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Grand Strategy Historia Realis: Rome - A character-driven historical simulation of Roman life and politics

Malakal

Arcane
Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
Messages
10,229
Location
Poland
The guild is more about money, thing less important to Roman patrician. The focus here need lie elsewhere...
If you didn't have assets worth at least one million sesterces you were removed from the Senate by the Censors. Basically a game over for a Roman that wanted to make his name.

So wealth mattered a lot. On the other hand the system didn't always work and Caesar was a senator (and even got governorship of Gaul) despite being heavily indebt. In his own words: "I need at least thirty million sesterces in order not to own anything".

No it was stored in real estate, great estates of the patricians and other property not cash on hand. It, obviously and as always, mattered but prestige mattered more.

Basically one you did qualify for the senatorial class wealth was just an afterthought.
 

normie

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Insert Title Here
Dev Diary: Deep Simulation
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Hi! Lucas here.

This will be another more general dev diary.

I am currently making a lot of fast iterating on the design of Historia Realis, and as such I don’t want to ‘commit’ to those design decisions by writing about them. It somehow feels like I would be obligated to stick to a design if I share it on a dev diary, even though this is not really the case, as games change a lot, especially these days with patches and updates. However, these dev diaries are basically the only way for you to know more about how the game works, and I wouldn’t want to mislead you by saying something only to change it later.

One solution might be to write ‘design exploration’ dev diaries where I make it clear that what I’m talking about might change. I’ll try that sometime and see how it goes.

For today, though, let’s talk about the next design pillar of Historia Realis. There are 3:

Pillars
Last time I covered Emergent Stories. Today is Deep Simulation day!

Deep Simulation

These are two words that I find hard to explain if I try. That said, you know exactly what I mean when I say “deep simulation”, and so it is at my own peril that I will now try to explain the concept, like trying to explain a joke. We’ll see if it’s still funny by the end.

Depth vs Complexity

This is a common discussion when talking about depth. I’ve seen complexity described as the price you pay for getting depth. Generally, we want complexity as low as possible and depth as high as possible. This would mean that there’s a third ingredient to this formula, since they’re not an exact correlation.

So what’s the element that turns a little complexity into a lot of depth?

That’s a much harder question than it seems. I believe it’s good game design, the elusive Holy Grail. And that's a whole other thing! I don’t believe it’s worth it trying to elaborate on how to achieve that here. Theories and generalities won’t help; one can only make a good game in practice.

Stay tuned for upcoming dev diaries where I talk more about specific design implementations! I'm sure there's a Follow button somewhere.

33c0e6704c4a974518ccc8ab880ad9e6a22727bf.jpg

Yes, the Romans did their exercise in the Campus Martius either naked or wearing very little!

Simulation vs Player-Centrism
To me, a simulation game has two necessary elements:
  • The representation of some aspect of reality.
  • Interactions between elements: the representation is systemic.
Of course, you might argue that all games have those things. I would agree. It’s just a matter of intensity. To the degree that a game tries to be more of a representation of some aspect of reality, it is more of a simulation. And, to the degree that a game has more interactions between elements (that is, it is more systemic), it is also more of a simulation.

There are also more static, player-centric games which are still called ‘Simulations’: flight, driving and farming simulators, ‘life sims’, ‘immersive sims’ and so on. These games try to simulate an experiece from one point of view only, that of the player. The result is that, while the player might still get a very fun experience, NPCs feel very flat.

NPC Agency

There is a critical element missing from those games: multiple sources of input. In them, the player is the only one pushing the buttons, making changes to the state of the game. The kind of simulation I like is one where even if the player is static, you still get interesting results. You could watch the simulation play out and still feel surprised, curious and engaged.

However, like many things in games, this is illusory. In a single-player game, there can be no real multiple sources of input. Luckily, we don’t need real ones. Fake ones will do: NPCs. They’re actually just yet another piece of the simulation, responding as required by the rules of the simulation. But the player’s human brain sees them as agents, as sources of input. In reality, they're just more simulation, more code, more algorithms.

But we give them life. We, as humans, can't help but look at characters in a simulation as agents. It's through this beautiful illusion that we can get immersion and personification. There's nothing special about Historia Realis in this sense, though — all games with NPC agents share this same illusion.

What I'm trying to do to make Historia Realis stand out from other games is to strengthen that illusion. To make NPCs more and more believable as 'independent' agents, even though that is an impossibility. But I believe that the player's mind is a magical place, if you feed their thoughts right. It's not so much about having 'good AI' (whatever that means) as much as creating the conditions for personification to happen.

