DevDiary 12 – Diplomacy Part 1 – Wars and Alliances
Hello friends, and welcome once again to 12th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In this diary we will begin to talk about one of, if not the most important, feature in the game – diplomacy. Since this topic is huge, we will split it in several parts, starting with Wars and Alliances. The art of war is the most common way to dominance and victory, and even if you prefer to play the “Swiss neutrality” style, chances are that sooner or later, you will be attacked by more aggressive kingdoms or get involved in conflicts by other means. As we say here in Bulgaria, “Around dry things, the wet ones burn, too”.
War was one of the things we wanted to improve from the first game, mainly when two or more kingdoms are involved, fighting in alliances with each other. It is true that we had alliances in the original game, and we started with the same functionality in this one, but we naturally stumbled upon familiar problems. Alliances were practically permanent, punishing you if you ever decide to attack kingdoms you once allied with. Alliances also often felt tedious, forcing you into conflicts that you would otherwise want to avoid because of actions out of your control, and usually not in a fun way.
Initially, we tried to solve the problem by limiting them to one generation, meaning that alliances were dissolved upon the death of either of the kings who signed them (inspired by some historical alliances and texts). This worked in some cases, but in others – it didn’t work at all. Sometimes alliances were disappointingly short, other times they were still too long and the problem with participation in wars against unwanted enemies remained. Even we, the developers, primarily avoided using alliances when playing the game, so we finally made a rather big change – in “KoH2:S” they exist only in the context of wars and while it lasts.
Now, before someone gets awfully disappointed, we want to assure you we have a lot of “peace time” pacts – defensive pacts, invasion plans, royal marriages, vassal-liege relations and other agreements, for which we will very soon tell you about, but right now, we will focus just on the alliances in wars (or as we call them – just “alliances”). None of these previously mentioned pacts guarantees an alliance, though they usually make it highly probable.
What helped us a lot was that historically wars were rarely 1 vs 1, and we had a ton of inspiration from actual events – from many medieval wars like the Anglo-French War (1213–1214), where France defeated the Angevin Empire, allied with the Holy Roman Empire, Flanders and Boulogne; to some older epic wars in the Balkans, like the defeat of the Arab invasion by the Bulgarian khan Tervel, that supported the weak (at that point) Byzantium and with this alliance stopped the Muslim advance in the interior of Europe during the 8th century, about the time when the whole Iberian peninsula fell.
So, in “KoH2:S” each war has two sides (alliances), and each alliance has one leader and possibly several supporters. The supporters can participate from the beginning of the war (depending on the pacts, prior to starting the war) or join in afterwards. Surely, players that prefer to gain strong friends through diplomacy will often use the options like “Demand support in war”, as this can quickly bring a lot of power to their alliance, especially if you have some of the aforementioned stances and pacts. Leaving or disbanding an alliance as the war goes is also a possibility, but the outcome is what you’d expect – your ex-allies will not be very happy about it and overall, your reputation and authority will be hurt, so it is usually a though decision to make.
By this time, you are probably wandering how can you ever end a war, considering that you might have formidable forces against you and long wars lead to serious exhaustion of a kingdom. Indeed, you can destroy your enemies and this will lead to peace, but against bigger kingdoms, you often have to negotiate it earlier. A war can be ended with negotiations ONLY between the leaders. If they agree on the terms to sign peace, it is signed between the two alliances and practically everyone participating in the war – leaders and supporters.
During the war, supporters are able to negotiate peace with the opposing leader “solo” and if the agreement is accepted, they exit the war. Yes, their ex-allies will be really disappointed, but at least their ex-enemies will be… ex-enemies. Supporters can never negotiate peace between each other, however: any kingdom participating in war is always in “war stance” with ALL kingdoms of the enemy alliance while they are participating in the war.
Now, we are considering adding an even more cunning diplomatic option – switching sides – but this can be (and, historically, was) extremely dramatic. It creates an awesome story indeed, but we are still unsure if it might feel too punishing for many players, when the Brutus’s dagger is in their backs.
What’s your opinion on that matter – should we go all-in “Game of thrones” style, or should we have more honorable factions with less unpredictable diplomacy and backstabbing? Do you like the concept of these alliances, limited within the war, or would you prefer to have just the long-lasting pacts between kingdoms? We’d love to hear about your playstyle in strategy games – do you like to gather a bunch of allies before even thinking of invading someone; do you prefer not to bother with that diplomacy mumbo-jumbo and straight out dominate everyone that crosses your path; or do you prefer something in between, like building a ‘safety cloud’ with no aggression pacts, but then marching into war alone?
We will talk more about Diplomacy (Wars and Alliances mainly) in our DevStream on Thursday, October 29th, @ 3:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST. This time the original creator and creative director of both the new and the original KoH games – Vesselin Handjiev – will participate, so don’t miss it out. 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.
Next time we will continue the subject of diplomacy since there is a lot more to share. Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors!