Siege of Plataea

I have been working on a new project and would like to announce it. I don’t have anything playable yet, so I am holding off making a thread for the time being. It is being made in ORK Framework for Unity and I plan to use the same people as I did for the assets in Theseus.

Siege of Plataea

What is this game?

The Siege of Plataea is a CRPG set in Greece during the early stages of the Peloponnesian War. The goal is to have real-time exploration and turn-based combat. Party mechanics will also be included. It is extremely important to me that the game be faithful to the primary source material and bring the old texts to life with meaningful C&C. It would be better that this game not exist at all than that it make a mockery of the period.

What happened at Plataea? Why set the game there?

Plataea is a town in Boeotia, which is the region immediately north/north-west of Attica (Athens). As the Peloponnesian War was starting to break out, Thebes (the most powerful city in Boeotia) conducted a surprise raid on Plataea and seized the town.

Despite initially submitting, the Plataeans soon organised secretly by digging holes through the walls of their houses and gathering together. They then launched a night-time counter-attack against the occupying force. The urban warfare ended with almost every Theban dead or captured.

Putting aside the political/diplomatic details, the captured Thebans were ultimately executed en masse. When general war broke out shortly afterwards, Plataea found itself in a very bad position – it was a land-locked Athenian ally stuck in Boeotia, and Thebes was a major Spartan ally. Sparta initially offered Plataea terms of neutrality, but Plataea refused and was placed under siege. Before the siege began, however, Plataea evacuated most non-combatants, and admitted a force that was sent from Athens.

The siege itself was a prolonged affair. Sparta and her allies ultimately enclosed the town within a double-wall fortification (like we later see at Syracuse and with Julius Caesar at Alesia). A large number of battles took place, and ultimately Plataea was starved out and surrendered. Those Plataeans who had not previously escaped were executed following a brief trial. The town was essentially destroyed and the region used for other purposes, while many of the surviving Plataeans found a new home at Athens.

This is the perfect setting for a number of reasons. First, although the Peloponnesian War is a popular and rich subject, there are only a handful of games with this setting. Second, a prolonged siege provides plenty of opportunity for combat and intrigue. Further, because Plataea admitted a force from Athens, and the besieging force itself was from a number of different cities, I have freedom to include a very broad cast of characters. On a practical level, staging a game during a siege means that I can cut down on the number of locations, too. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for me to allow the player to explore the entire Hellenic world during this period. However, a siege is narrow enough that I can provide a great deal of detail without getting burnt out or over budget and turning the project into vapourware.

What makes this game special?

– As with Theseus: Journey to Athens, this game will be strongly rooted in the primary source material. The theme is more than skin-deep; this game should make you want to pick the classics up again and reread them. To improve on Theseus, this game should include tool-tips or some other method of easily providing citations and other helpful information.

– Strong Choice & Consequence gameplay. As seen in Theseus, the player’s decisions will have an impact on how the story progresses.  A protracted siege provides a number of opportunities for player input. From day-to-day decisions of how to conduct raids on enemy siegeworks, to greater decisions such as whether to enter a conspiracy to surrender the town.

– Unique character development/skills system. “Magic” and other abilities will be rooted in pre-socratic philosophy, poetry, and religion. You could be a fighter whose constitution is buffed by learning a few lines of Tyrtaeus, or a more intellectual sort who gains some power over the elements by studying Empedokles.

– Fresh turn-based combat scenarios that strongly reflect the siege theme. A long siege provides all sorts of combat possibilities. For example, the player might find himself engaging in tunnel warfare as the enemy attempts to undermine the town wall. Or you can join an ad hoc fire brigade and try to stop the enemy from burning the town to ash.

Progress –

This game is still in the planning and early development stage. I do not have a working demo to share with you, or sufficient assets or code to make a meaningful video. I would still like to share something, though, so here is an example of a character that I am currently working on:

Eurymachus, Son of Leontiades

I would like to point out a few things:

– The game will record the ethnicity and polis of each character. Almost all characters will be Hellenes, of which there are four main ethnic groups – Dorian, Ionian, Aeolian, and Achaean.

The ethnicity of the character is important in this game because it was important to the ancient Hellenes. The differences between the ethnicities or races are frequently referenced in classical texts and must therefore have certain in-game consequences. I plan to use tooltips or some other manner of explaining terms like “Boeotarch” to the player. That way the text can be cleaner while still providing a wealth of definitions and background information.

– The portrait was produced by the same artist who worked on Theseus. This style is not set in stone; the artist was also working on making the portrait appear to be an old, faded fresco. I hope to use the same artist to produce all the assets for this game, too.

Finally, Theseus is still on sale for half price (sale ends 1/2/20). Depending how this new project goes and how much I like working with ORK Framework, I might try converting Theseus to the new engine (as a new product, because I would need to pay for a whole new set of 3d assets). I think that would be a big and worthwhile improvement. At any rate, I will continue to patch the current version and include more content/C&C as time progresses.

Happy New Year