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18.5.2018 - Dev Interview

We were asked for a short interview where we would answer couple of questions. The questions were pretty interesting and that's why we decided to publish the interview on this website as well.

Journalist: First of all, thanks a lot for your time and congrats for the outstanding job with this game so far. What moved you to adopt the Ancient Mediterranean during the period of the rise of Rome as setting?
Pavel Kubat: The Aggressors was initially supposed to be released as a multimod game, but I eventually realized that this was simply not possible. Not just because we had a very small development team, but also because the amount of testing required and likelihood of bugs would not let us finish it. 
The Ancient Mediterranean was chosen to be the first mod to finish. Even in this phase I did not want to release just one campaign map. I wanted to give players hundreds of hours of fun straight away. Three different historical periods were attractive for me - the expansion of Rome, the conflicts between Sparta and Athens (and Greek city states in general) and the fall of the Roman Empire. Instead of parallel development of three mods, we started to work on three scenarios in parallel. Eventually we came to a crossroad where a very important question arose. Which is better? Is it three scenarios done well or one scenario polished into finest details? After a long discussion we decided to go for the second option. But not only that. We decided to extend the rules and historical feeling by introducing objectives tailored for each country and other features (which we will reveal soon in one of our upcoming dev diaries). This would simply not be possible to finish for all three scenarios. But don't worry. They were not cancelled, just suspended, waiting for the day when they come back to life.
So, we decided to go for one polished scenario but which one? Don't you think that the first release of Aggressors coincides nicely with the rise of Rome as a metaphor? 

Journalist: What is your favourite faction to use in Aggressors: Ancient Rome and why?
P.K. I have played all the factions, many times. Despite this fact I still enjoy playing it and keep forgetting that it is actually my job. Which is my favourite... Good question. I would probably say Epirus kingdom. I really love the initial setup. Epirus kingdom starts on three different parts of the Mediterranean. The biggest part is located in the Balkans almost in the same area as today's Albania. The second part of the kingdom is in the southern part of Italy called Calabria for which the Romans have their own plans. The third part is in the Eastern part of Sicily, which you share with the Carthaginians and they would really like to take over the whole of Sicily. It sounds hopeless, doesn’t it? Two powerful empires getting closer to each other and you are between them. I enjoy being caught between a rock and a hard place and I have to admit that saving all these parts is a heroic feat which I have accomplished just once. In all the other cases it was an exhausting set of diplomatic compromises and the art of war and at the end you are happy that you saved at least one of these parts. 
On the other hand, I really enjoy all the factions – the Spartans trying to reestablish themselves as a military superpower, post-Alexander empires like Seleucid or Ptolemaic fighting between each other or one of the nomadic tribes struggling to find a fertile land and establish their own kingdom.
Journalist: What is the aspect of the game you’re most proud of?
P.K. In general - logic. Everything in the game makes sense and is based on the similar aspects of real life and history. Every rule was added only after we found a similar concept in history with a similar impact. Every decision matters and the number of options between which you need to choose is quite high. 
If you ask about one specific feature, I would probably say simulation of crowd behavior. Starting from recruiting units in cities, which depopulate when men are recruited, through to migration where people tend to leave unhappy or dangerous places, to people's attitude which can lead to revolts or even civil wars.

Journalist: Is there any feature or piece of content you definitely want to add in the future to Aggressors?
P.K. There are a number of features that we already have in our "wishlist". Some of them were added to this list in the early stages of development but it was simply impossible to implement them all for the first release. I don't really want to reveal stuff which could arrive in possible extensions of the game. You will see!  
Apart from features themselves I would like to have the game as open as possible. Starting from sharing custom scenarios created by players through modding support, where players can change the rules of the game, to fully featured scripting. Of course, the last one would be only for advance modders. 
Journalist: Is it possible to “play tall”, meaning that you don’t have to expand to a very large empire and that you can still play as a very competitive and strong smaller country, if played well?
P.K. We definitely shoot for that. There are a number of winning conditions, starting from the typical conquest and victory points (different for each player) to cultural and technological ones where the size of cities and their level of development, as well as technological dominance and amount of "influence", play the most important role. We tried to create winning conditions which would be in sync with similar historical situation of Constantinople. At the end of ancient history and basically for the whole Middle Ages this city was the centre of the cultural world, despite the fact that the empire itself had been shrinking since the seventh century. We have been trying to implement a similar approach.
Journalist: What do you think of the current situation in the 4x genre? Do you think Aggressors could be a breath of fresh air?
P.K. I think that the 4X genre is on a difficult path. It is true that 4X strategy games are basically the most difficult ones to implement and that is also the reason why not many companies try to go this way. When you compare the number of FPSs or RPGs, the number of 4X strategies is very small. That is also the reason why we hope we can contribute in this domain.
I don't know if I can generally answer the second question in an unbiased way!  I definitely think, and hope, that players will find some new features in Aggressors that they’ve not seen anywhere else and also some renewed ones which make much more sense than in other strategy games. I don't want to hide that I am a big fan of other strategy games like Civilization (especially Civ I, II and IV), Colonization and other classics. That's actually the reason why I always wanted to bring my own 4X strategy game to life. A 4X strategy game which would really make sense and where all what is going on can be explained through historic examples. I hope that we achieved that and Aggressors is a living dream came to life.

