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THQN Brad

DevDiary 04 - Invasion

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Hello friends, and welcome to the fourth DevDiary of the “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign” DevDiaries! Today we start talking about the military aspect of the game, covering the invasion process, which includes battles, occupations, and assimilation. Though there are different strategies that players can explore to defend and broaden their empires, wars are almost inevitable, and they are undoubtedly the most straightforward expansion method as well. However, victory is not always easy to accomplish, as you will soon see.

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Let’s first sidetrack a bit and take a quick look at the territorial structure of the world in KoH2:S. As in the first game, the world is divided into roughly 300 provinces, which vary greatly in size, settlement types and count, natural resources, geographical features and more. Each province is centralized around a single town, representing the province’s seat of power. Ownership over the town equals ownership over the entire province, including all their settlements, so, regarding control, it is all or nothing. There is one interesting exception of this rule in KoH2:S – Keeps can be controlled separately from the provinces, which reduces the overall defensive capabilities of the province and provides some attrition damage against the enemies of a keeps’ occupier (including armies of the province’s owner).

In a future DevDiary, we will take a closer look at the provinces, settlements and towns from an economy perspective, but for now, let’s leave it there.

Back on overtaking an enemy town and thus – a province. Conquering a town requires good preparation and a strong army. It always starts with a siege. Sieges are long, with different ways in which the defenses can crack. One primary factor is based on the defender’s resilience. Another major factor is how strong and experienced the enemy troops and marshal are at siege warfare. You also take into account many elements of the town itself: is the town well-guarded? Are their strong walls? How long will the food supplies last? Starving and hopeless, the defending armies can be driven into a desperate attempt to break the siege or forced into surrendering. Once the defenders are lured in a break siege battle or the attackers start a full-fledged assault (costly action while the defenses stay strong), things develop quickly.

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If the attackers win, the province is now occupied. They now have control, but not yet ownership. In this specific state, they cannot substantially benefit from the province, but neither can the owner – all constructions, production, trade, army training and otherwise are put on hold. The occupier controls the military facilities, though, and benefits from the fortifications. They can visit the town with an army and deploy garrison troops. These are often dark times for the population – there is no civil government, the stability drops, there is a high chance of migration, rebellions and such.

Note the stripes in the image above. The world view in KoH2:S is a beautiful miniature and we want it to stay that way, but it's easy to lose perspective over the political situation. As in the old game, we’re adding advanced political view UIs with different modes, filters, etc., which provide plenty of information to the player. However, we are also working on quick, easy, and clear ways for players to see what’s most important in the world at a glance, without needing to switch views. So, we’re adding additional layers of information in the world view itself, which players can toggle on/off with the press of a button or see while a hotkey is held – whichever they prefer. In the example above, we can see that the town of Barcelona is owned by Aragon but controlled by enemies of the player: the province of Catalonia is occupied.

Once occupied, the original owner and their allies can attempt to drive back the invaders and restore control of the province. If the population hasn’t lost its loyalty, inevitably some of the people will rise up and help in the battles for liberation, forming militia squads. Loyal rebel armies can also arise. If a kingdom friendly to the owner faction performs a successful counter-attack, the owner regains control and everything starts returning to normal. Restoration of stability does take some time, since the population is usually quite agitated at this point, to say the least.

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The occupier, on the other side, has several different methods to take full control of the province and become the new owner. If all the initial owner’s territories are occupied, the occupier can forcefully annex the lands they control. This is easier if they solely control the defeated kingdom, and more complicated if there are multiple kingdoms involved in the occupation – it is a bit unpredictable how the separation of the kingdom’s territories will go if the spoils are divided among multiple parties. Even if the owner kingdom is not completely occupied, a peace treaty can lead to exchange of some lands as well.

While a war is going on, an individual province can be annexed in several different ways as well. Some of these options are more forceful than others, but all require the time and attention of a trusted Royal Court knight. These methods shouldn’t be used haphazardly, however, as they all have their cost and some may have various severe repercussions, not the least of which is being “frowned upon” by other kingdoms. There is risk, as being too ruthless could have the world start viewing you as “The mad king who must to be stopped”.