One design choice that reinforces this is allowing NPCs to do everything the player can do.

Personification of NPCs

Historia Realis simulates people more than anything. Their outer and inner conflicts, how they relate to others and themselves, how they grow and change. For example:
  • When a character opposes you in an action (see Action System), and makes you fail, it's only natural to blame them. The game recognizes this human tendency mechanically and gives you a Grudge with the NPC. More on Grudges and Favors in a future diary!
  • Similarly, when they help you achieve something, you might feel grateful! And the game systematizes this too, making you owe them a Favor.
  • Characters act according to their traits, feelings, memories, etc. This gives them a consistency that makes them seem like agents or people. And, when they act contrary to those inner aspects, this is not only surprising, but recognized by the game itself, with mechanical consequences.
There is a lot more I could talk about, but I will leave it for next time.

Screenshots

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Check out the website where you can sign up for the alpha, or join our Discord to discuss the game and get the latest news and exclusive screenshots and progress updates! Thanks!
 

REhorror

Educated
Joined
Dec 22, 2023
Messages
604
Cool game OP, thanks for sharing.

I have grown fond of CYOA type of game.
 

Malakal

Arcane
Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
Messages
10,229
Location
Poland
Cool game OP, thanks for sharing.

I have grown fond of CYOA type of game.

Try 'A Legionary's Life' its kinda that plus STATS and COMBAT.

Or 'Heads will roll' its that with STATS COMBAT and TASTEFUL PORN.
Thanks bud!!!!

EDIT: I think I played Heads will Roll demo before, definitely going to get it.

When steam reviews cry about it being hard you just know it can be good.

Ain't no one become a consul of Rome without some sweet sweat. I haven't actually managed to get that tho, only a senatorial ending.
 

REhorror

Educated
Joined
Dec 22, 2023
Messages
604
Cool game OP, thanks for sharing.

I have grown fond of CYOA type of game.

Try 'A Legionary's Life' its kinda that plus STATS and COMBAT.

Or 'Heads will roll' its that with STATS COMBAT and TASTEFUL PORN.
Thanks bud!!!!

EDIT: I think I played Heads will Roll demo before, definitely going to get it.

When steam reviews cry about it being hard you just know it can be good.

Ain't no one become a consul of Rome without some sweet sweat. I haven't actually managed to get that tho, only a senatorial ending.
Time to roll in!
 

Lord_Potato

Arcane
Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,635
Location
Free City of Warsaw
I remember becoming a senator in Legionary's Life and getting some laurel crowns for outstanding achievements in performing civic duties. My civic skills were never high enough to become a consul (which in realities of Punic Wars era Republic would not be possible anyway for a common pleb).
 

Malakal

Arcane
Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Nov 14, 2009
Messages
10,229
Location
Poland
I remember becoming a senator in Legionary's Life and getting some laurel crowns for outstanding achievements in performing civic duties. My civic skills were never high enough to become a consul (which in realities of Punic Wars era Republic would not be possible anyway for a common pleb).

Nope at that point plebeians could be consuls and as a matter of fact for a long time it was mandatory to have one patrician and one plebeian consul.

Its still unrealistic because several powerful and rich plebeian families monopolized the office anyway but that's not a discussion for this thread...
 

Lord_Potato

Arcane
Glory to Ukraine
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,635
Location
Free City of Warsaw
I remember becoming a senator in Legionary's Life and getting some laurel crowns for outstanding achievements in performing civic duties. My civic skills were never high enough to become a consul (which in realities of Punic Wars era Republic would not be possible anyway for a common pleb).

Nope at that point plebeians could be consuls and as a matter of fact for a long time it was mandatory to have one patrician and one plebeian consul.

Its still unrealistic because several powerful and rich plebeian families monopolized the office anyway but that's not a discussion for this thread...
Ok, just checked. My bad, one consul had to be plebeian since 367 bc. But yeah, even among the plebs the office was soon taken over by the oligarchy.

Still, a valid reason to return to Legionary's Life for one more, perfect playthrough!
 

Kindred Spirit

Barely Literate
Joined
Feb 8, 2024
Messages
1
Kindred Spirit here and I just wanted to say this is EXACTLY the game I've waited years for.

Finally a true-to-life Roman "life sim", where you can be whoever you want. You are not restricted to being 'just a soldier' or 'just an Emperor', but can live whatever existence you want....short of building a time machine and actually GOING to Ancient Rome, this will be the next best
 

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