11.5.2018 - Dev Diary 1: Origins of the game

Hi all! My name is Pavel Kubat and I am the lead developer and designer behind Aggressors: Ancient Rome. This will be the first of a series of Dev Diaries introducing the game and its gameplay. In this first episode I will tell you the story of Aggressors, of how it all started, how the original idea developed in time and what the current plans for the game are.
The development of the game Aggressors goes way back: it started at the end of 2008 but the origins of the game go all the way back to 1995 when the rules for a board game called Aggressors were set down. It was set in the time of World War II and one game lasted several days. Up to 8 players could play, each leading a different country. Alas, soon it became clear that getting the players together for such a long game will eventually put the game on a shelf in a hope that it will be taken out again one day!
However, it was always my intention to bring the game into a digital form as well and so I set down one day 10 years ago and started programming the basics of the game. First, it was purely a hobby that took couple of hours a day but soon it grew into a passion and later even into a full-time job. Originally, there was no time plan set. Basic features were designed first, the rules have undergone a radical transformation since the time of the board game and the whole concept of the game was reviewed and refined several times.
My original ambition was to build a framework for strategy games that would fully support mods for different types of games with different rules, units and look (historical, fantasy, sci-fi). All these mods would use the same core – a framework called today Aggressors.
This idea of modding was embedded in the Aggressors core from the beginning and to prove the stability and flexibility of the framework, 3 mods of different genres and historical periods were being developed in parallel. However, as the complexity of the project grew over time, it became clear that it was not possible to keep working on all 3 mods at a sufficient level. Eventually the mod Ancient Rome was selected as the first to be finished and polished. Therefore, Aggressors is the title of a brand and Ancient Rome is one of its mods: one that fully represents my vision of the ancient world.
Over the time the number of people who contributed to the development has increased. It was a game which couldn’t be handled by myself alone: the scope of the project has expanded so much and it had become too much to bite for only one man. Kubat Software grew, as grew our list of partners. Starting from the UI and 3D designer to illustrators and content writers, whatever was beyond our limits was outsourced. We were finally able to bring the original vision to light.
About the game
If we were to sum it up: it is a historical 4x turn-based strategy game where players take turns in building their empires.
Aggressors is inspired by other games, such as Civilization IV, Colonization and older hit games, such as Panzer General and Centurion.
With Aggressors we want to simulate historical reality as much as possible. Starting from tile-based maps with elevated terrains modeled according to historical sources, through complex game mechanics to small details such as specific unit types for different nations. The game features many typical 4X factors, like different types of governments that greatly affect the internal political situation, complex diplomatic relations (for instance you can have friendly relations with another player, or deeper ones including alliances with friends or you can even unite with the best allies in federations or confederations) as well as scientific advancements that affect political, military, social and cultural life. But there are also a number of new features and game concepts like army morale, loyalty, supply management, birth rate and many others.

4.5.2018 - Aggressors: Ancient Rome is announced!

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Julius Caesar, Shakespeare
Slitherine announces Aggressors: Ancient Rome - the new turn-based 4X strategy game that brings you back to the ancient world. A mix of deep gameplay and rich historical flavour, Aggressors lets you relive history as the ruler of one of the mighty civilizations of the Mediterranean world. Choose Rome to conquer the Mare Nostrum, or Carthage and build an immortal trading empire. Choose one of twenty available factions and conquer the world, changing the course of history, from Egypt to Athens and Sparta.
Be like Gaius Marius, with his exceptional abilities in reforming Rome and its army. You can manage all aspects of your empire: war, trade, internal politics, diplomacy and cultural development. Rule your empire by managing its internal politics and developing its economy. Establish trade routes to reap wealth, ensure the loyalty of your citizens, manage demographics, technological research, internal reforms, and laws; the tools at your disposal are endless and seamlessly integrate with each other. But beware: citizens react to the current situation and they can move to other places when they are not happy.
Be like Caesar, with his unparalleled strategic genius.Experience the incredibly deep combat system, with each unit having its own abilities and traits, with terrain affecting the outcome in a meaningful way. Army morale and the supply system are crucial and need to be considered before any battle. You will need all your guile and strategic mastery to triumph on the battlefield. Vae victis!
Be like Hannibal, play your own way and surprise the enemy. Play on your strengths, beware of your weaknesses. The ancient world is brutal, for no mercy shall be given to the defeated. Twenty factions, from migrating barbarian tribes to advanced empires, which interact with each other through an extremely detailed diplomatic system. Make use of more than ten available diplomatic agreements, including the possibility of forming Federations and Confederations as well as affecting nations and provinces in your sphere of influence.
Believe us, you never played a 4X like Aggressors. Manage all aspects of your mighty empire with complete freedom: you can decide to start with an advanced nation surrounded by newer civilizations, or you can choose to start as a young tribe, ready to take on an older and decadent empire… or you can decide to completely randomize the map and play in a uniquely generated world. The choice is yours!Dive into Aggressor at your own pace: thanks to the tutorial and tool tips you can gradually explore all the options available to you.

Aggressors: Ancient Rome will be available on Steam and PC in Q3. The Beta is open now! Slitherine is looking for experienced players who want to test their abilities in Aggressors. Join up here!