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'Celtic Kings: The Punic Wars' - Developer Interview

by The Six Billion Dollar Man on Sept. 24, 2003 @ 2:26 a.m. PDT

Celtic Kings: The Punic Wars appeals to both RTS and RPG players searching for a new experience in already known genres. Celtic Kings: The Punic Wars continues the traditions of the award winning Celtic Kings: Rage of War and will be exploring the three Punic wars between Rome and Carthage in the period 264BC – 146BC which includes the famous campaigns of Hannibal and Scipio Africanus. We sat down with Haemimont's Ivan-Assen Ivanov, asked a few questions of historic proportion, and snagged some screens to top it all off.

1. Who has the honor to talk to us? State your name, rank and occupation!

Hi! My name is Ivan-Assen Ivanov. My rank shall remain classified until I examine your clearance and need-to-know permit. But I will gladly tell you my ocupation: I’m the lead programmer for the Celtic Kings follow-on, The Punic Wars.

2. What inspired you to choose the nations of Carthage and Iberia?

CK: TPW will follow the development of the single greatest military conflict the Roman empire had to face. During the many centuries of its overwhelming dominance in the Mediterranean, Rome really had only one opponent similar in power to itself: the mighty Carthage. So choosing the Carthaginians as one of the new races was a no-brainer for a game set in those times. The Iberians – the Celtic tribes that inhabited the lands of today’s Spain and Portugal – played a large role in the campaigns of the great Carthaginian general, Hannibal Barca, both as allies and opponents, so they were the logical fourth choice.

3. Can you give us some info on the main story behind Celtic Kings: Punic Wars?

The game will ship with two separate single-player campaigns. The first campaign will follow the battles of Hannibal Barca as he lead his armies through the Iberian peninsula, the lands of the Gaul and the Alps straight into the heart of Rome. The second campaing will set the player in the role of the best Roman generals summoned by the Senate of Rome to repel the invasion of Hannibal, drive him back through the Italian peninsula and finally, to destroy Carthage itself.

3. How historically accurate will the new nations be?

I would call Celtic Kings inspired by history rather than historically accurate – after all, the ancient Celtic Druids, powerful as they were, don’t miraculously cure wounded warriors, make people invisible or control the beasts and the birds in accurate history books. Maybe that’s why Celtic Kings is more fun than most history books I’ve read!

However, we still do a lot of historical research, and just as with the Gauls and Romans in the original Celtic Kings: Rage of War, we have tried to capture the spirit of the two new nations. For example, the Carthaginians used almost exclusively mercenaries for their military campaigns – and you’ll see this in the game. They were cunning merchants, and managed to turn out profit both from victory and defeats – and you’ll see this in the game. The ancient historians mention their most elite unit, the Sacred Legion made up exclusively of Carthaginian nobles – and you’ll see this in the game, and let’s hope you see them on your side, because Carthaginian Nobles mean trouble for the enemy!

4. How accurate will each campaign be compared to the real campaign?

We have created the two campaigns – Hannibal’s Battles and The Punic Wars – around the actual battles that were held. History buffs will recognise the towns and geographic areas mentioned in the chronicles, as well as the main protagonists of the story.

5. Are the new nations only tied to each other in the new story, or do all four sides come together later in the story?

All four sides are tied into the story right from the beginning, as the main sides in the conflict – Carthage and Rome – try to win over the Celtic tribes, Gauls and Iberians, each to their own side, and fight them when the negotiations fail. You will have to master all four races’ strengths and specifics before you finish the two campaigns.

6. Can you give us some info on how the RPG aspect will tie into the game? How will each "new" game mode compliment each other?

Just as Celtic Kings: Rage of War, The Punic Wars is actually two quite different games sharing the same basic gameplay mechanics, rolled into one. The single-player campaigns have a distinct RPG/adventure flavor to them, as you lead and develop a few select characters through the missions, completing subquests with diverse goals along the main storyline. The scenario mode, in single-player against computer opponents or in multiplayer, against your friends online, is more similar to the traditional RTS style of gameplay. Sharing the same world, the same units, the same rules, the two aspects of Celtic Kings complement each other – playing throught the campaigns will give you a good understanding of the different races’ strengths and weaknesses, which will make you a better RTS player, and experimenting and gaining experience in the freeform scenario mode might help you find a way through a difficult part of the adventure.

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