Veni, Vidi, Dixi: Total War – Rome II Interview

By Adam Smith on August 8th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

While in Rome, playing Total War: Rome II on the set of HBO’s Rome, I spoke to Michael Simpson, Creative Assembly’s studio director. What was supposed to be a ten minute sprint across a hastily reduced list of questions transformed into a longer stroll when we both realised we’d rather talk than take lunch. We begin by lamenting my ability to die in a tutorial, move on to the clash between history and Hollywood, and then discuss some fundamental design philosophies. The latter portion of the interview moves away from the specifics of Rome II to explore how Michael, and indeed Creative Assembly, consider the player’s time to be their most valuable resource.

RPS: I just got killed. Well, my general did. I’m blaming a stray javelin rather than a tactical disaster.

Simpson: Oh dear. We didn’t invite you here to kill you.

RPS: Oh, it’s entirely my fault. It’s quite nice actually. It’s refreshing to fail in a tutorial, rather than feeling that absolutely everything is being done by the computer.

Simpson: We try to give freedom even in the prologue.

RPS: Almost everything I’d seen before today was the huge, spectacular historical battles, and I wonder how much all of that extra fidelity and scale really adds to the game.

Simpson: That’s an interesting question. I think it actually needs to be there. It wouldn’t feel right as a game set in the Roman period if you didn’t have the battles with thousands of thousands of men on either side. But the smaller battles are fun as well. From a gameplay point of view, they don’t have to be huge to have interesting outcomes. Some of the most nailbiting ones may be those where you only have three, four or five units, and you may be massively outnumbered, and at risk of losing something really important. That can be more fun than some of the big ones. It’s about variety.

RPS: One of the things that attracts me to strategy games is how well they tell stories. With the first Rome, I had my favourite generals and there’s even more emphasis on individuals this time.

Simpson: Yeah. I think we’ve made an attempt to make it more personal this time. Give it more of a human face. Rome was a long time ago now and what machines could do was quite limited. You had to have quite a simple set of mechanics. Now we can do more, so we do. We’ve done more with the personal and with politics. Diplomacy seems a lot more human.

RPS: With the politics, how much of that is going to be different each playthrough? Do situations emerge dynamically?

Simpson: Yeah, absolutely. Characters come and go. Interactions are often optional. It’s up to you how much you engage with that stuff. You could get really into it and start manipulating people. It depends what you set your aim to be. If you want to become the Emperor and get rid of the Senate and have your civil war, then you can do that. But you could also play the political game to achieve a similar end. Or you could just sit there and focus more on economy than military, in which case the political side rises more to the surface, serving up the kind of things you’d expect to see. Choices that adapt to the personality of Rome.

RPS: The flavour of the era is definitely there. We have so many cultural memories and reference points for ancient Rome, without necessarily being all that educated about the reality of it. How much do you rely on the ability to tap into those cultural touchpoints and how much do you try to channel actual history?

Simpson: We sometimes have arguments about Hollywood Rome versus real Rome! It’s difficult to know what to depict. Sometimes, if we actually do the real Rome, people won’t recognise it. They’d think we’ve got it wrong. A good example of that is Roman statues. There’s a marble statue over there (points). It’s white. In Rome, they coloured them all in. It would have looked like Las Vegas, garish and colourful in a way that people wouldn’t recognise. So in terms of things like that, we tend toward the Hollywood end of the scale. We’re sat here now on the HBO Rome set and our Rome is more like that than the real Rome would have been. Hopefully we’re somewhere between the two though.

RPS: I think that’s often the case. There are nice accidents occasionally, when something is historically accurate but also works well, whether for film or gaming…

Simpson: Yes! I think people sometimes underestimate how much history helps us out in that respect. If you’re doing science fiction or a fantasy game, you’re basically inventing mechanics and troop types. You have to balance all of that. If you faithfully reproduce a start point in history, as long as you’re reasonably accurate, it’s guaranteed to be balanced. History is always balanced. At any point in time, the borders are where they need to be and the set up of armies is accurate. It’s all perfectly balanced to allow history to happen as it did.

RPS: With that said, how much is it possible to disrupt history in this game?

