|We sat down with Iain McNeil of Slitherine Strategies as he spilled the beans on their upcoming Spartan game of what genre folks? Strategy dammit; pay attention here. Let's turn now to our correspondent in Greece who is with Iain right now...
GameGossip: Why did you decide to make a strategy game based around the Empire of Sparta and how historically accurate will it be?
Iain McNeil: With Spartan we wanted to create another historical yet approachable and fun strategy game. We felt the setting was one that people could relate to. Everyone has heard of the Spartans and their famous victory over the Persians at the pass of Themopalae. The Spartan is also a strong character to lead with and easily recognizable with their long red cloaks and inverted V (lamda) signs on their shields.
GG: What are some of the things players can do during one of their turns?
The backdrop to Spartan will be very accurate. There are over 100 nations to choose from and each has been painstakingly researched. We have checked the positioning and ownership of all cities in the region and ensured they are accurately named. We have accurately modeled the geography, researched uniforms and weaponry, created lists of potential leader names, checked maps to find where different resources should be located and a host of other things. The model will sometimes be simplified or abstracted to prevent the player having to micro manage everything. Hard core historians will no doubt find issues with the decisions we have taken, but we maintain that we are creating a game and not a simulation of history, so if its not fun, then it wont go in!
IM: As in Legion & Chariots of War the player can develop their cities, collect resources, recruit armies, set tax levels and monitor relationships with their neighbours. Some of the new things that we have added for Spartan are naval warfare, sieges, castle walls and multiplayer. The addition of naval warfare means you can now develop ships, sail armies across the sea to launch naval invasions and have sea battles. Multiplayer means you can now play head to head against another human player and this has proved great fun so far and results in more testing than is absolutely necessary.
GG: Can you explain how sieges will work, both offensively and defensively?
IM: The siege system allows you to build castle walls to defend cities that result in city walls and large catapults appearing on the walls to support your troops in any battle fought there. You actually get to see them firing Greek fire over the heads of your men into the ranks of the advancing enemy � very cool! The attacker can choose to assault the castle at any time or to sit outside and siege them to weaken them. The defender can try and break the siege with a new army or fight his way out with the besieged army if they feel things are only going to get worse. A besieged city can�t produce anything or recruit any troops, so eventually will fall to the attackers unless they break out or are relieved.
GG: How will the diplomacy system work? Can you team up with other nations to take another down?
IM: The diplomacy system has been greatly enhanced. You send out your diplomats to other nations and once they are there you give them orders. These can range from negotiating a trade agreement or non-aggression pact to spying missions and even sabotage. Your diplomats are all trained in your foreign office and the way you decide to upgrade your office determines the types of skills they will have.
GG: What are some of the technologies that can be researched, and how will they help in battle?
There are 3 skill areas � negotiator, spy & saboteur. The default is a basic negotiator. If you choose to upgrade down the espionage route your diplomats will all gain spy skills. You may also choose to become better negotiators & saboteurs. The more experienced your diplomats and the better their training the more options that will become available to you. Of course you can still do all the nasty things to diplomats like before, such as disemboweling, beheading etc.
IM: The technology tree is still under design. We�re replacing the basic system we had before with a more advanced system with many options. I can�t say too much about it yet because we�re still working on it, but the aim is to offer different routes to specialize down, linked to the resources that you produce. E.g. if you are in a horse producing area it will be easier for you to research cavalry technologies. New technologies give you the chance to build new units and the more advanced units, though more expensive are much more powerful. At the start of the game you will only be able to recruit peasants. Depending on your technology route you�ll get better infantry, archers or cavalry. Each unit also has strengths and weaknesses, so even though the swordsmen might be more advanced and more expensive than levy spearmen, there are some jobs that the spearmen are better at (such as fighting cavalry).
Thanks for your time Iain, we're looking forward to seeing the game in action (hint hint). If you are looking to check out the game you can find it at the companies website.