Alfonso XIII Posted May 2 Share Posted May 2 (edited) First of all, I'd like to congratulate the developers for designing such a fine game. Excellent mechanics, elegant design, great music… All in all, a very fun and addictive game. I left my enthusiastic recommendation and general observations on my Steam review: Steam Review I'd like to suggest a few points on where you could upgrade and build upon the game. If time allows, I intend to update the thread with any new ideas that come up. I'd be quite glad if some designer read this (as well as the linked review). Hopefully an idea or two will be of help for future development. Bugs and Fixes: In general, the game is stable and free of bugs. But some small tweaks could help: The Steam distribution has a very blurry desktop icon. A minor detail maybe, but it is quite jarring. Tutorial tips are reset each time you load, so you always get the same messages. The game, of course, should keep track of already-displayed tutorial messages and don't repeat them (unless the player resets them on the Options Menu). Texts are quite clean and free of typos, but some name lists could use a check-up. For instance, for Spanish nobles (unless I'm missing something): Vasco instead of Vaasko. Blanca instead of Blanka. General Changes and Tweaks: More granular notification control is required (e.g. currently it's not possible to turn off only the "You have won the support of a Great Power" message). Ideally you should add a "Detailed Notification Control" button with a list of all possible notifications accompanied with "Text" and "Voice" icons that you could turn on/off individually. Allow rotation of tactical battle view using mouse (for instance, hold middle button and move mouse). Add an option to have thinner arrow trails on Tactical Battles. Allow slightly more maximum zoom on Tactical Battles. Add an Option to disable/enable victory modes for Tactical Battles (i.e. Control Point Victory - substituted with morale bonus for holding positions, Leader Kill - substituted by morale hit if leader is killed). Voice acting: the narrator and overall English voice acting are simply great. However, for some characters there's some grating voice acting (some with too much affectation, some seem to be joking at the expense of the game/player). Not easily/cheaply fixable, but adding more variety in voices would help. Option at game creation to have "historically inspired" resources (in fixed positions - see below). Mechanics - Building: Note that this is in part due to my inexperience in this aspect of the game (consider this point "under construction"), but one area where I feel improvements are warranted is on the building side. My observations: While province development is generally interesting, the shared upgrades, expensive prices and mostly randomized resources and features, make province uniqueness suffer a bit. Specialized provinces don't seem to appear until late in the game (since you need quite a lot of expensive building slots to define a true specialization). Newly acquired (by conquest or otherwise) towns are highly developed by the AI, giving less flexibility to the player. Not a problem as such, but may compound other issues. It all adds up to a feeling of inflexibility in development. I need to think on this with more depth, but some pointers that may add fun to the building aspect: An option at game creation to have "historically inspired" resources in fixed positions would help to add flavor to the map, and relevance to specific provinces/areas. Some pre-built and purchasable buildings tied to specific provinces (say, if I try to build a University in Salamanca I get, appropriately enough, the "University of Salamanca", with extra bonuses). You already got some similar things, such as the pirate buildings in the Barbary Coast. New Knight Actions and Opportunities relevant to the class and related to the governor status of your knights (e.g. Merchant state Action to boost gold per good on governed city, Marshal Opportunity to add levies to governed city). In general, additional actions (including knight Actions and Opportunities) related to province management are welcome. For instance, a (recurring) opportunity for Merchants related to Trade Centers (even ungoverned ones), an opportunity for Marshals to add regional units to a specific city recruitment pool, etc. Mechanics - Noble Classes: As mentioned on the review, one aspect of improvement is the distinctiveness and personality of the nobles in the court. Currently they're mostly cyphers, distinguished only by their skills (which the player has the chance to steer to a given template). The ideal way to improve this would be having Character Traits, that is, bonuses/maluses to particular actions and/or skills, acquired at birth or in specific circumstances. The more distinctive and impactful (and perhaps, humorous), the better. Note that in this system, skills "supercharged" by a character trait (if any) should be selectable always (as occurs with Tradition skills). For example: Wanderer (Merchant): more frequent expedition opportunities, less frequent opportunities of a different kind. Manipulator (Spy): can't initiate assassination actions, increased Success Chance for other actions. Born Hunter (Spy): extra Success Chance for assassination