I first heard about DOMINA a little under a year ago, and very quickly devoured every scrap of information I could find. Having studied Roman Archaeology in University, the idea of having an indie game gladiator simulator with a pounding soundtrack was akin to having my cake and eating it too: It was everything I liked, rolled up into one game.
I was doubly excited to interview bignic, DOMINA’s developer, not only because of my want to know more about the development of DOMINA, but also because I’m a massive fan of both his previous indie title and his musical work. In this interview, we talk about the release of DOMINA, it’s inspiration, how it handles player interaction with the AI in game, and what drew bignic towards independent game development.
Our thanks to bignic for talking with us and sharing his story,and offering up a peak into the background of DOMINA’s development
Having spent some time with DOMINA, I can safely say that it perfectly captures the brutality and over-the-top nature of sword-and-sandal shows like Spartacus it’s based on. From the shouts of the crowd, to random comments in your ludus, there’s a definite subtle humorous subtext through the whole game that I absolutely adore.
The core mechanics are also fantastically fun. It’s a very micro management heavy game, and you’ll be making decisions on what greaves and shoulder pads to equip your gladiators with, all with the bottom line in mind, as well as how to train them with your doctore and what improvements to make to your ludus. On top of this, you’ll be wining and dining both the local magistrate and legate trying to woe their favor into sponsoring a gladiator, removing the need to pay for the gladiators upkeep at all. Soon you’ll have true gods of the arena at your command, outfitted with the best weapons and armor, trained killers, ready to paint the sands red with blood….
…only to have a lion maul them to death without a second thought.
There’s still very much a random element of gameplay in DOMINA, but beyond that, there’s a very real factor of “life is cheap”. These are gladiators, and they will die. Sometimes, you end up in a match you cannot avoid that pits 5 enemy gladiators and a chained lion against your one gladiator. All in the span of 30 seconds, it can all be over for dear Quintus, the gladiator you trained from your first day at the ludus.
DOMINA is brutal, bloody, and your fortunes can change on the turn of a denarii, which is exactly what a gladiator simulator should be.
DOMINA’s fantastic soundtrack is also available here.
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