Creative Assembly makes Rome: Total War spectacular and accessible

Creative Assembly makes Rome: Total War “spectacular” and


Michael Lafferty


Balance issues worked on as game hits alpha stage


“We had to do two things (with Rome: Total
War),” stated Michael De Plater, the creative director of The Creative Assembly,
“one: make it spectacular, and two: make it accessible.”


De Plater, Michael Simpson (the development
director) and other members of the Creative Assembly team were on hand in Las
Vegas on April 19 to show off progress on the latest PC title in the Total War
franchise. Activision arranged for a host of videogame writers to attend the
unveiling of the multiplayer aspects of the title, and will publish this
remarkable real-time strategy outing in early fall.


The time period for Rome: Total War is 270
B.C. down to 0 and that will allow for different advances in technology.


“You are really playing a family,” said
Simpson, “playing as one great Roman family. You can adopt people and your
daughter can marry to increase your family.”


While the game features are “essentially
complete,” the game itself “has just reached alpha, we are still working on
balance,” stated Simpson.



Rome: Total War was started after the release
of Shogun: Total War and was being developed in conjunction with the Medieval:
Total War game. In some ways it almost feels like this was the title that
Creative Assembly was really aiming to make. While Medieval: Total War has
certainly been a successful outing for this RTS developer (Ok, Creative wasn’t
always an RTS developer, but the company has certainly made its mark on the
genre), it almost seems as though Rome was the title the company really wanted
to make. There is an innate sense of pride and achievement, quick little smiles
that light up their faces when they speak of the title.


“The basic rule is that gameplay always comes
first,” stated Simpson, “but it was surprising how little it (historical
accuracy and gameplay) conflicted. We find that doing things historically
correct makes good gameplay.”


The single-player game tracks popularity with
the Senate and popularity with the people. You can bribe generals to aid your
cause, but the Senate will initially give you missions, but as you increase in
popularity through success in the campaigns, the Senate will start to become
paranoid. From the outlying areas, eventually you will have to return to conquer
Rome and put yourself on the emperor’s throne.


“We stop the game when you have become
emperor,” said Simpson.


The game itself has seen an array of near
features, from the camera views (“one of the original ideas behind the Total War
camera view is you see what you expect to see,” said Simpson), to the AI.


“Most of the AI advances have been on the
strategy side, on the battle side,” said Simpson.


“In Medieval (Total War) there was a system of
vices and virtues,” he said, “Rome has the same in traits but the general can
have other people who can accompany them (and have the right traits needed).”



Rome: Total War is a much bigger title, with
immense battlefields and mapboards. But one recurring theme underscores the
enormity of this game and that is the way the units perform.


“If you simulate the individual man correctly,
then the unit performs as a unit,” Simpson said.


If the gameplay, controls, graphics and the
soundtrack supplied by award-winning composer Jeff Dyck are not enough, then
another selling point of this game should get RTS gamers excited. The game will
ship with an editor that is amazing. Not only will players be able to design
their own scenarios, “you can do cutscenes, you can script the AI – it’s really
a very powerful editor,” stated Simpson.


The multiplayer aspects were on display in Las
Vegas, but it seems very evident that Rome: Total War will be one of the
strongest RTS titles of the year. One only has to look at the faces of the
Creative Assembly team to realize that.