actions, extra Reveal Chance for other actions. Harsh (Marshal): initiates region pacification immediately after conquest, increased pacification success chance. Honorable (Marshal): actions on enemy kingdom have reduced relations impact, improves success chance for peace negotiations, automatically releases all prisoners. Charismatic (Marshal): when on an enemy province, there's a chance a Loyalist Rebellion will appear. Zealous (Cleric): will initiate a conversion action on its own (free of cost), abandoning the active standard action in the process (he will not abandon opportunities). Power Hungry (Cleric): increased chance to be selected as a Pope. Strategist (Diplomat): offensive pacts initiated by the diplomat grant involved armies additional morale against the designated enemy. Opportunistic (Diplomat): slower relations gain for Improve Relationship action, more frequent opportunities on assignment. An additional twist is that there should be specific traits on princesses, which would affect the husband (even on a foreign court). Some examples: Shrewd: (Merchant King) additional gold per trade good, (Spy King) -10% Discovery Chance, (Diplomat King) +10 Fame, (Cleric King) +10% Success Chance, higher probability to be chosen as Cardinal / Pope. Periodic chance to lose Peasantry Opinion. Nagging: King gets more frequent opportunities at -5% Success Chance. In addition, the classes themselves should get a review so that they all offer varied, fun options to the player at each junction. In detail: Diplomats: diplomats can be a bit boring compared to their peers, as they don't get many dynamic opportunities nor emergent actions. They are useful, but need some flexibility. Some ideas (that also would work as standalone mechanics - read below): Quid-pro-quo Negotiation (Action): initiated by a diplomatic assigned to a foreign court (could also be a standalone Audience proposal), it would allow free-form exchange of assets between kingdoms (e.g. a Province for a Province, Gold for a Royal Marriage, etc.). Unify Kingdoms (Action or Opportunity): initiated by a diplomatic assigned to a foreign court. Requirements: a lot of gold, friendly relations, cultural influence on provinces, relative size of absorbed kingdom 50% or less than your own, Royal Marriage resulting in a Queen in foreign kingdom, high Nobility Opinion. If successful, you get the option to rename your kingdom by hyphenation (see "Castile-Leon"), incorporate the provinces, and the two top foreign nobles go into your court (as "Important Relatives" if the slots are free). May result in a rebellion in the targeted country or your own (depending on the Nobility Opinion and Crown Authority of each kingdom). On failure, your own Nobility Opinion and Crown Authority take a hit, and you can't initiate the proposal again without a different Queen on the foreign court. Encourage Friendship (Opportunity): a deployed diplomat may get an opportunity to improve the relationship of the foreign kingdom with another one towards which you have decent relations. Caution Foreign Kingdom (Opportunity): a deployed diplomat may get an opportunity to worsen the relationship of the foreign kingdom with another one towards which you have poor relations or are in a state of war. Encourage Peace (Opportunity): a deployed diplomat may get an opportunity to settle a peace between the foreign kingdom and another one it's at war with. Demand Peace with Vassal: a diplomat may get the opportunity to settle a peace between an aggressor kingdom and one of your Vassals. Spies: the espionage system is excellent, and the opportunities are well designed in both requirements, prices and frequency of activation. That said, you could take a look at the standard actions: Sow Dissent: this action is too slow to be worthwhile, particularly since you need to interrupt it frequently to take advantage of opportunities. You could make it a bit more effective (potential for several points of opinion loss, higher frequency, etc.), or alternatively allow having simultaneous actions (i.e. you can activate opportunity actions without interrupting it). Ruin Relations: similar to the above skill, though this seems a bit more effective but less generally useful (it's more situational). A similar approach could help (increased effectiveness or allow simultaneous opportunity actions). Merchants: very useful, and less "boring" than diplomats, they still could use more opportunities and actions to spice the game. For example: Search for an Advantage: this action has the merchant look for a trade deal delivering a good required for a specified advantage. This trade deal is not tied to a specific kingdom (e.g. "from a distant caravan", "smugglers", "maritime traders"). Replenish Stores: the merchant relieves a town under siege by arranging a covert transfer of supplies (see Castle section below). Clerics: a very useful class, they are always busy with some rather important actions and opportunities. But as always, more varied opportunities improve the decision-making aspect. For example: Pledge Support to Crusade (Opportunity - Catholic kingdom only): this opportunity lets any country pledge a Marshal and his army to the next Crusade. When the Crusade is declared, you'll get a message asking to confirm your pledge. A denial will give