Simpson: You can do that. You can play the Iceni, which is the British barbarian faction, and you can go forth and conquer Rome. In reality, that was very very unlikely. Partly because they weren’t that way inclined. But you can do that. You can explore those kind of things. Set up a barbarian empire that covers the entire of the known world.

RPS: With the different cultures, do they have their own historical attitudes and approaches?

Simpson: The AIs have different personalities, so yes. We tweak those to make them tend to act historically, so there’s an element of chaos in there as well. That’s the best way of putting it. So depending on what their start position and personality is, they can end up somewhere quite different.

RPS: While testing, do you see things that surprise you?

Simpson: A lot. Throughout the whole series, there are points when the game comes up with tactics or approaches that you didn’t think of. They can be quite memorable. I had a recent game in which an ally took one of my provinces off me without declaring war on me. And I thought, well, we didn’t design that to be possible, but he’d done it by sending agents in to start a rebellion and then bribing the rebels to join his side once they had taken control. He did it in one turn. And I realised that I wouldn’t have thought about doing that, realising that I was pissed off at my ally but had no in-game cause to do anything about it. That kind of stuff just emerges.

RPS: One of my favourite things is coming across something, after twenty or thirty hours with a game that I already like, and realising it’s completely new. Not just a new unit or building, but something in the systems that has never happened before. Whether it’s a sort of break down or an emergence. These are the parts of Rome II that people haven’t had a chance to see yet.

Simpson: Yes. The campaign AI in particular is more tricksy than in previous ones. You have to watch your back much more carefully.

RPS: How difficult is it to make the campaign AI interesting, on such a large and populated map, without having the situation descend into complete chaos. A little bit of chaos is good…

Simpson: Yeah, that’s true. You need a bit of chaos to remain unpredictable, because as soon as the AI becomes predictable, you just click next turn and then kill it. We end up trying to keep that chaos tamed, and sometimes it gets away from us and sometimes we control it. At the moment, it’s pretty much under control, I think (laughs).

RPS: I’m in the prologue and it’s kicking my ass.

Simpson: In terms of the chaos, we may have to make the prologue a little more controlled. At the moment, the AI has a habit of getting in behind you and taking the cities that you’ve just captured.

RPS: That’s exactly what happened to me.

Simpson: Yeah, leave something unprotected and it’ll straight away go ‘aha!’ and make a move for it.

RPS: That’s a good lesson though.

Simpson: It is a good lesson! It’s doing that more than previous games have. And it’ll bluff and react as well. If it starts going in behind your front line, aiming for an unprotected city, and then you head to defend, it’ll slip back into the fog and leave you caught between two places. You know that if you go forward it can attack, but if you go backwards, it could strike somewhere else. It’s…

RPS: Cruel.

Simpson: (laughs) That side of it is pretty strong this time.

RPS: I managed to miss a naval battle in the prologue.

Simpson: You don’t have to do that. It’s up to you.

RPS: Well, I meant to, but ended up having to divert my ships because of the AI screwing me.

Simpson: Sorry about that.

RPS: It all worked out in the end.

Simpson: I’ve ended up heading down for a naval battle, seeing an attack in the north and redirecting my ships, and then being attacked at sea with all my armies loaded on the ships. It’s really quite scary because with every boat that sinks, you lose an entire army.

RPS: One of the guys I was sitting next to had all of his cavalry loaded on boats and I don’t think his naval assault went very well.

Simpson: Well, that’s because he did a naval assault with cavalry! What was he thinking? The idea is that you land cavalry further up the coast and then bring them in as support.

RPS: Asking people to think before acting is, oddly, something that games don’t always do. Even strategy games.

Simpson: It’s been a bit of a nightmare for us. Before we had three or four battle types, but now we’ve got combined naval-land battles, and walled cities and unwalled cities. Ambushes. Armies with different stances. There’s an explosion of different battle types. Which is fun. A huge amount of variety but a lot of work to make sure it all comes off right, that armies deploy in the right places and in the right stance.

RPS: All that extra computing power means a lot of extra work, I guess. How long is it since the first Rome? I forget.

