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Development Info Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #15 - Companions

Discussion in 'News & Content Feedback' started by Infinitron, Jan 10, 2022.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

    This week, THQ Nordic and Logic Artists will be formally introducing the companions of Expeditions: Rome. The developers originally intended to have only a large pool of relatively bare-bones hirelings as in Conquistador, but soon reached the decision to promote five of them to fully fledged companion status. You've got the usual assortment of ancient Roman archetypes - the centurion, the spy/assassin, the African gladiator, the educated Greek slave, and the Scythian amazon. A video will be released about each one every day starting from today, or you can just read about them all in the game's fifteenth dev diary. Here's the first video and an excerpt:


    We have a lot to get through today, so let’s get started. Companions are a staple of the roleplaying genre. Originally an attempt to emulate the dynamics of a tabletop RPG group, they have become one of the most beloved and distinct aspects of the genre, and we daresay its greatest storytelling asset. With a sufficiently compelling set of main characters, a story can really tug on the player’s heartstrings – and one of the keys to making a group of characters appealing is to give them enough screen time for the player to get to know them. RPG-style companion characters are perfectly suited for this, as they typically follow the protagonist everywhere, participating in every scene and every crisis.

    We’d love to say that we wanted to place our companions front and center in Expeditions: Rome right from the start, but that would be untrue. In fact, we originally envisioned something much more like Conquistador: a large pool of bare-bones praetorians who were mostly just a collection of names, portraits, and stats. The player would be able to assemble their team from these praetorians, and as they were all able to die permanently or be kicked out of the group at any time, none would be integral to the plot. Four of these praetorians did have a slightly special status as the starting party that we would use to tutorialize the four character classes, but once the tutorial was finished, they would be treated the same as any expendable praetorian.

    But soon we ran into a problem: if we couldn’t count on the player to have at least 4 people on their team at any time, certain content in the game simply didn’t work. We decided to promote our four starting characters to “companion” status, making them functionally immortal in that their deaths would result in a game over, and then we added a fifth character to the group to ensure that you could fill a whole 6-person team with companions only. Once we had made this decision, we found ourselves investing more and more personality and agency in these four – after all, if we know these characters are always around, we can use them in dialogue and make them important parts of quests.

    But let’s take a step back. Having decided that 5 is the number of companions the game will have, how do you decide who they should be? Well, a game – even a heavily story-based RPG – is first and foremost a mechanical thing, and since Expeditions: Rome offers 4 base character classes in combat, of course all classes must be represented among the companions. This spread of combat roles was the seed upon which we built the player’s tight knit second family. A good short-hand that we like to use to steer our creativity when designing characters is to assign a single title or nickname to each of them that hints at an archetype. Then each companion is fleshed out with details that either support that archetype or counter it, until you have a well-rounded character. Let’s go over them now:

    The Centurion: Caeso Quinctius Aquilinus

    Every Expeditions game is set in a particular culture at a particular time, and in our view that culture must be properly represented within the companion group. In Viking, we invented Asleifr as the stereotypical ruthless macho viking warrior. In Expeditions: Rome, Caeso represents the archetypical Roman centurion – a dutiful and disciplined veteran soldier who loves the Republic and will happily die to defend it.

    But Caeso isn’t a stiff professional, he’s a bon vivant who likes wine, women, and for that matter men when the mood takes him. When you meet Caeso, he is well set in his ways, but eventually the consequences of his easy living will catch up to him, and his sense of duty and loyalty will be tested in equal measure.

    In combat, Caeso is a Princeps (heavy infantryman). He wades into battle wielding the gladius and scutum of the Roman legionarius, his polished breastplate and his pristine helmet plume providing a fixed point in the chaotic skirmish for his friends to rally around.
    As usual, the devstream for this topic is scheduled for Wednesday on January 12th.
     
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  2. agris Arcane Patron

    agris
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    You don't have to post every piece of PR that you get in your inbox, you know?
     
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  3. Alter Sack Erudite

    Alter Sack
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    The cast seems certainly pretty diverse, eh?