a hit in relations with the Papal States and Cleric Opinion, affirmation will grant you improved relations and opinion, and have your army take the cross (which will make it immune to supply loss and relationship penalties by passage) and automatically follow the main Crusader Army to their first battle. Afterwards, you can control the army yourself and redirect it (including conquering territories for your kingdom), but if you get too far from the crusaders or attack kingdoms friendly with the Papal States, you'll get chided by the Pope and your army will revert to a regular one, with a big relations/opinion penalty. Marshals: they are a key component of the game. The only problem is that the limited number usually prevents the use of more specialized approaches (e.g. to have a specialized cavalry Marshal you'd need at least one other Marshal with a regular army, and you only have 9 nobles). To improve the situation, I'd reinforce the impact of skills and add more variety of skills so that you have more of a need to tailor your general to your army (or vice versa). Mechanics - Other: (Not) Casus belli: while some games have a detailed Casus Belli system, this game is well served by what it has. However, some scenarios where rival kingdoms conduct hostile non-military actions should grant an opportunity to the player (e.g. via notification) to declare war with minimal relationship/reputation impact. On the same vein, being on the receiving end of some actions should grant you a special diplomatic interaction (e.g. via notification or Audience). For example, if a Witch Hunt discovers a Spy from a foreign kingdom, you should be able to have a specific diplomatic interaction sternly admonishing them for it (and maybe getting a mechanical effect - e.g. being bribed to "look the other way", causing a relationship loss of the spy monger with friendly kingdoms, etc.). Castles: currently, castles don't feel like a significant factor in combat or province resilience. Some changes you could consider to improve this: Castles get independent levy/food storage that gets added to the capital on the event of a siege. Armies can enter and resupply/replenish units in a Castle. The resources to do so are: total province levy/food if the capital is in your hands, Castle levy/food (with an extra factor) if it's in enemy hands. Provinces with (unconquered) Castles get extra siege resilience. Provinces with (unconquered) Castles get the new "Replenish Stores" (Merchant) and "Reinforce Defenders" (Marshal) opportunities. Vassals: currently, vassalization feels a bit limited. It's appropriate for the period that vassals have independent behavior and attitudes, but the game should be more reactive to this relationship, tenuous as it may be. Some changes in this direction: Vassals should help with wars (the whole point of a vassal). On war initiation, you should get a notification related to your vassal, either a pledge of support, or a suspicious silence. If you get the second, you can start an Audience and demand their support in money or troops (they don't have to accept). Kingdoms declaring war to them should ask the Suzerain first if on good relations (if not, a notification that they skipped that and attacked anyway should appear for the Suzerain). Vassals on good relations (and without second intentions towards) the Suzerain, should ask it before initiating war with a third party. The Suzerain should get a notification when a Vassal initiates a war, and should get an Audience option to pressure them for peace. Unit variety as a whole is Ok, but since most armies on the early-mid game have a low technology level, you usually see mostly peasants for quite a while. Some ways to ameliorate this (credit to "zolobolo" from the Steam forums): Unique starting units. Not only unique, but available with low tech (for instance, at "Militia" Level). Some diplomatic arrangement that lets you hire unique troops from a friendly kingdom (Audience - Allow recruitment of foreign soldiers). Perhaps some pricing adjustments could help to ease the transition from militia to professional armies (need to think on this). As mentioned on the diplomat section, there are some diplomatic operations that feel missing from the game, because of their historical and gameplay relevance: Quid pro quo negotiation: allows free-form exchange of assets between kingdoms (e.g. a Province for a Province, Gold for a Royal Marriage, etc.). Kingdom Integration: In the period depicted, a lot of the kingdom consolidation and growth was due to negotiations and dynastic arrangements. For instance, when playing as an Iberian kingdom, if I want to, for instance, join Castile and Leon into Castile-Leon, or join Castile-Leon and Aragon into Spain proper (both of which were the result of peaceful family arrangements), I can acquire the provinces by war, hope for lucky wedding claims or use subterfuge (and in the case of Castile-Leon, imagine the name change). It would be great that the game mechanics more fully incorporated the historical custom, for instance, with a diplomat action (see "Unify Kingdoms" above), even if it's difficult and costly. "More tactical" Tactical battles: I'm not that experienced with the Tactical Battle aspect of the game, but from what I saw there's a nice tactical focus where