Even gaining full control and ownership of a province is not the end. Yes, at this point order is restored and with it economy, development and army training, but culture, religion and loyalty of the population are key factors for the stability of the province. If a kingdom cares too little for these factors and expands quickly and recklessly, tension within the kingdom’s borders can rise and chaos may follow. It takes time and proper measures to reduce the tension, possibly converting the local religion and culture and in the end – gain the loyalty of the population to assimilate them properly. Only then can the province be fully considered as a stable, fully functional part of the kingdom.

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In the end, it takes a good strategist to build an empire. Poor decisions can cause kingdoms to crumble from the inside, so wise actions are needed when problems arise. Whether players choose to tackle problems by gaining the sympathy of their subjects or by crushing any disobedience with an iron fist, it is completely up to them to forge their people’s future.

In comparison to KoH:1, we are working hard to enable even more playstyles to bring out additional strategies when players start Invasions. However, we want to preserve the aggressive conquest playstyle too – yes, there will be different obstacles to overcome compared to expanding slowly – but it will still be a valid strategy for those who prefer it. If you want to organize a military force that makes the Old World tremble, and disregard what the other kingdoms like and find “civilized,” you certainly can!

We will talk more on this topic in our DevStream on Thursday, March 12th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. The Twitch stream will be hosted on the THQ Nordic channel: http://twitch.tv/thqnordic and we’ll be grabbing responses from this post as well as answering questions live during the stream.

We really want to hear your thoughts, as Invasions are a defining element of the core gameplay loop and we are still iterating here. Jump right into the discussion and share your thoughts in this thread, or join our Facebook and Discord channels and talk there too. Would you rather try to make a rapid expansion, overwhelming your enemies and dealing with the population uproar later on, or slowly and steadily acquire new territories, ensuring the stability of your lands before taking new ones? Would you rely on cultural and religious influence to convert your new subjects, or show that any resistance against the crown will not be tolerated? Would you like more depth in the process of conquering territories, or do you find everything besides maintaining a strong army and crushing your enemies in battle more of a boring and tedious activity? Your feedback is critically important. You never know what comments may help us build the best KoH2:S Invasion feature set we can!

Next time we will take a deeper look on the pawns of war – Marshals and Armies. Until then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer!


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Thanks for sharing another dev diary with us!

I do think the mechanic to drive back invaders will be a great addition to the game. I'm also very excited to see how the new joint occupation with allies will play out, especially in multiplayer with friends 😁.

About the feedback you asked for: For me Knights of Honor was always superior to other games from the genre because it was simple. It didn't throw hundred dialog boxes and tables at you where you had to micromanage everything all the time. I just had a great time enjoying my kingdom, developing my realm, sending my armys and sometimes jump into battles. And just to be clear, simple does not equal simplistic, so there can be deeper, more complex mechanics. They just should be easy to grasp and control. So for me, everything I read is great.

 

Bonus-Question: Will/can you give us information about how the development of provinces will look/work like in the new game? Are there any big changes in this area?

Greetings!

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I really like the idea of having soo many different factors factoring into the siege of a town. One factor which I didnt see mentioned was port access. Will coastal towns be significantly harder to capture?

As a side note this puts added importance on building and utilizing a navy which in many strategy games is over looked, so I would suggest this to be a key feature if it isnt already.

If you dont plan this, can you explain why not?

P.S Appreciating the shout outs on the streams!!! And now my gf is even looking forward to the streams!! LOL

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Posted (edited)

A promising Dev Dairy!

 

Quote

 Keeps can be controlled separately from the provinces, which reduces the overall defensive capabilities of the province and provides some attrition damage against the enemies of a keeps’ occupier (including armies of the province’s owner).

So does this mean the keep (or castle) can be its own entity in a province?

 

Quote

This is easier if they solely control the defeated kingdom, and more complicated if there are multiple kingdoms involved in the occupation – it is a bit unpredictable how the separation of the kingdom’s territories will go if the spoils are divided among multiple parties. Even if the owner kingdom is not completely occupied, a peace treaty can lead to exchange of some lands as well.

I think my next question might go beyond the scope of this Dev Dairy... but will wars work mechanically/politically the same as in KoH1?

 

One apparant issue was that each war between kingdoms was its own separate conflict that are eventually resolved on their own. Take our example France invading Aragorn, say neighboring Castille honors its alliance with France and declares war on Aragorn, will it be part of the 'same' war conflict? If so, could France theoretically let Castille do the heavy lifting (*) but actually not gain anything?

