Developer's diary part 2 - The people of Iberia
In this diary I’ll share some of the features of the Iberian nation as they appear in Celtic Kings: The Punic Wars with you, and talk about the way we approached the design. Compared to the Carthaginian nation, about which I wrote in the previous diary, the Iberians couldn’t be more different. The Iberian nation is not extinct but prospered for more than two thousand years after the time period of The Punic Wars. On the surface this may seem to make things easier, but in truth the two thousand years of history have blurred the image of the ancient Iberians in the minds of the modern people, as well as the way they are represented in the history books.
On the plus side one can meet the successors of those same warriors, who fought side by side with Hannibal himself, and walk on the same ground, which once trembled under the marching legions of Rome. So there I was, on a plane to Madrid. Officially I visited Spain as part of the media presentation of Imperivm (this is the name of Celtic Kings in Spain). Unofficially I had the chance to visit the very battlefields, which we would later recreate in The Punic Wars, on a quest to discover the nature of the ancient Iberian people. It is immensely inspiring to stand on a hill near Cartagena (ancient Kartagenea) and imagine the trade ships coming from the whole Mediterranean with goods for the colorful city market. The bare hills covered with bushes and a few trees here and there don’t leave many options to an invading army. It cannot hide or sneak. Open battles and full speed advancements are the way to go.
This is not the case with the locals though. They had knowledge about every hideout and every defile. They could sneak around in small numbers without being noticed. In the game your Mountaineers would be visible to you alone until the moment they attack. Their number is limited, but enough to turn the tide of a battle, which your enemy considered won, or surprisingly capture a few gold mules left unguarded. The Mountaineers are hired at the Arena where you can upgrade them to preserve the level of the best Mountaineer you have. This way you will have an ever-superior invisible squad.
To complete our research I asked our Spanish partners from FX Interactive to write a few lines about the ancient Iberians the way they imagine them. Although not necessary historically correct, this description was very interesting and helpful. The ancient Iberians they said were brave warriors, but preferred peace before war. They fought ferociously for their land and freedom, but did not seek to conquer their neighbors. So, it was decided that the Iberians in the game should grow and prosper without conquest.
A peaceful nation in a game about battles and conquest sounds like a challenge, so I took the task seriously and made a long list of ideas. Here is a list of the features, which made it in the final game:
* After an upgrade in the Arena the heroes and warriors of an Iberian player gain experience for the time spent in service – the longer you have a warrior around, the more experienced he is regardless if he took part in any battles.
* Call to arms command in the Tavern which quickly turns about half of the stronghold population into militiamen. After the threat to the stronghold is over, the militiamen can be turned back into peasants, resulting in minimum harm to the stronghold economy.
* Housing upgrade in the Tavern, which increases the maximum population of the stronghold. The more population the player has, the more gold he collects from taxes.
* The most defensive unit in the game, combining full armor and defensive stand. The full armor special reduces the damage from attacks with a fixed number. The defensive stand special deflects the first attack of each enemy.
* The ability to sell the excess food in the Tavern resulting in stronger economy.
* Enchantresses preaching to the warriors to increase their level before battle. The Enchantresses boost the army before it leaves on a campaign.
* Protective cloud that reduces in half the damage to the friendly units it covers.
Another thing, which Iberians were famous with in the ancient times, is the Slingers. The Slingers from Balearic Islands (been to Palma de Majorca lately?) were arguably the best ranged warriors at the time. Their skill was sought by many commanders and they were the first to draw blood in many battles. The hardened balls of clay, used by the Slingers, flew with bullet speed through the air breaking armor and bones. Both Carthage and Rome used their services during the three Punic Wars.
In the game, the Slingers are the absolute best-ranged units. Although quite expensive they have excellent attack as well as armor penetration, which make them good for taking out enemies with high defense and low health.
While men were famous and powerful fighters, the women of Iberia also played an important role in the society. For that reason they represent the ancestral knowledge and care in the game. The Enchantresses are called at the Sanctuary, where they can also be bestowed with the great powers of protection, teaching and healing. Although powerful, none of these powers are offensive and fit perfectly within the image of the Iberians as a peaceful nation.
Our play testing showed that these features resulted in a unique feeling while playing with the Iberians. They are able to move quickly in the beginning stages of the game and put together a formidable force to guard their territory while building up the army that would bring them victory.
Not only the Iberians are strong in their defensive tactics, but also they’re valuable allies of all of the other nations.
If you’re interested in the game or the historical period of the Punic Wars visit www.haemimontgames.com/punicwars to read more.
Gabriel Dobrev - CEO Haemimont Games.