morale and positioning is of great importance. In particular, there's a bit of the magic from the classic Total War games. I encourage to develop the system on a "simulationist-light" direction, which I much appreciated from the old TW (e.g. effects of maneuvers on instant morale - panic attacks, charge mechanics, limited munition / munition management, impact of facings and formations, etc.). Some pointers: I feel that the Tactical Battle mode could use a tutorial mission, or simply more guides and tutorial messages. Add a button to hold a whole arrangement of troops and move it and rotate it (I think there's a button to keep the current arrangement, but not one where you can modify the facing on arrival). The grouping hotkeys feel strangely unresponsive (selecting units and trying to add them to a group number, sometimes seems to not respond as expected). Show a clearer representation of selected unit cards and grouping (via highlights, colored frames, etc.). Sometimes it's hard to know what's selected, what's grouped and so on. Control Point victory and instant defeat on leader's death feels a bit too "gamey" for me. A suggestion to make them optional is delineated above. Future Developments / New Mechanics: The game has very tight and controlled systems, almost as a board game. While the end result is great, I think that the game would benefit from more complex and optional mechanics to engage in as long as it retains the game style: the core snappy and intuitive, but the more you dig, the more you're surprised by the depth of what you find. Some over-ambitious examples for future developments below: Antipope shenanigans: kingdoms fighting, kidnapping or otherwise cajoling the papacy where a highlight of the period, in particular when this resulted in parallel claims to St. Peter's throne. You got quite a few devious mechanics associated with the Pope already, but the possibility of claiming a Pope for your own, and then voluntarily or involuntarily moving the See to your kingdom, would be a great choice. This of course, accompanied by a legitimist claim making your cleric and Antipope. An Antipope would bring a new diplomatic layer, forcing countries (including your own, when not the instigator of the schism) into blocks of supporters/deniers of the Antipope's claim. Also it would bring a lot of Spy/diplomatic opportunities/intrigues (Assassinate the Antipope, Kidnap Pope - creates Antipope, Persuade to Abandon Papacy Claim - diplomatic measure, etc.). Another historical fact that could bring interesting mechanics are Local Charters and the conflicts with local nobility and burgsmen. This can be implemented with several concurrent mechanics, for example: A prosperous Trade Center and/or Famous town can request the Crown for a Privilege or Charter from the King. Different charter models would have different pros and cons. Some chartered towns, for instance, could generate claims to independence / rebellions on succession, but grant a substantial trade good bonus or automatically import a good. If you produce a good, you may get a request to grant a Privilege or Charter to the trader interests for that good (in essence, a monopoly). Again, this would bring pros and cons related to the good. Ideally, the charters would favor historically relevant ones (e.g. Wool in Castile, Amber in Baltic States, etc.) and have historically relevant effects. Alternatively, you can make it systems driven (if you have the good, you can have the monopoly), which is less fun. Or a combination of both (some are historical, others are emergent). Regent Queens: the abstracted royal family model is nice, particularly for the period. But, especially at the tail end of it, some Queens played a huge role, causing a stir in succession mechanics, administration, etc. It would be nice to have some not-so-common situations where you could end up with a Queen Regent that would be elevated to regular character. The problem is this would open a whole can of worms in the succession mechanics of the game (as it did in real life, by the way), so maybe not such a good idea... Anyway, some possible ways to approach this: If you get a situation where your successor is a child, or there are only princesses on the line, on succession you could get a notification making the Queen the regent. This would cause a big instant hit in Crown authority (recoverable). The Queen character could get extra stars to bring it to the level of a regular king. On diplomacy, countries would comment (mostly flavor text) but it'd mostly be business as usual (as historically). The exception being, the perceived succession weakness would be considered by the AI in deciding to attack. If married to a local knight, you get a notification to decide if the queen remains as regent (may provoke a rebellion) or he's to be ascended to King (the Queen would return to be a regular female character). If married to a foreign character, the foreign kingdom may push a Claim on your territories. If you've accompanied me so far, I salute you! I hope you enjoyed reading the wall of text and got at least some fun and a couple of decent ideas from it. Edited May 2 by Alfonso XIII Added tag, trying to fix hyperlink Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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