Simpson: Errrrrr. Hmm. We release that around…2004? Something like that (he is right)?

RPS: Sounds about right. I was at university when it came out and it really helped with my degree.

Simpson: Sorry about that.

RPS: Did you wait to return to Rome until you thought the tech could do it justice?

Simpson: I don’t know really. Each time we finish a game we spend time figuring out which one we want to do next.

RPS: There’s no long-term plan?

Simpson: There isn’t a long-term plan, no. We have a long list of things we’d like to do eventually, and pretty much everything you can think of is on that list, and it’s just the order we do them in that we argue about. We’ve wanted to go back to Rome again for a while. I don’t think we’ll do anything with a three in it anytime soon. There are plenty of other things to do.

RPS: There’s always Warhammer.

Simpson: I can’t really talk about that right now (laughs).

RPS: Then that’s all I will say. The tech here does suit Rome though – the sheer scale seems fitting. I was talking with Jim of Rossignol about the game after Rezzed, and saying that it’s more Classical Era than just Rome.

Simpson: Yes, something like that.

RPS: I should let you get something to eat and have a break from all these questions. We have already gone over time.

Simpson: I can talk about this forever.

RPS: OK! My favourite thing about the original Rome, and Medieval in fact, which covers my favourite era, was the character interactions and the way the world remembers their actions. I’m hugely fond of Crusader Kings II and it does feel that you’re moving toward a middle ground between the more narrative, role-playing approach and the battle-focused engine that has always been your cornerstone.

Simpson: Absolutely. It’s interesting getting that balance right. The player’s time is the most valuable resource we have, so we have to think very carefully about what we have the player spending his time doing. It’s tempting to go really deep with the RPG stuff but that can end up taking too much time and you end up not getting through history and not fighting your battles. Particularly in a game like Rome, where the scope is wide and long, there are some really difficult choices to make with how deep to go with certain bits.

RPS: It’s stuff you can’t skip as well, I suppose. Battles can you start to auto-resolve but it’s harder to do that with some other decisions.

Simpson: Yes. We start with a list of historical aspects, a long list of things that we absolutely have to get into the game. You have to have gladiators, for example, because it’s a Rome game. You can’t have Rome without them. There are all sorts of things like that which absolutely have to be in there. So we look at places where they might fit, for instance in those RPG elements. Some aspects don’t deserve or support a mechanic of their own, so may turn up as a member of your household, or a piece of kit. There are lots of different ways to stick stuff in. It’s fun doing that.

RPS: You have a checklist of everything that you want in the game and the most important part gets the biggest role – or perhaps not the most important part, but the part that makes most sense in the context of the game? It’s interesting that you talk about the players’ time as a resource. A lot of game design doesn’t work that way.

Simpson: Well, we spend a lot of time arguing about what’s important. When we give the player a decision to make, we ask ‘is a real decision being made here or not?’ If there’s a right and wrong answer, and that’s obvious, that decision is a chore. There’s no gameplay in a chore like that so we try very hard to get rid of those. As the series has developed – at the beginning, you were going round to each province and adjusting tax rates and public order individually, so when you had forty or fifty provinces, it’s a chore. So we gradually worked out ways of working out ways to make that easier – or less of a chore. Making the decisions more real.

I guess, there are a couple of quite big changes with Rome II in that respect. Individual regions are now contained in one province, grouped together, so you deal with them all at once as a single province. And the other thing is moving toward a flow system for things like public order, so for instance, instead of it being a case of ‘if you go to +10 you have a rebellion straight away’, the game now works by giving a small ‘minus’ every turn that you don’t deal with the problem. If that adds up to -100 you get into rebellion territory and that gives you more time to adapt, to build, to react.

RPS: Making every choice important is something that a lot of designers struggle with. I was speaking to someone at Firaxis about the Civ V DLC and they were saying that a great deal of the work in the expansions is an attempt to take away the chores. To add interest. Not to replace content, but to make it interesting.