    The party in the trailer consists (apart from the featured character) of three women, one negro and an old white guy.
     
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  4. slymer Scholar Patron

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    ugh another old white guy
     
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  5. Alter Sack Erudite

    Alter Sack
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    It's very probably a villain. ;)
     
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  6. Roguey Codex Staff Sawyerite

    Roguey
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    [​IMG]

    Using "creep" in this way dates back to the late 19th century and feels very anachronistic. Sloppy writing.
     
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  7. agris Arcane Patron

    agris
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    "creeps me out a bit" in this context is 100% modern writing, that does not look good.
     
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  8. rojay Educated

    rojay
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    Hoc latine esse debet.
     
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  9. deuxhero Arcane

    deuxhero
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    The exemplar (Aquilinus and Syneros), the iconoclast (Calida), and the newcomer (seemingly Deianeira) is always a good trio when exploring a detailed culture (be it historical or a well established fictional universe). I wonder how long Deianeira has been in Roman culture though. The player character explaining to her what the hell X Roman thing is would be a good way to convey information in character.
     
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  10. Sensuki Arcane

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    The writing in the Expeditions series is a bit like that. In Viking, I recall a few lines of the Pictish commander's dialogue using quite modern terms such as "Yea, kinda"
     
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  11. deuxhero Arcane

    deuxhero
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    I'd be more concerned about writing for a historical setting using phrases and terms 10-100 years old if the work was set in a period where recognizable English existed (1500 onward at maximum), and a record of the events could, conceivably, be translated to English. Otherwise it's way too deep a rabbit hole to care much about.
     
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  12. Sensuki Arcane

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    Yeah pretty much, I've never found the Expeditions writing annoying unlike some other more recent games. Yeah, you could change a few of the words in some of the sentences to make them sound a bit cleaner but whatever.
     
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  13. Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis

    Darth Roxor
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    imho they should speak using only words whose roots can be traced to latin
     
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  14. Spectacle Arcane Patron

    Spectacle
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    IMO using archaic English to represent ancient languages is kinda pointless. The Romans would have spoken in what to them was the most modern form of Latin, and representing that with modern English seems perfectly appropriate. The writers should just avoid slang and be careful with words that reference things that didn't exist 2000 years ago.

    I do like that Expeditions is using Latin conjugations for Latin words, it gives a Roman flavor without going overboard. I'm sure someone like J. Sawyer would love to release a Rome RPG voided entirely in classical Latin.
     
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  15. Darkozric Learned

    Darkozric
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    Wow this game looks very realistic. Nice party over there, legatus partuzatus.
     
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  16. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    If only they could have hired Poul Anderson to completely rewrite Viking without Latin words.
     
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  17. Irxy Arcane

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    Still, each of them had some unique personal story event, some more than 1 and/or connected with other characters, while trait based events added personality. Also characters recruitable during the game had more story. Wouldn't call them "just a collection of names, portraits, and stats". If anything, the concept was refreshing and could be expanded by adding more events to flash out their personalities instead of replacing a bigger pool by a small number of full companions.
     
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  18. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    This game still also has the larger pool of praetorians.
     
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  19. Irxy Arcane

    Irxy
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    But do they have any personal story bits and events, like in Conquistador, or are just numbers, like custom vikings in Vikings?
     
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  20. vibehunter Educated

    vibehunter
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    Nothing really wrong with this. If this were a game actually written in ancient Latin I would expect the "localization" team to deliver an approximate meaning of what is being conveyed in modern English. I don't see much difference here.

    I find the presence of an actual woman there more problematic.
     
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  21. Roguey Codex Staff Sawyerite

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  22. FreshCorpse Arbiter Patron

    FreshCorpse
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    Strap Yourselves In
    In fairness that woman is the PC and not a companion

    I think the more I read about this game the less I am enthused. Not much interested in playing a classical cosplay version of contemporary culture.
     
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  23. vibehunter Educated

    vibehunter
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    Ah, my mistake. I guess it never occurred to me that a player of this game would want to play a woman.

    :hmmm:
     
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  24. Larianshill Scholar

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    HBO's Rome managed.
     
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