.jpg

  18. morris80 says:

    This game is written surprisingly well!
    jocuri puzzle

  19. The Smilingknight says:

    Here is my play of the beginning of the newest beta demo build and a few minor suggestions.

    – im not responsible for what happens to you if you venture further into those forums-

    http://www.rpgcodex.net/forums/index.php?threads/aod-public-beta-release-2-is-out.71812/