Simpson: This happens. There are always mistakes, features that sound plausible on paper but don’t work when implemented. I think you can do a lot more on paper and in your head than many designers think you can. This is one of the things that I bang on about – that thing about interesting decisions and choices, for me that isn’t just important to gameplay, that is gameplay. That’s the heart of an interactive experience, which is a ghastly term. But you really absolutely have to be giving the player real choices to make, where the right and the wrong answer are different in different circumstances. Then the player can make a plan but different players have different routes.

When you’re designing on paper and in your head, you can work out what those choices need to be, and if you get that right, they’ll manifest properly in the final game. And you won’t have to iterate quite as much as if you pick up a mechanic because it looks interesting, or you’ve seen it work in another game, and plug it in, stick some values in and realise it doesn’t quite work. A lot of design is done that way and it’s quite wasteful and because people have a limited amount of time, that stuff ends up in the finished game because you don’t have time to revamp it all.

RPS: Making every choice interesting and an actual choice is a possible solution to the problem that a lot of strategy games have, which is maintaining interest through the endgame.

Simpson: Yes, that’s absolutely true. So often it’s just a mopping up phase.

RPS: Building every single thing in every single settlement. Ideally, the choices that you make when you’re extremely powerful are just as complex as the ones that you make when you’re struggling to survive.

Simpson: We have put mechanisms in place to make the endgame interesting, with varying degrees of success, throughout the series. The civil war mechanism, for instance, which forces you to challenge for total domination. We don’t always get things right and we’re certainly not perfect, and making every choice interesting is incredibly difficult.

RPS: Different people find different choices interesting, for one thing.

Simpson: Yes. And making complex things simple is very difficult as well. We put a lot of effort into that and hopefully we get better every time.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

Total War: Rome II is out on September 3rd. My hands-on preview is just over there.

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69 Comments »

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  1. sonson says:

    Veni, Vidiogames, Vici. So obvious. COME ONN!

    • Renfield says:

      I think his admittedly-highbrow Latin pun was better!

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        Gap Gen says:

        Would have worked even better if they sent someone called Virginia to do the intervidere.

    • The Random One says:

      I misread it as Veni, Vidi, Taxi. That’s funnier, but not very relevant.

  2. BobbyDylan says:

    My leave is booked. My beer fridge is stocked. My Body is ready.

  3. Superpat says:

    Great interview, though its a little sad that you didn’t ask anything about the modability of this iteration.

    And september 3 is my first day of university.. :(

    • Chris D says:

      Modding came up in a Q&A over on the forums yesterday

      “Will Rome II be moddable and will you support modding?”

      ” Yes and yes though we are working on getting the game out just now, we hope eventually it will be as moddable as Shogun 2, which remains the most moddable game we’ve ever released. There will be a modding summit (although we are very busy at the moment but Craig keeps nagging everyone about dates).”

      The full thread is over here:

      http://forums.totalwar.com/showthread.php/72354-Jack-Answers!

      • Werthead says:

        “Shogun 2, which remains the most moddable game we’ve ever released.”

        Isn’t this stretching the truth a little bit? I thought the Warscape engine did not allow re-drawing the campaign map or allowing THIRD AGE-style total conversions? This is why new mods for MEDIEVAL II are still being announced, because it was the last game in the series that allowed this scale of modding.

        • Chris D says:

          Funnily enough that came up in the forums too. Here’s the response:

          “Thanks, Lusted, but is this a joke or sarcasm or what? :”

          “Steam workshop integration, first ever set of official modding tools. Less hardcodes (no limit on number of units or factions for example), more data than ever exposed in db. No joke, no sarcasm. “

        • Loyal_Viggo says:

          You sir, are entirely correct, which is why there are no total conversions for Shogun 2.

          As you rightly note Medieval 2 still has the best (Total Warhammer and Third Age for example) total conversions that many, including myself, play even now over other newer TW games.

          Rome 2 could be amazing if total conversions are possible, but as CA have the Games Workshop IP for a Warhammer game I doubt they want any kind of competition…

    • atticus says:

      Don’t know if you’ve seen this?

      http://forums.totalwar.com/showthread.php/72344-Check-out-the-new-launcher-for-ROME-II

      The tab named “Mod Manager” looks promising :)

    • wodin says:

      First day at Uni?? No problem mate..the first few weeks Uni students are always in the pubs..so I think you’ll have plenty of time..it’s if it comes out near exams where it would be a huge issue.

