DevDiary 14 - Opinions
Hello friends, and welcome to the 14th DevDiary for “Knights of Honor II: Sovereign”! In most of the previous diaries, we’ve been focused either on military related stuff, or on relations and interactions between different kingdoms, as those are, naturally, the essence of our game. In this one we will digress from that main course and talk about the “opinions” of different social classes. This feature revolves around how the actions, made by the players (or AIs), affect the different classes in their kingdoms and how the opinions of those classes, in turn, affect the kingdom.
In the first game, there was an important kingdom-wide parameter, representing how satisfied the people are with their ruler. It was called “Kingdom power” and we kept it in KoH2:S, renaming it to “Crown authority”. It still plays a major role in the game, but just a few months ago we decided it felt a bit flat and we really wanted to enrich the gameplay and immersion. So to address this, we tried to add more depth in the internal affairs of a kingdom with the “Opinions” feature. Our goal was not to make it too complex or overwhelming for the players to manage, but instead let it run a bit in the background. Opinions have a significant effect, but the control over them is primarily indirect. They reward players for doing what social classes would want from a king, rather than separately taking actions to increase opinions or simply paying gold for that purpose.
There are 5 social classes in KoH2:S – Peasantry, Nobility, Clergy, Army and Merchants. Their opinions can vary from -10 to +10 each, and when they are positive, some benefits apply; when they are negative – so do penalties. Additionally, below or above given thresholds, the corresponding social class may take actions to support or oppose their ruler. In contrast to parameters like rebel risk and happiness, opinions are kingdom-wide, so even small changes may lead to very significant effects, especially in larger kingdoms. Explaining how they work will be easiest with some examples for each one.
Peasantry opinion is strongly related with rebellion risk and food production rate, but also affect the morale of peasant and militia squads in the army. It is relatively easy to increase, as many buildings, improving the wellbeing of the people and some basic religious buildings play a favorable role. The steps to avoid losing it are rather simple, though not so easy to do sometimes – the player must protect the common people from invasions and rebellions and when possible – not to enter wars voluntarily. After all, that’s what the simple folk fear most.
Nobility opinion affects things like crown authority increase costs, influence in neighbors, loyalty of knights, revolt risk… It is probably the hardest to increase, as there are very few things that can make the aristocrats happy, e.g. winning a war or crushing a rebellion. On the other side, there are tons of things that make them upset, like financial instability, military losses or even diplomacy decisions, depending on the influence of the kingdoms that they concern.
Army opinion plays an important role for army morale and obedience and is one that is very dangerous to keep low, unless players wants their own armies to march against them. It depends on military successes, constant supply of provisions and not leaving men behind – abandoning wounded troops or a famous marshal to rot in the enemies’ dungeon is not the greatest way to win the sympathy of the soldiers.
Merchants’ opinion naturally affects the gold income in several ways, among which corruption levels, trade income, cost for buying supplies and others. As one could guess, they are happy when more opportunities for trade are created and maintained, e.g. constructing the needed buildings and making proper trade agreements with the other kingdoms. On the other side, things like going bankrupt, bad diplomacy with trade partners and wars are really bad for business and thus they are not accepted well.
Clergy opinion we saved for last, as it is most complex to explain, since it depends on the kingdom’s religion. There are some common effects, like book production and religious influence in/by neighboring kingdoms, but also many other effects, depending on what the kingdom religion is. For an example, Catholics’ relations with the Pope depend on the clergy opinion and vice versa, same goes for the Orthodox and the Ecumenical Patriarch; pagan shamans, on the other hand, boost the army’s morale.
Events that can rise and lower the clergy’s opinion differ even more. Catholics are very concerned with good relations with the rest of the Catholic world and his holiness, the Pope. They really appreciate things like leading a crusade or defending Rome. Muslim scholars care about the relations with the caliphs and jihad involvement. For example, they can get really mad if their king decides to sign peace with the enemies of a caliphate in a holy war. Pagan shamans care a lot about military successes, as it was commonly considered that losing an important battle means the king has upset the gods and they have withdrawn their divine favor over him.
In general, Opinions improve slowly and passively, where a player may not be able to do much to increase them directly with actions. After all, it will rarely be a good strategy to declare war just to make the shamans happy with some battles, and even if you do, this can backfire and decrease the opinions of other classes. In these cases, diplomats can be helpful, as their “Improve opinions” action can speed up the process – the more experienced a diplomat is, the more effective this action is, and if they have royal blood, the classes appreciate the attention even more. Even then, the results are far from immediate, and the best strategy may be to avoid unnecessary deterioration of opinions altogether.
We are still experimenting with this feature, adding and balancing causes of opinion changes and effects the different classes have. Feel free to share what effects and reasons for increase or decrease of opinions you think imight be interesting and immersive to be included in KoH2:S, or which do you think will be tiresome to deal with. We’d also love to hear what you think about this feature in general – do you enjoy a bit of focus on the internal policy of a kingdom in grand strategy games, or do you see it as unnecessary sidetrack? And do you like the selection of classes we’ve picked, or would you prefer them to be more, less or simply different?
We will talk more about the Diplomat and the pacts in our DevStream on Thursday, January 7th, @ 4:00 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.
Till then, we bid thee farewell. Go forth and conquer, our brave warriors!