Adapting that culture could be tricky, especially as most players would be unwilling to learn Latin to play a videogame. Fortunately, "My basic take on adapting Roman culture to the videogame setting is that it's important to not have any pain involved for the player," he says when I raise the issue. "We as the game developers will take the pain: We'll learn Latin, we'll read Roman cookbooks, we'll study classic architecture, and then we'll take all of that stuff and marshal it into an experience of pure entertainment." No learning of dead languages will be involved, but "you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor, which come in the form of a consistent and highly detailed world that's flavored by all the research we've done. There are a lot of things in the world that people will recognize - that's one of the great things about the subject matter: Everyone knows something about it. And we will include things that bare out of our time frame because they are so iconic. The Flavian Amphitheater (better known as the Colosseum) is a good example: Our timeframe is well before this structure was built, but it's so emblematic of Rome and so cool that we've included it anyway."

The physical world of Roman-era Italy has gotten similar treatment. "There's certainly a lot to explore," he says, though it's not quite Google Maps-accurate. "Our world map is pretty far from a satellite picture of modern Italy. Instead, we present the world as the Romans would've recognized it: If you go a few miles, differences in terrain, architecture, and color palettes are exaggerated to reflect how close to home people would remain throughout their lives in those times, and how different things would seem to them if they left their homelands." Continuing the "Inspired by ... " theme, he adds, "There are certainly locations that are based on historical places, but they are not linked in a 'real world' way, and the [way] places themselves are presented is similarly fantastic."

Drawing the line of when to go historical and when to go legendary proved "difficult at first," he acknowledges, but "we had the general sense that we wanted the actual city of Rome to be fairly historical, since its glory comes not from being mythical, but the reality of this magnificent metropolis. And then, the lands farther away from the city would be increasingly given over to the creatures of myth. This also made sense to us as matching the world view of the ancients - far away from home, strange things exist."

While there is a lot of material to work with in Roman history and myth, there's so much material that I wondered if it was a hindrance. While the Romans had a god for everything - making it easy to figure out who is in charge of what - they also had a god for everything, which I assumed would make it difficult to flex creative muscles. Stieg responded, "I think it's essentially similar to other creative endeavors: I think the 'nothing new under the sun' saying is true, so really creating comes down to the choices you make about which material you include or don't include, and how well you frame and present it and use it to get across your own stories and ideas. The great thing about our source material," he said, "is if you're going to borrow from something, this is some pretty nice stuff to borrow from."

In 1972, Shannon Drake was sent to prison by a military court for a crime he didn't commit. He promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, he survives as a soldier of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire Shannon Drake.

Perpetual Entertainment is a client of TAP Interactive, a division of Themis Group.

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