Praetorians - interview

Today we bring you an exclusive interview about Praetorians, one of the most expected upcoming strategy game. A lot of journalists and players are fascinated by this game-jewel. We have spoken about Praetorians with Javier Arévalo, the game´s Project Leader. Read our interview and learn more about the game from the creators of the Commandos series!
Praetorians - interview

Doupe: Could you please introduce yourself? What is your position in Pyro Studios, how long have you been working there, etc.
Javier Arévalo: Hi, I`m Javier Arévalo, the Project Lead for Praetorians. I joined Pyro Studios in 1998 as Technology Lead for Commandos 2. I had also worked on the original Commandos for a short period of time.

Doupe: When have you started the project Praetorians?
J.A.: We started working on Praetorians in Summer 2000.

Doupe: Why does your game take place at the time of Roman empire? What other places will we visit?
J.A.: We think the Roman Empire is a great setting for a strategy game. It is attractive, well known to the people, plus it was a very turbulent period of time, with military campaigns covering a majority of the explored world: Western and Central Europe, Britannia and the North of Africa.

Doupe: Praetorians were especially guards who served Caesar. Does it mean the player will be in the position of Caesar?
J.A.: We all know what happened to Caesar, and we wouldn`t like for the players to have the same ending. Now more seriously, the player will be in the position of a general, commanding troops and fighting battles inspired in the campaigns that took place at the times of Julius Caesar. So we don`t want the player to emulate anybody, but to develop his own strategies.


Doupe: What is the story of your game?
J.A.: The story follows the progress of a soldier in the Roman army. We stayed away from centering the story around the big historical figures because these are already too well known for the player to identify himself with them.

Doupe: Your game will be inspired with real situations and incidents which took place somewhere in past. Will you temper only with historical facts? Will there be real characters, for example Julius Caesar or Marcus Aurelius?
J.A.: For the most part, mission designs are inspired by real events. I emphasize the word "inspired", because we are not trying to recreate them with historical accuracy. We take real elements and situations, and tweak, shorten, exaggerate them to match the gameplay style we have created.

Doupe: Do you plan to present any mythological elements? For example the legendary Roman gods (like Ares, the God of War)? 
J.A.: No, the game uses only realistic elements. As I said, we exaggerate these elements, in some occasions we are quite close to the edge of the realism cliff, but we have stayed away from introducing fantastic elements.

Doupe: Generally, how many units will there be in a mission/scene? How many preatorians will player be able to control?
J.A.: The player`s army can grow up to the thousand units. However, thanks to the fact that the army units are grouped and controlled as groups ("troops"), the player never has much trouble controlling them.


Doupe: Could you tell us something more about missions, combat system, player´s objectives and so on?
J.A.: The great thing about Praetorians is that it is a strategy game without heavy resource gathering or a complex economy. This means the missions are all about defending the player`s position or attacking and conquering the enemy. Towns and villagers play a big role in replenishing and tuning the army, but the key things for the player to pay attention to are scourting, planning and strategy. Missions reflect this by having a variety of goals and subgoals.

Doupe: How will player carry new units?
J.A.: In some missions there will be villages where, once you have control over them, your army chief (in many cases a centurion) will be able to train villagers for them to become archers, infantry men, etc.

Doupe: In addition to other lessons, players will fight against Egypt and Gallia. What can you tell us about these civilizations and the differences between them? Will they have different units and combat system?
J.A.: Egyptians and Barbarians have different types of units with unique behaviours and abilities. Barbarians are generally fewer and less organized than romans, but each unit is individually more powerful. Egyptians have better ranged units and higher mobility and speed. These are the main differences that we focused on when designing the units.


Doupe: Will there be a population limit?
J.A.: The army is capped in each mission to prevent the mission from becoming a simple "mass a huge army and send it to the enemy".

Doupe: In the case of your Commandos series, historical movies and books assisted a lot in development. Do you reuse these during the development of Praetorians as well?
J.A.: We did a lot of research on the tactics, movement techniques, war machines, hiearchies of command of the Romans and other contemporary cultures like Gauls, Celts, Egyptians and Parthians. Once again we applied our philosophy of exaggerating or welding pieces and elements to create the three civilizations.

Doupe: Music is very important part of every game, I think. How are you dealing with music in Praetorians?
J.A.: Pyro Studios` in-house music dude, Mateo Pascual, is composing a special score for Praetorians, with a variety of styles that represent the historical setting and the different locations the game takes place on.

Doupe: Do you plan to release any game editor?
J.A.: We will not include the map editor with Praetorians.

Doupe: What multiplayer support can players expect to see?
J.A.: There will be a range of maps designed specifically for multiplayer and skirmish games. Multiplayer games can have up to eight players, and include options for arranging teams.


Doupe: Right now, do you have any idea about system requirements of Praetorians?
J.A.: The ballpark figures are around a Pentium 3 500MHz, 128 Megabytes of Memory and a Direct3D-compatible card with 16 Megabytes as the minimum machine.

Doupe: What is the supposed release date?
J.A.: We are working on that, but as the game development is running smoothly it should happen in a few months.

Doupe: And finally, quite a typical question - what are your thoughts on the future evolution of the RTS genre?
J.A.: There are two things I`m looking forward to see in the RTS genre: a definitive move away from economic and resource management (for which Praetorians itself is an important step ahead), and moving into the console market. The current user interface and gameplay model simply doesn`t work on a games console. I believe there is nothing inherently wrong about playing strategy games on your TV screen while sitting comfortably on your couch, but we need to rethink the strategy genre from scratch in order to make it work.

Doupe: Thank your for your time.
J.A.: You are very welcome! It`s been a pleasure to discuss Praetorians with you guys.


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