      • Superpat says:

        Haha no doubt there, but still, I’ll be living in a new city, so no idea what’s going to happen!

        Edit: Thanks guys for the links, very interesting!

  4. mouton says:

    So, is the tactical AI decent this time? Last Total War game I played was Medieval II and the AI could neither take or defend a city, unless it had huge numerical advantage.

  5. Darko Drako says:

    I have just upgraded from a 5850 to a MSI power edition 670 oc, to be ready for this game.

    Trying to get in to Shogun at the moment, as it is the only Total War I haven’t spent too much time with. I am actually finding the campaign ai fairly challenging, e.g. my neighbors tend to attack when I am overstretched.

    • mouton says:

      I will just play it on low and hope it works :D It’s not like I zoom down to soldiers anyway

      • BTAxis says:

        I find that zooming down to soldiers just makes it look awkward when 500 men occupy a space that could hold maybe 10 or so.

  6. atticus says:

    I’m so extremely excited about this game and what they’ve done to improve and develop things since the first Rome.

    Rome is one of the games I’ve played the most, easily between 500 and 1000 hours, but I’ve only played it through to the end once (with Germania and their overpowered a-historical phalanx). I enjoy starting from small and expanding, but find managing a huge empire and fighting endless waves of huge battles tedious. Sounds like they’ve taken steps to change those parts of the game this time around, and that’s great!

    If only they could have implemented a multiplayer-campaign for more than 2 players… I know it would be extremely time-consuming, but great fun too!

  7. serioussgtstu says:

    It’s such a pity that Sega has screwed up Rome 2 so badly with this preorder DLC nonsense. We were able to play as the Greek States straight away in the original Rome, why should this be any different? I’m not putting up with this anti-consumer lark, so everyone please join me in not buying this fantastic looking game.

    Great interview Adam.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Or join me, be mildly perturbed, wonder on the current shape of the gaming industry, give up wondering, preorder.

      • serioussgtstu says:

        Yes, you just lie down and nothing will ever change. What a great contribution you’ve made.

        • gunny1993 says:

          I’d much rather play Rome 2 on release if it’s all the same to you.

    • atticus says:

      I find the preorder DLC nonsense very stupid myself, but it’s not like the Greek States are locked away from people who don’t preorder right? You can still get it at launch, but have to pay extra for it?

      They could have avoided some hatred by having all factions in the game for everybody for the retail price, and giving those taking their chance with preordering a discount instead.

      • TCM says:

        I’d actually wager that it’s more akin to the “Delivery Charge” added by pizza companies recently.

        It’s a surcharge so they can continue to advertise at a price point that’s familiar despite inflation and rising business costs — of course you can not pay it, at the cost of convenience (driving out to get the pizza)/content (playing as the three greek states).

        • Superpat says:

          That actually makes sense, since, while games have gone up in price slightly, I’m still paying the same thing I was 10 years ago, about 60 dollars for the base game, but now they have all this dlc, so in a way you could say that the dlc is a way to keep prices down while still making a little more profit than they were making ten years ago.

        • darkath says:

          Making a pizza today, is still about the same as making a pizza yesterday, hire a guy, buy ingredients, have him make a pizza, send the delivery boy.

          Making a game like Rome2, in comparison to Rome, is not the same at all. The production costs increased more than tenfolds, and you have to sell it cheaper (most of the sales come from, well, special steam sales)

          So yeah, i can imagine why they make you preorder at full price as the alternative is you waiting 1 months or 2 to get the game at -40%

    • TheTuninator says:

      I have hundreds of hours logged on Rome and M2TW and Rome II is one of my most anticipated games of all time, but I cannot in good conscience buy this game. Rome II has explicitly taken features gamers used to enjoy for free and placed them behind a paywall. I have to pay extra to play as Athens or Sparta in a game about the classical era of history? The frickin’ GREEKS are DLC? Really?

      In Rome I, if I wanted to play as the Seleucids , all I had to do was beat them in campaign or edit a value in a text file. In Rome II, I’ll probably have to cough up $5.

