Available: November 12, 2003.
Developer: Galilea
Publisher: Dreamcatcher

Interview by: Dennis S.

Hello, can you introduce yourself to our readers and state what's your role in PAX Romana's development, and maybe fill some historical gaps explaining what "PAX Romana" was and why you chose it as background for your upcoming title?

My name is Philippe Thibaut and I am Strategy Games Manager at Galilea as well as Pax Romana’s game designer. I have been spending most of my last years as a designer of games. My first original design to be published was a boardgame titled “Europa Universalis”, which has since then become a hit PC Historical Strategy game. I chose to offer players the chance travel back to the most important years of the Roman Republic, between 275 and 25 BC. Those 250 years are covering the historical period before what is known as the Pax Romana, but they are also the key years during which Rome really achieved her most impressive growth.
So even if the title Pax Romana is anachronic compared to the time span it deals with, it is still a good name that rings a bell and is shared in understanding by most of us, while at the same time “hinting” at what players are aiming at in the game.

How historically accurate is it? Are we trying to offer some didactical added value here or just getting Roman myth as a background for a game?

I spent over 10 years of research in the game and my objective was to build an environment that would be as close as possible to what we know (or think we know) of the Roman Republic. We did our best to model into game features the constitution, laws, rules and careers known to occur in Rome by then, with as few “tweaks” as possible when good gameplay allowed. We feel that when you play the game, and see some of the 300+ historical events occur, you end up with some not-too-bad knowledge of what republican Rome really was, while still having enjoyed yourself.

We have, probably erroneously, categorized the game as a RTS, what game genre do you see PAX Romana fit in?

Surely Pax Romana is not a RTS, even if the game plays in real-time. I would call it Historical Strategy.

How deep is the war strategy? Just a matter of moving your armies over enemy ones or it will involve full in-war strategies?

Strategy is what you make it. War strategy is an important aspect of Pax Romana, because you cannot win if you are not doing at least as well as our historical counterparts did. But this is not enough and moving Legions around cannot win you the “Augustus” title: you have to manage all other important matters of the time, like logistics, diplomacy and sound administration and development of your conquests, in a political environment that does not give you god-like powers like you usually find in other games.

According to first facts we had about the title, it will feature two different play modes, strategic and political / strategic. Is this still true, and if so, how deep is the politic algorithm; does it involve usual bribing, killing adversaries and so on?

It is even deeper than you think. Pax Romana’s political system is a playable re-enactment of the Roman Republic laws and rules. In other words, you are plunged into the life of a Roman senator and your political career and gameplay must follow all Roman Cursus Honorum constraints, and struggle with other senators in powersharing is constant. In political scenarios, all players are on the same “side”, and none of them can win the game if Rome loses (but only one will win in the end). You can imagine the amount of cooperation, diplomacy and dirty tricks this will require.
In addition, the game includes an unique and innovative Stratagem system (60 different ones usable in hundreds of vastly different situations!) that you use to tweak the “rules” more than once in a while.

How many single-player levels/scenarios will PAX Romana feature, any particular one worth mentioning?

Pax Romana will have five strategic (i.e. single player) and five political scenarios, of varied length (10 to 200 years!). My own favorite is the political “Rise of Caesar”, a 20-years scenario that starts in 60 BCE, just before Caesar’s first consulship and his soon-to-come famous Gallic Wars (and the non-less-famous to follow Civil War). Here you meet not only the famous Gaius Julius Caesar, but you can play as Cicero, Pompey the Great, Cato the Younger, Marcus Licinius Crassus and a wealth of other famous characters.

Will the game feature multiplayer over LAN/internet and, and if so, how many players will be able to join a game? Given the game complexity, how long will an average online match last?

The multiplayer scenarios can be played by up to six players. Playing time is adjustable, both by the scenario duration itself, but also with adjustable game speed and options that allow players to agree on certain fixed durations for game phases like the Forum Romanum or the Senate debates in Rome (three minutes to ....three hours if you want!). I would say an average game could last six to eight hours.

Which timeline of Roman history does the game cover, as I see the Senate in a screenshot, I assume we're speaking of Roman Republic here. Will the game take place in a short chronological time or will it cover the whole republican age up to Caesar / Augustus and the end of Republic?

Pax Romana will cover the whole republican age up to Caesar / Augustus and the end of Republic, that is from 275 BC (more or less the fall of Tarentum and the unification of Italy after Pyrhos defeat) to 25 BC.

Looks like the game has a huge degree of options. Of all the games seen so far, I would say it reminds me of Republic: The Revolution's interface rather than your average war/historical title. Could you briefly explain how the interface works and are players supposed to have a hard time getting into the game at first (hard but satisfying learning curve)?

Pax Romana does not have “options” per se. It is in fact a complete module re-creating the political rules and environment of the Roman Republic, and as close as possible to historical facts. We did our best, although it was not always possible, to have an interface where the player can act in an easily acquired and recurrent manner. Now, it is true the learning curve is steep, as there is a huge of parameters to acquire quickly. I would say there is much to know, but players are balanced enough to be on comparable terms in the beginning, and they have some years to learn. There will be quiet years and active ones, but there is no despair in missing a few things over such a long period of time. Indeed, it is not simple to get in, but we feel it is part of the fun: there are a lot of things to discover all the time and the situations are never repetitive.

When is PAX Romana due in North America and Europe, what will be street price and why should we start saving for it?

Pax Romana will be available on November 12th in North America and Europe. The retail price of Pax will range between $29.99. It’s DreamCatcher’s policy to make high potential games available at the most affordable price.
If you’re a true strategy player fond of historical settings, and that for the first time ever you want to be part of the first Roman Republic as both an army and political leader, then Pax Romana is this year’s strategy must-have !

Closing, anything else you wish to add?

Pax Romana is a challenging game with many parameters. We hope players can have as much fun playing the game as we had creating it for them.

Philippe Thibaut
Strategy Games Manager – Galilea
Pax Romana game designer.