V: How did you get the idea of this game?
Konstantinos XI Palaiologos: We are a group of people fond of Byzantine Empire. Too often, especially in the western culture, it is considered as a decadent empire; so we wanted to create something that can give it the prominence it deserves. That's the main reason why we created this game.
V: So, actually, it's an hystorical game. Did you fit it in a specific period of time? Or do the game include the whole duration of the Byzantine Empire?
K: We try to keep the project the more hystorical as possible. We secretly hope that maybe, in the future, this game will be used for educational purposes at school or even at university. The game wants to show social dynamics, politic and militar situations which were peculiar in the hystory of the nations during that ages. So, to answer to your question, yes it is. The game covers the whole duration of the Empire. The mod starts in 550 AD, when the Emperor Justinian Ist leaded the Italian Campaign in the period of the Greek-Gothic wars; and it ends in 1461 when Mistrà and Trebizond, the last two byzantine strongholds, were conquered by the Ottomans.
V: How many (and who) are the factions involved in the game? Is it possible playng with all of them?
K: By now there are 30 factions.
They are; the Byzantine Empire, the Gothic Reign, the Longobard Reign, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States, the Reign of Sicily, the Republic of Genoa, the Marquiste of Monferrato, the Republic of Venice, the Reigh of Hungary, the Reign of Poland, the Serbian Empire, the Bulgarian Empire, the Volvoidships of Moldova Transylvania and Walacchia, the Avars' Khanate, the Pechenigs' Khanate, the Khazars' Khanate, the Varangians Principalities of Rus', the Mongolian Empire, the Turkish Khanates, the Seljuk Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Reign of Georgia, the Eastern Latin Empire, the Principality of Antioch, the Reign of Jerusalem, the Sassanid Empire, the Caliphate, the Rebel Reigns of Byzantine Empire, Indipendent Countries.
Our map stretch from the Rhine Valley out to the western part of the mountaigns of Karakoram; from the southern coasts of Sinai Peninsula to the Gulf of Finland.
You can play two different kind of militar campaign:
1) the "classical campaign" which is divided into 3 or 4 eras; in each era there are specific factions you can play with. This depends, on the hystorical period in which the campaign fits in.
2) the "main campaign" which took (and still keep on taking) most of our efforts and care. We called it the "millenary Campaign" and it develops in a very particular way. The player can play only with the Byzantine Empire: it's a sort of "forced" campaign because it is based on events following the same chronology they had in history. The factions not present at the start-date will appear spawn. These spawn factions are controlled by the IA and their behaviour has to be the more hystorical as possible, so they have to reach realistic goals. Each of them had a peculiar part in hystory, so will be in the game too. We will make the spawn factions fight and conquer, invade and subdue peoples and their lands as it happened in hystory. Perhaps, only the player can change the hystory. But it will be a hard challenge for him.
V: You said you hope that this game could become a sort of educational support.
K: Well, yes.
V: But you also said that the player can change hystory even if it will be very hard for him. So, in a certain way, the player has to follow a set course. I mean, we all know how the game ends, isnt' it?
K: Well, not really. The player has to face many obstacles during the game, but if he will be more skillful than the strategists of that time, no one knows how it will really end.
V: How can the "Fate", I mean the IA, prevent the player to change hystory? Why did you say that it will be hard for the player to change hystory?
K: Because the IA tends to introduce many different obstacles, but each of them fits with hystory.
V: You know, under Justinian Ist the Byzantine Empire was at its best. Its territory covered most part of the known world's maps. Playing with such a powerful empire gives many benefits, so the player can easly win, or so it seems. How did you balance the byzantin power?
K: Believe me, it's not so easy dealing with such an empire. You need much money, efficent armies and so on....and often you can't have them when you really need them. I give you an example to make it more understandable. Short after Justinian's exploit the Empire had to face the Longobards, who tried to conquer the Italic peninsula. In the mean time the Avars and many other slavonic tribes kept on moving from the Danube river. In the East the Sassanide Empire was defeated and this was the first step that leaded to the ghastly arabian advance. Besides we have to consider various rebellions and internal riots, famine and inflation. Then, there was the Iconoclastic Crisis in the VIII° century. As you can see, this big Empire had its own problems. While the player is trying to work all these questions out, he also has to defend the Empire from few young and powerful reigns who had strong and well equipped armies.
V: In the Total War Series the required conditions for the evolution of the game's framework were disappointing. Look at the evolution of the cavalry, for example; in mods such as Bellum Crucis the Byzantine Empire can play with the cataphract units in XIII° century, but we know that in that period they weren't part of the imperial armies anymore. Did you rectify this kind of drawbacks too?
K: Yes, of course. Each age has a full equipped army; special units included. The evolutions are bound to the hystorical period in which you're playing. So if you want a more powerful army, you have to develop, and so to build, the buildings which allows you to recruit forces and pass to the next hystorical age. In the mean time you can't recruit forces from the previous hystorical age.
V; But this allows the backward factions to use technologies they never knew in hystory, isn't it?
K: No, it isn't. You can recruit forces only if your faction has the opportunity to do it in that specific hystorical period. The IA controlled factions are programmed to born/win or to be defeated/destroyed as it happened in hystory. However they are allowed to recruit mercenary forces to supply their lacks.
V: Anything else about this game?
K: We try to be the more hystorical as possible. Each faction has its own hystorical governament, with its own hystorical background. Regular armies are distinct from those who raid; there are some malus for regular armies in enemy's territory and much more...We are still working on many of different things, so we will find these and other surprises in the final mod.