      I know we all want this game very badly, but if you allow CA to get away with this kind of price-gouging you’re pretty much the same as the guy who pays through the nose for Day 1 DLC annually when the new CoD hits.

      If the DLC gives factions extra content while still allowing you to play as the less shiny version of that faction in the base game for free, I wouldn’t mind, but if the ability to play a faction at all is locked behind a pay wall that’s criminal. To be quite frank, I am very disappointed that RPS has not challenged them on this point. I’m as excited for this game as you guys are, but you’re journalists, and what CA has pulled with the sale of Rome II factions is very shady. Push them on it!

      • Chris D says:

        You’ve played hundreds of hours of previous games and you’re still complaining the series doesn’t provide value for money. Really?

        • Loyal_Viggo says:

          In Soviet Russia, ‘Value for Money’ defies you!

        • serioussgtstu says:

          It’s not about value for money, it’s about Sega treating their customers like anything other than potential amounts of profit.

        • TheTuninator says:

          What I’m complaining about is a blatant example of features which used to be free now costing money for no reason other than the pursuit of greater profits. The fact that previous games in the series gave great value for money is EXACTLY WHY I want and expect Rome II to continue to adhere to the gold standard CA set with Rome and M2TW.

          I don’t understand why people are so eager to defend CA on this matter. They are taking a feature we used to enjoy for free, unlocking extra factions, and making it paid DLC! Not only that, CA is doing it with one of the most popular and important factions within the game, the Greeks.

          We love to complain about the increasing ridiculousness of microtransactions, preorder bonuses, Day 1 DLC and other price-gouging when it’s, say, EA and Dead Space 3. Why does CA get a free pass?

          Like I said, I’d understand if the DLC fleshed out the factions with further content and players were still allowed to play the base faction in the normal campaign for free. I’d have no problem with that, and indeed I am hoping that CA turns out to have chosen that approach after all. But if CA has chosen to make us pay for something we used to get for free? Hell no.

          • Chris D says:

            Except that now factions are being fleshed out in greater detail than they ever were in the original Rome so I don’t think a simple one-to-one correspondence applies. CA have said that they want to prioritise quality over quantity and, while I can’t comment on how well they’ve achieved that without playing the game myself, that seems like a perfectly valid design choice to me.

            You still have nine factions available in the base game, that’s going to take quite some time to play through all of those and if you still want more by that point I don’t think it’s unreasonable to fork out a bit more for it.

            I don’t see that there’s any moral imperative to include any particular faction in the game just because they were playable the first time around. As consumers I think we’re entitle to decide what value we place on a game and how much we’re prepared to pay for it but I don’t see that we’re entitled to dictate the value a developer can place on their own work.

          • TheTuninator says:

            @Chris D- You’ll note I’ve already addressed your refutation in my previous post. I am fine with paying more for a DLC that fleshes out a faction and adds more content. At the same time, that faction still exists in the base game with its own unique cities and unit list, and there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to play the more bare-bones version of that faction if I desire. I never got tired of playing Seleucids in Rome 1 despite the fact that only Roman factions had anything more than basic city interactions on the strategic map. CA has yet to clarify what exactly is going on with the DLC and unlocking factions, so in the absence of an explanation I am forced to assume that unlocks will be hidden behind a paywall. I’d be thrilled if I were proven wrong.

            “I don’t see that there’s any moral imperative to include any particular faction in the game just because they were playable the first time around. ”

            You’re entirely correct. However, there IS a moral imperative to make factions that are already in the game and fully playable by the AI playable by human players, just as they were in Rome I. Is CA obligated to add in, say, Parthia because they were in Rome I? No. Should CA make Parthia playable by humans for free if Parthia the faction is implemented in Rome II’s campaign? Absolutely.

            “that’s going to take quite some time to play through all of those and if you still want more by that point I don’t think it’s unreasonable to fork out a bit more for it.”

            But what if I have no desire to play through those nine factions? What if I’m a huge Greek history buff, and I really want to play Greece more than any other faction? I have to pay for them despite the fact that they’re in the base game as opponents and would easily be unlockable for free in previous titles?

