Ageod where two Philippes make grand strategy history a wargamer.com interview24 Mar 2015 0
Ageod is what you get when two French guys called Philippe decide to make grand strategy games together. Here the creators of To End Al Wars, Civil War II, Alea Jacta Est and many other games talk to Jean Marciniak about the company and some of their catalogue.
Firstly I would like to thank you for doing this interview. I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule.
Let’s jump right into it.
How did your studio and development team come together?
We, the two Philippes, met around 2000 when Pax Romana was in development. At this time Philippe Thibaut was the CEO of his own company, while Philippe Malacher (Pocus) was in the IT industry but acting as moderator in Pax Romana forum. Then Pax Romana was released in rush, to the demand of the publisher and we decided to create a new game engine together, a powerful and adaptive military engine that could encompass several periods of history.
What was the beginning of AGEOD like?
It was a period of bravery and fatigue! Creating a serious wargaming engine is no small affair with only 2 individuals, even if very motivated. But we succeeded, and our first title, Birth of America in 2006 proved we were on a good track.
Did you have a large development team?
Size changed with years, from 2 to 6, if you count permanent and semi-permanent freelancers. This is hard to give an exact figure, as the artists (graphics and sounds) are always freelance for example. Currently within the Slitherine group, we can say we are 5 people, or even more if you take into account the good guys in the Q&A and production departments: a producer, a designer, a developer, 2 artists.
What was your vision when AGEOD started?
Definitively doing a turn based engine (and not a real time one, this is almost a school of thought!) with some serious meat on the bones when it comes to simulating operational warfare. We always factored gameplay and fun, as this is still a game, but if possible, it should be close to a simulation of sort without too many abstractions when feasible.
What was the most difficult title that you developed?
Without doubt Pride of Nations, that had to be developed over several years and 2 publishers. You see, each game adds novelties and more functions to the common base engine, but PoN really pushed the envelope, too far perhaps. We had to develop so many new modules and things that retrospectively, this was almost foolish doing so in 2008. We should have probably waited for a few additional games before tackling this monster, as this would have spread the load (of new features and code modules) over several games.
What war or conflict are you most interested in pursuing next?
It’s a difficult one. You have to factor your personal interest, what the current community would like, and what the engine is best at. World War II would be cool, but we would have to stay grand scale, something like Third Reich from Avalon Hill perhaps. A science-fiction game would be nice too, but we are still unsure if all our historical fans would appreciate the move. Vietnam? Why not! Everything is still open and nothing really prohibited though.
Could you envision The AGE engine tackling such wars as World War 2 or Vietnam? In what ways do you plan to expand The AGE engine in future titles?
Our personal interest in these 2 periods is strong, and we believe that, with some caution, the engine can really handle that well. Vietnam was asymmetrical warfare and so is perfect for the engine. There would be some significant work needed for the air module, and also possibly some aspects of the guerrilla/counter-insurgency fights, but this is quite feasible. WW2 is more work and we would need to stay limited in scope, probably to Europe, with a decent (yet significant) number of playing pieces, but here too the engine can do it, especially after our recent title End of all Wars where the AI shows she can handle quite well fronts and offensives.
Out of all the titles that AGEOD produced which has been the most successful and rewarding to develop?
The most successful in terms of commercial importance was American Civil War, our second title. It’s probably also the game where we put the most efforts in terms of marketing and PR, and that showed. Pride of Nations, mentioned above, was also a great title, but the weight and length of development were probably too much.
What challenges did you have in developing To End All Wars?
It depends who you ask the question ;-) For the designer and scenario designer, i.e. Philippe Thibaut, the size of order of battles and the balances of scenarios, with additional troubles in finding rare data on some nations. For the developer (Philippe Malacher) then devising the new AI algorithms dealing with warfronts or the new possibility for the AI to be piloted by ‘AI agents’, i.e. supervisors. This was fun though, challenge is always nice!
Any periods of history do you plan to revisit in future AGEOD games? Civil War or American Revolution?
We are currently designing and working on a new Napoleon game, which will be officially announced soon. This new game will have a large Europe map and will span 10 years, with warfare and diplomacy. We really think it has an immense potential, both for solo players and in multiplayer.
Thank you for doing the interview.
I can’t wait to see what other innovative titles your team develops.