Johann Andersson, Dev Head, Europa Universalis: Rome (not Martyn Brown of Team17 at all)
For the last ten years, Paradox Entertainment has been putting the epic back in 'epicus' (it's a real word ? Greek - I looked it up). The first game in its Universalis
series invited hardcore strategy gamers to try and conquer Europe in the muddy fields of the 15th century. Now it's worked all the way back to Roman times.
With Europa Universalis: Rome
's release creeping ever closer, I caught up with the game's head of development, Johan Andersson, for a chat about the burden of history, the joys of the PC as a platform and the perils of catering to a hardcore audience.
(If you haven't already read it, you can catch SPOnG's impressions of Rome here
Obviously you've got a pretty huge game here, with a vast amount going on. How did you go about researching it?
We have one person working in-house who just does research. Reads the books, surfs the net, goes to libraries, talks to people...
Sounds like a big job.
Yeah! Sounds like a fun job. I would like to (do it). Reading, researching, creating.
Sounds a bit too much like university to me! So how do you then go about turning the research you guys have done into the stats we see?
First of all we make the science system, then we adapt the data into the system. We have to make the game design first, and then we have to adapt the research... the final research that we need into the models we have. The design has to be done before we start research. And, of course, we always have to research what kind of models work.
I'm kind of lucky with my team, in that it's not just gamers, or not just programmers, I have people that have a history interest on the team. So we're all gamers, developers, history-interested. We have some pretty fun discussions when it comes to deciding the games.
Yeah, you seem to be quite interested in the history. Was that something that came before the game, or did that come as a result of it?
I've been doing this for ten years. I kind of loved history in school... It's one of the subjects that's interesting when you read because it's stories. Then, I was making console games and I saw a vacancy for making history games and I thought 'oh! I'll move back to Stockholm, my home town. I wanna do this! It's a fun history game.' And now I've been stuck here for ten years!