I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a hard core strategy guy (thankfully we have Tyler and Tom for that) but the folks at Cyrstal Empire Games are doing something kind of interesting. To find out more we went straight to Project Lead Philippe Paillarès.
What's the back story on For the Glory? Can you talk about how the project came about and the technology behind the project? Why did you choose the engine you did?
For the Glory (FTG) is one of the results of the Europa Engine Licensing Program that Paradox Interactive proposed in January 2008. The goal was to provide source code to approved teams in order to develop new ideas based on the Europa engine. The dev team behind FTG was put together in June 2008 with skilled and passionate people all around the world -- more like a little community than a classic dev studio, and the door is still open for new members. This is a C++ source code project that was converted to Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 for full support of Vista and 7. It is compatible with DirectX 8 and the Europa graphic engine is a 2D one, but artists use 3D modeling for sprites.
Using Europa engine was a very good opportunity because of the already-available features. We were thus able to focus on new and enhanced features.
For AGCEEP, one of the most popular mods for Europa Universalis II, we also had the occasion to enhance the game and the mod at the same time. The only limit now is our imagination.
The game features 180 different countries, can you talk about some of the differences between the various countries. Do you have a personal favorite and why?
All countries have a different behavior when controlled by AI. Historical rulers and leaders (generals, admirals, explorers, privateers, etc.) are of course different and events help for historical immersion and flavor. Many countries also have different sprites for historical representation of land and naval units through the centuries. 3D modeling is based on historical information for these countries and this adds a deeper level of immersion.
Personally, I have no preference for playable countries. All were given specific attention, especially in the bundled AGCEEP mod, and can be fun to play with.
For the Glory seems to be aimed at a pretty hard core niche, are you making any attempts to make the game accessible to non-grognards or are you focused on appealing to the hard core crowd?
FTG is made for all players who want to act more like the government of a country than an almighty god. The player makes important decisions (alliances and diplomatic relations, warfare, investments, exploration and colonization…) but he also has to deal with decisions and the personalities of the monarchs through centuries, and adapt for the best of the country. Nothing is written in stone and a wise government will play with history and take advantage of it or do what is to be done in order to change it.
The learning curve is easy with the included tutorial and standard scenarios that will help players masteri the concepts of the game. Lastly, the AGCEEP mod has a higher level of immersion.
The game is not only for single player, though, and epic multiplayer games are possible with the already existing community. This is the advantage of being a sequel to a great game.
And there is a little extra in this game. You always learn something about history while playing!What's the final unit count of the game? Can you talk about the ways you can modify the units and extend them?
Units are simple for required abstraction of the grand strategy level of the game. You will find infantry, cavalry and artillery for land and warships, galleys and transports for naval, with bonuses and penalties for each kind of unit. Nevertheless, land and naval technologies are key for optimal use of military units, and they have fully moddable effects on warfare through an easy-to-modify database structure. The corresponding sprites can also be modified.
What changes have you made to the user interface? Have you extended or added features or is this just a cosmetic update?
We had two goals: break the graphic limits of the Europa Engine and add useful, clear and detailed information for players without cluttering the interface. Inside the game, there are some cosmetic changes, but they are always the result of added and enhanced features, not to mention many added tooltips that also help with the learning curve and new map modes.
The game supports all resolutions up to 2400 pixels for screen height, while the Europa Engine was limited to few resolutions. FTG is thus designed for all recent screens, and especially widescreen monitors.
As icing on the cake, we are working on future interface skins for the game and more flavor for the playable countries.
There's always a balance between historical accuracy and playability, what side does For the Glory learn toward? Can you give a few examples of some minor historical details that people might not have heard of?
Our goal is to provide historical situations, but a player can change everything while playing. In this case, historical events out of context will simply never occur. The script engine has been greatly enhanced in order to provide better control of the situation via triggers. All play styles are possible, from role-playing countries to world conquest. The game proposes an historical trend but this is far from rigid and many plausible alternatives are proposed in AGCEEP like England winning the Hundred Years War, China remaining open to the rest of the World and more exploration oriented, the formation of Germany, etc. Player has a choice and can influence rulers’ decisions... but not always, depending on the situation.
For the same reason, A-controlled countries will try to act historically but they will also adapt to the situation. The game also proposes different levels for the AI’s choices in events from purely historical to fully random.
An interesting bit of information that can be found in the game: did you know Tito Livio Buratini invented the helicopter (“flying dragoon”) for Poland in the 17th century? Amazing...
How did you choose which historical elements to include in the game?
This is mostly based on contributions by the community around Europa Universalis II and AGCEEP in particular. Some are indeed important major events for countries but there are also plenty of flavor ones. We just try to not “spam” players with events. This is also the balance between playability and immersion.
Anything I missed that people will think is important?
Yes, the game release is only the beginning of a new story. Our goal is to improve the game more and more in the future. It was just impossible to implement all of the good ideas that were expressed in this first version...
We will also start a public adaptation of AGCEEP to a long-awaited new map and new features of the game with all of our contributors. Many other mods (different timeframes, different maps, different scenarios) from various authors, who are also beta testers of the game, should be ready the same day as the game release.
We'd like to thank Phillipe for taking the time to answer our questions and to Tom for helping to coordinate the interview.