            CA is taking features we enjoyed for free and charging for them. If you have no problem with their actions, that’s your call, but please do not act like CA’s behavior in this manner is not reprehensible. If this were EA people would be screaming for blood. Content that used to be free now costs you money. It’s that simple. This is exactly the kind of downward spiral in the industry’s relations with consumers that gamers love to bitch about, but when devs gamers like enact such policies fans fall over themselves to justify the gouging with ridiculous excuses such as “well it’s free for pre-orders”, “you can play the other factions”, and other nonsense which does nothing to explain why something I used to get for free now costs money.

          • Chris D says:

            It’s not content you used to get for free though is it? It’s content that was included in Rome 1 but a new game means new content, even if it represents the same faction as in a previous game it’s still new content. It still has to be designed and programmed and people need to be paid for doing that. It’s like you’re arguing that because you used to be able to buy selection boxes with curly-wurlies in that it would now be immoral to sell selection boxes without them.

            “However, there IS a moral imperative to make factions that are already in the game and fully playable by the AI playable by human players, just as they were in Rome I”

            I don’t really see that this is the case. If the remaining factions are currently not fleshed out enough or not balanced for a human player CA isn’t really under any obligation to open them up anyway and potentially give an unfavourable experience to a player who goes in unawares. It’s not like all the factions were officially available in the first game anyway, it wasn’t difficult to modify the files to unlock them, but you still didn’t have them as part of the official experience.

            It’s not the case that if there were no DLC then all the factions would be free and everyone would be happy. The base game would simply be more sparse as CA would have no way to recoup the extra development costs involved in adding detail to the other factions. Far from denying players the opportunity to play as their favourite faction it allows more players to experience playing factions that would otherwise not be included.

            “…but please do not act like CA’s behavior in this manner is not reprehensible”

            It’s not reprehensible. Developers don’t have to make exactly the game you want. Developers are allowed to get paid for the work they do. If you think the terms are unreasonable then by all means don’t buy it or wait for a sale or whatever but don’t act as if you have some right for everything you want to be included in a game just because you say so.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Well, of course. The fact that previous games were enjoyed doesn’t excuse devs to get away with things on newer games.

      • gunny1993 says:

        You mean you’re going to wait till it’s on sale don’t you?

      • anduin1 says:

        Blame sega, not CA

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        @TheTuninator – You can’t reason with fanatics.

        @Chris D – do you work for CA?

  8. Borsook says:

    It’s a pity there was no question about pricing… I find it sad we assume 55 euros for a game is normal.

    • 2helix4u says:

      I think RPS has gotten a wee bit too comfortable, they need to go back to spitting poison and breathing fire at devs.
      Why is this game 50% above the price of a PC game in a time where real wages are dropping (but preorder it to get it at the regular price of a PC game!)? Is that to recoup the losses from not making a military FPS? Why are the greeks cut out as DLC (because people will pay for Sparta, obviously)? Is it gonna support total conversions and just how shit is the pathfinding AI?

      I dunno, being flown to Rome and talking about how pretty the graphics are isn’t what I want from RPS, I know it looks good, can we all get over graphics now? Crysis came out years ago, how about we just pretend for the sake of impressions that there are no graphics and then just concentrate on how it plays?

      • TheTuninator says:

        Agreed. I value RPS as they do not heel to the party line followed by so many major gaming news websites. Rome II looks gorgeous, and I love the TW series, but RPS is really softballing CA here when there are some very looming issues to question them about.

        I’m particularly alarmed by the lack of any questions about CA’s frankly insulting DLC plans for Rome II.

        • Adam Smith says:

          I can understand the frustration – not keen on the dlc issues myself – but there are a lot of people at CA (and Sega). Michael wasn’t the best person to ask about those issues, and when time is short, I try to stick to topics that might be informative or entertaining.

          Except the Warhammer question. That was nothing but mischief.

          Edit: also, I’m very much concerned, as the interview shows, with asking how necessary the millions of new graphics are, and what they contribute from a creative/design standpoint.

      • Darko Drako says:

        This is clearly a very expensive game (especially considering it will be a PC exclusive, i.e. there will be no other revenue streams), essentially it is as big a budget AAA style production you can get for a PC exclusive, as such I don’t think it unreasonable that they might hope to charge a slightly premium price for it.

