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Vae Victis Developer Diary

October 7th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 2 Comments · Ancients, Paradox, Preview

Paradox has published their first developer diary for the upcoming expansion for Europa Universalis: Rome. Time for a little fisking.

One of the most glaring omissions in EU: Rome was the lack of the Senate – after all, the game covers the golden age of the Roman Republic. Vae Victis will feature the Senate with a vengeance! Not only does the Senate assign the player more or less difficult tasks, it can also block diplomatic actions outright depending on the current power of the five political parties. Monarchies will also receive some love, in the form of a Council consisting of nine characters. The Council does not have the power of the Senate, but the councillors can cause trouble if the line of succession is not to their taste… Tribal countries have a similar system, but with Clan Chiefs.

Great. How do these things connect to the technology advisors or governors? Can a governor be part of the Council? What about a general? Will the Senate resist a Consul who gets elected over and over and over?

Characters have ambitions (think character missions.) Fulfilling them will yield different types bonuses, and some ambitions will even influence character loyalty, political affiliation and behaviour.

I like this idea a lot, though it introduces yet another level of complexity to an already overloaded character system with too little feedback. With hundreds of characters taking dozens of actions, it could be important to know that, say, Flavius Doofus aspires to be Governor of Asia and is taking actions that will lead him in that direction. One of Rome‘s big problems was that if you wanted to be kept up to date on what your kingdom’s nobles were up to, you had to put up with zillions of pop ups. Let’s hope they find a way of dealing with this information gap.

Governors are now in charge of whole regions rather than individual provinces. This both reduces micromanagement and makes the existing governors a lot more powerful and interesting.

Finally. I was one of many people who pointed to the regional government system of Crusader Kings as being more appropriate to Rome than the single territory model they chose. Will governors have their own legates and courts? Because that would be nice.

Characters now have a Prominence value that increases by holding prestigious offices, winning battles, etc. The most prominent characters will tend to marry and have children, which allows players to follow the fates of their favourite families throughout the game.

Prestigious offices like governorships and tech research positions, I assume. This system will also allow the rise and fall of families nicely, I assume, since you may choose a talented nobody to serve you, making his family more prominent. Meanwhile, the inbred and annoying Fabii will fade into oblivion as you keep them from plum positions.

Players can imprison, banish, or even execute characters. However, being too heavy-handed in getting rid of the opposition will increase the state Tyranny, which has various detrimental effects.

Good concept, but I wonder about its execution. You can’t simply attach a detrimental effect unless there is a countervailing reason for the player to sometimes be the tyrant. It would even be interesting if certain character traits enhanced the likelihood or attraction of tyrannical actions.

Vae Victis features Decisions and Missions very similar to the ones seen in In Nomine, with the addition of special decisions called Laws, which, unlike regular decisions, can be more or less easily revoked.

Lex Goodfellia Agraria?

The interface in EU: Rome was intended to be less forbidding than the one in EU 3, but unfortunately this did not turn out as well as we had hoped. Vae Victis will fill in the blanks and introduce a lot of handy shortcuts. For example, the Province view will be bigger, more informative and more interactive, allowing you to quickly peruse the diplomatic status of – and easily set up trade routes with – other countries. There is also the much-needed new character overview screen mentioned above, and a greatly expanded and interactive dynastic view, etc.

I thought much of the interface was fine, but, like all Paradox games, there was a lot of information you couldn’t get to very easily. Any improvement is good.

This first look at Vae Victis has me mildly interested in what they are doing with Rome. Until I see how they are changing the diplomatic and military systems, I’m not completely sold on Rome ever being more than an average game.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • andrei.dumitrescu

    Well, Rome is only average if looked upon from a non-fan perspective. I myself love all things historical and, after I began playing Europea Universalis II and then went on to play almost ll the games Paradox released in its grand strategy line (I skipped Diplomacy), I quickly understood that their games, in the first out of the box itteration, are almost always “average”, only to become superior products with a lot of bright spots as patches and expansions roll in. Already with 1.3 the game is much more than it was at 1.0 and Vae looks to really deliver a score of new things…

  • Troy

    I’m definitely a fan of the Paradox games – almost all of them. Victoria didn’t float my boat, but I understood a lot of what it was trying to do. I’ve played all of them since the first EU, including the terrible Diplomacy, Two Thrones and Crown of the North. All the EU games have been very enjoyable and Crusader Kings is one of my all time favorites.

    And this fan found Rome to be average on release and not significantly better since the patch.

    The “average until patched” problem is a big one for Paradox, especially since it means retooling player skills on an almost constant basis. I’ve had to reboot how I understand EU3 a ridiculous number of times. Lots of games have many patches; few companies make as many basic changes to balance, play style and game rules as frequently as Paradox. Thank God for the Internet.

    But even with 1.3, Rome is just not as good as EU 3 or Crusader Kings or Hearts of Iron II were out of the box. There is a lot less to do and much less variety over the course of a game, which is saying something considering HoI2 covers a much smaller time frame with relatively fewer viable powers.

    VV is touching some pretty basic game mechanics, but the governor thing should have been caught and changed in the beta. It not only flew in the face of sensible game management, there was no historical justification you could use. Maybe the idea was to have more events happen to more characters.