 

(*) Occuping all Aragorn's provinces and doing all the battles

Edited by Leto

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So does this mean the keep (or castle) can be its own entity in a province?

No, keeps are just additional points of interest within the province. It was already hinted in the gameplay trailer.

Quote

but will wars work mechanically/politically the same as in KoH1?

What we learned from this dev diary is, that invading others provinces will be more dynamic than before, with more possibilities to choose from. But it seems to be mostly the same. Politically, I expect it to stay the same for the most parts. I think it's very likely that if someone is called into war as part of an alliance, and the realm that asked for help from his ally can end the war for both. But it is only speculation at that point.

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could France theoretically let Castille do the heavy lifting (*) but actually not gain anything?

This was kind of answered if the dev diary aswell..

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This is easier if they solely control the defeated kingdom, and more complicated if there are multiple kingdoms involved in the occupation – it is a bit unpredictable how the separation of the kingdom’s territories will go if the spoils are divided among multiple parties. Even if the owner kingdom is not completely occupied, a peace treaty can lead to exchange of some lands as well.

My guess is that every war will have an invisible tracker, which tracks what kingdom contributed to the war and then will split the spoils of war (gold, population, provinces, etc.) accordingly.

Greetings

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The rebellions were definitely a drag. Especially when my armies were far away. And for someone like me who wanted (a bit arrogantly I admit) to prove that his rule is just better for the people, whose families I just killed, than the previous rule. I always wanted to give them as good a life as I could. So assimilating through culture sounds great. Will there be various options on how to do it? Will I be able to buy them with theatre, art? Or just alcohol as before? Will I be able to shower them with money on top of 'no taxes'? What about sending the rebellion leaders into mines? Or shooting them out of cannons into the sea (you know, the cultural option). 

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14 hours ago, THQN Brad said:

This is easier if they solely control the defeated kingdom, and more complicated if there are multiple kingdoms involved in the occupation – it is a bit unpredictable how the separation of the kingdom’s territories will go if the spoils are divided among multiple parties

ever considered a system like they have in Hearts of Iron where every victor of the war gets a certain number of points based on their participation in the war and you can then negotiate the devision of the territories of the defeated kingdom(s)?

 

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Posted (edited)

Missed a few things in this dev diary.

1) Cultural differences. It feels like assimilating people of Novgorod by Moscow should be easier comparing to assimilating Moscow people by Poland. The more differences nations have - the more difficult, risky, costly and time consuming assimilating should be. Also, it would be logical, if level of support of rebels depends on these cultural differences.

2) Vassal system. There was zero mentioning of it, but for me it is the key feature which adds depth to conquering countries. Also it feels like an answer to a problem of fast but successful invasions. If you've just swallowed whole country but don't have resources to assimilate people or to crush the riot - you could probably start negotiations with leader of riot. If negotiations go well, your kingdom will have some more independent than usual, but they will be peaceful. I think ideally conditions of vassal oath should depend on how strong position rebels have.

Edited by UrbanMaster

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Thanks for the Dev Diary as always:) One thing though that bothers me is how the buildings look in the cities... Compared to how they look in the first Knights of Honor (In comparison) they rather look underwhelming and chaotic/unrealistic. I know, a small thing, but the detail is one big aspect I always loved in Knights of Honor:)

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On 3/12/2020 at 2:44 AM, frej said:

Thanks for the Dev Diary as always:) One thing though that bothers me is how the buildings look in the cities... Compared to how they look in the first Knights of Honor (In comparison) they rather look underwhelming and chaotic/unrealistic. I know, a small thing, but the detail is one big aspect I always loved in Knights of Honor:)

You are looking at game that is still under development. 🙂

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So I would not want the mechanics of conquering new lands to be to difficult or tedious. Always worrying about rebellions might not be fun. I think the more the game emphasize strategy with military like attacking and defending the better. To much time on city building and territory management makes more of s city developing game and less or a war game. Though some of that is fun. Medieval total war, the first one, had a good balance I believe and should be looked at for what they did. Last thing is it would be nice to see deeper levels of attacking and defending so that their are many different strategies and combinations of how to both, or just one or the other. Like be super good at defending so a small country might be able to hold off a large country, or at least hold them off for s good while. Would make for awesome multiplayer....excited 🙂

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