        For the hardcore fans it will probably work out as pennies/hour given what a time sink these games can be.

        • gi_ty says:

          I couldn’t agree more, and as I see it personally they are one of the very few dev’s that still continually make amazing pc exclusive titles. Strategically rich and exploring various times in history quite faithfully, with good to great quality.
          CA is not a big development studio posting hundreds of millions in profits. They are a niche studio that puts out quality above much bigger and better funded dev teams. If they feel they need to get a few extra monies from me thats fine, especially if they continue improving their games. Just my 2 cents.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      Get a legit steam key from ‘Get Games’ website or from ‘CJS CD Keys’ (a website recently profiled on pcgamer) for $46 (26 quid).

      ‘Get Games’ also has the dlc included at that price, not sure about the other.

      Better than 55 euros.

    • Jimbo says:

      Full version is available for £30 on Amazon.

  9. BTAxis says:

    About historical accuracy, I know the TW community in general is really hung up on that, but I find it somewhat less important. I know TW is very much about history, but I care much about playing and having fun than about historical details.

    • Lusketrollet says:

      Yeah. Because as we all know, historical accuracy and fun are mutually exclusive, right?

    • tormos says:

      TW games are rarely within spitting distance of “historical accuracy” anyway. I’m not saying i don’t enjoy them (I do), but when i want something accurate-ish i go play a paradox game

  10. BobbyDylan says:

    So… Who’s gonna make the “Song of Fire and Ice” mod for Rome 2? Cos I will have your children!

  11. Poppis says:

    Warhammer: Total War confirmed! You heard it here first.

  12. meloncrab says:

    That was a very nice read, thank you.

  13. nimzy says:

    On the set of HBO’s Rome? You don’t drop a tidbit like that and then don’t post any photos!

  14. Werthead says:

    “So… Who’s gonna make the “Song of Fire and Ice” mod for Rome 2? Cos I will have your children!”

    The MEDIEVAL II one isn’t far off completion:

    http://www.twcenter.net/forums/forumdisplay.php?721-Westeros-Total-War

    If ROME 2 does allow total conversion modding, that’d be awesome but I seriously doubt it would happen. Also, if MEDIEVAL 3 is their next game, it might make more sense to hold fire until that comes out as the base game and units are more compatible.

  15. Drake Sigar says:

    What a nice chap.

  16. SuicideKing says:

    So two years into college is a bad time to play Rome II? Oh well, it’s the second game in my life that i’ve pre-ordered so not much i can do about it now,,,

  17. NyuBomber says:

    So to help a complete newbie to the series out, when they’re talking about a “campaign,” is that similar to setting up a single-player game in Civ 5, just picking your team, maybe the start conditions and number of opponents, and then being plopped down on the map to do as you will (or deal as stuff happens to you)?

    Or is it a campaign in the traditional since that there’s a definite story being told with a set cast of characters and it plays out over a variety of maps and scenarios?

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      I’ve not played the new one, obviously, so I’ll be assuming that it works like they used to.

      No, you generally don’t set up your game like in Civ and set number of players, map size or what have you.

      You select to start as, for instance, Rome in the year 280BC or something close enough to that and you select long or short campaign and difficulty and off you go. It’s not telling a set story with a plot and characters. You start the game and then you’re free to do as you like. Want to go for Gaul? Do it. Want to poke Macedon in the eye and pre-empt Aemilius Paullus and conquer them before he did? Do it!

      Again, that’s assuming that the game operates like the old ones or at least close to it.

  18. Schneeble says:

    Pre-order this title for sure :). However i dont get the whole price-nagging :/, whats wrong with the price? A day one dlc is great for those that want the extra, flashy things cost.

  19. GoodKnight says:

    LOL they love saying everytime how good there AI is but all I see is AI that doesn’t know how to use boats for sea invasions, and AI that walks straight into your canister shots. CA ain’t the same since SEGA bought them.. They are all PR and have nothing to show for it..

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  22. GameDreamer says:

    This game looks better and better.

    Great interview.

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