As I’ve made abundantly well known in these hallowed halls, I’m one of these strange folks who actually got off over his history lessons in school and went to carry on learning from dusty old tomes at university. So I can’t help but admire Vin Diesel’s conviction to produce a game set during the Punic War era Mediterranean. It’s a setting sadly seldom tread outside of strategy games (first and foremost, the leviathan figure of Rome: Total War – played that Vin?) We’ve got the MMO Roma Victor, but it’s unfortunatly dated and buggy in my own experience. So to me Barca B.C. is a veritable holy grail in concept.
The Punic Wars were a period of war on a scale perhaps inconcievable to the modern person; one where tens of thousands of men could be slaughtered in a single day, armies marched across lands from the straights of Gibralter to the mountains of north western Greece; through Africa, Sicily and Italy. Furthermore, it was fought by a huge variety of people of different nations. We all have a concept in our minds of the “Roman” legionary, yet the truth of the matter was that Roman armies were composed of half-or-more federal allies from a diverse and culturally mixed Italy from the Celts, to the Etruscans, to Greeks and more. Carthage’s armies were even more startlingly diverse, with mercenaries employed across the whole stretch of the Mediterranean. For a taste of the period you only need grab Rome: Total War, preferably partnered with the excellent Europa Barbarorum, or Mount and Blade with the upcoming Hegemony 268BC that I spoke about previously.
Now if you took that setting, and applied it to an MMO, I think it would be outstanding. Not only have you got an environment perfectly suited to some good old head chopping, but it’s one amazingly suited to the political intrigues of an MMO, full of factionalism within states, backstabbing and individual glory. If they take the EVE online type approach, giving players the opportunity perhaps to associate with a “independent” tribe or city as well as either Carthage or Rome, then tempered by the organisation of a two way war (as per World of Warcraft or Warhamer: Age of Reckoning) it could gain a definite sense of progression that I think both MMO formats have – a common ground between the free aspects of EVE and the more controlled one of WoW. I’d love to see it take the approach Mount and Blade takes to party forming. So rather than relying on your own character entirely, you also have to gather a party of followers. Gather up with other players and their parties, and you have armies. Though I wonder if this is pipe-dreaming perhaps.
Vin says it best “When we talk about dream case scenarios, man, I would love to play as a Carthaginian soldier 200 years before Christ. Sailing around the Mediterranean, that’d be pretty damn cool. If you could add some historical elements to it, the better.”
There’s such a variety of different historical character types in a period that it really would have an almost limitless potential. If Vin and co. do pull it off I might well end up never leaving the house. Ever.